Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Part of the plan

Time magazine claims the Klan and those who are removing the prefix from "neo-Nazi" are "burrowing their way into the anti-immigration mainstream."

One leader who has morphed from militiaman to Minuteman is Mike Vanderboegh, 53, of Pinson, Ala. Once the "commander" of what he called the First Alabama Cavalry Regiment Constitutional Militia, which published antiterrorism screeds, Vanderboegh is the past Alabama state director of the Minutemen. He has advocated hurling bricks through the windows of Congress members who support giving illegal immigrants the same rights as U.S. citizens. Those bricks, he says, should be used to build a wall sealing the U.S. off from Mexico. He argues that the open borders facilitate drug trafficking and the sexual exploitation of immigrant women.

Vanderboegh says he is not a racist, and he has taken pains to distance himself from neo-Nazis. He acknowledges that anti-immigrant sentiment is giving the Klan "fertile ground for recruiting," whereas a few years ago "they could have held a convention in a phone booth." "Illegal immigration and the destruction of the rule of law is social napalm, and people are running around with matches," he warns. "One day it will go off."

This was predicted when the immigration "debate" first began to simmer. Anti-immigration is to racism as yeast is to dough. It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Initially, organizers of the Send-a-Brick Project encouraged people to send bricks on their own, and Ms. Heffron said things had gone relatively smoothly.

But many people, she said, preferred that the organization itself send the bricks and an accompanying letter to selected lawmakers.

The project will do it for an $11.95 fee. So when 2,000 individually boxed bricks showed up at once, Senate officials balked, threatening to force the group to pay postage to have each delivered to its intended recipient. The dispute left the bricks stacked up until an agreement to distribute them was worked out.

"We received them and we delivered them to all the addressees," said a spokeswoman for the office of the Senate sergeant-at-arms.

As the bricks landed in Congressional mailrooms and cramped offices, the effort was applauded in some offices but drew a bemused response elsewhere.

"Given the approval ratings of Congress these days, I guess we should all be grateful the bricks are coming through the mail, not the window," said Dan Pfeiffer, a spokesman for Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana.

The senders of the bricks were encouraged to add a letter telling lawmakers that the brick represented a start on building a border wall.

Many could not resist putting their own message on the bricks. "No Amnesty," said a typical one, referring to a contested Senate plan to allow some illegal immigrants to qualify eventually for citizenship. "Stop the Invasion, Build a Wall," said another brick painted like a flag and shown on the group's Web site at

Sensenbrenner and his ilk have added the yeast, now we'll watch the whole thing rise to a point where it's completely out of control. And when the monsters they've created grow frustrated at the pace of arrest, deportation -- whatever it is they want -- then those bricks really will start flying.

I don't recall who said it recently, but it's beginning to feel a lot like Weimar these days, but without the fun of a Berlin to go and get numb in.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The new Bush: Now, with 50% more competence!

Really, what's he going to campaign on? "I got better SAT scores"?

You've got to feel for Bumiller, though. Memorial Day weekend. Deadline. Nothing to write about.

Reality is biased

Maybe they should just report on the good things happening in Iraq.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Afghanistan, still busted

I know, I know, it represents the horrible "bigotry of soft expectations" to suggest that maybe some "countries" -- some collection of tribal peoples living within relatively arbitrary boundries -- may not be ready, or want, or need FREEEEEEEDOM and DEMOOOOOCRACY. But what if some of those collections are not even ready for a central government?

In the last six weeks, a resurgent Taliban has surprised the Americans with the ferocity of its annual spring offensive and set some officials here to worrying that the United States might become tied down in a prolonged battle as control slips away from the central government — in favor of the movement that harbored Al Qaeda before 2001. And the number of American troops has quietly risen, not fallen.

"Afghanistan is the sleeper crisis of this summer," says John J. Hamre, who was deputy defense secretary from 1997 to 1999.

Not only have officials been surprised by the breadth of the militants' presence and the brazenness of their suicide attacks, roadside bombings and assaults by large units. They have also had to face up to the formidable entrenched obstacles to transforming Afghan society: the deep rivalries among ethnic groups, warlords and tribal leaders; the history of civil war; the trouble central governments have in extending their writ beyond the capital; and the hostility toward efforts to attack poppy growing and drug smuggling, which give many a livelihood.

Another "catastrophic success."

Swift rebutting

John Kerry, still trying to set his military record straight.

Three decades after the Vietnam War and nearly two years after Mr. Kerry's failed presidential bid, most Americans have probably forgotten why it ever mattered whether he went to Cambodia or that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accused him of making it all up, saying he was dishonest and lacked patriotism.

But among those who were on the front lines of the 2004 campaign, the battle over Mr. Kerry's wartime service continues, out of the limelight but in some ways more heatedly — because unlike then, Mr. Kerry has fully engaged in the fight. Only those on Mr. Kerry's side, however, have gathered new evidence to support their case.

The Swift boat group continues to spend money on Washington consultants, according to public records, and last fall it gave $100,000 to a group that promptly sued Mr. Kerry, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, for allegedly interfering with the release of a film that was critical of him.

Some of the principals behind the Swift boat group continue to press their claims. John O'Neill, the co-author of the group's best-selling manifesto, "Unfit for Command," criticizes Mr. Kerry on television talk shows and solicits money for conservative causes and candidates. In a South Carolina newspaper, William Schachte recently reprised his allegation that he was aboard the small skimmer where Mr. Kerry received the injury that led to his first Purple Heart, and that Mr. Kerry actually wounded himself.

Swift boat message boards and anti-Kerry Web sites still boil with accusations that Mr. Kerry fabricated the military reports that led to his military decorations.

Mr. Kerry, accused even by Democrats of failing to respond to the charges during the campaign, is now fighting back hard.

"They lied and lied and lied about everything," Mr. Kerry says in an interview in his Senate office. "How many lies do you get to tell before someone calls you a liar? How many times can you be exposed in America today?"

His supporters are compiling a dossier that they say will expose every one of the Swift boat group's charges as a lie and put to rest any question about Mr. Kerry's valor in combat. While it would be easy to see this as part of Mr. Kerry's exploration of another presidential run, his friends say the Swift boat charges struck at an experience so central to his identity that he would want to correct the record even if he were retiring from public life.

Mr. Kerry portrays himself as a wary participant in his own defense, insisting in the two-hour interview that he does not want to dwell on the accusations or the mistakes of his 2004 campaign. "I'm moving on," he says several times.

But he can also barely resist prosecuting a case against the group that his friends now refer to as "the bad guys." "Bill Schachte was not on that skimmer," Mr. Kerry says firmly. "He was not on that skimmer. It is a lie to suggest that he was out there on that skimmer."

He shows a photograph of the skimmer being towed behind his Swift boat, insisting that it could barely fit three people, himself and two others. "The three guys who in fact were in the boat all say he wasn't there and will tell you he wasn't there," he said. "We know he wasn't there, and we have all kinds of ways of proving it."

Mr. Kerry has signed forms authorizing the Navy to release his record — something he resisted during the campaign — and hired a researcher to comb the naval archives in Washington for records that could pinpoint his whereabouts during dates of the incidents in dispute. Another former crew member has spent days at a time interviewing veterans to reconstruct every incident in question.

In the end, I hope Kerry's supporters are able to get more media outlets to finally admit that the evidence undermines every one of the Swift Boat liars' claims. But also in the end, I doubt it will mean much to many Attention Deficit America.

But it's certainly a lesson for future campaigns. The Swift Boat campaign began as an effort to show that Kerry was unpatriotic, a betrayer of his fellow vets for going to Capitol Hill to testify against the Vietnam War. That didn't work. Kerry's "last man" speech was just too powerful and the war in Iraq even in the Summer of '04 was beginning to look less and less certain of an easy victory. And by then the lies that got us to Iraq were taking on an early 1970s look and feel.

And the Kerry campaign had been prepared to deal with the realities of his past. They knew going in that his protests against the Vietnam War would be used by the opposition. What they didn't prepare for was that the reality of his service -- service that had been well-documented -- would be turned on its head.

That did work. Plenty of gullible idiots (I've spoken to a lot of them) bought the Swift Boat claims that Kerry's service wasn't a rebuke to George AWOL Bush, but rather evidence that he was a liar and a coward.

I'm not sure how any campaign can prepare to defend itself against outright lies. Lies that are then picked up by the media and, even if the media is skeptical, the reports they publish do give the lies a certain establishment credibility. And when Fox News and MSNBC lavish even more attention on the liars, it may be nearly impossible to counteract, unless the candidate devotes all of his time rebutting the false claims.

The Republican Party understands this very well.

The veterans group, led by Mr. O'Neill, a former Swift boat commander who was recruited by the Nixon administration to debate Mr. Kerry on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1971, began its campaign in early 2004 by criticizing Mr. Kerry's protests against the Vietnam War. But backed by Republican donors and consultants, they soon shifted to attack his greatest strength — his record as a military hero in a campaign against a president who never went to war.

Naval records and accounts from other sailors contradicted almost every claim they made, and some members of the group who had earlier praised Mr. Kerry's heroism contradicted themselves.

Still, the charges stuck. At a triumphant gathering of veterans in Fort Worth after the election, Mr. O'Neill was introduced as the man who "torpedoed" Mr. Kerry's campaign; the Swift boat group spent more than $130,000 for a "Mission Accomplished" celebration at Disney World. The president's brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, sent a letter thanking the "Swifties" for "their willingness to stand up to John Kerry." Even people within the Kerry campaign believed that the attacks had cost their candidate the presidency.

And I imagine that even this Times story, which I think is a pretty important tutorial on organized dirty tricks, will probably be morphed by the same punditocracy so easily manipulated by these tactics into yet another sad tale of John Kerry's sore loserness, a man obsessed with what he did 30 years ago, a candidate too cowardly to release his naval records during the campaign.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Marijuana misinformation -- another myth bites the dust

Explain to me again why it is not only still illegal, but there is not a single politician that I know of that is calling for it's decriminalization.

The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.

The new findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.

"We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."

Federal health and drug enforcement officials have widely used Tashkin's previous work on marijuana to make the case that the drug is dangerous. Tashkin said that while he still believes marijuana is potentially harmful, its cancer-causing effects appear to be of less concern than previously thought.

Earlier work established that marijuana does contain cancer-causing chemicals as potentially harmful as those in tobacco, he said. However, marijuana also contains the chemical THC, which he said may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous.


Tashkin's group at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA had hypothesized that marijuana would raise the risk of cancer on the basis of earlier small human studies, lab studies of animals, and the fact that marijuana users inhale more deeply and generally hold smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers -- exposing them to the dangerous chemicals for a longer time. In addition, Tashkin said, previous studies found that marijuana tar has 50 percent higher concentrations of chemicals linked to cancer than tobacco cigarette tar.

While no association between marijuana smoking and cancer was found, the study findings, presented to the American Thoracic Society International Conference this week, did find a 20-fold increase in lung cancer among people who smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day.

Can't we have an honest discussion.

Chirp. Chirp.

Oh, yeah. Reefer madness.

Wars are best served fresh and hot

Charles Krauthammer really, really wants a war with Iran.

Targets of derision...constantly

Hillary Clinton, a baby boomer, is called inauthentic because she has Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. Jamison Foser wonders when Democrats will catch a break from a media that spilled tens of thousands of words on Whitewater, but not a word about Harken Energy insider trading.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Jefferson is corrupt. He should go.

Haven't paid all that much attention to the Rep. Jefferson story, but just as we've held corrupt Republicans up to the light and demanded they step down, so too must Jefferson go.

The Hill, a weekly newspaper that covers Congress, reports that "furious" caucus members came close to publicly scolding Pelosi after she asked Jefferson to quit his committee post. Only an "emergency meeting" with the minority leader averted an embarrassing incident. According to the Hill, the dispute over Jefferson "has brought into glaring public light long-standing resentments felt by black lawmakers toward the Democratic leadership in the House."

The same story quoted an anonymous caucus staffer complaining that by asking Jefferson to quit Ways and Means, Pelosi had created "a new precedent for how members are going to be treated. Unfortunately, she's chosen to single out an African-American for this honor ... The African-American community, which overwhelmingly backs the Democratic Party, will not take this lightly. I hope she enjoys being minority leader."

It is hard to imagine any remark more insulting to the African-American community -- or more indicative of the stupid priorities of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Can it really be true that black voters will punish Pelosi because she demanded a minimal concession from a corrupt lawmaker who happens to be black? Can it really be true that black communities, which have suffered disproportionately from Republican rule, and none more so than Jefferson's Louisiana constituents, will make support of that corrupt lawmaker a point of pride? Can it really be true that black Americans will regard Jefferson as a victim of "discrimination," as he tried to claim in his reply to Pelosi?

More likely is that black voters, like most citizens of all ethnic backgrounds, regard Congress with skepticism and even suspicion -- and that black voters feel much more strongly than most that the Republican majority must be ousted. In this instance they are being poorly served by the caucus, whose members evidently don't differ much from the rest of the Washington elite in their narcissism, myopia and arrogance.

At a time when Republican influence-peddling is beginning to get the attention of regular voters, we don't need this embarrassment to play out for months to come, adding credibility to the newsbots on TV who insist the corruption is equally divided between both parties.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Walk quickly past this Corner

Roy Edroso examines the usual bunch hanging out on The Corner and suggests that a large net might be in order.

The crown goes to K-Lo, though, with this (warning: if you are not aware of current trends in conservative arts criticism, this may blow your mind):

I haven't seen [Oliver Stone's] World Trade Center... I had at least one problem with the trailer... Nicolas Cage has a moustache, for instance, in the movie, to establish "working-class bona fides." But John McLoughlin, the Port Authority police sergeant who Nicolas Page plays in the movie actually has a moustache. So it doesn't strike me as too odd...

I can't believe I'm defending an Oliver Stone trailer...

And I can't believe these people are walking around loose.

I have to ask, though, are they really allowed out? From their perspectives on "the dominant culture," I often have the feeling they've been in the bug house since 1966.

How a Yankee victory is like yoga

It brings with it a sense of balance. Order is restored to the universe. A renewed equilibrium is achieved.

In related news, it's surely a sign of how embarrassed the Red Sox and their fans were by Manny Ramirez's "stylin'" the night before, posing at the plate while he watched a homerun sail over the Monster and then posing again when he lined a single a couple of innings later, that Doug Mirabelli felt compelled to attack...

...wait for it...

Alex Rodriguez.

Beware of scouts?

According to Brendan O'Neill, the official narrative, assumption, and conventional wisdom about the perpetrators of the July 7, 2005 attacks in London were wildly off the mark.

The narrative exposes the gaping chasm between the myth and the reality of al-Qaeda-style terrorism. The myth about 7/7 was that it must have been an al-Qaeda-designed attack on Britain, for its foreign policy or for its close relationship with the US, facilitated and financed by fanatics in Pakistan or the Middle or Far East; the reality is that a self-financed group of four Britons, three from Leeds and one from Huddersfield, decided over a rowing machine or during a white-water rafting trip to commit suicide by bomb on the London Underground. The myth of contemporary terrorism is that it is a new and ruthless war against Western values by a network of radical Islamists; the reality is something more akin to the Columbine school massacre, where usually respectable young men either born or educated in the West decide for various different reasons, or none that we can work out, to kill themselves and scores of civilians. (Where the Columbine killers calmly played that all-American sport ten-pin bowling before killing their fellow students, the 7/7 bombers played the quintessential English sport, cricket, the night before blowing up London.)

O'Neill's point is that the terror attacks represented something both less frightening (there appeared to be no foreign conspiricy behind the attacks) and more frightening (the attacks were meaningless and perpetrated by unexceptional losers) then the narratives fashioned immediately after the attacks conveyed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Leftist artistic theory explained

I dunno, seems like lately their hearts really aren't into it. They want to demonize "we" on "the left," but they keep using arguments that were stale even back when "we" really might have worn "black turtlenecks."

I see Madonna has a new tour ongoing, in which she wears S&M gear, feigns being Christ on the cross, and whips men wearing horsey gear.


Wanna dunk a huge crucifix upside down in dung & urine? Sorry, it'?s been done. How 'bout you make an image of the Virgin Mary out of shit? That'?ll scare the rubes. That'?s been done too? Hmmmm? Okay. How 'bout pictures of people with whips up their asses. (NSFW). Sorry, that'?s been done too? Hmmm? this is getting hard.

Okay, I got it. We'?ll have a film of some gay guy getting slammed by his buddy, and while that's going on, the wide receiver in this little game of catch will sing the Star Spangled Banner as a brilliant, artistic slam on President Bush. Oh, sorry, forgot. That's been done too. Um, okay, how 'bout we have sex with holy communion, pay prostitutes to stamp on the rosary beads, and dare God to strike us down? Now that will be a work of art, right? Sadly, it's been done. A long time ago. It'?s not new.

The idea that art is only worthy if it transgresses some perceived social norm is something the elites have foisted on us for a long time.

Leftist critical theory - specifically Marcuse and Gramsci - tells us we need to champion the outlaw over the cop, the prostitute over the priest, the profane over the reverent. In this way the existing social order may be destroyed, and some new Rousseauian Natural Man utopia created.


The only people who don't get this, seemingly, are the artists. Maybe the black turtleneck crowd has its reasons for cheering on the art-eests - leftist theory, being members of a club nobody else is members of, better quality cheese at gallery openings than at NASCAR events, whatever. But none of the rest of us have any reason to cheer. Granted, life isn'?t a popularity contest. But when *everybody* hates you except for a couple clove cigarette smoking jackasses who tell you they suffer from ennui, then perhaps it'?s time to stop and question your direction in life.

Yes, Al, your appraisal of the modern art scene is spot on. The bongo playing. The black berets. The ennui. Oh, the ennui.

And thanks for reminding us of "NASCAR Man," the embodiment of all that sets our teeth a-grinding with contempt while our knees go soft in fear.

But Al. Madonna? "Piss Christ?" The dude who placed some elephant dung on a portrait entitled "Holy Virgin Mary?" I mean, geez. Can't you find anything fresher than those Giuliani-era transgressors? You're thinking way too September 10, man.

And Madonna (who, last I checked record sales, is not hated by "*everybody*"), is many things. Artistic-theorist is not one of them.

But, as I said, this is getting old and boring. The "Right's" faux outrage is predictably accompanied by the straw man -- that crazy, bearded "lefty" who, because he does not feel victimized by some obscure artist's work, supports freedom of expression, and would prefer the government not be "the decider" of what can and cannot be shown in our public galleries, necessarily must also then be a champion of that artist's work. Nay, a promoter of an entire industry of the artist's work. They ignore, of course, the obvious conclusion: that their noisy outrage is calculated to promote the previously obscure artist and the work they profess to detest. Of course, if it also promotes themselves, well then, so much the better.

Further, I am amazed and disappointed that Al did not use this screed as an opportunity to again depict as traitorous islamooofascist sympathizers anyone who did not proudly and loudly publish those insipid cartoons from Danelandia.

Via the Daou Report.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, "Baseball Canto"

Heard today on the Theme Time Radio Hour:

Watching baseball, sitting in the sun, eating popcorn,
reading Ezra Pound,
and wishing that Juan Marichal would hit a hole right through the
Anglo-Saxon tradition in the first Canto
and demolish the barbarian invaders.
When the San Francisco Giants take the field
and everybody stands up for the National Anthem,
with some Irish tenor's voice piped over the loudspeakers,
with all the players struck dead in their places
and the white umpires like Irish cops in their black suits and little
black caps pressed over their hearts,
Standing straight and still like at some funeral of a blarney bartender,
and all facing east,
as if expecting some Great White Hope or the Founding Fathers to
appear on the horizon like 1066 or 1776.

But Willie Mays appears instead,
in the bottom of the first,
and a roar goes up as he clouts the first one into the sun and takes
off, like a footrunner from Thebes.
The ball is lost in the sun and maidens wail after him
as he keeps running through the Anglo-Saxon epic.
And Tito Fuentes comes up looking like a bullfighter
in his tight pants and small pointy shoes.
And the right field bleechers go made with Chicanos and blacks
and Brooklyn beer-drinkers,
"Tito! Sock it to him, sweet Tito!"
And sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket
and smacks one that don't come back at all,
and flees around the bases
like he's escaping from the United Fruit Company.
As the gringo dollar beats out the pound.
And sweet Tito beats it out like he's beating out usury,
not to mention fascism and anti-semitism.
And Juan Marichal comes up,
and the Chicano bleechers go loco again,
as Juan belts the first ball out of sight,
and rounds first and keeps going
and rounds second and rounds third,
and keeps going and hits paydirt
to the roars of the grungy populace.
As some nut presses the backstage panic button
for the tape-recorded National Anthem again,
to save the situation.

But it don't stop nobody this time,
in their revolution round the loaded white bases,
in this last of the great Anglo-Saxon epics,
in the territorio libre of Baseball.

Congressional outrage

Suddenly, there's bi-partisan awareness that the Cheney administration has no regard for that other branch of government.

WASHINGTON, May 23 — After years of quietly acceding to the Bush administration's assertions of executive power, the Republican-led Congress hit a limit this weekend.

Resentment boiled among senior Republicans for a second day on Tuesday after a team of warrant-bearing agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation turned up at a closed House office building on Saturday evening, demanded entry to the office of a lawmaker and spent the night going through his files.

The episode prompted cries of constitutional foul from Republicans — even though the lawmaker in question, Representative William J. Jefferson of Louisiana, is a Democrat whose involvement in a bribery case has made him an obvious partisan political target.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert raised the issue personally with President Bush on Tuesday. The Senate Rules Committee is examining the episode.

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, predicted that the separation-of-powers conflict would go to the Supreme Court. "I have to believe at the end of the day it is going to end up across the street," Mr. Boehner told reporters gathered in his conference room, which looks out on the Capitol plaza and the court building.

A court challenge would place all three branches of government in the fray over whether the obscure "speech and debate" clause of the Constitution, which offers some legal immunity for lawmakers in the conduct of their official duties, could be interpreted to prohibit a search by the executive branch on Congressional property.

Lawmakers and outside analysts said that while the execution of a warrant on a Congressional office might be surprising — this appears to be the first time it has happened — it fit the Bush administration's pattern of asserting broad executive authority, sometimes at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches.


"This administration," Dr. Cooper said, "has very systematically and from the beginning acted in a way to interpret its executive powers as broadly as possible and to interpret the power of Congress as narrowly as possible as compared to the executive."

Some Republicans agreed privately that the search was in line with what they saw as the philosophy of the Justice Department in the Bush administration. They said the department had often pushed the limits on legal interpretations involving issues like the treatment of terrorism detainees and surveillance.

It seems that it's taken Abu Ghraib Gonzalez to walk into their offices and take an enormous bowel movement for Congress to show some outrage over an administration run-amok.

Or is something else in play here?

Republicans may have a potential self-interest beyond defending the institutional prerogatives of the legislative branch. With some of the party's own lawmakers and aides under scrutiny in corruption inquiries tied to the lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the former lawmaker Randy Cunningham, Republicans would no doubt like to head off the possibility of embarrassing searches of their members' offices.

But lawmakers of both parties said they had no interest in protecting criminal activities or Mr. Jefferson. Their fear, they said, is that the search set a dangerous precedent that could be used by future administrations to intimidate or harass a supposedly coequal branch of the government.

Indeed. With the systematic corruption of the Republicans in Congress, this greed head Democrat could be opening the way for the FBI to set up a branch office on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Greatest rivalry in all of sport!"


Used to be the Red Sox (and the Mets for that matter) were obsessed with trying to beat the Yankees. Those days are over. Now the Yankees are obsessed with beating the Red Sox.

The Yankees continue to have no answer for David Ortiz and Manny Ramírez, who have combined for 4 homers, 19 runs batted in and a .447 average against the Yankees this season. Wang had a 1-0 lead before they faced him in the fourth.

Wang created a jam by walking Kevin Youkilis after getting ahead, 0-2, with one out. Mark Loretta then singled, and the runners advanced on a wild pitch. Wang then went to 3-0 on Ortiz. Asked if he should have just had Ortiz walked, Yankees Manager Joe Torre hedged.

"I did that once, and I paid the price," Torre said. "It certainly isn't a comfortable position to be in. But I certainly understand why you would ask that question."

Wang pitched to Ortiz, who lined a two-run single to left. The Red Sox led, 2-1, and after Wang got two strikes on Ramírez, he threw a high fastball, 93 miles an hour. Wang said he was trying to get Ramírez to chase a pitch up in the strike zone, a decision with disastrous results.

Ramírez crushed the ball into the center-field bleachers for his 43rd career home run against the Yankees, the most of any active player. The Red Sox led by 4-1.

"He looked like he tried to do something with Manny, something up, which is not his neighborhood," Torre said. "It's Manny's neighborhood, but not his neighborhood, and he killed that ball."

If Billy Wagner, the Mets' closer, had not imploded in the ninth on Saturday, allowing the Yankees to score four, tie the game, and eventually win in the 11th, the Yankees would have now lost five in a row.

When will Mr. Steinbrenner issue a statement?

Now, which fork do I use?

Attention Web Loggers ("Bloggers"), T-Bogg, a somewhat popular blogger, has posted an important treatise on "Blogiquette" which really must be read if you want to be sure not to be embarrassed by putting the wrong fork into Michelle Malkin.

John Tierney's blast of hot air

Not content with a front page story reminding us that Hilary Clinton's husband was once unfaithful to her,the Times today gives us John Tierney who (yes, the Time$ thinks it can charge for his insipid comment) takes on Al Gore to task, not only for being "boring," but for not going far enough to demand action on global warming.

If Al Gore's new movie weren't titled "An Inconvenient Truth," I wouldn't have quite so many problems with it.

He should have gone with something closer to "Revenge of the Nerd." That's the heartwarming angle to global warming. A college student is mesmerized by his professor's bold measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Our hero carries this passion into Congress, where no one listens to him, and then works up a slide show that he inflicts on audiences around the world, to no discernible effect.

But then his slide show becomes a horror movie — and it turns into a cult hit. The nerd becomes the toast of Hollywood, Sundance and Cannes. He is cheered at premieres across America. Audiences sit enraptured through a film starring graphs of CO2 concentrations and close-ups of ice cores.

The documentary doesn't open in theaters until tomorrow, but it's already a cinch for an Oscar, and deservedly so. Getting anyone to voluntarily endure 100 minutes of Al Gore and his slides is a historic cinematic achievement.

Gore isn't exactly likable in the film — he still has that wooden preachiness and is especially hard to watch when he tries to be funny. Yet you end up admiring him for his nerdly persistence. He turned out to be right about something important: global warming is a problem worth worrying about.


But even as propaganda, the film is ultimately unsatisfying. Gore doesn't mind frightening his audience with improbable future catastrophes, but he avoids any call to action that would cause immediate discomfort, either to filmgoers or to voters in the 2008 primaries.

He doesn't propose the quickest and most efficient way to reduce greenhouse emissions: a carbon tax on gasoline and other fossil fuels. The movie gives him a forum for talking sensibly about a topic that's taboo on Capitol Hill, but he instead sticks to long-range proposals that sound more palatable, like redesigning cities to encourage mass transit or building more efficient cars and appliances.

Gore shows the obligatory pictures of windmills and other alternative sources of energy. But he ignores nuclear power plants, which don't spew carbon dioxide and currently produce far more electricity than all ecologically fashionable sources combined.

A few environmentalists, like Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, have recognized that their movement is making a mistake in continuing to demonize nuclear power. Balanced against the risks of global warming, nukes suddenly look good — or at least deserve to be considered rationally. Gore had a rare chance to reshape the debate, because a documentary about global warming attracts just the sort of person who marches in anti-nuke demonstrations.

Gore could have dared, once he enticed the faithful into the theater, to challenge them with an inconvenient truth or two. But that would have been a different movie.

Right, John Tierney.

In September of this year, Tierney wrote another story for the Times magazine, in which he attacked opponents of suburban sprawl, and called for "more tolls, more roads, and yes, more cars." As a way to reduce driving, Tierney proposed a punitive tax on the cost of gasoline. In return, environmentalists would have to support new toll lanes and road construction.

When environmentalists pointed out that a gas tax would do little to reduce driving as long as people continue to need to travel long distances to get to work, Tierney abruptly changed the terms of the debate, arguing that opposition to driving is mere snobbish elitism. "If people are willing to keep driving," he wrote, "why are they and their cars any more objectionable than the commoners who offended the Duke of Wellington with their desire to ride the railroad?" Along the way, he ignored entirely the reasons that environmentalists want to reduce driving in the first place: to curb global warming and air pollution. Indeed, in a 5,468-word story extolling the benefits of driving, the phrase "global warming" appears just once, in passing, and "climate change" not at all.

Neha Bhatt of the Sierra Club, who spoke to Tierney at length for the piece -- he quoted one sentence -- doesn't believe Tierney approached the issue in good faith. (Full disclosure: I used to work at Sierra Club. Bhatt was a colleague.) "There was no real sincere intent to look at the problems [of sprawl, smart growth, and global warming]," she told CJR Daily. "I think he wrote that article before he even called us."

Perhaps Tierney's lack of alarm at the looming threat of global warming isn't surprising -- he's on record as believing that it could be a good thing. A Tierney column from 2001 touted a study suggesting that expected future rises in mean air temperature were likely to be a boon to the U.S. economy. There's a far more substantial body of research that shows the opposite, of course -- that global warming and its effects will cost the U.S. billions of dollars. That research was ignored.

Yes, that John Tierney.

New York Times columnist John Tierney made several questionable and inaccurate claims about Arctic climatic change and its effect on polar bear populations. In his August 7 Times op-ed, Tierney claimed that the Arctic was as warm in the 1930s as it is now. He also suggested that recent Arctic warming may benefit polar bears, noting that polar bear populations have increased as the Arctic has grown warmer. In fact, data show that current Arctic temperatures are higher than they were in the 1930s. Also, many scientists believe that Arctic warming, rather than benefiting polar bears, will actually destroy their habitats and reduce their food supply.

Perhaps I'm missing something here, but at least Tierney's consistent. Consistently wrong (as shown by our recent gas prices which have done little to curtail our taste for gasoline and big much for a "carbon tax" -- we're already paying it), but consistent.

Tierney ignores the fact that Gore's movie is intended to frighten people into demanding action from a political class which continues to take it's scientific guidance from Michael Crichton and views global warming as a hoax. If we're dealing with political leadership like that, proposing "solutions" like gas taxes and nuclear power plants hardly seems the point.

The Times gossip columnists

The story not running in The New York Times this morning.

The story that is running on page one of The New York Times this morning.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Salter bites back

Hmmm. The whole thing -- Kerrey inviting McCain to speak at The New School, the inevitable protest, and now, the "you're not fit to clean the wounds the Senator received as a POW" -- is beginning to take on an air of the stage-directed.

Joe Galloway's parting shots

Joe Galloway, the Knight-Ridder reporter who's been covering war and the U.S. military since Ia Drang, is leaving Washington. But not before he has a "spirited" e-mail exchange with Larry DiRita, Rumsfeld's Pentagon spokesman.

I was going to quote a passage, but no single quote conveys the depth of feeling, the specifics, and the intense hatred Galloway feels for Rumsfeld's betrayal of the "warriors" he's been covering for 41 years.

DiRita is, well, Rumsfeld's spokesman. That's about all you need to say about him.

Via Atrios.

Whose venom is it, anyway?

Jonathan Chait brings us today's moment in Republican projection.

The Redstate blog sums up Hugh Hewitt's latest book. The last item in the list is priceless:

Here are the five GOP messages Hewitt thinks the party should run on in 2006:

- The Democratic Left and the MSM have declared war on the military. Again.

- The Democratic Left has declared war on religion.

- The Democratic Left and its Senators have declared war on the judiciary.

- The Democratic Left wants to radically redefine marriage while portraying Republicans as bigoted.

- The Democratic Left is addicted to venom, and that venom is poisoning the political process.

Throwing our own surprise party

What, no cake?

Thanks to those readers who've been coming since the start ("Personally, I'll miss Ari Fleischer" had such an elegiac feel), and thanks to the newer arrivals as well.

I figure in three more years the madness will be such that the entire content of this web log ("blog") will consist of burblings written in the Ravie font.


Paul Krugman hears our cries for the truth about what's really behind the growing antipathy towards Joe Lieberman, and voices them (Time$elect) within the pages of The New York Times.

Once again, and with feeling, it ain't about declining support for the War in Iraq.

Talk-Show Joe

Friday was a bad day for Senator Joseph Lieberman. The Connecticut Democratic Party's nominating convention endorsed him, but that was a given for an incumbent with a lot of political chips to cash in. The real news was that Ned Lamont, an almost unknown challenger, received a third of the votes. This gave Mr. Lamont the right to run against Mr. Lieberman in a primary, and suggests that Mr. Lamont may even win.

What happened to Mr. Lieberman? Some news reports may lead you to believe that he is in trouble solely because of his support for the Iraq war. But there's much more to it than that. Mr. Lieberman has consistently supported Republican talking points. This has made him a lion of the Sunday talk shows, but has put him out of touch with his constituents — and with reality.

Mr. Lieberman isn't the only nationally known Democrat who still supports the Iraq war. But he isn't just an unrepentant hawk, he has joined the Bush administration by insisting on an upbeat picture of the situation in Iraq that is increasingly delusional.

Moreover, Mr. Lieberman has supported the attempt to label questions about why we invaded Iraq and criticism of the administration's policies since the invasion as unpatriotic. How else is one to interpret his warning, late last year, that "it is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation's peril"?

And it's not just Iraq. A letter sent by Hillary Clinton to Connecticut Democrats credited Mr. Lieberman with defending Social Security "tooth and nail." Well, I watched last year's Social Security debate pretty closely, and that's not what happened.

In fact, Mr. Lieberman repeatedly supported the administration's scare tactics. "Every year we wait to come up with a solution to the Social Security problem," he declared in March 2005, "costs our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren $600 billion more."

This claim echoed a Bush administration talking point, and President Bush wasted little time citing Mr. Lieberman's statement as vindication. But the talking point was simply false, so Mr. Lieberman was providing cover for an administration lie.

There's more. Mr. Lieberman supported Congressional intervention in the Terri Schiavo affair, back when Republican leaders were trying to manufacture a "values" issue out of thin air.

And let's not forget that Mr. Lieberman showed far more outrage over Bill Clinton's personal life than he has ever shown over Mr. Bush's catastrophic failures as commander in chief.

On each of these issues Mr. Lieberman, who is often described as a "centrist," is or was very much at odds not just with the Democratic base but with public opinion as a whole. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, only 40 percent of the public believes that we were right to go to war with Iraq.

Mr. Lieberman's tender concern for the president's credibility comes far too late: according to a USA Today/Gallup poll, only 41 percent of Americans consider Mr. Bush honest and trustworthy. By huge margins, the public believed that Congress should have stayed out of the Schiavo case. And so on.

Mr. Lieberman's defenders would have you believe that his increasingly unpopular positions reflect his principles. But his Bushlike inability to face reality on Iraq looks less like a stand on principle than the behavior of a narcissist who can't admit error. And the common theme in Mr. Lieberman's positions seems to be this: In each case he has taken the stand that is most likely to get him on TV.

You see, the talking-head circuit loves centrists. But a centrist, as defined inside the Beltway, doesn't mean someone whose views are actually in the center, as judged by public opinion.

Instead, a Democrat is considered centrist to the extent that he does what Mr. Lieberman does: lends his support to Republican talking points, even if those talking points don't correspond at all to what most of the public wants or believes.

But this "center" cannot hold. And that's the larger lesson of what happened Friday. Mr. Lieberman has been playing to a Washington echo chamber that is increasingly out of touch with the country's real concerns. The nation, which rallied around Mr. Bush after 9/11 simply because he was there, has moved on — and it has left Mr. Lieberman behind.

© New York Times Company

I'd intended to include Lieberman's tepid response to Bush's plans to dismantle Social Security in my own bill of particulars. He refused at the time to make much of a commitment either way even as, as Krugman notes, echoing Republican talking points about "the crisis." It was another in a string of sad performances by "the centrist Democrat."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Al Gore has a beard. He's fat.

It's still a couple years out until the '08 election, but the "Al Gore is unelectable" trope has begun already.

Mr. Gore — the former vice president, would-be president, almost-president and, in some circles, should-be president — did a hilarious turn on "Saturday Night Live" last weekend. He has received continued plaudits in liberal journals and blogs for his staunch opposition to the Iraq war and good reviews for his documentary about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth." He attended an opening for the film here last Wednesday amid raves about how at ease this latest version of the "new Al Gore" appears, in addition to the requisite "Gore in '08" buzzing among the Washington smartypants set.

If Mr. Gore runs for president again — and he says he won't, though not quite definitively — he would come rested, battle-tested and, given how Democrats have treated their losing nominees, deeply stigmatized.

As a general rule, it can be an unpleasant career move for a Democrat to run for president, streak to primary victories, win his party's nomination and, ultimately, fall short. For his troubles, he will automatically be consigned by large sectors of his party to a distinctive Democratic pariah status — his campaign ridiculed, second-guessed and I-told-you-so'd endlessly by insiders and operatives who bemoan how "winnable" his election was and "unlikable" his personality is.

They will reflexively lump the runner-up into the party pantheon of losers and hope he stays away. "We tend to treat our losing nominees like Superfund sites," said Bob Beckel, a longtime Democratic strategist who ran Walter F. Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984, a landslide loss to Ronald Reagan.

Oh, bullshit.

Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum call it so.

UPDATE: As "Anon" points out, it's Matthew Yglesias subbing for Josh.

What conservative principles?

Richard Viguerie, one of the central figures in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC), is positively shrill.

Once he took office, conservatives were willing to grant this Bush a honeymoon. We were happy when he proposed tax cuts (small, but tax cuts nonetheless) and when he pushed for a missile defense system. Then came the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and conservatives came to see support for the president as an act of patriotism.

Conservatives tolerated the No Child Left Behind Act, an extensive intrusion into state and local education, and the budget-busting Medicare prescription drug benefit. They tolerated the greatest increase in spending since Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. They tolerated Bush's failure to veto a single bill, and his refusal to enforce immigration laws. They even tolerated his signing of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul, even though Bush's opposition to that measure was a key reason they backed him over Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the 2000 primaries.

In 2004, Republican leaders pleaded with conservatives -- particularly religious conservatives -- to register people to vote and help them turn out on Election Day. Those efforts strengthened Republicans in Congress and probably saved the Bush presidency. We were told: Just wait till the second term. Then, the president, freed of concern over reelection and backed by a Republican Congress, would take off the gloves and fight for the conservative agenda. Just wait.

We're still waiting.

Viguerie laments Bush's betrayal of conservative "principles," but what, beyond lowering taxes and deploying a Flash Gordon-style missile defense system, have Republicans stood for since 1980? Talking tough to Communists? Negotiating arms deals with Iran? Corporate welfare?

The real problem is not that Bush has not "governed like a conservative." He has. Conservatives do not understand how to govern. Because all they do is "fight for the conservative agenda."

And because the man who they made a fetish of is flailing and the war they backed with full-throated blood lust is a disaster, suddenly there is talk of failure, not of the conservative agenda, but of the vessel they put in place to advance that agenda. Here's the tip-off:

In today's Washington, where are the serious efforts by Republicans to protect unborn children from abortion? Where is the campaign for a constitutional amendment to prevent liberal judges from allowing same-sex marriage?

Behold their real gripe. It isn't the war. It isn't handouts to big business. It's that Republicans in Washington haven't used their power to divide the country even more than they already have.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Yes, another post about "The Closer"

"Enter Sandman," indeed.

Baseball's a weird game. I mean, Tuesday's amazing comeback from 10-1 after two innings was far less improbable than the Yankees' stirring win over the Metropolitans this afternoon (with a lineup that sounded like the "B Squad" from Spring Training).

Pedro Martinez outpitched Mike Mussina and left after seven innings, with the Mets leading 4-0 and the sellout crowd at Shea Stadium shouting. The home fans were still screaming later, albeit for a different reason, when Wagner self-destructed.

Phillips, hitting only .174, delivered a two-out single off Jorge Julio (1-2) after Miguel Cairo drew a leadoff walk and stole two bases. Mariano Rivera (2-3) pitched two scoreless innings, a night after giving up David Wright's winning single in the bottom of the ninth.

Wagner, without a save on the line, looked nothing like the pitcher who overpowered the Yankees on Friday in striking out the side.

Jason Giambi led off the ninth a single, Alex Rodriguez walked and Robinson Cano singled for a run. With one out, rookie Melky Cabrera worked for an 11-pitch walk that loaded the bases, Kelly Stinnett walked to force home another run and pinch-hitter Bernie Williams was hit by a pitch, making it 4-3.

Pedro Feliciano relieved with the bases loaded and almost got the break the Mets needed to escape. But Damon, who grounded into his first double play of the season in his previous at-bat, hit a bouncer and barely beat the relay to drive in the tying run.

Mets manager Willie Randolph argued first base umpire Tom Hallion's ruling. Replays showed the ump was right.

Funny, they were writing Rivera's career epitaph -- again -- just this morning. This afternoon, he struck out Wright, Floyd, and Nagy to end the game.

Rivera, who retired Carlos Beltran and Delgado in the 10th with the winning run on base, struck out Wright, Floyd and Xavier Nady in the 11th to nail down the win.

"There's no sweet revenge; it's the game," Rivera said. "I'm not going to run from anybody, so I was going at them. I was in command. I was much better."

Congrats to Barry Bonds, tied at number-two on the career HR list. Too bad he's the very apotheosis of The Babe.

Poor Barbaro

Such powerful, delicate animals.

Watching the three year old holding his hind leg, making little circular motions in the air as it wanted to put it down on the ground but couldn't was one of the saddest things I've seen in sports.

Tough for the winner, too. Post-race interviews are fine, but...whatever. I wanted to see how they got the poor injured horse in the "Equine Ambulance."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Giuliani meets his southern base

Giuliani builds his web of supporters by lending his support to Ralph "in Abramoff's pocket" Reed.

For Mr. Giuliani, who is considering a run for the presidency in 2008, the political foray into the South allowed him to pocket a campaign chit from Mr. Reed that could be useful if the former mayor tries to build a national coalition that includes religious-minded Republicans, who are a core part of Mr. Reed's voter base.

Mr. Giuliani was warmly received at a Reed fund-raiser here, though advisers to Mr. Reed noted that most of the donors were politically moderate business people, and that a truer test of Mr. Giuliani's appeal among more conservative Southerners would come in rural counties.

Oh, don't worry about the rural types. Giuliani can always remind them that he was once married to his second cousin. They'll think he's one of their own.

Lieberman and losers

Man, working's a bitch. "The Man" is doing all "he" can to keep me from my blogging responsibilities lately.

So it is with gratitude that, while I was going to write a mess o' words about this dumb NY Times article on what's driving the challenge to Joementum in CT, but no time to do it, Digby's beaten me to the punch.

This is getting stupid. The NY Times is creating a false impression about the netroots support for Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman as an expression of anti-war fervor. I think that is missing the greater point.

There are quite a few Democrats who voted for the war. They certainly have some work to do to convince many of us that they have seen the light. But the reason the netroots are taking on Joe Lieberman is because he enables Republicans on a host of issues and consistently shows disloyalty to the party in a hyper-partisan era. Alone among Democrats at the time, he went on the floor of the Senate and excoriated Bill Clinton for personal failures (that's what the speech was about) and gave support to the hypocritical Republican witch-hunters. Then, once again, alone among Democrats, he stood up for George Bush as it became obvious that the justification for the war in Iraq was based upon lies and hype. These are just two telling examples of where Lieberman tends to come out on issues that mean something to the Democratic party in a larger sense.

He comes from Connecticut. There is no excuse that he's in a Red State and has to pander to conservatives. He does this completely for its own sake. And inevitably, he gets the highest accolades from Republicans for doing so; he actually seems to revel in his position as George Bush's favorite Democrat. It is understandable that a Democratic senator lauded constantly by the right wing noise machine is going to be suspect among Democratic partisans.

There was a time when a vital center coalition existed in the Senate, where there was room on both sides for trading votes across party lines. The Republicans destroyed that coalition and Liebermann, inexplicably, doesn't seem to get that. Even worse, when the shit comes down, he inevitably sides with them. Many Democrats took a long time to learn the harsh lessons of GOP political hardball and had to lose to a bunch of thuggish right-wingers before they began to recognise what they were up against. Lieberman still refuses to accept the fact that his high minded centrism is a weapon in the hands of the radical Republicans.

I'd add a few other examples of Lieberman's obtuseness, wrong-headedness, or worse. Siding with Frist and Bush on the Schiavo affair; never raising the slightest objection to any of Bush's cabinet or court picks, most notably John Ashcroft; supporting at every turn not just the war in Iraq, but each and every tactic in Bush's "war on terror;" his high-handedness with registered CT Dems who disagree with his positions; declaring that he won't support Lamont if he loses the primary and would run as an independent.

Oh, and as for the cute little quote from Al From Digby cites,

"A very simple thing happened that changed Democratic politics dramatically, and that was that the war turned bad," Mr. From said, adding of the senator's critics: "There's a group in our party that makes a lot of noise and I don't think they've ever won an election. They're trying to take out one of the great statesmen our party has and that's wrong."

Geez, Al, you election winning track record is not something we should probably mention, don't ya think?

Humbert's Humbert

Wow, Amanda Marcotte eviscerates The Crack House' The Corner's John Derbyshire after reading his of Lolita. Reading it, you'll be alternately choking with laughter and shuddering over "The Derb's" creepiness. For an example of the latter...

Some of the most vituperative emails I have ever got came in after I made an offhand remark, in one of my monthly NRO diaries, to the effect that very few of us are physically appealing after our salad days, which in the case of women I pegged at ages 15-20. While the storm was raging, biologist Razib Khan over at Gene Expression (forget philosophers, theologians, and even novelists: the only people with interesting things to say about human nature nowadays are the scientists) decided to look up some actual numbers. Reasoning that a rapist is inspired to his passion mainly by the physical attractiveness of his victim, Razib went for rape statistics.


He found a 1992 report (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation) from the National Victim Center showing the age distribution of female rape victims. Sixty percent of the women who reported having been raped were aged 17 or less, divided about equally between women aged 11 to 17 (32 percent) and those under eleven (29 percent). Only six percent were older than 29. When a woman gets past her mid twenties, in fact, her probability of being raped drops off like a continental shelf. If you histogram the figures, you get a peak around ages 12-14... which is precisely the age Lolita was at the time of her affair with Humbert Humbert. As Razib noted, my own "15-20" estimate was slightly off. An upper limit of 24 would be more reasonable. The lower limit really doesn't bear thinking about.

Fascinating, really. My guess is that he's going to get considerably more "vituperative" mail after that little passage. My second guess is that men who think a rapist is "inspired to his passion" by the attractiveness of the victim are men who spend a great deal of time fantasizing about raping attractive -- and very young -- women. My third guess is that men who think that determining the appropriate age for young women to have "sexual affairs" with older men is through rape statistics are, well, fucked up.

And, by the way, despite being of "The Left," Lolita is my favorite novel as well. And it isn't because Nabakov "brought me round to Humbert's side."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

So, like, let's change the subject to Mexicans, 'kay?

Iraq War veterans come home to a very different, very much the same place they left.

Civilians. After the war, they seemed so different, no matter how many war movies or how much CNN they had watched.

Sometimes, they'd ask something so crazy there just wasn't any way to respond, such as when a friend asked Monika Dyrcakz, "Did you go clubbing in Iraq?"

"Some people have no idea," she said.

Sometimes they said: I support the troops but not the war. Or: Do you think we should be over there?

Which is such a dumb question, Tanner, the Army captain, would think. Soldiers don't make those decisions. They do what they're told. They bitch and moan, sure. But when the call comes, they pack their bags and go, knowing they may not come back.

But Tanner doesn't say all that. Instead, he responds this way: "Oh, so you were over there? Because you said, ' We .' Because, I mean, I know I was over there."

* * *

But perhaps the worst is when they don't say anything at all and just go on living their lives, oblivious to the war.

Which is exactly what Army Capt. Tyler McIntyre was trying to explain to some family members while eating at an Italian restaurant when he was home on leave a couple of years ago.

He looked across the restaurant and saw everyone stuffing their faces with pasta and drinking wine. "And everyone's kind of just sitting there doing it," he said.

Which is really sort of extraordinary, he said. The country is at war. People are fighting at this very moment. Don't these people know what's going on? Don't they care?

No, he decided. They have no appreciation for their easy, gluttonous lives and don't deserve the freedom, prosperity and contentment he was fighting to protect.

He wanted to yell, "You don't know what you have! You don't appreciate it! You don't care!"

But he didn't. He kept his mouth shut. He was only home on leave. Soon, he would be going back to the war.

Via The Editors, who keep getting their quotes mixed-up.

Also via The Poor Man, Glenn Greenwald discerns the source of our newly found outrage over Mexcins.

Many on the Right have decided that Immigration is now the paramount issue that must be dealt with, and their differences with Bush on this issue, which they have long suppressed, are now exploding into the open, which is only exacerbating the president's severe political difficulties. Nothing in particular has happened on the immigration front, leading to the question of why has this issue taken on such critical importance now?

I think a lot of the Malkin types have become bored with the whole "War on Terror" business, which provided them good, strong emotional sustenance for the last four years. But September 11 is now almost five years away. There have been no good "battles" for a long time; we don't even pretend to capture or kill any high-ranking Al Qaeda members any more; and while invocations of "war" will always be good for some blood-rushing excitement, the whole thing seems so distant and abstract at this point. It's just not enough any more.

They're also clearly tired of slogging through the political and ethnic complexities of Iraq. That country just doesn't lend itself to any morally clear good/evil dichotomies. There are no good cartoon villains to hate. Calls for increased "ferocity," less "sensitive" approaches ("bomb some more mosques!"), and less discriminate bombings can generate some temporary enthusiasm -- as it did for a day or so with Shelby Steele's column -- but Iraq is so muddled and ambiguous, and not all that emotionally satisfying. It's pretty depressing, actually, to think about how everything they said would happen there is not happening, and trying to figure out solutions, ways out, is just not very invigorating stuff for those who thrive on Hating and Warring Against Evil.

Hence, all the talk about "invasion." The "exploiting" of our southern border.

Funny how it works. The war bloggers are now bored with the invasion which had their full-throated support (albeit from their mother's basement, respectively), they now express indignation that we, the proud descendents of sturdy European stock, are the ones being invaded.

Rather than think about insurgents and IEDs, it's much more emotionally satisfying to eye suspiciously the guy atop the gang mower, sweating like a m----r f----r, working in mom's back yard.

The Bush/Cheney remake of "Top Gun" coming to the Washington D.C. area.

Well, the focus group, anyway.

But the Vega gives it a (sight unseen) Two Thumbs Up!™ anyway.


Where: DC Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW, Washington DC
When: May 26 & 27 at 10 pm, May 28 at 7:30 pm
Tickets: $15/$12 members. Call 202-462-7833

Ian Maxwell MacKinnon and Eric Zinman are proud to invite you, as a special, prescreened American, to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's executive focus group for a project of the highest stakes for the future of our country: a remake of the 1986 blockbuster "Top Gun."

Made in collaboration with the US Air Force and Hollywood powerhouse Jerry Bruckheimer, this film is a sign of the White House's faith, commitment, and leadership in advancing America's ideals at home and abroad. Taking our hero on a secret mission to Iraq, this movie will boost US military recruitment, convince skeptics of our noble cause, and demonstrate to the Muslim world what freedom and liberty are all about. The President and Vice-President have decided to run the focus group themselves after a screening of the rough cut raised concerns. They will perform new and corrected scenes and songs, with Mr. Cheney accompanying the president on piano.

This production is the third in a trilogy presented by the Cambridge, MA-based MacKinnon and Zinman. “The show was hilarious” is what the Boston Herald said about ‘A Bush-Cheney Christmas.’ The Boston Phoenix named “The Apotheosis of George W. Bush” a “Pick of the Week.” And The Boston Globe said, “MacKinnon's performance transcended cartoonish parody to achieve a provocative, unsettling humor.” MacKinnon won a national theater manifesto contest judged by Tony Kushner with his entry, “Elect Better Actors.” Zinman is an acclaimed jazz pianist.

If you're an ordinary American, I urge you to see it. If you're not, well, never mind that clicking sound when you pick up the phone.

Brooks decries the viciousness of the Right

Davey and Goliath
Originally uploaded by vegacura.
I really haven't a clue what David Brooks is getting at here (Time$elect). That the rightwing nutosphere is beyond the capacity of reasoned debate? This is new? That it's hard, hard to be a principled Republican statesman? Impossible, I'd say. That to be one likens the statesman to a knight of Camalot? Wha?

But anyway, this is fairly amusing.

The elevator guy is cheerful and the subway operators are polite, but there is something about the subterranean trip from the Capitol back to your Senate office building that gets you down. The dinginess. The barren walls. And you don't need that right now. You're a Republican senator supporting the immigration compromise.

For weeks now — months, actually! — you've been besieged by the close-the-border restrictionists, who shut down your phone lines and scream at you in town meetings. You've been hit with slopping barrages of manure by Limbaugh, Savage, Levin and every other talk-radio jock in the Northern Hemisphere. People who don't run for office don't understand how disorienting it is to have your base, your own people, suddenly turn carnivorous and out for your flesh.

They say you and your fellow immigration compromisers are performing the biggest act of political suicide in modern history, and you wonder whether they are right.

What bothers you about the restrictionists is not that they are primitives or racists. They're not. It's their imperviousness, their unwillingness to compromise. They don't have the numbers to govern, but they think they have the numbers to destroy.

Oh, no, not Limbaugh and Savage.

Limbaugh was offering an opinion of the media, not of the race of a QB.

Limbaugh said Sunday that McNabb received undeserved credit for his team's success that came from media outlets with "social concern" and "very desirous that a black quarterback do well."

McNabb, who was runner-up for the MVP award in 2000 and has led the Eagles to two straight conference title games, said Wednesday, "I'm sure he's not the only one that feels that way. But it's somewhat shocking to actually hear that on national TV." McNabb scoffed at the notion of preferential media treatment: "A free ride from the media in Philadelphia? That's a good one."

And if "anyone was offended by his comments," he's sorry. After all, his sensitivity is well known.

"Mayor Nayger." What a "fracking " tool. The racism that is pouring out of the mouths of the apologists is sickening. I'll have a spot by Mark "Puke" Williams later and it doesn't get any worse than him.

And of Michael Savage, what more needs be said?

When I hear someone's in the civil rights business, I oil up my AR-15!

His views have always been paragons of nuance.

In fact, Christianity has been one of the great salvations on planet Earth. It's what's necessary in the Middle East. Others have written about it, I think these people need to be forcibly converted to Christianity but I'll get here a little later, I'll move up to that. It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings.

And Mark Levin? The very embodiment of thoughtful, reasoned debate.

So, in other words...Shorter David Brooks: "We've created a monster!"

You're catching on, Davey, you're catching on.

Arlen Specter admits he's no defender of the Constitution

Christ, didn't he take an oath?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Thursday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him ''good riddance.''

''I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I,'' Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.

''If you want to leave, good riddance,'' Specter finished.

''I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman,'' replied Feingold, D-Wis., who is considering a run for president in 2008. ''See ya.''

Amid increasing partisan tension over President Bush's judicial nominees and domestic wiretapping, the panel voted along party lines to send the constitutional amendment -- which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages -- to the full Senate, where it stands little chance of passing.

Democrats complained that bringing up the amendment is a purely political move designed to appeal to the GOP's conservative base in this year of midterm elections. Under the domed ceiling of the ornate and historic President's Room off the Senate floor, senators voted 10-8 to send the measure forward. Not all those who voted ''yes'' support the amendment, however. Specter said he is ''totally opposed'' to it, but felt it deserved a debate in the Senate.

''Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman,'' reads the measure, which would require approval by two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states.

''Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman,'' it says.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has scheduled a vote on the proposed amendment the week of June 5.

Astonishing. We have an Executive branch run Constitutionally amuck and this is what Specter decides needs a thorough "debate."

Was there a civilian massacre in Haditha?

It's really astonishing how little attention this has merited.

"Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood," said Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam and is among the most influential Democratic voices on military matters. "This is going to be a very, very bad thing for the United States."

Asked about his sources during a midday briefing on Iraq policy in the Capitol, Murtha confidently replied, "All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they are talking about." Although Murtha said that he had not read any investigative reports by the military on the incident, he stressed, "It's much worse than reported in Time magazine."

The civilian deaths are under review by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which is also responsible for the Marine Corps. A Navy spokesman declined to comment on Murtha's claims, saying that the matter is part of an ongoing inquiry. He would also not comment on when the investigation into the incident would be completed.

In March, Time described an incident in the western Iraqi town of Haditha -- the worst alleged case of U.S. troops deliberately killing civilians in Iraq. Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, was killed in the early morning of Nov. 19, 2005, by a roadside explosive device. In the hours that followed, Marines searched three houses, killing a total of 23 people. According to Time, the Marine Corps' initial report claimed that 15 civilians had died in the same blast that killed Terrazas -- and another eight insurgents were killed after a subsequent firefight with Marines.

But Murtha contended Wednesday that the military's initial report was wrong. "There was no firefight," he said. "There was no IED [improvised explosive device] that killed these people."

Last month, the Marine Corps relieved of command three officers who oversaw the military unit responsible for the Iraqi deaths at Haditha -- Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

Murtha, widely known as a foreign-policy hawk, grabbed the national spotlight last fall when he suddenly called for the orderly withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. His press briefing Wednesday was a six-month follow-up to that initial call for withdrawal. The Pennsylvania Democrat argued that part of the responsibility for the Haditha killings lay with the Pentagon leadership, who had stretched soldiers too thin. "These guys are under tremendous strain -- more strain than I can conceive of -- and this strain has caused them to crack under situations like this," Murtha said.

I realize the Pentagon leadership and the war supporters, abetted by the press, have tried to paint Murtha as a crank, but he has a long history of serving as a kind of mouthpiece for commanders unable to have a voice in the Pentagon or the Capitol. Clearly there's something to this story, but even when TIME reported on it in March, there was barely a ripple of attention paid.

I don't know why. Even the blogosphere has been unaccustomedly quiet, with some attention paid when the story first came out, but then dwindling from view. Fear of fanning flames? Fear of looking insufficiently supportive of the troops? Fear of reporting only on the "bad news" out of Iraq? Those fears -- and resulting silence -- are going to result in some kind of blowback when the full accounting of this war is done.

Or maybe it's just a general weariness with all things Iraq now, and a general numbness over the conduct of the war.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"2,000 swallows ahead of Capistrano"

That's just one of the great lines from Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour today, on the subject of Drinking.

Liquor will get you through times with no money better than money will get you through times with no liquor.


Drink will kill what's living and preserve what's dead.

And who knew that both Charles Aznavour and Mary Gauthier composed and performed two very different but equally great songs, both called, simply, "I Drink"?

Oversight -- a political winner

I dunno what to think about the ongoing reverberations of the USA Today story regarding NSA and the phone records of -- yes, Mr. President -- "ordinary Americans." But I do think the quick denial by several of the companies a sure sign that they're hearing about it from many of their customers [Madame Cura and I have discussed switching to Working Assets, but moving long distance carriers seems to be psychologically really hard to do...if any readers have made the switch, I'd appreciate any insights you might have...].

But I digress. The point is, Dems shouldn't be afraid of campaigning on a platform of oversight and reform of a Washington DC awash in a fatal mix of greed, incompetence, and a lawless disregard for the Constitutional rights of citizens. As Kevin Drum notes, what they should be afraid of is doing so tepidly, because otherwise it's going to be framed by the Republicans and the press has just so much more damaging partisan hostility and payback.

"I didn't want to play anymore"

Um, if any of my Dear Readers happened to be the two guys sitting next to me tonight at The Stadium in the Bronx -- specifically, in Section 12, Box 36, Row C, Seats 2 and 1 -- you know, the ones who said as they were leaving at the end of the fourth, "These seats are great, but this game blows."


In a frenzied night in the Bronx, Jorge Posada took one devastating hit and delivered another. The result matched the greatest comeback in Yankees history.

Knocked to the dirt in a collision with the Texas Rangers' Mark Teixeira in the sixth inning, Posada held onto the ball to save a run. Three innings later, with the Yankees down to their last out, Posada crunched a two-run game-ending homer, the final blow in a 14-13 Yankees victory.

"I was just hoping it was out of the park so we wouldn't have to keep playing," Posada said. "I didn't want to play anymore. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone."

Posada's homer, on a 3-1 fastball from closer Akinori Otsuka, sailed over the right-field fence and scored Johnny Damon, who had led off with a bad-hop single over Teixeira at first base. Posada hopped in the batter's box and thrust his fist in the air as he rounded first base.

The Yankees won despite trailing by 9-0 in the second inning, matching the biggest deficit they have overcome. They have done it three other times, most recently against the Boston Red Sox in 1987.

Posada, who was batting cleanup in the Yankees' injury-ravaged lineup, drove in five runs. He made up for the pitching of Shawn Chacon, who lasted an inning and a third, matching the shortest start of his career.

"I'll be the first to admit, I didn't think it would happen," said Chacon, who might have been bothered by a deep bruise on his shin. "But these guys surprise me."

Then Posada mentioned the way the rally started, on Damon's bad-hop single. "It was just meant to happen," he said.

The 30,000 or so left in The Stadium were chanting, "Hip, hip, Jorge" during the at-bat in which Posada crushed an arcing shot over the short right field wall. A truly amazing baseball game, and one I'm very lucky to have seen in person.

And, by the way guys who left after the fourth, sorry, but in addition to the wild game and the comeback that seemed somehow inevitable, you missed watching Bernie Williams hit a double that drove in a couple of runs during the sixth inning, six-run rally -- a double that tied him with Babe Ruth on the Yankees all-time doubles list.

Babe Ruth. Yankees. All-time.

We were sitting about 30 feet from home plate. I have never seen a collision at the plate at such close proximity before. Teixeira crushing into Posada was terrifying to witness. Think male elks, mating season.

UPDATE: Just for clarity, Bernie and The Babe are tied for third on the list.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

They stayed unmarried for our freedom

Now, this is most interesting. In the usual Glenn Greenwald fashion, he dips deeply into the trough that is Arlen Specter's cravenness in once again caving to the GOP's agenda that none of the Cheney administration's extra-constitutional activities should see the light of judicial scrutiny, he notes a little bump in the road for Specter and DeWine.

The agreement appears to pave the way for the committee to approve Specter’s bill and one sponsored by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) granting the surveillance program legal authority. GOP aides say the chances of the bills’ reaching the Senate floor this year are unknown because of a crowded schedule and the dwindling number of workdays left this session. . . .

The panel had been expected to mark up Specter’s and DeWine’s bills Thursday but, instead, the committee will work on legislation on same-sex marriage. Two prominent conservative leaders, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, met Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week.

The delay of the markup on the NSA-related bills could imperil the compromise on the Specter and DeWine bills. The longer the agreement has to last before committee action, the more likely it is to be mulled over and picked apart, a GOP aide said.

Right now, the Republicans in Congress are more invested in pleasing the radical clerics than in getting Bush's back. And it really sums up These Great Times: Congress is somewhat more committed to adding an amendment to the Constitution restraining a single group of people from holy matrimony then they are to making legal and free from FISA court jurisdiction NSA domestic spying activities.

I think they're selling themselves short, though. I think they can manage to symbolically try to make the Constitution teh gay-proof and render Congress's role in checking and balancing the Executive branch moot.

"We're doing a heck of a job."

Yes, Karl Rove really did say that yesterday during a speech and q&a at the American Enterprise Institute. Dana Milbank has all the valuable details of Karl Rove's defense of the president's fiscal restrain and progessive tax cutting.

What Rove had much to add to was the Bush economic record. As he described it, the administration has increased the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans and restrained the federal budget through frequent veto threats. These were difficult claims, but Rove was equal to the task.

For example, groups such as the Congressional Budget Office have reported that the Bush tax cuts have shifted the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class. But Rove had another way to look at it: For the top 1 percent, "their share of income tax payments is up by 1.5 percent."

Likewise, federal spending has increased some 40 percent over the past five years, with discretionary spending jumping by more than 55 percent. But, again, Rove had a different view. "The president has reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending every year in office," he said.

In a similar vein, Bush has not vetoed a single bill since he became president. But Rove said that it was "39 veto threats" that had the effect of "restraining spending to the levels proposed in the president's budget."

Apparently, Karl & Co. have not caught on to the fact that they're no longer being permitted to make outrageous claims without benefit of fact checking. Wish the moment had come sooner -- like in 2000 -- but come it has.

Those lazy, hazy days of hanging out in Midland

My God, Elizabeth Bumiller has gone so far over the top, she might as well be referred to as "a White House source who was granted anonymity due to the fact that she's 'a reporter' for the New York Times."

Mr. Bush first met Mexican immigrants at public school in Midland, Tex., where Hispanics made up 25 percent of the population. Later, when he owned a small, unsuccessful oil company, he employed Mexican immigrants in the fields. When he was the managing partner of the Texas Rangers, he reveled in going into the dugout and joking with the players, many of them Hispanic, in fractured Spanglish.

Hmmm. Yes, all of those immigrants in school.

Pash, that's High School, you say. I'm sure public elementary school was an idyllic place to be brown.

Midland's school district still operates under a tension-producing court- ordered desegregation plan. And a couple of years back, when its only black councilman proposed renaming a Midland street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., the idea died for lack of a second.

Look, I'm sure that in comparison with Bush supporters who want to make like the Nazis and "rid" the country of the alien presence, Dear Leader is enlightened when it comes to immigration. But either Bumiller is the most credulous of reporters, with nary a notion of the history of race relations in this country -- or even of the 1950s -- or she's a full blown flack for the administration.

It's a conspiracy, I tells ya

Apparently, preznit gave a speech last night that wasn't very well received by the mouth base.

That's the point of his proposal to send the National Guard to our border with Mexico. This represents Bush's final, desperate descent into Clintonian sleight of hand. He wants to distract enough of his supporters with the razzle-dazzle of "National Guard to the Border!" headlines that they won't notice he is pushing through Congress a proposal that essentially legalizes all the population influx from Latin America that has occurred in the past 10 years and any that might occur in the future.

Like President Clinton's gesture of sending more U.S. troops to Somalia after the "Black Hawk Down" battle in Mogadishu, when everyone knew we were really on our way out, Bush's Guard deployment is a prelude to surrender. The immigrants who have come here in defiance of our laws will get to stay, bring their families and be joined by just as many immigrants in the future—at least if Bush gets his way.

Hmm, is he saying that bringing the National Guard in to guard the border is merely a front for getting out of Iraq? But only a crazy lefty conspiracy theorist would dare to say such a thing!

K-Lo two'fer:

I'm told Keith Olberman just asked Chris Matthews if this is some scheme to draw down troops in Iraq and save face.

Oh, so that's we're calling the Civil Rights Movement these days?

Angry, racial-preference politics of the sixties? Joe Klein is truly an ass of the first order.

He characterizes Representative Conyers as "an African American of a certain age and ideology... one of the ancient band of left-liberals who grew up in the angry hothouse of inner-city, racial-preference politics in the 1960s." I.e., he characterizes Representative Conyers as a veteran of the civil rights movement--but in a modern Republican way.

As is so often the case, Digby has more, much eloquently more.

Geez, what do those uppity Negroes want? We gave 'em the right to vote, and now (according to Joe Klein) they may want subpoena powers?
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