Saturday, August 19, 2006

 

"Oh Great! Snakes On Crack!"

Yep, it's everything you could have &#$^@*! expected -- and more! Very well done, absolutely absurd escapist fare! The feel-good hit of the summer!

And, amazingly, Samuel L. Jackson doesn't get all the great lines! The co-pilot is hilarious!

UPDATE: Well, the box office was not as kind to "SoaP" as producers might have wished. This is a nice case of being too cute by half. The filmmaers were smart in creating all the Internet buzz about the movie. However, they went too far. They shouldn't have held the movie back from critics as they did. Usually when that happens, it's because the movie is really bad and the makers are afraid that the critics will kill the movie on opening weekend. The reviews actually weren't bad. The Post's critic loved it. As did Slate's and several others. Some favorable reviews could have swayed the casual movie-goer who might have been on the fence about going to see it on Friday night. Reviews still have some power in helping "open" a film, particularly, off-the-beaten-(flight)path that doesn't have a built-in constituency.

"Snakes" could have benefited from the Friday reviews.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

 

Open Bar/Open Thread

Sidle on up and pour yourself a cold one, pilgrim.

Let's hear what's on your mind.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

 

Just De Facto-s, Ma'am

The "Republican" candidate in Connecticut is, ahem, Joe Lieberman.

Tthe White House also
declined to support the official Senate Republican candidate:


The White House on Tuesday made it official: Bush is not endorsing the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut. That, of course, is tacit encouragement to Republicans to vote for incumbent Joe Lieberman, who is continuing to run even though he lost to Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary.
"tacit encouragement" = "de facto endorsement" in political double-speak that some RT readers have difficulty understanding.

And that
reflects the wishes of the GOP voters in the Nutmeg State, as per the latest poll:

A new Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters in Connecticut shows incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman (D/I) leading businessman Ned Lamont (D) and former state Rep. Alan Schlesinger. Lieberman won the support of 53 percent of those surveyed. Lamont had 41 percent, while Schlesinger took an amazingly low four percent.

The poll seems to show that Lieberman,
who lost the Aug. 8 Democratic primary to Lamont, has become the de facto Republican candidate in the race, scoring incredibly high with GOPers in the state. Lieberman recieved 75 percent among Republicans in the sample as compared to 13 percent for Lamont and 10 percent for Schlesinger. Democrats supported Lamont by a 63 percent to 35 percent margin (Schlesinger did not even receive one percent support). Lieberman also won Independents by a 58 percent to 36 percent margin over Lamont. Schlesinger clocked in at three percent.

Those head-to-head numbers tracked with other measurements of support for the three men in the poll. Overall, 53 percent of likely voters thought Lieberman deserved re-election while 40 percent did not. A whopping 80 percent of Republicans said the incumbent deserved another term compared with just 32 percent of Democrats. Independents favored another term for Lieberman by a 57 percent to 35 percent margin. [bolded emphasis added]
Chris Cilizza also calls this "the single most fascinating race in the country at the moment and shows no signs of getting less interesting in the coming 80 (or so) days before the election."

It thus warrants the "obsessive" coverage that this blogger has given it over the last week or so! (Wink, wink, Ed!)


UPDATE: Sidney Blumenthal on the GOP's embracing of Lieberman:

For the Democratic Party the Lieberman problem is a serious one. After his primary loss he has become the de facto Republican candidate, virtually endorsed by Bush, Cheney and RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who have withdrawn support from the actual Republican candidate in the race. Lieberman can only win by securing almost all the Republican votes. His campaign must pull Republican votes to the polls, courtesy of the national GOP on which his
ambition has become dependent. (Emphasis added)

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Tsunami Rising?

The problem facing Republicans right now, just about ten weeks from Election Day is that it could be too late to stop an electoral tsunami from overtaking them:


Despite a divisive Democratic primary in Connecticut and renewed attention to homeland security in the wake of a foiled terrorist plot, the political wave that Democrats hope will wash out Republican majorities in Congress appears to be getter larger.

With 83 days before the election, independent analysts and political observers say that the universe of competitive congressional races is broadening. Most of these newly identified endangered incumbents are Republicans, increasing the chances of a Democratic takeover of one or both chambers of Congress.

Republicans were expected to benefit politically from the thwarted plot to blow up airplanes bound for the U.S. and Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-Conn.) loss to Ned Lamont, an anti-war candidate, in the Democratic primary. But lawmakers and political strategists noted that those events have not shifted perceptions about President Bush or the GOP-controlled Congress.

“I don’t think this is much of a reprieve for the Republicans,” said a widely respected Republican strategist. “This foiled airliner attack won’t have a lasting impact on the electoral process because it didn’t happen. I don’t think it changes much of the dynamic.”
Add to that, this interesting synthesis of polls going back several months; they indicate that the anti-Bush, anti-GOP sensibility seems to have been locked in for some time now.

Finally, David Broder puts some flesh to the cold numbers and assesses
the situation in one key bellwhether state. None of the Ohio Republicans to whom he speaks are able to put a positive spin on the situation -- which seems to ripple across the Midwest:


I had dinner one night with a group of Ohio Republicans, all with many years of experience in state politics and none directly engaged in this year's gubernatorial race. One of them said, "I'm afraid this could be another 1982," a year when recession pushed unemployment to 15 percent and cost the Republicans the governorship. Another said, "I'd settle right now for another 1982. I'm afraid it will be another 1974," the year of the Watergate election, when Democrats swept everything in sight.

Ohio may be particularly vulnerable because the economy in parts of the state where the auto industry remains vital has been hurt by layoffs, and because a series of scandals has left retiring Gov. Bob Taft with approval ratings in the teens. But similar concerns are voiced across the Midwest.

A leading Minnesota Republican told me that polls there show "the bottom has dropped out" of Rep. Mark Kennedy's challenge to Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, the Democratic candidate for an open Democratic Senate seat. Kennedy has company among the corps of Republican congressmen who thought this would be a good year to move up. In Wisconsin, Rep. Mark Green is lagging slightly behind Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. In Oklahoma, Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. is far worse off in his challenge to Democratic Gov. Brad Henry. And in Iowa, Rep. Jim Nussle, the strong early favorite to capture the open governorship from the Democrats, now finds himself in a real battle with Democrat Chet Culver.

For all of them, service in this Congress has turned out to be a handicap rather than a benefit to their chances of advancement. The reason was explained in blunt terms by the Republican governor of one of the states where a congressman of his party is struggling for statewide office. "What has this Congress done that anyone should applaud?" he asked scornfully. "Nothing on immigration, nothing on health care, nothing on energy -- and nothing on the war. They deserve a good kick in the pants, and that's what they're going to get."
The trouble for the party is that, the situation maay be irretrievable. Yes, it still remains true that "XXX weeks is a lifetime in politics." However, it also becomes the case that a poor campaign environment -- whether individual one or the rare "broad, seasonal" mood across a country -- takes on an aerodynamic quality: Like an airliner in distress, at a certain point, not even the most talented pilot can pull the plane out of a death-spiral. The forces of gravity kick in and make it impossible to effect a soft-landing.

That may be where the GOP is right now. It is notable how several of these stories -- particularly those discussing the polls -- use phrases similar to "the effect of the bombing plot" may not have fully taken hold yet on public perception.

The thing is -- actually, it may very well have. And. they. don't. care.

The American public may not be as informed -- or skeptical -- on the details of the bomb plot as
Andrew Sullivan , but they may have reached a point where the revelation that "there are terrorists out there" is something that they've factored in -- and is no longer the sole reason to vote for one candidate or another.

Further, it could very well be the case that they are no longer interested in anything coming from Republicans at this point, because they've heard it all before -- and aren't seeing or feeling any positive change coming about in either their personal situation or the country's or the world's circumstances.

Note the words of the people Broder talked to. These are professional, loyal Republican activists and strategists: They feel that the party hasn't done anything to reward a vote. True, Ohio is a special case given the corruption that is spread throughout the state party; but the Abramoff and Duke Cunningham scandals have managee to taint the entire party. Furthermore, the bad taste that the latest Israeli conflict has created has depressed some of the administration's most earnest foreign policy supporters.

This is a recipe for conservative and loyal Republican voters to stay home -- at best -- while Democrats are as enraged, engaged (and, worse, focused) as they have been in some time.

And, of course, in the real world of Washington, D.C., rats don't desert a sinking ship -- they pay for
safe passage on the nearest pirate vessel.

As for everyone else, well, let's hope there is a good number of life rafts available.

UPDATE: Social conservatives also checking their flotation devices? After tipping his cap to George Will's John-Kerry-was-right epiphany (see here), my erstwhile colleague Rod Dreher asks, "Are Roberts and Alito worth this mess?"

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Doctrine Collapse

Michelle Mitchell unfortunately was not able to guest-blog during my recent Far Eastern excursion. However, she took a subsequent trip abroad herself -- to the UK.

She sent an e-mail last week as the bombing plot was revealed (the opening line refers to the fact that the last two times she went to Afghanistan/Pakistan, the region was struck with severe earthquakes):


Well, as if you didn't already think that something dire happened every time I left the country, I'll bet this one did it for you!

I wasn't going to weigh in until I returned to New York (in what will be a miserable flight experience--still not allowed to bring on reading material or even extra socks, which admittedly are luxuries, but can you imagine a 777 packed with us spoiled western types, used to tapping away on keyboards or luxuriating in that key pair of extra socks, now forced to watch the wretched in-flight entertainment? Great news for Hollywood, though.). But then [Saturday] night, I caught the portion of President Bush's radio address where he connected the London bomb plot to Hezbollah. Wha-? This is when one has to think--hope, actually--that the president is just saying such things because he thinks this is "easier" for a war-muddled American public to digest. Because if he really believes this, then we're in real trouble.

First, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda have very different goals. And follow different religious tenets. That aside, if the London bomb plot points to anything, it is the Bush Administration's failed effort in Afghanistan. The "mastermind" spent time there, and (if MI5 intelligence is correct, and there is a raging debate here in GB that it is -- as unlike under our Patriot Act rules, one picked up for suspicions of terrorism actually have to be charged with something within a set amount of time -- and as I write this no charges have been made) many of the British-born suspects hail from Pakistani origin, which is the location of much of the support both financial and physical for the Taliban.

There seems to be a blind eye turned towards Afhanistan, the first battle in the war on terror, on the part of Bush, and that is understandable--as we are on the brink of utterly losing. That aside, when the president of the United States makes boneheaded statements like the Hezbollah line, he looks like an idiot to an international audience. And, like it or not, that's what the "war on terror" is all about: you HAVE to connect with the international audience, because you need to show capability and elasticity in order to organize cooperation. No one can claim that the part of the war on terror that the U.S. went at alone has been a raging success. We need to work with other countries. Whether we want to or not, it is a growing fact.
I thought Michele's comments about Bush were rather harsh and initially weighed whether to run her e-mail as a post -- or editing it somewhat.

However, I then had to take note of the
comments from conservatives denouncing the administration's role in brokering the Israeli-Hezbollah cease-fire. Glenn Greenwald assembled the words to mock those on the right who previously had castigated Bush critics as "appeasers" whose criticism served to undermine the administration during a time of war.

However, the language being used against Bush actually adopts a similar tone to that used by Ms. Mitchell in her characterization of how Dubya sees Hezbollah.


Bill Bennett harshly upbraids the administration for calling the cease-fire a "defeat" for Hezbollah:

—Other Israeli politicians on the news said yesterday the U.N. resolution was a defeat for Hezbollah, just as President Bush said the same thing on Monday.
—This is wrong and we need to say it. We need to say it because it is important that Israel, like the U.S., remain strong and victorious. If the terrorists can stop Israel, they can stop our ally; if they think they can defeat our ally they will think they can defeat us—because wars are often fought among proxies.

—It does us no favor to declare a defeat a victory.

—Nasrallah of Hezbollah is claiming victory, Assad of Syria is claiming victory, Achmadinejad of Iran is claiming victory. True enough, the defeated in the Arab and Muslim world can always claim victory—the question is whether those claims are plausible.

....

—And just before Israel started withdrawing, Hezbollah fired hundreds of rockets into Israel and shot down an Israeli helicopter.

—So afraid of Israel and the West for kidnapping innocents, so full of the knowledge that concessions will not come from kidnappings and terror, Palestinians in Gaza two days ago captured American reporter Steve Centanni and his cameraman.

—We were told Hezbollah was a state within a state. Does anyone doubt that Hezbollah is actually stronger and more popular than the Lebanese army that is now to patrol South Lebanon? The main state is Hezbollah, it can fairly be said, with the Lebanese government quite possibly subordinate to it: The state within the state is Lebanon, not Hezbollah. The PM of Lebanon has said supportive things of Nasrallah, the president, and Speaker of Lebanon are Syrian puppets and the newest, most popular fighting force in the Middle East is Hezbollah.

.....

—If Israel has more victories like this, there will be no Israel. We need to be clear on this. Not because we like it, far from it, but because we hate it.


Add to this, the voices of George Will and Patrick Buchanan who -- coming from very different places in the conservative firmament from each other or the blogosphere right-- both state, contrary to the president's official view that Hezbollah has come out of this conflict with dramatically enhanced political standing -- both within Lebanon and in the broader Arab world. Furthermore, Iran is in an even better strategic position than it was one month ago.

To add insult to injury, Will notes that the tracking and unraveling of the London bombing plot actually proved a point pushed by the president's 2004 rival:

The London plot against civil aviation confirmed a theme of an illuminating new book, Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11." The theme is that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented Sept. 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg (where Mohamed Atta lived before dying in the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and High
Wycombe, England.

Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force
banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."

Ah, there's that "cooperation" word again.

While Ms. Mitchell eschews the description "liberal," she is certainly no conservative. Yet, there seems to be a broad consensus found here: George W. Bush no longer seems not to understand either Hezbollah, the significance of the Israeli cease-fire to which the United States signed onto or how these developments actually impact the president's signature policy -- the global war on terror.

Whatever consensus on the war on terror that existed may have come to a fatal end on the southern border of Lebanon. If that is the case, then the president and his political supporters are going to have a much harder time making the essential assertion that Iraq is part of the larger war on terror. Once that link is severed the president -- and his Republican congressional supporters are much more vulnerable politcally to opponents of the Iraq War.

Instead of the Democrats usual national security split, it is now the administration that is caught between dueling doctrines -- challenged on the center-left by an Iraq that remains endlessly chaotic and by the right which sees a disastrous decision to create a cease-fire that leaves a terrorist organization in a stronger situation than it was before.

So, will the criticism of Bush on the right help Democrats -- in the same way that the Harriet Miers and ports DuBacle did? The commentariat right may not sway too many voters (as much as we might like to think we do) but, seeds of doubt can be planted.

The criticism of the administraion's handling of the cease-fire can be appropriated by some Democrats to claim that it is part and parcel of the administration's general handling of foreign policy: The Left can say that the Iraq policy has strengthened Iran's hand by taking out the strong-man Sunni Saddam Hussein; the Right can say that the Lebanon cease-fire strengthens Hezbollah and its patron Iran.

With these arguments coming from both sides, it makes it that much more difficult for the administration to say that its policies have made the United States more secure.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

 

One Last Kamikaze Raid

The most surprising thing I learned in my recent trip eastward was how raw remain the feelings that the Chinese have toward Japan. In a nation which sees things in the expanse of thousands of years of civilization, the sense of violation and anger from multiple invasions by the Japanese are as palpable as ever.

This antipathy -- never far from the surface -- has experienced a major revival in recent years. It was on display again yesterday with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi final visit to the
Yasukuni Shrine.

To a degree unlike any postwar prime minister, Koizumi has regularly gone to the shrine which, though revering the 2.1 million Japanese lost in wars going back to the end of the 19th century, also honors full-fledged war criminals (as judged by the
post-World War II held by the Allies in Tokyo). That includes one of the great "villains" of that time (from the American perspective)-- wartime premier Hideki Tojo. Think of Reagan's visit to Bitburg -- to the tenth power.

Even Japan's emperors have kept the shrine at arm's length.

The Chinese are particularly infuriated by Koizumi's continued visits because they feel it reflects on a general Japanese refusal to recognize the truth of the nation's actions during the
first half of the 20th century:

The Yasukuni mindset holds that Japan fought a purely defensive war to liberate Asia. Countries from India to Indonesia owe their independence from European colonialism to the thankless efforts of Japan. Tokyo was provoked into going to war by "Chinese terrorists" and Europeans who connived to hold down the rising but resource-poor power.

The Yasukuni mindset also holds that the Tokyo war-crimes trials with the resulting convictions and executions of such figures as wartime premier Hideki Tojo were a sham, mere victor's justice. Tojo's granddaughter spends much of her time propagating this view, which was also spread through a popular movie of a few years back called Pride.

These views are no longer the province of the right-wing fringe, the kind of people who patrol the streets of Tokyo in sound trucks hectoring people through loudspeakers. They are becoming mainstream.
To inflame matters further, yesterday's visit was on the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, essentially thumbing his nose at Japan's closest ally, the United States. As far as the calls for him not to go to the shrine, Koizumi -- the big Elvis fan -- returns them to sender, regardless what it means for regional relations:


“People say, ‘Don’t do anything that annoys China or South Korea, so Asian diplomacy will be in good shape’,” Mr Koizumi said after his early-morning visit. “But I don’t think that’s the case. If Bush of the United States tells me not to go, would I stop? No, I would still go even then. But President Bush would not say anything so immature. I have visited the shrine in the past to pray for those who had to sacrifice themselves. The visit is not dedicated to the Class-A war criminals. I am not going to the shrine in order to encourage Shinto or to glorify and justify Japan’s past militarism.”

Mr Koizumi will step down next month after five years as Prime Minister, and his appearance at Yasukuni, formally dressed in a morning suit and bowing deeply in front of the inner sanctuary of the 137-year-old shrine, had been widely expected. But it marks a new low in Japan’s recent relations with its neighbours, and casts a shadow over his considerable achievements as a reformer of the Japanese political system and rejuvenated economy.
Oh well. Happy VJ Day.

UPDTATE: My friend Tom Moran relates a nice anecdote about the original VJ Day. With a rather poignant kicker at the end.


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In Deep Macaca

So hard to remove one's foot from mouth...especially after you've shot yourself in that foot:

The question was fiercely debated all day: Was "Macaca," which literally means a genus of monkey, a deliberate racist epithet or a weird ad-libbed word with no meaning? And what was Allen trying to say by singling out the young man of Indian descent?

Allen's defenders rushed to his side, saying the comments, though careless, do not reflect what is inside the senator's heart. Sudhakar Shenoy, an Indian business executive from Fairfax who has known Allen for years, said he "has been an incredible friend to Indians" and is not a racist. "I'd stake everything I have that George is not that kind of a guy," Shenoy said.
At this point, I'm not ready to call George Allen a racist. However, I feel pretty confident in saying that this man certainly doesn't have the political smarts (attack a rival's campaign worker with an ambiguously insulting word -- while the the GUY IS VIDEOTAPING IT) to even think about running for re-election to the Senate let alone for PRESIDENT. By the way, Mark Levin, following a candidate around is not a "dirty trick". It's long been part of the political game-playing:

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who during his campaign last year was dogged by young GOP operatives with video cameras -- usually called trackers -- chided Allen.

"It's insensitive," Kaine said. "Campaigns are tough. But George has been in campaigns. He knows there's trackers. It's just a fact of life. You should just do your thing and not single them out."

Big-time campaigns often assign trackers to shadow their opponents, hoping to catch the candidate making a gaffe or shifting the message to accommodate different audiences. Virginia Republicans have tracked Webb this year. Often, videos can end up in campaign commercials.

Jim Webb could not have imagined how well a regular campaign gimmick of sending a staffer in to film your opponent would turn out.

I'm sure Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and, cripes, Bill Frist, must be smiling right about now.

In the eternal words of Bugs Bunny, "What a maroon!"

UPDATE: I feel guilty in joining in the merriement that the Daily Kos folks are having at Allen's expense. However, this is too much. Apparently, Allen hasn't heard about the first thing one does when stuck in a hole -- STOP DIGGING!


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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

9/11's Invisible Man

It's an uplifitng story about Sgt. Jason Thomas, a retired Marine who headed down to Ground Zero minutes after the attacks, put on his uniform and plunged in to try and help save people.

He had been something of a mystery man until Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, which recounted the actions of him and another Good Samaritan leatherneck, opened last week.

The tale is indeed a nice one, with one slight caveat:


[Producer Michael] Shamberg said he apologized to Thomas for an inaccuracy in the film: Thomas is black, but the actor cast to portray him, William Mapother, is white. Filmmakers realized the mistake only after production had begun, Shamberg said.

Thomas laughed and gently chided the filmmakers, then politely declined to discuss it further. "I don't want to shed any negativity on what they were trying to show," he said. As for his story, Thomas said he is gradually becoming more comfortable telling it.

"It's been like therapy," he said.

Thomas shows his magnanimity by not feeling upset about the film's rather major historical error involving him. Yes, it makes sense to say that the important point is the overall story about humanity and details about race shouldn't really matter.

However, in the real world, race does matter -- both in the present in how people are often perceived and in the past in the context of the contributions various individuals make to society.

It's interesting that less than a year after 9/11, there was some major controversy over how a statue commemorating the historic photo of three firefighters
raising the American flag -- Iwo Jima-like -- in the middle of a smoking Ground Zero.

The photo itself was seen on the front page of newspapers around the world in the immediate days after the attack.

The three firefighters were all white. Several minority groups -- including the "Vulcans", the black firefighters support group -- wanted a "representative" statue commemorating the moment but showing firefighters of different races. Other groups and media organizations called for a statue that looked like the guys who were actually there -- three white guys.

At the time, I thought the accuracy of the moment should outweigh politically correct motives (which is what happened with the statue). Now, however, seeing how the heroism of Sgt. Jason Thomas -- a black serviceman and patriot -- has, accidentally or otherwise, been "whitewashed," I wonder if those black firefighters didn't have a point after all.

Many people going to see World Trade Center will assume that it is a fully accurate movie. It doesn't take away from the emotional general story that Jason Thomas is depicted as being a white man. However, history would have been much better served had Oliver Stone, Michael Schamburg and Co. gone a little step further to show who Thomas truly was and not allow him to disappear into celluloid invisibility.


UPDATE: A friend points me to this Slate article showcasing a real 9/11 "invisible man" -- someone Stone and Co. completely ignored (as opposed to just getting the race wrong).

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Has George Allen Lost His Mind?

Are Republicans just in free-fall or what?

If I didn't watch the video myself,
I wouldn't have believed this:

S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, had been trailing Allen with a video camera to document his travels and speeches for the Webb campaign. During a campaign speech Friday in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, Allen singled out Sidarth and called him a word that sounded like "Macaca."

"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and its great to have you here and you show it to your
opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come."

After telling the crowd that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen again referenced Sidarth, who was born and raised in Fairfax County."Lets give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," said Allen,
who then began talking about the "war on terror."

"Macaca"?

The Google hits for
derivations of the word don't exactly look good for Allen either.

Given the uproar over that
TNR cover story a several weeks back (as well as past episodes) on racial issues, this was just about the last self-imposed wound he'd want to inflict.

UPDATE: The Washington Post weighs in on "George Allen's America."

UPDATE II: Garance Franke-Ruta at Tapped gives an even more in-depth analysis of "Macaca" which, depending on the viewpoint, makes Allen's comment worse or not-quite-as-bad (in the sense of him only being merely ridiculously stupid rather than brutally racist). Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg.

UPDATE III: Speaking of NRO, sorry, Kate O'Beirne, but the answer to this one is obvious: You should be outraged at a United States senator who signled out a non-white individual in either a racial or beastial context -- and mockingly "welcomed him to America." That the non-white individual happened to work for a rival campaign takes nothing away from the fact that Allen's comment was offensive. Period.

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L. Ron Hubbard Know About This?

An new extra-super-duper lie detector designed to help figure out if someone may have "hostile intent" or even could actually be a terrorist (though given all the restrictions on travel lately, it's no wonder everyone doesn't register some sort of "hostile intent").

Funny thing though, what if it's ultimately nothing more than one of those funky
Dianetics' "stress tests."

Coincidence that the global war on terror seems to have overlapped with Tom Cruise's increasingly erratic behavior over the last few years?

I think not.


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Monday, August 14, 2006

 

When One Issue Is Enough To Be Republican...

That issue, being of course, support for the Iraq War! On everything else, Joe ain't no Republican:


In key votes of the last Congress selected by the Almanac of American Politics, Lieberman followed the straight liberal line in opposing oil drilling in ANWR, Bush tax cuts, overtime pay reform, the energy bill, and bans on partial birth abortion and same-sex marriage. Similarly, he voted in support of Roe v. Wade, and for banning assault weapons and bunker buster bombs. His only two pro-Bush votes were to fund the Iraq war and support missile defense (duplicating Sen. Hillary Clinton's course on both).

Lieberman's most recent ratings by the American Conservative Union were 7 percent in 2003, zero in 2004 and 8 percent in 2005. "Well deserved!" ACU Chairman David Keene told me. "I don't see why any conservative should be overly concerned about Joe Lieberman's plight."

Lieberman has opposed Bush as the environmentalists' Senate leader on global warming. He rebuffed attempts to compromise Social Security reform. He had a perfect record, seven for seven, backing filibusters that blocked Bush judicial nominees. He voted for cloture on three judicial nominations only after a compromise by the bipartisan Gang of 14 (which included Lieberman). He voted against confirming Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
Of course, for many people, that one issue is enough to open up the fiscal spigots:


A Republican campaign fund-raiser based in Washington, who spoke on condition that he not be identified by name, said, “There’s a definite sense among a significant number of the Republicans who I deal with that Joe Lieberman is a man of principle and a man we should support.”

This fund-raiser said he’ll contribute money to Lieberman’s campaign and raise money for him.

He noted that there is a school of thought in GOP ranks that sees Lamont as extreme in his views and would like to see him win in November. These Republicans think it would be tactically advantageous for their party to have Lamont in the Senate during the run-up to the 2008 presidential campaign so that they could say to voters, “Look at what we’re running against.”

But this source said he himself didn’t take that view, saying “There are a lot of
people who’d like to say to Moveon.org, ‘It’s dangerous to squelch bipartisan
leaders like Joe Lieberman.’”

Moveon.org is the anti-Bush group which worked to defeat Lieberman in last Tuesday's primary. Last week Moveon.org's Eli Pariser said the group members "made 77,000 calls to get Connecticut voters to the polls and put Lamont over the top."
While I wouldn't take, ahem, a gamble on Alan Schlesinger, Republicans could do a far better job of running a real candidate in Connecticut -- particularly given that there is a very popular Republican governor who could lend her aide to a candidate whose actually gotten more than a third of the vote in Connecticut before -- and could arguably win a split-Democrat race.

But, hey, maybe that option's too much to ask the national party to help bring about. Because, hey, Joe's good on the war -- and that's all that counts, eh?

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The Kossacks True Inspiration?

In Sunday's New York Times Week In Review, Sam Tanenhaus compares the Daily Kos blog to the early National Review:

Like the current Democratic insurgency, the conservative movement was driven by activists who combined journalism with partisanship. Just as today’s insurgents often post their analyses and self-described “rants” on Web sites like Daily Kos, so the conservative rebels of an earlier day poured forth their opinions in the National Review, the biweekly magazine founded in 1955 by the 29-year-old William F. Buckley Jr.

Today, of course, National Review is widely read as a journal of the Republican establishment. But in its infancy it was regarded as extreme — far more radical than the bloggers most influential in the Lieberman defeat. (This wasn’t surprising since Mr. Buckley and another editor, L. Brent Bozell, were co-authors of a book that championed Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the pair had orchestrated a hard-hitting advertising campaign in, as it happened, Connecticut against the Democratic senator, William Benton, whom the pair accused of obstructing the government’s investigation of Communists.)

But National Review’s biggest targets were the moderates in their party, in this case East Coast Republicans who had tapped the non-ideological war hero, Dwight Eisenhower, for the Republican nomination in 1952 over the conservative Senator Robert Taft.
Not surprisingly, the current holders of Buckley's legacy disagree:

The Buckley Project — for want of a more catholic label — was not merely to transform the GOP. It was to construct an entire competing ideology to liberalism. As a thousand bloggers have discussed already, the animal spirits on the left these days have absolutely no interest in constructing such a formidible intellectual edifice.
John is partly correct: The Kossacks are not first and foremost an intellectually-driven force. The irony of this realization though is that it underscores the point that the Kossacks themselves make -- they are not purely a far-left ideological movement akin to the McGoverniks. Rather, they are more motivated to create energy and a party-building structure rather than an intellectual governing framework for liberalism.

Curiously, if anything, the Kos people resemble the insurgent alternative Republican structure that Newt Gingrich started building in the 1980s.

Now, Newt was and remains quite the intellectual, but his GOPAC was focused on creating sharp differences between Republicans and Democrats -- even to the point of demonizing Democrats. It was focused on raising money and training candidates to run for office -- and using as many alternative media as possible to get the message out, including audio and video tapes and (for the legislative arm) spreading the word through extended after-hours discourse on the House floor that would be distrubted by C-SPAN.

Gingrich & Co. used this aggressive and creative approach to help build what became the Republican Revolution in 1994 -- but the seeds were planted nearly 15 years before when Gingrich first arrived in the House in 1979. Even though the revolution's cresting created a much more conservative House Republican caucus, and Republicans took over the House,

And it would seem that Newt's considerable achievements have not been forgotten by
significant elements of the GOP base.

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