This has been all over the news today. Yesterday on "Face the Nation" former General Wes Clark said of Senator McCain, "I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."
In a sane world, that would be patently obvious. Suffering in the Hanoi Hilton for five-and-a-half years is awful, but it's not relevant to one's leadership skills.
Ah, but our illustrious media jumped on that statement, saying Clark had somehow disrespected McCain. Hard to see how, but then they make the big bucks, so I'm surely wrong.
Funny, though: the Columbia Journalism Review agrees with me.
It’s crucially important that we have a political debate in this country that’s at least sophisticated enough to be able to handle the following rather basic idea: Arguing that a person’s record of military service is not a qualification for the presidency does not constitute “attacking” their military credentials; nor can it be described as invoking their military service against them, or as denying their record of war heroism.
That’s not a very high bar for sophistication. But right now it’s one the press isn’t capable of clearing.
It hasn't been capable of clearing that bar for quite some time.
Update: General Clark appeared on MSNBC this evening and stood by his remarks.
This is a darned good version.
The band was an ongoing soap opera, but they sure managed to put out some amazingly good music between battles.
Baseball will drive you crazy. Yesterday the Dodgers won 1-0 without getting a base hit. It didn't qualify as a no-hitter because the Dodgers, as the home team, didn't hit in the bottom of the ninth.
Today, the Dodgers lost 1-0 while getting three hits.
So, exceptional pitching or lousy offense?
Far from Mexico, but still in favor of Cal-Mex food, that's us.
I'm in charge of rebandaging Tigger for the next ten days. Today was the first time I did it. I watched and took photos as the vet did it on Monday so I'd have a road map.
The preliminary act, not photographed: apply some Mupirocin to the wound. It's an antibacterial ointment.
It went pretty well, and she only half-heartedly snapped at me a couple of times. That was my biggest concern about doing it myself.
Here's how it looked after removing the bandage applied in those photos and before I rebandaged it.
Senator Feingold has a fact sheet up about the FISA bill he's fighting. There are some good talking points there if you'd like to call your Senators. Since they're probably going to be in-state over their 4th of July recess, marching in parades and whatnot, you might even be able to raise a question in person. Check your newspapers for their scheduled events or call their local offices.
Three years ago I wrote about Patrick Henry College, a very conservative school churning out graduates who were taking jobs right and left in the government. Ha! Pensacola Christian College sneers at Patrick Henry. "You're conservative? Watch us!" it says.
Of Pensacola's many rules, those dealing with male-female relationships are the most talked about. There are restrictions on when and where men and women may speak to each other. Some elevators and stairwells may be used only by women; others may be used only by men. Socializing on particular benches is forbidden. If a man and a woman are walking to class, they may chat; if they stop en route, though, they may be in trouble. Generally men and women caught interacting in any "unchaperoned area" — which is most of the campus — could be subject to severe penalties.
Those rules extend beyond the campus. A man and a woman cannot go to an off-campus restaurant together without a chaperon (usually a faculty member). Even running into members of the opposite sex off campus can lead to punishment. One student told of how a group of men and a group of women from the college happened to meet at a McDonald's last spring. Both groups were returning from the beach (they had gone to separate beaches; men and women are not allowed to be at the beach together). The administration found out, and all 15 students were expelled.
Even couples who are not talking or touching can be reprimanded. Sabrina Poirier, a student at Pensacola who withdrew in 1997, was disciplined for what is known on the campus as "optical intercourse" — staring too intently into the eyes of a member of the opposite sex. This is also referred to as "making eye babies." While the rule does not appear in written form, most students interviewed for this article were familiar with the concept.
As she tells it, Ms. Poirier was not gazing lovingly at her boyfriend; he had something in his eye. But officials didn't buy her explanation, and she and her boyfriend were both "socialed," she says.
There are three levels of official punishment at Pensacola (four, if you count expulsion). Students can be "socialed," "campused," or "shadowed." Students who are socialed are not allowed to talk to members of the opposite sex for two weeks. Those who are campused may not leave the college grounds for two weeks or speak to other campused students.
As I said when discussing Patrick Henry's graduates, I shudder to think what these kids are going to be like when they walk out of there with their shiny new degrees and have to enter the real world, where they might have to interact with people like me.
I don't usually click the "On This Day" section of the NYT, but June 25 happens to be the anniversary of the Custer Battle at Little Bighorn. Here's the NYT story as published on that date.
Custer went into battle with Companies C, L, I, F, and E, of the Seventh Cavalry, and the staff and non-commissioned staff of his regiment and a number of scouts, and only one Crow scout remained to tell the tale. All are dead. Custer was surrounded on every side by Indians, and horses fell as they fought on skirmish line or in line of battle.
Interestingly, even at that early date there were generals who thought Custer was foolish to have engaged the Sioux.
It is the opinion of Army officers in Chicago, Washington, and Philadelphia, including Gens. Sherman and Sheridan, that Gen. Custer was rashly imprudent to attack such a large number of Indians, Sitting Bull's force being 4,000 strong.
Imprudent, huh? You think?
Update: Here's an eyewitness account of the battle from Red Horse, a Lakota Chief.
Seen over at Making Light:
The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.
C'mon, New York Times, you've got to be kidding me. I know five-year-olds who, when faced with an unwanted document, know better than to think it will go away if ignored.
Not this White House, though.
The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.
This week, more than six months later, the E.P.A. is set to respond to that order by releasing a watered-down version of the original proposal that offers no conclusion. Instead, the document reviews the legal and economic issues presented by declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant.
Can we get some grownups in charge, please?
Paul Krugman is a trained economist. He's got evidence in the form of a chart which puts paid to the argument that those nasty speculators are the ones driving oil prices.
Look, it's human nature to look for someone else to blame for our troubles, but in this instance it's all pretty simple. China and India are industrializing their economies and their consumers are adding cars to their roads in monumental numbers. Both activities require oil. Ergo, since supply is finite, demand is driving prices upward.
Dammit. I took Tigger in to the vet and we discovered that the blood supply to the wound has failed, so there's a bunch of dead skin there. I'm going to have to give her about a zillion more pills, try to rebandage her myself (which really ought to be fun; it's a job for two people, and for various reasons that's unlikely), and take her back in two weeks.
I'm the first person to check out Rick Perlstein's Nixonland from my local library. I hope I won't be the last. It's an excellent read, or at least the first 100 pages are. The NYT review was less than enthusiastic, but then the guy who reviewed it was George Will, hardly a disinterested observer.
It certainly reminds me of the deep-seated loathing I had and still have for that man, a political opportunist of the worst possible kind. Reading about the campaigns he ran, starting with the one for Senate against Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950, he causes my blood to boil all over again, and he's been dead for fourteen years.
7.444 * X = $31.85
Yep, I broke the $30 barrier for gasoline this weekend. First time ever.
You know, the media has predictably been "shocked, shocked!" that Senator Obama has opted out of public financing and has reported it as though it were nearly criminal of him to do so. Well, as Francis Wilkinson points out in the NYT Campaign blog:
Ever since Watergate, the ideal of campaign finance reform has been to replace a system fueled by special interests and big money with either full public financing or a system of civic-minded small donors. The former is abhorred by much of the public while the latter looks remarkably like barackobama.com. In effect, the Obama campaign has come closer to achieving the ideals of campaign finance reform than 30-plus years of regulation. To condemn the campaign’s departure from the system is to elevate rules over the principle that gave birth to the rules in the first place.
Then there's the fact that Senator McCain has been playing fast and loose with the public financing laws for months, with no media complaints to speak of. From Media Matters:
John McCain said he would take public financing for the Republican primaries. Then he used the promise of that public financing to help secure a loan for his campaign. Then, after he wrapped up the Republican nomination, he abruptly decided he did not want to be bound by the limits on campaign fundraising and spending that accompany public financing, so he announced that he had changed his mind.
But Federal Election Commission chairman David Mason sent McCain a letter saying that he cannot unilaterally opt out of the public financing system without FEC approval -- a letter the McCain campaign ignored. If McCain cannot opt out of the system unilaterally, he has broken the law by raising and spending funds in excess of legal limits, and continues to do so each day. Even if McCain isn't breaking the law, he has already broken his word and "reversed himself" on the question of whether he would take public funding for the primaries.
That fact has gone all but ignored in news reports about Obama's decision, even those news reports that quote McCain's criticism of Obama. And McCain's own history is doubly significant: Not only does it suggest that McCain's criticism of Obama is hypocritical, it also indicates that it is impossible to trust McCain to follow through on his commitment not to raise money for the general election. Finally, if David Mason is right and McCain is found to have violated the law, as The Washington Post noted, "Knowingly violating the spending limit is a criminal offense that could put McCain at risk of stiff fines and up to five years in prison."
Prison's probably a long shot, but I could see his campaign being heavily fined.
Anyway, to borrow from Paul Harvey, now you know (part of) the rest of the story.
Overnight I went from great uncle to Great Uncle.
Here's his statement.
After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act. . . It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.
It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives -– and the liberty –- of the American people.
I'm not clear how he concludes this is a marked improvement. The court which gets to rubber-stamp warrants changes from the FISA court to the district court. That's the only difference between what Bush and his cronies wanted and what the Republicans, Hoyer and the rest of the cowardly Democrats wrote as legislation.
Greenwald is skeptical.
He says he will work to remove amnesty from the bill, but once that fails, will vote for the "compromise." Obama has obviously calculated that sacrificing the rule of law and the Fourth Amendment is a worthwhile price to pay to bolster his standing a tiny bit in a couple of swing states.
There's the new Democratic hero. He's using the same language Bush did when requesting all the new infringements of civil liberties we've had to accept over the past seven years ("Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike..."
I'm too old not to expect to be disappointed by politicians, but this, even as the general election campaign starts to lift off, is really really dismaying.
Update: Marcy Wheeler is bitter. She paraphrases Obama's statement this way:
- I will make a showy effort in the Senate on Monday to get them to take out immunity. I will lose that effort 32-65. But hey! I can say I tried!
- But don't worry, little boys and girls, Inspectors General are an adequate replacement for our third co-equal branch of government!
- Nice little bloggers! Aren't you cute! After you demanded accountability we gave you piggy lipstick and fig leaves and told you it was time to move on while we important Senators told you--in polite terms--to fuck off.
A Profile in Courage this isn't.
If you live in the district of one of the people who voted Yea on this bill, and if you think granting wholesale immunity to corporations based solely on the President's say-so is a lousy idea, you might consider seeing if your Representative has any opposition in a primary and voting/funding the opposing candidate.
Here's a sample of the mindset of people voting for this:
"I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do," Bond said.
I like barbecued pulled pork, but I've never tried to make it.
I used this recipe: Crock pot barbecue pork
* 1.5Kg or 3.3 lb pork shoulder
* 100ml or 4 floz of water
* salt and pepper to taste
* barbecue sauce of your choice
Place the pork shoulder in the crock pot, pour in the water and lightly season with the salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Now turn to low and cook for a further 8 hours by which time the meat should be extremely tender. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a carving board.
Chop or shred the pork and then throw it back into the crock pot with a little barbecue sauce of your choice. Cook for a further 1 hour and you’re ready to slap it in a bun!
Well, not really. Low on my 20-year-old West Bend Slo Cooker is a little too low. After 8 hours at that level the roast was still very rubbery. I turned it up to high for a couple of hours (I was annoyed), then took it off the heat and refrigerated it overnight. Long about 1:30 the following afternoon I took it out and put it on at medium for a couple more hours. At that point I could shred it. I did, drained off the liquid, added the meat back into the pot, poured in about 4 oz. of barbecue sauce, and slow-cooked it at medium for another hour.
Next time I think I'll add 6 oz. of sauce; it wasn't quite drippy enough for my taste. But we both liked it just fine, and now that I know how my cooker's heating element behaves, I can do this again with more confidence.
If you got it, send it.
. . .basically the bill lays out several ways that telecoms can claim retroactive immunity for assisting the intelligence community, and one of them is that the assistance was:the subject of a written request or directive, or a series of written requests or directives, from the Attorney General or the head of an element of the intelligence community (or the deputy of such person) to the electronic communication service provider indicating that the activity was — (i) authorized by the President; and (ii) determined to be lawful;
Judicial review is limited to a secret review that the request was made.
So that's that. Not even a fig leaf. If the president requested it and the AG certified it was legal, then telecom immunity is absolute. Some compromise. Neville Chamberlain would be proud.
If you disagree with these amendments, write your local Congressperson. You can also express your dissatisfaction by writing directly to Speaker Pelosi at AmericanVoices@mail.house.gov
Digby has more, including a link to a site where campaign donations can be made to fight the Blue Dogs who like these kinds of sellouts.
Jun 18, 2008
These are place names which will haunt American politics for a long time, like Manzanar and Minidoka.
McClatchy's Washington Bureau has been running an investigative series of reports about the treatment of detainees at the locations in the title. It's dreadful, and its implications are pretty clear: the orders for the torture of persons held there came from very high up in the Bush Administration. This is from today's article:
The framework under which detainees were imprisoned for years without charges at Guantanamo and in many cases abused in Afghanistan wasn't the product of American military policy or the fault of a few rogue soldiers.
It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials.
The worst of it is, the lawyers and their bosses will maintain till their dying days that they were doing what was right, morality and common sense be damned.
I don't recall a blowout game to end a league's championship series in any sport that comes close to the Celtics' demolition of the Lakers tonight.
It's a good thing I didn't become a Lakers fan when I lived in LA; I'd be suicidal this evening. 131-92? Jeepers.
Tigger's wound has finally dried out enough to form a scab. The doc is pleased and so are we.
Now we're going to try to figure out how to cut down a human wrist sleeve to fit over the joint after padding it with cotton. If we can close it with velcro then I can do it at home and don't have to cart her 14 miles downtown and 14 miles back once every five days.
In case you missed it, South Pacific won seven Tony Awards last night, including Best Musical Revival. The music is and has been unforgettable since it first premiered back in 1949. Hawai'i has been especially proud since Loretta Ables Sayers (Bloody Mary) is from the state.
Here's the new cast recording.
You'd think 90 holes would be enough to decide the US Open Championship, but no.
Update:91 holes were enough.
Update the 2nd: Joe Posnanski wrote a beautiful column about Tiger.
Go read PZ Myers at Pharyngula. Take tissues.
Over at Digby's place, Tristero rightly worries about the residue left behind when the Bush Administration is turned out in January.
Dan Froomkin, wearing his other hat at Nieman Watchdog, has given that some thought. He's been writing a series he calls Entrenchment examining the ways the Bush Administration may try to keep its policies in place long after the next President is inaugurated.
Part One: Do we really expect the Bushies to go quietly?
Part Two: Midnight rulemaking, last-minute hires and executive fiats
Part Three: The time for a national conversation on pardons is before, not after, they're granted
Part Four: What's the vice president up to these days?
Part Five: How far will Bush loyalists go to help McCain win?
It's very educational.
The ludicrous idea that votes from Clinton supporters would somehow make up for McCain defectors is merely the latest fairy tale brought to you by those same Washington soothsayers who said Fred Thompson was the man to beat and that young people don’t turn up to vote.
Methinks Frank Rich doesn't think much of spinmeisters.
It is really hard for me to imagine Honolulu with 400 city blocks under water. It must be even harder for citizens of Cedar Rapids, IA.
In case you're wondering (I was), according to WikiAnswers, "A linear block (one side) is 660 ft. long, or 1/8th of a mile. A square block contains 435,600 square feet, or 10 acres."
Cedar Rapids has only one well still functional; 24,000 people have had to evacuate their homes.
Apparently of a heart attack, in the NBC offices in DC.
My sympathies to his family and his colleagues.
Somebody else listen to this and tell me whether the voiceover narration is done by David Sedaris. It sure sounds like him to me.
John Scalzi writes a rant of glorious proportion. The target? Fox News.
Over at Hullabaloo, tristero asks: "Do crazy people flock to the top of the Republican party because like attracts like, or does Republicanism drive perfectly normal people insane?"
He's got examples.
In light of today's habeas decision by the Supreme Court, what now?
In a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay have a right to pursue habeas challenges to their detention. The Court, dividing 5-4, ruled that Congress had not validly taken away habeas rights. If Congress wishes to suspend habeas, it must do so only as the Constitution allows — when the country faces rebellion or invasion.
Who were the four who thought otherwise? Who else? Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas. Supreme Court appointments matter.
More links later; Tigger has to go have her bandage replaced this morning.
Next time some misguided soul tells you he is, send them there.
If you've happened to hear NPR's Talk of the Nation on Wednesdays for the past year or so, you'll know it features a segment called Political Junkie. At the close of the segment is a musical cut from a song which begins "I Wanna Grow Up to be a Politician."
Yes, that is The Byrds.
Well, sorta. It's an article suggesting if you're looking for true economy on gasoline, try to find a Geo Metro. It's puzzling, though: the article says that GM discontinued production of the Geo Metro XFi after 1995. All I can say is, it didn't discontinue the four-door sedan, because I own a 1997 model. I bought it from Budget Rent-a-Car with 13K on it in March of 1998. Ten years later it has 50K on it (this is what comes of living on an island and working largely from home). I don't get any 44mpg as the article suggests, but I do get around 30mpg.
Despite what the LA Times says, Senator McCain is no moderate. Paul Krugman does some rudimentary fact-checking of that assertion and finds that based on roll-call votes for the past session, McCain is in fact the eighth-most conservative member of the Senate. In other words, there are about 40 Republican senators less conservative than he. Even Sam Brownback has a slightly less conservative record.
Stop the nonsense, mainstream media.
Resolved: that America's current difficulties with high gas prices and oil consumption began with Levittown.
Levittown was the first mass-produced suburb in the country. It was so wildly successful that it was copied in every state and territory (Oahu has as many suburbs as any other city). It became the model for new housing in America: build bedroom communities away from the central core of cities where people worked. This required roads to get people into their offices.
Here we are, 60 years later, beholden to roads and cars to get us to our jobs (even if the jobs are merely in a different suburb than the one in which we live).
Mrs. Robinson, Simon & Garfunkel
Sparks, The Who
Oh Lady, Be Good, Artie Shaw & His Orchestra
Stop Stop Stop, The Hollies
Jet Airliner, Steve Miller Band
You've Got What Gets Me, Eddie Quillan, Dixie Lee, Mitzi Green, RKO Radio Studio Orchestra
Yes I Will, The Hollies
Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing, Buffalo Springfield
Voice Inside My Head, Dixie Chicks
You Don't Have To Cry, Crosby, Stills & Nash
(How Little It Matters) How Little We Know, Frank Sinatra
One of the best-remembered images of the Munich Olympics in 1972 is that of a hooded gunman on a balcony after the Israeli athletes were taken hostage.
Maybe the next-most remembered image is Jim McKay looking directly into the camera after he'd learned of the deaths of all of those athletes, saying "They're all gone."
Jim McKay died today at 86.
A long time ago I went through a period of reading an awful lot of World War 2 history. One of the best and most accessible books about the Normandy invasion is Cornelius Ryan's The Longest Day. If you're interested in what happened at Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword Beaches that day, Ryan's book is required reading.
Here's some newsreel footage of D-Day from the German perspective (the glass seems to be half-full here).
Here's some more German film, but in a more documentary style.
Ryan wrote two other excellent books about the war: A Bridge Too Far about the failed attempt to capture bridges across the lower Rhine and take Arnhem, and The Last Battle, the battle for Berlin. Both of them are told in the same fashion, with small stories interspersed with large-scope explanations.
Listening to NPR's Talk of the Nation I heard a woman say she voted for Hillary but would switch her "lifelong Democrat" vote to McCain in the fall because he had more experience.
This makes no sense to me. Sure, McCain has time in grade over Obama, but to what purpose? He's been a Republican who's voted with Bush on nearly every issue except taxes (he opposed the tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 but now says they're all good and he'd keep them). He agreed with the decision to invade Iraq and wants to continue the occupation there (until at least 2013 or maybe for a hundred years, he's said on the campaign trail). He wants to shift health insurance from an employer-based system to an open-market system (which would give insurance companies even more power to cherry-pick policyholders than they already have). He's loudly anti-choice. He thinks Roberts and Alito were fine choices for the Supreme Court and he'd model his appointments after them.
If you're a lifelong Democrat, even if you're terribly disappointed and angry that Hillary didn't win, how could you possibly consider voting for a man whose voting record for his entire career has been 180 degrees out from what your party has advocated?
Mustang Bobby has written a wonderfully sad remembrance of the events of June 5, 1968. He was a freshman at a private school in Rhode Island, awakened to the news that Bobby Kennedy had been shot the previous night in Los Angeles.
I was a newly-graduated senior from a high school in Northern Virginia. My family was planning to move 8,000 miles west to Guam (we left on June 9). I remember that news too. It was stunning, coming just three months after Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis and five years after JFK's assassination in Dallas. We were, I'm sure, caught up in the hurly-burly of moving companies, pet home-finding, and house-closing, but we were once again in shock.
Go read his piece; it's beautiful.
I don't deny that former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson has the right to earn a living, but getting it on the back of first responders from 9/11 seems a bit, um, unfeeling.
Following the attacks while he was Secretary of HHS there were a lot of complaints about his department's denial that the air quality in NYC was poisonous. Now a company he heads has a contract to monitor the health of the same people sickened by that air quality.
In the years since the 2001 attacks, studies show workers who toiled at the site have had higher than normal rates of lung problems and post-traumatic stress. Others have complained of an increase in gastrointestinal disorders.
Logistics Health will provide annual examinations to World Trade Center responders around the country, diagnose and treat Sept. 11-related conditions and provide a pharmacy benefit to those responders.
H/T Think Progress.
Poor Tigger has been recovering rapidly over the past few days, but maybe the exuberance hurt her. The wound reopened a little bit from where it had been last Friday.
On a lighter note, my niece graduated over the weekend.
CJR's Russert Watch column asks a question:
Speaking of David Brooks, is America a great country or what that a boy can grow up to be the indispensable go-to guy for the country’s most serious newspaper, television, and radio show all in the same week? Is it a sign of his acumen vis-à-vis the most important government decision of the Bush administration that he has so conspicuously, as they used to say in Hollywood, failed upward? Is it a sign of the conservative implosion that no other right-minded pundit is available at The New York Times, Jim Lehrer’s NewsHour, and All Things Considered but the selfsame David Brooks—a very smart fellow who somehow missed the central story about the crowd that’s been running the White House for years?
I've been asking myself that for quite a while.
The central story is, paraphrasing Brooks on All Things Considered last Friday, that "the White House is full of dim bulbs and that, by his estimation, only twenty percent of the staff there are up to the job."
Big League Stew reminds us that Bo Diddley once did a memorable ad for Nike:
Bo Diddley died today at 79.
Right now (9:00am HST, 3:00EDT) CNN projects Senator Clinton as the winner in the Puerto Rico primary. The projection is based solely on exit polls.
Have they no idea how silly it looks to show me "Clinton wins Puerto Rico" when directly below that line is a string of zeros for number of votes counted for each candidate?