BrothersJudd Blog: April 2008 Archives canada goose aviator hatt

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April 30, 2008

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 PM


Beijing Games Compared to 'Hitler's Olympics': Jewish Leaders Call for Boycott, Citing China's Record on Rights, Hamas 'Friendship' (Eric Gorski, April 30, 2008, ABC News)
A wide-ranging group of U.S. Jewish leaders plans to release a statement Wednesday urging Jews worldwide to boycott the Summer Olympics in Beijing, citing China's troubling record on human rights and Tibet.

The statement also notes China's close relationships with Iran, Syria and the militant group Hamas.

So far, 175 rabbis, seminary officials and other prominent Jews have signed the declaration, which comes shortly before Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, organizers said.
...W should take up the cudgel on behalf of the boycott.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 PM


Hate the U.S., And Head For It (Mona Alami, Apr 30, 2008, IPS)
The growing rift between the U.S. and Iran has spread also to Lebanese soil, with Shia youngsters frequently seen burning U.S. flags. But ironically, for many of Hezbollah's Shia constituency, the U.S. is home.

Lebanese have been flocking to the U.S. since the first emigrant left for Ellis Island in 1849. Looking for better work opportunities and an escape from war, it has been a journey thousands and thousands of Lebanese have made over the past 150 years.

Ahmad, a dual Lebanese-U.S. citizen and a Shia from the southern region of Nabatieh, on vacation in Lebanon, has been living in the U.S. for the past ten years. A security specialist, he was sponsored by his elder brother, an engineer who studied in Texas. "My three brothers and I currently live in the USA. We are happy to live in a country ruled by law and order," he says.

His aunt Hiba, a hairdresser, dreams of following in the footsteps of her other family members and moving to the U.S. "My sister lives comfortably in America, where everyone enjoys equal rights. Lebanon is a country where only the rich can buy their way out of problems and live happily," she says.
Supporting the oppression of the Shi'a majority in The Lebanon is, after all, unAmerican.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:24 PM


CIA boss sees more ethnic conflict in Russia (Bill Gertz, April 30, 2008, Washington Times)
Russia's declining population will require Moscow to import foreign workers in the future, increasing racial and religious tensions in the former superpower, according to Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the CIA director. [...]

On Russia, Gen. Hayden warned that Russia is facing "demographic stress" with a population that will decline by 32 million in the next 40 years, almost one-fourth its current population of 141 million.

"To sustain its economy, Russia increasingly will have to look elsewhere for workers," he said. "Some immigrants will be Russians from the former Soviet states. But others will be Chinese and non-Russians from the Caucasus, Central Asia and elsewhere, potentially aggravating Russia's already uneasy racial and religious tensions," the general said. can almost make you doubt the obviously true.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 PM


The Political Limits of Idealism (NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT, April 30, 2008, NY Sun)
Yet Mr. Obama has one thing in his favor: the predilection of ideologically driven supporters to fall in love with a losing candidate. The Democratic party's virgin foot soldiers put more value on intention than achievement and prefer purity to pragmatism. They consider idealistic perfection more important than tainted electability. They are often natural oppositionists who prefer to complain from a position of self-righteous impotence than make the grubby compromises needed to win and to govern.

In 1952, they favored the eloquent intellectual Adlai Stevenson, whose lofty tone, soaring rhetoric, and disinclination to be seen scrapping for the nomination are echoed in Mr. Obama's languid style. Even though Stevenson lost to Dwight Eisenhower by 442 to 89 electoral college votes, winning just nine states, the purists chose him again in 1956, when he went down to an even more inglorious defeat, with just 73 electoral college votes.

After rejecting the party of Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey, in 1972 the purists picked the weak, well-meaning peacenik George McGovern and watched him lose catastrophically to Richard Nixon by 520 electoral votes to 17.
And their increasingly angry self-righteousness will just kill them with voters, especially because it contrasts so badly with Maverick's openness about his flaws.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 PM


Bush Builds Ties to Brazil's Left-Leaning Leader: U.S. aides cite a good personal relationship and a shared agenda (Thomas Omestad, April 30, 2008, US News)
The State Department's top official on relations with the Western Hemisphere portrays U.S. relations with Latin America's most populous country—Brazil—as strong, and he credits the ties between President Bush and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as one reason for it.

"It's for real," says Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon, speaking of "respect and comfortableness" between the two leaders. Shannon says the two "communicate in as clear and direct fashion as possible." Adds Shannon, "Both leaders have a very clear understanding of [what is] at stake in the relationship."

Numerous foreign policy commentators have expressed surprise that Bush would take such a liking to a left-leaning, career labor leader in the person of Lula. But their friendship has "reduced suspicions that might have existed...[and] overcome that wariness and replaced it with a certain confidence that we can actually get things done," says Shannon.
Nothing becomes foreign affairs experts more than being surprised by this entirely predictable development, nor taking this long to notice.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM


Praying and Preying (Maureen Dowd, 4/30/08, NY Times)
On Tuesday, the Sort Of Angry Black Man appeared, reluctantly spurred into action by The Really Angry Black Man.

Speaking to reporters in the heart of tobacco country in Winston-Salem, N.C., the poor guy looked as if he were dying for a smoke. “When I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it,” Obama said. “It contradicts everything I am about and who I am.” He said that the riffs of the man he prayed with before his announcement speech give “comfort to those who prey on hate.”

Obama, of course, will only ratchet up the skepticism of those who don’t understand why he stayed in the church for 20 years if his belief system is so diametrically opposed to Wright’s.

He’s back on the tricky path he faced as a child, navigating between two racial cultures. At Trinity, he may have ignored what he should have heard because he was trying to assimilate to black culture. Now, he may be outraged by what he belatedly heard because he’s trying to relate to the white lunch-pail set.
...where the Liz Lemons's don't have to pretend they support him.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 PM


Democratic Congressional Candidate: Obama? Obama Who? (Jake Tapper, April 30, 2008, ABC News: Political Punch)
In North Mississippi, Democratic congressional candidate Travis Childers has been hammered by Republicans for ties to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in THIS AD from the National Republican Congressional Committee and THIS AD from Childers' opponent -- "When Obama's pastor cursed America blaming us for 9/11 Childers said nothing," the ad says.

Now Childers is pushing back -- by acting as if he's never even heard of Obama.
Democrats are likely to at least give back all the House seats they won in '06.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM


Eisenhower Advisers Discussed Using Nuclear Weapons in China (Walter Pincus, 4/30/08, Washington Post)
Senior Air Force officers proposed using 10-to-15-kiloton nuclear bombs against targets in Communist China in 1958, in the event that Beijing blockaded the Taiwan Strait, but President Dwight D. Eisenhower ruled out that option, according to a newly declassified Pentagon document.

At a Cabinet meeting in mid-August 1958, as the threat of a Chinese blockade of Taiwan was developing, Air Force Gen. Nathan F. Twining, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained "that at the outset American planes would drop 10- to 15-kiloton bombs on selected fields in the vicinity of Amoy," a coastal city on the Taiwan Strait now called Xiamen, according to the documents.

But "the President simply did not accept the contention that nuclear weapons were as conventional as high explosives," according to the now-declassified Air Force history of the Taiwan crisis.
Nukes are just explosives and the best way to wage a war is to end it quickly with minimal casualties to your side at the lowest cost possible. Nuking Moscow and Beijing would have served the purpose admirably in the Cold War. Failure to regime change China led to what? 100 million dead?

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM


GI bill sparks Senate war (DAVID ROGERS, 4/30/08, Politico)
From Annapolis to Vietnam and back to the Pentagon, John McCain and Jim Webb trod the same paths before coming to the Senate. Iraq divides them today, but there’s also the new kinship of being anxious fathers watching their sons come and go with Marine units in the war.

So what does it say about Washington that two such men, with so much in common, are locked in an increasingly intense debate over a shared value: education benefits for veterans? [...]

“There are fundamental differences,” McCain told Politico. “He creates a new bureaucracy and new rules. His bill offers the same benefits whether you stay three years or longer. We want to have a sliding scale to increase retention. I haven’t been in Washington, but my staff there said that his has not been eager to negotiate.”
Doesn't it say that ideas matter more than biography?

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM


McCain Offers Market-Based Health Plan (Michael D. Shear, 4/30/08, Washington Post)
Sen. John McCain on Tuesday rejected calls by his Democratic opponents for universal health coverage, instead offering a market-based solution with an approach similar to a proposal put forth by President Bush last year.
While the respective decisions of Senators Obama and Clinton to run on race and gender were obviously foolish, it is their failure to run as New Democrats that rendered them unelectable. Maverick has sense enough to run as a compassionate conservative, distancing himself from W on trivia--like Katrina and troop numbers in '03--but embracing all the ideas that matter.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 AM


U.S. First-Quarter Growth Stronger Than Forecast (Reuters, 4/30/08)
The U.S. economy grew at a slightly stronger pace than forecast as 2008 began, helped by inventory-building that tempered a steadily deteriorating housing sector and less vigorous consumer spending.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that gross domestic product or GDP expanded at a 0.6 percent annual rate in the first quarter, matching the fourth quarter's advance and handily topping a forecast for 0.2 percent growth in an advance poll of economists by Reuters.
In the America that Paul Volcker and Ronald Reagan bequeathed us, slower growth than one would prefer is the new "recession."

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 AM


'Karzai attackers' die in siege (BBC, 4/30/08)
Afghan intelligence services say they have killed three insurgents and arrested six more in connection with Sunday's attack on President Karzai.

Three operations were launched simultaneously across the capital, Kabul, one of which resulted in a gun battle and an eight-hour siege.
Five Militants Blow Themselves Up in Kabul Siege (Reuters, 4/30/08)
Five suspected Taliban militants blew themselves up in a house close to Kabul's old city on Wednesday, avoiding capture by besieging Afghan security forces, an Interior Ministry official told Reuters. killing yourselves before we do, your long term outlook is rather bleak.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 AM


Sharpton on Obama on Wright (Jake Tapper, April 29, 2008, ABC News: Political Punch)
ABC News' Brinda Adhikari reports: Reacting to Sen. Barack Obama's comments today about his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright's inflammatory remarks at the National Press Club on Monday, the Rev. Al Sharpton told ABCNEWS that it took "a lot of courage for [Sen. Obama] to say some unequivocal statements against someone that has been dear to him, his pastor."
Were politics geometry there would be no proof to show that the Left does not exist solely for our amusement.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM


Oil drops as demand falls amid supply growth expectations (JOHN WILEN, 4/29/08, AP)
Oil prices fell more than $3 a barrel Tuesday as the market absorbed data showing demand is falling even as supplies are rising.
If politicians were serious about gouging they'd crank gas taxes and, thereby, force companies to lower their profit margins.


April 29, 2008

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:15 PM


Obama's Risky Denunciation Of Rev. Wright (Vaughn Ververs, April 29, 2008, CBS News)
In taking such an aggressive stand Obama may succeed in publicly distancing himself from the spectacle that the Rev. Wright has become, but his newfound outrage raises some further questions. In his Philadelphia address, Obama stood by his friend. “As imperfect as he may be,” he said of Wright a month ago, “he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. … I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”

In today’s press conference, Obama said he sought in his earlier speech to “provide a context and to lift up some of the contradictions and complexities of race in America,” but that he found Wright’s comments Monday to be a “bunch of rants that that aren’t grounded in truth.” But many of Wright’s “rants” were simply a confirmation of many of the statements which had stirred up controversy in the first place.

Despite his appropriate outrage over Wright’s performances of late, Obama’s claim that his longtime pastor is exhibiting new behavior is certain to come under scrutiny. “The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” Obama insisted today. That comment, and any suggestion that the relationship between the two men was never as close as portrayed, are questionable.

Some of Wright’s remarks that sparked this mess were made over five years ago, specifically his oft-played comment that the nation’s “chickens” were “coming home to roost,” which he made shortly after 9/11. Obama has indicated Wright was instrumental in attracting him to the church he joined and has said he titled his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” after one of Wright’s sermons. That 20-year relationship will not be easily broken as a result of one afternoon press conference.

“What I think particularly angered me,” Obama said of Wright on Monday, “was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing."

In a New York Times profile of the Obama-Wright relationship in April 2007, Wright himself predicted such a split based on the controversial remarks that were already under some scrutiny. “If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me,” Wright told the paper over a year ago. “I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.”
One more distancing before the cock crows....

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:48 PM


America's Most Overrated Product: the Bachelor's Degree (MARTY NEMKO, 5/02/08, The Chronicle Review)
Among my saddest moments as a career counselor is when I hear a story like this: "I wasn't a good student in high school, but I wanted to prove that I can get a college diploma. I'd be the first one in my family to do it. But it's been five years and $80,000, and I still have 45 credits to go."

I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later. That figure is from a study cited by Clifford Adelman, a former research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and now a senior research associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Yet four-year colleges admit and take money from hundreds of thousands of such students each year!

Even worse, most of those college dropouts leave the campus having learned little of value, and with a mountain of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles. Perhaps worst of all, even those who do manage to graduate too rarely end up in careers that require a college education. So it's not surprising that when you hop into a cab or walk into a restaurant, you're likely to meet workers who spent years and their family's life savings on college, only to end up with a job they could have done as a high-school dropout. [...]

[E]ven those high-school students who are fully qualified to attend college are increasingly unlikely to derive enough benefit to justify the often six-figure cost and four to six years (or more) it takes to graduate. Research suggests that more than 40 percent of freshmen at four-year institutions do not graduate in six years. Colleges trumpet the statistic that, over their lifetimes, college graduates earn more than nongraduates, but that's terribly misleading. You could lock the collegebound in a closet for four years, and they'd still go on to earn more than the pool of non-collegebound — they're brighter, more motivated, and have better family connections.
And, other than those in the hard sciences, they don't use anything they learned in college either.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:43 PM


Hillary Gets No Respect (WILLIAM KRISTOL, 4/28/08, NY Times)
The fact is Hillary Clinton has turned out to be an impressive candidate. She has consistently defeated Barack Obama when her back was to the wall — first in New Hampshire, then in several big primaries on Super Tuesday, on March 4 in Ohio and Texas, and then last week in Pennsylvania, where she was outspent by almost 3 to 1, yet won handily.

She is, of course, still behind in the race, and Obama will most likely be the nominee. His team has run the better campaign. In particular, it realized how important the caucus states could be: Obama’s delegate lead depends on his caucus victories.

But Hillary may well be the better candidate. After all, for all the talk of Obama’s extraordinary ability to draw voters to the polls, Clinton has defeated him in the big states, including California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Obama won his home state of Illinois, but she won Florida, where both were on the ballot but didn’t campaign.

Furthermore, if you add up the votes in all the primaries and caucuses — excluding Michigan (where only Hillary was on the ballot), and imputing the likely actual totals in the four caucus states, where only percentages were reported — Clinton now trails in overall votes by only about 300,000, or about 1 percent of the total. By the end of the nominating contest, she may well be ahead on this benchmark — one not entirely to be scorned in a democracy.
Ms Clinton's loss is directly attributable to the fact that she's not the ruthless [*****] the Right thought she was. Had she gone after Senator Obama immediately after IA she could have won, but she was too ladylike.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:39 PM


Getting married for health insurance: Seven percent of Americans say they or someone in their household decided to tie the knot in the last year so they could receive healthcare benefits, a poll finds (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/29/08, Los Angeles Times)
Some people marry for love, some for companionship, and others for status or money. Now comes another reason to get hitched: health insurance.

In a poll released today, 7% of Americans said they or someone in their household decided to marry in the last year so they could get healthcare benefits via their spouse.

"It's a small number but a powerful result, because it shows how paying for healthcare is reflected not only in family budgets but in life decisions," said Drew E. Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which commissioned the survey as part of its regular polling on healthcare.
Just as government welfare programs are designed to break down such social structures and make individuals dependent on the state.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:29 PM


Obama denounces Rev. Wright's latest comments (Johanna Neuman, 4/29/08, Los Angeles Times)
Democrat Barack Obama today denounced his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, saying that the fiery minister's "ridiculous propositions" that the United States spread AIDS in the black community and invited the 9/11 terrorist attacks contradicted "everything that I'm about and who I am."
Gee, just last month these were the sorts of things someone in each of our families supposedly said and now they're suddenly beyond the Pale? Could Captain Hope be any more cynical than to pull this 180 just because he's losing now?

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:48 PM


Obama: The know-too-much candidate? (ROGER SIMON, 4/28/08, Politico)
Comparisons are already being mad hjoreneo. canada goose victoriae between Obama and Adlai Stevenson, who was an intellectual (read: loser). Obama used to teach law at the University of Chicago, one of the brainiest universities in the country.

And Americans don’t want presidents who are too brainy. (Obviously.) We would rather plunge into foreign wars or fall off economic cliffs than have presidents who know too much. That is because braininess is elitist, and being an elitist is the worst thing you can be if you want to be president.
In fact, the most accurate predictor of who will lose the race for an open presidency since at least the turn of the 20th century is which candidate is seen (though often inaccurately) as more intelligent. Herbert Hoover is the only exception and how'd that work out for ya?

Demography is king (David Brooks, April 29, 2008, NY Times)
In state after state (Wisconsin being the outlier), Barack Obama has won densely populated, well-educated areas. Hillary Clinton has won less-populated, less-educated areas. For example, Obama has won roughly 70 percent of the most-educated counties in the primary states. Clinton has won 90 percent of the least-educated counties. In state after state, Obama has won a few urban and inner-ring suburban counties. Clinton has won nearly everywhere else.

This social divide has overshadowed regional differences. Sixty-year-old, working-class Catholics vote the same, whether they live in Fresno, Scranton, Nashua or Orlando.

The divide has even overshadowed campaigning. Surely the most interesting feature of the Democratic race is how unimportant political events are. The candidates can spend tens of millions of dollars on advertising, but they are not able to sway their opponent's voters to their side. They can win a stunning victory, but the momentum doesn't carry over from state to state. They can make horrific gaffes, deliver brilliant speeches, turn in good or bad debate performances, but these things do not alter the race.

In Pennsylvania, Obama did everything conceivable to win over Clinton's working-class voters. The effort was a failure. The great uniter failed to unite. In this election, persuasion isn't important. Social identity is everything. Demography is king.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:42 PM


The Wright Comeback Tour (Howard Kurtz, 4/29/08, Washington Post)
Jeremiah Wright's complaint -- and Barack Obama's as well -- has been that the media have been distorting the reverend's message through sound-bite snippets and missing the full context.

The more I hear the full context, the more I think the Illinois senator has a growing problem.
...the problem has already grown a fair bit.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:38 PM


The Pastor Casts a Shadow (BOB HERBERT, 4/29/08, NY Times)
The question that cries out for an answer from Mr. Wright is why — if he is so passionately committed to liberating and empowering blacks — does he seem so insistent on wrecking the campaign of the only African-American ever to have had a legitimate shot at the presidency.

On Sunday night, in an appearance before the Detroit N.A.A.C.P., Mr. Wright mocked the regional dialects of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. I’m not sure how he felt that was helpful in his supposed quest to bring about a constructive discussion about race and reconciliation in the U.S.

What he is succeeding in doing is diminishing the stature of Senator Obama. A candidate who stands haplessly by as his former spiritual guide roams the country dropping one divisive bomb after another is in very little danger of being seen by most voters as the next J.F.K. or L.B.J.

The thing to keep in mind about Rev. Wright is that he is a smart fellow. He’s been a very savvy operator, politically and otherwise, for decades. He has built a thriving, politically connected congregation on the South Side of Chicago that has done some very good work over the years. Powerful people have turned to him for guidance and advice.

So it’s not like he’s naïve politically. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
...did Christ tell His disciples to go out and hide the Word? All he wants is for Senator Obama to run on what they believe.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM


Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats (NEELA BANERJEE, 4/26/08, NY Times)
When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.'s too late to ask them to be nice to the Godless.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 AM


Mindy McCready weeps as she confirms affair with Roger Clemens (TERI THOMPSON, MICHAEL O'KEEFFE and NATHANIEL VINTON in New York and CHRISTIAN RED in Nashville, 4/29/08, NY DAILY NEWS)
Barricaded behind tightly drawn blinds at her Nashville home Monday, country singer Mindy McCready confirmed a long-term affair with embattled pitcher Roger Clemens.

"I cannot refute anything in the story," a tearful but resolute McCready told the Daily News, which broke the story at midnight Sunday.

The News reported that the two met in a Florida karaoke bar when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer and Clemens was a 28-year-old ace for the Red Sox and a married father of two. [...]

The Rocket filed a defamation suit against McNamee on Jan. 6. McNamee's lawyer Richard Emery said revelations of the affair would have a big impact on that case because they influence Clemens' claim that his reputation was damaged.

"If the case heads to trial and is not dismissed, as we feel it should be, we will be calling [McCready] as a witness," Emery said.

"The point is whether he was damaged by the allegations that he used steroids - he claims he was hurt. But if there are other women - and there's not just one case, but many - and he holds himself out as a family man and an American paradigm, it's relevant.

"None of this would have been revealed but for his lawsuit and sanctimonious testimony before Congress."
All he had to do was accept responsibility for cheating, apologize to baseball, and retire and he could have avoided all this. Why do they never learn?

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:20 AM


As Clinton seeks gas tax break for summer, Obama says no (John M. Broder, April 29, 2008, NY Times)
As angry truckers encircled the Capitol in a horn-blaring caravan and consumers across the country agonized over $60 fill-ups, the issue of high fuel prices flared on the campaign trail on Monday, sharply dividing the two Democratic candidates.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton lined up with Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, in endorsing a plan to suspend the U.S. government excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for the summer travel season. But Senator Barack Obama, Clinton's Democratic rival, spoke out firmly against the proposal, saying it would save consumers little and do nothing to curtail oil consumption and imports.
While it's admirable of Senator Obama to be willing to be right on policy but wrong as to politics, this unfortunately plays right into the fear that he's just another tax and spend liberal. If you're going to defend a consumption tax on gasoline -- an excellent policy -- you need to be proposing offsets in other areas, like taxing investments, savings and income less -- all moronic policies.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM


Obama dismisses Clinton debate challenge (Brian Knowlton, April 27, 2008, NY Times)
Clinton, following her clear victory in Pennsylvania, has been goading Obama to debate yet again. She said Saturday that she wanted a 90-minute confrontation without moderators or questioners. That approach, rather like the series of debates in 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and his rival for an Illinois Senate seat, Stephen Douglas, might have seemed to appeal to Obama after a debate in which the ABC moderators were widely viewed as unfairly tough on him.
While it's obviously vital to keep his past and his politics as carefully hidden from the electorate as possible, and he has nothing to gain by debating someone who can't catch him in the delegate count, such fear bodes ill for the Fall.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 AM


For McCain, There's Only One Perfect Candidate for Veep (Stuart Rothenberg, 4/29/08, Real Clear Politics)
We all hear the same names mentioned as prospective running mates for John McCain: former Office of Management and Budget Director and one-time U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and even former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

Each one would bring something to the ticket. Some come from crucial swing states that could help McCain reach 270 electoral votes. A number are governors, adding a non- Washington, D.C., piece to the ticket. By most standards, all are good-looking and articulate.

And yet, none of them would change the partisan political equation in the fall election, and I'm not at all sure any of them would increase McCain's chances of winning in the fall. Certainly none of them would constitute a statement by McCain about his presidency, the kind of statement that would send a message to voters.

There is, however, somebody who would fill that bill and therefore be a near-perfect pick for McCain: Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.
We are arrived at an exquisite moment in America where the problem with Joe Lieberman is that he doesn't take his Judaism seriously enough for him to be acceptable to the party of Judeo-Christianity. He'd have to have a major come to Jesus moment and repent his years as a death lobbyist before he could be considered for the GOP ticket, or any domestic cabinet post. On the other hand, he'd be an ideal Defense Secretary, National Security advisor or Secretary of State.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 AM


Ronaldo 'threatened transvestites in Rio motel room' (Sally Peck, 29/04/2008, Daily Telegraph)
Brazilian police are investigating allegations by three transvestites that Ronaldo, the Brazilian football star and AC Milan forward, threatened to harm them after he took them to a Rio de Janeiro motel.
...Roger Clemens could be in worse trouble. (Luckily, he can throw overhand.)

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:47 AM


A Race of Personalities: Ken Livingstone vs. Boris Johnson (ANNE APPLEBAUM, April 29, 2008, The Washington Post)
[I] first met Ken Livingstone, the current mayor of London, now up for re-election, some 15-odd years ago too, when he was a member of parliament.

I don't know his mistresses — though I gather there are several — or his colleagues. But I do recall one memorable dinner, organized by a London newspaper, during which we argued at some length about whether Stalin was evil. I said yes. He disagreed. No one laughed. [...]

Any long, drawn-out contest between two people who don't — let's face it — differ that much on fundamental issues will invariable turn into farce; Whether it's an amusing one, as in London, or a "bitter" one, as in Pennsylvania, depends on the characters of the candidates involved.

So three cheers then, for ideological politics, or at least for real clashes of ideas, and let's hope our presidential elections, when we get to them, include some: At least they make everyone talk about things that matter. And yes, I do hope Boris wins.
As William F. Buckley Jr's campaign for Mayor of New York demonstrated, the opposite is also true. What began as mere farce became an important campaign because he differed so much from his opponents on the issues.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 AM


China intensifies war against splittism (Willy Lam, 4/30/08, Asia Times)
As police in various cities were issuing warnings to protesters outside Carrefour supermarkets last Saturday and Sunday, the Hu Jintao administration has intensified efforts to suppress and contain "splittists" in Tibet and Xinjiang and is using nationalistic sentiments to help achieve its goal.

As the nation is being swept by a tidal wave of "patriotism" if not xenophobia, liberal intellectuals who had earlier implored Beijing to consider conciliatory policies toward the two autonomous regions no longer dare raise their voice for fear of being labeled traitors. The CCP leadership is also hopeful that CNN, BBC and other Western media - having been put on the defensive by tens of thousands of angry Chinese netizens and demonstrators in the United States and Europe - might think twice when reporting on the CCP's iron-fisted tactics in China's far west regions.
It's not patriotism, but nationalism and flows from the same source as splittism. The Tibetans, Uighurs, etc. aren't Chinese.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 AM


Jeremiah Wright, former pastor to Barack Obama, strides back on stage: With timing unwelcome to Democratic candidate's campaign, Wright defends his racially charged comments. (Peter Nicholas, 4/28/08, Los Angeles Times)
Taking questions Monday, Wright stood by some of the most divisive assertions he had made in church sermons -- statements that Obama has denounced.

He declined to retract a statement from a post-Sept. 11 sermon that "America's chickens are coming home to roost."

"You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you," Wright said after his speech. "Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic divisive principles."

Asked about his earlier suggestion that the government had created AIDS to harm black people, Wright said that "based on the Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything." He was referring to an infamous experiment conducted over decades in which the government studied syphilis by allowing blacks to go untreated for the disease.

Wright spoke admiringly of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, long criticized for making anti-Semitic comments. Wright described Farrakhan as a hugely influential figure -- "one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century."

"Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy," Wright said. "He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery and he didn't make me this color."

Wright had kept a low public profile since portions of his sermons were widely played on television in March, including snippets in which the pastor said "God damn America." Obama, a longtime member of Wright's church in Chicago, partially quelled the controversy with a speech on race in Philadelphia that month. But Republicans are already using Wright's comments in advertisements against Obama.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, has said that she would not have chosen Wright as her pastor.
A Pastor at Center Stage (George Will, 4/29/08, Real Clear Politics)
[W]right's paranoias tell us something -- exactly what remains to be explored -- about his 20-year parishioner.

In Monday's speech at the National Press Club, Wright repeated -- decorously, by his standards, but clearly -- his accusation, made the Sunday after 9/11, that America got what it deserved. His Monday answer to a question about that accusation was: "Whatsoever you sow, that you also shall reap" and "you cannot do terrorism on other people and expect them never to come back on you."

As evidence that "our government is capable of doing anything," he strongly hinted that he has intellectually respectable corroboration -- he mentioned several publications -- for his original charge that the U.S. government is guilty of "inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." But on Monday he insisted that he is not anti-American: It is, he said, Americans' government, not the American public, that is a genocidal perpetrator of terrorism. So, he now denies that America has a representative government -- that it represents the public. He believes that elections constantly and mysteriously -- and against the public's will -- produce a genocidal, terroristic government.

On Monday, Wright also espoused the racialist doctrine that blacks have "different" learning styles than do others. This doctrine of racially different brains, or of an unalterably different black culture, is a doctrine today used to justify various soft bigotries of low expectations regarding blacks, and especially black children. It has a long pedigree as a rationalization for injustices. Slaveholders and, later, segregationists loved it.
The Real Rev. Wright (Rich Lowry, 4/29/08, Real Clear Politics)
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright has taken Barack Obama’s critically acclaimed race speech in Philadelphia, ripped it into bits, and tossed it in the air to serve as confetti for his parade through the media.

In that speech, Obama said Wright had been taken out of context, a defense the pastor has made himself. If only we knew the true Wright, Obama complained, instead of just “the snippets of those sermons that have run on an endless loop on the television and YouTube.” In his interview with Bill Moyers on PBS, Wright said the playing of his sound bites was “unfair,” “unjust” and “untrue.”

Then cometh the good reverend to step all over the out-of-context defense in a speech at the National Press Club.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:16 AM


Cuba walks tightrope of reforms: By lifting bans on cellphones and personal computers, Raul Castro is paving the way for open communications, but the regime is intent on avoiding the fate of the Soviet Union (Carol J. Williams, 4/29/08, Los Angeles Times)
The top-down decisions granting citizens the ability to communicate with one another and to brainstorm solutions have been a hallmark of Castro's leadership since he took the reins of a nation in crisis 21 months ago from his older brother Fidel.

Cuban intellectuals and common folk are embracing the straight-talk notion, as did Russians 20 years ago. But here, as in the Soviet Union, the leadership is walking a tightrope, risking the collapse of a struggling, authoritarian system by granting long-denied freedoms.

"Raul Castro's government will eventually need to confront the million-dollar question: Once it releases the genie of public opinion from the bottle, does it risk permanently reducing its control over Cuban society?" says Daniel P. Erikson, Caribbean analyst for the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington.

Mindful of the Soviet collapse, Cuban officials are loath to allow any kind of political opening that would be perceived as diminishing the legitimacy of the Communist Party, Erikson said.
When Gorbachev introduced glasnost, it was with the idea that people would finally get to cleanse themselves of their justifiable anger at Stalin and company and then the Politburo could get on with the rest of the Revolution. The Party was stunned when the dissidents instead (or, in addition) went after Lenin with hammer and tongs and described how the Revolution had been evil from its inception and the regime illegitimate from Jump Street. What was supposed to be some pruning around the edges instead turned into clear-cutting.

A peculiarity of Cuba's decades of one man rule is that there's no one to blame but Fidel. What exists in Cuba is Castroism, so every criticism undermines Castro and the Revolution entire.


April 28, 2008

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 PM

(via Mike Daley):

Frontera's Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars (Chef Rick Bayless)
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted, divided

2 (3.1-oz.) disks Ibarra Chocolate, finely chopped, divided

6 oz. (about 4 to 5 slices) firm white sandwich bread, such as Sara Lee Honey White

1 cup butter, melted, divided

3/4 tsp. salt, divided

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup dark corn syrup

3 tbsp. flour

2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 eggs

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, slightly heaping

Preheat oven to 325°F and spray a 13 X 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place 1 cup pecans and 1/2 of the Ibarra chocolate in a food processor; pulse several times to mix.

Break bread into pieces and add to food processor; pulse until fine crumbs form.

Add 1/3 cup melted butter and 1/4 tsp. salt; pulse to blend.

Press mixture firmly into bottom of prepared pan.

In same work bowl (no need to wash), pulse together brown sugar, corn syrup, flour, vanilla and eggs until well mixed.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining pecans, Ibarra chocolate, butter and salt.

Add chocolate chips; pour over crust and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate before cutting.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 PM


Supreme Court Upholds Voter Identification Law in Indiana (DAVID STOUT, 4/28/08, NY Times)
Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced the judgment of the court and wrote an opinion in which Chief John G. Roberts Jr. and Anthony M. Kennedy joined, alluded to — and brushed aside — complaints that the law benefits Republicans and works against Democrats, whose ranks are more likely to include poor people or those in minority groups.

The justifications for the law “should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators,” Justice Stevens wrote.

Justice Stevens and the two court members who joined him found that the Democrats and civil rights groups who attacked the law, seeking a declaration that it was unconstitutional on its face, had failed to meet the heavy burden required for such a “facial challenge” to prevail. [...]

Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. concurred in the judgment of the court, but went further in rejecting the plaintiffs’ challenge. In an opinion by Justice Scalia, the three justices said, “The law should be upheld because its overall burden is minimal and justified.”

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:14 PM


Center-right solidifies gains in Italy (Elisabetta Povoledo, April 28, 2008, IHT)
Promising to crack down on crime, the center-right candidate Gianni Alemanno, who ran with the conservative People of Freedom party, defeated Francesco Rutelli, who had served as mayor of the capital from 1993 to 2001. Alemanno won a comfortable majority with nearly 54 percent of the vote. He will be the first rightist leader to govern Rome since the end of World War II.

Losing the vote dealt a double blow to the departing mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, who left city politics to become the leader of the newly formed Democratic Party, which lost the April 13-14 national elections to the conservative leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:09 PM


Obama's former pastor says he has been 'crucified' by the media (Johanna Neuman, 4/28/08, Los Angeles Times)
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose fiery sermons as Democrat Barack Obama's former pastor set off a political firestorm last month, told reporters today that he has been "crucified" by the media and that attacks on him are really slams on the black church.
Recall that Clarence Thomas, with due humility, felt he was being lynched, whereas the Reverend Wright confuses himself with Christ.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:30 AM


Rise in Doctors Refusing to Perform Abortions (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 4/24/08)
Nearly 70 percent of Italian gynecologists now refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds, according to the Health Ministry. Italy legalized abortion in 1978 but pressure from the Vatican enabled doctors to claim a “conscientious objection” and refuse to carry out the procedure.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM


Smarty-pants summit short on substance (David Burchell, April 28, 2008, The Australian)
CASTING about for something to explain the spooky unease that crept over me during the 2020 Summit, I happened upon British Labour thinker Michael Young's old futuristic satire The Rise of the Meritocracy.

The premise of Young's book - published 50 years ago - is that all previous societies distributed talent more or less randomly among the classes. But in the 20th century the professional middle classes wrested the education system out of the hands of the old elites, and reorganised the ladder of social success according to their own preferred criteria: those of academic cleverness.

The outcome in 2036 was the most oppressive social system of all: an aristocracy of self-defined merit, made unbearably smug and patronising by its distinctive combination of smarty-pantsness and success.

Young had a lot of difficulty getting his book published: few high-brow publishers seemed to enjoy the joke. And when it did go into print, the book suffered a predictable fate. People forgot it was a satire, and took meritocracy to be a virtue. In the 1990s, Tony Blair went so far as to declare his goal to be the creation of a meritocratic Britain. Young (who was no political neophyte; he had been the author of the 1945 Labour manifesto) wrote to the newspapers, trying to point out the error. But in vain. Meritocracy had become a new Labour core value.

On the evidence of the last fortnight, Australian Labor is in some danger of falling into the same trap. After all, what was the 2020 Summit if not a celebration of the triumph of the meritocracy, a ritual homage to the best and brightest, in all their ceremonial glory? A celebration fuelled, moreover, by the meritocrats' new-found sense of liberation from the banal horror of the Howard years, a time when, so we're told, the best and brightest were ignored, or even silenced, and mediocrity ruled in the halls of power.

At times the summit had the savour of one of those official festivals dreamed up by the French revolutionaries to persuade themselves that theirs really was a revolution by the people, not just in their name.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 AM


Friends with Iran or kiss of death? (P R Kumaraswamy, April 28, 2008, Rediff)
The visit marks an interesting phase in India's foreign policy. This is the first formal meeting between the mercurial Iranian leader and Prime Minister Singh. Ever since he was elected President in July 2005, Ahmadinejad has been trying to consolidate his stature and international acceptance. With Western criticisms and disapprovals getting louder, he needed to be seen in different parts of the world and courted by prominent world leaders. He visited all major non-Western powers such as China, Russia and of course Venezuela, which has emerged as the torchbearer of growing anti-Americanism in the Third World.

Partly to further Indo-Iranian ties, but primarily to enhance his international profile and acceptance, Ahmadinejad has been keen to meet Indian leaders. Such an opportunity came in June 2006 during the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Council where both India and Iran are 'observers'. Timing, however, was bad. Photo opportunity with Ahmadinejad, the Indian leader feared, would have hardened the critics of the nuclear deal then on Capitol Hill. Hence, Dr Singh skipped that meeting and instead sent Petroleum Minister Murli Deora.

Indeed when Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee went to Teheran in February last year, the Iranian officials ambushed him by suggesting a summit meeting among leaders of India, Iran and Pakistan to sort out their differences over the gas pipeline.
Thus, by hosting the Iranian leader, what does India convey to the outside world? Going by the working of the UPA government, one can infer a few possible explanations.

The visit is most likely to be used by the government to exhibit its 'independent' foreign policy vis-�-vis the US. This would partially assuage the Left and its supporters within the establishment. Spin doctors might stretch it further and hope that by hosting the Iranian leader the government could make the Left 'flexible' on the nuclear deal.

The sudden silence adopted by the US following its initial displeasure over the Indian decision should also be seen within this context. Washington might see the visit as a small price for larger cooperation with India.
Let us pretend for just a moment that there is such a thing as geostrategic thinking and that folks are ever able to engage in it, without details of the moment and personal feelings intervening. Now let us ask ourselves what genuinely troubling political phenomena remain extant in the world. The first, obviously the most important, is the nuclear-armed totalitarian regime in China. As it implodes--due to political repression, ethnic tensions, demographic imbalances, etc.--it could lash out at neighbors and create difficult situations for America to deal with. The other is Salafist Islam, which, while it does not control any regimes, creates some level of instability in numerous states and is especially virulent in the Tribal Areas between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Of particular note here is that Iran is a Shi'a state and, thus, an entirely heretical nation in Salafist ideology. Meanwhile, to Pakistan's East lies India, a historic enemy with a Hindu regime.

Given this context, it takes not one lick of foreign policy expertise to perceive that India is the single most important American ally in the world today, situated, as it is, between the two sources of trouble. And, given the threat that resides in Pakistan, between India and Iran, it is ridiculously easy to see why they are natural allies.

It's a short step from there to grasp that because we share a common enemy, America, India and Iran are in all likelihood destined to make common cause, irrespective of the bumptious current president of the Islamic Republic. While domestic political concerns mitigate against a rapproachment between the US and Iran in the short term, electoral processes and historic inevitabilities will take care of the obstacles in the medium term. This reality would explain why we would not make a big humturum about India/Iran relations, were we thinking in such longer terms....

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 AM


As Democrats battle on, McCain running strong: He supports an unpopular war and president. So why is he so popular? (Susan Page, 4/27/08, USA TODAY)
[I]n what seems to be the most promising election for Democrats since 1976 — when the aftermath of the Watergate scandal opened the door for Democrat Jimmy Carter to win the presidency — the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows the presumptive Republican presidential nominee within striking distance of either Illinois Sen. Barack Obama or New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Sen. McCain will not be a pushover in Ohio," cautions Ted Strickland, the Democratic governor of one of the nation's most important battleground states. "It will be a hotly contested race."

At least at the moment, McCain's personal qualities — his stature as a Vietnam war hero, reputation as an independent-minded Republican and persona as a strong leader — are trumping the significant policy disadvantages he faces in pursuing a third consecutive term for the GOP in the White House.

The protracted and increasingly bitter rivalry between Obama and Clinton for the Democratic nomination is a boost for McCain, too.

He has stayed competitive by drawing support from unlikely quarters.
It would have been helpful to pause and consider her own starting point. In 1976, quite possibly the worst candidate ever nominated by a major party -- a sitting president who could barely fend off a primary challenge -- nearly defeated an Evangelical Southern governor anyway. With the exception of the Great Depression and it's immediate aftermath it's a conservative country and the GOP nominee will always have a big advantage in the general. Once you add in the Southwestern Christian's independence and likability and put him up against stock Northern liberals the rest of the scenario writes itself. Indeed, the only way the GOP could have lost this Fall was if it had nominated Mitt or Rudy and the Democrats had nominated Bill Richardson.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 AM


Uighurs struggle in a world reshaped by Chinese influx: In China's far west, the Muslim ethnic group finds itself relegated to menial jobs. Chinese officials also restrict religious practice and use of their language in schools. (Peter Ford, 4/28/08, The Christian Science Monitor)
"We feel like foreigners in our own land," complains one Uighur teacher in the provincial capital of Urumqi, who offers only a nickname, Batur, for fear of angering the authorities. "We are like the Indians in America." Or Tibetans in Tibet. "Most Uighurs sympathize with the Tibetans," says Batur. "We feel we are all under the same sort of rule." [...]

That concern, many Uighurs charge, translates into harsh government control of their lives, restrictions on the use of their language in schools and on their Muslim religious practice, and a colonial-style economy that keeps most local people in menial jobs while Han Chinese immigrants run businesses and the local administration.
How dare John McCain treat the Chicoms like enemies....

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 AM

Seventh edition
Edited by Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin
Israel Arab Reader

Now available from Penguin publishers is this new edition of one of the most highly respected, widely used reference books on the Middle East, documenting the Arab-Israel conflict and peace process from its inception to the present day.

The book provides almost 300 primary texts covering more than a century of history. It documents the British mandate and early attempts to handle the conflict; Israel's independence and the outbreak of wars; international diplomatic efforts to make peace including the 1990s’ peace process and its breakdown. Materials are presented reflecting the positions of Arab leaders and states, Europeans, Israel, Palestinians, the USSR, and the United States. The texts of international resolutions and agreements, as well as accords made during the peace process, are also provided.

The result is a comprehensive work suitable for reading, reference, and teaching.

To order click here: Buy Now!

For detailed information on this book, follow this link: GLORIA Publication Catalog

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 AM


In push for drones, Gates labors to change Pentagon: The services aren't delivering enough unmanned planes to war zones, the Defense secretary charges. (Gordon Lubold, 4/28/08, The Christian Science Monitor )
The flap over the unmanned planes is the latest example of Secretary Gates's effort to shake up the Pentagon. Much like his push to speed up delivery of armored troop-transport vehicles to Iraq last year – a request that originally came from the field – the new initiative is part of Gates's strategy to force the services to think differently and more creatively to solve problems quickly, experts say.

But overcoming the Pentagon's institutional inertia will not come easily.
You get promoted for commanding infantry, no matter how useless, not drones, no matter how effective.

Comments Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 AM


Obama's Foreign Non-Policy (David Bedein, 4/28/08,
The following are the questions posed to Mr. Obama's Middle East advisers and the responses they provided:

Bedein: How would a President Obama relate to the security threat posed by Saudi Arabia? Declassified security reports confirm that Saudi Arabia continues to fund groups defined by the U.S. government as terrorist organizations, while Saudi Arabia maintains an active state of war against the state of Israel since 1948.

Answer: None of Mr. Obama's advisers could answer this question.

Bedein: Does Mr. Obama support President Bush's policy of arming the Saudis? (The Bush administration offers major arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite its pro-terror posture.)

Answer: Neither Guttman nor Levine could tell me whether or not Mr. Obama supports the Bush arms sales to Saudi Arabia. They checked with Mr. Obama and could not get an answer.

Bedein: Would a President Obama support the idea that Palestinian refugees should reside in UNRWA refugee camps, under the premise and promise of the "right of return," instead of being provided with decent living conditions?

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