Friday, February 22, 2008

Perils of Being a Jew

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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A good friend of mine was telling me a story about some new people he met recently - he was the first Jew they had ever met. In their curiosity, they had a laundry list of questions based on anti-semitic comments they had heard probably their whole lives.

"No, we do not own the media."

It is good that uninformed people seek to find the truth, but in the 21st Century, one would hope this level of stuff would no longer be necessary. But alas, Rupert Murdoch is not Jewish. Steve Jobs, the largest share holder of Disney is not Jewish. Steven Spielberg is Jewish however, but he does not own the media - he is a filmmaker. Robert Rodriguez is also a filmmaker but he is not Jewish and neither of them run the Evening News.

So my ultra-patient friend sat through the eye-rolling questions. No, they do not sacrifice babies. They do not have a secret base on the dark side of the moon.

And no, Israel does not have a fleet of flying saucers.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

John McCain Has Some Explaining To Do

Looks like presidential hopeful and Republican only-runner John McCain is in a little tepid water, as it appears that he's been dealing with the lowlifes he's been chastising for years.

I don't have time right now to go through all the (seamy) details, but suffice it to say that Senator McCain, like Lucy many years before on television, has some 'splainin' to do.

Read more here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

But she has momentum!

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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No, I am not calling for Hillary to quit, I am not calling for Hillary to give it up and endorse Obama, but I would like her to show that, she too, can change course, change strategy when it is obvious that what she is doing is not working.

For the last seven, painful, regrettable, horrid years, we have seen Bush stick with whatever his original strategy was and never waver course, regardless of what the facts are. Stubbornness is not a virtue in my eyes, it is a sign of weakness and possible psychopathic behavior.

So, will Hillary change course? Will she dodge, tack, and find new ground by adopting a new campaign strategy? I have no idea.

For someone who claims to embrace change, she seems to find it difficult to change course when the reality around her shows what she is doing is not working.

Cause you know, it worked so well for Rudy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

There is no Regime Change with Dynasties

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Just get ready to fire up your email client and send me some hate mail, but I can't get all worked up over the retirement of Fidel Castro.

I hope for many things - the birth of Cuban democracy, Cuba's first voting scandal - I am even looking forward to a sitcom about Havana! But I think those things are far off. I seriously doubt Raul Castro will be a great agent of change for the Cuban people.

I also can't get too worked up over American dynasties. While I am NOT comparing Bush to Fidel (that is letting Bush off lightly), nor am I comparing Clinton to Castro (she is not the devil incarnate as the right wing conspiracy would have us believe). I am saying, we need new blood to lead this nation. Dipping into the same gene pool is bad for West Virginia and it should be considered bad for the rest of the country.

The world has changed a lot since 1980, when the first Bush entered the White House just as the world has changed a lot since 1992, when the first Clinton entered the White House. I am beginning to feel like a ball in a tennis match - back and forth, back and forth. I fail to believe the only good political ideas in this country come from only two families. What are we gonna have after a Hillary Clinton presidency, President Jeb Bush? Some other Neo-con Bush clone fantasy?

I am just saying for a democracy to survive, we need to stay away from Dynasties.

Monday, February 18, 2008

An Interview With Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist and Author Fred Kaplan

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal as well as The Wild Wild Left, the Independent Bloggers Alliance, The Peace Tree and Worldwide Sawdust.

Most Americans are eager to turn the page on the Bush years. Yet even as we elect a new president we’re still coming to terms with an era that has both tarnished America’s reputation and diminished its influence.

Fred Kaplan chronicles the folly of the Bush years in his new book, Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power (John Wiley & Sons).

Kaplan writes that,

“Nearly all of America’s blunders in war and peace these past few years stem from a single grand misconception: that the world changed after 9/11, when in fact it didn’t.

Certainly, things about the world changed, not least Americans’ sudden awareness that they were vulnerable. But the way the world works – the nature of power, warfare, and politics among nations – remained essentially the same.”
Kaplan also postulates that the Bush Administration as well as most Americans falsely believed we emerged from our Cold War victory stronger. In reality, our geopolitical position was weakened after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 because America’s allies were free to pursue their own interests. In a bipolar Cold War world, America’s allies depended on our protection and remained subservient to our leadership. Once the Cold War ended however, maintaining international coalitions required more compromise and skilled diplomacy because we didn’t enjoy the same leverage.

Tragically, the Bush Administration completely misread our geopolitical position and alienated the world at the very moment we needed friends. Even more remarkable when one considers how much of the world was initially sympathetic to America following 9/11.

Compounding these misconceptions was a Secretary of Defense in Donald Rumsfeld who simply viewed Iraq as a laboratory to demonstrate how easily America could topple a sovereign government’s regime. As Kaplan notes in his book, once Saddam’s government fell, Rumsfeld lost all interest in the required follow through as Iraq went to hell.

Kaplan also provides anecdotes in his book to explain that in George W. Bush’s universe, freedom is humanity’s default state. Hence, all one had to do was use military power to eliminate an obstacle to freedom like Saddam Hussein or hold elections in Palestine and freedom would magically appear. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld never considered the hard work of establishing conditions that facilitate a civil society so necessary to freedom as important.

Thomas E. Ricks, the author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure In Iraq, had the following praise for Kaplan’s book:
“This is the inside history of our time, told with precision and confidence by an author who knows where the secrets are kept – and also that the most powerful and dangerous weapon in Washington, D.C. is a new idea.”
Kaplan who writes the “War Stories” column for Slate was a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the Boston Globe while covering the Pentagon and post Soviet Moscow. He’s also the author of the classic book, The Wizards of Armageddon and has written for The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the New Yorker and The Washington Post among other publications.

Kaplan agreed to a podcast interview with me over the telephone about his book and national security policy during the Bush years. Our conversation was just over forty minutes and covered the concept known as a “revolution in military affairs,” the fateful decision to disband the Iraqi army and ban members of the Baath Party from serving in high level positions, the Bush Administration’s bizarre path to a diplomatic accommodation with North Korea, the dysfunctional reign of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, the current dynamic with Rumsfeld’s successor Robert Gates and the path future presidents will need to follow for a sensible foreign policy.

Please refer to the media player below. This interview can also be accessed for free via the Itunes Store by searching for “Intrepid Liberal Journal.”

Liberal pr0n

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Kids today!

So there I was writing a college paper on Jesse Jackson and one of my sources was Jackson's Playboy interview (June, 1984). I was half way through my paper when the binder I had my rough draft and all my source material was in disappeared. I looked in my backpack, my car, I drove back to school to see if it was in my locker. It wasn't at my house, it wasn't at my buddies house. It was no where to be found. I damn near completed all 5000 words and the paper was due to be turned in in a week.

I finally asked mom if she had seen it and she broke down it tears, exclaiming I am on my way to Hell - "she didn't raise me like that."

Turns out she chucked the whole thing in the trash and the trash was picked up two days previous.

The teacher, one reputed as being overly-stern laughed hard at my misfortune and gave me an extra 2 weeks to finish the paper.

Moral of the story? Don't keep Mother Jones under your bed, that is the first place Homeland Security will look.