29 May 2007

Shark Attack

Dean Barnett at Townhall.com picks John McCain to drop out of the race by August 31, 2007, to avoid finishing fifth in a couple of primaries before dismantling his campaign and throwing his support to the frontrunner. While I'm not convinced about all of that, I do think Barnett gets it right when he points out that "McCain ain’t exactly a political dynamo. You might have noticed during the debates that he comes across frighteningly like a grumpy old Senator."

John McCain's steel is pretty tough, even if his edge is dull. It'll take a whole lot of slap-in-the-face, irrefutable evidence to get the guy to drop out of the race early, I believe. Barnett invites your best guess on McCain's longevity here. To sauce up the deal, Barnett is willing to throw in an autographed copy of Hugh Hewitt's new book "A Mormon in the White House?" Lucky us.

Thumbprint, Please

This is old news, apparently, but I'm just hearing it now. If you want to sell your used cds in Florida and Utah, and soon in Rhode Island and Wisconsin, you'll need to be able to provide legal identification and have your thumbprint taken. No joke.

NPR reports--and I'm searching for the story and will post it as soon as I get it--that the music industry has nothing to do with this, but who knows. It's plausible to me that this is a law meant to track gun exchanges through pawn shops, as well as protecting Joe Citizen whose car was broken into and now he's out trying to buy back his own cds as a result (been there, done that). Plus, with people getting shot at Christmas time for the newest Playstation, I can see how the cops would be interested in thumbprinting whoever's trying to sell said item. But still, this seems to lend itself to overreach a little too easily. Are secondhand books next?

Sanctions on Sudan

In a speech today President Bush promised the people of Darfur that "The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world."

And I propose the transcript be amended to include the words "Any more."

Too Heinously Painful for Words

Kevin Drum pretty well voices my own sense of awe and dismay at the idea of pitching Big Coal as the answer to US energy needs amid the current fever to curb greenhouse gas emissions. I really don't even have anything to say. Read Kevin here.

Hostages of Diplomacy?

Could there be a correlation between high level US/Iranian talks yesterday and the news today that three Iranian Americans have been formally charged with espionage against Iran?

In briefings to reporters afterward, the chief negotiators -- U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker and Iran's ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qomi -- said the talks focused solely on Iraq and did not stray into the contentious areas of Iran's nuclear program or the recent detentions of four Iranian American citizens by Tehran. (Emphasis mine)

For all the assurances that discussion would be kept merely to topics regarding Iraq, and that the nuclear issue and taking of political prisoners would not be "on the table," I can't help but wonder if the Iranians aren't raising the stakes to gain the release of five Iranians detained by US forces in Iraq in January. The US government originally claimed the five were agents of Iran's Revolutionary Guard detained on grounds of plotting against the US; Iran says they are merely diplomats and pose no threat. Sound familiar?

28 May 2007

Line Spacing Issues

I'm having a heck of a problem keeping my line spacing uniform throughout individual posts after I include a block quote of text. It doesn't seem to matter whether I import text from another location or type it in myself and then set it as a block quotation. All the text in the remaining paragraphs appears much more tightly spaced than in the leading paragraph.

Here's an example of text in a block quote to show exactly what I'm talking about. I'll ramble on here for a sentence or two, so that the format is similar to a regular post, and then maybe I'll add a link somewhere just for kicks and giggles.

Now I return to my regular text and watch to see the lines grow tighter and more crowded, making for a less easy to read passage of text, especially as I wander through my own sometimes twisted analysis of the news. See how effed up it is?

Any ideas?

UPDATE: Problem fixed. Thanks to Mom and some help from the folks at The Real Blogger Status: What Blogger Won't Tell You.

Book Burning for Spite?

Here's hoping this is the dumbest thing I read all day: A Missouri book seller declares that "it's just kind of a knee-jerk reaction . . . [and] a good excuse for fun" to burn the books he can't sell.

Wait, it gets worse: According to one witness at the bonfire, "not reading a book is as good as burning it."

Either I miss the point of the "protest" completely, or it misses me. Either way, I can't get comfortable with the rationale. Read it here.

27 May 2007

Detained in Iran: Where is the Responisble Reporting?

I'm not sure any media outlet can responsibly report the upcoming talks between the U.S. and Iran without mentioning that the government of Iran is currently holding no less than three Iranian American scholars and an Iranian American journalist. Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbakhsh, and Ali Shakeri, along with Parnaz Azima, were all detained on recent visits to Iran. Human Rights Watch reports on the four here. Their Iranian and U.S. passports were seized, they've been subject to repeated interrogations, and, it appears, the government is preparing its case that these are American spies working to foment a "velvet revolution" within Iran.

The reason it is so important to report this fact when reporting on the upcoming talks is because you can bet that, as long as the mainstream media isn't talking about these detained U.S. citizens, neither will the U.S. envoys when it comes time to meet their Iranian counterparts.

Troop Funding Spin

Glenn Greenwald, picking up on Jonathan Alter (who was picking up on Greenwald in the first place) helps clarify the most important aspect of political spin success enjoyed by the White House and Republican Party vis-a-vis funding the Iraq war:

Both of the premises which Alter sets forth here are correct: (a) de-funding does not even arguably constitute "endangerment or abandonment of the troops," but (b) "Americans have been convinced that it does." And therein one finds what is the most extraordinary and telling fact of our political landscape. Namely, our Iraq war policy was just determined, in large part if not principally, by a complete myth: that de-funding proposals constitute an abandonment or, more ludicrously still, "endangerment" of the troops.

Emphasis mine. This is another in a series of "wins" the White House has enjoyed over Democratic leaders, despite the overwhelming returns of the 2006 mid-term election that turned the country blue. No matter what the public polls say, no matter how elections turn out, the White House and Republican leadership have simply been able to reduce the matter most effectively to a visceral level. Until the Democratic leadership finds a way to counter this, owning the intellectual high ground will continue to prove meaningless. Despite huge losses in Congress due to widespread corruption, cronyism and moral failure, Republicans still manage to hang on to the moral high ground, absurd as it may be, when it comes to the war.

Greenwald's whole post is here. It's a good one.

26 May 2007

Luxury Retreat to Overthrow Iran

Thanks to Steve Clemons for publicizing this.

Jim Lobe reports on the upcoming weekend retreat to plan how best to confront Iran (alright, it takes place in the middle of the week, but still). It reads like a scene out of Syriana, where all the oil bigwigs, politicians and billionaire investors get together to launch something like the "Free People for a Democratic Iran"-PAC. The takeaway ends up being "destabilize to restabilize," or something catchy like that. Life imitates art imitates life . . . . I see the snake swallowing its tail as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies logo. After you've visited the FDD homepage, be sure to click on Biographies to get the down low on the who's who. My favorite, from Lobe, right at the very bottom: "Invitees will have all their expenses paid and receive a $1,000 honorarium."

Texas Statesmen: Making Us Proud

Every now and again you see something like this from the parliaments in Taiwan, Sri Lanka or Bahrain, but lawmakers restrained on the House floor in Texas? Puts those famous lines from Lee Greenwood in my head: "And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free."

25 May 2007

For Haleh

Haleh Esfandiari's husband, Shaul Bakhash, posts a letter at the Los Angeles Times. Powerful and frightening, it reminds me to question what the hell is going on in the world when a U.S. scholar is captured as a pawn in a game.

24 May 2007


Kevin Drum hits on something I've been wondering about the last couple days. Why are American/Iranian citizens being detained in a blatantly high-profile manner?

And this from News Blaze:

McCormack also cited the case of Parnaz Azima, a dual citizen of the United States and Iran who works as a correspondent for Radio Farda. Azima has been denied access to her passport and ability to travel despite being forced to pay a substantial bail bond on charges that her employer "spreads propaganda against the Islamic Republic," according to Iranian prosecutors.

And how does this fit in? "Iran wants former Palo Verde engineer released from custody."

Could it all have anything to do with reports this week of major U.S. naval exercises in the Persian Gulf?

22 May 2007

Three Words: Troop Readiness Levels

Fox News boasts that the President has won the standoff with Democrats over the supplemental Iraq war funding bill, and NPR reports that "Democrats appear to have blinked" in the stare down between the White House and the Hill. There are three words I need to hear now from Congressional Dems, and those words are not "Memorial Day Recess."

House and Senate Democrats both acknowledged today that a date-certain withdrawal from Iraq will not be part of the language of the new bill that will go to the President. Okay, we sort of saw that coming. The Democratic leadership will take a lashing from Dems who insist we need to get out of Iraq ASAP. Much as I agree, I'm already over that and resigned to the political reality of the troop funding spin. Democrats don't think they can afford to take the fall if the public perceives a lack of support for the troops, and they're not sure the President won't end up on the high side of this particular debate.

Discussion now needs to turn to troop readiness levels, and it needs to do so loudly and repeatedly. I can't think of a single White House talking head who will come up with a convincing answer to the question "How do you justify sending under-equipped troops back into combat?"

Instead of troop readiness levels, discussion this afternoon revolves around benchmarks for Iraqi lawmakers and the Iraqi army. I can't even get excited enough about this topic to seriously assess it. If the fighting stopped then maybe--maybe--the Iraqi government could meet some benchmarks. But the fighting isn't going to stop and any discussion of benchmarks is a completely transparent, and deplorable, attempt to shift responsibility for the entirety of the current state of disrepair onto the Iraqis, without acknowledging the U.S. role in throwing the country into chaos.

I don't know enough about Jack Murtha and the nuances of intra-Democratic politics to grasp why troop readiness levels has not been the standard of Congressional oversight all along, but I firmly believe that, if we want to measure anything, we ought to measure our own performance in the field, and be prepared to show the American public that our troops are supported in word and deed.

21 May 2007

Why Does al-Qaeda Keep Coming up in the Current Lebanon Coverage?

As the Lebanese army continues its assault on the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon in an attempt to root out members of the militant group Fatah (or Fath) al-Islam, I can't help but reflect on this observation from Juan Cole:

Al-Qaeda, at least as a vague franchise, still exists, and remains a major threat to the US. That is, however, mostly because opportunistic forces on the American Right would use any further attacks on the US to abrogate more of our constitutional rights. At the moment, al-Qaeda's biggest targets are other Muslims.

The emphasis is mine. Al-Qaeda, according to Cole, is currently more focused on attacking other Muslims, whom they see as "collaborators" with the U.S. and western European nations, than on actually attacking U.S. or western European targets (the notable exception, as I see it, being U.S. or Coalition troops in Iraq).

CNN reports that Fatah al-Islam is considered by some Lebanese officials to have ties to al-Qaeda, although it should be noted that al-Qaeda, in this sense, seems more a label of convenience referring to a group of radical Sunni fundamentalists--Cole refers to the Salafi Jihadi movement--rather than a specific indication that al-Qaeda, as it existed in 2001, has anything to do with Fatah al-Islam or the small group of fighters currently entrenched in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.

What does it all mean? I sure don't know, but can't help but notice that the Lebanese army is engaged in heavy fighting with a band of pro-Syrian extremists effectively hiding behind Palestinian refugees; that the al-Qaeda name keeps being bandied about by the U.S. media as if it means something; and that there are, to my knowledge, no U.S. or European targets involved in the confrontation.

So who stands to gain when the al-Qaeda name is dropped into the newscast? I'm just wondering.

UPDATE: A U.N. aid convoy has been hit in the fighting. That, and White House spokesman Tony Snow suggests that Syria may play a role in all this. From the AP:

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the Fatah Islam militants want to disrupt the nation's security and distract international attention from a U.N. effort to establish a special tribunal try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut.

The United States "will not tolerate attmpts by Syria, terrorist groups or any others to delay or derail Lebanon's efforts to solidify its sovereignty or seek justice in the Hariri case," Snow said.

Re: The Best Health Care System in the World

If it gets worse than this, I don't want to read it. At least not until I've had some good news to balance my morning. Digby's "The Best Health Care System in the World" reminds us that this sort of thing only stands to get worse before it gets better.

20 May 2007

Does Hillary Shop Wal-Mart?

Does Hillary shop Wal-Mart? Well, no. It would be sort of silly to imagine Hillary Clinton has time to do a whole lot of her own shopping at all, I imagine. But this article from the New York Times attempts to shed light on a relatively little-known aspect of Clinton's career. Hillary Clinton served on Wal-Mart's board of directors from 1986-1992, years during which she practiced law at a notable Little Rock law firm and, of course, was First Lady to the state of Arkansas, Wal-Mart's home base.

So how does this play for the Clinton campaign? The article leaves me wondering. On the one hand, Wal-Mart represents to many on the left everything that is wrong with American corporate practices and policies. On the other hand, Clinton is portrayed as a passionate advocate for the advancement of women in the Wal-Mart hierarchy, and as a steward of environmental innovation at a time when it was not so hip to preach green. Then there's this:

And several months ago, Mrs. Clinton helped broker a secret meeting between a top Wal-Mart executive and former Democratic operative, Leslie Dach, and leaders of the retailer’s longtime adversary at the United Food and Commercial Workers union, according to several people briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to do so publicly.

The goal of the meeting was to tamp down the rancor between the company and the union, which has set up a group, WakeUpWalMart.com, that has harshly criticized the chain and leaked embarrassing internal documents to the news media, though an accord has not yet been reached.

Several months ago? Pretty interesting. So at the same time that her campaign would appear to distance itself from her career with Wal-Mart, Hillary Clinton appears to be working toward some measure of social justice with the corporation. Do I read this right?

All of this leaves me with questions, the most primary of which is "Whose goals are served?" It will be interesting to see what more develops on this topic as the campaign moves forward.

19 May 2007

The Suspense, the Mystery, the Coalition Provisional Authority

Pete Moore's May 18 article at salon.com provides a glimpse into the realm of IT forensics, tracking the evolution of official CPA transcripts posted to the former occupation government's archival website. With tips a layman can follow from a home computer--indeed, his 8 year old son inadvertently uncovered the secret--Moore dissects early drafts of official documents which appear to contain information never intended for public viewing. His article leads to some pretty damning insights about the former U.S. occupying government of Iraq--and about unwarranted comforts we may take for granted in the IT age.

18 May 2007

Apples, Oranges and Congressional Oversight

When Tony Fratto calls the impending Senate no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a "political stunt," I read it as code for "We don't know what to say about this and wish it would just go away." The White House would frame this as little more than another symptom of an overzealous Congress run amok with petty inquisitors staging witch hunts in the name of oversight, and would caution Congress, I'm sure, to mind they don't "overreach" and alienate the American public they've pledged to serve.

This is all part of the only strategy left to the White House, that of painting its most earnest political opponents as sore losers yet over the 2000 and 2004 elections (which, credit where credit is due, is no doubt true) while going on to repeat, loudly and often, that the American public is tired of congressional hearings which only serve to advance partisan politics and do nothing to actually improve the governance of the nation. The latter has been a Bush camp line from day one. Doesn't matter if we're talking about apples; call them oranges enough times and nobody will doubt that the items in question are indeed oranges, unless the dissenters can live with being called unpatriotic.

Here's the thing, though. Congressional oversight has revealed that, lo and behold, plenty of these so-called oranges we've had shoved at us repeatedly by the Bush administration (links between al Qaeda and Iraq, WMD, "Mission Accomplished," warrantless wiretapping, Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch, and the US Attorney purge, to name a few) are turning out to be apples after all. So what do you do if you're trying to manage the fallout and spin the discoveries in your favor? Sell some more oranges. Tell the American people that the American people are tired of oversight run amok, that Henry Waxman, Patrick Leahy, Charles Schumer and more are simply milking this cow for all the political juice they can get, and that it's going to come back to bite them.

This strategy is no longer working, but the Bush White House cannot afford to abandon it. There are too many secrets, too many fabulous violations of constitutional precedent, for the Bush camp to open up now. The best they can do is hope to "gum this to death," as Kyle Sampson once suggested regarding the US attorney scandal, and run out the clock on the Bush presidency.

Unfortunately for the Bush camp, the truth just keeps slipping out. This is why Congress must continue to advance an agenda of accountability, and do so thoughtfully, strategically and carefully. There are two things to look for as the Senate votes on the Gonzales issue. The first is whether they get a two-thirds vote of no confidence, because that would lay the groundwork to impeach the AG. The second is to see which senators vote in favor of Gonzales and the White House line, because this issue is potentially just as damning to the GOP as the issue of impeachment. If I read the political scene correctly, Senate Dems are going to make sure to get their Republican counterparts on the record as many times as possible on as many difficult issues that arise between now and the 2008 congressional election. It will be difficult for any senator, no matter how entrenched, to weather the flurry of advertising that goes: "Senator Hatch voted in confidence of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales . . . six months before Gonzales was impeached and removed from office." Or something like that. (I'm not saying Senator Hatch is vulnerable, but you never know.)

The White House knows that a vote of no-confidence could lead to an impeachment of Gonzales, and this could open up any number of previously tightly sealed doors into the President's--and perhaps more importantly the Vice President's--closely guarded inner circle. That's why spokespeople like Fratto, like Tony Snow and Dana Perino, will repeat again and again and again and again that these are just the same old tired Democratic machinations that have jammed the country up and slowed the government down for the past forty years and shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt.

Watch, though. I don't think Americans are buying White House oranges anymore.

UPDATE: Emptywheel at Firedoglake offers a rundown on Senate Republicans and the no-confidence vote.

17 May 2007

The World Bank and the Bush Empire

There's a whole lot I don't understand about the World Bank, its goals and its chief means of operating worldwide. But this I really don't understand. From the New York Times:

. . . talks took place between emissaries of Mr. Wolfowitz and bank officials with backing from board members who favored easing him out without provoking a confrontation with the Bush administration. Bank officials said the negotiations were aimed at finding a way for the board to accept the findings of the bank committee, while also declaring that Mr. Wolfowitz had acted in good faith and that mistakes were made by all sides.

If Paul Wolfowitz successfully negotiates a deal to clear his name of wrongdoing before resigning his post as head of the bank, I think it will only lead to more widespread, popular distrust of the bank's board of directors, which it seems to me is exactly what the board is trying to fend off right now.

We're led to believe that voting Wolfowitz off the board would lead to a rupture with the United States at a time when the U.S. and several European nations are struggling to present a united front on sanctions against Iran.

In effect, bank officials said, he [Wolfowitz] was using the fear among European leaders at the bank of a possible rupture with the Bush administration at a time when the United States and Europe are struggling to cooperate on Iran sanctions, trade and other economic issues. While the United States cannot prevent the ousting of Mr. Wolfowitz, it has by tradition picked the president of the bank and has such influence that its consensus-driven members want to avoid an open break with Washington.

My question, however, and this probably reveals how little I understand about issues connected to the World Bank, is what's really at stake? Will the World Bank truly destabilize just because the European members vote to hold a Bush appointee accountable? Would Bush and Cheney scuttle current World Bank efforts to pressure Iran because of a falling out of member consensus at the bank? What do the bank board members have to lose by standing up to the U.S. administration fear machine and sticking to their guns? Political retribution from a lame duck--albeit still very dangerous--president?

I say vote him off the island. Take a stand against Bush Empire cronyism and let's see what's really going on here.

16 May 2007

What About the Bees?

I wish I had an answer to the question of the disappearing bees. Suggestions range from pesticides to cell phones to global warming and even al Qaida (gotta love the comments sections on the blogs).

My biggest concern, setting aside the 14 billion dollars of annual U.S. agriculture dependent on the honeybee, is that this will turn out to be some sort of "canary in the coal mine" issue (truth: I heard that on NPR last week). While scientists and beekeepers scramble to learn more about why this is happening, at the end of the day the most important question may be "Are we paying attention?"

UPDATE: This is interesting. Organic bees seem to be doing alright.

15 May 2007


Multimillionaire Bush's wealth eclipsed by Cheney.

See, I Knew it Wasn't Unusual . . .

Another GOP contender (this one has even officially declared) as Washington lobbyist. Will Rudy distance himself from Bracewell & Giuliani? Money quote: "Giuliani isn't personally registered as a lobbyist for any of the interests on whose behalf his firms have acted, and he has so far declined to otherwise describe his work for them." (Emphasis mine.)

The AP article also helps explain why and where conflicts of interest might emerge, and how the Executive Branch is viewed in regard to lobbying procedures, such as

Traditional procedures for government officials to prevent ethical conflicts — expressly avoiding issues directly involving their former employer — would be unavailable for a commander in chief. It is unheard of for a president, when taking office, to promise to avoid a particular policy issue.

I also like this quote: "Federal conflicts-of-interest rules do not apply to the president or vice president, because they are not technically considered U.S. government employees." (Emphasis mine.) The article goes on to enummerate Giuliani's corporate history in more light than I think we've had a careful look at up to this point. It's worth a read.

14 May 2007

Fred Thompson: Actor, Senator . . . Lobbyist?

David Sirota fills in the picture for us from these nuggets along the way (I'm a little late in getting to read them). Looks like Fred Thompson has distinguished himself over 18 years of service in the lobbying the field, including as recently as 2002.

It's not unusual for former senators to register as lobbyists. It's probably not all that unusual for former lobbyists to campaign for President (of course no one says he's campaigning . . . yet). I'm not even saying there's anything wrong with this. But if there's one thing we've learned from the corruption and cronyism of the last congress, it's that everything is worth investigating.

Jose Padilla: U.S. Citizen/Detainee

When the government can't afford to lose, can a defendent (and U.S. citizen) get a fair trial? Jose Padilla has been in jail since May 2002. Five years later he finally gets his day in court.

Blog Culture, Pop Culture & Youthful Artistic Entrepreneurship

My favorite part, four pages in: “You can’t be the drunken guy who just got offstage anymore,” he said with a sigh. “You start acting like a pro athlete, saying all these banal things after you get off the field.” Read the whole thing.

13 May 2007

Blog Culture

A "blog" sounds like something your doctor takes a sample of by poking a cotton swab deep into the back of your throat to then send away to the lab for analysis. This connotation may have something to do with why I come to the scene relatively late.

But this post from Glenn Greenwald has a whole lot to do with what draws me into the fray despite my initial reluctance to, perhaps, open up and say "ah." I'm particularly interested in this passage:

There is much to learn from the contempt expressed by John Yoo, Joe Klein and Jon Alter towards blogs -- i.e., a collection of hundreds of thousands of politically engaged citizens who are dissatisfied with the prevailing political and media power centers and have created their own instruments for expressing and activating that dissatisfaction.
Greenwald's article is not about blog culture, but then again it is. In this post he takes on those who would classify bloggers as "parasites" on the mainstream media. These are the same people who attempt to minimize the relevance of the blogosphere by calling it so much "mouthing off at home," (as opposed to those who mouth off in front of the camera) thus trivializing the research and writing done by a number of very committed and (often) informed readers.

One of the truly remarkable things about the blogosphere--especially politically, but maybe that's just how I relate to it all--is the level of engagement it fosters among those who might not otherwise get involved if they couldn't do so from their homes, work centers or schools, and often at little or no cost. I'm absolutely blown away by the sheer range of information, analysis and opinion that the Internet delivers to my desktop every day, and the more I read and write the more I want to read and write about what I'm reading and writing. I dunno. Sounds like an actual dialogue gaining ground among a whole lot of people who have traditionally had little opportunity to get past the glossy and polished exterior of the media at-large (or our political institutions or professional sports franchises, you name it). This is, I believe, what we call progress and empowerment, and exactly what our country proclaims--loudly and repeatedly all across the globe--to stand for.



Modern Wedding

I would be remiss if I didn't post this link. The article speaks for itself. And it explains some things for brides, grooms, family, friends and innocent bystanders.

Happy Mother's Day

So it's a little lame to recycle an image from a recent post, but I really can't find another that gets my interest quite as well as this one. All the exhausted mothers returning to sea after laying their eggs on the beach at Ostional, Costa Rica. It's amazing, really, to watch them swim in from the ocean, drag themselves high enough up the beach so that the eggs won't simply float away when the tide comes in, dig a deep enough hole in the sand to protect the nest from predators, laboriously deposit their leathery eggs in the nest, and finally clamber back down the beach to begin the trek back to wherever they came from.

Thanks, Moms.

Campaigning for President and Fairness in the Media

After a day or two of relative calm, it's time to grind my ax a little bit on the topic of political bias and the media.

Following the story on the blogosphere of the Giuliani campaign and the VonSprecken family farm in Iowa, I've indeed been interested in whether the mainstream media would pick it up or not. It seems fair to raise questions about media furor and political spin in light of, say, the John Edwards haircut hullabaloo. It raises eyebrows when you hear a story like this in which the average American voter gets slighted because of political or PR decisions, and then the whole thing doesn't blow up. Especially when you get another candidate swooping in, as McCain has, to make the most of the whole issue in what strikes me as the most omnivorous and opportunistic--not to mention shallow--way.

I lose interest, however, in the blogospheric "what if?" game that goes like this:

Again: Just try to imagine the hailstorm of media attention that would be raining down on the VonSprecken's farm right now if John Edwards' campaign had done this.

That's Greg Sargent at Talking Point Memo's Election Central. I really like TPM and all its spinoffs, and I think the writing there is some of the most adept anywhere online. You can only kick this fairness in the media horse so many times, though, before it sounds like an ineffective whine. And that's where Democrats, liberals and the like often get kicked back the hardest. We whine a good game but come up short when it comes to fighting back. I'd like to see TPM keep pushing this story, drawing attention to who's got it and who's ignoring it, but I could sure do without the run-of-the-mill rhetoric that boils down to one kid hollering at the other that something's not fair.

12 May 2007


Where do news items go when they are removed from the web? I could have sworn I read a Yahoo news headline an hour ago stating that a retired General believes the war is a strain on the National Guard. Now I'm ready to read it and I find no reference to this anywhere. WTF?

Update: Found it. And it's actually not that interesting.

10 May 2007

Bill Richardson's New Ad

Why I like the new Richardson for President ad:

1) It's amusing.

2) It's effective. What are people going to remember? That Bill Richardson has been nominated 4 times for a Nobel Prize. Say what you will about policies and platforms; Americans think highly of the Nobel Prize, and this casts a certain warm light about the candidate.

3) Bill Richardson comes off as likable. Don't kid yourselves. You won't hear me argue for a (further) dumbing down of the campaign process, but it's as much about popularity as it is about policies and platforms. Richardson didn't show up well in the Democratic debate. He was sweaty, unrefined and heavy handed under the bright lights. That he doesn't have many speaking lines in this commercial may be a stroke of genius. It allows the candidate to work on his public image without having to get out and push himself as likable. This is a first step to get the crowd warmed up before launching into the heavy stuff.

More Proof I Really am a Geek

The love of my life questions whether I should be allowed to use the word "geek" in my profile for this blog. She thinks sometimes I'm "a little too cool for school" to be a geek, but that sounds like one of those backhanded compliments we use to disparage those who really are geeky but are trying hard to fit in despite their geekdom.

Anyway, more proof that I'm a geek: I can hardly contain my excitement over the first comment to post to my blog from someone unknown to me. Thanks to doug fresh for disagreeing with my take.

More on Republicans and the War

More today to suggest that Republican lawmakers, as a whole, do not want to stay in Iraq but simply want to stay in power. From Think Progress.

09 May 2007

Richardson for President

Don't know if I'd vote for him, but I love these ads. Check it out.

AQI: A Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

Kevin Drum takes on Andrew McCarthy in a recent post at Washington Monthly. In a nutshell, Kevin says that Andrew is crazy and wasting our time by suggesting that Dems know that the best way to defeat al-Qaeda is to stay in Iraq and fight the bad guys there. For the most part I agree with Kevin, although I take issue with this nugget:

In fact, there's a dirty little secret of the Iraq war that neither party is eager to acknowledge publicly: namely that the fastest way to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is probably for us to leave and let the Iraqis do it themselves. Republicans don't want to acknowledge this for the obvious reason: they want to stay in Iraq and this doesn't help their cause.
(emphasis mine)
I'm not so quick to agree that Republicans, as a group, want to stay in Iraq. It sounds like the average Republican joe these days is ready to see the U.S. get out of Iraq. Republican politicians simply want to stay in power, and as Iraq drags on--indeed, grows bleaker by the day--they don't know how to do that now without doubling down on the bet and hoping to see this thing through to some sort of less-than-politically-disastrous outcome.

McCarthy suggests that Republicans ought to hit the American public over the head with the reminder that Dems criticize the Bush administration for not pursuing al-Qaeda aggressively enough after 9/11, yet lo and behold here we are fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq
exactly like the Dems say we should. Just one problem with this: AQI flourishes to the extent that it does precisely because of the vacuum left behind after our "mission" was "accomplished" four years ago. The Bush administration did all it could to link al-Qaeda to Iraq, and now that prophecy has fulfilled itself.

08 May 2007

For Crying Out Loud . . . Ann Coulter at it Again

Nothing she says should surprise me by now, but this actually does. Ann Coulter says Obama is up in the polls because Newsweek is "push polling for al-Qaida. "

My favorite part? "Coulter did not explain how the poll might help the terrorist group." Read it here.

Mother's Day Is Coming

Exhausted Ridley mothers return to sea after laying their eggs at Ostional, Costa Rica. October, 2005

Only the 4th Post

Only the 4th post here, and already I'm reaping the benefits. I've spent the morning--and part of my afternoon now--modifying templates to enhance readability, only to end up back where I started. Time to learn some html. I feel about as silly as Kevin Drum must have after he wrote about this.

The Most Interesting Thing We Haven't Noticed

This seems like the most interesting thing we haven't been talking about. Lori Montgomery, from today's Washington Post, "The Cost of War, Unnoticed":

"This may be the first war in history -- in the history of the world-- in which there was a tax cut rather than a tax hike," said Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton University economist who was vice chairman of the Federal Reserve in the Clinton administration.
(Emphasis Mine)
It's true, isn't it, that this is going to bite us hard down the road.

Must Learn More

How to . . . insert a link. www.nytimes.com

trial posts

Need trial posts to learn how to get it done. Which looks best? When do we get to the good stuff? You are not alone in wanting to know.

Stay tuned for updates.