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April 29, 2005

Isn't that special

Bolton at Yale:

When John Bolton '70 LAW '74 took the podium for his commencement speech at the height of campus demonstrations against the Vietnam War, he was not out to please the crowd. Calling the event "an exercise in ideological self-congratulation," Bolton laid out the future of American politics for his left-leaning classmates.

"The conservative underground is alive and well here," he said. "If we do not make our influence felt, rest assured we will in the real world."

* * *
Though Bolton supported the Vietnam War, he declined to enter combat duty, instead enlisting in the National Guard and attending law school after his 1970 graduation. "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy," Bolton wrote of his decision in the 25th reunion book. "I considered the war in Vietnam already lost."

So he supported the war, but considered it already lost, and didn't want to die there himself.

And you wonder why the term "chickenhawk" is bandied about so frequently these days?

The Pajama News Network

Simply unbelievable. The right wing bloggers genuinely believe are in competition with actual news services. They honestly don't understand the distinction between critiquing the reporting work others have done and doing that work themselves.

Here. Just go read. Unbelievable.

...if blogs are in competition with anyone, it is op-ed columnists and commentators. But I do look forward to this new venture--it should provide countless hours of rainy day fun.

One of these things is not like the others

One of these things just doesn't belong.


April 26, 2005

What would Jesus filibuster?

Jack Hitt ponders:

The question is bizarre, of course, but the fact that many prominent religious and political leaders believe that there is an answer surely marks our time as pretty strange.

How quickly it has all happened — that the media, particularly television, has convinced itself that Christianity is little more than a Republican political action committee. When the pope died, CNN's Wolf Blitzer introduced former Clinton aide Paul Begala and right-wing pundit Robert Novak this way: "Bob is a good Catholic; I'm not so sure about Paul Begala." At the bottom of the screen, CNN ran an informative factoid for the audience: "Many Catholic doctrines are conservative."

Broadcast media prefer to cast Christianity in the role of "right-wing values PAC" because it's so neat and tidy. They don't much like even to say the name Jesus on air because then we might have to talk about his ideas. "Evangelical Christianity" is much simpler because you can treat it as just another special-interest group, like the Teamsters or the neocons.

Leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson have used the media to redefine Christianity as the "Republican base" — all between commercials hawking family-values videotapes or pleading for more contributions.

Gosh, WWJD? It makes me wax nostalgic for the days when people wore those bracelets and asked the question, "What would Jesus do?" At least people said his name then and pondered his ideas, using the question as the beginning of an engaged moral debate. Few would have appreciated those bracelets as much as the man himself — Jesus, who preached a new way of thinking about religion. Instead of taking orders from temple chieftains, Jesus provoked his followers into thinking for themselves. His preferred media outlet? A literary genre called the parable. It's a style of Q&A wherein the teacher doesn't give the answer but challenges the listener with a half-finished story that forces him to think through to the answer by himself. The radical right has swapped out this genius preacher for some easy listening. They insist that everything will be fine if we just nail the Ten Commandments above every courthouse.

Curious. Jesus updated the Ten Commandments in his most famous speech, the Sermon on the Mount. In it, one finds the Eight Beatitudes. Why don't we ever hear about nailing those somewhere? Here's why: It's not simply the law in the Ten Commandments that attracts fundamentalists. Rather, it's the syntax. The authoritarianism of so many "Thou Shalt Nots."

The syntax of Jesus' Eight Beatitudes is not so easy (Blessed are the poor in spirit…. Blessed are the peacemakers). These words invite the kind of hard questions that Jesus loved to tweak his followers with. How are they blessed? And why? It's just like Jesus to leave us with questions instead of answers.

More, go read.


April 25, 2005

Guckert made more than 200 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings. He had little to no previous journalism experience, previously worked as a male escort, and was refused a congressional press pass.

Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance, however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits.

Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One—which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House. On other days, the president held photo opportunities.

On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing. Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.

In March, 2003, Guckert left the White House twice on days he had never checked in with the Secret Service. Over the next 22 months, Guckert failed to check out with the Service on fourteen days. On several of these visits, Guckert either entered or exited by a different entry/exit point than his usual one. On one of these days, no briefing was held; on another, he checked in twice but failed to check out.

More here. But remember, the only thing interesting about this story is that it shows how much liberals hate gays. Or something like that.

...as someone said somewhere, if Gannon were a drug dealer or an embezzler getting this kind of access, it would be news. Don't let the right wing noise machine convince you that his specific alleged criminal activity should be politely overlooked. There's something going on here, and if this exact set of circumstances had occurred eight years ago, a special prosecutor would already have been preparing the case for impeachment. And the news media would have been camping out on G/G's doorstep 24/7.

Des Moines update

Apparently quite a few readers were unhappy with Cityview's decision to drop the strip--enough so that they've reconsidered, and will continue to run TMW after all.

I'm really grateful for the outpouring of support. And as for the paper itself, as far as I'm concerned this was just a little bump in the road, rapidly receding in the rear view mirror. If you're in Des Moines, it's time to shower the new owners of the paper with encouragement and support and all around best wishes for their new venture. They listened to you, let them know you appreciate it.


April 24, 2005

Up to a foot of snow?

My condolences to everyone affected by this. Seriously. This has been a tough winter, and after a week of warm weather, I think I would really lose my shit if it suddenly started snowing again here.

Signs of the times
A German citizen detained for five months in an Afghan prison was released in May 2004 on direct orders from Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, after she learned the man had been mistakenly identified as a terror suspect, government officials said Friday.

The officials, who confirmed an account of Ms. Rice's decision that was first reported by NBC News, said that when Khaled el-Masri was taken from a bus on the Serbian-Macedonian border on Dec. 31, 2003, the Macedonian and the American authorities believed he was a member of Al Qaeda who had trained at one of Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan.

But within several months they concluded he was the victim of mistaken identity, the officials said. His name was similar to a Qaeda suspect on an international watch list of possible terrorist operatives, they said.

By then, Mr. Masri, 41, a car salesman who lives in Ulm, Germany, had been flown on a C.I.A.-chartered plane to the prison under a secret American program of transferring terror suspects from country to country for interrogation, officials said. At the prison in Kabul, Mr. Masri said, he was shackled, beaten, photographed nude and injected with drugs by interrogators who pressed him to reveal ties to Al Qaeda.

For reasons that are unclear, he remained for months at a prison known locally as the "Salt Pit." The case reached Ms. Rice in May 2004, officials said, and twice, over several weeks, she ordered him immediately freed. He was released in Albania on May 29, 2004.

The American officials acknowledged Friday that the detention had been a serious mistake and that he had been held too long after American officials realized their error.



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