Friday, March 30, 2007

The house of global-warming opponent John Travolta

"[Global warming] is a very valid issue," Travolta declared. "I'm wondering if we need to think about other planets and dome cities.

"Everyone can do their bit. But I don't know if it's not too late already. We have to think about alternative methods of fuel."

Border fence builder hired illegals

Fence firm hired illegals - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "The head of a California company hired by the U.S. government to help build a fence along the Southwest border to curb the flow of illegal aliens into the United States has been sentenced on charges of hiring illegals for the job."

"Golden State was notified in writing in July 1999 that at least 15 of its employees at its Oceanside office were discovered to be illegal aliens following a visit by agents from the now-defunct U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. At that time, Golden State executives said they were terminating the illegal workers, but in September 2004, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents found that 49 Golden State employees at the Oceanside office were illegal aliens.
Three of those employees were identified as being among the illegal workers listed in the 1999 notice."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

John Kerry, bitter blowbag

Kerry Gets His Man - "John Kerry permitted himself a moment of celebration yesterday, after the White House withdrew the nomination of Sam Fox as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. 'I hope this signals,' he said, 'a new day in political discourse.' Perhaps. But at least Senator Kerry's vanities were for the moment satisfied.

Mr. Fox, a 77-year-old St. Louis businessman, made a $50,000 donation to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004. For this transgression, Mr. Kerry subjected him to a lengthy sermon/interrogation before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February. . .The fracas was drawn out further when Mr. Kerry demanded in a written questionnaire that Mr. Fox apologize or otherwise pay obeisance to his lingering 2004 resentments. He declined. This unwillingness to 'embrace the truth,' as Mr. Kerry put it, convinced the Democrats that Mr. Fox was unacceptable."

Time and Newsweek covers

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bush operative at Justice is a Pat Robertson lawyer

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 03/26/2007 | Who is Monica Goodling?: "Monica Goodling, the Department of Justice official who said Monday that she'll invoke the Fifth Amendment rather than talk to lawmakers, is a frequent figure in department e-mails released so far as part of the congressional investigation into the firings and hirings of U.S. attorneys.

Goodling, 33, is a 1995 graduate Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., an institution that describes itself as 'committed to embracing an evangelical spirit.'

She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, says its mission is 'to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world.'"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

GOP and Dem consultants have completely different business model

Rolling Stone : National Affairs: The Enemy Within: "Overpaying consultants, McKinnon adds, may even have cost Democrats the White House. 'Their consultants are getting ten percent -- that's outrageous.' He laughs. 'That's money that could have been spent on other parts of the campaigns. It might have captured 500 more votes in Florida for Gore in 2000 -- or maybe helped Kerry win Ohio in 2004.'"

Monday, March 26, 2007

When a military recuiter emails a gay man (ALL CAPS, grammer, etc., are original)

Here's some of the email exchange: "Andrew: Awesome! Sounds great! The US Military has so many vacant positions and opportunities. I had no idea. I'm seriously considering contacting you. One thing, I'm not up on current politics but since its 2007, I would imagine also that I am now able to serve in the US military as an openly gay man, right?


Andrew: Wow! Unqualified to serve my country just because I'm gay? It's because they think I might all of a sudden desire one last kiss from my fellow male solider if ever facing death at the hands of the enemy in a fox hole, isn't?... Funny, the US Government doesn't mind taking my 'gay' dollars every tax season or out of my paycheck every two weeks. I'm stunned that the US ARMY could afford to be so choosey when I see sergeants on my school campus and in the local shopping Mall...begging teenagers to enlist.


When an earmark isn't an earmark

"The fact is, that an earmark is something that is requested by an individual member. This item was not requested by any individual member. It was put in the bill by me!" Rep. David Obey (D-WI), House Appropriations Chair.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bush’s failed Machiavelli messes up big time-Comment-Columnists-Andrew Sullivan-TimesOnline

Bush’s failed Machiavelli messes up big time-Comment-Columnists-Andrew Sullivan-TimesOnline: "If you have a reputation for being a Machiavellian, you aren’t one. That was Machiavelli’s view, at least. The key to all successful power-mongers, he argued, is the appearance of innocence, and a reputation for honesty and benevolence."


"Rove advised a moderate, congenial and compassionate Republican, elected with a minority of the popular vote, to forget about retaining the political centre. Rove believed that appealing to moderates was a fool’s game when there were millions of alienated evangelical voters waiting to be tapped.

“Play to the base” was Rove’s mantra — and he could create what he called a “permanent majority”. If four or five million fundamentalists who had previously never voted could be marshalled into a new political movement, victory would be his. The rest could be bribed with large amounts of government spending (cash for churches, pills for the elderly, tax breaks for big business, tariffs for steel, subsidies for agriculture)."


Did these fellas purchase carbon offsets for their flag and soldier burning? Apparently not!!

Qualities for a new leader

David Brooks:

For over the past few years, America’s enemies have been more cunning than we have. Whether it was Mohamed Atta with the box cutters, bin Laden escaping at Tora Bora, the Baathists with their insurgency, Zarqawi inciting an Iraqi civil war, or Ahmadinejad maneuvering his way toward a nuclear bomb, America’s enemies seem to have been rendered clever by their relative weakness while we’ve been rendered stupid by our might.

And the tasks ahead require cleverness more than Gary Cooper simplicity and virtue. The next leader will have to build a coalition of autocrats against the extremists, not grow apoplectically rigid in the face of their barbarism. The next leader will have to manipulate the self-interest of other countries and factions, not bully them with ultimatums. The next leader will have to have an intimate knowledge of the apparatus of government and the limits and capacities of what it can do.

In other words, what the country seems to need is somebody who understands power, and the subtlety of its use, and who has had direct experience with friends and foes, foreign and domestic.

And this person must have all these world-weary qualities with a thick stripe of American idealism too. Or as Reinhold Niebuhr put it a few decades ago: “The preservation of a democratic civilization requires the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. The children of light must be armed with the wisdom of the children of darkness but remain free from their malice. They must know the power of self-interest in human society without giving it moral justification. They must have this wisdom in order that they may beguile, deflect, harness and restrain self-interest, individual and collective, for the sake of the community.”

Saturday, March 24, 2007

George F. Will - Anger Is All The Rage -

George F. Will - Anger Is All The Rage - "Wood, an anthropologist and author of 'A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now,' says the new anger 'often has the look-at-me character of performance art.' His book is a convincing, hence depressing, explanation of 'anger chic' -- of why anger has become an all-purpose emotional stance. It has achieved prestige and become 'a credential for group membership.' As a result, 'Americans have been flattening their emotional range into an angry monotone.'

Wood notes that there is a 'vagueness and elasticity of the grievances' that supposedly justify today's almost exuberant anger. And anger is more pervasive than merely political grievances would explain. Today's anger is a coping device for everyday life. It also is the defining attribute of an increasingly common personality type: the person who 'unless he is angry, feels he is nothing at all.'"

Fraud Inquiry Looks at Lawyers in Diet-Drug Case - New York Times

Fraud Inquiry Looks at Lawyers in Diet-Drug Case - New York Times: "When the clients sued the drug maker, they agreed to pay the lawyers 30 percent to 33 percent of any money that was recovered, plus expenses. In this case, that would have left the 440 clients to divide perhaps $135 million.

But the clients received only $74 million. An additional $20 million went to a questionable “charitable fund.” The rest — $106 million — went to lawyers."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Cracks in the House of Rove - The New York Review of Books

Cracks in the House of Rove - The New York Review of Books: "In The Conservative Soul, he attributes his change of heart to a belated return to rigorous Oakshottian skepticism, and as he expounds Oakeshott, gracefully and in satisfying detail, one is almost won over. Certainly Oakeshott's strictures on the dangers of overweening government power, harnessed to Rationalist dreams and visions, apply very well to the high-handed, high-spending near tyranny of the Bush administration before the midterm elections checked its progress, and Sullivan deserves thanks for bringing Oakeshott into the argument.

But his journalism belies his vaunted skepticism. There is in Sullivan's makeup a most un-Oakshottian quickness to take passionate sides, a schoolboy tendency to hero-worship (Thatcher... Reagan...Oakeshott...Bush...and now it seems he may be warming up fast to Barack Obama), and an Oxford debater's ready access to the rhetoric of condescending scorn. Where Oakeshott stood self-consciously aloof from practical politics, Sullivan splashes excitedly about in them like a dog in a mud puddle, snarling ferociously at any other dog who challenges his position du jour. He's less a skeptic than a mercurial, and somewhat flirtatious, born believer."

Clinton sleaze

The Daily Dish: HRC Latest: "My fear is that either HRC (the group) or HRC (the senator) believes that wide press coverage of Senator Clinton addressing HRC would be damaging to both. So they did it on the downlow. They're intimidated by the far right. It's the same defensive crouch we saw when Clinton could not even rebut Peter Pace's comments on the 'immorality' of homosexuality a couple of weeks later. The implicit message is: Clinton will back us but only if we keep it quiet. This is a political version of the closet, and it simply won't wash."

In Secret, Polygamy Follows Africans to N.Y. - New York Times

In Secret, Polygamy Follows Africans to N.Y. - New York Times: "Immigration to New York and other American cities has soared from places where polygamy is lawful and widespread, especially from West African countries like Mali, where demographic surveys show that 43 percent of women are in polygamous marriages.

And the picture that emerges from dozens of interviews with African immigrants, officials and scholars of polygamy is of a clandestine practice that probably involves thousands of New Yorkers.

“It’s difficult, but one accepts it because it’s our religion,” said Doussou Traoré, 52, president of an association of Malian women in New York, who married an older man with two other wives who remain in Mali. “Our mothers accepted it. Our grandmothers accepted it. Why not us?”"

Multiculturalism at its logical conclusion

German Judge Cites Koran, Stirring Up Cultural Storm - New York Times: "A German judge has stirred a storm of protest by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a speedy divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.

In a ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, noted that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote in her decision, sanctions such physical abuse."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Narcissism v. Compromise

Couples Not Rushing to Civil Unions in New Jersey - New York Times: "Charles Paragian, a dance instructor in Little Ferry who with his partner of 17 years adopted five children from foster care, called the civil union “bread crumbs” compared with same-sex marriage.

“I don’t want my children to learn to settle for anything,” said Mr. Paragian, 44. “It’s a Jim Crow law, it’s two separate water fountains, it’s not equal, we just don’t agree with it.”

New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruled in October that gay couples were entitled to all the rights and benefits of their heterosexual counterparts, but left it to the Legislature as to what to call the relationships. Since the law creating civil unions was enacted, gay-rights advocates have promised to continue pressing for marriage."

Interior decorators vs. Western libertarianism

George F. Will - Wallpapering With Red Tape - "In Nevada, such regulation has arrived. So in Las Vegas, where almost nothing is illegal, it is illegal -- unless you are licensed, or employed by someone licensed -- to move, in the role of an interior designer, any piece of furniture, such as an armoire, that is more than 69 inches tall. A Nevada bureaucrat says that 'placement of furniture' is an aspect of 'space planning' and therefore is regulated -- restricted to a 'registered interior designer.'

Placing furniture without a license? Heaven forfend. Such regulations come with government rationing of the right to practice a profession. Who benefits? Creating artificial scarcity of services raises the prices of those entitled to perform the services. The pressure for government-created scarcity is intensifying because the general public -- rank amateurs -- are using the Internet to purchase things and advice, bypassing designers."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Why I Was Fired - New York Times

Why I Was Fired - New York Times: "Without the benefit of reviewing evidence gleaned from F.B.I. investigative reports, party officials in my state have said that I should have begun a prosecution. What the critics, who don’t have any experience as prosecutors, have asserted is reprehensible — namely that I should have proceeded without having proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The public has a right to believe that prosecution decisions are made on legal, not political, grounds."

Clinton sleaze

ABC News: Words of War: Clinton Camp Muddies Obama's Anti-War Stance but Record Is Clear: "Last week at a Manhattan fundraiser, former President Clinton reportedly complained about The New York Times' coverage of his wife, saying the paper of record is attacking his wife because she refuses to apologize for her October 2002 vote, while, according to the former president, Obama expressed confusion back then about how he would vote had he been in the Senate at the time.

Clinton noted an excerpt from an interview Obama gave the Times in July 2004, 'What would I have done? I don't know.'

Earlier this week at a forum at Harvard University, Clinton pollster Mark Penn cited the same Times quotation.

The full context of those remarks include Obama saying that he's 'not privy to Senate intelligence reports,' and that 'what I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.'"

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ideas: Nuclear Power and Global Warming

Ideas: Nuclear Power and Global Warming: "Nuclear power is the one energy source that does not produce greenhouse gases and, using current technology, can be expanded over the next couple of decades to replace many, arguably almost all, uses of fossil fuel. So anyone who believes that the great threat facing us, the threat we should be willing to pay large costs to deal with, is global warming due to greenhouse gases should be strongly inclined to favor nuclear power.

On the other hand, someone who is trumpeting global warming because he likes the policies advocated to deal with it: public transportation instead of automobiles, 'smart growth' instead of 'urban sprawl,' limits to population and the like, has two reasons to oppose nuclear power. The first is that the environmental movement has long regarded nuclear power as a quintessential evil. The second is that if nuclear power makes it possible for us to continue expanding our current lifestyle while avoiding the dangers of global warming, it eliminates the argument he wants to use to persuade us to reform. We get to continue sinning without being sent to (anthropogenic) hell."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bill Mahr New Rules

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Others" means her focus group

The Daily Dish: Clinton on The Morality of Homosexuality: "Senator Clinton is asked directly what her view is on the matter by Jake Tapper. Is homosexuality immoral, he asks her. Her response:

'Well I'm going to leave that to others to conclude."

Book Notes

The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 By Dinesh D'Souza

The new face of American conservatism: "This is the central argument of D'Souza's book: that cultural globalization is the last chance for theoconservatism in its death match with liberal modernity. If a majority of Americans do not support a system of government resting on an external and divine moral order, then the obvious next move is to enlist the billions of fundamentalist believers in the developing world to forge a global alliance. If you combine the premodern patriarchs among the Christians of Africa and Asia and the Muslims of the Middle East and pit them against the degenerate, declining individualists in the West, a global theoconservative victory is possible.

That is D'Souza's vision, and he is not shy about it. The test case for this strategy can be seen most graphically in the Anglican Church. Theoconservative Episcopalians in Northern Virginia have sought protection under a Nigerian prelate who believes that even speech about homosexuality should be criminalized. If theoconservatism cannot work as a governing majority in the First World, then it is time to forge an alliance between half of America with the Third World."

“The Muslims ... feel threatened not by the foundations
of our Christian morality but by the cynicism of a secularized
culture that denies its own foundations.”

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures,” 2005

Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding Candidacy | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding Candidacy | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "'Just two months ago, I promised that I'd listen to every voice through my town hall meetings, web chats, and trips to communities across the country,' said Clinton, whose opponents have accused her of being out of touch with average voters. 'America, you spoke clearly and with conviction—and I listened. And so I say to you today: Let the conversation end.'

Polls showed that immediately following her speech, Clinton's approval numbers skyrocketed all across the South, wide swaths of the Midwest, scattered pockets of the Northeast, and in California, Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Hawaii, and Ohio."

Sen. Simpson changes mind on don't ask, don't tell

Alan K. Simpson - Bigotry That Hurts Our Military - "As a lifelong Republican who served in the Army in Germany, I believe it is critical that we review -- and overturn -- the ban on gay service in the military. I voted for 'don't ask, don't tell.' But much has changed since 1993.

My thinking shifted when I read that the military was firing translators because they are gay. According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 300 language experts have been fired under 'don't ask, don't tell,' including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. This when even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently acknowledged the nation's 'foreign language deficit' and how much our government needs Farsi and Arabic speakers. Is there a 'straight' way to translate Arabic? Is there a 'gay' Farsi? My God, we'd better start talking sense before it is too late. We need every able-bodied, smart patriot to help us win this war."


In World War II, a British mathematician named Alan Turing led the effort to crack the Nazis' communication code. He mastered the complex German enciphering machine, helping to save the world, and his work laid the basis for modern computer science. Does it matter that Turing was gay? This week, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said that homosexuality is "immoral" and that the ban on open service should therefore not be changed. Would Pace call Turing "immoral"?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The increasing incoherence of the military's gay exclusion policy. - By Nathaniel Frank - Slate Magazine

The increasing incoherence of the military's gay exclusion policy. - By Nathaniel Frank - Slate Magazine: "All of this would be merely absurd if it weren't for the dire situation of a military stretched thin by ongoing commitments across the globe. In the wake of the shortfalls, according to the University of California's Palm Center (where I am a senior research fellow), the number of convicted felons who enlisted in the U.S. military nearly doubled in the past three years, totaling 4,230 in the last four years. The recruits entered under the 'moral waiver' program, which enlists those who otherwise would not qualify because of immoral behavior, such as committing felonies. This lowering of standards continues as two to three competent gay service members lose their jobs every day. More than 11,000 have been fired under the policy, including more than 800 mission-critical specialists and 300 linguists covering 161 different occupational specialties."

Pentagon morality

The Plank: "Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace told The Chicago Tribune yesterday that the Pentagon should not 'condone' immoral behavior like homosexuality. Yes, that's just what we need: moral arbitration from the Pentagon, the people responsible for Abu Ghraib, Walter Reed, the loss of 54 gay Arab linguists, and 28 percent of female soldiers reporting being raped while serving. Maybe it's time someone other than the Pentagon handled the morality part of the military."

Monday, March 12, 2007


A history of violence: "Cruelty as entertainment, human sacrifice to indulge superstition, slavery as a labor-saving device, conquest as the mission statement of government, genocide as a means of acquiring real estate, torture and mutilation as routine punishment, the death penalty for misdemeanors and differences of opinion, assassination as the mechanism of political succession, rape as the spoils of war, pogroms as outlets for frustration, homicide as the major form of conflict resolution--all were unexceptionable features of life for most of human history. But, today, they are rare to nonexistent in the West, far less common elsewhere than they used to be, concealed when they do occur, and widely condemned when they are brought to light."

Three cheers for Iraq's new hydrocarbon law. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine

Three cheers for Iraq's new hydrocarbon law. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine: "One would like to know, of those who advocate leaving Iraq, whether they are happy to abandon the control of its fabulous wealth to be parceled out between the highest or most ruthless bidders—say, al-Qaida in Anbar, the Turks in the north, and the fans of Ahmadinejad in the south? Or might it be better to have even an imperfect federal democracy that could be based not just on ideals but on an actual material footing? A country that might, over time, undercut the power currently exerted by Saudi Arabia and Iran? I only ask. And it's no good chanting 'no blood for oil' at me, because oil is the lifeblood here, and everybody knows it and always has." | Mentally Unfit, Forced To Fight | Mentally Unfit, Forced To Fight: "The U.S. military is sending troops with serious psychological problems into Iraq and is keeping soldiers in combat even after superiors have been alerted to suicide warnings and other signs of mental illness, a Courant investigation has found.

Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.

Once at war, some unstable troops are kept on the front lines while on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, with little or no counseling or medical monitoring."

Bush corruption

Justice Department Firings: A Cover-up? - Newsweek National News - "Another fired prosecutor, John McKay, of Seattle, tells NEWSWEEK that local Republicans pressured him to launch a criminal probe of voting fraud that would tilt a deadlocked Washington governor's race. 'They wanted me to go out and start arresting people,' he says, adding that he refused to do so because there was 'no evidence.' After McKay was fired in December, he says he also got a phone call from a 'clearly nervous' Elston asking if he intended to go public: 'He was offering me a deal: you stay silent and the attorney general won't say anything bad about you.'"

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Global Warming: Who Loses—and Who Wins?

Global Warming: Who Loses—and Who Wins?: "If a primary impact of an artificially warmed world is to make land in Canada, Greenland, Russia, Scandinavia, and the United States more valuable, this could have three powerful effects on the 21st-century global situation.

First, historically privileged northern societies might not decline geopolitically, as many commentators have predicted. Indeed, the great age of northern power may lie ahead, if Earth’s very climate is on the verge of conferring boons to that part of the world."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Gay Man Implores Hometown Paper He Delivered As Boy To Drop Coulter"

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bush corruption

From Paul Krugman

"Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny.

How can this have been happening without a national uproar? The authors explain: 'We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-statewide and non-Congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press. Each instance is treated by a local beat reporter as an isolated case that is only of local interest.'

And let's not forget that Karl Rove's candidates have a history of benefiting from conveniently timed federal investigations. Last year Molly Ivins reminded her readers of a curious pattern during Mr. Rove's time in Texas: 'In election years, there always seemed to be an F.B.I. investigation of some sitting Democrat either announced or leaked to the press. After the election was over, the allegations often vanished.'"

Maybe the Religious Right has a point

Are gays trivializing marriage and young children as lifestyle accessories? D.C.'s power dykes certainly are:

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts - After 15 Years, a D.C. Power Couple Decides to Go Their Separate Ways - "Elizabeth Birch and Hilary Rosen, Washington's first same-sex power couple, have called it quits after a 15-year relationship, according to people close to them.

Birch, a savvy lawyer, and Rosen, a high-profile lobbyist, glamorized the image of gay couples in the nation's capital. For almost a decade, Birch was director of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's most influential gay and lesbian political lobby. Rosen, as head of the Recording Industry Association of America, was one of the most effective corporate voices on Capitol Hill. As a couple, they were plugged into top social and political circles, which made them two of the most prominent activists for gay family rights.

Birch will continue to split her time between NYC and Washington. The two women, who declined to comment, will both raise their 8-year-old twins, Anna and Jacob.

Sonny Bono's anti-pot PSA

Thursday, March 08, 2007

HRC scores Zero on efficiency

The Daily Dish: Judging HRC: "A reader sent me Charity Navigator's assessment of the biggest gay rights group's tax-deductible foundation, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. They get one out of four stars overall. Their efficiency rating is zero out of four. What do these ratings mean? According to Charity Navigator, one star Doggiehrc_1 means:

'Fails to meet industry standards and performs well below most charities in its Cause.'

Zero means:

'Performs far below industry standards and below nearly all charities in its Cause.'"

CO-04: Eidsness Switches to Dems, Moves to Run Against Musgrave (R)

Swing State Project :: CO-04: Eidsness Switches to Dems, Moves to Run Against Musgrave (R): "4th District, Colorado

2006 Election:

Marilyn Musgrave (R): 46%
Angie Paccione (D): 43%
Eric Eidsness (Reform): 11%"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ann Coulter and “Idiocracy”

Judith Warner in NYT

What I found particularly shocking in Coulter’s comments was their studied juvenility, the sheer idiocy of their language. “Faggot” and “total fag,” like other political pearls of our time — such as “bring it on” and “girlie men” — are just epoch-making in their stupidity. In fact, they sound like lines out of Mike Judge’s 2006 film “Idiocracy,” a political satire that I rented a few months ago and can’t seem to get out of my mind.

In “Idiocracy,” a man the Pentagon has chosen for his perfectly average intelligence is sent into the future and finds the America of 500 years hence inhabited by people so grotesquely moronic that they can barely grunt utterances greater than “Man, whatever!”

Those future Americans have, however, held on to a full arsenal of obscenities and repeatedly tell the hero, who speaks in full sentences, “You talk like a fag.” As the film plays out, it’s the People vs. the Fag — the very dynamic that Coulter establishes when she connects to her audience via their inner 13-year-olds.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lunch in the White House with George-News-World-US & Americas-TimesOnline

Lunch in the White House with George-News-World-US & Americas-TimesOnline: "The president divulged with convincing calm that when it comes to pressure, “I just don’t feel any”. Why? His constituency, he feels, is the divine presence, to whom he must answer. Don’t misunderstand: God didn’t tell him to put troops in harm’s way in Iraq; his belief only goes so far as to inform him that there is good and evil. It is the president who must figure out how to promote the former and destroy the latter. And he is confident that his policies are doing just that."

The Ailing or Wailing - Baby Boomers - TierneyLab - Science - New York Times Blog

The Ailing or Wailing - Baby Boomers - TierneyLab - Science - New York Times Blog: "The two younger groups were less likely than the oldest group to have said their health was “excellent or very good” at 51 to 56 years of age.

The youngest group reported having more pain, chronic health conditions, and drinking and psychiatric problems than people who were the same age 12 years earlier.

Compared with the oldest group, the youngest group was more likely to have reported difficulty in walking, climbing steps, getting up from a chair, kneeling or crouching, and doing other normal daily physical tasks."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

DAVID BROOKS on Bill Richardson

He’s a successful two-term governor who was re-elected with 69 percent of the vote in New Mexico, a red state. Moreover, he’s a governor with foreign policy experience. He was U.N. ambassador. He worked in the State Department. He’s made a second career of negotiating on special assignments with dictators like Saddam, Castro and Kim Jong Il. He negotiated a truce in Sudan.

Most of all, he’s not a senator. Since 1961, 40 senators have run for president and their record is 0-40. A senator may win this year, but you’d be foolish to assume it.

When it comes to policy positions, he’s perfectly positioned — not by accident — to carry liberals and independents. As governor, he’s covered the normal Democratic bases: he raised teacher pay, he expanded children’s health insurance, he began programs to stall global warming, he built a light rail line.

But he also cut New Mexico’s top income tax rate from 8.2 percent to 4.9 percent. He handed out tax credits to stimulate economic growth. (He’s the only Democrat completely invulnerable on the tax cut issue.) He supports free trade, with reservations. And he not only balanced the budget — he also ran a surplus.

On cultural issues, Richardson has the distinct advantage of not setting off any culture war vibes. He was in college in the late 1960s, but he was listening to the Beach Boys, not Janis Joplin. He was playing baseball in the Cape Cod League, not going to Woodstock. He idolized Humphrey, not McCarthy.

Richardson is actually something of a throwback pol — a Daley or La Guardia who doesn’t treat politics as a moral crusade. That might appeal this year.

On the nuts and bolts of the campaign, he has some advantages as well. He won’t have the $150 million war chests that Clinton and Obama will have. On the other hand, he won’t have the gigantic apparatuses that fund-raising on that scale requires. While those campaigns may be bloated, overmanaged and remote, Richardson has the potential to be small and nimble.

Furthermore, he could generate waves of free media the way John McCain did in 2000. He’s a reporters’ favorite — candid, accessible and fun to be around. “I’m a real person, not canned. I don’t have a whole bunch of advisers. I’m a little overweight, though I’m trying to dress better,” he told me last week. So far, rumors of personal peccadilloes are unfounded.

Finally, there is the matter of his personal style. This is his biggest drawback. He’s baggy-faced, sloppy (we like our leaders well groomed), shamelessly ambitious and inelegant. On the other hand, once a century or so the Democratic Party actually nominates somebody the average person would like to have a beer with. Bill Richardson is that kind of guy.

He is garrulous, amusing, touchy-feely (to a fault), a little rough-edged and comfortably mass-market. He’s Budweiser, not microbrew. It doesn’t hurt that he’s Hispanic and Western.

FRANK RICH: Bring Back the Politics of Personal Destruction

IF you had to put a date on when the Iraq war did in the Bush administration, it would be late summer 2005. That’s when the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina re-enacted the White House bungling of the war, this time with Americans as the principal victims. The stuff happening on Brownie’s watch in New Orleans was recognizably the same stuff that had happened on Donald Rumsfeld’s watch in Baghdad. Television viewers connected the dots and the president’s poll numbers fell into the 30s. There they have largely remained — at least until Friday, when the latest New York Times-CBS News Poll put him at 29.

Now this pattern is repeating itself: a searing re-enactment of the Iraq war’s lethal mismanagement is playing out on the home front, again with potentially grave political consequences. The Washington Post’s exposé of the squalor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center — where some of our most grievously wounded troops were treated less like patients than detainees — has kicked off the same spiral of high-level lying and blame-shifting that followed FEMA’s Katrina disasters.

Just as the debacle on the gulf was a call to arms for NBC’s Brian Williams and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, so the former ABC anchor Bob Woodruff has returned from his own near-death experience in Iraq to champion wounded troops let down by their government. And not just at Walter Reed. His powerful ABC News special last week unearthed both a systemic national breakdown in veterans’ medical care and a cover-up. The Veterans Affairs Department keeps “two sets of books” — one telling the public that the official count of nonfatal battlefield casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan stands at 23,000, the other showing an actual patient count of 205,000. Why the discrepancy? A new Brownie — Jim Nicholson, the former Republican National Committee hack whom President Bush installed as veterans affairs secretary — tells Mr. Woodruff “a lot of them come in for dental problems.”

Yet 2007 is not 2005, and little more damage can be inflicted on the lame-duck Bush White House. The long-running Iraq catastrophe is now poised to mow down a second generation of political prey: presidential hopefuls who might have strongly challenged Bush war policy when it counted and didn’t. That list starts with the candidates long regarded as their parties’ 2008 favorites, John McCain and Hillary Clinton.

Senator McCain, who, unlike Senator Clinton, fervently supports the war and the surge, is morbidly aware of his predicament. This once-ebullient politician has been off his game since a conspicuously listless January “Meet the Press” appearance; on Thursday, he had to publicly apologize after telling David Letterman, in an unguarded moment of genuine straight talk, that American lives were being “wasted” in Iraq. (Barack Obama had already spoken the same truth and given the same pro forma apology.) Last week a Washington Post-ABC News Poll confirmed Mr. McCain’s worst political fears. Rudy Giuliani now leads him two to one among Republicans, a tripling of Mr. Giuliani’s lead in a single month.

Mr. Giuliani is also a war supporter and even contributed a Brownie of his own to the fiasco, the now disgraced Bernard Kerik, who helped botch the training of the Iraqi police. But, unlike Mr. McCain, Mr. Giuliani isn’t dogged by questions about Iraq. To voters, his war history begins and ends with the war against the enemy that actually attacked America on 9/11. He wasn’t a cheerleader for the subsequent detour into Iraq, wasn’t in office once the war started, and actively avoids speaking about it in any detail.

What makes Mr. Giuliani’s rise particularly startling is that his liberal views and messy personal history are thought to make him a nonstarter with his own party faithful. These handicaps haven’t kicked in, the Beltway explanation has it, because benighted Republican voters don’t yet really know that “America’s mayor” once married a cousin or that he describes himself as “pro-choice.” But perhaps these voters aren’t as ignorant as Washington thinks. After the flameouts of Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, Ralph Reed and other Bible-thumping politicos who threw themselves on the altars of Terri Schiavo or Jack Abramoff, maybe most Republicans could use a rest from the moral brigade. Maybe these voters, too, care more about the right to life of troops thrust into an Iraqi civil war than that of discarded embryos used in stem-cell research.

The same cultural dynamic is playing out among Democrats, though Mrs. Clinton doesn’t seem to know it. Her poll numbers, too, are showing erosion — some of it because of Mr. Obama’s growing profile among African-Americans, but some of it (in a Time survey) after her dust-up with the Hollywood tycoon David Geffen. Most Washington hands declared Mrs. Clinton the winner in that spat because she had forced Mr. Obama off his high horse of “hope.” But there’s no evidence to support this theory. In the real world, most Americans don’t know who Mr. Geffen is. There wasn’t even any video of him to run on “Hardball,” where the Clinton campaign spokesman’s Jim Cramer-esque hyperbole made him look threatened by Mr. Obama’s rising popularity.

The most revealing aspect of the incident was not in any case the who’s-up-who’s-down prognostications for a primary process some 10 months away. Rather, it was the fervor with which the Clinton campaign accused Mr. Geffen and Mr. Obama of practicing “the politics of personal destruction.” This over-the-top reaction seemed detached from reality, almost as if the Clinton camp were nostalgically wishing it could refight the last political war — and once again clobber repellent old impeachment nemeses. But that battle may not be in the offing. Anti-Clinton rage has cooled, and the Clinton hating industry ain’t what it used to be. As The Times reported last month, even Richard Mellon Scaife, who bankrolled much of the vast right-wing conspiracy, has moved on. As with Mr. Giuliani’s marital history, any scandalous new revelation about the Clintons’ private lives might play out less momentously in post-9/11 America than it did in the last century.

You can’t blame the Clinton campaign for praying it had Kenneth Starr and The American Spectator to kick around again. It would be easier to fight that war than confront the one in Iraq. Far easier. Senator Clinton’s words about the war still don’t parse. When I made this point previously, a Clinton ally phoned to say that whatever the senator’s Iraq statements, she is an exceptionally smart and capable leader by any presidential standard. I agree, and besides, Iraq isn’t the only issue in 2008. But Iraq will overshadow every candidate and every other subject as long as the war grinds gruesomely on, whether in Baghdad or at a V.A. hospital.

The issue is not that Mrs. Clinton voted for the war authorization in 2002 or that she refuses to call it a mistake in 2007. Those are footnotes. The larger issue is judgment, then and now. Take her most persistent current formulation on Iraq: “Obviously, if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn’t have been a vote and I certainly wouldn’t have voted that way.” It’s fair to ask: Knew what then? Not everyone was so easily misled by the White House’s manipulated intelligence and propaganda campaign. Some of her fellow leaders in Washington — not just Mr. Obama out in Illinois, not just Al Gore out of power — knew plenty in the fall of 2002. Why didn’t she?

Bob Graham, then Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, was publicly and privately questioning the W.M.D. intelligence. So was Nancy Pelosi. Chuck Hagel warned that the war was understaffed, that an Iraq distraction might cause Afghanistan “to go down again” and that the toppling of Saddam could be followed by chaos. Joe Biden convened hearings to warn of the perils of an ill-planned post-Saddam Iraq.

Some of these politicians ended up voting to authorize war exactly as Mrs. Clinton did (Senators Hagel and Biden). Some didn’t. But all of them — and there were others as well — asked tougher questions and exerted more leadership. John Edwards, by the way, did not: he was as trigger-happy about speeding up the war authorization then (“The time has come for decisive action”) as he is gung-ho about withdrawal now, despite being an Intelligence Committee member when Mr. Graham sounded alarms about the Bush administration’s W.M.D. claims.

Another fair question is what Mrs. Clinton learned once the war began. Even in the summer of 2003 — after the insurgency had started, after the W.M.D. had failed to materialize, after the White House had retracted the president’s 16 words about “uranium from Africa,” more than two months after “Mission Accomplished” had failed to end major combat operations — she phoned a reporter at The Daily News, James Gordon Meek, to reiterate that she still had no second thoughts about the war. (Mr. Meek first wrote about this July 14, 2003, conversation in December 2005.) Was that what this smart woman really believed then, or political calculation?

Either way, she made a judgment, and she will not be able to spend month after month explaining it away to voters with glib, lawyerly statements. The politics of personal destruction, should they actually visit the Clintons once more, will not take America’s mind off the politics of mass destruction in Iraq.

Cap and Charade -

Cap and Charade - "Yhere's no constraint on your ability to produce CO2 until the government creates one. When it does, it creates an artificial scarcity. What Duke, Entergy, TXU, BP, Dupont and all the rest want is to make sure that when the right to produce CO2 becomes limited, they're the ones that end up owning the allowances. Because that would mean they could sell them, and make money off something that previously wasn't worth a dime."

The ATM scam

Taxes - Alternative Minimum Tax - The Untaxed Rich, Found and Then Lost - New York Times: "The majority of families with two or more children earning $75,000 to $500,000 now owe more under the alternative tax — anywhere from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars annually. Among such families with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 to $100,000, almost 80 percent are affected, compared with just a third of those with incomes of $1 million or more, according to computer modeling studies by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute."

Conservative degeneracy

Glenn Greenwald - Salon: "The single most prestigious political event for conservatives of the year is a place where conservatives go to hear Democrats called faggots, Arabs called ragheads, and Supreme Court justices labeled as deserving of murder -- not by anonymous, unidentifiable blog commenters, but by one of their most popular featured speakers.

And after she does that, she is cheered wildly by an adoring conservative movement that has made her bigoted and hate-mongering screeds best-sellers."

Professional homosexuals for Hillary

The Daily Dish: HRC and HRC: The Love-In: "Here's Senator Clinton's speech to Human Rights Campaign volunteers yesterday. Money quote on HRC's talk to HRC:

'I love the fact that it's my initials. Have you ever noticed that?'

There was no press coverage of this speech, and HRC kept it very hush-hush, which is weird, defensive, suspicious - but that's HRC, sucking money out of gay pockets to finance an insider, velvet-rope elite of D.C. hacks. But the speech is significant in one respect, it seems to me. HRC, the organization, is now fully integrated into HRC, the campaign. It is the Clinton campaign. "

Friday, March 02, 2007

"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards." -- Ann Coulter speaking today at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

King George

The Daily Dish: Quote for the Day III: "His mode of arguing, if it is to be so called, was one not uncommon among dull and stubborn persons, who are accustomed to be surrounded by their inferiors. He asserted a proposition; and, as often as wiser people ventured respectfully to show that it was erroneous, he asserted it again, in exactly the same words, and conceived that, by doing so, he at once disposed of all objections' - Thomas Babington Macaulay on King James II."

Book Notes

The Conservative Soul by Andrew Sullivan

conservatism - preserving past
fundamentalism - erasing past and starting fresh (born again)

conservatism - acceptance of imperfection in human nature
fundamentalism - necessity of perfection

conservatism - premise of human error
fundamentalism - fact of divine truth

conservatism - permanence of human nature
fundamentalism - apocalypse in which human nature is remade

conservatism - pragmatism and context in political choices
fundamentalism - Biblical literalism and absolutism

leftist fundamentalism -- racial justice/affirmative action, speech restrictions for tolerance, school-based multicultural indoctrination, government-funding of abortions.

Religious and leftist fundamentalists share the conviction neutrality is a sham -- that the law is always pushing someone's agenda, so it better be theirs (Stanley Fish and Deconstructionism on the left, James Dobson on the right) The fundamentalist right, for example, believes that for the law to merely permit an activity implies social endorsement or "seal of approval" (pornography, homosexual conduct, divorce, etc.)

Oakeshott's concept that wisdom can be accumulated through the doing of things (and therefore the importance of tradition over theories) -- the wheelwright asks the Duke if the great thinkers who wrote the book are still alive. oh, no, they are dead. "In that case, what you are reading can be nothing but the less and scum of bygone men. . .In my opinion, it must have been the same with men of old. All that was worth handing on died with them; the rest they put in their books."

The founders, of course, anticipated that individuals like George W. Bush would seek glory and honor by winning over the executive office. They knew of Aristotle's description of "thymos" . . . And so they set up a scheme in which much of the energy of these entities would be directed toward fighting each other.

Nice description resurgent West's triumvirate of as a former B-actor, an English chemist, and a Polish priest/playwright.