Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Beats - David Holmes - "Come Get It I Got It"

In 15 Years, the High School and college students who are experimenting with LSD will be running many of our institutions and guiding public policy. Remember, the college students who are using LSD and Marijuana today do not comprise a criminal class. They are not drug addicts trying to escape. They are your best educated, your most creative and your most courageous young people. And, like it or not, they are going to build you a new civilization.
This is a mix album, so David Holmes didn't write or perform all the tracks on this one. He was setting up his new band, the Free Association, and so showcased their work on a lot of tracks; largely instrumental works with sampled lines or dialog. The whole mix feels like a trip back to the dirty sixties and the funky seventies. The spirit of the age of Aquarius sticks through these tracks, even as they portray the national degradation rites of the 1970s. They are dirty and glorious at the same time. Stand out tracks include "Sugarman" by Sixto Rodriguez, "Tom Cat" by Muddy Waters, "Sweet Songs" by the Jujus, and "Ode a L'Affaire" by Andre Perry.

What makes this mix strong in my mind is the variety within consistency. The songs span the range of tempos and moods, but they all seem to come from the same time and place.

Anyway here's a fan created video to "Sugarman" by Sixto Rodriguez.

100 Years

Charles Krauthammer's latest article takes on Liberal glee over a recent line by John McCain. Here I'll let Krauthhammer tell it.
Asked at a New Hampshire campaign stop about possibly staying in Iraq 50 years, John McCain interrupted -- "Make it a hundred" -- then offered a precise analogy to what he envisioned: "We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so." Lest anyone think he was talking about prolonged war-fighting rather than maintaining a presence in postwar Iraq, he explained: "That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed."

And lest anyone persist in thinking he was talking about war-fighting, he told his questioner: "It's fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintained a presence in a very volatile part of the world."
He then attacks liberals for making hay over his 100 years comment, implying that it is disingenuous of us to suggest that he is find with our troops being killed in Iraq for 100 years.

A couple of responses come to mind here. First of all, I doubt Krauthammer scolded people on his side of the fence when the made up nonsensical responses to Kerry's statement that we need to fight a more sensitive war on terror. Remember the humor that line provoked, as Republican Pundit after Republican Pundit envisioned a President who would be sending the Terrorists poems and flowers?

And, frankly, the criticisms that we might be in Iraq for 100 years are based far more on reality than your sides jabs. McCain has said that he has no intention of pulling our troops out until we "win." So we will have our troops in Iraq until Americans are not being "injured or harmed or wounded or killed" in the war we seem to be in the middle of. And then, after we've defeated whoever it is we are to defeat in Iraq we will be happy to leave our soldiers in there for 100 years.

Sure sounds like, either way, we aren't pulling our troops out of Iraq any time soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Worth Looking At

I'm kind of drained writing about some of this stuff, but I will point you to a good article on the Jeremiah Wright by Robert Scheer.

Honoring the Dead

I'm sure you've heard by now that we've passed 4,000 dead in Iraq. This has sparked some discussion of the cost of the Iraq War and whether or not it's been worth it, as well as honoring the sacrifices of those who have given their lives for this country. Cal Thomas has a very specific way in which we should honor our heroic dead, expressed in his latest article.
Now the Times has published more pictures, names and ages, this time of American war dead. They are part of the 4,000 casualties to have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan since those wars began. They - and their families - deserve our gratitude.

Some politicians who oppose the war - mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans - offer obligatory and oblique references to "the troops" and their bravery, while undermining their sacrifice and objectives by calling for their immediate withdrawal. That is not a policy, unless one regards surrender and retreat only to fight a bloodier war another day policy.
So in order to honor the sacrifices of these 4,000 dead we have to stay in Iraq until victory is achieved (please note that the key term, victory, is not defined). It's the only way to honor these soldiers is to finish the mission they gave their lives trying to accomplish. Kind of a straightjacket isn't it? Because not only does it commit us to staying in Iraq for 100 years (as McCain suggested), it can be stretched to suggest that we have support pursuing the evil doers to Iran and beyond.

I think a better way to honor the dead is for the civilians of this country to live up to our side of the compact and demand that our troops only be used when necessary and that they not be wasted in foolish wars such as our invasion of Iraq and the proposed invasion of Iran.

Oh and please don't feel like you have to point out that we aren't going to invade Iran. You might be right, but clearly there are elements in the current administration and in John McCains advisers that want to.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Even handed

Boy do I look forward to the day when I can get away from Jeremiah Wright. But that day hasn't come yet. Today's article is from Kathleen Parker who tries to be evenhanded. She notes, for example, that Blacks justifiably see America differently than Whites.
The historical experience of blacks and whites in this country couldn't be more different. Whites know it intellectually, but blacks feel it viscerally. No matter how many books we read or movies we watch, whites can never quite grasp what it is to be black or to be descended from people who were denied their humanity and enslaved by whites with the benign approval of the state.

But we didn't do it, we protest. Our children aren't guilty. When is enough enough? Why must preachers such as Wright insist on fanning those flames?

White Americans want to put race behind them, to move on.
All that is fair enough, but at the end, Kathleen parker wants to put race behind herself as bad as the Whites she seems to be chastising. She ends her article chastising Obama for not taking the white side in this argument.
Between a history of distrust born of painful experience -- and people like Wright who keep that history alive and well-stoked -- racial harmony will require more than hope. It will also require that people like Obama speak up and object to harmful rhetoric, sooner rather than later, even if it hurts the ones he loves.
It sounds very much like in Parkers mind the way to solve racial problems is to ignore them. You see that in a lot of the conservative criticisms of Obama's speech; why didn't he just tell Black America that everything is fine (for a nasty version of this argument see Jonah Goldberg's latest article "A Race Conversation? What Are You Talking About?"). Why did Obama have to acknowledge racial injustice, and how it is built into the fabric of our society?

Like it or not, I think Obama took the right tack in his speech; now we get to find out how badly Whites wanted to hear "everything is fine in America."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to tell if people respect you?

Don't guy by when you agree on an issue. Everybody respects someone who has the good sense to be saying what they are already thinking. No the key is when you disagree on an issue. If they respect you, they will engage with you, try to figure out where you are coming from, hell maybe even get angry. Because you matter.

On the other hand if they immediately drop the issue, or steamroll you, or brush your concerns and ideas aside, well, they don't respect you.


Yesterday I was super busy work wise and so didn't have time to update. Today I'm not that busy, but I am super pissed off so probably not going to write much. I will direct you to this editorial by David Brooks, who's a conservative idiot at the New York Times. That sad thing is that he's not wrong.
For three more months (maybe more!) the campaign will proceed along in its Verdun-like pattern. There will be a steady rifle fire of character assassination from the underlings, interrupted by the occasional firestorm of artillery when the contest touches upon race, gender or patriotism. The policy debates between the two have been long exhausted, so the only way to get the public really engaged is by poking some raw national wound.

For the sake of that 5 percent, this will be the sourest spring. About a fifth of Clinton and Obama supporters now say they wouldn’t vote for the other candidate in the general election. Meanwhile, on the other side, voters get an unobstructed view of the Republican nominee. John McCain’s approval ratings have soared 11 points. He is now viewed positively by 67 percent of Americans. A month ago, McCain was losing to Obama among independents by double digits in a general election matchup. Now McCain has a lead among this group.

For three more months, Clinton is likely to hurt Obama even more against McCain, without hurting him against herself. And all this is happening so she can preserve that 5 percent chance.
Hard to argue with that. But it's primary season, so Ms. Clinton obviously has the right to fight this as long as she wants to.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Glenn Greenwald, National Treasure

Maybe that's premature, but he's certainly been on fire this week. His latest post is about the fifth anniversary of Iraq, and touches on some issues I mentioned yesterday.
Imagine if you went to a hospital to have an operation on your knee, and your surgeon completely botched it, permanently shattering your knee instead of fixing it and, in the process, needlessly removing your healthy kidney and recklessly causing damage to your heart and lungs. Then, as you tried to decide what you should do to rectify the damage -- and you sought out the advice of doctors who presciently warned you not to have that doctor operate -- the guilty surgeon insisted that he be allowed to operate again to fix it and that you listen to him regarding what should be done.

And when you screamed at the guilty surgeon -- as every sane person would -- to stay as far away from you as possible and that he was the last person from whom you wanted advice, he kept telling you: "Oh, forget about the past. This isn't about assigning blame. What matters is figuring out what to do now." You would think such a person insane for that line of thought. But that's exactly what war advocates like Anne-Marie Slaughter -- and John McCain -- are insisting that we do. That's how the establishment can insist that the Iraq War is an asset for John McCain even though Americans overwhelmingly think that his support for it was a grave mistake. "Forget the past."

5 Years of War

Diana Wests latest article, over at Townhall, is on this subject, and she gives a surprisingly downbeat assessment of where we are.
"Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it," the president said. Me, I'm still waiting for a straightforward discussion of what it is we can reasonably expect to win.
Of course the downside, from her perspective, is that her candidate for the presidency is married to the Iraq war. He can't walk away from it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Narrow Your Perspective

Douglas MacKinnon's latest article starts with an interesting argument; how we got into Iraq doesn't matter.
Should the United States have invaded Iraq five years ago? Revisionist history and partisan politics aside, I happen to believe that large elements of the argument to do so made sense at the time. But so what?

Neither my belief in the need to confront Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction program, nor the belief of those who felt that under no circumstances should we have set one foot in that country, means a thing. It is what it is. We broke it, and we need to fix it.
That's nice as far as it goes, when it comes to Iraq. But what MacKinnon wants you to forget, as we go into another electoral season, is that it actually does matter how we got into Iraq.

You see some candidates for President, like Sen. Obama, opposed the war and thought it was a bad idea. That speaks to their judgment.

Other candidates were uncertain of the war but gave the President the authority to pursue it anyway, like Sen. Clinton. Again, that speaks to their judgment, and possibly, their integrity.

Still other candidates actively campaigned for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, telling us a lot of fairy tales along the way. Candidates such as John McCain. Again, it speaks to McCains character that he fought to get us in the mess we are in now.

And that's why it's worthwhile to remember what happened 5 years ago to get us to where we are today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Son of the Issue of the Day

Point 3. Obama's speech was very good and unfortunately necessary, but not flawless.

Let's get some liberal responses to Obama's speech. First of all here's Joan Walsh, who was generally positive, but feels that Obama didn't effectively respond to accusations surrounding Jeremiah Wright.
In his speech Obama tried to distance himself from Wright's more outrageous remarks, while honoring and preserving the personal -- and frankly political -- strength he's derived from his affiliation with the church and his spiritual mentor. It was a perilous move for Obama, and it's not clear he succeeded. Describing Wright as "family," Obama compared his incendiary views to the occasional racial insensitivity of his elderly white grandmother: "As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me ... I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe." It was an intriguing leap, but I didn't buy it. I don't think Obama's elderly grandmother, who still lives in Hawaii and is reportedly too frail to travel, who was a product of her time and place and yet did her best to raise her half-black grandson, deserved to be compared to Wright, a public figure who's built his career around a particularly divisive analysis of American racial politics. It is easily the most tin-eared thing I've ever heard Obama say.

But most of the speech was deeply inspiring.
She's not wrong. On either point.

Glenn Greenwald has a more negative opinion of the speech. Well not of the speech itself but of what effect it will have on the campaign, particularly if Obama gets the nomination.
But in Obama's faith in the average American voter lies one of the greatest weaknesses of his campaign. His faith in the ability and willingness of Americans to rise above manipulative political tactics seems drastically to understate both the efficacy of such tactics and the deafening amplification they receive from our establishment press. Even Americans who authentically believe that they want a "new, better politics" may be swayed by the same old Drudgian sewerage because it is powerful and ubiquitous.

Petty, personality-based demonization works, and the belief that it won't work any longer in the absence of a major war against it may be more a by-product of faith and desire than reality.
I hope Obama can work up an adequate defense against this situation, but I can't claim that I'm sure that he will.

Still it was a great speech, one for the ages.

More points on the Issue of the day

OK Back at it.

Point #2. Obama will not be able to "get past" this issue until he leaves politics entirely. There is nothing that Obama can say or do that will get the Limbaughs and the Hannitys of the world to abandon such a juicy line of attack. Case in point, Rush Limbaugh following yesterdays speech.
I'll tell you what I think is happening here, folks. Be on guard for this. I think Barack Obama is trying to put America on the defensive once again. He's trying to put America on defense. Original sin, it's back full-fledged. No progress has been made. None whatsoever! We have to start working on this! He's the guy to do it now. If anybody needs a lecture on race relations, it's not the people in this country. It is the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. If somebody needs a lecture on this country and on hate and its horrible effects on people, it's not the people of this country
Hmmmm. Now let's look at what Obama said in his speech.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
That doesn't seem to have registered with Rush Limbaugh or his cohort. And it won't register with them, because if they heard that they'd have to move on from Jeremiah Wright and they sure as hell don't want to do that.

The Issue of the Day

The big issue of the day is Jeremiah Wright and his relationship with Barack Obama.

So some thoughts.

1. A lot of whites don't want to hear that racial justice hasn't yet been achieved; Republicans are counting on that. Limbaugh and Hannity are hyping this issue as much as possible, and it's somewhat hilarious to listen to them claim that Wright's thoughts on race are way off. In the wake of Barack Obama's speech yesterday, we see Michael Medved saying that even acknowledging race as an issue is going to to turn off American voters.
If the Obama campaign follows up on his over-praised speech and makes intensified race-talk into a new national priority, he may well destroy his chances of winning the presidency. The most “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party could celebrate prospect that a President Obama would get countless opportunities to deliver more lectures on slavery, Jim Crow, oppression, and race differences.

But less politically correct Americans may prove notably less eager to seize the chance for additional solemn scolding sessions like the one they just heard in Philadelphia. Most voters, black as well as white, feel weary and wary of the destructive cycle of accusation and apology, so that Obama’s new implied promise of a presidency of endless race-based agitation may well constitute an offer that we easily can refuse.
Kind of hilarious isn't it? Conservative Commentators make Jeremiah Wright a big issue, and when Obama response to their insinuations, he's attacked for making race an issue. He's a black man; just by running for office he's making race an issue.

I'm intrigued by what Tomas Sowell, another black man, said about the speech.
Like the Soviet show trials during their 1930s purges, Obama's speech was not supposed to convince critics but to reassure supporters and fellow-travelers, in order to keep the "useful idiots" useful.
Sowells article is pretty reprehensible altogether, but I find myself wondering what ideology are us "useful idiots" falling for? Marxism? Islam? Black Nationalism? What's clear, reading Sowells article, is that Obama is clearly a stealth candidate for someone, hiding his radicalism and tricking weak minded dopes (like myself). Pretty sad that Sowell feels he has to resurrect cold war paranoia to trash Obama.

I do have points 2 and 3, but will post them in a forthcoming post, since this one is already long.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Operation Chaos.

Before the Ohio and the Texas primaries Rush Limbaugh encouraged his listeners to cross the aisle and vote for Hillary Clinton to keep the her in the race as long as possible. He did this for two reasons; he believed that his party had nominated John McCain because they wanted to run him against Hillary. If Democrats nominated Obama, it would sort of ruin the strategy.

Secondly, he thinks that John McCain and most of his party are a bunch of jackasses who won't stand up to Obama or Hillary, so it's best to have them bloody each other as much as possible, since there won't be much bloodying in the campaign proper.

Not sure about that last one; recent history shows that Republicans are pretty damn good about going on the offensive.

At any rate, the Carpetbagger Report has information on how well this tactic succeeded. Apparently it was moderately successful.

Edited to Add: I thought I should provide a bit of Limbaugh's gloating over Operation Chaos.
You know, I was back in Snerdley's office. We were just chilling out back there. He said, "Do you realize what you just heard?" I said, "What do you mean?" "You have forced Barack Obama to counter you in Pennsylvania. He has had to start spending his own money, his campaign resources, on a campaign to get Republicans to register in the Democrat primary to vote for him!" He's possibly running these ads on my show, on stations that carry my show. This is profound. This is truly profound.
And the sad thing is, he appears to be right.

Is Islam a Valid Religion?

To most people that's a pretty straightforward question, with an easy answer. Yes, Islam is a valid religion. People who spend time arguing it isn't are bigots. The actions of a few do not define the religion as a whole.

Unfortunately, Townhall chooses to employ a few of those bigots, like Frank J. Gaffney Jr., who's latest article takes the New York Times to task for writing an unbiased article on Shariah.
Totalitarians have an uncanny appreciation for the subversive effect of foreign propagandists. The Nazis had Lord Haw-Haw, Imperial Japan its Tokyo Rose, the Soviets the World Council of Churches (among many others) and the North Vietnamese Jane Fonda. Now, our time’s totalitarian ideologues – the Islamofascists – have the New York Times.
He references the reporting that the New York Times has done on the War on Terror, accusing them of revealing to our enemies things that our President had already revealed (details humorously presented here). But then he gets down to cases. An article written by Noah Feldman at the New York Times on Shariah law, which Gaffney read at least the first few paragraphs of.

Gaffney's big problem with the article seems to be that it doesn't present Islamic Law as something intrinsically wrong and heretical. Rather it looks at the history of Shariah, noting both it's positive and negative aspects. For something to have survived thousands of years, it must have some positive aspects, right?

Wrong. Terrorists are in favor of the Shariah and in the small mind of Frank Gaffney that means Islamic Law must be an enemy to right thinking people. The fact that Shariah is revered by billions of Muslims is an inconvenience; but surely right thinking Muslims will one day realize the heretical nature of being Muslims and accept the truth.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jesus was a Conservative

Or such is the theme of Austin Hill's latest article. He references Obama's pastor controversy to move on to a larger discussion. He takes shots at Rick Warren for encouraging Evangelical Christians to be involved in more than the narrow issues of Gay Marriage and Abortion; specifically he worries that concern for the poor or for social justice might lead to Marxism.
So while Warren and other Evangelicals awaken to a broader realm of social concerns (which is in itself a good thing), all American Christians should keep in mind these core realities: the Bible itself (both Old and New Testaments) presupposes that it is quite a natural thing for private citizens to own the means of economic production (land and other resources); and that it is okay for individuals to create wealth for themselves and their families; and that private citizens should care for the needy of society, rather than abdicating this responsibility to “the government.” From this foundation, we can then envision the private sector doing a much better job with the pressing domestic issues of our time - - healthcare, environmental stewardship, and energy independence.
I'm not sure about Hill's prescription. I'm not sure the Bible advocates clearly any of the points he suggests and there seem to be scriptures that both support and contradict his arguments.

I will note however that Government was used in the Bible to address certain societal concerns and in our day it is also used to address societal concerns. Poverty in America is justifiably a societal concern; how should we best address it as a nation? Hill has every right to believe that you address it through private charities. But I have the same right to believe that the Government can and should have a role in fighting Poverty; and I can have that opinion while also being a Christian.

Subjective Reality

This is well worth looking at; Farhad Manjoo has written an article about how people look at things differently. In particular he deals with photographic evidence surrounding 9/11 and how people use that evidence to "prove" conspiracies that have been proven impossible.
Jayhan says that in this quick moment, we're witnessing something dastardly: Just before Flight 175 hits the building, a missile jettisons from the plane, falls a few feet away, and then flies straight at the tower.

I couldn't see it. For me, the video was too blurry, drained of color; like so much about 9/11 and its aftermath, the sequence seemed lost in shades of gray. And when I looked into Jayhan's theory later, I saw that several thorough investigations have ruled out the possibility of a missile on Flight 175.
He notes that the Kennedy Assassination contained just one point of reference - the Zapruder film. In an age where cameras are everywhere, we can have a literal thousand points of reference and still disagree on what it is we are seeing.

It reminds me of a biblical phrase "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2nd Tim 3:7).

At any rate, it's from a book that I intend to acquire once it is released.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Obama's Pastor

This is going to be a big issue in the campaign, because when a Black preacher says controversial things, it's a big problem. Consider these awful statements by Barack Obama's Pastor, Jeremiah Wright. We'd like to thank Rush Limbaugh for compiling these quotes.
Hillary never had to worry about being pulled over in her car as a black man driving in the wrong! I am sick of Negroes who just do not get it! Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single parent home! Barack was. Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people! Hillary can never know that!
See? That's totally inaccurate; Hillary Clinton knows exactly what it's like to be a black man in America because . . . well, she just does. Also there's no racism in America and anybody who claims that being a Black Male is hard in this country hates America. Let's check out another awful quote.
All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.

The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it would was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other gay pride parades.

So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing.
See how hateful that is?

Oh wait, got these quotes mixed up - that's not Jeremiah Wright, that's John Hagee who is supporting McCain. Don't worry; Hagee doesn't hate America. He's white.

Here's the quote I was looking for.
We bombed Hiroshima! We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians, and black South Africans, and now we are indignant (cheers) because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards!
Now there's some hatred. See believing that God destroyed New Orleans and killed a lot of American Citizens? That's not America Hatred. But suggesting that our foreign policy might have provoked a response from the rest of the world? Well that means you believe we deserve what happened on 9/11. And only an America hater could do that.

Or a believer in causality (which lets Limbaugh out).

But don't worry, Americans are smart enough to tell the difference between a John Hagee and a Jeremiah White. Helpfully they are color coded for our convenience.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our Poor Defense Department

Rebecca Hagelin's latest article takes issue with a headline she characterizes as "strikingly idiotic." The headline? "Ending War through Diplomacy." She points out that Diplomacy is only for pansies and losers, and begins extolling the virtues of defense spending.
Polls suggest that many Americans think we already spend too much on defense -- never mind adding more. Others think it makes up the largest part of the federal budget. Quick: How much of gross domestic product do you think we spend on defense?

25 percent of GDP? 50 percent?

The actual number is less than 4 percent. Bet you’ve never heard that from the establishment media or liberal leaders.
Did you see the switch there in the first paragraph? She says that some people think that Defense makes up the largest part of the budget, and then moves to comparing the Defense Budget to the GDP. I guess she hopes people won't notice that the GDP and the federal budget aren't actually equivalent. The Federal Budget covers everything that the Government spends, the GDP covers the entire American Economy.

She goes on to point out that in World War 2 military spending made up 34 percent of the GDP. But she fails to note that we had come through two decades of strikingly low defense spending in the wake of WW1, and we were way behind the war machinery of the Axis Powers. It's a tribute to the strength of America that we caught up so readily.

So in the 1940s we were starting well behind everybody and we had to sprint to catch up. In 2008 we are way the hell ahead of everybody. We spend more than anybody else in the world; our 2005 military budget was larger than the next 168 biggest spenders combined and we spend over eight times as much as our biggest international rival, China. So why exactly do we have to keep spending?

And of course there's a real question of whether or not we are spending our money where it will do the most good, considering the enemy we fight.

On the other hand, I do approve of the phrase "strikingly idiotic." I can certainly think of some articles to which that phrase applies.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mitt Romney for Vice President?

This seems like a longshot, but at least one Conservative Commentator is suggesting it. Namely Michael Medved, in his latest article.
I’m not yet ready to endorse Mitt Romney as the ultimate choice for second spot on the ticket, but it’s increasingly obvious that he deserves the most serious consideration. For one thing, his experience in all those annoying Republican debates (in which Romney’s performance steadily, inexorably improved) gives him a huge advantage over any Democrat in the single, fateful Vice Presidential debate scheduled for this fall.

With the Democrats increasingly unlikely to field either a Clinton-Obama combo (he won’t take it) or an Obama-Clinton team (he won’t offer it), a McCain-Romney partnership would highlight the relative unity in GOP ranks.

In that context, Mac-and-Mitt sounds more and more like it could be a winning ticket for the party and the country.
I don't know about relative unity; certainly lots of Republicans don't like McCain, and they don't like him on ideological grounds. The differences between Obama and Clinton, while real, aren't nearly as ideological; rather on the issues they are pretty similar.

I also don't think this is very likely. McCain is going to need a staunch conservative, but he's going to want a staunch tame conservative, someone who will follow his orders. And he's got to be concerned about putting someone in the vice presidency who will run against him from the office - he's old now, and he'll be older in 2012 if, heaven forfend, he makes it to the oval office.

Compare and Contrast

Both at home and abroad, McCain appears intent on abandoning some of his most deeply cherished personal values, including his commitment to secular values and distaste for religious bigotry, in favor of catering to the great W. coalition of white evangelicals and security-obsessed conservatives. Like Bush, his mantras are war and belligerence abroad, and at home, fear-mongering, "free trade," lower taxes on the wealthy, and "job training" for the increasingly miserable middle classes. If he is elected, it will be "Groundhog Day," the Bill Murray film about a character doomed to live through the same day over and over again. It will be the last eight years that we will suffer through again under a President McCain. Only worse, because we have already eaten so much of our seed corn.
Juan Cole, "John McCain runs for George Bush's third term"
Jamie Leigh Jones, a woman working in the Green Zone in Iraq, alleged that she was drugged and violently gang-raped by her co-workers before being thrown into a shipping container. She was then held without food or drink for an undetermined amount of time. Jones’s employer, an engineering and construction company called Kellogg, Brown and Root employed by the United States in Iraq, told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the poor woman was “taken to a secure unlisted living container where she could rest.” Wait, there’s more. The rape kit used by a military doctor to examine the victim was reportedly shipped to Halliburton and KBR, and now the doctor’s notes and photos of her bruises have mysteriously gone missing.

So not only will it be next to impossible for Jones to build a case in court, she apparently cannot even pursue a civil lawsuit. Why? Her employment contract stipulates that all “disputes would be resolved through a binding arbitration process, which lacks (among other things) a jury, rules of evidence, an appeals process … media access and a transcript.” The rapists themselves could technically be tried in a U.S. federal court for the offense, but it would be very difficult to get around Order 17, and the Justice Department has made it very clear it has no interest in Jones’s case. This means those bastards won’t get so much as a smack on the bottom.
Aaron Elias, "Justice Dept. Says Rape Is A-OK"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I-Pod 10

1. Miles Davis, "Chez Le Photographer Du Motel"
2. The Lemonheads, "Confetti"
3. The Smiths, "Still Ill"
4. New Order, "The Perfect Kiss (Live)"
5. The Beatles, "A Day in the Live (Love Version)"
6. Stereolab, "Rainbow Conversation"
7. R.E.M., "Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars)"
8. Mekon feat. Rita Brown, "Boy Bitten by Snake (Padded Cell Remix)"
9. Underworld, "To Heal"
10. Lester Young, "Star Dust"

Nothing Secedes like Secession

Well it's not a call for a Second Civil War, but Douglas MacKinnon's latest article is gleefully insane.
As people called or emailed, I was asked what I thought about secession. My immediate response was, I believe in it.

. . . In short, I believe we need to secede from any and all who say that conservative principles and an adherence to traditional values no longer matter.

If we compromise and accept the continual blurring of party lines and the left’s definition of our future, then not only have we lost our way, but we have lost our country.

Secede from the madness. Vote and advance principle.
So maybe he's using secede in a non-traditional way? Cause what secede usually means is that a state (or area) leaves the union to form it's own country. Or maybe he's encouraging his readers to vote for secession? It's unclear. But he has written (as he points out) a fictional future for the United States in which Wyoming and Montana secede from the union. So I think he's pretty o.k. with the traditional meaning of the word as well.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Great Advice for Republicans

This brilliant advice comes from Paul Jacob's latest article, which spend much of it's time pretending Al Gore has a chance of getting the nomination in the service of a series of lame jokes. But then it ends with this wise and sage council.
The sad note is, with John McCain as the Republican alternative, we will all surely lose anyway. There’s nothing that can be done, now. Go home. Tend to your gardens . . . and your state and local governments. Prepare for the next time. Because this election offers lovers of liberty scant hope.
That's right. Republicans should take up gardening and ignore the presidential race. I am in wholehearted support of Jacob here.

But real lovers of liberty, i.e. Democrats, should vote for one of our two, count them, two great candidates.

Final note; I used "real lovers of liberty" in the sentence above as a satirical comment on Jacob's terminology, not to imply that Conservatives don't actually love liberty. Many Conservatives actually do love liberty, but, as it turns out, mostly their own.

What is a Christian?

For every time that Coulter slips a "B. Hussein Obama" into the discussion with Neil Cavuto, he simply slips in a little bit of "I pray to Jesus every night" at his next campaign stop. Partisan sides are already disinclined to believe the other anyway, and the useless rhetorical exercise repeats itself all over again the next day.

. . . The bigger danger in the controversy is that it is giving cover for the candidate to continue to spread the fraudulent idea that he is, in fact, a Christian.
This is from Kevin McCullough's latest article.

If Obama wins the nomination (as I hope he does), this will be something we will hear nearly constantly for the next 8 months. Conservatives have already set lines of attack on Clinton, but with Obama they have to pick new attacks. And one line of attack will be an attack on his Christianity. We will hear that he's not really a Christian over and over again.

But why does McCullough get to decide who is a Christian and who isn't? And what are the odds that he will judge any Democrat, ever, a Christian?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Should we have a Non-White President?

Let's face it, American History has been very kind to white people (like me) and kind of harsh on non-white people (like, say, Barack Obama). And Mona Charen's latest article supposes that Barack Obama doesn't really love America, because of his experiences, which she reads in his memoir.
Left-wing ideas are not so much articulated in this memoir as presumed. Obama has claimed that his experience living abroad gives him a valuable perspective for a chief executive. Yet his reflections on the effect Western capitalism has had on Jakarta and Chicago's south side sound like warmed over Herbert Marcuse. "How could we go about stitching a culture back together after it was torn? How long might it take in this land of dollars? The very existence of the factories, the timber interests, the plastics manufacturer, will have rendered their [Indonesian] culture obsolete; the values of hard work and individual initiative turn out to have depended on a system of belief that's been scrambled by migration and urbanization and imported TV reruns."

. . . One suspects that beneath the soothing talk, there is bitterness in the man that we'd best learn more about before voting.
So seeing problems in America is a bitterness we need to be careful about? Well what non-White in America is going to be completely non-bitter about America? Alan Keyes?

And there's the rub. To be a liberal is to want to improve America, to make it better. The desire to improve America implies it needs improving, that it's not working quite right. And for Liberals, this sort of means they don't love America.

Conservatives, of course, can lay all sorts of attacks on America without being accused of a lack of love for this nation. This is because Conservatives have the audacity to suggest that their political enemies don't love America, and Liberals, in large measure, don't.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

McCain's Farrakhan

Joe Conason has written a good article over at Credo Action comparing and contrasting McCain's allegiance with John Hagee with Barack Obama's thin connection to Louis Farrakhan. While acknowledging that Farrakhan has said some awful things, he contends that McCain's relationship with Hagee should be a bigger story.
Mr. McCain went out of his way last week to accept the endorsement of a Christian pastor with a deeply disturbing record of bigotry and extremism. That would be John Hagee, the San Antonio televangelist whose career is chronicled in God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, a new book by investigative reporter Sarah Posner. As Ms. Posner reveals, Mr. Hagee is the kind of evangelical minister who has anticipated the end of the world for decades now, even as he promises untold riches to those who tithe to his ministry. He is an ardent warmonger who, like Mr. Farrakhan, seems to imagine a Middle East cleansed by blood--except that in his fantasies, the Christians will be saved while everyone else burns in the lake of fire. (The saved won't include members of the Catholic Church, however, which he despises and denounces as venomously as Mr. Farrakhan does.)

But the perspectives of these two self-proclaimed men of God resemble each other even more closely in certain ways. He, too, promotes hatred of homosexuals and demands that women submit to men. And he, too, imagines a conspiracy by international bankers, the Bavarian Illuminati, the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations and other shadowy groups to deliver America into the hands of Satan. All that verbiage is merely code for traditional anti-Semitism, as Mr. Hagee surely knows because, like Mr. Farrakhan, he blames the Jewish people for their own persecution, including the Holocaust, as he explained a few years ago in a book titled Jerusalem Countdown.
So what's different between McCain and Obama? Between Farrakhan and Hagee?

Well the answer is clear enough, isn't it? You could say it's the difference between black and white.

McCain's Record on Iraq

Steve Chapman's latest article at Townhall takes apart the political theory that McCain will be strong on Iraq. That might be true with the base, but he says it will play differently in the general election.
McCain says the current "strategy is succeeding in Iraq." His apparent definition of success is that American forces will stay on in huge numbers as long as necessary to keep violence within acceptable limits. We were told we had to increase our numbers so we could leave. Turns out we had to increase our numbers so we could stay.

Five years after the Iraq invasion, we've suffered more than 30,000 dead and wounded troops, incurred trillions in costs and found that Iraqis are unwilling to overcome their most basic divisions. And no end is in sight. If you're grateful for that, thank John McCain.
The thing is, I don't think we can count on Democrats to underline this failure of judgment. Rather Democrats have been more inclined to concede the war ground to the Republicans rather than run the risk of being accused of being weak on terror.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Election Blues

Well it looks like Hillary Clinton is still in it. For another couple of weeks, anyway.

In other news, the New York Times has an editorial today dealing with two pernicious electoral tricks, Vote Caging and Robo-Calls, that Congress is apparently trying to deal with.
Vote caging is a little-known but pernicious technique. Political operatives mail letters to voters, targeting areas where the opposing party is strong. If a letter is returned as undeliverable, the voter’s name is put on a list to be challenged at the polls. The challengers try to persuade election officials not to let the person vote, or only to let them cast a provisional ballot. Some voters end up disenfranchised. No matter how the challenges turn out, they often create confusion and long lines, reducing turnout in the targeted precincts.

Minority voters have been especially victimized. In an infamous case in Louisiana, a Republican political operative boasted that a vote-caging program “could keep the black vote down considerably.”
Hopefully these issues will be dealt with, but odds are against it, I guess.

I-Pod 10

1. The Beatles, "Eleanor Rigby"
2. Ed Rush & Optical, "Get Ill"
3. Taciana & Apollo 9, "Na Neblina Dos Sonhos (Tribute)
4. Indian Vibes, "Mather (Discovery of India Mix)"
5. The Psychedelic Furs, "Mother - Son"
6. Conjunto Massalia, "Chan Chan"
7. Simple Minds, "Murder Story"
8. Cibo Matto, "Sci Fi Wasabi"
9. Edan Featuring Dagha, "Rock and Roll"
10. Morrissey, "The Father who Must Be Killed"
Kind of a hard edged international Mix I guess.

Most People Think Like Me; I'm sure of it

This is one of those rare occasions when I find myself agreeing with a Townhall article. Michael Medved, no less. But his latest article notes that all of the recent presidential elections have been pretty tight when it comes to the popular vote. Medved draws the obvious conclusions.
For decades, right-leaning activists have cherished the notion of a "silent majority," a long-suffering mass of quiet but committed traditionalists who wait only for a "true conservative" Prince Charming to awaken the sleeping giant with a kiss. Some true believers maintain stubborn faith in this much-loved legend of a right-wing consensus ready for arousal by a leader whose voice speaks forcefully enough — a phantom majority that never instantly materialized for Reagan himself let alone Reagan-wannabes such as Pat Buchanan or Mitt Romney.

On the left, ideologues and activists nurture a mirror-image faith in the "idealism" and "radicalism" of the American people, if only the right messianic figure managed to mobilize our long-buried lust for change.
He's not wrong. I suspect the truth is that most people just don't care that much.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Obama's Challange

Or Clinton's, I suppose. But Gary Younge's article is written about Obama's campaign, so let's stick with that. Basically Younge says that Obama is going to face some tough challenges if he receives the Democratic Nomination.
Whoever wins will inherit a nation in serious state of disrepair. Just in the last two months, since those first caucus goers ventured into the Iowa cold to deliver him his surprise initial victory, the Dow has fallen by 6% and the price of petrol has risen by 4.5%. Meanwhile Iraq is stalling, Afghanistan is unravelling and the former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo’s military commissions, Colonel Morris Davis, has conceded that the trials of detainees there are rigged. Taking over from George Bush is a bit like becoming the new manager of Leeds United or chief executive of Northern Rock. You enter with high hopes pinned to your front and “kick me” on your behind.

An electoral coalition of independents, wealthy progressives, African Americans, white men and the young have come together to vote for him, but has yet to mobilise itself into a political movement that can support him. A movement sparked by the issues his candidacy has raised that moves beyond his personality as a candidate.

. . . Obama cannot turn this around on his own any more than Bush got America into this mess on his own. Enough of the public had to be actively complicit in the Bush agenda for it to be possible to make things this bad. Indeed, the right has been extraordinarily adept in this regard. When Bush nominated Harriet Miers or sought to pass immigration reform, they blocked him. When he cut taxes and started war, they backed him. Without them his presidency would have crumbled sooner, and even more dramatically. Enough of the public would have to be equally complicit in Obama’s agenda for him to right Bush’s wrongs.
I'd agree; Obama is going to need the public behind him. A tall order with the next 10 months of Conservatives trashing him every day. Hopefully he is up to the task.

Obama should have to explain why his preacher priased Louis Farrakhan

Or so the right wing believes. David Limbaugh touched on the subject in his latest article.
And no matter how uncomfortable it may be to broach the issue, McCain should make Obama answer for membership in a church whose long-time pastor's magazine lauded the overtly racist and anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan as "truly epitomiz[ing] greatness." People are missing the boat in thinking Obama's vulnerability here can be sidestepped with a semantic dodge over whether to denounce or reject Farrakhan's support.

The real question is why Obama would choose to be in a church whose leading spiritual authority holds such repugnant views.
At this point it is helpful to note that McCain (according to Glenn Greenwald) recently solicited and was very pleased to receive the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee who said "All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that." So if we are going to have a discussion of how religion is influencing presidential candidates, it might not be that one sided.

I suppose I don't need to point out that Hagee is white and Christian and Farrakhan is black and Muslim. I also probably don't need to point out how raising this issue plays on white fears of brown people.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Presented without Comment

If William Jefferson Clinton was America's first "black" president, could it be that Barack Obama is positioning himself to be the nation's first "gay" president?

. . . Yet as someone who has followed his career since long before he was a national stage player, I have warned that his aggressive support for the radical homosexual activist agenda in America is a part of the overall picture of who he is.

In this way he may be more "gay" than Clinton was "black" - and by a wide margin at that.
Kevin McCullough, "Obama: America's first Gay President?"

The Shape of Things to Come

Nina Mays clumsy article referenced earlier is just one of many signs that the Republicans don't intend to take it easy on Barack Obama. Paul Krugman over at the New York Times, who's not a Obama supporter, notes this trend and predicts it will continue.
. . . I know that both the Obama campaign and many reporters deny that he has received more favorable treatment than Hillary Clinton. But they’re kidding, right? Dana Milbank, the Washington Post national political reporter, told the truth back in December: “The press will savage her no matter what ... they really have the knives out for her, there’s no question about it ... Obama gets significantly better coverage.”

If Mr. Obama secures the nomination, the honeymoon will be over as he faces an opponent whom much of the press loves as much as it hates Mrs. Clinton. If Mrs. Clinton can do nothing right, Mr. McCain can do nothing wrong — even when he panders outrageously, he’s forgiven because he looks uncomfortable doing it. Honest.

Bob Somerby of the media-criticism site predicts that Mr. Obama will be “Dukakised”: “treated as an alien, unsettling presence.” That sounds all too plausible.
Daily Howler is a great site, and neither it nor Krugman are wrong. The right wing will have to do quite a little tap dance, both attacking Obama for being sort of like a Muslim and avoiding charges of bigotry (and if they get on other aspects of his race, it will be even worse). But they will attack the hell out of him; it's what they do.


Nina May's latest article is pretty clumsy all told. She wants to take on the recent flap between McCain and talk show host Bill Cunningham. Essentially she comes down on Cunningham's side. There shouldn't be anything wrong with Obama's middle name, but there probably is.
In a post 911 world, America cannot afford to have a president whose name is forbidden to be spoken for fear of reprisal from those who are reminded of his early religious training. And it cannot have a president who is reluctant to utter the name of a fellow candidate because he doesn’t want to appear to be drawing a negative connection between that man and a mad dictator who put people feet first through plastic shredders and gassed thousands of others. And by every rational standard of judgment, Hillary is absolutely not a viable option in any scenario.
So there it is; I guess we are going to have to do without a President. I particularly like the touch that May doesn't even feel the need to come up with a reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton; it's just taken as read that she is unacceptable. I am not supporting Hillary Clinton in the Primary, but she's clearly a capable person.

Still Conservative hatred for the Clintons is pretty eternal.

Let's also point out the rather predictable bigotry in the suggestion that we can't vote for Obama because Terrorists might want to kill him. Huh? You think the Terrorists wouldn't want to kill Bush if they could get away with it? But it's different with Obama because he has some loosely defined connection to Islam.

At any rate, May has a solution to this problem of no presidential candidate being worthy of the office.
Overnight, millions of people could decide they have nothing to lose by writing in an agreed upon candidate. There would be no fundraisers, no TV ads, no advisors or political hacks salivating at the idea of earning big bucks to run a campaign. And it would give all those millions of people who basically had no voice in the selection of the candidate in the primary, since that decision was made by a handful of states, by crossover voters who analyzed the mathematical probabilities, the low turnouts, and the numbers needed to get the opposition candidate elected.
Actually the Democratic Primaries had pretty good tourn out, but I suppose Democrats don't count. At any rate Stupid Enough Unexplanation heartily endorses Republicans voting for a write in candidate. And if you are thinking of voting for McCain, can I encourage you to follow May's advice and consider a third party candidate?