Friday, May 30, 2008

another DoB-approved crane collapse

It was not but 12 hours ago that I suffered through a special meeting of Community Board 2 in Manhattan where I heard a representative of the city’s Department of Buildings tell us that they had just finished a citywide inspection of every construction crane of every type now in operation. This was supposed to reassure us that all of the cranes were found to be safe.

About an hour ago, in a scene eerily reminiscent of the March disaster that killed seven, a tower crane at 333 East 91st Street (at First Ave.) partially collapsed, the cab falling over a dozen stories. NY1 is reporting that emergency personnel have pulled people from the wreckage, but their conditions are not yet known.

So much for the credibility of the new, post-Patricia Lancaster DoB. Who is Mayor Michael Bloomberg going to get to take the blame for him this time?

I am writing all this from my apartment, which is next to a construction site where at this moment a two-story-high jackhammer attached to a backhoe is crushing reinforced concrete with such force it causes my entire building to shake violently. Such shaking has caused things to fall from shelves on many occasions over the course of this development—but not to worry, the DoB tells me that this shaking is within permissible limits.

Update: NY1 has reported that acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri just last week lifted the emergency regulation that required a city inspector to be on site whenever a tower crane is “jumped” (raised higher).

NY1 also reports that this crane is the same model of crane as the one that collapsed in March. Both of these cranes were owned by the same company—New York Crane.

NY1 is now also reporting at least one fatality.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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McCain “smitten with the celebrity of power”

As I remarked in a couple of posts last week, I often find attempts to limn Republican presidential wannabe John McCain’s motivations to be overly complex. Most notably was Matt Bai’s NYT Magazine piece that tried to somehow link McCain’s experience as a POW with his ridiculous embrace of Bush’s war in Iraq. My response was that there really is no complex worldview when it comes to McSame, no nuanced position on the use of American military might, and certainly no sense of honor bound duty to his fellow fighters.

Rather, McCain’s “positions”—if you can dignify his empty posturing as such—are the result of political expedience. John McCain, though touted as a maverick, just put his “Straight Talk Express” on what he thought was the straightest road to the White House—if he wanted the Republican nomination, he had to go along not just to get along, but to get the financing he needed, too. What motivates this third generation Navy man to embrace a “strategy” that continues to send his brothers and sisters to their needless deaths? Naked ambition, pure and simple.

Many who have crossed paths with McCain in the last few decades have observed as much, though some try to put in nicer terms. Now, writing in the New York Times, David D. Kirkpatrick has given us more evidence of McCain’s lust for power. . . not to mention his penchant for hypocrisy.

Mr. McCain has often said he decided to run for office because he felt his war injuries would make attaining the same rank as his father and grandfather “impossible.” But Mr. Lehman, now an adviser to the McCain campaign, and two other top Navy officers familiar with Mr. McCain’s file insist that was not the case.

Instead, many who knew him say, Mr. McCain seemed bored by Navy life. “Sitting down with Anwar Sadat or Deng Xiaoping and being treated as an equal — that is pretty heady stuff,” said Rhett Dawson, a former aide to Mr. Tower who is now president of an electronics trade group. “It had opened his eyes to a much broader world.”

Mr. McCain was captivated, recalled Jeffrey Record, then an aide to former Senator Sam Nunn, the hawkish Georgia Democrat. “He thrives on competition, and he thrives on political combat,” Mr. Record said. “He saw the glamour of it. I think he really got smitten with the celebrity of power.”

Considering that former Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who is now making the rounds promoting his book, attributes much of what went wrong during the Bush Administration to what’s been called the “permanent campaign”—using the authority of the office for partisan gain—and the president himself becoming overly impressed with his own power, does America really want another chief executive that thrives on political combat? And can we survive another four years of a man so taken with the idea of power for power’s sake?

I think the whole world—from the sultans to the serfs, from the admirals to the GIs, from the celebrities to the wannabes—knows the answer. Well, the whole world minus one, I guess.

(cross-posted on capitoilette and The Seminal)

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

no time to post, luv, I’m only here to read the meter

Apologies for the commentary-free laundry list. . . .

I said this almost two years ago when the MCA/dungeons act was being debated, but now we have proof—the Bush Administration reserves the right to disappear anyone it wants. Period.

Look out ol’ Mac is back!

Here’s a twist: a Congressman strong-arming a telecommunications industry lobbyist (it’s about 20 paragraphs in).

All you really need to know for November.

(OK, here’s a little more) McHypocrite

(And a little more) McSame

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Bush: for troops this memorial day, time = money

Fresh off Thursday’s rejection of an additional 0.5 percent pay increase for America’s active military, President George W. Bush has a better idea for how this country might honor our troops: A “moment of remembrance.”

President Bush asked Americans to pay tribute to veterans by pausing on Memorial Day for "a moment of remembrance."

Bush had several suggestions for how to honor the sacrifices of those who have fought for the United States -- place a flag at a veteran's grave, go to a battlefield or say a prayer. He said the moment of remembrance would be marked Monday at 3 p.m. local time.

"At that moment, Major League Baseball games will pause, the National Memorial Day parade will halt, Amtrak trains will blow their whistles and buglers in military cemeteries will play taps," he said in his weekly radio address.

The president said that as people "fire up the grill" and mark the unofficial beginning of summer, they need to honor the sacrifices that make freedom possible.

"No words are adequate to console those who have lost a loved one serving our nation," Bush said. "We can only offer our prayers and join in their grief."

No, Mr. Bush, sir, I believe we can offer a heck of a lot more than “our prayers.” You could start by paying the living that you and your folly have so needlessly placed in harms’ way something close to what they deserve. I don’t expect you to go so far as to pay the troops as much as you dole out to your elite mercenaries at Blackwater and the like, but surely you could spare the extra half-point approved by the Congress in the recent Defense Authorization Bill—an increase that would bring the entire raise up to a whopping 3.9 percent.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, that tiny added increase in troop pay would mean spending an extra $324 million next year—or less than the cost of one day of war in Iraq. It is 0.2 percent of the $165 billion requested by the White House for continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To put it another way, that money amounts to roughly a quarter- less than four percent of what a recent pentagon audit found was paid by the Army to private contractors—and for much of what was purchased with that $8.2 billion, there is no record that anything was received.

Or, Mr. President, you could drop your opposition to the new GI Bill that just overwhelmingly passed both houses of Congress. That small expenditure would offer much deserved medical and education benefits to returning veterans.

While you’re at it, you could really fix the VA. You could de-privatize all the programs you farmed out to your cronies and political benefactors. You could clean up and repair the hospitals and clinics, you could expand mental health services, you could stop your minions from purposefully minimizing the number of PTSD diagnoses, and stop them from classifying those still hampered by mental or physical injuries as fit for combat so that they can be sent back into your meat grinder.

Or, I’ve got an even better idea still. You could start bringing the troops home—for once, for all, for good. You could admit your mistake and end the occupation that needlessly adds—each and every day—to the list of those that we must memorialize.

Do that, and I’ll make you a deal—I’ll not only forgive you your patronizing, fatuous, callous, insulting “moment of remembrance,” I’ll agree to let you go back to your golf game.

(cross-posted on capitoilette, The Seminal, and Daily Kos)

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Friday, May 23, 2008

McCain: I’ve earned the right to screw the troops

The US Senate passed Jim Webb’s (D-VA) update of the GI Bill yesterday by a vote of 75 – 22. The Math will tell you that three senators did not cast a vote on this measure: one was Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who was just this week diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor after suffering a seizure, one was Oklahoma’s own Tom Coburn (R)—and, honestly, who knows what’s going on inside his head—and the third? That would be presumptive Republican presidential nominee, part-time Arizona senator, and full-time asshole John W. McCain.

(Continued on capitoilette. . . .)

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

evaluating McCain's Vietnam "experience"

Jason’s comment on my Wednesday post got me thinking a little more about McCain’s biography—most specifically the Vietnam War part—and what role it should play in the 2008 battle for the White House. . . and what was going to be a one-sentence response grew into something more like a post of its own.

First, the comment:

McCain will absolutely say anything to be elected, but I did find interest in Bai's piece. Not so much for the psychoanalyzing as for the Vietnam question.

For whatever reason, McCain believe[s] we could have and should have won Vietnam by committing more troops. That's a very interesting question to start debating right now, with the parallels with Iraq so obvious. Yet, I feel, lots of portions of America don't really want to ask that question. It brings up an era many would like to forget. Very interesting indeed.

Indeed. Therefore, my response:

That McCain thinks we could have "won" the Vietnam War is not only ignorant, it's dangerous.

Many questions were asked about Vietnam throughout the '70's and '80's. There are lots of good books (Karnow, Halberstam, and Shawcross come to mind), with lots of good insights, and they all tell us that we didn't just fight incorrectly, we fought for the wrong reasons.

Was there a way to "win" in Vietnam? I suppose we could have talked with Ho when he first turned to the US—and he did turn FIRST to the US—for help fighting a repressive colonial occupier. Short of that, there is no right answer.

I feel the right is forcing us to re-debate Vietnam history as a rehearsal for the eventual rewrite of Bush's Iraqi incursion. Imagine, even now, asking the "how could we have won Iraq" question.

The only answer is by not invading in the first place. That McCain still does not understand this makes for a bad omen when considering how or whether he would end the Iraq fiasco, and is a scary indication of just how terrible McCain might be at handling other foreign challenges.

I think the most interesting tidbit in the Bai piece—and I touched upon this the other day—was the revelation, of sorts, that "Mr. Experience" actually decided how to handle a crisis from what he read in a few books, and not from some special lesson learned at the Hanoi Hilton.

I am not against psychobiography—I have read some good ones—but I would want to look at the total of McCain's life experiences. Having been in a POW camp or in the jungle doesn't by itself predict how a veteran/lawmaker sees Iraq (take Bob Kerrey, for instance, an Iraq hawk that witnessed the worst of the Vietnam war firsthand during two tours as a Navy SEAL).

When I look at McCain's life, I see the son and grandson of very successful men who goes into the family business and quickly finds he's just not as smart and not as good at it. He then spends the rest of his life trying to one-up Daddy to prove his worth.

Sound familiar?

(cross-posted on capitoilette and The Seminal)

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

let’s go to the videotape! (aka I told you this asshole would say anything to get elected)

As I wrote yesterday, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the complex rationalizations and simplified psychoanalysis that went into Matt Bai’s Sunday NYT Magazine piece about what might have shaped John McCain’s worldview—most notably what could inspire a man to embrace Bush’s failed and dangerous course in Iraq. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the attempt at understanding the Asshole from Arizona, it was just that the highfalutin’ explanations provided in the article give McCain too much credit for thinking this through—and, more importantly, Bai’s “analysis” crowds out what to me is the most obvious and likely reason behind McCain’s ever-shifting positions: John McCain will say whatever he thinks he must to get elected president.

Think I’m oversimplifying? Then I ask you to take a look at the latest Real McCain video from Brave New Films.

And don’t just take my word for it (or McCain’s—again, watch the video), former Rhode Island Senator (and, now, former Republican) Lincoln Chafee agrees. Appearing Tuesday on WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show, Chafee said of his one-time friend and Senate colleague that his political shifts were clearly born of an overriding desire to grab the presidency (just before the 13 minute mark on the audio, or at about 1:30 on the YouTube):

Lopate: [McCain’s] gone back on any number of things. Do you think he’s done it because it’s the only way he sees to win, or do you think he’s had a change of heart?

Chaffee: I think the former—that he’s just looking at it politically—which is unfortunate from my perspective. I am also surprised that once locking up the nomination he hasn’t tacked toward the middle more. He’s still kowtowing to that rightwing base.

So, there you have it. No complex worldview. No nuanced shifts. Just naked ambition.

John McCain: Empty. Cynical. Hypocritical. Ruthless. Pandering to the extremist right. It’s really not that hard to understand, and really not that hard to recognize, either. In fact, we are all painfully familiar with the type.

Update: Oh, yeah, here’s what Barack Obama had to say on the matter last night in Iowa:

We face an opponent, John McCain, who arrived in Washington nearly three decades ago as a Vietnam War hero, and earned an admirable reputation for straight talk and occasional independence from his party.

But this year's Republican primary was a contest to see which candidate could out-Bush the other, and that is the contest John McCain won. . . .

I will leave it up to Senator McCain to explain to the American people whether his policies and positions represent long-held convictions or Washington calculations, but the one thing they don't represent is change.

(cross-posted on capitoilette and The Seminal)

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bai & McCain: the missing doctrine

Here’s my biggest problem with Matt Bai’s longwinded window on the mad cow mind of presidential wannabe John W. McCain: it’s complete and utter hogwash.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Bush thinks he lands a zinger; world tastes a little bit of its own vomit

As I remarked (in a comment) yesterday, I actually got a little queasy thinking about the discussion among the Bush speechwriters that hit on this idea of having the grandson of a Nazi sympathizer/financier/profiteer (you choose which) invoke the Holocaust to make a US domestic political point. . . while standing before the Israeli Knesset.

Bad enough that the president abandoned the “all politics stop at the water’s edge” axiom. Bad enough that he (or the speechwriter) was dumb enough to quote a Republican Senator’s wish of talking to Hitler. Bad enough that Bush would mar what was supposed to be a celebration of Israel’s founding with a nakedly political speech. Bad enough that he would cheapen the Holocaust and dishonor its victims by invoking it just to serve his partisan goals. And certainly bad enough that a sitting president would sink so low as to liken the Democrat running against Bush’s third term to a Nazi appeaser. . . but. . .

As bad as all of this is—and it is very, very bad—I didn’t know how high my disgust could rise until later in the day when I watched the Bush speech a few times on TV.

It’s not as easy to see on this YouTube, but look closely at Bush’s face when he finishes the quote from Senator Borah. Right after Bush says, “All of this might have been avoided,” but before he engages his over-rehearsed headshake, you will see a little smile break across the president’s face. It’s just a flash, almost a micro-expression of a smile, but it is, to me, clearly macro-filled with self-satisfaction.

Watch again—Bush thinks he got in a good one! He thinks he’s landed a zinger! You almost expect to hear a rim-shot or a “bang! zoom!” You know the president hears it in his own hollow head. (It takes him back to the days when he would towel-snap his naked classmates in the locker room.) I will go out on a limb and bet that the guy is basically congratulating himself for working in a Hitler reference for a room full of Jews.

“Aced it!” he’s thinking. “These Israelites [sic] know there’s nothin’ worse than makin’ nice with Hitler. They’ll eat this up like a pastrami sandwich!”

So, yes, I not only think that Bush is a vain, indecorous moron—I think he’s an anti-Semite.

Like (grand)father, like (grand)son.

And the president’s speechwriters—the guys that turned Bush’s thumbnail stereotype into a full-bleed portrait—what to make of them?

Idiots? Anti-Semites? Apple-polishers? Pigs?


(cross-posted on capitoilette and The Seminal)

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Obama & Edwards: saving the best for last

What do they say—timing is everything?

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina who bowed out of the presidential race in January, endorsed Senator Barack Obama at a rally here tonight.

Officials announced the news of Mr. Edwards’s endorsement shortly after Mr. Obama landed here late this afternoon. The campaign timed it to coincide with the start of the major evening newscasts, which would have otherwise focused on Senator Hillary Clinton’s landslide victory in West Virginia, which raised new questions about Mr. Obama’s strength with white working class voters.

Edwards has been out of the race for months, and yet still polled 7% in West Virginia. Doing this today—and in Michigan, no less—is a media coup.

Add to this NARAL’s endorsement of Obama earlier today, and this interesting statement from Senator Clinton, also from earlier today, and you can now see (not the end, not the beginning of the end, but) the end of the beginning.

John Edwards just gave a heck of a speech. In the words of Barack Obama at the same event: “I haven’t been seeing John as much—I forgot how good he is.” If Edwards can move Obama to the left on healthcare and poverty issues in exchange for his help with blue collar and more liberal Democrats, this could be a big win-win.

Your thoughts?

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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Rauschenberg’s legacy

Robert Rauschenberg, one of America’s most prominent and prolific visual artists of the post-war period, died Tuesday. He was 82.

Much is sure to be written in the coming days and weeks about the work, meaning the artistic work, of Rauschenberg—and that attention is much deserved. But there will likely be much less said of his political work, which, though perhaps less transformational than his art, is certainly worthy of some praise, as well.

As the New York Times obituary mentions in passing, Robert Rauschenberg was not only an artist, but also a patron of the arts, an advocate for arts education, and a longtime supporter of (mostly) Democrats and Democratic causes.

In fact, the notice of his death during this political season had me curiously looking about the web for whom Rauschenberg had supported this cycle, and here I found a small surprise. Though Rauschenberg had supported many individuals (along with some PACs) in years past—mostly in his adopted home states of Florida and New York—in 2008, the artist had put his money behind only one candidate: Democrat Scott Kleeb of Nebraska.

And it wasn’t just a little money. Rauschenberg gave the legal maximum to Kleeb—for both the primary and the general.

Scott Kleeb is seeking the Senate seat now held by Republican Chuck Hagel, who is not running for reelection, and yesterday, only handful of hours after Rauschenberg’s death, Kleeb took the first big step, winning the Nebraska Democratic primary over a much older and wealthier (RR’s money notwithstanding) opponent. Kleeb will face former Nebraska Governor and GW Bush Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in November.

My congratulations go out to Scott Kleeb and his wife Jane Fleming Kleeb—a very exciting victory—but the question of the night for me referenced Rauschenberg. How was it that the eighty-something East Coast artist came to max out for a thirty-something Plains State rancher and college professor?

It turns out, I didn’t have far to go for the answer. Jane’s MTV blog made note of Rauschenberg’s passing, calling him one of Scott’s dear friends. Apparently, Rauschenberg had met Scott through a mutual acquaintance, and Bob, as the Kleebs knew him, had done some events for Scott’s campaign, in addition to donating his own money.

So, along with my congratulations, I extend my condolences to the Kleebs.

One of the great things (assuming your worldview swings this way) about being a visual artist—especially one of some renown—is that your work can continue to inspire and affect others, even after you have gone. For Robert Rauschenberg, there is a nice little coda to this idea. Having donated to Scott Kleeb’s general election campaign prior to his passing, Bob has a chance to inspire and effect change in the political arena, too.

That’s a sweet grace note on an already rich legacy.

("Retroactive I," 1963 – via NYT - Art © Rauschenberg Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

(cross-posted on capitoilette, Daily Kos, and The Seminal)

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

craven Bush co-opts Lebanese suffering to advance current favorite lie

There really is no limit to how low this pompous little shit will go to satisfy his fragile ego and retarded worldview. Speaking to the BBC in advance of a trip to Middle East, George W. Bush used the recent civil strife in Lebanon to again push his latest crusade (and I do not use that word lightly):

[Bush] said the US was helping the Lebanese army become effective enough to act against Hezbollah's armed wing.

"I don't see how you can have a society with Hezbollah armed up the way they are.

"In this case though, they moved against the Lebanese people, they're not moving against any foreign country, they're moving against the Lebanese people and it should send a signal to everybody that they're a destabilising force."

"The first step of course is to make sure that the Siniora government has got the capacity to respond with a military that's effective," he said.

Hezbollah would be nothing without Iranian backing, he said, adding that Iran was the source of much instability in the Middle East.

First, if the US is helping the Lebanese army the way we’re helping the Iraqi army, or the Pakistani army (or, frankly, our own army), then good luck to them—they’ll need it.

Second, how dare he—Bush—piggyback his bloodlust on the suffering of the Lebanese—suffering he helped bring about.

Don’t forget, it was Bush who was among the loudest advocates for the exit of Syrian forces from Lebanon three years ago. Though, of course, the administration had no plans for how to fill the power vacuum left by the departure of Syria.

And don’t forget that is was Israel’s failed invasion of Lebanon/war on Hezbollah—a fiasco backed by the Bush administration as practice for a broader push against Iran—that substantially strengthened the hand of Hezbollah.

(And don’t get me started on the fact that if it weren’t for Bush’s refusal to deal with the previous Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, Iran wouldn’t have elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the first place.)

I’m not saying that the Lebanese people themselves didn’t play a large role in the departure of Syrian troops—as did the international community—and I’m not saying that Syrian occupation didn’t need to end. And, I will not deny that Hezbollah receives support from Iran. But by using the Lebanese situation—the loss of life, the threat of greater instability and violence—to advance his naked political agenda, Bush treats the Lebanese people with the same callous disregard he has shown most of the world’s peoples—they are but pawns in the service of his greater aggrandizement.

I feel pretty certain that the Bush bunch has no real plan for improving stability in Lebanon, and I feel pretty certain that GW himself doesn’t much care. If the dead of Beirut can get the US president closer to raining a few-thousand pounds of explosives on the latest in a list of perceived threats to his already rock-bottom self-esteem—and to his friends’ already sky-high profits—well, god bless ‘em.

And we’re not supposed to talk about why “they” might hate us. . . .

(cross-posted on capitoilette)

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Monday, May 12, 2008

pot, meet kettle

The Mittster says Barack Obama is out of his depth.

Mr. Romney, who is considered a possible McCain running mate, sharply criticized Mr. Obama for saying that his administration would be willing to talk to Iran. Asserting that Mr. Obama, if elected, was planning to meet with the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, said on CNN that this was “one more clear example of a person that’s out of his depth when it comes to being the leader of the free world.”

[insert laugh track]

If this is Mitt in full fall campaign mode, he’s the one stuck flailing in the deep end with the half-inflated water wings.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

NYT edit board: McCain = Bush

My friends in the blogosphere and I have spent weeks now pointing out just how disastrously similar a John McCain presidency would be to the current administration. Friday’s lead editorial in the New York Times shows that one slice of the establishment media now agrees:

The United States needs a clean break from eight catastrophic years of George W. Bush. And so far, Senator John McCain is shaping up as Bush the Sequel — neverending war in Iraq, tax cuts for the rich while the middle class struggles, courts packed with right-wing activists intent on undoing decades of progress in civil rights, civil liberties and other vital areas.

In a column that mostly focuses on the need for the Clinton and Obama campaigns to begin to come together for the Democratic Conventions and the fall campaign, the Times editorial board makes it clear why it is so important that the supporters of both surviving campaigns turn out for the Democratic nominee this fall in the same record numbers that have momentously marked this long primary season: A vote for McCain is a vote for McSame. Taking your ball and going home—and then staying home on November 4th—is not an option if you care about the future of this country.

Whatever our differences, whatever our problems with either Clinton or Obama (and, readers know, I have had my problems with both), these issues are nothing in the face of another term of Bushian rule.

(cross-posted on The Seminal

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

the wages of sin

Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside. . . well, really crying on the outside, too.

One line in this AP report caused me to half laugh/half gasp:

A Kuwaiti who had been imprisoned in Guantanamo for more than 3 1/2 years carried out a recent suicide attack in Iraq, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi took part in one of three suicide bomb attacks last month in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Scott Rye, a military spokesman.

. . . .

Al-Ajmi, 29, was transferred in 2005 to Kuwait, where the government was supposed to ensure he would not pose a threat. In May 2006, a Kuwaiti court acquitted him and four other former Guantanamo prisoners of terrorism charges.

. . . .

"It is unknown what motivated him to leave Kuwait and go to Iraq," Rye said. "His family members reportedly were shocked to hear he had conducted a suicide bombing."

“Unknown what motivated him”—really? What could have possibly happened in the half-dozen years that would turn a man against US interests in the Middle East? Oh, wait, here’s something:

Military documents previously released to AP show that al-Ajmi was "constantly in trouble" while in Guantanamo and held in disciplinary blocks during his detention. He also allegedly told officials in August 2004 that "he now is a jihadist, an enemy combatant, and that he will kill as many Americans as he possibly can."

Tom Wilner, a lawyer who represented Kuwaiti prisoners at Guantanamo, said al-Ajmi had a broken arm during one of their meetings at the base in Cuba and that he alleged he had been injured by guards who interrupted him while he prayed.

Wilner called the alleged suicide attack a "tragedy" that could have been avoided with court hearings for prisoners held at Guantanamo, where the U.S. now holds about 270 men.

"The lack of a process results in tragic mistakes on both sides," the lawyer said.

I’m not sure how Wilner is defining “sides”. . . or “mistake,” for that matter. This just seems like one big, well-rounded tragedy.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

following the money?

From this morning’s New York Times:

Her campaign is deep in debt and believed to be near broke, and her advisers made the unusual move on Tuesday night of refusing to confirm or deny whether Mrs. Clinton had made a loan to her campaign to keep it afloat.

Now here’s why this is really important (beyond the usual questions about being able to compete with Obama on TV ad buys and the like): With Tuesday’s primaries in the books, there are now more publicly uncommitted super-delegates than there are uncommitted pledged delegates. Many of those super-delegates are Democratic officeholders—elected officials, many who themselves must run for reelection this cycle. To the best of my knowledge, there are no rules that prohibit the presidential campaigns from making campaign contributions to the super-delegates.

Yes, you are thinking correctly—in effect, presidential hopefuls can buy the votes of some super-delegates.

This is one of the things I hate most about the super-delegate system—in fact, I hate it far more than any general principle about how all convention delegates should be selected by popular vote (this being a rather thin argument given that every state allocates pledged delegates by slightly different—or sometimes very different—rules).

If Clinton’s campaign has no cash on hand, then it has no money to spread around to the SD camps. I will even go out on a limb and say that if HRC were to loan her campaign money only to have the campaign turn around and donate it to other campaigns, it might raise an FEC eyebrow or two (that is, if we actually had a sitting FEC). Loaning her own money to her campaign to buy delegates, to my mind, just ain’t going to happen.

Of course, by the time you read this, things may have changed. MSNBC is reporting that Clinton has cancelled all appearances for Wednesday—or at least all electronic media appearances. The Times article says that HRC has scheduled a rally in West Virginia for this afternoon.

I have also read that Hillary’s morning e-mail does not have a money ask included. That seems odd, but I can’t say how odd.

All this said, I, no fan of Clinton, would like to see her hold off quitting just yet. The rationale is best explained by Markos:

If Clinton were to drop out this week, we'd face an uncomfortable situation in West Virginia, with Clinton likely crushing Obama. That would look terrible for the presumptive nominee.

Better than that would be to garner enough superdelegate commitments this week, so that Oregon can push Obama past 2,024. That way, it isn't the supers who clinch it for Obama, but actual voters.

Given my and the rank and file’s current misgivings about super-delegates, I like this scenario/idea. However, I’m not sure that Clinton has the stomach—or the cash—to see it through.

(cross-posted on capitoilette and The Seminal)

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

4 out of 5 dentists agree. . .

Clinton was for economists before she was against them.

More about all of this over on capitoilette.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

John McCain: mad cow

How else can you explain his frequent and outrageous gaffs—or, more to the point, his even more outrageous walkbacks from his gaffs?

“No, I was thinking about- it’s not hard to- we will not,” McCain stumbled. “By eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, we will not have to have our national security threatened by a cut off of that oil. Because we will be dependent, because we won’t be dependent, we will no longer be dependent on foreign oil. That’s what my remarks were.”

Mad Cow McCain—to quote a large purveyor of chopped bovine: “I’m lovin’ it.”

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

the important thing was, I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. . .

They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big, yellow ones. . . .

(I don't know who did the original artwork, so I will just have to h/t Jason, who sent this my way.)

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