Friday Cat Blogging
Sonia. This isn't the best video out there of her, but it was the only one I could embed.
Labels: belly dance
"I'll Be Back in an Hour. Are You Boys Sure You Know What You're Doing?"
Labels: belly dance
CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.
LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.
CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.
The amendment, offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), expressly stated that the Senate would condemn “any effort to attack the honor and integrity” of “all members of the United States Armed Forces“:
On his radio show yesterday, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked the “honor and integrity” of some members of the Armed Forces. Limbaugh attacked troops who hold a different viewpoint than his own as “phony soldiers.” Iraq war vet Jon Soltz writes that Limbaugh’s comments are directed at “the majority of troops on the ground in Iraq” because they “do not back the President’s failed policy.”
For all the Senators who rushed to make political hay over an empty resolution, the spotlight is on them. Will they now enforce their “sense of the Senate” and condemn Rush Limbaugh?
... I've neither seen nor heard anything from the AHA regarding standing-up for the profession other than when it is against the Bush Administration and an Imperial Presidency. Nothing about the Clinton's stonewalling the release of records or of their former crony Web Hubbell absconding with historical documents from NARA. No hue and cry about the history lost. Oh, they reported it in one of their "Inside Washington"-type columns, but didn't see fit to decide or "resolve" over it. I guess actually stealing and destroying documents isn't as bad as putting a hold on them while we are at war. I'm sure the AHA was all over FDR for the same things.
Anyway, enough is enough. I'm letting my membership lapse and am discontinuing my affiliation with the AHA. I'm fed up with their inability to resist immersing themselves in ideological politics while under a veneer of doing so to safeguard the "values necessary to the practice of our profession." Sure, there are other, practical ($) reasons why I'm checking out of the professional side of the, er, profession. Basically, the services the AHA offers an "Independent Historian" like me (basically, access to book reviews and a few articles in AHR) are easily found (for free!) here on the web. Frankly, because I wasn't going to be going for a PhD or teach any time soon, it was never a perfect match to begin with. Face it, the AHA is of, for and by the PhD's, all of their wailing and gnashing of teach about the "role of the MA" or "public historians" aside. And that's fine, but ain't for me. No harm, no foul....and no more money from me.
Now when a bad guy crosses our threshhold, America becomes a pants-piddling mess.
Iran's president speaks at a great American university. That university's president, in the act of introducing his lecture, whines like a baby bereft of his pacifier that his guest is a big meany poopy-head. ... Now they go on cable TV and whine about what a "travesty" it would have been to visit a site which properly should belong to the world. Hundreds of foreign nationals died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 (maybe even some of the Iranian!). Yet we have to systematically repress that — as if our national ego would crack like fine crystal if we were forced to acknowledge the mingling of American blood with that of mere foreigners.
... How cowardly our conservative Republic of Fear has made us. How we tremble at the mere touch of a challenge.
I genuinely don't understand the quaking fear over Ahmadinejad's interview at Columbia. When did America become so weak, so insecure, that we mistrust our capacity to converse with potentially hostile world leaders?
O’Reilly, Coulter, Hannity, Malkin—we often treat them as jokes, but they are not amusing. They are translators of a vicious language that would not have a place in the public sphere were it not for their careful redesign.
It soon became clear why these particular documents had not been directed to the West. They were theological treatises, revolving around what Islam commands Muslims to do vis-à-vis non-Muslims. The documents rarely made mention of all those things — Zionism, Bush's "Crusade," malnourished Iraqi children — that formed the core of Al Qaeda's messages to the West. Instead, they were filled with countless Koranic verses, hadiths (traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad), and the consensus and verdicts of Islam's most authoritative voices. The temporal and emotive language directed at the West was exchanged for the eternal language of Islam when directed at Muslims. Or, put another way, the language of "reciprocity" was exchanged for that of intolerant religious fanaticism. There was, in fact, scant mention of the words "West," "U.S.," or "Israel." All of those were encompassed by that one Arabic-Islamic word, "kufr" — "infidelity" — the regrettable state of being non-Muslim that must always be fought through "tongue and teeth."
Labels: al Qaida
It wasn't a good night to have a new LT on patrol. Our LT was was out with us, of course - the new guy would be leading the platoon coming to replace us. We were on a mission that could easily turn bad - as it happened, everyones night but ours was bad. We waited around at a Combat Outpost for hours for our Marine attachments to resolve some equiqment issues, cleared our route, and went home. One of our sister platoons ended up MEDIVACing two men on a helicopter after an IED strike, while another route clearance team out of Falluja was hit multiple times, and an EOD team hit a bomb that flipped a Cougar and sent two techs to the hospital.
More than anything else, Iraq is ground zero in the current war of ideas. If the Iraqis decide to edge away from modernity and instead embrace genocide and Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, it will serve as a clear signal that the war of ideas is lost and that a real war is inevitable. If, however, democracy and tolerance can take root in Iraq, then quite literally it can happen anywhere.
Partly for its difficulties, the Iraq war is providing a blueprint for winning the war of ideas. That of course assumes we win in Iraq and something resembling a modern, peaceful nation arises from the enormous American and Iraqi sacrifices made to date. If we lose, then those who claim to so piously desire peace will really have something to weep about.
Fake acupuncture works nearly as well as the real thing for low back pain, and either kind performs much better than usual care, German researchers have found.
“I think some of the guys in the 2nd PSF battalion were insurgents, mostly nationalists who got tired of Al Qaeda. Some were Baathists or belonged to the 1920s Brigade. Al Qaeda started killing them off so they switched sides. One PSF guy in particular knows a little too much about taking IEDs apart. He knows exactly how to dismantle these things, as if he built them himself. I asked him how he knows so much and he said he used to be a TV repair man.” He laughed and shrugged. “But, hey, he’s on our side now. We call him the TV Repair Man and don’t worry too much about it.”
“Did the average Iraqi here switch sides or were most of them always against Al Qaeda?” I said.
“The average Iraqi post-Fallujah was not very happy with us being here,” he said. “If the insurgency only attacked Americans, the people of Ramadi would not have been very upset. But Al Qaeda infiltrated and took over the insurgency. They massively overplayed their hand. They cut off citizens’ heads with kitchen knives. The locals slowly learned that the propaganda about us were lies, and that Al Qaeda was their real enemy. They figured out by having dinner and tea with us that we really are, honest to God, here to help them.”
Those who sharply criticized Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs President Lee C. Bollinger for inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak owe him a galaxy sized apology. You know who you are so I’m not naming names/blogs/media outlets. Lee Bollinger’s opening statement and questions, along with many of the students’ questions reduced President Ahmadinejad to a melted ice cream cone on a hot sunny day.
Watching President Ahmadinejad squirm around on questions and deliver some downright silly answers today was amusing, embarrassing (for him), and at times weird. His only “somewhat point” was why Palestinians have to suffer for the Holocaust (referring to their displacement). We can talk about that intelligently in another forum with DIFFERENT people with REAL answers. Not you President Ahmadinejad.
While I still can't make judgments as to much of the story, I have no problem declaring the case one of prosecutorial over-charging and abuse of a system that allows prosecutors discretion in charging juveniles as adults. I think the only reason the kids were charged with such serious felonies was to get Mychal Bell, then a juvenile, into adult court.
A French Jew, Marceau escaped deportation to a Nazi death camp during World War II, unlike his father who died in Auschwitz. Marceau worked with the French Resistance to protect Jewish children, and later used the memories of his own life to feed his art.
Because he spoke English, he was recruited to be a liaison officer with Gen. George S. Patton’s army.
The problem, when it comes right down to it, is not intent but bureaucracy. Iraqis seeking to immigrate must navigate a Kafkaesque maze. Except for some employees at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, they can't apply in Iraq. They have to flee and join about 2 million Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries. They must then establish refugee status with the United Nations, which takes months. Finally, they must submit to separate rounds of interviews with officials from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, which is looking out for would-be terrorists. That takes more months.
The story of one family that made it illustrates the problem. Translator Khalid Abood al-Khafajee, 60, managed to get to Jordan. He might have languished there for years but for a grateful U.S. Marine, Capt. Zachary Iscol, who credits Abood with keeping dozens of Americans safe in sometimes-tense situations. Iscol pushed Abood's case so relentlessly it became a focus of a congressional hearing. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., quipped that perhaps "1.7 million hearings would bring 1.7 million people out."
But the figures are no joke. The Bush administration was slow to recognize the refugee crisis, which undermines its assertions that the invasion was the right decision and that Iraq is on its way to stability. Since 2003, the United States has admitted just 1,232 Iraqi refugees. In February, the State Department promised to admit 7,000 by the end of this month. It reduced that to 2,000 but might not even achieve half of that.
Gabriele Pauli, who is running for the leadership of Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union party, suggested this week that marriages should last just seven years.
During the launch of her campaign manifesto in Munich on Wednesday, the twice-divorced Pauli proposed the seven-year limit, with couples being given the option of renewing their commitment to each other or allowing their union to dissolve automatically.
"The basic approach is wrong," Pauli told reporters. "Many marriages last just because people believe they are safe.
"My suggestion is that marriages expire after seven years."
"We made a mistake," Catherine Mathis, vice president of corporate communications for The Times, told the newspaper's public editor.
A rally where each speaker denounces Ahmadinejad's reactionary policies and just a few call explicitly for military action will still be perceived, on campus and around the U.S., as pro-war. The right-wing media, from Fox News to the New York tabloids, has already jumped on the event, and will spin it to favor their cause. Conservative organizations with no affiliation to Columbia's campus, such as the David Project, have already signed on to the rally on Facebook, and are likely to distribute hundreds of warmongering flyers and picket signs. The rally will seem to be a sea of pro-war demonstrators -- and the more people who attend it and the more organizations that endorse it, the more powerful this disastrous message will be.
As far as the fighting between UFPJ and ANSWER -- I cannot speak for all of SDS, but ANSWER tends to have more anti-imperialist politics like that of SDS. There was an open letter to UFPJ written recently that was critical of the call that they put out for a protest in NYC on March 18th -- the day after the ANSWER March on the Pentagon and during the planned encampment in DC. Some SDS activists signed on to that letter and I agree with it. I oppose any kind of efforts to divide the anti-war movement.
[F]ight the tyrants everywhere; but do not ask them to your quarters, merely to spit upon them: and do not ask them to your quarters if you cannot spit upon them: to do the one is to ambush a human being as one might a rabid dog; to do the other is to ambush oneself, to force oneself — in disregard of those who have died trying to make the point — to force oneself to break faith with humanity.
giuliani's comments that NATO should be expanded to include israel, japan, australia, india and singapore (singapore?!?!) is ripe for ridicule. as steve jokes, rudy doesn't seem to be aware of where the north atlantic is.
but all kidding aside, giuliani's comments raise a real issue: what is NATO for? it was created to counter and deter the soviet union. when the soviet union collapsed it's purpose was over. i don't really know why the alliance wasn't just dissolved at that point. the members could still be allies, they just should have renegotiated a new arrangement that reflected the state of the world then, rather than the one that existed in 1949.
These critics blathered on about everything but the content. They knew they would lose that argument, so they didn’t raise it. They focused on the most obscure, most difficult to decipher element of the story and dove in, attacking CBS, Dan Rather, me, the story and the horse we rode in on—without respite, relentlessly, for days.
From French Rivière des Moines, which could be interpreted as 'river of the monks' or 'river of the mills.' In fact, however, Moines is here an abbreviation used by the French for Moingouena (Eng. Moingwena), an Algonquian subgroup (Vogel 1983). The Native American term is /mooyiinkweena/, and it was a derogatory name applied to the Moingouenas by the Peorias, another subgroup. Its meaning, as an early French writer said is, 'visage plein d'ordure' -- or in plain English 'shit-face' (Costa 2000:45).
For American parents looking for donor sperm to produce blond, blue-eyed Scandinavian babies, the search just got a little trickier.
A ban on sperm from all European countries with exposure to mad cow disease means U.S. sperm banks are running low.
The May 2005 decision by the Food and Drug Administration effectively blocked donors from Denmark to the United Kingdom. And while some sperm banks have had enough frozen stocks to cope with demand, they are now facing shortages.
"We still have a little bit left, but not much," said Claus Rodgaard, manager of Cryos International, a Danish-based sperm bank with an office in New York.
"We're not here to promote people to have blond, blue-eyed babies, but if those are the kinds of characteristics you're looking for, then Danish sperm is good for that," Rodgaard said. "That's all we have in Denmark."
Like it or not, pro-choice groups, then, will be compelled to take a stand. They will have to distinguish their concept of reproductive rights from that advanced by neo-eugenicists and to decide whether and how to endorse regulation of reproductive technologies without jeopardizing already tenuous rights. But along with these challenges come opportunities. By incorporating concerns about the abuse of reproductive technologies into a pro-choice platform, the movement can shift away from an individual-liberties paradigm toward a social justice orientation; move away from a single-issue focus on abortion toward a more comprehensive agenda; and form coalitions with other segments of the left.
This conflation of criticism of Move On's ill advised ad ... with support for continuation of the war is ridiculous.
To vote against a negative resolution is not automatically to support the thing being condemned. There are all manner of good reasons -- sound conservative reasons, even -- to vote against such a resolution, including the one that it ought not to be the job of Congress to condemn advertisements or public political speech.
"When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and, being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure. This however was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, "Don't give too much for the whistle;" and I saved my money."To the U.S. Senate, with regard to its "resolution":
"Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer and the only bounds it ought to know. . . . Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech, a thing terrible to traitors."To both, for--well, you figure it out:
"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly."
Labels: belly dance
The Senate passed the Jon Cornyn amendment condemning the MoveOn.org ad that called General David Petraeus a liar and potential traitor, 72-25. All 25 Senators who voted in support of these smears against an American military commander that they unanimously promoted to four stars came from the Democratic Party. It includes two declared presidential candidates and the top leadership of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
In 2004, bin Laden objected to our logical conclusion that he instead hated the West simply for its freedom. He posed this rhetorical question: "Contrary to what Bush says and claims -- that we hate freedom -- let him tell us then, 'Why did we not attack Sweden?'"
I think we can now answer that by pointing out that al-Qaida has just put out a $100,000 murder bounty on a Swedish cartoonist who was a little too free in his caricatures of Islam. Note that Sweden has no troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, lets in plenty of Middle Eastern Muslims and wants no part of George Bush's "war on terror."
But then radical Islamists have also threatened Danish cartoonists, Dutch filmmakers, German opera producers, and the pope. All have nothing to do with Iraq or Afghanistan or Israel -- but simply do things that radical Islam finds blasphemous.
So aren't these constantly changing gripes of al Qaeda's just pretexts for bin Laden's larger hatred of Western-inspired freedom?
At the same time, Osama bin Laden presents many good arguments against the president and many of his reasons for disapproving of Bush are similar to those of anti-Bush Americans. Would it be wrong to assume that there is some kind of connection between feelings of the American people and those of Osama bin Laden? As I would love to make this connection, I ultimately cannot because of the actions of our president. If I were to say I agree with bin Laden, that would mean that I agree with a terrorist; under the Patriot Act, I could be labeled a potential terrorist and my phone could be tapped, and every move I make could be watched and analyzed.
A Californian heavy metal fan, who converted to Islam and became the first American to be charged with treason in half a century, has been fingered as the author of Osama bin Laden's latest video lecture - which left the terror chief sounding like an anti-globalisation protester.
The al-Qaeda leader's first video message for three years featured a bizarre rant against America, with references to global warming, "insane taxes", the US mortgage market meltdown and rising interest rates.
American spy chiefs were quick to name Adam Gadahn, the head of al-Qaeda's English language media operations, as the author of large sections of bin Laden's broadcast.
Last October, the 28-year-old "loner" became the first American charged with treason since 1952, for appearing in a succession of al-Qaeda videos under the guise of "Azzam The American", in which he condemned globalisation and made American cultural references.
... A former senior US intelligence official said: "It has Adam Gadahn written all over it." Mike Baker, a former CIA covert operations officer, said the tape left bin Laden with "the title of biggest gas bag in the terrorist world."
In a move that has stunned New York, the Bloomberg administration is in discussions to escort the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to ground zero during his visit to New York next week, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said today.
The Iranian mission to the U.N. made the request to the New York City Police Department and the Secret Service, which will jointly oversee security during the leader's two-day visit. Mr. Ahmadinejad is scheduled to arrive September 24 to speak to the U.N. General Assembly as the Security Council decides whether to increase sanctions against his country for its uranium enrichment program.
The United Kingdom — the second-ranking power in the coalition that overthrew Saddam Hussein's tyranny —made moves this month to withdraw the last of its 5,000 troops from Iraq. Gen. David Petraeus, head of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, thanked them for their help.
But when the Iraqi Interior Ministry vowed this week [Sept. 16] to ban security contractor Blackwater USA from operating in the country, a shudder shot through the U.S. government. Within a day, a cobbled compromise kept Blackwater in Baghdad.
An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 private contractors — the rough equivalent of six U.S. Army brigades —work for the U.S. military in Iraq. They far outnumber the Queen's Owns. Whose own they are is anyone's guess, and everyone's concern. It is remarkable that Iraqis, not Americans, finally moved this issue to the front burner.
Blackwater is a poster child for the trend of military outsourcing — hiring private companies to do jobs that used to be done by troops. The trend in the U.S. dates to the end of the draft in 1973 and the rise of an all-volunteer military. It accelerated with the military cuts at the end of the Cold War.
It began snowballing in the Clinton Administration, where large-scale operations in Bosnia and Kosovo were run entirely by private firms. Under the current administration, former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pulled out all the stops on outsourcing.
At some point in this process, the list of tasks being outsourced grew from washing dishes and building airstrips to interrogating prisoners and piloting armed reconnaissance planes and helicopter gunships.
"This is a sea change in the way we prosecute warfare," said Peter Singer, a security analyst at the Brookings Institution. "There are historical parallels, but we haven't seen them for 250 years."
And it has happened largely without public debate or legislative action. It has crept so slowly and so far that no one, even the Pentagon, now can answer for sure what are the status, rights, and responsibilities of private military contractors, who supervises them and what nation’s laws and codes of justice they are accountable to.
The Constitution says little about the military, but that little is clear. The president is commander-in-chief, but Congress administers the armed forces. It has the power to declare war. It has the responsibility to fund the armed forces — or not, and thus cut off presidential adventurism.
Declarations of war are out of fashion now. That kicked one prop out from under the constitutional check. Now, with the increasing use of private contractors to do military jobs, the executive branch has begun to shake free of the other one.
Blackwater describes itself as "a turnkey solution provider for 4th generation warfare." On such a matter it may feel quaint to cite a Constitution written in the age of sail and black powder, but the Founders knew well what follows from the untrammeled temptations of kings, and they knew the long, bloody history of Europe that testified to it. Battlefield technology has changed a great deal since then; human nature less so.
Many theorists consider these private military factions as the equivalent of the Knights Templar during the Crusades, raking in huge coffers by assisting the Christians against the Muslims.
I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all.
“It was nothing we did,” said Marine Lieutenant Colonel Drew Crane who was visiting for the day from Fallujah. “The people here just couldn’t take it anymore.”
What he said next surprised me even more than what I was seeing.
“You know what I like most about this place?” he said.
“What’s that?” I said.
“We don’t need to wear body armor or helmets,” he said.
I was poleaxed. Without even realizing it, I had taken off my body armor and helmet. I took my gear off as casually as I do when I take it off after returning to the safety of the base after patrolling. We were not in the safety of the base and the wire. We were safe because we were in Ramadi.
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned that it may take the U.S. government as long as two years to process and admit nearly 10,000 Iraqi refugees referred by the United Nations for resettlement to the United States, because of bureaucratic bottlenecks.
In a bluntly worded State Department cable titled "Iraqi Refugee Processing: Can We Speed It Up?" Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker noted that the Department of Homeland Security had only a handful of officers in Jordan to vet the refugees.
Bush administration officials in Washington immediately disputed several of Crocker's claims.
Still, the "sensitive" but unclassified memo, sent Sept. 7, laid out a wrenching, ground-level view of the U.S. government's halting response to Iraq's refugee crisis. Human rights groups and independent analysts say thousands of desperate Iraqis who have worked alongside Americans now find themselves the targets of insurgents and sectarian militias, prompting many of them to seek residency in the United States or Europe.
Although the subject was little addressed during Crocker's and Gen. David H. Petraeus's public testimony to Congress last week on the state of the war, the envoy has raised the issue in two cables in the past two months. The subject is likely to be discussed when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets this week with congressional leaders to outline the administration's refugee admissions goals for 2008 and when the Senate resumes its Iraq war debate.
... Each DHS case officer in Jordan can interview only four cases a day on average because of the in-depth questioning required, and just a handful of officers were in the region, partly because Syria refuses to issue visas to DHS personnel, Crocker said. "It would take this team alone almost two years to complete" interviews on 10,000 U.N. referrals, he estimated.
As more Iraqis flee, he noted, delays are "likely to grow considerably."
"Refugees who have fled Iraq continue to be a vulnerable population while living in Jordan and Syria," he wrote. "The basis for . . . resettlement is the deteriorating protection environment in these countries."
It is six weeks since the Government promised an “urgent review” of the situation of Iraqis whose lives are in danger because of their work as interpreters for the British Army. During that time, the 5,000 British troops have pulled back from central Basra to the airport, mainly for their own safety. Nothing has been done for the interpreters. Several have already been tortured and killed. Some have received death threats from militia thugs who accuse them of collaboration. Their homes are unprotected and their families live in terror. Out of loyalty and honour, they remain at their posts, helping British troops understand the dangers and the confusion. In return, they have been contemptuously brushed aside, as though they were trouble-makers demanding special favours. This is utterly shameful.
Nine or ten masked men went to the home of Moayed Ahmed Khalaf in the al-Hayaniah district of Basra and beat him in front of his wife and mother, four sources told The Times. They then dragged him away, telling the frantic women that they would bring him back shortly. Khalaf’s body was found on Al Qa’ed Street later that night. He had been shot multiple times, according to Colonel Ali Manshed, commander of the Shatt-al-Arab police station.
A cousin, a close friend and two other interpreters all told The Times that Khalaf, 31, had worked for the British at their Basra airport base. Colonel Manshed said that everyone questioned by the police had said Khalaf was an interpreter, adding: “He was a good man, everyone liked him and there was no other reason to kill him.”
However Major Mike Shearer, a spokesman at the airport base, said that the army could find no record of Khalaf having worked for the army.
Labels: No Friend Forgotten
CARACAS, Venezuela -Venezuelan officials claimed a world record Saturday for making the largest pot of soup, a giant cauldron of stew prepared by President Hugo Chavez's government.Today...
Oropeza called it "Bolivarian stew" , a play on the name of Chavez's socialist movement, named in honor of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar....
CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez threatened on Monday to close or take over any private school that refuses to submit to the oversight of his socialist government as it develops a new curriculum and textbooks.
"Society cannot allow the private sector to do whatever it wants," said Chavez, speaking on the first day of classes.
All schools will be bound to "subordinate themselves to the constitution" and comply with the "new Bolivarian educational system," he said, referring to his socialist movement named after South American independence hero Simon Bolivar
“We could spend all that money to cut emissions and end up with more land flooded next century because people would be poorer,” Dr. Lomborg said as we surveyed Manhattan’s expanded shoreline. “Wealth is a more important factor than sea-level rise in protecting you from the sea. You can draw maps showing 100 million people flooded out of their homes from global warming, but look at what’s happened here in New York. It’s the same story in Denmark and Holland — we’ve been gaining land as the sea rises.”
Dr. Lomborg, who’s best known (and most reviled in some circles) for an earlier book, “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” runs the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which gathers economists to set priorities in tackling global problems. In his new book, he dismisses the Kyoto emissions cuts as a “feel-good” strategy because it sounds virtuous and lets politicians make promises they don’t have to keep. He outlines an alternative “do-good” strategy that would cost less but accomplish more in dealing with climate change as well as more pressing threats like malaria, AIDS, polluted drinking water and malnutrition.
If you’re worried about stronger hurricanes flooding coasts, he says, concentrate on limiting coastal development and expanding wetlands right now rather than trying to slightly delay warming decades from now. To give urbanites a break from hotter summers, concentrate on reducing the urban-heat-island effect. If cities planted more greenery and painted roofs and streets white, he says, they could more than offset the impact of global warming.
What is so extraordinary about this political season is just how many storms are brewing around the world, any number of which could plausibly grow into Category 5 game changers. That's largely the price of a protracted war that is deeply unpopular both at home and abroad. Historically, wars are game changers in their own right, and Iraq has shown the pernicious tendency to exacerbate or ignite other crises, as evidenced by an increasingly unstable Middle East and an escalating confrontation between the United States and Iran. Similarly, the fate of the American intervention in Afghanistan and the fight against Al Qaeda are closely tied to the deteriorating situation in neighboring Pakistan.
All that needs to happen for the partisan rebranding to complete itself is for the independent-minded middle third of the electorate to be convinced, once and for all, that they can really trust Democratic leaders to do whatever’s necessary to keep us safe. Bill Clinton did okay on foreign policy, but given the peaceful slough over which he presided — after the Cold War, before 9/11 — those eight years now seem like the Democrats’ national-security dress rehearsal. A majority may have come to see the old daddy party as half-assed and reckless, but in this jihadi era, they need to feel in their gut that the Democrats are Jodie Foster mommies, shrewd and steely and perfectly willing to kill bad guys.
In Hillary Clinton, an actual mommy, the metaphor and reality are finally united. Which is, of course, her particular Catch-22 as a candidate for president: It’s her unfeminine coldness that turns people off, even though heart-on-her-sleeve shows of (Bill Clintonian) emotion — or “apologizing” for her vote in 2002 to authorize the war — would make her seem too soft and girlie to be commander-in-chief.
When it comes to most candidates’ positions on Iraq, and certainly hers, it’s impossible to parse out precisely the mix of motivations — how much is a good-faith struggle to figure out a nuanced, least-bad policy and how much is a political calculation to maximize votes?
You can argue about the surge. The evidence is encouraging that the increased US military effort, together with a change in tactics, has reduced the violence in Iraq. On the other hand there are legitimate questions about the long-term viability of the strategy. But if America is to emerge from Iraq with a renewed sense of its global role, you shouldn’t really debase the motives of those who lead US forces there. Because in the end what they are doing is deeply honourable – fighting to destroy an enemy that delights in killing women and children; rebuilding a nation ruined by rapine and savagery; trying to bridge sectarian divides that have caused more misery in the world than the US could manage if it lasted a thousand years.
It is helpful to think about Iraq this way. Imagine if the US had never been there; and that this sectarian strife had broken out in any case – as, one day it surely would, given the hatreds engendered by a thousand years of Muslim history and the efforts of Saddam Hussein.
What would we in the West think about it? What would we think of as our responsibilities? There would be some who would want to wash their hands of it. There would be others who would think that UN resolutions and diplomatic initiatives would be enough to salve our consciences if not to stop the slaughter.
But many of us surely would think we should do something about it – as we did in the Balkans more than a decade ago – and as, infamously, we failed to do in Africa at the same time. And we would know that, for all our high ideals and our soaring rhetoric, there would be only one country with the historical commitment to make massive sacrifices in the defence of the lives and liberty of others, the leadership to mobilise efforts to relieve the suffering and, above all, the economic and military wherewithal to make it happen.
That’s the only really workable analogy between the US and Rome. When Rome fell, the world went dark for the best part of a millennium. America may not be an empire. But whatever it is, for the sake of humanity, pray it lasts at least as long as Rome.
The most recent breasts supposed to have inspired champagne coupes belong to the American model and photographer Lee Miller. As she cut a swathe through 1930s Paris as the lover of surrealist artist Man Ray, Miller was widely regarded to have the most beautiful breasts in the city – thus, it’s said, inspiring a French glass company to model a new coupe on her form. Miller’s lovely figure appeared in many Man Ray images, but was discreetly hidden when, as a war photographer in 1945, she posed naked in Hitler’s bathtub in liberated Munich.
So here’s the rule. You never repeat right wing talking points to attack your own, ever. You never enter that echo chamber as a participant. Ever. You never give them a hammer to beat the left with. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
I wrote about this last year when Hillary Clinton went after John Kerry for that stupid joke:
I can see we’re going to have to set up some sort of “Democratic PR school” soon. They’ve become so accustomed to being George Bush’s whipping posts they no longer recognize it when they have the advantage, and as the John Kerry incident demonstrates they are in sore need of a few remedial lessons on how to press it when they do.
First of all — I don’t care if John Kerry was eating live babies on TV, one week out from an election you do not repeat GOP talking points. Ever. ...
The war is a desperate mess. When offered the opportunity to cudgel your own side, you pivot and attack. How about, “glad you mentioned that…I think an ad is about as relevant to George Bush’s growing collection of toe tags as a haircut is to the problems facing this country.” Or, “thanks for the opportunity to discuss this, Chris. I personally would not choose the word “betrayal” to characterize General Petraeus’s lack of judgment or skewing of the facts to perpetuate the war, but I do think we should be looking at the fact that this was the bloodiest summer ever in Iraq and asking ourselves if the assessment we’re being given about the situation is realistic…”
There are any number of ways you can answer that question well and none of them involve attacking MoveOn. They’re out there on the left so you can look “moderate.” They’re saying what needs to be said, opening the conversation up so John Edwards isn’t considered the left-wing fringe loon that nobody should listen to. ...
Labels: 2008 Elections
Middle of the Pack:Well, the bottom-of the-barrel list is mostly right, at least, though I confess to suprise over where Huckabee fell, and I haven't seriously thought about Fred Thompson yet (because, well, it's a bit hard to do so, and he just got around to declaring, after all.)
If your top choices aren't in the running, keep an eye on these candidates in 2008.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) - 56.52%
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (D) - 54.35%
Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich (D) - 54.35%
Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo (R) - 53.26%
Businessman John Cox (R) - 51.09%
Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (R) - 51.09%
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) - 48.91%
New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) - 47.83%
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards (D) - 47.83%
Arizona Senator John McCain (R) - 36.96%
Bottom of the Barrel:
You won't be getting on the campaign trail with these candidates anytime soon.
View/Hide Bottom of the Barrel
Former Tennessee Senator Thompson (R) - 36.96%
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) - 33.70%
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (R) - 32.61%
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) - 31.52%