Saturday, March 08, 2008

Tsuris of "The Times"

Talent takes buyouts, deadbeats stay? Not what Pinch and Keller envisioned, presumably but one would hope they at least would have taken buyouts.
The problem with buyouts is that you can't choose who leaves. So when New York Times executive editor Bill Keller announced to the staff on February 28 that the paper would be mailing out buyout packages to every non-guild employee in the newsroom, it was hoped that some of the paper’s more redundant staffers might self-select. “There’s so much deadwood at the paper, and everyone knows it,” says one former Times reporter. “There are editors who basically do nothing and writers who write 30 pieces a year.”

Linda Greenhouse, the paper’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Supreme Court reporter, is not one of those. She has been tirelessly covering that beat for three decades, and although she has received her share of criticism (a speech she made at Harvard in 2006 slamming the Bush administration was perceived as crossing the line by the Times’ critics, some of its reporters, and even its public editor), she is widely considered to be in the handful of the paper's elite reporters (“The queen bee of Supreme Court reporters,” the Columbia Journalism Review called her.)

So when she announced that she had accepted the offer, there was some consternation. Could this herald a brain and talent drain at the paper of record? The buyouts were meant to keep Keller from laying off as many as a hundred news staffers, but as one veteran Times reporter says, “If they’re going to give people buyouts, they’re going to lose some Linda Greenhouses."

Just Some Of The Saint's Flip-Flops

Man of principle my ass. Or have I said that before?

His desperate pandering is really said. Even for a pol, it's pretty pathetic.
I’m delighted the NYT noticed.
Senator John McCain likes to present himself as the candidate of the “Straight Talk Express” who does not pander to voters or change his positions with the political breeze. But the fine print of his record in the Senate indicates that he has been a lot less consistent on some of his signature issues than he has presented himself to be so far in his presidential campaign.

Mr. McCain, who derided his onetime Republican competitor Mitt Romney for his political mutability, has himself meandered over the years from position to position on some topics, particularly as he has tried to court the conservatives who have long distrusted him.
For its part, the McCain campaign told the Times that the senator “has evolved rather than switched positions in his 25-year career.” That’s a perfectly sensible spin — when a politician holds one position, and then, for apparently political reasons, decides to embrace the polar opposite position, it’s only natural for his or her aides to say the politician’s position has “evolved.”

But in McCain’s case, the spin is wholly unfulfilling. First, McCain sells himself as a pol who never sways with the wind, and whose willingness to be consistent in the face of pressure is proof of his character. Second, Republicans have spent the last four years or so making policy reversals the single most serious political crime in presidential politics. The dreaded “flip-flop” is, according to the GOP, the latest cardinal sin for someone seeking national office.

And if we’re playing by Republican rules, McCain’s “inconsistencies” should be a fairly serious problem.

With this in mind, for the first time in months, I thought now would be a good time to update the list of John McCain’s Biggest Flip-Flops. There have been some key additions since the last time I did this (in November).

* McCain pledged in February 2008 that he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Specifically, McCain if he were a “‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” referring to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge. “No new taxes,” McCain responded. Two weeks later, McCain said, “I’m not making a ‘read my lips’ statement, in that I will not raise taxes.”

* McCain’s campaign unveiled a Social Security policy that the senator would implement if elected, which did not include a Bush-like privatization scheme. In March 2008, McCain denounced his own campaign’s policy.

* In February 2008, McCain abandoned his opposition to waterboarding.

* In November 2007, McCain reversed his previous position on a long-term presence for U.S. troops in Iraq, arguing that the “nature of the society in Iraq” and the “religious aspects” of the country make it inevitable that the United States “eventually withdraws.” Two months later, McCain reversed back, saying he’s prepared to leave U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years.

* McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now he opposes it.

* McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. Now he’s against it.

* On immigration policy in general, McCain announced in February 2008 that he would vote against his own legislation.

* In 2006, McCain sponsored legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. In 2007, after receiving “feedback” on the proposal, McCain told far-right activist groups that he opposes his own measure.

* McCain said before the war in Iraq, “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” Four years later, McCain said he knew all along that the war in Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough.”

* McCain said he was the “greatest critic” of Rumsfeld’s failed Iraq policy. In December 2003, McCain praised the same strategy as “a mission accomplished.” In March 2004, he said, “I’m confident we’re on the right course.” In December 2005, he said, “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.”

* McCain went from saying he would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade to saying the exact opposite.

* McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.

* McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but then decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks.

* McCain used to oppose Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, but he reversed course in February.

* On a related note, he said 2005 that he opposed the tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By 2007, he denied ever having said this, and insisted he opposed the cuts because of increased government spending.

* In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.

* McCain supported a major campaign-finance reform measure that bore his name. In June 2007, he abandoned his own legislation.

* McCain opposed a holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., before he supported it.

* McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.

* McCain was anti-ethanol. Now he’s pro-ethanol.

* McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.

* McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.

Now, it’s worth noting that there are worse qualities in a presidential candidate than changing one’s mind about a policy matter or two. McCain has been in Congress for decades; he’s bound to shift now and then on various controversies.

But therein lies the point — McCain was consistent on most of these issues, right up until he started running for president, at which point he conveniently abandoned practically every position he used to hold. The problem isn’t just the incessant flip-flops; it’s the shameless pandering and hollow convictions behind the incessant flip-flops.

Old Comic Book Of The Day

Yes, there's a reason I'm linking to it -- it's relevant. Look!

Missed By Big Media?

A Journey Via The Wayback Machine

Creepy 70s TV....

Amazing: How Jazz Musicians Control Their Own Minds!

Read how. Perhaps we can, I don't know, control our own minds to realize that our leaders are bullshitting us in the worst way and to respond accordingly e.g. by refusing to take it or accept it or allow it....

Making Our Nation Safer -- By Relying On Windows!

On June 22, 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged that the Pentagon's network had been successfully attacked the previous Wednesday, and that this attack was responsible for a disruption in email service to some 1,500 Pentagon employees. At the time, Gates downplayed the attack, saying that it affected only the OSD's (Office of the Secretary of Defense) non-classified e-mail service and that there was "no anticipated adverse impact on ongoing operations." It seems that the adverse impact of the June attack may have been much greater than Gates' early guidance implied. According to a top DoD technology official quoted at, the thieves behind that attack seized an "amazing amount" of data.

New details on the attack itself have become available in the months since it occurred. According to Dennis Clem, CIO of the Pentagon and the OSD, the intrusion was first detected during an IT restructuring that was underway at the time. By the time it was detected, malicious code had been in the system for at least two months, and was propagating via a known Windows exploit. The bug spread itself by e-mailing malicious payloads from one system on the network to another. The messages themselves were spoofed and appeared to be legitimate missives from other employees. Once the recipient opened an infected e-mail, the worm sent that person's password and other login credentials back to home base.

The government isn't saying what, exactly, got stolen. There's no evidence to contradict Secretary Gates' claim that the classified e-mail system remained unaffected, but data that Clem describes as "sensitive" was accessed and encrypted before being transmitted to the hackers' location. As for where that location might be, unconfirmed reports point towards China's People's Liberation Army. China, of course, has vehemently denied any knowledge or responsibility. The Pentagon has stepped up its network protection since the intrusion, and added additional protection in the form of smart cards and digital signatures. Such security measures are the ultimate example of closing the barn door after the horse is gone, but should at least make further intrusions more difficult.
(Emphasis added.)

The rest of the story is here.

My Call, For Today

McCain wins presidency, Dem blowout in House and Senate. that is, the scenario is that the voters prefer the Saint ("feel safer") but don't trust him or the GOP. The source of my reasoning is here.

But I request the same pass Big Media's getting this cycle: a new theme every week, always wrong, no mainstream criticism. Of course, since I'm not a journalist or even pundit, I must be held to a higher standard; it's that kind of world.

From the "Let Them Eat Cake" Dept.

The assholes who are our leaders....
Paulson said the loss of jobs signals a ``tough'' quarter for growth, while stopping short of saying the economy has entered a recession.

The February jobs report was ``not welcome news, not good news,'' Paulson said in a press conference in East Palo Alto, California. ``This is a tough quarter, we knew it.''

Yeah, tough. More and more people financially wiped out as a result of being played by those more sophisticated (who aren't being hurt so bad). Yeah, tough quarter....

Billionaire Gone Wild

Actually, Ballmer's (and M$'s) serial dishonesty and thuggery is even scarier....

Only saw this without sound and it was scary enough.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Thanks For The Memories; Goodbye To The Losers And Good Riddance; Thank God You All Lost!

The Rightists Forget To Tell You How They Let The Criminals Go Free

Not the Big Capital crooks stealing and corrupting society but the street criminals they bemoan.

All it takes is a rightist cop who needs not to get the cinviction but to lie to make himself look like hot shit. His ego is what's primary, not getting a scumbag off the streets.

Here's one example, I've seen and heard of others. In NYC, at least, it's SOP, always has been, always will be.

(The preceeding is not a slam against police, just the ones letting the criminals go free for no good reason.)
Seventeen-year-old Erik Crespo was arrested in 2005 in connection with a shooting in a New York City elevator. There's no question that he committed the shooting; it was captured on surveillance-camera videotape. But he claimed that while being interrogated, Detective Christopher Perino tried to talk him out of getting a lawyer, and told him that he had to sign a confession before he could see a judge.

Perino denied, under oath, that he ever questioned Crespo. But Crespo had received an MP3 player as a Christmas gift, and surreptitiously recorded the questioning. The defense brought a transcript and CD into evidence. Shortly thereafter, the prosecution offered Crespo a better deal than originally proffered (seven years rather than 15). Crespo took the deal, and Perino was separately indicted on charges of perjury.

Without that recording, it was the detective's word against Crespo's. And who would believe a murder suspect over a New York City detective? That power imbalance was reduced only because Crespo was smart enough to press the "record" button on his MP3 player. Why aren't all interrogations recorded? Why don't defendants have the right to those recordings, just as they have the right to an attorney? Police routinely record traffic stops from their squad cars for their own protection; that video record shouldn't stop once the suspect is no longer a threat.

Something Else To Ponder; Or: Raising Stupid Kids, Part 2

"When I was young, I was put in a school for retarded
kids for two years before they realized I actually had
a hearing loss... and they called ME slow!"
-- Kathy Buckley

Something To Ponder

If a company's most valuable resource is its
people, how come the employees aren't locked
up, but the toilet paper is in a reinforced
steel box with a lock, bolted to the stall?

(Mark Severin)


Modern Times: Teaching Our Children To Be Really Stupid

Teens think adults are morons.

And here's why they're right.

The responsible adults should, well, just have the crap beaten out. I mean, they are, like, such an embarrassment.
A school policy banning student hugging prompted dozens of east Valley students to protest with a giant group hug across the street from campus.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Chelsea Branham, a 14-year-old student at Shepherd Junior High School in east Mesa.
Branham said she got detention this week for hugging her friend after school.
"It's not like it's supposed to mean anything," she said. "It's not like I was making out with him or something."
Branham joined her classmates on Friday for a 20-minute, public hug-a-thon.
"She's taking a stand and I'm standing behind her to do it," said Stephanie Wiegold, her mother.
The "no-hugging" rule had previously been in the student handbook. After many students began expressing concern about public hugging and kissing in the hallways, the school began reinforcing the guideline by punishing huggers, which led to Friday's protest.
Prior to the demonstration, the district said the principal and students brokered an agreement to clarify the "no-hugging" rule. According to the guidelines, small hugs, less than two seconds, are permitted but longer ones and kissing are not.
"We can only hug two seconds? That's ridiculous," Branham said. "It's barely even a hug."
"What we're doing here is hoping to help kids understand what's happening," said Kathy Bareiss of Mesa public schools.
The district said a list of acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors will be handed out to students on Monday.

Making The Nation Safer By Killing The Ill

Homeland security my ass.
A sick teenager said an over-zealous security screener at Orlando International Airport put his life in danger. After Channel 9 started making calls, the TSA opened an investigation into the matter.

James Hoyne, 14, has a feeding tube in his stomach and carries a back-up in a sealed clear plastic bag. Hoyne said two weeks ago a TSA officer insisted on opening the sterile equipment, contaminating his back-up feeding up tube which he later needed.

"I said 'Please don't open it' and she said 'I have to open it whether you like it or not. If I can't open it, I can't let you on the plane,'" Hoyne said of his conversation with the TSA screener.

TSA officials apologized to James and said they're looking into the incident to see what corrective steps need to be taken.

Officials can't see simple incompetence and stupidity when presented with it? They have to "look into" it? Oh, blessed modern times....

Today's Music Viddie: Modern Times

iPhone was Cool. Now The Cool Has Been Upped 10-Fold

The Goddam Jesusphone is a'rising....

The short version:
Apple’s iPhone hasn’t supplanted RIM’s BlackBerry as the gold standard of mobile business tools, but give it another year or so and it just might.

At Apple’s town hall event this morning, CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the iPhone had claimed 28% market share by the 4th quarter of 2007. That’s still less than the BlackBerry, which holds 41% market share, but the iPhone hasn’t even been on the market a year. What’s more, the iPhone accounted for 71% of U.S. mobile browser usage.

Should RIM be worried? A reporter put that question to Apple CEO Steve Jobs this morning and here’s the answer he was given:
You should ask them … we’re not sending them a message, we’re sending customers and developers a message that we’re trying to serve their needs. Remember, the iPhone’s been out less than a year, this stuff will be shipping right around the one-year anniversary to every iPhone customer.”
Translation: Yes. Because without a push email advantage, what’s special about the BlackBerry? NOTHING. Yeah, it’s business time all right. It’s business time, baby …

Cool Viddie!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thought For The Day: The Way The World Works

It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. - T.H. Huxley

The Scumbag That Is Rush

Always a class act... not. A complete asshole with no redeeming value.
Been under the weather and blogging lightly the last couple of days. Couldn't pass up this latest little kerfuffle regarding Rush Limbaugh, though. Listen here: Rush giggles appreciatively when a caller says her twelve-year-old daughter thinks Barack Obama looks like Curious George. You know, the cartoon monkey.

Rush was soon on the air with an apology—says "I"d never heard of Curious George. Only now, staffers have sent me little pictures of Curious George."

Rigggghhhhhht. If you were so innocent of the malign implications of laughing that a black man looks like a monkey, why did you, at the time—listen to the clip again—warn the caller, in mid-chuckle, "Don't make me laugh! I can't laugh"?

William F. Buckley; What We Really Lost: Nothing Important

William F. Buckley was a smart man, that's for sure.

He could throw around more ten-dollar words than his beloved Catholic Church has sinners (even excluding the priesthood). He knew all the right places to ski and the proper wines to drink while listening to this concerto or appreciating that symphony. A product of privilege right down to the French boarding schools he attended, Buckley was as sophisticated, erudite and insightful as they come.

Except on the subject of politics, that is -- which just happened to be his life's great work.

And aren't we lucky for it?

I mean, what can you say about a guy who wrote "General Franco is an authentic national hero" at the same time he found Dwight Eisenhower too liberal to endorse for president? What are we to make of a lover of democracy who called whites in the American South "the advanced race," entitled to prevail politically even if they were numerically inferior, and who even left the door open to using violence toward that end? Heck, for that matter, what can be said of someone so culturally perceptive that he could write, "The Beatles are not merely awful. They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music." (Was it the "We're more popular than Jesus" quote that rattled you Bill, or were you just jealous about all the screaming chicks?)

What can we say about a guy this spectacularly wrong? Probably he got it best himself when he noted, "I profoundly believe it takes a lot of practice to become a moral slob." As it turned out, he got a lot of practice.

Buckley is often credited with being the father of modern conservatism (pardon the oxymoron) in America. It is said that before he founded the National Review in 1955, there was essentially no such movement in the country. It is said (no less than by Reagan himself), that the line is drawn directly from Buckley to Goldwater to Reagan. (For some completely inexplicable reason, conservatives usually leave off Gingrich and Bush the Younger from that genealogy.)

Buckley was an astute observer of the human condition, despite keeping, shall we say, a certain polite distance from most of the poor humans who happen to find themselves stuck in that sometimes challenging condition. He was once asked by NPR's Terry Gross whether being raised in European boarding schools and being a member of Yale's notoriously elitist Skull and Bones Society hadn't left Buckley a trifle, um, out of touch with real people (the hoi polloi, that is, as they're referred to at the Club)? Au contraire!, he skillfully parried. Buckley did a lot of reading and therefore understood people quite well!

So well, indeed, that he came out in support of segregation during the era when the civil rights movement was the most important, the most consuming political question of the day. So who do you think history will judge to have gotten this question right, eh? -- Martin Luther King Jr. or Bill Buckley? One could say that Buckley's position was just about the most spectacular example ever recorded of the missing of a historical train. There was Ol' Bill (who actually didn't even have the excuse then of being old), standing on the (whites only) platform, watching the Morality Express go whooshing by.

But then, wasn't missing just such trains precisely the point of conservatism?

Buckley certainly thought so. In the essay with which he launched the National Review, he committed it and the conservative movement to the project of "stand[ing] athwart history, yelling Stop."

Yep, that's actually a bona fide quote from the man himself. If that sounds a bit anachronistic as the grand rallying cry for a modern political movement, you're -- ahem -- still not getting it, I'm afraid. The thwarting and reversal of progress is precisely the point of conservatism.

After all, progress is scary. Progress is difficult. Progress is messy. And progress means having to share.

So Buckley launched a movement to yell "Stop!" and they all did, and they were grandly successful, as a matter of fact. For three decades, conservatives have ruled America and stopped progressive change in its tracks. Moreover, they've worked assiduously to undo those achievements that so many of us took for granted as the very markers of civilization itself.

Sometimes they have only wanted to unravel a couple of decades worth of history, as when they oppose civil rights, women's rights or environmentalism. Sometimes it is more on the order of a century, as when they seek to dismantle social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare. Sometimes their handiwork goes back several centuries, as when they find First Amendment ideas such as separation of church and state to be troublesome, or when they object to that whole pesky checks-and-balances thing. But sometimes it is the work of an entire millennium they wish to unravel, as they rip up the inconvenient notions of democracy itself, expressed as far back as the Magna Carta.

So, how 'bout it folks? Anybody here excited to return our society to the gleaming days of the 12th century? Watch where you step in the street! I mean, um, the latrine. Well, what's the difference, anyhow? And monarchy is really not so bad after all, you know -- once you get used to it. It only has a bad name because it gets treated so unfairly by the liberal press. You know, like George W. Bush.

So let's do it, huh?! Back we go!

All you nice Negroes out there, I'm afraid we're going to need to ask you to use that other drinking fountain from now on. Sorry about that. Careful with your chains, too, if you would please. And ladies, I think you remember your proper position in conservative society, do you not? That's right. Take off your shoes -- you won't be needing them anymore. Now assume the position. Careers? Oh, that's a laugh. Political equality? Such a comedian! Family planning? How's your rhythm?

We won't be bothering with environmental stewardship anymore, either. (Or, more accurately, I should say we won't be bothering with pretending to bother with environmental stewardship anymore.) When your grandkids ask why it seems so awfully toasty on Spaceship Earth these days, just tell 'em Bill Buckley sent you. But be sure to be nice to them, since you'll be hitting them up, cap-in-hand, every week, the demons of Social Security and Medicare having finally been vanquished by heroic conservatives. That begging thing you'll be getting good at in your twilight years is what nice right-wingers like to call 'self-reliance'. Bully for you -- you're finally off the government dole!

Such changes might have been hard to get through Congress, but that's only if one existed, of course! But -- the present farce notwithstanding -- having a Congress would mean having democracy, which conservatives never supported at the time it was being born. Just like they never supported American independence from the British Empire, the abolitionist movement against slavery, the social safety net, civil rights, women's rights, gay rights or environmentalism -- at least until decades later, when it was safe (and supererogatory, as Buckley might say), if they did all. Anyhow, governing is so much easier now that the unitary executive idea has migrated from slogan to metaphor to rationale to monarchy.

And hasn't it all just turned out dandy? See how thrilled Americans are with their conservative movement! Witness the record-breaking levels of support for King George! See how they rally behind his nice war in god's name! See how all the king's policies and all the king's men command the loyalty of his subjects! See the people in this election season filling the streets and ardently clamoring for "Stasis Now!" -- the very words boldly printed upon their placards! Watch them reviling the notion of change at every juncture! See them at campaign rallies, desperately seeking to stand athwart history, heroically trying to shout out "Stop!" and valiantly attempting to build a bridge to yesterday!

Yep, William F. Buckley was a smart man, all right. One can't help but think that he saw the handwriting on the wall, block letters growing every day more boldly vivid and fluorescently bright such that they have now taken over and indeed become the wall.

Conservatism has ruled America for three decades now and never more than in the last seven years. Backward, deceitful, polarizing, warlike, arrogant, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, destructive, intolerant, ignorant, lethal and incompetent -- it's just plain ugly, isn't it? Ergo -- as you might have said, Bill -- Americans have awakened sufficiently from their Buckley-induced stupor to now join the rest of the world in embracing this ideology about as much as they might welcome a whopping good case of leprosy. And with roughly the same results if they did.

Eighty-two years old, one can't help but think that smart Bill Buckley got out while the getting was good, just months before the election that would seal forever the fate of his destructive little life's project.

Perhaps he had actually come to believe his own words from an earlier time: "Some of my instincts are reprehensible."

They say he died at his desk, about to write another essay. Maybe it was entitled "The Achievements of My Life as a Conservative." And maybe it was sitting there staring at that very, very blank page that killed him.

Nepotism Blinds The Times?

We report, you decide: Yes or no. (Personally, I find the No completely unpersuasive and the Yes not incredible given the irrationality of the Pinch administration -- Judy Miller's absolute bullshit on the front page, for example.)

Response To Repression In The UK

See them here and here and here.

Freedom On The March -- In Retreat

Thank you, Beloved Leader, for restoring our pride in America, making it a beacon for freedom-lovers everywhere... who have no clue what freedom is about other than not having an oppressive leader -- wait, that's us!
A U.S. government office in Quantico, Virginia, has direct, high-speed access to a major wireless carrier's systems, exposing customers' voice calls, data packets and physical movements to uncontrolled surveillance, according to a computer security consultant who says he worked for the carrier in late 2003.

"What I thought was alarming is how this carrier ended up essentially allowing a third party outside their organization to have unfettered access to their environment," Babak Pasdar, now CEO of New York-based Bat Blue told Threat Level. "I wanted to put some access controls around it; they vehemently denied it. And when I wanted to put some logging around it, they denied that."
Pasdar won't name the wireless carrier in question, but his claims are nearly identical to unsourced allegations made in a federal lawsuit filed in 2006 against four phone companies and the U.S. government for alleged privacy violations. That suit names Verizon Wireless as the culprit.
[more -- you know you want it]

The Military Fears The Saint Because He's Nuts

Well... they have concerns....
It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep
But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing
Something's happening in the world
Your vote will decide who answers that call
Whether it's someone who already knows the world's leaders, knows the military -- someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world
It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep
Who do you want answering the phone?
That, of course, is the script from Hillary Clinton's now famous (or infamous) "3 a.m." television ad that ran in Texas just ahead of the March 4 primary. At the end of the ad, Clinton answers the phone.

Following Clinton's win of the popular vote in Texas, there seems to be general agreement among the pundits that a significant number of undecided voters were relieved by the idea of Hillary Clinton's answering the phone, rather than Barack Obama. The ad was a fear-based attack, building on a theme that has been central to Clinton's campaign. Clinton, the ad's message said, is the Democratic candidate better equipped to deal with the frightening world out there from day one. It may have scared up enough votes to keep Clinton's campaign alive by helping bring her a crucial win in Texas (notwithstanding the awarding of delegates there, still to come).

Polls show that the economy is a big deal to American voters in the 2008 election. But the apparent effectiveness of the 3 a.m. ad in Texas is a reminder of the importance of national security in voters' minds, and of just how high the stakes are for the next commander in chief. The United States is bogged down in two nasty wars, and the Army and Marine Corps are stretched thin. China and Russia are on the rise. The Middle East is roiling, and Iran continues to bluster and obfuscate over its nuclear program. Something unexpected and bad is likely to happen during the next presidency, maybe even at 3 a.m. Washington time.

But while the consensus is that the 3 a.m. ad helped Clinton, it has also drawn criticism as a tactic that ultimately benefits John McCain, particularly if he is to face Obama in the general election. In essence, Clinton has now turned the debate about commander-in-chief readiness into a contest of résumés. And the conventional wisdom is that John McCain -- ex-fighter pilot, former POW and war hero -- wins.

But that's not necessarily the case, say senior military officials and political analysts. In interviews with Salon this week, several experienced military officers said McCain draws mixed reviews among military leaders, and they expressed serious doubts about whether McCain has the right temperament to be the next president and commander in chief. Some expressed more confidence in Obama, citing his temperament as an asset.

It is not difficult in Washington to find high-level military officials who have had close encounters with John McCain's temper, and who find it worrisome. Politicians sometimes scream for effect, but the concern is that McCain has, at times, come across as out of control. It is difficult to find current or former officers willing to describe those encounters in detail on the record. That's because, by and large, those officers admire McCain. But that doesn't mean they want his finger on the proverbial button, and they are supporting Clinton or Obama instead.

"I like McCain. I respect McCain. But I am a little worried by his knee-jerk response factor," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004 and is now campaigning for Clinton. "I think it is a little scary. I think this guy's first reactions are not necessarily the best reactions. I believe that he acts on impulse."

"I studied leadership for a long time during 32 years in the military," said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, a one-time Republican who is supporting Obama. "It is all about character. Who can motivate willing followers? Who has the vision? Who can inspire people?" Gration asked. "I have tremendous respect for John McCain, but I would not follow him."

"One of the things the senior military would like to see when they go visit the president is a kind of consistency, a kind of reliability," explained retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former Republican, former chief of staff of the Air Force and former fighter pilot who flew 285 combat missions. McPeak said his perception is that Obama is "not that up when he is up and not that down when he is down. He is kind of a steady Eddie. This is a very important feature," McPeak said. On the other hand, he said, "McCain has got a reputation for being a little volatile."

Stephen Wayne, a political science professor at Georgetown who is studying the personalities of the presidential candidates, agrees McCain's temperament is of real concern. "The anger is there," Wayne said. If McCain is the one to answer the phone at 3 a.m., he said, "you worry about an initial emotive, less rational response."

Most recently, Wayne has been studying Clinton's personality. "I just gave a presentation on Hillary's temperament for the presidency. I came to the conclusion that it is not really a good presidential temperament, with one caveat -- if you compare it with McCain's."

There is no question that McCain has more national security experience than either Obama or Clinton. His five-and-a-half-year ordeal as a prisoner of war in Vietnam established him as a legitimate American hero. He served his first term in Congress starting in 1982 (when Obama was still an undergraduate at Columbia University) and has continued to be a leader on national security issues for most of his career, including serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

John Lehman, the Navy secretary during the Reagan administration and a McCain supporter, said he has known the Arizona senator for 30 years. Lehman said that in comparison with some of the people he has worked for, such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, "John McCain is a pussycat."

"I have never seen him really lose it and really be just passionately furious," Lehman said. "When I have seen him lose his temper, it is for effect."

Lehman suggested that national security experience is the far more important issue. "It creates a matrix for judgment, not only with events. It also gives you a depth of knowledge of people and institutions," he explained. "You would not go to have brain surgery in a crisis to someone who is fresh out of medical school."

McCain's outbursts have only occasionally been captured by the press. The most recent episode appeared to have occurred last May, when McCain was embroiled in immigration reform negotiations with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. Cornyn accused McCain of "parachuting" in on the negotiations. During the heated exchange that followed, McCain screamed "Fuck you!" at Cornyn, according to news reports at the time. McCain later apologized.

Such McCain episodes have occurred for many years. Strikingly, McCain has an icy relationship with some families of American service members still missing in Southeast Asia. That's in part because in a 1992 hearing he unloaded on a witness whose brother went missing during the Vietnam War. Dolores Apodaca Alfond expressed concern that the Senate panel looking into missing service members might shut down before it exhausted all the possible avenues of finding answers. "I do not denigrate your efforts," McCain thundered at her. "And I am sick and tired of you denigrating mine and many other people who have views different from you."

McCain later backpedaled from the outburst, admitting that he may have "appeared upset."

Grover Norquist, president of the conservative Republican group Americans for Tax Reform, has locked horns with McCain on domestic policy issues. He said that during those encounters, the senator has "never been anything but really pleasant to me." But Norquist adds that he has talked to U.S. senators who have told him that McCain can really blow up. "People say that you get these McCaingrams," Norquist said. "He yells at you, and before you get back to your office you get the apology note, which is the equivalent of somebody who knows that this happens and is prepared for it."

McCain's supporters will no doubt continue to assert that his experience far outweighs any alleged issues with temperament. But if past wartime presidents are a guide, experience of the kind McCain has isn't necessarily a prerequisite for performing well as commander in chief. Historians point out that presidents without any experience in the military have guided the country through some of its most dangerous conflicts.

The closest thing Woodrow Wilson had to commander-in-chief credentials was his term as governor of New Jersey. Wilson gave Franklin D. Roosevelt his only pre-Oval Office military-related experience -- by appointing him as assistant secretary of the Navy. Both presidents faced down world wars, but neither had fought in one.

"Whether it is being a prisoner of war or fighting courageously on the front -- which I respect and admire tremendously -- it doesn't necessarily give you the kind of broader perspective that you might want someone to have for making decisions that affect the lives of millions and the future of the globe," said Brian Balogh, a historian at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs. "There are people who tell you, 'I know. I saw it. I was there.' And then there are people who are often maligned with patriotic rhetoric, but who are standing at a bit of a distance" from a serious national security crisis, Balogh said. "But oddly enough, because they are standing at a bit of a distance and not personally risking their lives, they actually can see things better."

Such a view supports Obama's reiterating on the campaign trail that he had the judgment and foresight to vote against the Iraq war, when most other U.S. senators, including McCain and Clinton, voted for it.

While Clinton has no direct military experience, her campaign pushes the argument that her knowledge of national security is on a par with McCain's, making her more qualified to be commander in chief than Obama. Terry McAuliffe, the campaign chairman, keeps saying that Clinton has "visited over 80 countries" and "knows world leaders." Clinton strategist Mark Penn admitted during a conference call with reporters last week that the 3 a.m. ad was designed to highlight a "perception" that Clinton is tougher than Obama. "I think this ad speaks to what people I think very much know in their heart about Senator Clinton," Penn told reporters. Clinton, he said, is "seen as someone who is both strong and able to make these decisions."

If controversial within the Democratic Party for potentially arming McCain against Obama in a general election, it may be the only fight Clinton can pick with Obama on national security, since the Democrats have campaigned on similar national security philosophies. Their emphasis is on "soft power," or the utilization of all possible government assets and branches to secure U.S. interests and combat terrorism globally. It means a commander in chief who is willing to emphasize diplomacy and international economic policy as well as the carefully calibrated use of military force when necessary. It means that the "war" on terrorism is fought by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development as much as it is with skilled, well-equipped ground forces that can train foreign armies and call in precision air strikes.

Many military experts are enthusiastic about this departure from the Bush administration's approach, which they commonly describe with a proverb: "When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

Eaton, the retired general supporting Clinton, admits that, just like Obama's own supporters from the military, he is ultimately making a personal judgment call about her personality and temperament. "There is a toughness to this lady," he says. But it is not because she fought in any more wars than Obama. "I am convinced of that, with everything that Hillary Clinton has been through for the last 15 or 16 years from the Republican Party, from government, from her husband."

McCain, who still bears the physical scars of his captivity in Vietnam, will no doubt continue to campaign on his war experience and national security record -- it's considered by many to be the turf where he is strongest. But if his Democratic opponent -- whether Clinton or Obama -- can shift the discussion to leadership qualities, it may help disarm the Republican nominee.

Retired Rear Adm. John Hutson, who has been a Republican his entire adult life, but who now supports Obama, put it this way about facing a national security crisis: "When everybody else goes nuts, the president of the United States needs to get cooler and cooler."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

All About The Rightists' Favorite Korean

What Rev. Moon is up to these days and stuff.

The Paper Of The Distorted Record

Eliot Spitzer pisses on his campaign reform: Bad, and front page news.

The Saint does it: No problem.

Freedom In Retreat

Read it about it here.

Teaching Our Children To Be Dumb

By a 4-3 vote,The State Board of Education approved new science standards last month that were controversial because they require teaching evolution. As a compromise of sorts -- it didn't really appease opponents and angered the standards' backers -- the board inserted the phrase "scientific theory of" before the word evolution.

After the vote, John Stemberger, the head of the Florida Family Policy Council ,said social conservatives would push for an "academic freedom" measure when the Legislature convenes this month. Such a proposal would protect teachers who teach alternatives to evolution. House Speaker Marco Rubio -- who wanted evolution taught as a theory -- told the Florida Baptist Witness such a plan might gain traction in the house.

And Friday, State Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, filed just such a bill that would create an "Academic Freedom Act" and protect the right of teachers to "objectively present scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution."

The bill is much like the sample one posted on the website of the Discovery Institute, which advocates for Intelligent Design. And it is controversial because many scientists (and their backers) say there are no other "scientific views" about evolution, only religion-in-disguise beliefs.

Interestingly, during the debate on the standards, Stemberger and other opponents of the new standards said they were not pushing for the teaching of "any other theory of the origin of life." They said they want evolution taught but not as "dogma," and in a way that allows "critical analysis" of it. Much of their agenda -- and even some of their catch phrases -- seems in lockstep with the the Discovery Institute.

The Discovery Institute advocates for Intelligent Design, which holds that life on earth is best explained by an intelligent cause rather than Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

The institute also has been pushing an Academic Freedom Petition, which pushes for an academic freedom act, which says that evolution should be taught with its "strengths and weaknesses" discussed and that teachers should have the "right and freedom to present scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution."

Storms' bill (SB 2692) on "teaching chemical and biological evolution" uses similar language. You can read it here. The bill on the institute's website can be read here [and dig the Orwellian perversion of language!].

On the day the state board voted, Stemberger called adding the phrase "scientific theory" a "meaningless and impotent change."

A post on the Discovery Institute's "evolution news and views" blog that same day used the same phrase to criticize the vote, saying it did nothing "to actually inform students about the scientific problems with evolution."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


The Perfect Lame Duck Gift For Beloved Leader


Jingoism: Ticket To Lose

Is a man fit to be commander in chief if he won't even fly the flag from his buttonhole?

Does that man, Barack Obama, think he's "too good -- too patriotic! -- to wear a flag pin on his chest?" Because that's what William Kristol believes.
He's wrong.

Another Reason Why She's Not Worthy

If she appeals to McCainites, why should she get the nomination? A Dem copy of a GOP whacko always loses to the real deal (not that the DLC is aware that their tack is a relatively losing one; then again, the DLC is about money anyway); a choice, not an echo.
Interesting result from a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press: If their favored candidate is not the Democratic nominee, a quarter of Hillary Clinton's primary supporters would defect and vote for John McCain in November, while only 10 percent of Barack Obama's supporters would do the same.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Another Lying Rightist Asshole

Don't no hearings, testimony, to know Clemens did the naughty juice. Just need to look at the last few years of his career. Look and you'll clearly see he had been doing the juice and when he stopped.

But still the nasty fucker can't stop with the lies. It's not about principle but principal -- money.

So much for morality. So much for a sports hero to look up to. He arguably makes Michael Vick look good.
The genius of Roger Clemens lies in the fact that he created the monster of himself. He is both Dr. Clemenstein, inventor of a more powerful man, and Clemenstein, the age-defying result, an ogre who defines ur-masculinity today. He is a big, white Republican who makes his own rules, lies, cheats, and mixes family values and intimidation. Roger Clemens also manipulated and sacrificed associates to accomplish his mission. He was able to do this not only because scientific additions made him bigger and stronger, but because subtractions enabled him to believe in the preeminence of the creature he had become. The drugs went in and the soul came out.

We will see him go down.

Of course, it's too late to matter much; like the present President, he's already done his damage. Clemens has proven -- as have Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, among others -- that Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) really work. This will mostly benefit Big Pharma when it renames such chemicals Health Enhancing Drugs (HEDs) and finds ways to prescribe them for the newly created disease of losing sports competitions. (Consider how the makers of Paxil made shyness into the diagnosable social anxiety disorder.)

It's too bad that the issue has become the ethics of enhancement rather than the science of enhancement -- on which we still don't have much useful data. Exactly which drugs do what? And what are the long-term effects? It's amazing how little we know (or perhaps want to know) about PEDs beyond the way they have affirmed and endorsed the nation's addiction to quick-fix upgrades. Old guys popping monkey glands, rhino tusks, and testosterone to prolong the torrents of spring seemed ridiculous until cops, rappers, mercenaries, and home-run hitters began shooting steroids.

Traditional logic might suggest that our real heroes would be found among our warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan, brave men and women risking death to subdue an enemy while saving each other. But revulsion towards those wars leaves sports and Hollywood as the idol pools of choice. We get Sylvester Stallone, who used chemicals to pump himself back up into Rambo, and Clemens who became the greatest pitcher of our time… even after his time should have expired.

Clemens ruled. The images of two of baseball's best current players, Alex Rodriguez and Mike Piazza, were badly wounded in confrontations with him. His personal trainer, Brian McNamee, and his friend and mentee, Andy Pettitte, have also been hurt.

Clemens' signature tactic, whether on the mound or in the meeting room, is intimidation. Some of it's a simple matter of size; Clemens is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds. But Rodriguez and Piazza are 6-3/200, and Pettitte is 6-5/235, so some of it has to be force of will. The Rocket is scary because he's evidently prepared to do anything to dominate and win. He seems to have no moral delay.

In 2000, which would put The Rocket on PEDs (if conventional wisdom is true), Clemens, then a Yankee, knocked down Rodriguez, then the Seattle Mariners's star, twice in his first at-bat in Game Four of the American League championship series. It was bravura gamesmanship, scaring A-Rod and his teammates away from digging in at the plate. Clemens went on to dominate the game and win.

Rodriguez and Clemens argued after the head-hunting, but nothing came of it. It was at that moment, I suspect, that Rodriguez first began to be perceived as soft, as something of a whiner by the media -- an image he's enhanced since by being slippery and shallowly introspective in his interviews. Had he stood up to Clemens, maybe even charged the mound that day and taken him on, his manhood would never have been questioned.

The Piazza story is worse. In an inter-league game during the regular season of 2000, a month after Piazza hit a grand-slam homer off him, Clemens threw an inside fastball at the popular Mets catcher. The pitch bounced off Piazza's hand and head. He suffered a concussion. Despite some harsh words, Piazza didn't charge the mound. One could imagine him rationally dismissing the notion of escalating the conflict, setting a poor example to his young fans, distracting his teammates.

There was anticipation of a "rematch" at the 2000 World Series. In his first at-bat in Game Two, Piazza broke his bat on a Clemens' pitch. A piece of the bat skipped out to the mound. Clemens picked it up and heaved it in Piazza's direction. The pitcher later ludicrously claimed that he thought he was fielding a ball coming toward him. Not surprisingly, officials didn't believe that, fining him $50,000. It was cheap at the price; after that incident he went on to dominate the game and win.

In the machismo universe of big-league sports, not running out and belting the bully after this second blatant provocation meant Piazza, as absurd as it might seem, was looking for trouble. He got it. Soon after, rumors swirled that he was gay, the lover of a TV weatherman. Eventually, Piazza came out as a heavy metal fan, got married, had a child, and eventually left New York, finally escaping the talk-radio attacks on his manhood. He's spent the last two years playing for San Diego and Oakland.

Clemens took Andy Pettitte, a likeable left-handed pitcher from Texas, under his wing when they were teammates for the Yankees and then the Houston Astros. Clemens included him in rigorous workouts with McNamee. When the trainer later named Clemens and Pettitte as drug users, The Rocket denied everything -- even Pettitte's testimony that Clemens had talked to him about using HGH. Pettitte admitted using the drug himself, but only twice -- to recover from injury and thus help his team. He claimed that he had gotten the drug from his sick father, who was using it legally. The media found McNamee a pitiable hanger-on and Pettitte, once a media favorite, was tagged Andy Pathetic.

Neither of them had stayed hard like The Rocket, who continues to hang tough even as his denials lose credence. He is tough. His biological father left when he was an infant and his step-father died when he was 9. He has been quoted as saying he's jealous of other players only when their fathers show up in the clubhouse. Maybe that's why he became friends with George H.W. Bush, the former president who found him in the deer blind.

Clemens has been the best pitcher of our time for as long as we can remember. When the Red Sox traded him to Toronto in 1996, the Boston general manager said he was "in the twilight of his career." So Clemens, like Ronald Reagan, declared it morning again. In 1997 and 1998, he won his fourth and fifth Cy Young Awards as the American League's best pitcher. When he won his record seventh, in 2004, he was 42, the oldest ever to win one.

Even if drugs were involved, they were nowhere near enough to account for the man's accomplishments. Clemens had rage beyond ‘roids, and an amazing ability to channel it into discipline, hard exercise, and the demonic need to win. He could bring that rage out of his belly and send it along his right arm to his fingertips and then into a hurtling baseball.

Dominating at work, he is also lord of his breakfast table. His wife, Debra, whom he married in 1984, reportedly took HGH at his suggestion to buff up for a Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread. She was pushing 40 at the time and nervous about the bikini shoot. Check out the results at In one shot, Roger lounges between her legs while she holds a bat.

Roger and Debbie have four sons, Koby, Kacy, Kory, and Kody, their names signifying their dad's passion for K's -- baseball's shorthand for strikeouts. Koby, who signed a pro contract three years ago at 18, once hit a homer off Roger in an exhibition game. In Koby's next at-bat, Roger threw close to his son's head to back him off the plate.

Oedipus wrecks. If only Papa Bush had been as tough as Roger and whacked the real monster's head.

The Saint: NO Flip-Flopper On Economic Matters But A Dervish

Flip-flopping and spinning so fast no one can keep up with him. The man is liable to do anything, anytime, or maybe everything at once, no matter how contradictory.
The all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee cast himself as a defender of the Bush tax cuts he voted against, but added caveats to a "no new taxes" vow he made on a Sunday television talk show two weeks ago.

On Social Security, the Arizona senator says he still backs a system of private retirement accounts that President Bush pushed unsuccessfully, and disowned details of a Social Security proposal on his campaign Web site.

Sen. McCain said the Federal Reserve should cut interest rates now to bolster the economy, but added that as president, he couldn't be so explicit on monetary policy. "Presidents have to be careful so they're not perceived as putting undue political pressure on the Fed," he said. "So I would certainly be more careful than I am today."

With the U.S. economy softening, he said he might have "a couple of fireside chats with the American people because of what we see in the [consumer] confidence barometers." But he added that the most potent economic stimulus would be to assure Americans that taxes won't go up in the future and to "call for a meaningful -- and I mean meaningful -- approach to simplifying the tax code so that it's fairer and flatter."

Those who know him well expect that a McCain presidency would be hard to categorize -- a conservative populist who acts by instinct rather than economic ideology. For businesses, that could make him hard to predict; for opponents, hard to pin down. In his 25 years in Congress, the Arizona senator has defined himself on economic issues more by his adversaries than by overarching economic principle.

"Sometimes he sees excesses in government and sometimes he sees excesses in the corporate world, and both make him sick," says John Raidt, a longtime McCain policy aide.

As chairman or senior Republican member of the Senate Commerce Committee -- which oversees old-line industries such as railroads as well as businesses such as the Internet -- he has squeezed broadcasters to hand back valuable airwaves and cable companies to let consumers pay for individual channels, rather than having to buy an expensive bundle. Despite these fights, media industries now are among his biggest campaign contributors, realizing that even if he loses the presidency, he'll still have a big say in their businesses as a lawmaker.

But his congressional assignments haven't forced him to wrestle with broader issues of tax, monetary and Social Security policy.


Sen. McCain's 2008 presidential campaign Web site takes a different view, proposing "supplementing" the existing full Social Security system with personally managed accounts. Such accounts wouldn't substitute for guaranteed payments, and they wouldn't be financed by diverting a portion of Social Security payroll taxes.

Mr. McCain's chief economic aide, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former head of the Congressional Budget Office, says economic circumstances forced changes concerning Social Security policy. Vast budget surpluses projected in 2000 evaporated with a recession, the Bush tax cuts and the cost of responding to Sept. 11.

As a result, the McCain campaign says the candidate intends to keep Social Security solvent by reducing the growth in benefits over the coming decades to match projected growth in payroll tax revenues. Among the options are extending the retirement age to 68 and reducing cost-of-living adjustments, but the campaign hasn't made any final decisions.

"You can't keep promises made to retirees," says Mr. Holtz-Eakin, referring to the level of benefits the government is supposed to pay future retirees. "But you can pay future retirees more than current retirees."

Asked about the apparent change in position in the interview, Sen. McCain said he hadn't made one. "I'm totally in favor of personal savings accounts," he says. When reminded that his Web site says something different, he says he will change the Web site. (As of Sunday night, he hadn't.) "As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it -- along the lines that President Bush proposed."

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Victory In Afghanistan

For its poppy farmers and heroin addicts around the world.

Our Leaders' Conservative Appointees

Now-ex-bankruptcy judge/cross-dresser (not that there's anything wrong with that, just the hypocrisy).

What Was Lost

Thank God someone feels that death doesn't give William Buckley a pass for any responsibility for modern "conservatism".
With yesterday's passing of conservative icon William F. Buckley, mourners from both sides of the partisan divide have stepped forward to praise the man's intellectual fervor and gentlemanly demeanor. The general consensus seems to be that whether you agreed with his political beliefs or not, you had to acknowledge his innate decency and fairness. Fair enough. And let's not forget the history he stood athwart yelling "Stop!" Radar remembers some of the great man's finest thoughts.

• "...[G]ay marriage, gay marriage, gay marriage—I wish more gays would move to Canada. Just kidding."—National Review, July 28, 2003

• "Resentment is firm against homosexual advances toward children, but the question is not explored whether that crime—which was then, continues to be, and will be in the future, a sin—has increased in proportion to the toleration of the practice at an adult level."—National Review, May, 6 2002

• "When it was black men persecuting white or black men—in the Congo, for instance—he was strangely silent on the issue of human rights. The human rights of Chinese, or of Caucasians living behind the Iron Curtain never appeared to move him."—On Martin Luther King, Jr., 1979

• "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi, or I'll sock you in your goddamn face and you'll stay plastered."—To Gore Vidal, 1968

• "[The civil rights movement] called for nothing less, when analyzed, than the evanescence of color. Since no such thing could be brought about, can be brought about, there is a sense of disappointment among those civil rights workers who somehow permitted themselves to believe that the passage of a few bits and pieces of legislation would transform the life of the American Negro..."—National Review, July 19, 1966

• "New York should undertake to quarantine all addicts, even as smallpox carriers would be quarantined during a plague."—The Unmaking of the Mayor, 1965

• "The Beatles are not merely awful.... They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of antimusic."—September 8, 1964

• "But whatever the exact net result in the restricted field of school desegregation, what a price we are paying for Brown! It would be ridiculous to hold the Supreme Court solely to blame for the ludicrously named 'civil rights movement'—that is, the Negro revolt.... But the Court carries its share of the blame."—National ReviewJune 2, 1964

• "[T]he White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race."

"The South confronts one grave moral challenge. It must not exploit the fact of Negro backwardness to preserve the Negro as a servile class.... Let the South never permit itself to do this."

"[T]he South's premises are correct.... It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority."—National Review, August 24, 1957

One Of The Saint's BFFs

In his effort to curry favor with conservative Republican activists, John McCain has worked hard to cuddle up to Religious Right leaders. But voters should know who exactly he’s been courting.

This week McCain campaigned with Rod Parsley, founder and president of “The Center for Moral Clarity” and leader of the right-wing “Patriot Pastors” (a church based campaign that was infamous for referring to political opponents as “secular jihadists,” the “forces of darkness,” and the “hordes of hell.”)

Just yesterday, he accepted the support of John Hagee, founder of “Christians United For Israel” and a vocal supporter of preemptive, religious war with Iran.

Rod Parsley, whom McCain has called a “spiritual guide” has in the past:
  • called hate crimes legislation a “deceptive ploy of [the] liberal, homosexual agenda.”
  • advocated criminal prosecution of adulterers.
  • compared Planned Parenthood to the Nazis.
  • declared “I came to incite a riot! Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!” at a “War on Christians” conference.
  • urged voters to “let the Reformation begin! Shout it like you’re going to carry the blood-stained banner of the cross of Christ the length and breadth of the Buckeye State!” at a political rally.
Not one to make a right-wing supporter feel left out, McCain said, “I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee’s support.” Hagee has:
  • predicted God will allow terrorists to strike the United States if the government is insufficiently supportive of Israel.
  • preached that US invasion of Iran is foretold in the book of Esther.
  • claimed that George Washington designed the Great Seal of the United States to include a hidden menorah in the eagle’s tail feathers.
  • accused the Catholic of joining with Hitler in “a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.”
  • argued that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.”
“For a man the media loves to call a maverick, McCain sure spends a lot of time holding hands with the Religious Right,” said People For the American Way Political Director Mary Jean Collins. “McCain’s embracing Parsley and Hagee is a sign that either he’s changed his mind about what constitutes an ‘agent of intolerance’ or he’s decided that a little extremism in pursuit of power is no vice.”

Inside The CIA Videotapes

The Top 16 Surprise Revelations
From the CIA Videotape Investigation

They almost all feature a pizza delivery boy, pool technician, or visiting plumber.

All a big misunderstanding that began when they tried to order waterbeds for the prisoners.

Special guest interrogator? A visibly aroused Dick Cheney.

Nine out of ten interrogators agree: Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" is the best tune to waterboard to.

Bush tells interrogators to threaten prisoners with even harsher punishment during his third term.

When they ran out of water, Ann Coulter would spit in the detainee's mouth.

"Waterboarding" pales in comparison to "naked-Chihuahua-butt-boarding."

Republican leaders are outraged by the destruction of the videos -- and scrambling to find alternate entertainment for the convention.

Rumsfeld kept asking to borrow the electric nipple clips, yet had no prisoner to interrogate.

There were 72 women on the tape but they definitely were not the virgin type.

Lots of quick cuts and irritating slanted angles because they hired out-of-work MTV cameramen. On the plus side, "Gitmo Spring Break" looks pretty awesome.

Not a lot of torture on the film, but a disturbingly large amount of footage of Dick Cheney eating live babies.

The "Coming Soon" trailers include Iran and North Korea.

On the tapes the investigators reviewed, Special Agent Hilton sure didn't seem to mind being tortured.

"This Interrogation is brought to you by the letters 'C,' 'I,' and 'A!'"

and the Number 1 Surprise Revelation From the CIA Videotape Investigation...

Condi Rice doesn't look nearly as frumpy when she's in a leather jumpsuit and wielding a whip.

It's Mutual: I Am Not Welcomed By Conservatives Other Than As A Patsy

David Brooks has a nice column about Buckley today, here. I was re-reading Sam Tanenhaus's terrific TNR piece of a while back, here, and came across what I took to be this remarkable passage, which I reprint without comment:
In 1997, when he was scouring the ranks of talented younger conservatives to find a new editor for National Review, Buckley eliminated one prospect, his one time protege David Brooks, a rising star at The Weekly Standard. In a memo to board members, Buckley reported that he had discussed Brooks with NR alum George Will: "I said that I thought it would be wrong for the next editor to be other than a believing Christian. He agreed and added that the next editor should not be a Canadian" -- a possible reference to conservative writer David Frum.
(Emphasis added.)

So since I'm not a "believing Christian", I guess I couldn't be a true conservative if I cared to.

Or to put it this way to the conservative leadership: Fuck you and your so-called conservative, anti-American asses too.

Another Failure To Succeed In Iraq

Iraq is disintegrating faster than ever. The Turkish army invaded the north of the country last week and is still there. Iraqi Kurdistan is becoming like Gaza where the Israel can send in its tanks and helicopters at will. The US, so sensitive to any threat to Iraqi sovereignty from Iran or Syria, has blandly consented to the Turkish attack on the one part of Iraq which was at peace.

The Turkish government piously claims that its army is in pursuit of PKK Turkish Kurd guerrillas, but it is unlikely to inflict serious damage on them as they hide in long-prepared bunkers and deep ravines of the Kurdish mountains. What the Turkish incursion is doing is weakening the Kurdistan Regional Government, the autonomous Kurdish zone, the creation of which is one of the few concrete achievements of the US and British invasion of Iraq five years ago.

One of the most extraordinary developments in the Iraqi war has been the success with which the White House has been able to persuade so much of the political and media establishment in the US that, by means of 'the Surge', an extra 30,000 US troops, it is on the verge of political and military success in Iraq. All that is needed now, US generals argue, is political reconciliation between the Iraqi communities.

Few demands could be more hypocritical. American success in reducing the level of violence over the last year has happened precisely because Iraqis are so divided. The Sunni Arabs of Iraq were the heart of the rebellion against the American occupation since 2003. In fighting the US forces they were highly successful.

But in 2006, after the bombing of the Shia shrine at Samarra, Baghdad and central Iraq was wracked by a savage civil war between Shia and Sunni. In some months the bodies of 3,000 civilians were found and many others lie buried in the desert or disappeared into the river. I do not know an Iraqi family that did not lose a relative and usually more than one.

The Shia won this civil war. By the end of 2006 they held three quarters of Baghdad. The Sunni rebels, fighting the Mehdi Army Shia militia and the Shia-dominated Iraqi army and police, and also under pressure from al Qa'ida, decided to end their war with US forces. They formed al-Sahwa, the Awakening movement, which is now allied to and paid for by the US.

In effect Iraq now has an 80,000 strong Sunni militia which does not hide its contempt for the Iraqi government which it claims is dominated by Iranian controlled militias. The former anti-American guerrillas have largely joined al-Sahwa. The Shia majority, for its part, is determined not to let the Sunni win back their old control of the Iraqi state. Power in Iraq is more fragmented than ever.

This all may sound like good news for America. For the moment its casualties are down. Fewer Iraqi civilians are being slaughtered. But the Sunni have not fallen in love with the occupation. The fundamental weakness of the US position in Iraq remains its lack of reliable allies outside Kurdistan.

At one moment British officers used to lecture their American counterparts, much to their irritation, about the British Army's rich experience of successful counter-insurgency warfare in Malaya and Northern Ireland. "That showed a fundamental misunderstanding of Iraq on our part," a former British officer in Basra told me in exasperation. "In Malaya the guerrillas all came from the minority Chinese community and in Northern Ireland from the minority Roman Catholics. Basra was exactly the opposite. The majority supported our enemies. We had no friends there."

This lack of allies may not be so immediately obvious in Baghdad and central Iraq because both Shia and Sunni are willing and at times eager to make tactical alliances with US forces. But in the long term neither Sunni nor Shia Arab want the Americans to stay in Iraq. Hitherto the only reliable American allies have been the Kurds who are now discovering that Washington is not going to protect them against Turkey.

Very little is holding Iraq together. The government is marooned in the Green Zone. Having declared the Surge a great success the US military commanders need just as many troops to maintain a semblance of control now as they did before the Surge. The mainly Shia police force regards al-Sahwa as anti-government guerrillas wearing new uniforms.

The Turkish invasion should have given the government in Baghdad a chance to defend Iraq's territorial integrity and burnish its patriotic credentials. Instead the prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has chosen this moment to have his regular medical check up in London, a visit which his colleagues say is simply an excuse to escape Baghdad. Behind him he has left a country which is visibly falling apart.

Yet Another Success Of Our Leaders'

Are you better off than you were eight years ago?
The dollar sank to a record low against the euro as U.S. home prices and consumer confidence tumbled, bolstering bets the Federal Reserve will keep reducing interest rates.

The U.S. currency declined to the weakest level since the euro began trading in 1999, and slumped against all 16 of its most-active counterparts.

A Radical America-Hating Wingnut Whose Ass The Saint Claims Not To Want To Get Caught Kissing Anymore


Life In These United States: Wingnut Hypocrisy


Another Success For Our Leaders In Iraq: Can't Get Our Political Contributors To Build An Embassy In Five Years


Straight Talk Hypocricy

The man who pushed campaign reform... is against it. Look!

Whack-A-Pundit: Russert

I discussed this in the live debate blog. But I think it's worth going back and watching Russert's run of shame here. I would say it was borderline to bring up the issue of Farrakhan at all. But perhaps since it's getting some media play you bring it up just for the record, for Obama to address.

That's not what Russert did. He launches into it, gets into a parsing issue over word choices, then tries to find reasons to read into the record some of Farrakhan's vilest quotes after Obama has just said he denounces all of them. Then he launches into a bizarre series of logical fallacies that had Obama needing to assure Jews that he didn't believe that Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness".

As a Jew and perhaps more importantly simply as a sentient being I found it disgusting. It was a nationwide, televised, MSM version of one of those noxious Obama smear emails.
Late Update: TPM Reader RMS does some close analysis ...

I think that breaking down Russert's Wright/Farrakhan questioning helps illuminate how truly bizarre it is:
1. The title of Obama's book, "The Audacity of Hope," came from a sermon delivered by Jeremiah Wright. Wright is Obama's pastor.

2. Wright is the "head" of United Trinity Church.

3. Wright said that Louis Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness."

4. Wright went with Farrakhan in 1984 to visit Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

5. Farrakhan has said that Judaism is a "gutter religion."

6. Wright said that when Obama's political opponents found out about the Libya visit, Obama's Jewish support would dry up "faster than a snowball in Hell."

Russert's question is then "What do you do to assure Jewish Americans... you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness."

The first question about Farrakhan—and Russert's insistence on mentioning Farrakhan's views regarding Judaism after Obama had already denounced Farrakhan's bigotry—was all foreplay leading up to this masterstroke in which Russert synthesizes the six discrete facts into a knockout punch of innuendo and guilt by association: perhaps Obama thinks that Louis Farrakhan, the man Obama explicitly denounced not one minute before, is the very epitome of greatness.

All of the stuff about going to Libya, Farrakhan's "gutter religion" comment, and Jewish supporting drying up like a snowball in hell—that was all totally unnecessary to reach the ultimate question, but wasn't it fun?
Watch the action:

Words Of Wisdom From Beloved Leader

TPM Reader FZ:
Maybe people didn't pay much attention to President Bush's presser today, but he did say this regarding the incursion of Iraq by Turkey:

"The Turks need to move quickly, achieve their objective, and get out."

Quite an astonishing statement, as we head into the sixth year of our own objective.

The Wingnut Joke, Part 2

Funny Of The Day

The cartoonist is in fact wrong or running a ten year old strip. This does not show the future of politics in America but rather the present and recent past, brought to us by the Clintons and their beloved DLC.


What's Really Happening At Gitmo

A psychiatrist who has treated former military personnel at Guantánamo prison camp is telling a story of prisoner torture and guard suicide there, recounted to him by a National Guardsman who worked at Guantánamo just after it opened.

Dr. John R. Smith, 75, is a Oklahoma City psychiatrist who has done worked at military posts during the past few years. He is also a consultant for the University of Oklahoma's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services, and is affiliated with the Veteran's Affairs Administration Hospital in Oklahoma City. The court-appointed psychiatric examination of Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the Murrah Federal Building in 1995, was conducted by Smith. A few years ago, he became a contract physician, treating active duty members of the US military in need of psychotherapy.

Smith spoke on February 22, 2008, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, held in Washington DC. His presentation dealt with the psychological impact on guards of working at Guantánamo . He focused on a chilling case history, of a patient he called "Mr. H."
Smith described Mr. H as a blue-collar Latino in his 40s who had done routine service in the National Guard for years before being called up to Kuwait. Then, shortly after 9/11, he was diverted from Kuwait to Guantánamo . The detention camp had just opened. Mr. H was deployed there to work as a guard.

Untrained for the job, Mr. H was taken aback by the detainees. They threw feces and urine on him, said Smith, and tried to get him to sneak letters out, telling him that if he didn't, "they would see to it that his family suffered the consequences." The prisoners also mocked Mr. H, that his being in the military made him "a traitor" to Latinos and other minorities. Mr. H was confused and terrified.

Meanwhile, according to Smith, "this good Catholic man with a family who had pretty much always followed the rules" was called on to participate in torture. One of his jobs was "to take detainees to certain places and see that they were handcuffed in difficult positions, usually naked, in anticipation of interrogation." Mr. H often watched the questioning. He saw prisoners pushed until they fell down, then cut. They responded to the torture with "defecation, vomiting, urinating," and "psychotic reactions: bizarre screaming and crying."

Smith noted that Mr. H said he was "required to handcuff and push to the ground detainees who were naked." The prisoners were also made to "remain on sharp stones on their knees." Detainees, Mr. H told Smith, would try to avoid interrogation by rubbing their knees until they bled in order be taken to the prison hospital.

According to Smith, Mr. H's comment about these events "was poignant and simple: 'It was wrong what we did.'" While still at Guantánamo , he responded to being a participant in torture "with guilt, crying and tears. But of course it was forbidden to talk with anyone about what he was experiencing." He "became more and more depressed." Apparently, so did other military personnel. Smith said Mr. H told him that in the first month he was at Guantánamo , two guards committed suicide.

Smith said that by the time he saw Mr. H, he "had become very ill. He was suicidal, terribly depressed, anxious," and "riddled with insomnia and horrible dreams and flashbacks." He had already seen two military therapists and not improved. But those therapists "were active duty and he didn't dare tell them" what had happened at Guantánamo . Smith was not active duty, and after two or three sessions Mr. H opened up. With medication and psychotherapy, he became less suicidal but was still too sick to do any more military service.

Three years later after treating Mr. H, Smith got three new patients who were guards at Guantánamo on later tours. They said conditions were much improved --"they loved it at Guantánamo and went swimming in the Caribbean." Still, one guard was having problems directly related to his work there. He "described having to cut down a detainee" who tried to hang himself after chewing through an artery in his own arm. There was blood everywhere. When the guard left Guantánamo , he was suffering from "anxiety attacks, panic attacks."

Smith said his presentation at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting was the first time he'd ever spoken publicly about his Guantánamo patients. He decided to talk, he said, because he is concerned that veterans are generally ineligible for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) disability benefits if the condition is not caused by combat. He considers the guards of Guantánamo "an overlooked group of victims." But in making that case, Smith stepped into a unique role. Heretofore, almost all accounts of torture at Guantánamo have come from non-governmental human rights groups or detainees and their defense lawyers. The FBI accounts in 2004 were contradictory. Smith, a prestigious physician, relayed accounts from inside the military.

A Wingnut Joke

The Saint Has Flip-Flopped So Often, So Many Times, He's Forgotten What He Is

More Secure, More Ripped Off

Huh? Read how now.

The Lies of Micro$oft

I've ranted for years about the constant dishonesty that comes from M$. During a stint following the tech industry, I found honesty and factual honesty from the company maybe, and I do not exaggerate, three times. Less, I believe. Then, so much of its billions in profit comes from forcing crap down people's throats. Contrary to the geeks, there is no free market for OSes to any significant degree and therefore Windows has not been really tested in the marketplace.

But that was then, this is now.

And see recent lies here.

Another Sign Of Hopelessness For Iraq

I was going to say that this is all part of a deliberate plan to pass the Iraqi mess to Iran and let responsibility for it undermine the Irani regime.

But that's silly. Our two primary goals in Iraq are controlling the oil and establishing permanent bases. Neither of which Iran would support.

No, all this is a sign of how uncontrolable what we created in Iraq is.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived Sunday in Baghdad for the first-ever visit by an Iranian president to Iraq, walking a red carpet past Iraqi troops to meet the president of a once-bitter enemy nation that's now under growing Iranian influence.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani greeted Ahmadinejad at his car and the two kissed four times on the cheeks in the traditional fashion. A military honor guard saluted the two and a band played the two countries' national anthems as they walked slowly down the red carpet at Talabani's headquarters.

The visit gives Ahmadinejad a chance to highlight the relationship his nation has with post-Saddam Hussein Iraq while also serving as an act of defiance toward the U.S., which accuses Iran of training and giving weapons to Shiite extremists in Iraq.

Hil Entertains

You know, I run these Dem viddies for entertainment and in no way as an endorsement. Fun is fun.... (Of course, the Saint is a visceral issue... well, I mean, he's evil or at least completely inept and well, at risk of vulgarity, he did far more good for this country during his stay at the Hanoi Hilton than he ever would as prezzy.)