nothing he was ever associated with ever worked

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Yes the movie Goodbye, Columbus (1969) is based on a story written by a Jewish writer. And yes Neil Klugman (played by Richard Benjamin) though exceedingly smart and well educated works at a low paying job in a public library and is struggling with where he fits in as an intellectual, but working class Jew, though alternates back and forth between insecurity and arrogance. Others have covered this aspect of GC very well. Let’s look at one scene that may appear to be a kind of narrative orphan where Brenda Patimkin(Ali MacGraw) runs nude across the country club lawn to the swimming pool. In a movie filled with inner angst this moment stands out, not in a prurient way, but as a moment when a human being relishes a moment of pure joy. In the movie as in life it passes in a flash. We almost question if it ever happened at all. If it did why didn’t that moment last longer, why was it so fleeting. To know that moments like that exists is a kind of torture because we know that they cannot last, there are so few and they’re spontaneous; planning for them would just make them artificial fantasies. In the movie when Neil observes Brenda’s run to the pool, Neil is us. The episode makes him a little nervous because of social convention and at the same time leaves him awe struck. He would like Brenda’s little midnight romp to somehow be captured, but it is a kind of existential torture reminding him and the viewer of how impermanent things are.

Before we move on a sad farewell to one of the greats, Glenn Ford, Leading Man, Is Dead at 90

Video and transcript from Crooks and Liars, Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet. Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday demand the deep analysis – and the sober contemplation – of every American. For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence – indeed, the loyalty — of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants – our employees — with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

We all know by now that the Right wants to be taken seriously and if we judge the depth of seriousness by body counts and the desire to exacerbate the number of bodies one could say that they’re serious or among the walking insane. They’re not insane in the conventional sense that involves much foaming or bouncing off the walls. They seem capable of tying their shoes and stopping at road crossings. Or maybe their insanity has just manifested itself in other ways like perpetual wars where a relatively small number of blood thirsty fanatics is lumped and melded into everyone that occupies a few square feet of space in the middle-east, all of whom have by the Right’s world view morphed into Stalin or Hitler, just as the Right morphed 9-11 and Saddam into Bin Laden. If you hear the sound of one hand clapping, well thats us Orwell fans who feel obligated to give these conservative Potemkins their due. To lie incessantly about everything under the sun must be very draining even for a group of people that might be borderline sociopaths. Lets say that we all take a deep dip into the kool-aid and believe that ill defined wars wars without end are somehow good for America and western civilization, where would that get us.The Crock of Appeasement

The rightwing use of the term appeasement, however, turns it on its head. Taken seriously, the doctrine of “no appeasement” on the right would mean we are stuck in perpetual war, always doomed to be on the offensive, always dedicated to gobbling up more of other people’s territory and wealth even at the expense of living in constant dread of being blown up and being forced to give up the civil liberties which had made American civilization great.

It would never be possible to negotiate a truce with any enemy. That would be appeasement. It would never be possible to compromise. That would be appeasement. It would never be prudent to withdraw troops from a failed war. That would be appeasement. In other words, the rightwing doctrine of “no appeasement, ever” actually turns you into Hitler rather than into Churchill.

Republican Report Hypes Iran Threat

Washington – In what some critics describe as a replay of the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives has released a report suggesting Iran may acquire nuclear weapons much more quickly than U.S. intelligence agencies believe. The 29-page report, authored by a former henchman of Washington’s hard-line ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, charged that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other agencies lack “the ability to acquire essential information necessary to make judgments” about Tehran’s nuclear programme.

In addition, the report, “Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat”, warned that the intelligence community remains woefully ignorant about alleged ties between Tehran and al Qaeda or even its role, if any, in the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah.

The report was released in the wake of Tuesday’s reply by Iran to the U.N. Security Council’s demand that it immediately cease its enrichment of uranium as a first step toward resuming negotiations with the EU-3 – Germany, Britain and France – over the future of its nuclear programme.

The timing appeared designed to take maximum advantage of the media attention generated by Iran’s response, which rejected the demand for immediate suspension but called for additional negotiations. Normally, a report of this kind is reviewed by the entire Intelligence Committee before it is published.

Critics charged that the new report, which was carried out under the auspices of the Committee chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, appeared designed mainly to cast doubt on estimates by the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community that Iran was unlikely to develop a nuclear weapon until at least 2010.

Conservative neocons think war is a catchy toon which they just keep whistling to themselves over and over again and cannot understand why everyone else keeps looking at them like they’re loony.

The thought of spending a long evening alone in the room seemed intolerable to me. I lit the lamp and glanced around angrily. A fine hole! The two beds took up nearly all the space but Jimmy had managed to cram in, in front of the window, a small table on which stood his dilapidated typewriter. The typewriter, of course, was broken and wouldn’t work. Jimmy was always going to have it fixed—tomorrow. But then Jimmy lived in a dream of tomorrows; and nothing he was ever associated with ever worked.

from Tomorrow by Eugene O’Neill

Bush Appointee Kenneth Tomlinson, Taxpayer Monies, Horse Racing Operations and Betrayal of the Public Trust

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Probe cites broadcasting official

The chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors misused government money on several occasions, overbilling for his time and funneling unauthorized contracts to a friend, State Department investigators concluded.

According to a summary of a report by the State Department’s inspector general released Tuesday, Kenneth Tomlinson misused government funds for two years as chairman of the organization, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other U.S. government broadcasting abroad.

Tomlinson stepped down last fall as a board member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public television, amid allegations of promoting conservative programming.

The State Department investigation found that Tomlinson, as a political appointee to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, signed invoices worth about $245,000 for a friend without the knowledge of other board members or staff.

Tomlinson also used the board’s resources to support his private horse racing operation and overbilled the organization for his time, in some instances billing both the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the same time worked.

State investigators note in the summary of the report that the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington had decided a criminal investigation was not warranted. A civil investigation, however, on charges stemming from hiring his friend as a contractor was still pending, the summary noted.

Three Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Chris Dodd and Reps. Howard Berman and Tom Lantos, requested the inquiry last year. In a statement, Dodd called the findings “extremely disturbing.”

“Even more disturbing is that the president has yet to demand Mr. Tomlinson’s resignation, and the Justice Department has apparently declined to pursue a criminal investigation of Mr. Tomlinson’s actions,” said Dodd, D-Conn., in a statement.

Dodd, Lantos, D-Calif., and Berman, D-Calif., sent Bush a letter Tuesday urging him to remove Tomlinson from his position.

Bill Moyer had a particular run in with Tomlinson when he ended a PBS Now segment Bill Moyers’ speech to the National Conference for Media Reform

Strange things began to happen. Friends in Washington called to say that they had heard of muttered threats that the PBS reauthorization would be held off “unless Moyers is dealt with.”

“I wore my flag tonight. First time. Until now I haven’t thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans.

“Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart’s affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother’s picture on my lapel to prove her son’s love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.

“So what’s this doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. The flag’s been hijacked and turned into a logo — the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the good housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration’s patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao’s little red book on every official’s desk, omnipresent and unread.

What was Tomlinson about, he was the poorly disguised Trojan Horse sent behind the lines to make PBS less fair and less balanced. Careful analysis of the issues was ushered out and far right opinion was put in, PBS Scrutiny Raises Political Antennas

Late last week, CPB’s board declined to renew the contract of its chief executive, Kathleen Cox, a veteran administrator at the agency. She was replaced by Ken Ferree, a Republican who had been a top adviser to Michael Powell, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. The Ferree appointment followed the dismissals or departures in recent months of at least three other senior CPB officials, all of whom had Democratic affiliations.

“We don’t want to be alarmist, but I would be less than honest if I said there wasn’t concern here,” said one senior executive at PBS, who insisted on anonymity because CPB provides about 10 percent of its annual budget. “When you put it all together, a pattern starts to emerge.”

A “pattern starts to emerge”, purges of those that don’t bend to the ideological will of a sudden influx of new and staunchly far right management could be modestly described as a pattern. On hearing back concerns about the white collar Stalin-lite cleansing of anyone not willing to get with the program that sterling pillar of integrity and horse farming Mr. Tomlinson had this to say,

In an interview yesterday, CPB board chairman Ken Tomlinson called such comments “paranoia,” and said critics of CPB’s initiatives should “grow up.”

“We’re only seeking balance,” said Tomlinson. “I am concerned about perceptions that not all parts of the political spectrum are reflected on public broadcasting. [But] there are no hidden agendas.”

Facing the jury of public opinion can one really argue that a man who was appointed for his loyalty to party rather then experience in broadcasting and later funnled taxpayer monies into his own pocket in the brazen way that Tomlinson has, be trusted with issues of integrity such as what constitutes balanced programming. Would the jury take investment advice from the Ken Lay of news managers. It has been the conventional whining by the far right for years that PBS’s programing was decidedly liberal, most people didn’t think so,

A series of focus group sessions and two national surveys conducted by two polling firms — the Tarrance Group and Lake Snell Perry & Associates — found few perceptions of bias in PBS’s or NPR’s reporting in 2002 and 2003. For example, among people who identified themselves as “news and information consumers,” 36 percent said PBS’s coverage of the Bush administration in 2003 was “fair and balanced,” and 46 percent offered no opinion.

In the mind of the modern conservative where there is doubt of bias or absence of proof of bias that is a vacuum and that vacuum shall be filled with anti-american right-wing ideology. There is an odd ending quote from Tomlinson in the WaPo piece,

If we don’t have true excellence, we won’t be able to gain the support we need. We have to make sure that these [programming] concerns don’t prevent us from gaining the national consensus we need.”

Yes Tomlinson was eventually booted out of the CPB, but that didn’t stop the Bush administarion from placing him on the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Facts being terrible things and all, they rarely have, need, or should serve a consensus. I’m human I would love for the facts to always fall to my point of view, but being an adult citizen means accepting that they don’t. That is why no matter how much the media bends to the right it will never be enough. The right is not composed of grown-ups, its composed of rabid partisans that are never happy unless the news presents them with a regurgitation of their preconceptions about the world. Anything that jars the Right’s mental constructions must be purged. Whatever this approach to fairness is, it is not American. It is mean and nationalistic.That so-called bastion of liberalism, the institution that Ann Coulter would most like to see bombed, the NYT was as part of its duties as public watchdogs of democracy was supposed to take an unglaring look at Kenneth Y. Tomlinson’s activities at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). What did they find in this thoughtful analysis,

New York Times reporters Stephen Labaton, Lorne Manley, and Elizabeth Jensen noted that CPB recently appointed two ombudsmen “to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts.” But the article failed to note that one of the ombudsmen, William Schulz, is an avowed conservative with close ties to Tomlinson, while the other, Ken Bode, is a former journalist and a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute who last year endorsed Indiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels. In addition, the Times story made no mention that CPB’s new chief operating officer and acting president is a former Bush administration official.

Tomlinson was editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest before resigning to work on Republican Steve Forbes’ 1996 presidential campaign, according to a February 13, 1996, article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Schulz and Tomlinson worked together at Reader’s Digest, where Schulz was the Washington editor and an editor-at-large.

I think that’s called political incest. So in order to make sure that PBS is cleansed of all traces of liberalism perceived or real we have the Three Stooges of conservatism – Tomlinson, William Schulz, and Ken Bode. New ombud office met with smiles and suspicion

An April 28 [2005] NPR report stated that this was the case, reporting that CPB Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson said he hired two ombudsmen because “he wants a diversity of views along the ideological spectrum.”

A diversity of opinion? Tomlinson hires Elmer Fudd and Elmore Fudd Two and thought that was a diversity of opinion.

The whole question of what an ombudsmen is was run over like a blind deer by a Mac truck,

NPR’s Dvorkin, president of the international Organization of News Ombudsmen, says the “question of accountability” is one of the reasons his group isn’t sure if CPB’s ombudsmen qualify for membership.

Such monitors are traditionally

So Tomlinson, who never should have been appointed in place of Kathleen Cox gets into office and brings along some wiseguys and proceeds to use the CPB like the backroom of an organized crime betting parlour, thus Bush rewards him with Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Don Vito to Tomlinson’s Sonny. Just another day in Conservative America.

If you see anything to be merry over in this flea-bitten cluster of shanties, you got something on me

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James Taranto writing in an post over at the Wall Street Journal, like much of right-wing punditry reminds me of a mindless cheese mold. Neither original nor capable of having a conscious (Monday, August 28, 2006 2:56 p.m. EDT),

Go to the link above to see our latest WSJ.com video, in which we discuss that frivolous antiwiretapping decision, the Democrats’ war on Wal-Mart, and Hezbollah’s counterfeiting.

James writes,

The man who “leaked” Plame’s identity and her involvement in her husband’s Niger junket to columnist Bob Novak and other reporters was not Karl Rove, Scooter Libby or anyone else in the White House. It was Richard Armitage, then deputy secretary of state.

then links to David Corn and even posts the part of the facts, yet with the salt shaker at his elbow he still asks where the salt is? Corn sets the record straight and JT refuses to let it sink in, Bush-backers, Armitage and HUBRIS

I have noted from the first that the leak might be evidence of a White House crime. It turns out that Armitage leaked first. But the public record is clear: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby leaked the same classified information prior to the appearance of the Bob Novak column that contained the Armitage leak. And all of these leakers were investigated vigorously by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who also wondered whether a crime might have been committed. (His inquiry followed a CIA request for a criminal investigation.)

Taranto should change his name to Sgt. Schultz , he sees nothing and knows nothing, and in this case, based on what he refuses to see or know he has an opinion and the WSJ is happy tp print it. For one Libby was not charged with revealing Plame’s identity, he was charged with lying about the revelation, which would, to a normal person indicate concealing some nefarious activity or else why lie. JT adds,

To say the least! As we observed on PBS 10 months ago, this was a “Seinfeld” scandal–an investigation about nothing.

Damn that was a great trick JT, three grand juries were fooled into thinking that revealing a CIA agent’s identity was about something, James gets a kerplunk rather then a kerwaffle or whatever. From the Libby indictment,

d. The responsibilities of certain CIA employees required that their association with the CIA be kept secret; as a result, the fact that these individuals were employed bythe CIA was classified. Disclosure of the fact that such individuals were employed by the CIA had the potential to damage the national security in ways that ranged from preventing the future use of those individuals in a covert capacity,to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, and endangering the safety of CIA employees and those who dealt with them. (Page 2)

f. Joseph Wilson was married to Valerie Plame Wilson (“Valerie Wilson”). At all relevant times from January 1, 2002 through July 2003, Valerie Wilson was employed by the CIA, and her employment status was classified. Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community. (her status was “classified”. People, like her neighbors knew her name, they did not know of her employment with the CIA or her status there.)

So Mr. T has in very strong terms told a very obvious lie. He has done so in two media outlets, PBS and the WSJ. He has chosen to navigate his way through life without honor or integrity and seems pretty arrogant about his right to do so.

I don’t know why James Cheese Mold Taranto asks Did Hezbollah Win?–III, he’s already made up his mind that we live in a clearly defined black and white world where there is only one truth, his. The problem with that as already demonstrated is that JT is capable of lying without regard to the consequences. Party loyalty first, damn the facts right-winger in full speed bend and twist reality mode. What does the reality based community have to say, Matthew Yglesias writes

Folks would do well to consider the applicability of this observation to the international realm as well. Lee Smith, for example, takes Hassan Nasrallah’s statement of regret that the recent Israel-Lebanon war as evidence that the CW is wrong and Israel did just fine. Noam Scheiber leans a bit in the direction of embracing that interpretation as well. I suspect the truth is more depressing. War is typically a negative sum endeavor that leaves both sides worse off than they would have been had the war not begun. Think of Iraq — the US seriously damaged our interests by invading, but Saddam Hussein didn’t benefit at all from the war.

It sounds sufficiently dippy that I hesitate to express the view, but the simple fact of the matter is that going to war is rarely a good idea. The benefits of international cooperation — or simple lack of active conflict — are sufficiently large that there are almost always alternatives that would have been more conducive to both sides’ interests.

That probably sums it up pretty well. If JT, desperate to grasp for straws to declare some proxy victory for right-wingers everywhere by way of Israel then as they seem to have all the media outlets at their beck and call JT should, for the sake of the Warp Reality Wars go right ahead and create his own little reality inside that little bubble. Still at the end of the day Israel is not any further along then it was, there are lots innocent dead people in Lebanon and Israel, and Hezbollah gets to play sugar daddy with those that survived. Maybe this is what passes for victory in neocon world.

Why is Taranto here? In the USA I mean. Or for that matter why are so many conservatives sitting behind maghony desks firing blanks? Shouldn’t they be taking action, instead of being reactionaries and liars. Those who serve, those who talk shit

The wars in the Middle East grind on. The situation looks grimmer than ever. The United States and Iran appear perilously close to war.

In spite of all this death and destruction, not everyone is unhappy. One young former Humboldt County resident named Anthony Mantova is about to get the war he has publicly wished for, even if he does not intend to personally participate.
………………………

Since he is such a fan of aggressive military solutions to solve the world’s problems, he should be eager to enlist. Mantova flatly refused to concede to serving the United States in the military.

The money quote from these conversations came when Mantova berated me for what he said was my “hillbilly, intellectually vacant and morally repugnant belief that ‘those who call for war must serve.’”

A 24-year-old, healthy man, Mantova — hypothetically at least — believes in “personal responsibility” and strongly defending America. He’s an outstanding candidate for military service. He simply lacks the heart to sign up.

These days, Anthony Mantova is a young fellow on the rise in GOP politics. He is the national field director for an organization called The Leadership Institute.

Based in Arlington, Va., The Leadership Institute is a 501c3 advocacy foundation. Created by longtime GOP operative Morton Blackwell, “The Leadership Institutes mission is to identify, recruit, train and place conservatives in politics, government and the media.”

Why bash celebrities. One reason is that simply because they are celebrities. They’re easy public targets. There is something odd in watching someone show up in hundred dollar jeans to help save orphans or stray dogs. What we don’t see, unless one follows the society pages of the larger Texas newspapers is the oil rich millionaires showing up draped in diamonds to raise money for the homeless. Since we’ll probably never get to that place as a society where we are a little bit more honest about what we see in the mirror the odd juxtaposition of very well off helping those that are less so is likely to continue to the delight of comics and AM shock jocks everywhere. But drat it seems that some people just know how to do things right and they happen to be on the left of the dial, The Many Faces of Celebrity Philanthropy

The best model of celebrity philanthropy is perhaps that practiced by Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward. Newman is said to devote half his time to his food company, Newman’s Own, Inc., and charitable giving. Newman and Woodward established the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camp for terminally ill children, and the anti-drug Scott Newman Foundation, named in memory of Newman’s only son, who died of an accidental drug overdose in 1978. Through his, Newman’s own line of food products, he has donated more than $100 million to countless charities. What’s more, the food products are good: I speak as a regular purchaser of Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Paul Newman’s politics, insofar as he has revealed them over the years, are standard liberal, maybe even a bit to the left of that: he has let his name be associated with the Nation magazine, he and his wife are often signatories on petitions for the usual left-wing causes. Some of Newman’s charitable giving may well be politically motivated, but that seems to me his business.

Although he may have done so, I have never seen Newman go on television to tell you how much good he has done through his charitable work.

ROGERS—(mopping the perspiration from his forehead with a bandana handkerchief) Have a heart, Al, have a heart, and kill the canary-bird stuff. If you see anything to be merry over in this flea-bitten cluster of shanties, you got something on me.

from The Movie Man by Eugene O’ Neil

I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do.

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Troop recall folly

FACED with continuing shortages of U.S. military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, President Bush has now given open-ended authorization for involuntary recall of Marine Corps reservists, starting with an initial group of 2,500.

These are people who thought they had completed their duties to the nation as soldiers. Many had launched new, more stable lives in the civilian economy, taking on jobs, relationships, and other commitments appropriate to a nonmilitary life. Now they will be required to return to active duty, including combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, for indefinite periods.

The involuntary recall is a result of Mr. Bush’s approach to the Iraq War: that the United States will continue to pursue what is a failed effort, no matter what.

The evidence is clear to everyone except, possibly, Mr. Bush and the engineers of the Republican Party’s fall campaign, that, apart from the overthrow of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the other stated U.S. objectives of the Iraq war have not been achieved and the situation is deteriorating sharply.

Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction for the United States to eliminate. It had no previous relationship with al-Qaeda, but the occupation insurgency has now provided a rich recruitment and training ground for future terrorism.

Iraq’s ineffectual government, unable to rule amid the general chaos, is no advertisement for democracy in the Middle East, or anywhere else. The country marches deeper into civil war between the Sunni and the Shiites and the creation of a separate Kurdistan

According to President Bush and conservative “thinkers” we’re in Iraq to bring them democracy, if that is the case either Iraqis don’t believe them or or are not interested in at least western style democracy. Given a genuinely free choice Iraqis would have an authoritarian style democracy where they haggle over whether burkas should cover everything or let the face show. This is what the called up marines will be risking their lives for. Why would you or I think such realistic thoughts, because the Iraqis themselves think the same thing, “what the Iraqi people want”

The growing sense of insecurity affected all three of Iraq’s major ethnic and religious groups. The number of Iraqis who “strongly agreed” that life is “unpredictable and dangerous” jumped from 41% to 48% of Shiites, from 67% to 79% of Sunnis, and from 16% to 50% of Kurds. The most recent survey, done in April this year, also asked for “the three main reasons for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.” Less than 2% chose “to bring democracy to Iraq” as their first choice. The list was topped by “to control Iraqi oil” (76%), followed by “to build military bases” (41%) and “to help Israel” (32%).

[ ]…The bottom line: 91.7% of Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition troops in the country, up from 74.4% in 2004. 84.5% are “strongly opposed”.

Getting back to the utterly delusional rantings of neocon apologists Victor David Hanson in his National Review article Mr. Bush’s Communication Problem

In other words, we trusted that the Taliban and Saddam Hussein explained the recent savagery of the Afghans and Iraqis, rather than the innate savagery of the Afghans and Iraqis themselves explaining the creation of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. The result of this confidence, despite the carnage of war, was that democracy was ushered in, the rogues were to be kept out, and peace was supposed to follow from a grateful, liberated people.

But why should it, when the hard hand of American war was not first completely felt — nor the jihadists utterly vanquished and discredited and any who supported them? Unless there is some element of fear, or at least the suggestion of consequences to come for recalcitrance, why should an Iraqi cease his easy support of Hezbollah, his anti-Semitism, or his cheap support for Islamist terrorists around the block?

Victor thinks that all Iraqis are savages thus that puts yet another lid on the we went to Iraq to save the Iraqi people rationale, unless Vic and the neocons think that savages are worth dying for “jihadists utterly vanquished”? Hanson doesn’t even know who we’re fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, in Iraq we’re fighting the insurgency and in Afghanistan we’re fighting the same tribal war lords that fought the Soviets. Al Queda would love for us to stay bogged down in Iraq, they don’t want us to leave so whether it is Hanson or Bush’s intention they are siding with terrorists; the longer we stay the more lives and treasure we lose which is exactly what AlQueda wants. Conservatives are supposed to be the Grand Pooh Bahs of national security yet don’t know who to fight or how, then turn around and point fingers at their detractors saying that we don’t have a plan. An ironic accusation from a political movement that doesn’t seem to have a clue and is separating civilians from their families and work for a mission they can’t define.

Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity

That situation is adding to fears among Republicans that the economy will hurt vulnerable incumbents in this year’s midterm elections even though overall growth has been healthy for much of the last five years.

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

Work harder, work smarter, get less. The perfect Republican prescirption for a wizbang economy, but only if you’re already at the top of the ladder.

Decidedly not safe for work, JAMES JOYCE’ DIRTY LETTERS

1909. James Joyce lives in Trieste (Italy) with his family. End of October, he leaves alone for Dublin on a business trip, and stays there until the end of December. He makes a pact with his wife to write to each other erotic letters. The letters of his wife disappeared, but the ones he wrote were published in 1975, the “dirty” letters of Joyce to her wife.

Just another warning, they are as graphic as any modern writing and may be jarring to even the most sophisticated reader. As a Joyce fan I think they provide some of the most intimate insights one is likely to find into the inner Joyce.

I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use— silence, exile and cunning.

James Joyce (1882–1941) Stephen Dedalus, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ch. 5.

Victor David Hanson has a neocon meltdown

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Victor Davis Hanson can’t seem get up to speed on the middle-east, Muslims, Iraq, terrorism, WWII, or political science. All understandable in the Victor down the street, but VDH is supposed to be something of a heavy weight among the neocon thinkers (I know that’s an oxymoron, but that is what his fans consider him).
In Mr. Bush’s Communication Problem

This unbalance in the media reflects — or has helped cause — a public unhappiness over Iraq that has brought the president’s poll ratings to less than 40-percent approval. Yet again, for all the efforts of the Left to demonize Mr. Bush as either incompetent or diabolical — or both — the American people hardly think we have lost — or won — the war, much less that the threat posed by Iraq, or the necessity of fighting Islamists abroad, was trumped up in Crawford, Texas.

Did Victor manage to watch the news conference where his president did say,

“Yeah, I’m not going to fall into the trap. I’ll give you my grade. On my grade, I could have — we — the federal government, and I’m responsible for the federal government, could have done better in coordinating with the state and local government in its response.

He is the federal government, he has been the government for six years and Victor thinks his message isn’t getting out because of the media. Vic has closed his eyes and clicked his heels, its not the plan its the failure to communicate. Bush’s problem is that the media points a camera and microphone at him and the public has watched. Finally it is sinking in, sans pundits and talking heads lets give the public credit for seeing and listening to the man himself and figuring out that something isn’t quite right. If Victor thinks the failure is not of substance, but of style that’s Bush’s fault through and through. Diabolical? Depends on how you define diabolical, if the president and his minions deceive, lie, and turn bungling into an art, the consequences of which land us in a quagmire in Iraq and get 2500 Americans and 60,000 Iraqis killed then yes he is diabolical and those that don’t think so need to find a moral compass. Victor is doing his part to spread the great conservative doublethink when he refers to the Left. The Left is the new center, its where the center used to be before people like Victor and his hero moved so far right they think the Bill of Rights is a luxury that we can no longer afford. Vic must think that retired General John Batiste is Castro’s cousin,

Donald Rumsfeld is still at the helm of the Department of Defense, which is absolutely outrageous. He served up our great military a huge bowl of chicken feces, and ever since then, our military and our country have been trying to turn this bowl into chicken salad. And it’s not working.

Anyway that was just Vic’s first paragraph and it doesn’t get any better, it reads more like a psychotic meltdown by the soft spoken high priest of all neoconism. I’ve read the same thing in the rabid comments section of fringe right blogs, Hanson has just handed in a version with fancier prose that would serve well as an example to college freshmen of how to mangle facts beyond comprehension,

In fact, the current strategy of having removed the two most odious dictatorships — the Taliban and Saddam Hussein’s — and fostering democracies in their places remains the only sensible course. Far from winning this war for the future of the Middle East, Syria, and Iran are increasingly isolated, desperate to thwart democratization that surrounds their borders in Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, and Lebanon, and facing world sanctions for their roguery. For all its messiness, the promotion of democratic reform infuriates the Islamists and paid-off Arab journalists and intellectual toadies alike, and ultimately works in our favor

When Pangloss(Vic) says current strategy he is referring to Iraq, at least in part as the giant flypaper which will magically attract all terrorists from Spain to Egypt where they will be promptly dispatched by shock and awe, about a thousand miles east of sensible. Four years in and Pangloss just can’t fathom the absurdity of that argument even as he acknowledges the attacks in Spain and the foiled plot in England. Democratic reforms? Where are those Mr. Hansen, the totalitarian regimes of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or Pakistan – all decidedly undemocratic western allies, two of whom receive enough welfare to give a real conservative nightmares. Most of us crazed lefties supported going after Bin Laden in Afghanistan, and where is he by the way? That the Taliban was brought down in the process was great, but having diverted resources to Iraq and once again having no clue as how to best implement democracy after the shooting stopped Bush blew it, not MoveOn or Cindy Sheehan, Missteps in exporting democracy

It was squandered in part because of what Chayes believes was a stunning mistake: the United States backing Gul Agha Shirzai in the chaotic weeks as Kandahar fell. Shirzai, a regional strongman with violence and corruption in his past, led one of the militia forces that attacked Kandahar. Future President Hamid Karzai led the other. Surprisingly, Shirzai, a “symbol of the arbitrary and bloody madness the populace feared, was the one U.S. advisers had urged on to attack Kandahar and snatch it from Hamid Karzai, the battle-shy mediator.” Emboldened by this support, Shirzai muscled his way into office as governor of Kandahar.

There’s Vic’s strategy, up in smoke and like any zealot he keeps the faith despite all evidence to the contrary. But hey Vic they are building schools, Afghanistan to establish indigenous Madrasahs

Afghan Education Minister Hanif Atmar said that his ministry plans to establish religious schools in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan for those students who wish to acquire religious education

And Afghanistan is establishing relationships with its neighbors, like Iran, Minister: Afghanistan’s peace, security same as that of Iran

At the first round of talks with his Afghan counterpart, Najjar referred to Afghanistan’s security and reconstruction and given close ties between the two states, declared Iran’s readiness to promote security in this country and help expedite its reconstruction process.

Congratulating the anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence, the Iranian minister said that Iran’s foreign policy gives high priority to expansion of ties with the neighboring Muslim states, in particular the brotherly and friendly country of Afghanistan.

Is Hansen hanging out in the same bunker as Dick Cheney and Ann Coulter where everything is going “swimmingly”, the bunker where there is no objective reality that Bush and Company have not been worse then complete failures, they’re just the poor little victims of bad press. Pangloss:

Leftists still harp about no blood for oil and assorted conspiracies in lieu of legitimate analysis and criticism.

If Pangloss would take his fingers out of his ears and remove the blindfold he’d see plenty of thoughtful criticism and plenty of reality. Pre-war – The president is botching the Iraq crisis with his clumsy, naive unilateralism. and War College Study Calls Iraq a ‘Detour’ Actually as far as thoughtful analysis, its the Bush administration that keeps getting in the way, Negroponte Blocks CIA Analysis of Iraq “Civil War” , but no one should have to make Bush or Hanson face reality. Bush, as president has a moral obligation to face reality not get mentally lost in grandiose halfbaked plans to make over the middle-east. While Hanson is the grand master of deep intellectual thought for the far right who keeps trying to juggle half truths, flawed analysis, grade school analogies, mangled interpretations of some history all for what? To stay on course, the course that has been proven to be the wrong course by all except the delusional like Hanson who’s loyalities extend to Bush and America be damned. Blinded by partisan politics Hanson refues to acknowledge the most basic facts. Hanson has sold any academic credibility down the river. In short he is being incredibly dishonest when he claims that the Bush administration has a positive direction and a clear plan that is not being implemented because a few people are saying things that might hurt poor little George’s feelings. I’m not sure what is more absurd, Hanson for saying it, or the National Review for publishing this drivel.
Note: The far Right needs to do some current research. The Chamberlain analogy sucks on its face unless you believe that Saddam was as big a threat as Hitler’s war machine or that the pockets of full time dedicated jihadists around the world constitute a nation-state (that would be convenient and a war that maybe even Rumsfeld could win). The Chamberlain analogy is frequently made by right-wing bloggers and their commenters, probably in some juvenile attempt to sound smart. For an historian like Hanson to sink to the same sad level is just another symptom of the meltdown. Churchill tried to occupy and subdue an Iraqi insurgency too and he wasn’t shy about using indiscriminate carpet bombing, he still ended up withdrawing. England survived and so did Iraq.

Are they?

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Many Americans Uneasy with Mix of Religion and Politics, 69% Say Liberals Too Secular, 49% Say Conservatives Too Assertive

The relationship between religion and politics is a controversial one. While the public remains more supportive of religion’s role in public life than in the 1960s, Americans are uneasy with the approaches offered by both liberals and conservatives. Fully 69% of Americans say that liberals have gone too far in keeping religion out of schools and government. But the proportion who express reservations about attempts by Christian conservatives to impose their religious values has edged up in the past year, with about half the public (49%) now expressing wariness about this.

The Democratic Party continues to face a serious “God problem,” with just 26% saying the party is friendly to religion. However, the proportion of Americans who say the Republican Party is friendly to religion, while much larger, has fallen from 55% to 47% in the past year, with a particularly sharp decline coming among white evangelical Protestants (14 percentage points).

I looked at which blogs were posting about this story to see what the right is saying and Time magazine’s former blog of the year decides that a tap dance around the poll is the most appropriate response, from Powerline, August 25, 2006, Dueling Headlines

“Few see Democrats as friendly to religion.”

The New York Times’s headline:

“In Poll, G.O.P. Slips as a Friend of Religion.”

Does anyone sense an agenda here? As for which headline more fairly represents the poll’s results, the Pew survey found that 47 percent of respondents think the Republicans are “friendly toward religion,” as opposed to “neutral” or “unfriendly,” while only 26 percent consider the Democrats “friendly.” And, while it’s true, as the NYT headline says, that the number of people who say the Republicans are friendly toward religion is lower than last year, the Democrats’ figure is lower, too. And over the last three years, the Democrats’ “friendly” percentage has fallen from 42 to 26, a far more drastic decline.

Since the post is signed “John” I’m assuming the author is Assrocket himself who ends with this bizarre observation,

Which makes me think that those of us who devote considerable effort to combatting media bias probably overestimate the impact–short-term impact, anyway–that the news media have on Americans’ attitudes.

What does that mean, that the media isn’t doing enough to recruit people into right-wing churches. Is that their job? Maybe Assrocket doesn’t have basic cable in his part of the country, I just checked my cable program guide for the next 24 hours and a quick count found over 65 hours of religious programming and this is typical of basic cable programming in my area for twenty-four hours a day six days a week; on Sunday add another ten hours. How much religion does the media have to pump out to make Assrocket happy. If anything the poll indicates that the choir is full up and isn’t likely to convert a large swath of the population over to the unhealthy mix of right-wing politics and right-wing religion that Assrocket is hoping for. Powerline and other like minded on the far right fringe may have to face a startling reality, that their visions of a conservative Utopia is not going to be accomplished by new recruits. The culprit is not the center which the right has somewhat succeeded in defining as the far left, but the world of big business. American business rides on that stickle back monster called pop culture. If business can’t use and propagate pop culture they can’t sell their wares. Who thinks pop culture is the devil in disguise? Mostly the religious right. If Assrocket and his cohorts want to sit around and figure out how to untangle product sells from popular trends and slick advertising go at it, Godspeed.

Not to pick on Powerline, conservatives in general either don’t understand or have been thoroughly dishonest about the relatively simple issue of the NSA and the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens so there is little reason to think that they would be honest or wiser about the role of religious in public life.The point of certain religious factions in America or the middle-east for that matter is not the pursuit of the spiritual or careful inward reflections on one’s own life or the issues facing the world. They embrace religion as a form of crowd control a sociological utopia lies ahead if only everyone would believe exactly the same thing they believe, This is nothing new. The Holy Roman Empire had a pretty good run riding on the supposition that they were the exclusive owners of the one and only truth. Osama Bin Laden and James Dobson both believe they possess the one and only truth. That truth that they believe in is like a bat encrusted with rusty nails, it is not the religion of tolerance and understanding and those that care about the future of humanity are rooting against both of them. The right has embraced religion for many reasons, but the major reason is that it is an easy way to corral and fire up the masses. Religion being so malleable it is easy to manuver around one’s blatantly none Christian behavior. The right’s ideological path takes more from the old testament then the new and yet on a daily basis ignore the commandments. I didn’t make the rules as far as this mixing religion with public policy, but it does seem quite a trick that conservatives don’t just regularly break the 8th and 9th commandments, it peddles its agenda as though they don’t exist. There is always the fall back position that has made its way to bumper sticker fame, “Christians aren’t perfect but they’re forgiven”. If that sounds like the small print on a contract that allows the signers to get out of fulfilling their end of the bargain its because that it what it is. Right-wingers embrace religion then promptly ignore what good there is in it because they have an escape clause. They can and have commited the most immoral acts and most atrocious betrayals of America’s rationalist’s based laws because they’ve made honorable behavior disposable by way of how they apply their religion to culture and political policy. Those in the reality based camp, some of whom are quite spiritual find this behavior to be a real head spinner. The poll may indicate that a few people are catching on, conservatives control America, they are at the reins and yet we’re enjoying a revival of corruption, decadence and bad policies not seen since Harding.

Does the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli say that “The Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion?”

In 1797, six years after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the United States government signed a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli that contained the following statement (numbered Article 11 in the treaty):

As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen; and as the states never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever produce an interruption of harmony existing between the two countries.

Thou shall not take stuff that belongs to someone else, Former Burns Finance Official Accused of Fraud

Montana officials have accused a recently-departed fundraising chief for Sen. Conrad Burns’ (R-MT) re-election campaign with securities fraud, according to a press release.

State Auditor John Morrison says Pat Davison defrauded two families of $1.2 million. Morrison said Davison convinced them to withdraw the money from investment accounts so he could put them in “fake” investments, including a bond issue from a local school trust.

I’m not a biblical scholar, maybe conservatives know something about Christians values that allows for a loop hole big enough to fit over a million bucks through.

OLD SALIERI
What do you want?

VOGLER
Do you understand that you have
sinned? Gravely.

OLD SALIERI
Leave me alone.

VOGLER
I cannot leave alone a soul in pain.

OLD SALIERI
Do you know who I am? You never heard
of me, did you?

VOGLER
That makes no difference. All men
are equal in God’s eyes.

OLD SALIERI
Are they?

from the screenplay “AMADEUS” by Peter Shaffer

you cannot dam up life like a sluggish stream

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Imagine a Democrat waiting at the corner for the light to change so they could cross to get to his/her job and is approached by right-winger number one, “You’re all a bunch of lazy commies that think hard working people should provide you with a living.” Democrats rolls eyes and thinks of the ten hours of overtime they’ll have to work this week to help pay for their kid’s new braces. A few seconds later right-winger number two walks up and states, ” All you Democrats are rich elitists intellectuals that have lost touch with working people.” The Democratic party is a big tent, has been since FDR especially, but whatever we are, we cannot be both lazy commies and rich elitists, the depth of those arguments lies somewhere between dull crayons and dried gum stuck to the bottom of a desk. Since the last I read “Republicans had gained the upper hand in recent years, but 33% of Americans, in the latest Gallup poll, now call themselves Democrats, with those favoring the GOP one point behind. But Gallup says this widens a bit more “once the leanings of Independents are taken into account.” , this would make the two common assertions just plain absurd. With the current U.S, population at around 300 million according to conservatives about 100 million of those folks would be either rich elitists or lazy Bolsheviks. This day-mare of perverse thinking says more about the critic then it does about the subjects of the criticism.Though I have grown fond of the two barreled hypocritical lies that escape of the mouths of conservatives like a well worn joke that have taken up an unintended backfire, they’re like the second banana, a Margaret Dumont who doesn’t really get it or understand why the audience is laughing. That a scattering of Democrats have chosen to act like dull witted second bananas is a little odd at a time when unity, at least at the netroots level has been so high, Attacking the Means of Protest

Every mechanism the progressive movement uses to try and affect change, no matter how abstract, immediately finds itself under attack as soon as it makes any headway in actually affecting said change. And so the primary process is attacked. And so partisanship is attacked. And so blogs and bloggers are attacked. And so MoveOn.org is attacked. And so our email listservs are attacked. And so our employment histories is questioned by lobbyists with massive conflicts of interest. And so the self-starting Liberal Blog Advertising Network is tarnished. And so grassroots activists are attacked. And so netroots activists are attacked. And so Lamont’s wealth is attacked. And so fundraising requirements are instituted as barriers to debate participation after poll requirements are met. And on and on.

What is so deeply odd about this is that right-winger one and two each carry around a different chip on their shoulder and never attack each other. They’re united in their completely unfounded belief that all things wrong in the world can be traced back to liberalism. Why would a few Democrats help them by making small cracks into large fissures.

It looks like 56 percent of Michigan voters are either pro terrorist or more likely support the Constitution, Survey shows Dems, independents agree with court’s decision, but Republicans back president.

The Michigan survey found that 85 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of self-described independent voters agreed with Taylor’s ruling. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans, however, disagreed — siding with the president. A majority of both men (55 percent) and women (57 percent) said the ruling was the correct one.

So given a choice between supporting America and its values or supporting partisan politics, conservatives have chosen not to support America. Given this trend we can expect conservatives to support anti-american candidates in 2006 and 2008. Iraq has a constitution that everyone there ignores, perhaps given the millions that right-wing pundits have made off anti-american broadcasts, books and speeches, they could buy every conservative in America a one way plane ticket to Iraq where they’ll fit right in. One could say how ironic that conservatives have fully and without shame embraced the Stalinist purge mentality, but that is only if one hasn’t been paying attention. A great purge of anything and everyone ( Judge Diggs Tayor or John Murtha for instance) that that does not tow the ideological line is the essential ingredient in the conservative mud pie. That Judge Taylor is an accomplished intelligent black woman really sticks in their crawl. In their hearts they have always embraced the techniques and the bloody mindedness of the totalitarians on the extreme left and right. Thier’s is the one and only truth, but the made up truths of conservatism are always vulnerable to everyone that is not a kool-aid connoisseur. That is why their weapon of choice is almost never the intellectual, the thoughtful, or the wise – there weapon of choice is character assassination. Such an easy weapon to weld as any preacher on any given Sunday will remind the flock that we’re all sinners – a convenient cover meant only to be used by Republicans. Conservatives, to the very bone are and have for the last half century been the movement of laziness and privilege so it is only natural that when on the attack they choice the cheapest weapon and swing it in the laziest manner. Maximum effect with minimal effort, appealing to the lowest common denominator. Judge Taylor was not only right she dared questioned the divinity of their King. And when all else fails, just make things up, AP uncritically repeated Rove’s dubious claim that warrantless wiretapping “might have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks”.

He was not likely to forget; but you cannot dam up life like a sluggish
stream. It will break out and flow over a man’s troubles, it will close
upon a sorrow like the sea upon a dead body, no matter how much love has
gone to the bottom.

from End of the Tether by Joseph Conrad