Saturday, June 20, 2009
Who knows! I doubt it, but maybe there's a dog's hair of truth in that idea.
Then McCartney goes way over the edge by claiming that Notre Dame's game against Southern Cal is "winnable" for the Fighting Irish. Now THAT is really drinking the kool-aid. The scout team at Southern Cal is loaded with scary-good athletes who would be stars just about anywhere else. Notre Dame probably couldn't beat them let alone the real team.
Friday, June 19, 2009
North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July, the Associated Press quoted a Japanese news report on Thursday. U.S. military experts do not believe the North Korean missile has the range to strike U.S. territory, but that the threat in the near future is real.To be honest, I don't really think the North Koreans are a threat to attack Hawaii. Mostly, Kim Jong-il wants to draw Barack Obama into a game of homoerotic mutual denunciations that would allow Kim to feel like a real man and a real leader.
God, Kim misses George Bush.
But whether the North Koreans are a threat or not, I'm much more disturbed that our Defense Secretary Robert Gates doesn't seem to know which direction the North Koreans would have to fire if they did attack Hawaii.
The United States has positioned more missile defenses around Hawaii as a precaution against a possible North Korean launch across the Pacific, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday. "We do have some concerns if they were to launch a missile to the west in the direction of Hawaii," Gates said.It's East Robert, East. Hawaii is east of North Korea. If the North Koreans fire their missiles west, it's somebody else's problem.
Former conservative Andrew Sullivan captures the firing well:
"Dan's work on torture may be one reason he is now gone. The way in which the WaPo has been coopted by the neocon right, especially in its editorial pages, is getting more and more disturbing. This purge will prompt a real revolt in the blogosphere. And it should."But why should we limit our revolt to complaining? Why don't readers on the left fire the Washington Post in return.
This isn't to say that progressives should not read inform themselves of conservative views or keep up with right-wing politics. It's important that we do so and there are plenty of right-wing outlets like the Washington Times, TownHall, and RealClearPolitics that allow people to do so. Some of the conservative outlets like HotAir and Protein Wisdom are actually fun to read sometimes.
But why should we on the left allow an outlet like the Washington Post to maintain its reputation as a "liberal newspaper" while it pursues a right-wing agenda?
It's stupid and self-destructive on our parts to do so.
I'm not privy to the business model of the Post, but I would bet my bottom dollar that its ability to promote its advertising, sell newspapers, and generate on-line traffic depends heavily on the good will they'e earned among urban liberals and progressives.
The same would be the case with the New York Times and NPR.
But, now that the Post is taking a hard turn to the right, they no longer deserve the good will of people on the left. Given that the editorial page of the Post has become a major mouthpiece for neo-conservative war-mongering, it can even be said that the Post has become a significant vehicle for the most dangerous kind of right-wing politics.
In other words, patronizing the Washington Post has become the equivalent of sending checks to Newt Gingrich.
We shouldn't do it.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Mousavi spokesman on Obama. Via reader Heather, Foreign Policy speaks with Mousavi's external spokesman in Paris Mohsen Makhmalbaf:
FP: There has been growing criticism here in Washington that U.S. President Barack Obama hasn't said or done enough to support those demonstrating in the streets of Iran. Do you think Obama is being too careful? Or even that he is helping Ahmadinejad by being cautious?
MM: Obama has said that there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Does he like it himself [when someone is] saying that there is no difference between Obama and [George W.] Bush? Ahmadinejad is the Bush of Iran. And Mousavi is the Obama of Iran.
FP: Would Mousavi pursue a different foreign policy than Ahmadinejad?
MM: As you may know, former President Mohammad Khatami, who is supporting Mousavi at the moment, was in favor of dialogue between the civilizations, but Ahmadinejad talks about the war of the civilizations. Is there not any difference between the two? We [Iranians] are a bit unfortunate. When we had our Obama [meaning President Khatami], that was the time of President Bush in the United States. Now that [the United States] has Obama, we have our Bush here [in Iran]. In order to resolve the problems between the two countries, we should have two Obamas on the two sides. It doesn't mean that everything depends on these two
people, but this is one of the main factors.
Like everyone else in the world, the Moussavi people know that the Bush administration opposed the Khatami government almost as much as the conservative mullahs.
They also know that the Bush administration was eager to start a war with Iran and that American neo-cons seemingly ended every meal with a chorus of "Bomb, Bomb Iran."
Maybe that's why they see the blustering Ahmadinejad as Iran's Bush and Moussavi as Iran's Obama.
Today was also an awesome research day.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Here's a good chunk of it.
The bottom line is that the health care debate is going to be about money--in other words who has the money they need to best get out their message. The Obama administration has a good health care plan with a much needed public option for health insurance. Adapting President Obama's plan will be a big step forward in redesigning the American health system to serve the public as opposed to the health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and medical equipment manufacturers. I could say something about "bleeding the country dry while providing sub-standard care to large sections of the population." But I don't imagine Obama would like that kind of inflammatory rhetoric.
"The campaign to pass real health care reform in 2009 is the biggest test of our movement since the election. Once again, victory is far from certain. Our opposition will be fierce, and they have been down this road before.
To prevail, we must once more build a coast-to-coast operation ready to knock on doors, deploy volunteers, get out the facts, and show the world how real change happens in America.
And just like before, I cannot do it without your support.
So I'm asking you to remember all that you gave over the last two years to get us here -- all the time, resources, and faith you invested as a down payment to earn us our place at this crossroads in history.
All that you've done has led up to this -- and whether or not our country takes the next crucial step depends on what you do right now.
It doesn't matter how much you can give, as long as you give what you can. Millions of families on the brink are counting on us to do just that. I know we can deliver.
Thank you, so much, for getting us this far. And thank you for standing up once again to take us the rest of the way."
That's why I'm going to contribute up to $100 to the campaign. I hope others do as well.
But who really knows? Who can really guess? Iran's Assembly of Experts seems to be the religious version of the Politburo in the Soviet Union. They're the people who turned Ayatollah Ali Khamenei into Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. They're the people who decide who will be the "deciders" even if they're not involved in the ins and outs of daily government themselves.
There are very interesting things that are taking place right now. Some of my sources in Iran have told me that Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who is the head of the Assembly of Experts -- the eighty-six member clerical body that decides who will be the next Supreme Leader, and is, by the way, the only group that is empowered to remove the Supreme Leader from power -- that they have issued an emergency meeting in Qom.
Now, Anderson, I have to tell you, there's only one reason for the Assembly of Experts to meet at this point, and that is to actually talk about what to do about Khamenei. So, this is what I'm saying, is that we're talking about the very legitimacy, the very foundation of the Islamic Republic is up in the air right now. It's hard to say what this is going to go . .
An informed Iranian-American had a different take. "I think Rafasanjani is not going to ask for Khamenei's removal, but is bluffing to force Khamenei to drop support of Ahmadinejad."
But who knows whether the Assembly of Experts is actually meeting or what they're meeting about if they're meeting? Back in the good old days of the Soviet Union when the world was simple and our enemies were "reasonable communists" rather than terrorists, the U. S. had brigades of Sovietologists who closely followed the Politburo. They probably didn't know all that much for certain, but the Sovietologists could at least make plausible guesses about what was happening in the upper leadership ranks.
Where's a good Iranatologist when you need one?
As enforcement action in Mexico and the United States has increased, domestic drug consumption in Mexico has increased.There are all kinds of signs that the drug war isn't working.
But I still didn't think that "increased drug enforcement" would be correlated with "increased drug consumption."
Everybody would better off if drug use were legalized and taken over by governments.
"Last year I had an affair," said Ensign. "I violated the vows of my marriage." Ensign did not name the woman with whom he had the affair, saying only that "the woman who I was involved with and her husband were close friends of mine." He added that he was "committed to my service in the United States Senate".
There was also the possibility of blackmail.
But whether the aggrieved husband tried to blackmail Ensign or not, having an affair with the spouse of a staff member is extremely low behavior.
Two Senate Republican sources close to Sen. John Ensign of Nevada told FOX News that a former employee had asked Ensign for money in what both sources described as a case of "extortion."
The employee, Doug Hampton, worked in Ensign's Senate office, and his wife, Cindy Hampton, worked for Ensign's re-election campaign. Both ceased working for the senator shortly after the affair ended, the sources said, with Cindy Hampton receiving a severance package. The circumstances of Doug Hampton's departure remain unclear.
The underlying problem for Sen. Ensign is that he's a self-righteous guy from the religious right who's condemned the sexual foibles of other politicians in no uncertain terms. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal erupted, Ensign called on Bill Clinton to resign as president, saying he had "no credibility left." Ensign was also highly critical of Larry Craig's arrest in a bathroom sex-sting, saying that Craign should resign from the Senate: “I wouldn’t put myself, hopefully, in that kind of position, but if I was in a position like that, that’s what I would do.”
That was in September, 2007. Three months later, Ensign was in precisely that position with one of his own staffers.
Adding everything up, it's easy to criticize Ensign as a self-righteous hypocrite and plenty of people are doing just that. And it's good for Ensign to feel the weight of that judgment. Maybe Maybe he'll be less of a jerk about other people as a result.
Still, I believe in compassion for politicians with wandering eyes.
I know I've posted on this before, but temptation is everywhere for politicians. Guys like Ensign are pretty people (Ensign has that Mitt Romney shock of hair) and they come into contact with all kinds of other pretty people who tell them how great they are in the most sincere way. A couple of drinks later, Mr. Political Big-Shot is turned on by someone who, luck would have it, is eager to go to bed with them.
That appears to be what happened with John Edwards and Rielle Hunter.
Or in Bill Clinton's case, an intern is flashing her thong your way.
I'm not sure what happened in Ensign's case. Maybe the general sexual charge of politics was too much of a temptation for him. Maybe he is a hypocritical jerk calling on other "fallen" politicians to resign while actively pursuing affairs himself. Who knows, perhaps he's a monster like Eliot Spitzer choking prostitutes or Robert Packwood sexully harassing female staffers.
Hopefully, the tabloids will be able to sort everything out.
For now though, I'm going to give Ensign the benefit of the doubt, think it's a matter of temptation, and hope that he'll develop more sympathy for other people with problems.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Given that Montezeri is no longer a powerful political figure, his statement probably won't have any impact on the policies of the current theocratic leadership of Supreme Leader Ali Khameinei.
But from an American perspective, Montazeri formulates his views in an unusual, almost unique kind of way.
In the name of God
People of Iran
Our youth, hoping to see their rightful will fulfilled, came on the scene and waited
patiently. This was the greatest occasion for the government’s officials to bond with their people.
But unfortunately, they used it in the worst way possible. Declaring results that no one in their right mind can believe, and despite all the evidence of crafted results, and to counter people protestations, in front of the eyes of the same nation who carried the weight of a revolution and 8 years of war, in front of the eyes of local and foreign reporters, attacked the children of the people with astonishing violence. And now they are attempting a purge, arresting intellectuals, political opponents and Scientifics.
Now, based on my religious duties, I will remind you :
1- A legitimate state must respect all points of view. It may not oppress all critical views. I fear that this lead to the lost of people’s faith in Islam.
2- Given the current circumstances, I expect the government to take all measures to restore people’s confidence. Otherwise, as I have already said, a government not respecting people’s vote has no religious or political legitimacy.
3- I invite everyone, specially the youth, to continue reclaiming their dues in calm, and not let those who want to associate this movement with chaos succeed.
4- I ask the police and army personals not to “sell their religion”, and beware that
receiving orders will not excuse them before god. Recognize the protesting youth
as your children. Today censor and cutting telecommunication lines can not hide
I pray for the greatness of the Iranian people.
Much like I've always thought of Iraqi Ayatollah Sistani as an impressive religious figure working through a very difficult time, Ayatollah Montazeri impresses because he apparently takes great care to drain any theatricality out of his statement. This gives his thoughts a simplicity and authenticity that's often lacking from the statements of Western leaders.
Another dimension of Montazeri's statement that I very much appreciate is his stress on the Iranian people as the touchstone for his thoughts. There used to be a phrase in the West that "the voice of the people is the voice of God" and Montazeri writes as though he agrees with that statement. He evinces enormous respect for the integrity of the Iranian people that has shown through the Iranian Revolution and the eight-year war with Iraq, and which still shows in the patience and non-violence with which all sectors of the people--"old and young alike, from any social category"--are carrying out the protests of the rigged election.
My reading of Montazeri's statement is that he views the full wrongfulness of the Iranian government in rigging the election and suppressing the protests as lying in its destruction of its bond with the Iranian people. The election represented a great opportunity for the Iranian government to "bond with the people" and the Iranian government failed in its duty by dealing with that opportunity in "the worst possible way." The Iranian government not only "declared results that no one in their right mind could believe," they "attacked the children of the people with astonishing violence" in front of the whole world.
For Montazeri, the Iranian government has broken any bond it had with God as well. A government that does "not respect the people's vote" has no religious or political legitimacy" and the police and army personnel attacking the children of the people risk the judgment of God as well as the judgment of the world.
Montazeri seems to believe that "the people" has an inherent bond with God and that the duty of Iranian government is to nourish that the various segments of the population that forms the people and thus strengthen the ties between God and his followers. He worries that the authorities have undermined "people's faith in Islam" as a result of their conduct.
Montazeri's stress on "the people" makes it possible for him to articulate a condemnation of the Iranian regime that has considerable moral and theological depth. We would do well to follow Montazeri's example in reestablishing the notion of the people as a central concept in our political thinking.
In the Western world, there used to be balance between the concept of the people and the concept of the individual. But American authorities have been successful in putting the whole weight of political philosophy on individuality and draining the concept of the people of any moral or political substance. The most important repository for any concept of the people is now African-American thought and African-Americans are starting to fall into individualistic patterns of thought as well. By disconnecting individuality from any collective sense in this way, the development of American political thought has made individuals more vulnerable to government and corporate efforts at manipulation and control. Losing a sense for the life of the people has come at the cost of a great loss of human freedom in this country.
Altogether, Ayatollah Montazeri articlated an impressive statement on the situation in Iraq, one which holds lessons for us in the United States as well as the Iranian government.
Mrs. RSI and the two daughters RSI started painting up a storm as soon as I left town. That's no surprise. I'm extremely allergic to paint and the only time anybody can do some painting is when I'm out of town for more than a week. The physical plant people at Morehead State painted my office and the halls in my building in January and Februar and I couldn't go back for more than five or ten minutes at a time until April.
But I have an ominous feeling about the colors. The kitchen is changing from whatever color it was (as a "guy's guy, I don't really notice these things) to "cocoa-butter" yellow.
I have no idea what color that is, but I got an ominous feeling when Miss Teen RSI told me how "pretty" it was.
I wasn't that excited about hearing the living room was being painted "rose-pink" either.
But there comes a time when every father of daughters has to "man up" and face the prospect of full-time immersion in the aesthetics of 21st century teen-age femininity. If the guy who lived across the street from my parents could get through raising six daughters, I can certainly survive the estrogen onslaught from my two girls.
It's the price we pay for our commitment to the traditional family.
We have seen several domestic terrorist attacks already this year (Pittsburgh cop killings, Wichita abortion doctor murder, Holocaust Museum shooting) and Shephard Smith has acknowledged an increase in vitriolic hate-filled emails to Fox News. How do you balance providing your viewpoint with making sure not to push fringe groups over the edge towards violence?
Glenn Beck: Anybody who thinks that I'm pushing fringe groups to violence should read my e-mail. The fringe groups hate my guts. The fringe groups think I'm a government stooge. What people need to keep in mind is that some people in the fringe groups are CRAZY. If you want to target Fox News, feel free, but it's misguided.
Of course, the "far fringe groups" hate Beck's guts. HE'S COMPETITION.
Monday, June 15, 2009
What he means is that the American sports world is now focused on baseball.
Here I have to admit to being a bad father. I so much dreaded the hour after tedious hour of watching t-ball games that I never introduced my daughters to softball.
If there's a hell, I'm sure I'll pay for it.
After Cheney's inflammatory speech at the American Enterprise Institute, I was quick to write that Cheney "might as well be hanging out a sign saying "We're weak. Please attack us" and "one wonders if Cheney's well of bitterness doesn't run so deep that he wouldn't welcome a major terrorist attack as sweet vindication."
Apparently, CIA director Leon Panetta was thinking along the same lines and told Jane Mayer in a straight-forward way that:
"I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue. It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that's dangerous politics."Cheney denies it all and acts surprised.
"I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted," said Cheney in a terse statement (put out by his office. "The important thing is whether or not the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last eight years."Of course, I bet Cheney would change that story if he were being waterboarded.
Here's the full quote from his blog entry:
There have been very good grounds to criticize President Obama's foreign policy so far. There will be much more to criticize over the next three and a half years.
But he is our president. We could be at an historical inflection point in Iran. The United States may be able to play an important role. The task now is to explain what the Obama administration (and Congress) should be saying and doing, and to urge them to do what they should be doing. Presuming ahead of time that Obama will fail to exercise leadership, and cataloguing this episode pre-emptively as another in a list of Obama failures, would be a mistake. The U.S. has a huge stake in the possible transformation, or at least reformation, of the Iranian regime. If there's some chance of that happening, and some chance of U.S. policy contributing to that outcome, we should hope Obama does the right thing, and urge and pressure him to do so--because then the United States will be doing the right thing, and the United States, and the world, will benefit.
This too is the role of a loyal opposition.
Iran's supreme leader ordered Monday an investigation into allegations of election fraud, marking a stunning turnaround by the country's most powerful figure and offering hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
HuffPost calls this investigation a "huge development," but it sounds a lot like the appointment of high-level investigatory commissions in the U. S. The idea is to distract, delay, and obfuscate until everybody forgets the issue.
Still, internal pressure to reverse the election results may be having an effect.
Rigging the election in such a massive way was tantamount to a coup by the clerical establishment and Ahmadinejad. Maybe they're starting to lose their nerve.
Anyway, here's the money quote from Mayer's article on Panetta:
“I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue,” he told me. “It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”Next time, the heavy hitters need to be quicker on the mark.Better late than never I guess.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Here's some of the worst aspects of Netanyahu's speech.
The Palestinian state would be demilitarized to the nth degree. It would have "no army, no rockets or missiles, no control of airspace."
Netanyahu claims he wants demilitarization so the Palestinians don't pose a threat to Israel. Talk about an obvious lie. What Netanyahu wants is a Palestianian government that only governs during brief periods between Israeli incursions.
Given that no demilitarized Palestinian government would be able to stop terrorist attacks on Israel, demilitarization means repeated Israeli operations against the unarmed Palestinians.
It would be a state of war until the end of time which Netanyahu wants because the Israelis would be guaranteed to win.
Needless to say, none of this makes the Palestinians very happy. Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian parliament responded by claiming that "Netanyahu was calling for creation of a ghetto state." Barghouti should have added "with frequent pograms against the Palestinians."
Other lovely items.
Netanyahu doesn't want the Palestinian government to have control over their foreign policy--no treaties with Iran or Lebanon (i.e., Hezbollah), or anybody else the Israelis don't like.
But would he allow the Palestinians to make their own treaties with the Obama administration?
One doubts that as well.
Netanyahu also indicated that there would be no more withdrawals from the settlement expansion of the last forty years.
We tried withdrawal by agreement, withdrawal without an agreement, we tried partial withdrawal and full withdrawal. In 2000, and once again last year, the government of Israel, based on good will, tried a nearly complete withdrawal, in exchange for the end of the conflict, and were twice refused.
The Israeli settlement movement is just as much an impediment to peace as Hamas terrorism. In fact, it would probably be best to view the Israeli settlers and Hamas terrorists as allies in the effort to prevent peace.
Who knows! Maybe the Israeli settlers and Hamas terrorists have regular meetings to work out how the latest peace initiative is going to be scuttled.
But Netanyahu how little he's committed to peace by stressing his alliance with the settlers: "The settlers are not enemies of peace. They are our brothers and sisters."
Netanyahu also rejected any Palestinian right of return, any Palestinian claim to Jerusalem, and really any Palestianian claim to anything.
Obviously, Netanyahu doesn't want peace or anything like it.But you can bet that Netanyahu's stupendously conditional acceptance of a two-state solution will be disputed on the American right.
In fact, I'm waiting with baited breath for the first viagra-pumped, fantasy-driven neo-con to accuse Netanyahu of "appeasement."
I can't say whether Sullivan's sources are valid, but I could definitely live with that.
Eat your heart out Norm Coleman.