Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yet more Clinton sleaze

Ben Smith's Blog - Politico.com: "'Kerry, Clinton ventured, should consider defying Democratic interest groups by endorsing the Bush proposal for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.'"

book notes

Profile: Tina Brown | Media | MediaGuardian.co.uk: "In The Diana Chronicles, Tina Brown portrays the Queen of Hearts as a 'spiteful, manipulative, media-savvy neurotic' who was planning to move to America and was scouting around for a billionaire husband in the months before she died."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Doubts Grow as G.I.’s in Iraq Find Allies in Enemy Ranks - New York Times

Doubts Grow as G.I.’s in Iraq Find Allies in Enemy Ranks - New York Times: "To Sergeant O’Flarity, the Iraqi security forces are militias beholden to local leaders, not the Iraqi government. “Half of the Iraqi security forces are insurgents,” he said.

As for his views on the war, Sergeant O’Flarity said, “I don’t believe we should be here in the middle of a civil war.”

“We’ve all lost friends over here,” he said. “Most of us don’t know what we’re fighting for anymore. We’re serving our country and friends, but the only reason we go out every day is for each other.”

“I don’t want any more of my guys to get hurt or die. If it was something I felt righteous about, maybe. But for this country and this conflict, no, it’s not worth it.”"

Iraq's new export

Militants Widen Reach as Terror Seeps Out of Iraq - New York Times: "In an April 17 report written for the United States government, Dennis Pluchinsky, a former senior intelligence analyst at the State Department, said battle-hardened militants from Iraq posed a greater threat to the West than extremists who trained in Afghanistan because Iraq had become a laboratory for urban guerrilla tactics.

“There are some operational parallels between the urban terrorist activity in Iraq and the urban environments in Europe and the United States,” Mr. Pluchinsky wrote. “More relevant terrorist skills are transferable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe,” he went on, citing the use of safe houses, surveillance, bomb making and mortars."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

'Dr. Laura' asks for privacy while son is probed over lurid MySpace page - Los Angeles Times

'Dr. Laura' asks for privacy while son is probed over lurid MySpace page - Los Angeles Times: "Radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger is appealing to news media outlets to respect her son's privacy amid an Army investigation into whether he is behind a lurid personal Web page that featured cartoon depictions of rape, murder, torture and child molestation."

The article about the MySpace page said one blog entry read: "Yes!!! I LOVE MY JOB, it takes everything reckless and deviant and heathenistic and just overall bad about me and hyper focuses these traits into my job of running around this horrid place doing nasty things to people that deserve it … and some that don't."

The website's author indicates he is stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where, he writes, "godless crazy people like me" have become "a generation of apathetic killers."

Mark Buchanan: A New Silent Majority

by Mark Buchanan

Something seems a little out of whack between the mainstream media and the American people. Take the arguments of the past few days over former President Jimmy Carter’s remarks about the Bush administration and the consequences of its particular brand of foreign policy. Carter didn’t attack President Bush personally, but said that “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history,” which can’t really be too far out of line with what many Americans think.

In coverage typical of much of the media, however, NBC Nightly News asked whether Carter had broken “an unwritten rule when commenting on the current president,” and portrayed Carter’s words — unfairly it seems — as a personal attack on President Bush. Fox News called it “unprecedented.” Yet as an article in this newspaper on Tuesday pointed out, “presidential scholars roll their eyes at the notion that former presidents do not speak ill of current ones.”

The pattern is familiar. Polls show that most Americans want our government to stop its unilateral swaggering, and to try to solve our differences with other nations through diplomacy. In early April, for example, when the speaker of the House, the Democrat Nancy Pelosi, visited Syria and met with President Bashar al-Assad, a poll had 64 percent of Americans in favor of negotiations with the Syrians. Yet this didn’t stop an outpouring of media alarm.

A number of CNN broadcasts — including one showing Pelosi with a head scarf beside the title “Talking with Terrorists?” — failed even to mention that several Republican congressmen had met with Assad two days before Pelosi did. The conventional wisdom on the principal television talk shows was that Pelosi had “messed up on this one” (in the words of NBC’s Matt Lauer), and that she and the Democrats would pay dearly for it.

So it must have been a great surprise when Pelosi’s approval ratings stayed basically the same after her visit, or actually went up a little.

Or take the matter of the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Most media figures seem to consider the very idea as issuing from the unhinged imaginations of a lunatic fringe. But according to a recent poll, 39 percent of Americans in fact support it, including 42 percent of independents.

A common explanation of this tendency toward distortion is that the beltway media has attended a few too many White House Correspondents’ Dinners and so cannot possibly cover the administration with anything approaching objectivity. No doubt the Republicans’ notoriously well-organized efforts in casting the media as having a “liberal bias” also have their intended effect in suppressing criticism.

But I wonder whether this media distortion also persists because it doesn’t meet with enough criticism, and if that’s partially because many Americans think that what they see in the major political media reflects what most other Americans really think – when actually it often doesn’t.

Psychologists coined the term “pluralistic ignorance” in the 1930s to refer to this type of misperception — more a social than an individual phenomenon — to which even smart people might fall victim. A study back then had surprisingly found that most kids in an all-white fraternity were privately in favor of admitting black members, though most assumed, wrongly, that their personal views were greatly in the minority. Natural temerity made each individual assume that he was the lone oddball.

A similar effect is common today on university campuses, where many students think that most other students are typically inclined to drink more than they themselves would wish to; researchers have found that many students indeed drink more to fit in with what they perceive to be the drinking norm, even though it really isn’t the norm. The result is an amplification of a minority view, which comes to seem like the majority view.

In pluralistic ignorance, as described by researchers Hubert O’Gorman and Stephen Garry in a 1976 paper published in Public Opinion Quarterly, “moral principles with relatively little popular support may exert considerable influence because they are mistakenly thought to represent the views of the majority, while normative imperatives actually favored by the majority may carry less weight because they are erroneously attributed to a minority.”

What is especially disturbing about the process is that it lends itself to control by the noisiest and most visible. Psychologists have noted that students who are the heaviest drinkers, for example, tend to speak out most strongly against proposed measures to curb drinking, and act as “subculture custodians” in support of their own minority views. Their strong vocalization can produce “false consensus” against such measures, as others, who think they’re part of the minority, keep quiet. As a consequence, the extremists gain influence out of all proportion to their numbers, while the views of the silent majority end up being suppressed. (The United States Department of Education has a brief page on the main ideas here.)

Think of the proposal to put a timetable on the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, supported, the latest poll says, by 60 percent of Americans, but dropped Tuesday from the latest war funding bill.

Over the past couple months, Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com has done a superb job of documenting what certainly seems like it might be a case of pluralistic ignorance among the major political media, many (though certainly not all) of whom often seem to act as “subculture custodians” of their own amplified minority views. Routinely, it seems, views that get expressed and presented as majority views aren’t really that at all.

In a typical example in March, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported that most Americans wanted to pardon Scooter Libby, saying that the polling “indicates that most people think, in fact, that he should be pardoned, Scooter Libby should be pardoned.” In fact, polls showed that only 18 percent then favored a pardon.

Mitchell committed a similar error in April, claiming that polling showed Nancy Pelosi to be unpopular with the American people, her approval rating being as low as the dismal numbers of former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert just before the 2006 November elections. But in fact the polls showed Pelosi’s approval standing at about 50 percent, while Hastert’s had been 22 percent.

As most people get their news from the major outlets, these distortions – however they occur, whether intentionally or through some more innocuous process of filtering – almost certainly translate into a strongly distorted image in peoples’ minds of what most people across the country think. They contribute to making mainstream Americans feel as if they’re probably not mainstream, which in turn may make them less likely to voice their opinions.

One of the most common examples of pluralistic ignorance, of course, takes place in the classroom, where a teacher has just finished a dull and completely incomprehensible lecture, and asks if there are any questions. No hands go up, as everyone feels like the lone fool, even though no student actually understood a single word. It takes guts, of course, to admit total ignorance when you might just be the only one.

Last year, author Kristina Borjesson interviewed 21 prominent journalists for her book “Feet to the Fire,” about the run-up to the Iraq War. Her most notable impression was this:

“The thing that I found really profound was that there really was no consensus among this nation’s top messengers about why we went to war. [War is the] most extreme activity a nation can engage in, and if they weren’t clear about it, that means the public wasn’t necessarily clear about the real reasons. And I still don’t think the American people are clear about it.”

Yet in the classroom of our democracy, at least for many in the media, it still seems impolitic – or at least a little too risky – to raise one’s hand.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Condi Rice profile

From Altantic "Rice’s detractors, and even some of her close friends, see her worldview, which is both intellectually coherent and heartfelt, as deterministic and lacking any real appreciation for the influence of local factors on big historical events. A common term for the core of her thought among her colleagues, past and present, is “the theology,” a reference to her bedrock faith in the likelihood, or inevitability, of progressive historical change. Her views have evolved since she witnessed firsthand the end of the Cold War.

“Back then, Condi Rice was much more of a realist,” one former senior Bush administration official told me. “Some of those traits are still there, but she’s gotten some religion. I don’t mean religion in the evangelical sense. I mean that view of life and optimism and larger forces, and the contest of good and evil, and the idea that time is on our side. It fits with a notion of historical inevitability, and a notion of American progress or a special mission in the world.”

Maybe a naive view of democracy and freedom was created by Eastern Europe's quick conversion to liberal democracy, not taking into account its deep roots in pre-WW2 Capitalism and the Enlightenment.

"I asked [Kissenger] why the answers we draw from our own historical experience so often prove destructive to other countries. He rested his famous jowls on the collar of his blue shirt and began to rumble. “We’ve never had to deal with contingent issues in the sense that our problems have had absolute answers, or at least answers we considered absolute,” he said. “So with very little preparation, most of our problems have proved soluble. They have always yielded to the application of resources and ingenuity, and to finite time scales. Much of this is not true in the rest of the world.”

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hearing Sought Over Linguists' Discharge | The Huffington Post

Hearing Sought Over Linguists' Discharge | The Huffington Post: "Lawmakers who say the military has kicked out 58 Arabic language experts because they were gay want the Pentagon to explain how it can afford to let the valuable specialists go.

Seizing on the latest discharge, involving three specialists, House members wrote the House Armed Services Committee chairman on Wednesday that the continued loss of such 'capable, highly skilled Arabic linguists continues to compromise our national security during time of war.'

Former Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Benjamin said his supervisor tried to keep him on the job and urged him to sign a statement saying he was not gay. Benjamin said his lawyer advised against signing because the statement could be used against him later if other evidence surfaced."

Michael Moore's healthcare crisis

Instapundit.com -: "Glenn, I'm not sure anyone's brought this up yet with Michael Moore's *Sicko*, but one of the biggest costs on US health care is... people like Michael Moore: The World Bank has estimated the cost of obesity in the U.S. at 12 percent of the national health care budget... The Lewin Group examined the costs of fifteen (15) conditions causally related to obesity. They included: arthritis, breast cancer, heart disease, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, endometrial cancer, end-stage renal disease, gallbladder disease, hypertension, liver disease, low back pain, renal cell cancer, obstructive sleep apnea, stroke and urinary incontinence... This method established the direct health care costs of obesity at $102.2 billion in 1999. [Indirect costs surely boost that figure even higher].

Maybe Moore's next film can be called Downsize Me!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Romney vs. Romney

eyeon08.com » One of Ann and Mitt Romney is not telling the truth:

"Ann Romney says:

Whether the issue is running for the presidency or taking over the Winter Olympics, 'I weigh in so heavily, and he listens to my advice probably more than anyone else’s,' Ann agrees. 'We never sort of go off on our own, either one of us, without feeling like we’re going together on whatever journey that we’re on.'

Mitt Romney says:

'her positions are not particularly relevant to my campaign.'"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Staunch or Deluded? Bush Is Both

Staunch or Deluded? Bush Is Both: "As the public's exasperation and anger grow, so does the risk that a change of policy on Iraq, when it comes, will take the form of a chaotic collapse instead of an orderly retrenchment. By refusing to accommodate public doubts or to prepare for setbacks or disengagement, Bush seems to be all but begging for a collapse. According to The New York Times, when pressed in January by congressional leaders on why he thought the new strategy would succeed where previous efforts had failed, Bush 'shot back, 'Because it has to.' ' Plan B is that Plan A has to work."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bush and The Godfather

With Corn Prices Rising, Pigs Switch To Fatty Snacks - WSJ.com

With Corn Prices Rising, Pigs Switch To Fatty Snacks - WSJ.com: "Growing demand for corn-based ethanol, a biofuel that has surged in popularity over the past year, has pushed up the price of corn, Mr. Smith's main feed, to near-record levels. Because feed represents farms' biggest single cost in raising animals, farmers are serving them a lot of people food, since it can be cheaper.
[Alfred Smith]

Besides trail mix, pigs and cattle are downing cookies, licorice, cheese curls, candy bars, french fries, frosted wheat cereal and peanut-butter cups. Some farmers mix chocolate powder with cereal and feed it to baby pigs. 'It's kind of like getting Cocoa Puffs,' says David Funderburke, a livestock nutritionist at Cape Fear Consulting in Warsaw, N.C., who helps Mr. Smith and other farmers formulate healthy diets for livestock."

Gay Britons Serve in Military With Little Fuss, as Predicted Discord Does Not Occur - New York Times

Gay Britons Serve in Military With Little Fuss, as Predicted Discord Does Not Occur - New York Times: "Since the British military began allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of its fears — about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness — have come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a noniss"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Iraq Isn't Like Vietnam -- Except When It Is - washingtonpost.com

Iraq Isn't Like Vietnam -- Except When It Is - washingtonpost.com: "That leads us to another important similarity. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other senior officials have warned that defeat in Iraq would have a catastrophic impact on U.S. credibility. Wittingly or not, they are echoing the assumption from LBJ's 'best and brightest' and Nixon's national security team that a quick exit from Vietnam would undermine the United States' standing abroad -- turning a superpower, as Nixon put it, into 'a pitiful, helpless giant.' In fact, withdrawal did no such thing. What truly hurt America's international reputation on Nixon's and Kissinger's watch (Watergate aside) was the continuation of the conflict for four futile years, which encouraged major powers to conclude that the United States couldn't let go of a failed war. In fact, U.S. credibility was enhanced by ending a war that it could not win -- a war that was costing the country vital resources that it could better use elsewhere."


"Bush's current hope is that history will vindicate him, even if 2008 may not. If he uses LBJ and Nixon as his measuring sticks, however, he will find that history is far more likely to condemn him -- not just for manufacturing reasons to fight an unsuccessful war, and not just for bucking public opinion, but also for failing to think seriously about the past. "Nations and governments have never learned anything from history," Hegel said. Historians like to think that's not true, but there are times when it's hard to believe otherwise."

Law.com - Prosecutors Feeling Impact of 'Duke Effect'

Law.com - Prosecutors Feeling Impact of 'Duke Effect': "Prosecutors across the country are seeing fallout from the Duke case, as defense attorneys use it to discredit other criminal cases and paint them as overzealous prosecutors with something to prove.

In Texas, one defense attorney recently cited the case during voir dire, and again in closing argument, in an assault case involving a teacher accused of pinning down a female student while other students beat her. The lawyer reminded jurors about what happened at Duke. The defendant was found not guilty in three minutes."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Giuliani To Run For President Of 9/11 | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Giuliani To Run For President Of 9/11 | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the world's conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions."

Dissent has no place in a debate!!

Michigan GOP leader wants Paul barred from future debates - NewsFlash - mlive.com: "COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The chairman of the Michigan Republican Party said Wednesday that he will try to bar Ron Paul from future GOP presidential debates because of remarks the Texas congressman made that suggested the Sept. 11 attacks were the fault of U.S. foreign policy.

Michigan party chairman Saul Anuzis said he will circulate a petition among Republican National Committee members to ban Paul from more debates. At a GOP candidates' debate Tuesday night, Paul drew attacks from all sides, most forcefully from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, when he linked the terror attacks to U.S. bombings.

'Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years,' Paul said."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Vietnam veteran and war critic looses son in Iraq

James Fallows: "That a man who himself served in an ill-advised war should now lose a son to a war the father tried to prevent is almost too painful to contemplate. All the deaths in Iraq are wrenching for the families involved. Perhaps this one might bring an extra moment’s reflection, or shame, to the people now persisting in a doomed policy. Perhaps.

Let us honor the memory of Lt. Andrew Bacevich and extend sincere condolences to Col. Bacevich (Ret.) and his family. Let us urge our leaders, as the elder Andrew Bacevich has done, to reconsider their course of folly."

The new Marxists

Czech president calls for rational debate on global warming, rejects "current hysteria" - International Herald Tribune: "'The approach of environmentalists toward nature is similar to the Marxist approach to economic rules, because they also try to replace free spontaneity of the evolution of the world (and of mankind) with ... global planning of the world's development,' Klaus writes in his book.

'That approach ... is a utopia leading to completely other than wanted results,' he says.

Klaus, an economist by profession, has repeatedly warned that policy makers are pushed by the widespread fear of global warming to adopt enormously costly programs that eventually may have no positive effect.

Klaus served as Czechoslovak finance minister after the 1989 fall of communism and as Czech prime minister after Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. As president, he now has mainly ceremonial powers.

Comment is free: The late Jerry Falwell

Comment is free: The late Jerry Falwell: "The religious right's creation myth holds that Roe v Wade so outraged the faithful that they could no longer sit passively on their pews. As the Columbia University historian Randall Balmer has shown, this is nonsense. The Southern Baptist Convention, Falwell's denomination, was officially pro-choice throughout the 1970s; anti-abortion activism was seen as the province of Catholics, a group then widely despised by fundamentalist Protestants. No, what really galvanized the religious right were Supreme Court rulings stripping whites-only Christian academies, like the one Falwell founded in 1966, of their tax-exempt status. Fervent opposition to abortion, which eventually cemented the alliance between conservative Protestant and Catholics, came later."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Angry Wolfowitz in four-letter tirade | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Angry Wolfowitz in four-letter tirade | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited: "Under fire for the lavish package given to Shaha Riza, a World Bank employee and Mr Wolfowitz's girlfriend when he became president, an official investigation into the controversy has found that Mr Wolfowitz broke bank rules and violated his own contract – setting off a struggle between US and European governments over Mr Wolfowitz's future.

Sounding more like a cast member of the Sopranos than an international leader, in testimony by one key witness Mr Wolfowitz declares: 'If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too.'"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sopranos "Kennedy and Heidi" 6.18

Signs that there's no turning back for Tony:

murder of Christoper (who drowns in blood)
trip to Vegas had a hell/voodoo quality
the ducks (Tony's symbol of escape) were in the pond where they were dumping the asbestos

The "Kennedy" fleeing from the scene a car accident is a pretentiously named teenage girl.

Lyrics for Comfortably Numb:

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you say.

When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.

I have become comfortably numb.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

American Royalty

Lexington | The royalty trap | Economist.com: "Montesquieu described 18th-century Britain as a republic in the guise of a monarchy, because the elite was happy to swap one royal family for another whenever it suited them (as in 1688 and 1714). These days, it is tempting to argue that America is becoming a monarchy in the guise of a republic.

This is not just a matter of the Bush-Clinton lock on the presidency. It is also a matter of the way people feel about the institution. Walter Bagehot, a 19th-century editor of The Economist, argued that people like to see a “family on the throne” because it “brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life”."

Overqualified for President

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gov. Spitzer on same-sex marriage

Governor's Marriage Memo - May 8, 2007 - The New York Sun: "Same-sex couples who wish to marry are not simply looking to obtain additional rights, they are seeking out substantial responsibilities as well: to undertake significant and binding obligations to one another, and to lives of 'shared intimacy and mutual financial and emotional support.' Granting legal recognition to these relationships can only strengthen New York's families, by extending the ability to participate in this crucial social institution to all New Yorkers."

book notes

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Somali children would taunt girls who did not have a clitorectomy. Amazing discussion of Ali's forced clitorectomy, beatings, religious indoctrination, and forced marriage. Along with the clitorectomies, the labia of Somali girls are sewn shut. Rather than removing the stitches prior to a girl's honeymoon, Somalis expect the new husband to bust open the stitches during intercourse as a sign of his virility.

"Slave" appears to be a very common ethnic put down in the Middle East and Africa. Saudis use it on Somalis; Somalis use it on Kenyans. It's really amazing to see just how much the twin ideologies of the Left -- multiculturalism and political correctness -- contradict one another.

As in Bhutto, Somalis react pretty strongly to the preposterous suggestion that men have walked on the Moon.

"Their reaction [to the efficiency of Holland] was to create a fantasy that they as Somalis knew better about everything than these inferior white people."

"She was always insisting that shopkeepers looked askance at her because they were racist and didn't want Moroccans in their shop. Personally, I thought they were staring at her bruises"

In Holland, "when I said the position of Muslim women had to change -- to change now -- people were always telling me to wait or calling me right wing"

George F. Will - The Real World Bank Problem - washingtonpost.com

George F. Will - The Real World Bank Problem - washingtonpost.com: "90 percent of the World Bank's loans went to 27 middle-income countries, which Lerrick says 'closely parallels' private-sector lending decisions. The bank's loans represented less than 1 percent of the money provided by private capital markets to those 27. Ten of the 27 accounted for 75 percent of the bank's loans. Wolfowitz has said:

'We are facing . . . competition [from the capital markets]. I think it's important that we effectively compete. Increasingly . . . if the fight against poverty is successful, more and more countries will be in this middle-income category, and if this institution is going to remain relevant to the world, it obviously needs to be relevant to the middle-income countries.'

Wolfowitz's words are those of a man who has been in government much too long. He says private capital markets have become competitive with the bank's functions. But when those markets are not 'competitive,' that means only that they question the value added by loans the World Bank has wanted to make. That is the meaning of the capital markets' supposed bias against developing countries. If those markets are now eager to compete with the World Bank for clients, it is time for the bank to get out of the way."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

4 gas-saving myths - May. 9, 2007

4 gas-saving myths - May. 9, 2007: "There's the old saw that leaving your windows rolled down creates an aerodynamic drag on your car, cutting down on fuel efficiency. And there's the notion that the fastest way to drain your gas tank is by running your air conditioning.

Don't believe either one.

In two separate studies conducted in 2005, the automotive Web site Edmunds.com and Consumer Reports compared the fuel economy of both a sedan and an SUV at highway speeds with and without air conditioning and how open windows affected gas usage.

What they found was no significant difference in fuel economy in either sedan or SUV under either condition."

Practice what you preach?

Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus - New York Times: "About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion."

Must be the gays trying to undermine marriage again

Monday, May 07, 2007

Stupid quotes

Sally Quinn - A Welcome Face -- and A Question - washingtonpost.com: "I was reminded of this the other day watching Barack Obama. I realized that when I look at him, I don't see a person of color. I see a really smart, appealing, thoughtful person."

Mark Tapscott: Which part of ‘stop’ don’t they understand? - Examiner.com

Mark Tapscott: Which part of ‘stop’ don’t they understand? - Examiner.com: "The Democrats have all but abandoned their campaign promises. Now they hide behind a cynical veil of excuse and delay. The Senate and House approved earmark and other ethics reforms earlier this year. Yet nobody now seems interested in working out differences between the two reform packages, so the new rules can go into effect.

Meanwhile, 2007 and 2008 spending bills are being larded up with new anonymous earmarks, with leading Democrats openly defending the practice. They are like drunks who remained sober for a dozen years, but then fell off the wagon and now it’s as if they never stopped boozing.

For their part, lots of Republicans are talking a good case, claiming to have gotten November’s message loud and clear. They’ve won some legislative victories, mainly in the Senate, thanks to the persistence of Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who are reinvigorating the gadfly role not seen in this town since Wisconsin Democrat Sen. William Proxmire was handing out monthly Golden Fleece awards."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sopranos "Walk Like a Man" 6.17

George W. Bush references related to AJ:

--Carmella was reading "Rebel in Chief," a ridiculously laudatory book about Bush.
--AJ's frat party at Rutgers was DKE, the Yale chapter of which Bush was president in 1968.
--Both juniors, of course, are getting into daddy's business after failing to make it on their own. And both Daddies (Tony and George HW Bush, think their juniors would be incompetent in the respective rackets.

Chris tries to be a good "soldier" for Tony and, at Tony's insistence, has tried to get off the booze and drugs. He does that, though, and then they get on him for never being around the drug infested booze and whore fest that is the Bing. That is pretty much the complete opposite of the kind of environment that a newly married, recovering druggie/alcoholic and new dad should be in, but Tony doesn't care. He wants him off drugs BUT still around when he needs him. He cannot have both. Its the same with AJ. He doesn't want him moping around and doesn't want him in the mob like him, but he FORCES him to go to the Bing for a party to get over his depression.

Tony, to Christopher (paraphrasing): "The steak's done. Even when you take it off the flame, it keeps cooking -- you know, the juices."

The New Yorker on Obama

Profiles: The Conciliator: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker: "“There is a running thread in American history of idealism that can express itself powerfully and appropriately, as it did after World War II with the creation of the United Nations and the Marshall Plan, when we recognized that our security and prosperity depend on the security and prosperity of others. But the same idealism can express itself in a sense that we can remake the world any way we want by flipping a switch, because we’re technologically superior or we’re wealthier or we’re morally superior. And when our idealism spills into that kind of naïveté and an unwillingness to acknowledge history and the weight of other cultures, then we get ourselves into trouble, as we did in Vietnam.”

In his view of history, in his respect for tradition, in his skepticism that the world can be changed any way but very, very slowly, Obama is deeply conservative. There are moments when he sounds almost Burkean. He distrusts abstractions, generalizations, extrapolations, projections. It’s not just that he thinks revolutions are unlikely: he values continuity and stability for their own sake, sometimes even more than he values change for the good."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sopranos "Chasing It" 6.16

A major point in this episode was the unwillingness of Tony's circle to tell him to stop the excessive gambling. Sil thinks every bet is a great idea. Christopher chastises Bobby for not being enthusiastic about Tony's horse bet. Adding to Tony's growing isolation is his falling out with Hesh, fight with Carmela, the ultimatum from Melphi, following in previous episodes the fight with Bobby, the estrangement of Christopher, and the near murder of Paulie. He also insults Carlo in a portentous way, since Carlo immediately murdered the last mob guy who told him he "sucks cock"

The sudden enthusiasm for gambling could be the need for a thrill of winning, an escape from a troubled business situation, or the assurance that his luck was still holding out.

Tony explains "chasing it" as about to win something and just as it gets within his grasp "it all falls apart" Perhaps "chasing it" also refers to Tony's attempts to escape his life, or at AJ's apparent failure at going legit.

The whole episode contained things that are broken and showed that you just can't put them back together. There's Sil, trying to repair a vase -- and then later Tony comes in and breaks up the whole room (though not the vase) ... There's Carmela smashing a vase against a wall when her marriage that she tried to patch up is falling apart anyway ... there's Vito, Jr. trying to destroy a tombstone, kicking against the father's name on it, then knocking over the angel on top...