Democrats: Unprincipled or Unrealistic? CNN Reports--You Decide

Glenn Greenwald has been relentlessly articulating some of the significant problems caused by the asymmetry of reporting on Iraq (one of which being the fact that we've spent five (5) years involved in a war that was supposedly going to take 6 months). As part of his point, he highlights a video of Charlie Rose interviewing two Iraqis about what the war has cost Iraqi citizens:

Even now, Americans are inundated with "The Surge is Working!" rhetoric and hear almost none of the views expressed in this interview, just as -- prior to the invasion -- they were exposed to every shade and color of pro-invasion advocates while the anti-war view was drastically minimized and even suppressed. Amazingly, nothing has actually changed from that 2002-2003 period when -- as even Howard Kurtz documented in one of the better (and only) pieces of establishment journalism examining pre-war media coverage -- actual war opponents were buried, rendered invisible, and war advocates were amplified and celebrated. That's still happening.

Atrios has frequently said that the range of acceptable establishment political opinion in the U.S. spans the suffocatingly narrow gamut from The New Republic to National Review (or: "From The New Republic to The Free Republic"). The substantial body of opinion to "the left" of the pro-war (or, at best, anti-war-execution) New Republic is excluded as fringe and unserious, while nothing substantial exists to the right of National Review. There is never any outer boundary on the Right.

In his post, Greenwald included the video clip of the interview, which is absolutely essential viewing for everyone--if, for no other reason than its rarity of viewpoint.

And almost as if designed expressly to illustrate Greenwald's point, CNN features this interview with Brooking's Institute's decidedly pro-war Michael O'Hanlon and CNN's very own Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, who's there to "keep him honest":

First, we can tell how "honest" Starr keeps war-groupie O'Hanlon by the very serious-looking glasses she's wearing and her very grave demeanor. Aside from that, we can further tell how serious she is when she says this at the end of the interview:
Right now, General Petraeus, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff all say "No mandated timetables for withdrawal. We have to stay until the job is done." That is not what the Democrats want. What do these commanders do if a Democrat wins and a Democrat sticks to that campaign promise [getting us out of the war]? What the Pentagon may be hoping behind the scenes is, if a Democrat wins, they'll do what they all do when they do win; they'll wiggle out of their campaign promises a little bit and reality will take over and nothing will fundamentally change for the troops. At least for a while. [emphasis mine]
I almost don't know what to say here. Barbara Starr: CNN "correspondent"/voice of the Pentagon?

First, who determines when "the job is done"? Who sets the mission? Who nominates the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs? Last I heard, the President does those things. And if Barack Obama came in tomorrow and said "hey guys, we're refining our mission..." is he then denying "reality"? No. He's being the President. That's his job. And while his job is to listen to advice from his trustworthy advisers, he's still the Commander-in-Chief (or as Bush likes to call himself, "the Decider"). For the benefit of Barbara Starr--Pentagon mouthpiece correspondent--here's an easy-to-follow chain of command diagram: The People-->The President-->Secretary of Defense... That's what the rest of us call "reality".

According to Barbara Starr/Pentagon, Democrats get to choose between being completely unprincipled (as they always are, apparently) by breaking their withdrawal promises and being completely unrealistic by keeping their withdrawal promises. Which means that our only choice to avoid such wholly unAmerican folly would be to vote for McCain, I guess. Bomb, bomb, bomb...need I go on? Obviously, CNN's Pentagon correspondent's way of keeping O'Hanlon "honest" is by juxtaposing his pro-war view with the Pentagon/Starr's pro-war view. Apparently, the rest of us just need to learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Note: As Crooks and Liars and Atrios have noted before, this isn't the first time Barbara Starr has gone all Faux Newsy on our asses. C&L documents Starr's righteous indignation at the military's accusing the media of trying to "hype" the supposed threat from Iran. Apparently, Starr hasn't seen Katie Couric's starring role in John McCain: Behind the Music or bothered to watch her own news network--as C&L illustrates in their posted video. Beyond that, if what Barbara Starr says is true, and the military lied about the media's role in hyping Iran, how do we know that they're not lying about withdrawal timelines from Iraq? I wonder if Ms. Starr ever bothered to look into that.

Nothing New byslag at 8:07 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Barack Obama Bowls As Well As I Do

Obama scored a 37 bowling this weekend, and Joe Scarborough declares Obama is not a real man:

SCARBOROUGH: You know, Willie, the thing is, Americans want their president, if it's a man, to be a real man. They -- 1984, I remember Ronald Reagan goes to South Boston. He holds up that beer mug --


SCARBOROUGH: -- in that South Boston pub, and everybody's like, "He's a real man," and I guess Barack Obama's trying to do the same thing, too.[...]

SCARBOROUGH: You get 150, you're a man --


SCARBOROUGH: -- or a good woman.


GEIST: Out of my president, I want a 150, at least.[...]

SCARBOROUGH: -- he didn't go bowling in Cambridge that much. That's a guy that's been studying a lot of -- reading a lot of books.
I don't know about you, but out of my president, I want someone who's intelligent, articulate, rational, and diligent. And I want someone who spends his time in college reading books instead of bowling. And I've had it with presidents who frivolous people deem to be "real men". So, apparently, when Scarborough is telling me what kind of president Americans want, he means to be telling me what kind of president Ignorant Jack-ass Americans want. He really should be more careful with his language. Maybe if he spent his time reading instead of bowling he'd know that.

PS Paradoxically, my love of bowling is inversely proportional to my love of The Big Lebowski. I wonder what that means.

Nothing New byslag at 3:42 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Action Items Edition

Without further ado...

* John McCain broke FEC rules. Sign Firedog Lake's FEC complaint letter to make him pay.

* Big money donors are helping Hillary hold Democrats hostage by threatening to withhold cash. Sign's petition to support Nancy Pelosi's stand for democracy.

* Darcy Burner and other Democratic Congressional candidates want to help get us out of Iraq. Sign on to their Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.

Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 9:09 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Case for Dominocracy

Last weekend was Blog Against Theocracy weekend. Initially, I was all on board with blogging against Theocracy, since in my mind, Theocracy was a really bad thing. However, every time I put finger to keyboard, I came up short. I couldn't find an angle on the topic worthy of the Some of Nothing name. Historical, philosophical, sociological...they would all work...but they're all boring. Hence, I decided to actually gain further clarity as to what Theocracy actually is before moving forward. According to the vastly underrated Wikipedia:

Theocracy is a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler. For believers, theocracy is a form of government in which divine power governs an earthly human state, either in a personal incarnation or, more often, via religious institutional representatives (i.e.: a church), replacing or dominating civil government.[1] Theocratic governments enact theonomic laws.

Theocracy should be distinguished from other secular forms of government that have a state religion, or are merely influenced by theological or moral concepts, and monarchies held "By the Grace of God"...
So, Theocracy isn't exactly what Huckabee meant when he said the Constitution should be changed to meet "God's standards", but it's pretty darn close. Now, I could go on and on about how Theocracy or Dominionism (its close relative) would suck for me, personally, because religiosity and I don't get along too well. And in case you haven't noticed, I also have a deeply embedded sense of justice. Therefore, being forced to abide by laws that I don't agree with or see a valid foundation for ("God's laws") would truly offend my sense of justice. Of course, we currently have lots of laws that offend me, but at least I can argue against them without fear of a good smiting.

With that said, it's highly unlikely that my own personal bias against Theocracy/Dominionism (hereafter to be called Dominocracy) would be at all interesting to anyone but me. Not that that's ever stopped me before, but since this is my first blog against Dominocracy, I figure I should bring a little more to the table. And because I have little interest in taking the time to trace Dominocracy's historical, philosophical, or sociological roots, the angle of this post will be just a tiny bit different. I'm going to make the case for Dominocracy.

The case for Dominocracy is a simple one: efficiency. We all know that the founders of this nation were a bunch of typical government employees who were more than happy to spend our country's tax dollars wasting time creating the US Constitution. Clearly, this is a Christian Nation. So, the fact that the founders paid all that attention to developing an entirely new document when everyone knows the Bible (King James version only) would have done just as well only serves to illustrate how wasteful government can be. And the word "God" being completely absent from the Constitution is simply evidence that they were trying to avoid charges of plagiarism in the process. Typical corrupt and lazy politicians sucking down our resources so that they didn't have to go out and get real jobs. Friggin James Madison!

Convincing, no? BTW--coincidentally, "efficiency" is a good argument for autocracy and fascism as well.

Nothing New byslag at 4:04 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Procrastinate On It

As many of us know, Friday is traditional cat blogging day. However, I have traditionally ignored this tradition because I know that no one is as interested in my cats as I am. Nonetheless, a call from the vet today reminded me of a lesson that I frequently have to keep re-learning. That lesson is that, sometimes, procrastination is a good thing.

Our giant fluffy cat is a frequenter of the beloved veterinarian. And back in December, there was mounting evidence of a thyroid problem that we thought we were going to have to deal with. However, we procrastinated on taking him to the specialist until earlier this month, and as a result, he needed to have some more blood tests run. Well, I got a call from the vet today, and it turns out his thyroid issues aren't of immediate concern after all. And I used the opportunity to think about the value of procrastination, which often gets a bad rap.

I often think about the costs created by procrastinating on things. Procrastinating on blog posts, for instance, costs readership. Sometimes, procrastinating on vet visits can actually cause more problems (it wouldn't have in this case--we're not that irresponsible). However, I rarely consider the benefits of procrastinating. In the case of this particular issue, procrastination saved us money and time. And sometimes, in procrastinating on blog posts, the time I spend procrastinating is often spent in some low-level cogitation that brings new perspective and insight into the subject I plan to post on. Whether the project be a cat or a blog post, procrastination can actually yield a better result than would have otherwise been achieved. Sadly, that's not the case for this blog post.

Sorry about that. Happy cat blogging Friday.

Nothing New byslag at 2:04 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Hillary Clinton: Suicide Bomber

Hillary remarks on Obama-Wright relationship:

"I think given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton said in a news conference in Greensburg, Penn. [...]

"You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend," she told the paper. [emphasis mine]

Seriously?!?! Is this the direction we want to go? Would somebody just shell out some copies of Bill's phone sex tapes and get this frakkin' thing over with already?

(in case you're wondering--yes, it felt good to get that off my chest.)

Nothing New byslag at 6:07 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

If Only They Didn't Hate Us For Our Freedom

Or "If Only John McCain's Relationship With George W Bush Were Just Platonic"

Lately, I've been in the process of pursuing what, to me, is an important question: Who is generally more rational--liberals or conservatives? That is, are members of one end of the political spectrum more likely to be reality-based, logical, introspective, intellectually honest than those of the other? Well, after hours of surfing liberal and conservative blogs for anecdotal evidence and cracking open my copy of Don't Think of an Elephant, I've decided (for now anyway) that's the wrong question. With conservatives and liberals trading sides these days over what has been the biggest foreign policy disaster many of us have ever seen, a more appropriate question might be: Who is generally more rational--those who support the Iraq War or those who oppose it?

And Jon Stewart helped me decide:

It depends.

Many of us have discussed the challenge that anti-war folks have getting taken seriously by the media and supposed experts in foreign policy. And Jon Stewart shows us one of the reasons we have this challenge. It's easy to disregard people who dress funny, pull crazy stunts, and often can't articulate their position in an intelligible fashion. That said, is Dick Cheney's outright dismissal of American opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom any more rational because it comes with a suit and a maniacal smirk? Jon Stewart's "I spread democracy. I'm a pusher, not a user" Dick Cheney impression suggests not. So, if we recognize the fact that people from both sides can be absurdly irrational, how do we move our thinking forward to prevent more of it?

Well, for starters, we don't elect John McCain:
“We're succeeding. I don't care what anybody says. I've seen the facts on the ground," the Arizona senator insisted a day after a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed four U.S. soldiers and rockets pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone there, and a wave of attacks left at least 61 Iraqis dead nationwide. The events transpired as bin Laden called on the people of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to ‘help in support of their mujahedeen brothers in Iraq, which is the greatest opportunity and the biggest task.’”
Apparently, Bush's sunny optimism rubbed off on McCain during their impassioned embrace. Nonetheless, after five years of foreign occupation and civil liberties rollbacks, you'd think both liberals and conservatives would have gotten wiser by now. And maybe some of us have. But the fact that John McCain's poll numbers are still high and the fact that the media still covers up his false foreign policy statements suggests many have not. Many involved appear to have learned very little over the last 5 years. So, the question now isn't: Who's more rational--those who support the war or those who oppose the war? The question is: Why do John McCain, the media, and Dick Cheney all hate America?


Nothing New byslag at 3:10 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Genius Inspires Genius Edition

* Sheer genius:

(transcript here)
For those of us who aren't used to seeing it, this is what leadership looks like.

* From Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings:
I was thinking, as I read some of the commentary about Rev. Wright, that at least some of the people I read didn't seem to realize just how recently African-Americans were literally terrorized on a regular basis; and in that context it occurred to me that I didn't know exactly how old Rev. Wright was. So I looked him up in Wikipedia, and found that he was born in 1941. And it struck me: that would make him the same age as Emmett Till:

"In August of 1955, one year and three months after Brown v. Board of Education, a fourteen-year-old black boy unschooled in the racial customs of the South traveled to Mississippi to visit relatives. With adolescent bravado, he whistled at Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. This inadvertent violation of a sacred code of the South cost him his life. Two white men dragged Till from his bed in the dead of night, beat him, and shot him through the head. Three days later his mangled body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River. It was Emmett Till's first visit to the South. Eight days after arriving in Money, Mississippi, where the town line was marked with a sign reading, 'Money -- a good place to raise a boy,' Emmett Till was dead.[...]"
A thought-provoking, if not thoroughly depressing, connection.

* Glenn Greewald offers another, possibly depressing, insight:
...[I]n Obama's faith in the average American voter lies one of the greatest weaknesses of his campaign. His faith in the ability and willingness of Americans to rise above manipulative political tactics seems drastically to understate both the efficacy of such tactics and the deafening amplification they receive from our establishment press. Even Americans who authentically believe that they want a "new, better politics" may be swayed by the same old Drudgian sewerage because it is powerful and ubiquitous.

Petty, personality-based demonization works, and the belief that it won't work any longer in the absence of a major war against it may be more a by-product of faith and desire than reality.[...]
Those of us who are tired of being treated like six year-olds have a vested interest in Obama's success here.  Can we make it happen?

* Jon Stewart highlights some reasons for skepticism:

Does sheer genius always have to be both so very inspiring and so very depressing?

Happy(?) other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 4:43 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama's Geek Appeal

I have to say that all the focus on Obama's faith recently has made me a bit squeamish. It brings to mind some of my reasons for initially supporting Edwards over Obama in that the language of faith that Obama is so into is both too familiar and too foreign to me. The idea of "hope" is all fine and good for sci-fi/fantasy flicks, but we all know that it has no place in the modern political landscape. And the last seven years of the Bush Administration's ignorance-masquerading-as-optimism has compelled me to turn a blind eye to anything that looks even remotely like it. Forget faith and give me facts, is my motto.

Well, one fact about Obama I couldn't ignore is that his political impact on this primary has been overwhelmingly positive. He has been a major force in encouraging record-setting voter turnout. He's getting more young people and other traditionally under-represented folks involved in politics and the number of small individual contributions he has received has been outstanding. And the kinds of endorsements he's been accumulating have shaken up the way many of us see the Democratic Party establishment. Anyone who doesn't see the value of these accomplishments is seriously deluding themselves. And it shouldn't surprise any of us if we find that, whether we like it or not, Obama's faith talk has helped him reach many a wary voter.

Beyond this, as much as certain aspects of Obama's campaign turned me off, there were other elements to it that I've learned to appreciate over time (after Edwards dropped out). I like Obama's explanations of his background in civil rights law, academia, and community organization. I admire his rhetorical capabilities and his unusual ability to try to get into and make sense of those cloudy areas between two different bits of information that just don't add up right. And his aspirations to try to turn politics away from diatribe and into dialog have a lot of potential. All of this I have attributed to his geek appeal. The side of his brain--separate from faith--that enables him to explain the world based on facts and reason instead of on faith. Until now, I have always thought of this rational side of the brain as the side that generates geek appeal.

In fact, I'm not the only one who's observed Obama's geek appeal. He's garnered endorsements from uber-geeks such as Marc Andreesen and Lawrence Lessig. As for Marc Andreesen's endorsement, it basically amounts to this:
Smart, normal, curious, not radical, and post-Boomer.

If you were asking me to write a capsule description of what I would look for in the next President of the United States, that would be it.
While stopping short of "I looked deep into his eyes and saw his soul", I'm intrigued by Andreesen's personality-based endorsement of Obama for it's ability to be both specific and general at the same time. And as for Lessig, he had this to say about Barack:
First, and again, I know him, which means I know something of his character. "He is the real deal" has become my favorite new phrase. Everything about him, personally, is what you would dream a candidate should be. Integrity, brilliance, warmth, humor and most importantly, commitment. They all say they're all this. But for me, this part is easy, because about this one at least, I know.

Second, I believe in the policies...
While Lessig goes on to explain more about some of the specifics of Obama's policies, I find it interesting that he thinks about Obama's personal qualities first--before policy. This sentiment, although expressed inversely, is similar to that of the folks at TechCrunch who said this when they endorsed him:
Senator Obama has put more time and effort into defining his technology policies than any other candidate. In November he released a detailed position paper on technology issues, and we had a one-on-one interview with him two weeks later.

He is staunchly in favor of net neutrality, and has promised to make it a priority to reinstate it in his first year in office. He has proposed intelligent programs for increasing technology education and access to children. He doesn’t believe the FCC went far enough in their proposed rules for opening up the 700MHz spectrum auctions. He wants to see increases in the number of H1-B visas given out each year. He strongly supports research into renewable energy sources and he has a realistic, market based approach to capping carbon emissions.

More importantly, though, Senator Obama talks about the future with a sense of optimism that the other candidates seem to lack....
It's fascinating to me to see uber-geek's go gaga over specific facts and proposals they like and then say, "More importantly though..." before they talk about this squishy thing called "optimism." How very ungeek-like.

Now, all this is not to say that Andreesen, Lessig, and those at TechCrunch aren't highly reasonable, thoughtful, fact-based thinkers. I have no doubt that, if they didn't agree with Obama on his major positions, they would not be endorsing him. Nonetheless, seeing how the geekiest among us describe their own rationales for making a political decision compels me wonder about my own supposed reliance on fact when it comes to these things. Maybe I am, in fact, more enthusiastic about his personal sense of optimism than I am about his ability to bring in new voters or initiate a green energy policy. Maybe I am, in fact, more appreciative of Obama as a normal person than as a normal politician. Maybe I am, in fact, more susceptible to charisma and various intangible qualities--including faith--than I want to let myself believe...

Speaking of squeamish...Ick.

Great video: Obama speaks and answers questions at Google
at 22:52:
Question to Obama: “What is the most efficient way to sort a million 32-bit integers?”
Obama's response: “Well, ah....I think the bubble sort would be the wrong way to go.”
(funny stuff)

Nothing New byslag at 8:12 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Get Serious

Glenn Greenwald, quite rightly, slams Slate's recent self-indulgent search for enlightenment among the faustian fawns who they call "liberal hawks" and who supported the invasion of Iraq five (5) years ago but are now asking themselves, "How Did I Get Iraq Wrong?".  Greenwald's overall assessment of the glassy-eyed navel gazing is that the fundamental flaw of Iraq the fawns fail to appreciate lies not in a failure of intelligence or in misplaced loyalties but instead in the principle of pre-emptive war, itself:

As a result of these claimed "lessons learned" from Iraq, perhaps our media and political elite will weigh the costs and benefits a little more carefully the next time around. Perhaps they will be marginally more skeptical of uncorroborated government assertions. But as long we continue to embrace the unlimited entitlement we've uniquely arrogated unto ourselves to invade other countries at will whenever we feel it's vaguely in our "interests" to do so, then other Iraqs (and Vietnams) are inevitable, more likely sooner rather than later. And all one has to do is survey the recent commentary commemorating the five years of occupation in Iraq to see that those core interventionist premises are as firmly entrenched among the establishment as they were on the day we invaded Iraq.
I can't disagree with Greenwald's sentiment about the overall lack of substantive criticism of the preemptive doctrine.  However, I am intrigued by the signs of intelligent life I see in Timothy Noah's introspective glance that revealed this sentiment: 
A larger question, though: Why should you waste your time, at this late date, ingesting the opinions of people who were wrong about Iraq? Wouldn't you benefit more from considering the views of people who were right? Five years after this terrible war began, it remains true that respectable mainstream discussion about its lessons is nearly exclusively confined to people who supported the war, even though that same mainstream acknowledges, for the most part, that the war was a mistake. That's true of Slate's symposium, and it was true of a similar symposium that appeared March 16 on the New York Times' op-ed pages. The people who opposed U.S. entry into the Iraq war, it would appear, are insufficiently "serious" to explain why they were right. [emphasis mine]
In my mind, the concern that Noah brings up--why don't Slate and the New York Times showcase the rationales of those who opposed the war from the start?--actually takes precedence to the concern that Greenwald brings up--why don't we look at the central guiding principle behind the war for answers as to why the war was wrong?--to the point that I don't think we can even meaningfully address Greenwald's concern without first addressing Noah's.  My logic for the order of concerns here stems from the fact that I am of the opinion that opposers of wars actually tend to take war more seriously than do the "serious" leaders who are more likely to engage in military solutions to conflicts.  And the fact that war opposition isn't taken very seriously by American leadership, media, and general populace means that we, as a country, are less likely to look deeply into the principles of war--failed or otherwise.

Cue Barack Obama who gets asked about how he formed his opposition to the war by someone from the Des Moines Register: "Can you talk about how you came to that judgment? What was your process in terms of what information you looked at and who you talked to...?"  

This humble question asked way-back-when by who-knows-who is one that I simply haven't heard asked anywhere else before or since.  And the fact that Obama had a difficult time answering it indicates that it's not one that he had been used to getting at the time.

As he exhibits in his response, Obama is a long way away from being fervently anti-war in all cases.  But the two cruxes of his opposition were that he didn't think it would be in anyone's interest for us to de-stabilize Iraq and that Saddam Hussein posed no imminent threat to the United States.  And while he is clearly explaining his Iraq opposition in terms of costs and benefits, the underlying presumption is that, to him, the onus is heavily on the proponents of war to make their case rather than the reverse.  Clearly, Obama didn't need to have skin in the game to appropriately elevate the severity of the consequences of war in Iraq in his mind.  His skepticism and doubt were pre-programmed by the overall seriousness with which he naturally undertook the question.  

As we see every year around this time, it's this level of seriousness that--with the exception of the precious few--our leaders, news media, and general populace regularly fail to achieve when mulling over matters of national importance.  The Iraq War is arguably the defining issue of our time.  So, on days like today, I'd like to see us go beyond the platitudinal debates about right and wrong and start deconstructing the decision-making processes of people who were serious enough about the question to bring sufficiently high levels of skepticism to it from the beginning.  Maybe once we start seeing more glimpses of seriousness in our leadership (for clarity's sake, seriousness precludes singing songs like "bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran"), maybe the rest of us will take the cue and get serious ourselves.  Then, we'll find that attacking countries that don't pose an imminent threat to us really isn't a very wise thing to do after all.

For another example of serious leadership, here's an excerpt from a speech Obama made yesterday:

Smart and serious (and kinda funny too).

Nothing New byslag at 1:20 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Throw Away Society

C.J.: Everyone's stupid in an election year, Charlie.
Charlie: No, everyone gets treated stupid in an election year, C.J.
-The West Wing

Sadly, I haven't had a chance to post in a while. Obama's speech on the complexities of race and family relationships and loyalties yesterday was amazing, and it would have been nice to be able to read, watch, and talk more about it at the time. But my trusty old laptop was having none of it. After the third restart and the fifth force-quit of the day (accompanied by minutes of staring at Mac's dreaded spinning ball of time), I finally had to pack it in. The hard drive is going, so the entire computer spent all of last night in the freezer. And along with the hard drive, the logic board has exhibited its own share of frailties. I would say that I don't know why I keep it around, but that would be a lie.

It's true that there are shinier newer laptops out there that use less power, are thinner and lighter, and actually work all the time, but I can think of a thousand and one reasons why my laptop is still better. First, my laptop was a gift to me from my favorite person in the world. It helped me prepare for the GREs, enabled me to write some of the best papers I've ever written, and didn't even balk when I used it to write some of the absolute worst papers anyone has ever written. Yes, my laptop and I have had our disagreements. There are times when I couldn't get it to see things my way. When I couldn't get it to wake up from a nap or stop thinking...and thinking...and thinking long enough to respond to me. But along with the head-holding frustration has come the joy of success from a job well-done and a complex interdependent relationship.

My laptop has been around the continent with me. It's been in states that I'd prefer not to see again. It went along with me when my mother died of cancer, and it helped me write her tearful obituary. It went with me when my grandfather died a few months later and allowed me to keep up on my schoolwork during that emotionally exhausting trip. And a year later, its screen was shattered on the last hour-long leg of a fourteen hour flight to the funeral of my favorite person in the world's father. Some might think that my laptop is too young to have had all these experiences and that they wore it down, making it slow and ornery. Nonetheless, the obstinate sluggishness of my laptop didn't stop said favorite person from finding a new screen on Ebay and replacing my laptop's broken one by removing every single screw and part imaginable and putting them all back together again.

I'm not going to lie and suggest that my laptop came out perfect after all of this trauma. Its bouts of recalcitrance have increased as has my impatience with it. Sometimes, its inability to understand the simplest of commands would be mind-numbingly infuriating. Nonetheless, I've understood where it's coming from. Because my laptop and I have had a history together, I know where it's foibles are. I know that it doesn't always mean to do the things it does. And when it froze up multiple times during Barack Obama's bold and insightful speech yesterday, all I could do was shrug and start it over again.

Now, insightful readers may think I'm using my loyalty toward my laptop as an analogy to explain why I can empathize with Obama's loyalty toward his friend, Reverend Wright. That's only partially true. Fact is, my laptop may frustrate me and cause me pain sometimes, but it's never shamed, offended, or even really hurt me or the people and things I care about. No. Those things were never done by my laptop nor are they likely ever to, because my laptop--much as I may love it--is still a stupid piece of equipment whose one and only job is to do what I tell it to do.

The only things in my life that can shame, offend, and hurt me are the people I know. For instance, when my laptop helped me write my mother's obituary, it didn't mind when I left out the fact that she was a regular Fox News watcher who sometimes made shamefully ignorant, racist, or homophobic statements. She was a bright woman, a loving mother, and a generally kind person, so we kind of forgot about that other stuff. And when I helped clean out my grandfather's home after he died, I let others have the Rush Limbaugh paraphernalia and the questionable adult material and opted to keep his set of National Geographics on DVD-ROM to remember him by. I don't look forward to the day when technology advances to the point at which those disks become obsolete. And whenever my favorite person talks about his father in loving terms, I don't interrupt his reverie by bringing up all of the painful sexist comments I heard his father make. Instead, after that funeral, I used my laptop to help me scan in hundreds of old family photos that his mother sent me so that he could have a copy.

After reading several reactions to Obama's speech, I guess some Republicans would (ironically) object to my even bothering with these people with whom I so vehemently disagreed on many levels. Well, those Republicans can be stupid if they choose. But if I won't toss out a simple laptop that can no longer reliably do its one and only job and has to spend the night in the freezer, it's highly unlikely that I'm going to throw away society.

Nothing New byslag at 8:25 AM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Reality's Liberal Bias Strikes Again

From the Boston Globe, it looks like the economy is going liberal:

Both Democratic contenders jumped today on the latest indicator of economic trouble -- the fire-sale buy-out of venerable investment firm Bear Stearns -- to say that it proves their point that mortgage industry problems are spilling onto Wall Street, and to warn that Main Street is feeling the pain, too.

"The news coming from Wall Street today has confirmed our fears that the financial fallout from the mortgage crisis would spillover into the wider economy," Barack Obama said in a statement issued by his campaign. "Months ago, I went to Wall Street and said that our capital markets could not function without the confidence and trust of the public. I said that Wall Street could not succeed while the rest of America struggled. Now, as the Federal Reserve does its best to bring stability to the market, we must focus on what we can do to restore the public’s confidence in the market and help the millions of Americans who are worried about their jobs, their homes, and their financial future."

Obama also criticized President Bush, saying that "History will not judge President Bush kindly for his failure to act in a way that could’ve prevented or alleviated this economic crisis.
From the WaPo, it looks like the electorate is going liberal:
While all eyes were on the presidential campaign and the demise of New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D) last week, Republicans on Capitol Hill were suffering a run of bad news that could hold dire implications for the campaign season.

It started with the loss last weekend of the seat held for two decades by former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). It got worse when Republicans lost potentially strong challengers to Democratic senators in South Dakota and New Jersey, and failed to field anyone to oppose the reelection bid of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

The latest blow came with the revelation that the former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) had allegedly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and possibly as much as $1 million -- from the organization's depleted coffers to his own bank accounts.

If Republicans needed any more evidence of how difficult this fall may be, the past week had it all, analysts said. The Illinois race demonstrated new levels of disaffection, the party's efforts to go on offense elsewhere were thwarted by recruiting failures, and the NRCC scandal will divert campaign resources and could frighten off badly needed contributors, they said.

"It's no mystery," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). "You have a very unhappy electorate, which is no surprise, with oil at $108 a barrel, stocks down a few thousand points, a war in Iraq with no end in sight and a president who is still very, very unpopular. He's just killed the Republican brand."

From Glenn Greenwald, it looks like the facts on FISA are going liberal (contrary to the opinion of the "liberal media"):
Time claims that "nobody cares" about the Government's increased spying powers and that "polling consistently supports that conclusion." They don't cite a single poll because that assertion is blatantly false.

Just this weekend, a new poll released by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University proves that exactly the opposite is true. That poll shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the Federal Government is "very secretive" has doubled in the last two years alone (to 44%) and that "nearly nine in 10 say it's important to know presidential and congressional candidates' positions on open government when deciding who to vote for."
No wonder Republicans don't like it. Reality's biased.

Nothing New byslag at 11:58 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Other People's Genius: White Man's Edition

With all the talk about race and gender relations going around lately, some white men seem to be feeling a little left out. So, to help the white man feel included, this other people's genius is dedicated to him.

* Stuff White People Like (h/t psilocynic) offers a nice list of...well...stuff white people like. Here is some of the stuff:

88 Having Gay Friends
87 Outdoor Performance Clothes
86 Shorts
85 The Wire
84 T-Shirts
83 Bad Memories of High School
82 Hating Corporations
81 Graduate School
80 The Idea of Soccer...
As you can see, the list is pretty long and fairly accurate. While many of these things are probably more associated with class than with race, there's much fun to be had with this list. I do think it would be nice if more white people liked some of this stuff (or if some white people liked more of this stuff, I'm not sure which).

* From #11 and #80 on the Stuff White People Like list, here's a clip from Sports Night that combines the idea of soccer and Asian girls:

* And from #38 on the list, Gob and Franklin, of Arrested Development, sing together:

Gob: Franklin said some things that Whitey wasn't ready to hear.
Michael: Didn't you get severely beaten outside a nightclub in Torrance for that act?
Gob: Franklin said some things that African-Americany wasn't ready to hear, either.

Sadly, we don't have the time or inclination to highlight prostitutes, beer, or pointless wars in this OPG edition, but who are we kidding? White men get enough of that stuff in the news (as do the rest of us).

Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 1:22 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

One in Three

Much has been said of a recent Bill OhhhhhReilly segment discussing, "What is the downside of having a woman become the president of the United States?":

In the segment, we come to find that, apparently, having a woman as president is ok as long as she doesn't employ a "female agenda". As relieved as we all are to hear that, there's more to this issue than I think people want to admit. OhhhhhReilly starts off the conversation by noting a statistic:

Recent CNN poll asked do you think America's ready for a woman president? Sixty-five percent said yes; 34 percent said no; 1 percent apparently didn't understand the question.
If you watch the clip, you can hear the enthusiasm in Bill's voice when he says that "65% said yes" America is ready for a woman president. After which, he brings on a man-ape and a female pixie stick to debate the pros and cons of having a woman as a president. The discussion runs the gamut between how men "have lost a lot of rights in this country" coming from the man-ape to this little beauty coming from the pixie stick:
Bottom line is, Bill, what this debate shows is that gender isn't a defining issue in our country. That's how far the women's movement has come, that suddenly we're talking about this. And really, she's an individual running against other individuals-- I the only one who noticed that THIRTY-FOUR freakin' percent of us think that America's not ready for a woman president? Unless my hormonally-challenged math skills are failing me again, that's roughly 1-in-3! Let me reiterate: more than 1/3 of the people who took this poll said--out loud--that we're not ready for a woman president. And Bill and his band of buffoons expect us to believe that men have lost their rights and that gender isn't an issue in this election.

It's amazing to me that these people can even find their way to the Fox studio.

PS Is OhhhhhhReilly ever going to ask "What is the downside of having a man become president of the United States?"

Nothing New byslag at 11:53 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Downside

"If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear."
- Gene Roddenberry

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the upside of this Democratic primary as being the chance to talk about bigotry and power structures in important new ways, with more ears and voices in the mix. Well, that was my idealistic side talking. Now, we get to see the downside--this ain't no intellectual exercise but, instead, is a deep morass of socially driven feelings of resentment, insecurity, and hostility. Of course, we all knew this downside was there, but sometimes it's nice to think we're better than that.

From the Hillary camp, we have Geraldine Ferraro's racially charged statements about Barack Obama:
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color), he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.
Only to be compounded with:
Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up. Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?
Now, we move on to a racially charged statement that Obama's pastor recently made to his congregation. Among other things, Pastor Wright said,
Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary would never know that.
What does it all mean? Hell if I know. But making progress can sometimes suck. Sorry, Gene Roddenberry.

Nothing New byslag at 11:54 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Watch McCain Lie About FISA

John McCain: I’m very serious when I say, I think it’s disgraceful that the House of Representatives didn’t act and this is going to lapse. We’re fighting an implacable enemy here. I cannot imagine the House of Representatives not moving forward, and letting this bill just lapse.

And frankly, I was proud of the president by saying he would delay his trip to Africa to try to get this thing done. This is a compelling issue of national security. …

Of course, there's always the truth to fall back on:
The House attempted to pass a 21-day extension of the act Thursday, but it failed after President Bush said he would veto it.
Apparently, this issue is so compelling that Bush doesn't mind just letting it go. I guess lying to the media is ok as long as you cook them up some good dogs afterward

And has anyone seen the slides from Bush's Africa trip? It's almost as if he was actually there.

Nothing New byslag at 10:20 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Things I Get Excited About

* Stalk your superdelegate: a Google Maps mashup showing who and where the Superdelegates are.

* The press goes to summer camp at St. John McCain's cabin for some r&r and journalistic professionalism workshops (via Glenn Greenwald):

Luckily, they left before McCain could braid everyone's hair.

* Obama is calling me DUDE:

And they say kids today don't appreciate irony. Or is it that they only appreciate irony? It looks like one of them stole my Grossly Exaggerated Stereotypes field guide, so I'll have to get back to you on that.

* Katha Pollitt offers a scathing response to Charlotte Allen's hit piece on the entire female sex. In the response, actual facts and logic are used. Clearly, it was ghost-written by a man.

Nothing New byslag at 10:32 PM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Things I Can't Get Excited About

Periodically, the world around me grows all abuzz about certain events, technologies, national holidays, etc that I just can't force myself to get excited about. Instead of employing my traditional strategy of ignoring such apparently newsworthy information, I'll post it to the SoN blog so that readers might either share in or rebel against the ennui.

* NY Governor Eliot Spitzer gets busted for hiring prostitutes. Curious if Charlotte Allen would consider this mistake..."embarrassing".

* Tucker Carlson loses his show. Gets replaced with a different white guy. Jon Stewart had nothing to do with it.

* Google sites launched recently. Filed with Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter on my list of things that I want to love but just don't care enough about to do it.

Nothing New byslag at 9:55 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Thing That Hillary Supporters Just Don't Get

Amazingly, Hillary Clinton's uber-supporters just don't seem to get what it is about Hillary's most recent campaign statements that the rest of us find so appalling. Tom Watson says:

To be a Clinton blogger in the progressive blogosphere is to be hated, shunned, passed without notice in the street...We're Rovian in our embrace of the monster, closet Bush backers and much worse - Lieberman types! Oh, the pain. The pure pain. I can't stand it. Makes me want to quit, embrace that messianic goodness, and stand down - for the sake of the party, of course - from any pursuit of a Clinton presidency.
And James Wolcott says this about people who claim that they cannot, in good conscience, vote for Hillary in the general, should it come to that:
Look, I understand the knocks against Hillary Clinton, truly I do. There are no flaming arrows fired her way that I haven't seen traverse the air before, no bill of indictment drawn up containing charges with which I'm unfamiliar. Reciting her sins and liabilities has become a familiar refrain, but if it's the Gregorian chant you live by, if you find Hillary Clinton such an insupportable choice for the Democratic nomination that you prefer to suckle your pride and idealism rather than soil your conscience should she be at the top of the ticket, fine, have fun with that...
In spite of the fact that I will probably vote for Hillary in the general (if highly unlikely scenarios come to pass), I definitely empathize with and even approve of the general disdain for her recent campaign trajectory. The fact that Hillary supporters clearly just don't get this disdain says a lot to me. So, for the good of the few, allow me to explain.

While I've mentioned before that I'm not a big Hillary fan, my lack of fandom came in the form of sincere apathy rather than pure, unadulterated loathing. I have never liked the company she keeps or the baggage she carries, but she's a politician, so I figure those are just a couple of the many negatives that comes with having so much "experience" in politics. And as I stated previously, I defaulted to Obama after Edwards bailed because I think Obama has some unique leadership abilities and feel that we, as a country, desperately need to move in a new direction. However, it wasn't until I watched Hillary make this claim, that I ever had a purely visceral negative reaction to her:

Hillary Clinton: I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.
It boggles the mind that any self-respecting liberal Democrat would not revile these words. What she's implying here is that, while she and her buddy McCain were serious experts working hard in 2002 to help GW Bush put us into a war in Iraq, Obama and his frivolous hippie peacenik followers were simply lazing around their coffee shops chatting about how they're just way too cool for war. Hillary's belittling statement utterly ignores the overwhelming support that this idiot war received from the majority of elected officials, news outlets, and American people, and it completely discounts the important judgment and moral courage it took to stand up against these forces at the time--especially as a politician.

So, when Hillary Clinton unabashedly decides to channel GW Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and the New York Times all at once to tell Obama and other war critics that their vocal opposition to deadly stupidity really doesn't mean that much after all, I can only find it within myself to muster one kind of response: pure, unadulterated loathing. I loathe the bizarre fantasy that it takes serious, experienced people to start wars. I loathe the heinous impact that this might-makes-right mindset has on our culture and on our standing in the world. But mostly, I loathe the fact that war gives an incompetent, addle-brained president an opportunity to play dress-up and stand in front of a cheering crowd to blithely declare "Mission Accomplished" as if he had ever performed a single brave, meaningful act in his entire life and as if the dying, maiming, and destroying were even close to being over. And loathing is not the kind of response I want to have to the nation's first female president, thankyouverymuch.

And for the record, here's a video of Obama's silly little 2002 speech as spoken by his silly little supporters:

Go Obama! Kick Hillary Clieberman's ass!

Nothing New byslag at 3:38 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Pure Geek Frivolity Edition

While the Democrats compete to see who can make McCain president the fastest, and the major US news outlets virtually ignore the recent US air strike on Somalia, and the government continues to turn this country into a stranger-than-fiction police state, Some of Nothing focuses on what's really important today. Sating your inner geek. So, without further ado:

* Gye Greene plays with his new web cam and puts stuff on his head: "Help us, Obi Wan [Kenobi]. You're our only hope."

* Shakesville asks "What the Frak is Going On?" and points us to this video catching us up on the last three seasons of BSG within a few hilarious minutes:

He's ready to pack it in when a phone with a cord rings.

* Wil Wheaton shows us a would-be Saul Bass remix of the opening credits from Star Wars:

Staring Alec Guiness

* xkcd, as usual, brings it home:
Ultimate Game
For a special geek bonus, take a look at xkcd's recently upgraded ball pit.

Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 10:28 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Bitch is the New Lieberman

From The Swamp:

In a Cabinet-style setting, surrounded by retired military leaders, Sen. Hillary Clinton said the public should ask whether Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama has met the criteria needed to become the nation’s commander in chief.

“I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.

“I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said.
Apparently, the Democrats who truly want to change the American mindset on how best to achieve greater national security are not Hillary or her supporters. I, for one, do want to change this mindset (given that it SUCKS and all) and would rather not see Mr. "Bomb Iran" held up as a national security genius. Especially by another Democrat. Thanks, Hillary, for using the rightwingest frame of all. You win the Lieberman award for the month. Now, hand over your Superdelegate status and go help McCain bomb the US into voting for him. Please.

PS The B-word in this post comes from Tina Fey's skit about Hillary, in which she declared that "bitch is the new black". In this case the insulting word here is "Lieberman"--not bitch.

Nothing New byslag at 6:06 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Horror Shows

Apparently, Samantha Power, one of Obama's foreign policy advisors, called Hillary a "monster" to a UK reporter. Of course, this comment was presumably intended to be "off the record", but sometimes it's hard to tell. The debate at Talking Points Memo has gone from whether or not this statement might actually be good for Obama to wondering what kind of monster Hillary might be (should she be one). Personally, I'm going with zombie.

The reason I say zombie is that I think Hillary is mindlessly following traditional campaign strategies that I don't find inspiring. And I get the sense that she doesn't really find them inspiring either. In fact, it seems that Hillary is most inspiring when she isn't being a "politician" but instead is being a wonk. In her most animated state, she can be smart and articulate, but she doesn't use those qualities to her advantage in a way that feels self-motivated. A Hillary speech can periodically sound like one long, low mumbly groan. It's as if she's being lead by her campaign people rather than leading her campaign. In my mind, that's very zombie-like. Plus, all the major news outlets say that she eats people's brains.

As for Obama, at the risk of sounding racially tone-deaf (somehow), I'm going to have to go with poltergeist. He can inhabit a space but still have an ephemeral quality. People are either frightened or possessed or just intrigued by him, but no matter what, they definitely know he's there. Whether he's a good poltergeist or not can sometimes be in question, and you may wonder if you should exorcise him or rather help him fulfill whatever mission he needs to fulfill to be sated.

That said, these questions may not be the ones we, as Democrats, should be asking at this moment in time. I mean, this is an election year, and we are trying to take back the WH and all. So, the real question should be, "What kind of monster is McCain?". For that, I'm going with mummy (for obvious reasons).

In other words: Democratic candidates--Stop hurting each other and go slay McCain before he wakes up.

Nothing New byslag at 7:29 PM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Where's WaPo?


After McCain's meeting at RNC headquarters, the traveling press rushed back onto the bus to find a boxed lunch and no staff. So with no direction, the press waited at the bus assuming McCain was still inside meeting with RNC staff.

An hour and a half later, press secretary Brooke Buchanan called wondering where the press bus was. The campaign staff had traveled back to the airport without telling the press. At that point, McCain was more than half an hour late for a 6 pm fundraiser in Florida. [emphasis mine]

My initial response to this story: hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

My second response to this story: Where have I seen something like this before?

Answer: The Staff Infection episode of Arrested Development. In that episode, all the Bluth Company employees mindlessly board a bus (labeled "Church of the Good Shepherd") that turned out to be headed for the Catalina ferry rather than their company lunch spot. In the episode, Michael Bluth calls the employees "sheep", and after they get to Catalina Island--still lost and confused--they end up following an actual sheep around until a rancher gives them a ride back to the ferry in his livestock trailer. Video here.

In other words: baaaaaaaaaaaah.

Nothing New byslag at 10:57 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

More Endorsements for McCain to Denounce and Reject

First, it was John Hagee. Then, it was Hillary Clinton. Now, it's George W Bush. What does Tim Russert have to say about this latest endorsement for John McCain?

Russert: Senator McCain--Today, the headline in the AP: "McCain Wins Bush's White House Embrace." Do you accept the support of President George W Bush?

McCain: I'm very honored and humbled.

Russert: Do you reject his support?

McCain: I just told you. I am eager for his endorsement.

Russert: You recently touted the idea of bombing Iran and the need for spending 100 years in Iraq. You do realize that George W Bush started the war in Iraq, don't you?

McCain: Tim- I'm--

Russert: And the war in Iraq has cost trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and is the reason that Iran has achieved a new position of power in the Middle East...

McCain: Tim, have you ever heard that Beach Boys' song--

Russert: George W Bush, the person who told the world that America was on a "Crusade". George W Bush, the man whose foreign policy strategy is summed up by the words "bring 'em on"; the man who, in December 2001, said he was going to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive" and has only succeeded in getting him worldwide publicity for the last 6 years; the man responsible for torturing prisoners of the Iraq war...

McCain: Look, we've known from day one that this war was going to be hard--

Russert: Excuse me, Senator, but in 2002, you said, "We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies." That doesn't sound like you knew it was going to be hard.

In fact, in January of 2003, you said, "But the point is that, one, we will win this conflict. We will win it easily."

McCain: Listen, my friend. I have been a critic of the war's prosecution since it began.

Russert: But you just said that you were "honored" to accept the endorsement of George W Bush, the Commander-in-Chief who is responsible for the war's prosecution.

McCain: Yes. And you saw on TV that he stood on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner that said "Mission Accomplished". Don't you believe your president when he says that "major combat operations are over"? And now, we have a surge...

Russert: Indeed. The latest "surge" in Iraq that I'm aware of actually came from Turkey. I know, Senator, you're a big fan of the Iraq war and of war, in general.

Let me ask one final question, if I may. I can't help but wonder how you can align yourself with a man whose primary campaign against you in 2000 suggested the following: you went crazy in Vietnam, you had a "black baby", you are a "coward" and a "traitor", you--

McCain: Tim, let me just interject some straight talk here. I clearly have no shame.

Russert: Well, sir. I admire your utter shamelessness and know that America will be a stronger, safer country with you as President.

McCain: Thank you, Tim.
Alright, Tim Russert didn't really ask all these questions. He just skipped to the end there and called it good. Love is in the air, people! And we thought February was the month for hearts and teddy bears.

Nothing New byslag at 3:08 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Enemy Within

Hillary Clinton: I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.
This latest stream of bile coming from the Hillary camp has essentially put me in the nose-holding category should I be forced to choose between her and McCain in the general. Not a place I expected to see myself when the primary season began. But despite Ohio and Texas (and Rhode Island), the delegate math indicates that this unhappy scenario won't come to pass. And karmic justice will be served when we find that, in the end, it was Hillary who eventually destroyed Hillary.

The Imposter: I'm Captain Kirk! I'mmmmm Captain Kiiiirk!!!

Nothing New byslag at 11:03 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Memory Hole: Winners and Losers

Bottle of Blog has a new post up about "winning" the Iraq War:

Whether we can "win" or not, whether the "surge" is "working" or not, what will happen if we "lose"--these are all imbecilic questions.

They always have been.

The only important question, the only important consideration since this fiasco started five years ago has always been: what can we "win"?

Which reminded me of this piece from Juan Cole, titled The Iraq war is over, and the winner is...Iran, from way back in 2005:

The Iranians hold a powerful hand in the Iraqi poker game. They have geopolitical advantages, are flush with petroleum profits because of the high price of oil, and have much to offer their new Shiite Iraqi partners. Their long alliance with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani gives them Kurdish support as well. Bush's invasion removed the most powerful and dangerous regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein, from power. In its aftermath, the religious Shiites came to power at the ballot box in Iraq, bestowing on Tehran firm allies in Baghdad for the first time since the 1950s. And in a historic irony, Iran's most dangerous enemy of all, the United States, invaded Iran's neighbor with an eye to eventually toppling the Tehran regime -- but succeeded only in defeating itself.

The ongoing chaos in Iraq has made it impossible for Bush administration hawks to carry out their long-held dream of overthrowing the Iranian regime, or even of forcing it to end its nuclear ambitions. (The Iranian nuclear research program will almost certainly continue, since the Iranians are bright enough to see what happened to the one member of the "axis of evil" that did not have an active nuclear weapons program.) The United States lacks the troops, but perhaps even more critically, it is now dependent on Iran to help it deal with a vicious guerrilla war that it cannot win. In the Middle East, the twists and turns of history tend to make strange bedfellows -- something the neocons, whose breathtaking ignorance of the region helped bring us to this place, are now learning to their dismay.

More than two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, it is difficult to see what real benefits have accrued to the United States from the Iraq war, though a handful of corporations have benefited marginally. In contrast, Iran is the big winner. The Shiites of Iraq increasingly realize they need Iranian backing to defeat the Sunni guerrillas and put the Iraqi economy right, a task the Americans have proved unable to accomplish. And Iran will still be Iraq's neighbor long after the fickle American political class has switched its focus to some other global hot spot.

Which, of course, highlights the absurdity of John McCain's foreign policy mindset (who must we bomb after Iran?) and the irony of voters thinking he'd be better at it than any of the cast members from Lost, let alone Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Nothing New byslag at 9:30 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Upside

For me science fiction is a way of thinking, a way of logic that bypasses a lot of nonsense. It allows people to look directly at important subjects.
- Gene Roddenberry

I *heart* primary season! No, seriously, I do. I know that it is de rigeur right now to say you're sick of primary season, or this primary season has ended up in the mud, or it's time to move to Canada, and I totally get that. There are many aspects of all the campaigns that I am currently finding repugnant. That said, this primary season is presenting a series of firsts for this nation. And having new faces in the presidential candidate crowd--faces that actually look and sound different from all of the previous faces--is giving us a new way of thinking that, if we do it right, can indeed help bypass a lot of nonsense.

One issue with the potential for helping us clean out the nonsense has been the controversy over Tim Russert's questioning whether or not Obama would denounce/reject/deject/renounce the praise, which he never sought but received anyway, from Louis Farrakhan. For those few of you who are actually still paying attention to GW Bush and consequently have been hiding in your bomb shelters for the last couple of weeks (or for those who actually have a life), here is a clip of what Josh Marshall called "Russert's Lowest Moment (and that's saying a lot)" during the final democratic debate:

Clearly, as this clip illustrates, Russert's concern here has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that both Farrakhan and Obama happen to have similar skin pigmentation. No, as Russert makes plain by bringing up the most egregiously disparaging statements made by Farrakhan and his allies and laying those statements at Obama's feet, this question is all about whether or not President Obama will actively persecute a fellow minority group. Or is it?

As Glenn Greenwald points out, an equally bigoted endorsement came out this week from a different pastor. However, this endorsement came from a white evangelical pastor, named John Hagee, to a white presidential candidate, named John McCain. And for anyone who dares question Hagee's ignorant bastard bonafides, Greenwald digs up a few of choice statements of his own:
All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came...
Not content with just hating teh gays, Hagee also hates teh Catholics and is none too fond of teh Jews, apparently. So, what makes Hagee's endorsement of McCain different from Farrakhan's praise of Obama? Well, first, instead of denounce/ the endorsement, McCain sought and welcomed it. That, and Tim Russert hasn't really seemed to mind all that much.

So, what is there to like about primary season when it so glaringly illustrates the fact that hateful small-mindedness doesn't seem to pose any serious limitation on the amount of power someone has in our political system (unless that someone is the wrong someone, of course)? Well, I like the fact that this primary season so glaringly illustrates the fact that hateful small-mindedness doesn't seem to pose any serious limitation on the amount of power... But I repeat myself. The fact is that, for the last seven years, our nation been cowed by these overblown power-wielding bigots whose view of the moral high ground is only attained by standing on the backs of the disenfranchised. And now, thanks to Tim Russert for showing the nation that the bigotry of powerful members of the black community should, indeed, be shunned, we have the rare opportunity to more objectively examine the hate that's been allowed to flourish in the world of the white male politician as well. Or, as Tami says:
Can you imagine the fall out if Obama becomes president and begins hiring hundreds of staffers from the Louis Farrakhan School of Public Policy? (I know there is no such thing. I'm just sayin'.)

Louis Farrakhan. Hateful bigot. John Hagee. Hateful bigot. Pat Robertson. Hateful bigot.

So, why is Farrakhan seen by the media and mainstream as the devil incarnate while Hagee and Robertson are viewed more like batty uncles who say crazy things sometimes? And on the flip side, why do many black Americans embrace Farrakhan while denouncing Robertson (Hagee is likely not on the radar.)?

While it's true that these questions have been asked by inquiring minds throughout history, I love the fact that national events such as elections have the power to bring more voices and ears to the conversation. And having ethnic and gender diversity in the ranks of our presidential candidates is enabling us to shine the light on some of the more truly menacing shadows of our past and present. So, in the process of whining about the national displays of misogyny and racism we've seen this year, maybe we can move beyond the thoughts and feelings evoked by these repulsive displays in order to look more analytically at the important subject of bigotry, itself?

It has become clear that we, as a nation, need to keep reminding ourselves that powerful people aren't necessarily smarter, more rational, or more enlightened than anyone else. Flaws are flaws and shouldn't be excused or overlooked because of skin color, economic status, or religion. And when we find ourselves being guided by personal feelings about our own social status (or lack thereof), we need to step back and examine those feelings. We need to try to see them for what they are--potential points of weakness that are easily manipulated by bigots and hatemongers for their own personal gain. It only takes someone smarter than Rush Limbaugh to realize that the social world has a massive impact on who we, as individuals, are and that humans can't just flip a switch to make ourselves better today than we were yesterday. What we need is a variety of perspectives and analytical viewpoints that we, as individuals, can understand and incorporate into our own understanding of the world. And some of that variety is right in front of us this primary season.

Nothing New byslag at 10:26 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

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