Friday, May 18, 2007

 

Open Thread

Thread away, thread away, Dixie-land!

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Not-so-Retro Record Moment

Madscribe:
I still haven't bothered to watch the video or read the transcript of this week's GOP "debate." However, having introduced the Ragged Thots Regulars to a certain former military physician cum Congressman from Texas, the link below seems like a fitting tie-in for another Retro Record Moment. The possibility that "
Dr. No" may actually have a shot at being to the 2008 election what Ronald Reagan was to 1980 is, to say the least, very interesting. Someone finally had the guts to inject a needed Goldwater sensibility into a party overrun by the embracers of bloated (and bloody) bureaucracy.

I can honestly say Rep. Paul is one of the ONLY politicians in America of whom I don't feel one iota of disgust, even though I think it is his forthrightness and honesty that will make him unelectable. As much as Americans whine about political duplicity and the need for a "new politics" (a phrase which is as about as grounded in reality as the dot-com's "New Economy"), Americans love a sweet talker that lies. It's why con artists were once referred to as "Confidence Men," as it takes two to bunko: the scammer that promises something for nothing and the scammed that actually hoped to GET something for nothing. After the Great Immigration Sell-Out of 2007, however, I don't think it's Rep. Paul that's going to be singing the title of the great Queen/David Bowie duet ...





For your weekend reading pleasure, the Definitive Defense of Paul's 9/11 comments (and excoriation of Giuliani Goosestepping) here.

UPDATE: Curtis LeMay notwithstanding, there must be something about Air Force officers and libertarianism that makes me think I served in the wrong service (although I was a USAF brat). Goldwater, Paul; and this column on Paul, by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski. Is Ludwig Von Mises part of the commissioning process for fly boys and girls? And like the LTC, "I’m sorry that I didn’t believe in possibility that a serious person in the American political arena would commit that most radical act of speaking truth to power," and temporarily giving into the power of Darth Va---er, Judge-me-not Rudy.

And wouldn't you love to see this beautiful couple on Pennsylvania Avenue? I mean, they look like friendly, next-door-neighbor NORMAL AMERICANS. When I look at some of the recent tenants (or aspiring ones) of the National House, I hear the voice of Blaine Edwards ("Oh my, clutch the pearls and close the purse!").

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Ron's Right Stuff

Andrew Sullivan points out conservative defenders of Ron Paul.

He also points to Slate's John Dickerson (not a conservative) who puts forward basic
common sense reasons why Paul shouldn't be jettisoned from future debates. Dickerson, by the way, raises a question that's been bothering me for a while: It seems OK to "heed" Osama bin Laden's words when it supports the stay-in-Iraq position -- during the presidential debate, McCain said (about the 2:21 minute mark in the first part of the Fox debate video), "You read Zarqawi, you read bin Laden, you read al Qaeda; they'll tell ya: They want to follow us home." (Like a puppy?). However, given the response to Paul, it would appear to be verboten to listen to what bin Laden actually said with regard to his declared "fatwah" on America.

As Dickerston reports:
Here's just one instance, from 1996, in which Bin Laden in one of his declarations of war said exactly what Paul claims: "More than 600,000 Iraqi children have died due to lack of food and medicine and as a result of the unjustifiable aggression (sanctions) imposed on Iraq and its people. The children of Iraq are our children. You, the USA, together with the Saudi regime, are responsible for the shedding of the blood of these innocent children. Due to all of that, whatever treaty you have with our country is now null and void."
In short, Paul wasn't crazy in articulating one of bin Laden's declared motives for wishing to attack the United States. Paul's not offering an excuse for an horrific crime -- or suggesting that America deserved to be attacked (anymore than a murder victim "deserves" to be killed because of various jealousies and hatreds on the part of the murderer). He is, however, saying that American foreign policy is a reason stated by bin Laden and al Qaeda for the 9/11 attack. Besides, there are any number of foreign policy experts on the right and left who point to the America's pre-9/11 problematic relationship with various Arab regimes as one reason why "we are hated."

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McCain's End

I have a million things going on right now, so I'm sorry that I can't give the immigration deal the full attention that it deserves. However, one thing that definitely jumps out: Fairly or unfairly, this agreement likely drives the final stake through the heart of John McCain's presidential campaign.

It's another semi-tragic irony for McCain. The guy who ran as the maverick in 2000 against the GOP establishment candidate George W. Bush now finds two separate anvils around his neck that are the self-described "priorities" of President Bush. They are the dreaded "I" words -- Iraq and immigration. McCain's support for the former has caused his popularity among Democrats and independents to crater. Now his support for the latter (along with his earlier apostasies on campaign finance reform and taxes) is likely fatal for his quest for the Republican nomination. National Review calls the agreement, "
Bush-Kennedy."

It must have driven the McCain campaign into conniption fits to see their candidate
photographed with the one-time heir to Camelot as the deal was announced. Jim Antle is right: "Conservative voters will remember the immigration partnership between John McCain and Ted Kennedy. In a Republican primary, that is dangerous company to keep."

McCain may have done the right thing, but it is a suicide pact for his already fading White House hopes.

As a quick aside, I disagree with my former boss that the deal is
"a sellout of every conservative principle". Immigration policy hardly lines up on a perfect liberal-conservative spectrum. The business and libertarian parts of the conservative movement believes in a more open-ended immigration policy. They don't necessarily see this compromise as a "sellout." But more on that anon.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

 

Ron Paul Petition

To counter calls from some Republicans that Ron Paul should be dumped from future GOP presidential debates, an online petition to the Republican National Committee has been drafted.

It is posted here for your information. Do with it what you will.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

 

RAG on NPR

Farai Chideya chats with Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell and yours truly on the Philadelphia mayor's primary and Rudy Giuliani. Enjoy the fun.

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Ron Paul Mania

Andrew Sullivan applauds -- and supports -- the Ron Paul boomlet.

It was quite clear watching the post-debate show on Fox that the new talking points among GOP pundits is that Paul must be banned from future debates. Why? His views on foreign policy -- especially with respect to the Middle East -- are certainly unorthodox.

So what? He is a currently elected member of Congress. Thus, he has the same legitimate standing (given poll numbers) to be on the stage as, say, Duncan Hunter or Tom Tancredo. Besides, Paul's forthrightness gave Rudy Giuliani the opportunity to produce the applause line of the night. Why toss out a guy like that?

Furthermore, he's at least sparked getting people to support him in the Internet and text-message polls the cable networks have organized so far. And no, it's not just the anti-war Kossacks who are bum-rushing the cable polls. As Andrew's
follow-up notes, the far-right folks at World Net Daily are climbing on the Paul bandwagon!

Paul Fever -- catch it!

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Rated XM? You Can't Be Sirius!

I agree 100 percent with Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters on the suspension of XM satellite radio shock-jocks "Opie And Anthony" over last week's homeless-guy-raping-Condoleezza Rice schtick:
...[C]onsumers control the market to a greater degree than they realize, whether indirectly by pressuring advertisers, or more directly, by threatening subscriber rates. People have limits for bad taste, and XM just found out where they exist. And while the subscribers who complained may not have been O&A listeners, they still pay XM a monthly fee -- and apparently
exist in large enough numbers to make a difference.

As La Monica points out, that was not the only pressure XM faced. They have inked a deal with rival Sirius to merge, which requires FCC approval, and Congress already has deep skepticism about the deal. Any controversy at this point hurts the merger, and especially one in which two
emotionally stunted hosts start fantasizing about raping the Secretary of State.
If Congress wanted an excuse to torpedo the merger, then O&A handed them the
hook they needed.

Suspension is the proper penalty, and CBS would have done better to apply that penalty to Imus as well. It imposes limits on their tolerance for bad taste and gives the show the opportunity to exist within those limits, and it keeps their audience happy in the long run. All publisher make
editorial decisions, and XM may have looser boundaries, but they still have to decide how best to keep their subscribers. It's the right decision, applied in the right manner, and it leaves the more permanent solution as a disincentive.

And this is not a free-speech issue. Opie and Anthony can start airing their show on the Internet tomorrow and become their own publishers in a heartbeat. They want a big salary, though, rather than relying on the uncertain income stream that would bring. If XM finds them offensive, or if they feel their subscriber base does, then they can dump the show whenever they want,
within their contractual obligations. It's a free-market issue, not a free-speech issue. Those who disagree with XM's decision are just as free to drop them as XM is to drop immature jerks from their lineup.


Exactly.

By the way, it may be bit obvious to say this but, generally speaking rape is not really a topic for humor. A possible exception is a period piece if it is referred to in the context of "rape, plunder and pillage." Aside from the appalling content of their schtick, "O&A" also violated (so to speak) a cardinal rule of humor -- it should be funny.

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Czar Lute?

Apparently, Czar "Juice" Harp, Czar "Lead" Guitar and Czar "War" Drum were unavailable for this position coordinating Iraq policy.

And, of course, Czar Lyre was rejected for rather obvious reasons.

His Iraqi counterpart, Czar Qawai, was unavailable for comment.

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Yolanda King, 1955 - 2007

Madscribe:
While the Mainstream Media is busy trying to rewrite the history of homophobia, racism, and extremist rhetoric of the religious hatemonger Jerry Falwell (
this graphic by TMZ just about sums up everything you need to know about Falwell, as far as I'm concerned), somehow the death of a greater (and morally more substantial) figure of the American religious experience, Yolanda King, only ranks a minor (or missing) hyperlink on the websites of CNN, MSNBC, Drudge, Fox, ABC and others.

Yolanda King was more than the Sean Lennon of the Civil Rights Movement, that is, someone who just happened to have cameras follow her because she was Dr. King's eldest daughter. She transformed personal tragedy to become a leader in her own right to my generation (Gen-X) and successive young 'uns, speaking on many college campuses, traditional or HBCU, to further not just the memory of her father's work, but its implementation.

The reason that many black males of my generation or Gen-Y, embraced "conservatism" or "libertarianism" is not out of the so-called "class conflict" that sociologists are so fond of citing for all of society's woes. It's that many of us who are (just barely) old enough to remember the legal ending of segregation (I was a toddler in the time span of Dr. King and Malcolm X's deaths) wonder what the hell is wrong so many younger "brothers and sisters" that can't seem to get it together, when people like Yolanda King and the generations before her accomplished so much with so little, and whole federal and state institutional racist apparatus were stacked against them.

I may not have always agreed with the left-ward politics of the King family or other civil rights leader, but Yolanda King was a class act. In an age where the Nihilism of Negro Nincompoops is elevated as high art by trashy white Mainstream Media (see also: any column by Stanley Crouch), Ms. King exhibited grace, style and intelligence wherever and whenever she spoke to the Children of the Movement. I can think of no better way to honor Yolanda King's memory and her contributions in the Ragged Thots forum, in addition to those of the "Mothers of the Civil Rights Movement," than to offer
the eulogy for Coretta Scott King delivered by Malcolm X's oldest daughter, Attalah Shabazz. It says everything you need to know about the grace and character of Yolanda King.

P.S. If there is a God, he apparently missed the point of my earlier joke about Carl Jung and synchronicity to regular RT commenter, Rob. Jehovah: You were supposed to take out a comparable black scumbag with Falwell. You are truly a cruel creator to take the lovely Ms. King from us and leave us with the likes of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan ...

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The Giuliani-McCain Bounce Back

The GOP presidential debate overview is late, since illness and other reasons kept me from catching this live. I instead watched the midnight rebroadcast.

Winners: Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.

Both were much more on their game than at the MSNBC debate last week. McCain gave a solid defense of his Iraq position, but sounded much more avuncular and less snappish this time. His answers denouncing the use of torture on morality and efficacy grounds might not have played to the crowd, but they felt genuine He slapped Mitt Romney vert adroitly when the former Massachusetts governor went after him on McCain-Feingold: After saying that he's stayed consistent on both campaign finance and pro-life, McCain said, "I have not changed my position on even-numbered years or changed because of the different offices that I may be running for." His "drunken sailor" line in reference to congressional spending went over much better (though Huckabee's trumped him shortly afterwards) .On the other hand, McCain's claim that Republicans lost Congress not because of Iraq, but only because of overspending and corruption was a little too cute.

Giuliani got the applause of the night in responding to Ron Paul's "blowback" theory of 9/11. Paul was dumb to include U.S. patrolling of the Iraqi no-fly-zone after the first Gulf War in his claim that U.S. Middle East policy had a role in the run-up to 9/11. Hardly any If he had just stuck to bin Laden's statements about U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia, he would have been on more solid ground.

But Rudy was smart to jump on Paul's overstatement and pulled the "I paid for this microphone , Mr. Speaker" line of the night: "That's really an extraordinary statement. That's really an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of Sept. 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I have ever heard that before and I have heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11. I would ask the congressman withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that."

The house erupted.

(However, in the interest of precision, it should be noted that Paul's initial answer -- on general Middle East policy --actually drew light, scattered, applause. Don't take my word for it. Check the replay online.)

That aside, Rudy managed to deflect the abortion and "not conservative-enough for a conservative party" questions and played to his strengths -- security and leadership (strengths which the debate format played). He also managed to display light humor (his embracing of Gilmore's anti-"Rudy McRomney" line as a "ticket" he liked.

Mike Huckabee was also a winner because he took the role Jim Gilmore had in the MSNBC debate -- smart, balanced, knowledgeable conservative -- and added the red-meat anti-Democratic candidate line of the night, that Congress had "spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop." That's a textbook example of how to deliver a cheap shot -- make it very funny. His defense of his tax policies -- his 94 tax cuts vs. increases for highway maintenance showed the legitimate trade-offs a chief executive has to make. At the same time, he also seemed like the guy who had a broader vision than just the "issues" under discussion that evening.

Losers: Mitt Romney -- aside from the exchange with McCain, Romney didn't have any real flubs. On the other hand, he didn't say or do anything that particularly distinguished him apart from the rest of the crowd -- in ways that McCain, Giuliani, or even Huckabee did.

Gilmore, unfortunately, didn't distinguish himself this time either. When asked to be explicit about the stands of opponents that he had criticized by name on the campaign trail, he backed away. Be direct, Jim, if you have the opportunity. Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter and Tommy Thompson were "OK", but that's not enough in this crowded field (which may get more crowded with Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich pondering a run).

Tom Tancredo is a one issue candidate -- immigration.

Ron Paul was neither a winner nor a loser. Obviously, he has no chance of becoming the nominee, but he came across this time as the equivalent of Mike Gravel in the Democratic contest: He had a real influence on the debate, for good or ill. He articulated the libertarian view of the role of government (and, in a post-debate sequence on Hannity and Colmes, explained how one can be libertarian and pro-life). Furthermore, his historical/ philosophical analysis of the Republican strain of non-interventionism is supported by the facts; his appropriation of Ronald Reagan's assessment of the "irrationality of Middle East politics" is, I believe, something that will be picked up, sooner or later, by another candidate. Mark my words.

Finally, Fox News Channel's presentation was a marked improvement over the MSNBC/Chris Matthews Ego Fest. I give it a solid B for its coherent format and question selection. (Fox had an interesting meta-message going too: White House correspondent Wendell Goler's presence meant Fox had a more diverse panel of interlocutors than MSNBC, a fact that Chris Wallace was able to underscore when he asked the "diversity" question: Why does the GOP field look like a country club? Wonder if the Democrats regret blowing up the FNC-Congressional Black Caucus debate?)

However, FNC loses points for its ill-advised hypothetical terror question at the end. Contrary to the "Law And Order" ripped-from-the-headlines plot motif, the question seemed like a ripped-from-the-last-two-seasons-of-'24' idea. I'm absolutely serious: The endangered shopping center premise was taken from the 2006 season; the one-successful-attack-and-more-to-come-with-the-need-to-debrief-captured-enemy-combatants-in-Guantanamo was the story arc from the first quarter of the current season. Tancredo didn't realize how correct he was saying that his response to the question's premise would be to go "looking for Jack Bauer." That's Bauer's storyline! As Paul noted, correctly, there are enough actual ways that the nation has changed because of 9/11 that putting together a hypothetical was a waste of valuable time.

Look, I like corporate synergy as much as the next guy, but this is going a bit too far.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

 

Condolences

Very tragic news.

Last summer when I traveled to China, the person I was most gratified meeting was Andrew Bacevich, an Army veteran and professor of international relations at Boston University. He's a very smart guy and one of the keenest analysts of U.S. foreign policy from the conservative "realist" perspective.

Anyway, Josh Marshall posted last night about the death of Andrew's 27 year-old son,
serving in Iraq.

My condolences to the entire Bacevich family.


UPDATE: A Boston Globe story on the Baceviches.

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AGAG Survives...

...but the DAG walks the plank.

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty announces his resignation using the ever-popular "family considerations" trope (This one being the "I need to make more money to send the kids to college" version).

Whether McNulty stepping down has anything to do with DOJ staffer Monica Goodling negotiating an immunity agreement on the fired prosecutors issue is another question. Keep in mind that McNulty is the one who ended up getting Congress ticked because he testified that the prosecutors were dumped because of "performance-related" issues and the White House had no role in the firings -- claims proven demonstrably false later.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

 

When The Smartest Guy In The Race...

...is also a ticking time bomb that could implode at any moment.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Newt Gingrich for president.

He will make the race quite interesting.


(By the way, consider this my latest and last disclaimer. For those who just dropped in from Pluto -- or a real planet: I once worked for Mr. Gingrich. I have no formal or informal current relationship with him. I hope to be as fair with a Gingrich candidacy as I am with the other aspirants to the GOP nomination -- except for you-know-who.)

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Home Town Takes

The local papers heat up their presidential coverage. Today, it's a Rudy (and Mike)-palooza:

My Post colleague Geoff Earle reports on the controversial decision to place the city's Emergency Response Center in an office building next door to the World Trade Center -- after the first WTC bombing in 1993.

The Times focuses on the growing health concerns of Ground Zero workers and the possible impact on Giuliani's campaign.

The Daily News reports on New Yorker sentiments on their two recent mayors as presidential candidates.

The Gray Lady also does a snapshot on Mike Bloomberg's Bloomy a big fat wet kiss (also from The Post).

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Open Thread

Thread's up!

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