Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Memo to John Edwards 

This is how you respond when someone tries to manufacture a controversy and demands resignations over something someone on your campaign said:
“We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because he's black." -- Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama's Communications Director


Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Today, the AP reports this:
Bush urges diversity in spy recruitment

WASHINGTON - President Bush instructed the nation's new spy chief to focus on finding more recruits with the language skills and cultural background to collect information on al-Qaida and other terrorist groups....

The president — and later [new Director of National Intelligence Mike] McConnell — also focused on a persistent weakness in American intelligence-gathering: a dearth of operatives who speak critical languages, such as Arabic or Farsi.

"The old policies have hampered some common-sense reforms, such as hiring first- and second-generation Americans who possess native language skills, cultural insights and a keen understanding of the threats we face," McConnell said. (Emphasis added.)
Of course, I'm all for cultural diversity -- it's actually rather shocking that it took more than five years after 9/11 to say, hey, maybe we should be recruiting translators with native Arabic skills -- but what about this kind of diversity:
The number of Arabic linguists discharged from the military for violating its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is higher than previously reported, according to records obtained by a research group....

Between 1998 and 2004, the military discharged 20 Arabic and six Farsi speakers, according to Department of Defense data obtained by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Obviously, as the dates attest, this is not purely a partisan concern -- Bill Clinton shares the blame. But if 9/11 really changed everything, if George Bush really made fighting terrorism the priority that his rhetoric claims, those 26 translators would be busy protecting us.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Shopping for Baby 

I went to Old Navy to look for some gender neutral babywear, and found instead that biology is clearly destiny at Old Navy, which gives girls three choices in its newborn size onesies:
Adorable bodysuits offer playful glimpses at baby's destiny! Embroidered or sparkly stars, mortar board, or crown graphic is accompanied by "Future Cheerleader," "Future Valedictorian" or "Future Prom Queen" text. Two snaps at back of neck and along bottom make for easy dressing and diaper changes.
"Future Cheerleader," "Future Valedictorian" or "Future Prom Queen"? Are those the only options? And which one of these things is not like the others?


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hillary Must Be So Proud 

She scored a couple of big endorsements today from two South Carolina legislators. Seems one of them, State Senator Robert Ford, might have wanted to support Obama, but chose Clinton because, you know, Obama's black:
State Sens. Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson told The Associated Press they believe Clinton is the only Democrat who can win the presidency.... Ford said Obama winning the primary would drag down the rest of the party.

"Then everybody else on the ballot is doomed," Ford said. "Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he's black and he's at the top of the ticket — we'd lose the House, the Senate and the governors and everything."

"I'm a gambling man. I love Obama," Ford said. "But I'm not going to kill myself." ...

Clinton's campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee said they were happy to have Ford and Jackson's support.
What is it about Barack Obama that seems to make everybody want to say something stupid?


Friday, February 09, 2007

Dad and Man at Yale 

Seems like George Bush may not be the only Yalie with Oedipal issues.

Mary sent me this amusing piece about the habit of co-recreational showering at Yale, which prompted an email from an administrator admonishing students that, while "this may be pleasureable and exciting for you, ... it is a violation of community standards. Please stop." What caught my eye was the supercharged rhetoric that followed from campus conservatives:
Dan Gelernter, class of 2009, is co-editor of Critical Mass, aimed at "collegiate conservatives," and called the episode "a new chapter in the story of Yale’s continuing descent into the depths of moral degradation."

"I can first of all confirm that this is a real memo, not a prank," Gelernter wrote. "It is not merely unfortunate, but pathetic and disgusting that the Master needed to send such a note to us … but in the moral vacuum that has been created by Yale intellectuals, students seem to be left without even the most basic guidelines for proper and decent behavior." (Emphasis added.)
Hmmmm. The moral vacuum that has been created by Yale intellectuals? What Yale intellectuals could Dan Gelernter be referring to? Perhaps he means his father, Yale professor David Gelernter, whose principal claim to fame (other than being a victim of the Unabomber) is having created a computer language, "Linda", named after porn star Linda Lovelace?


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Joe Me The Money 

In his own way, Joe Lieberman is onto something here:
"I think we have to start thinking about a war on terrorism tax," the independent Connecticut lawmaker said. "I mean people keep saying we're not asking a sacrifice of anybody but our military in this war and some civilians who are working on it."

"When you put together the (Pentagon) budget and the Homeland Security budgets, we need to ask people to help us in a way that they know when they pay more it will go for their security," he said during a Senate panel hearing on the defense budget request.
Since the November elections, I have thought that an answer to the Democrats' conundrum over how to oppose Bush's conduct of the Iraq War without endangering the troops in the field lay in Congress's tax power. Bush wants $245 billion this year for Iraq and Afghanistan? Fine, let's pay for that by repealing the Bush tax cuts -- or even the 40% or so of those cuts that goes to the top 1% in terms of income -- rather than passing that cost down into the future. (I haven't had a chance to run down exact numbers, but 2004 figures suggest that repealing the Bush tax cuts on the top 1% could pay for at least half of Bush's war budget -- more than that if we focus just on Iraq). If Bush vetoes a bill that approves his war budget to protect tax cuts for the very rich (and you know he would veto it), then who's not supporting the troops? Undoubtedly, he would accuse Dems. of class warfare, blah, blah, blah, but how would he avoid the stark fact that when push comes to shove he'd choose Joe Millionaire over G.I. Joe?

Now, obviously, I don't agree with Lieberman's facile equation of Iraq with a "war on terrorism", and his tone suggests that he wants to use more fear-mongering to increase taxes across the board, rather than focusing on the repeal of the top-heavy Bush tax cuts.

But it's a start.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Questions I Don't Like Answering 

"Dad, are you addicted to coffee?"


Friday, February 02, 2007

Pudding, Meet Proof. Proof, Meet Pudding. 

Ann Bartow deconstructs Linda Hirschman's bizarre and unscientific critique of women's political participation, where Hirschman condemns women as less politically well informed than men:

Most of the women [in her non-representative sample] read People and Real Simple magazines. They all listen to news on the car radio, mostly National Public Radio. And almost all their full-time working husbands consume immeasurably more political information than they do (”He reads 10 times what I do,” one told me)....

As a 2006 study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press put it, American adults live in “A World of His and Hers.” Two million more men than women read either Time or Newsweek; more men listen to radio news and talk radio, read the paper and get news online. (Emphasis added.)
So much for quality over quantity, as Hirschman seems to be saying, yeah, you may listen to NPR, but you'd be a better person if you spent ten times as long listening to Rush Limbaugh. (As Sean Hannity might say, "three hours a day every day is all we ask".)

Of course, if women were so poorly informed, we'd expect to see it in the results. As Ann points out, women actually vote in greater numbers than do men. And then of course there's the fact if women were the only voters, we wouldn't have had a Republican elected President since 1988* -- and even the Bush-Dukakis and Reagan-Carter landslides would have been 1-point squeakers.**

*Based on popular vote. I haven't looked at state-level data.

**Thus awarding Walter Mondale the dubious distinction of being the only Democrat to lose in a landslide (56-44) among women since the emergence of the "gender gap".


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Political Statement? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Political Statements! 

Mary Cheney is not making a political statement:
Cheney ... defended her decision to have a baby with her partner and called it a "blessing from God" and "not a political statement." ...

"We have a loving, stable relationship, a loving, stable home," Cheney added. "We can give a child a good home, and we want to have a child."
That about says it all, doesn't it? Reminds me of another well-known, and definitely not political, statement:
My feet are tired, but my soul is rested.


Turning Paper Into Gold 

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will be released July 21.

It will have a suggested retail price of $34.99 (more for two fancier versions, less from some retailers). The first six books have sold 325 million copies.

If this one sells just as well as the average of the first six (which would probably make it something of a flop), that's $1.9 billion.

Part of me wants to cheer -- Deathly Hallows should surpass every movie ever made, and books are, after all, better than movies.

Part of me wants to groan -- while I like Harry Potter (and will be on line to buy one five on July 21), the books' financial success obviously far outstrips their quality.

Either way, Rowling's most appropriate title was clearly her first one: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.


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