12 April 2006 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized

Professor Cole has a theory:

What is really going on here is a ratcheting war of rhetoric. The Iranian hard liners are down to a popularity rating in Iran of about 15%. They are using their challenge to the Bush administration over their perfectly legal civilian nuclear energy research program as a way of enhancing their nationalist credentials in Iran.

Likewise, Bush is trying to shore up his base, which is desperately unhappy with the Iraq situation, by rattling sabres at Iran. Bush’s poll numbers are so low, often in the mid-30s, that he must have lost part of his base to produce this result. Iran is a great deus ex machina for Bush. Rally around the flag yet again.

If this international game of chicken goes wrong, then the whole Middle East and much of Western Europe could go up in flames. The real threat here is not unconventional war, which Iran cannot fight for the foreseeable future. It is the spread of Iraq-style instability to more countries in the region.

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10 April 2006 · Comments Off on Fresh Air Looks at Layoffs in Modern America · Categories: Uncategorized

This is worth a listen:

New York Times business writer Louis Uchitelle argues for corporations to move towards preserving jobs. His new book, The Disposable American, is also a history of the rise of layoffs in the United States.

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10 April 2006 · Comments Off on Tom Delay, on a Mission from God? · Categories: Uncategorized

This is truly scary:

In the next 20 years, DeLay came to develop a single-minded vision of how America should be. DeLay’s America would acknowledge that the Constitution was inspired by the Bible; it would promote prayer and worship, and would stop gun control, outlaw abortion, limit the rights of gays, curb contraception, end the constitutional separation of church and state, and adopt the Ten Commandments as guiding principles for public schools.

One Sunday in Sugar Land, I knelt alongside DeLay as we prayed at the First Baptist Church, then listened to the fiery preaching of DeLay’s friend and minister, whose name was Rambo. I went to Bible study and the Sunday school class DeLay taught. Afterward, I told DeLay I was somewhat troubled by the idea that he essentially wanted to remold the government to meet his fundamentalist Christian worldview. I told him I thought a good many Americans would share my reaction.

He looked me squarely in the eyes and shook his head sadly at the fate of us nonbelievers. “When faced with the truth, the truth hurts. It is human nature not to face that,” he said. “People hate the messenger. That’s why they killed Christ.”

And now, DeLay says he prayed long and hard before God made clear to him that He no longer wants DeLay to represent Texas’s 22nd Congressional District. Instead, DeLay says, his God wants him to be a messenger — on a much broader scale. And we will see DeLay constantly smiling as he delivers his message because in his heart he knows that we hopeless sinners will always hate the messenger.

Not a messenger from my God.

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09 April 2006 · Comments Off on What I’m Listening To · Categories: Uncategorized

My Daddy’s music.

The best station on the net.

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09 April 2006 · Comments Off on The Price of Lies, III · Categories: Uncategorized

You can tell they are on the ropes when they start trying to shoot the messenger, but Dick Polman’s not having any of it:

As conditions in Iraq continue to deteriorate, and as President Bush’s popularity at home continues to wane, administration leaders and their conservative followers have been busy honing a provocative message:

It’s the media’s fault.

(snip)

But these attacks are proof that the war itself is going badly; there would be no need to point fingers if it were going well. And many nonpartisan observers dismiss the conservatives’ media-bashing as an attempt to pin blame to the wrong people – while exonerating Bush . . . .

Nobody is making up the bad news. It’s lying all around.

The current Federal Administration seems to think that, if they repeat something often enough, however outrageous it might be, persons will believe it, and them. And they sure as heck got away with it long enough.

It looks like they’ve come to the end of that rope.

Let us hope that they have, so the country can get back to truth-based policy-making.

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09 April 2006 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

I haven’t bought many books lately.

Not since I learned about Project Gutenberg.

But today Chris Satullo wrote about one that piqued my interest in his “Center Square” column in the local rag:

That voice in the wilderness, getting closer?

It’s the voice of people coming home from the desert of political irrelevance.

It’s the voice of Americans who are Christian, but not conservative.

You can hear the voice on the Web. You can hear it in journals of opinion that now find space for essays that critique fundamentalist politics, yet treat faith with respect.

And you can hear it amid the shelves at Borders. Books such as Bart D. Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus and Jim Wallis’ God’s Politics have become best-sellers, their authors invited to appear on Fresh Air and The Daily Show.

For decades, the dominant voice of religion in the public square has been authoritarian, either traditionalist Catholic or the “God said it; I believe it; that settles it” school.

All along, other Christians worried that these camps were getting an important question wrong: “What would Jesus do?” They suspected He’d reject much of what was being done in His name.

I just got back from ordering Misquoting Jesus. I opted for the Super Saver, so there’s no shipping charge, but I’ll probably have it on Tuesday (there’s an Amazon dot com warehouse just down the road).

Of course, in a gesture to my mispent youth, I also ordered this.

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09 April 2006 · Comments Off on Beverly Cleary Is 90 · Categories: Uncategorized

No, I never read one of her books. But my older daughter inhaled them.

There was an delightful interview with the author on All Things Considered this evening.

Beverly Clearly, who now lives in Carmel Valley, Calif., talks with Debbie Elliott about her timeless characters and the enduring appeal of Klickitat Street.

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09 April 2006 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized

From today’s Inquirer:

Pop Quiz: Throw another blog on the fire
On March 13, the 2006 Bloggies were announced – the blogging world’s version of the Grammys / Oscars / Emmys / People’s Choice Awards. Below is a quiz about blogs for those who don’t necessarily know very much about them. (Hint: It’s not cheating if you go ahead and look the answers up on the Web.) And once again, we thank the staff at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia for helping us ensure the accuracy of all answers.

Go take the quiz. I’ll post the answers as a comment, since I can’t seem to find a link to them on the Inky’s website.

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07 April 2006 · Comments Off on The Price of Lies, II · Categories: Uncategorized

‘Nuff said:

The Army is taking increasing numbers of applicants it once judged substandard.

The percentage of recruits once rejected – and now accepted – on account of criminal convictions, drug use or medical conditions rose to 15 percent in fiscal 2005 from 10 percent in 2001, service statistics show.

The Army also is taking more recruits from a pool it judges least-qualified, based on education and scores on a cognitive aptitude test. Army Secretary Francis Harvey said up to 2,873 of these applicants would be taken this year, 16 percent more than the 2,476 in fiscal 2005 and an increase of 131 percent over the 1,245 taken in 2001.

The practice runs counter to the Pentagon’s plan to increase its numbers of Special Forces, skilled technicians and linguists – soldiers able not only to defeat an enemy but also to stabilize conquered nations through cultural awareness and street-level diplomacy.

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07 April 2006 · Comments Off on The Price of Lies · Categories: Uncategorized

Here.

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06 April 2006 · Comments Off on Bush: Offspring of Nixon and Johnson? · Categories: First Looks

Mutation Nation, from Professor Juan Cole:

Late night comedian Conan O’Brian does a shtick where he has a silly computer program meld the faces of two celebrities to see what their kids would look like, only the program works to exaggerate the features of each, so that you always have a freakish result.

The news today makes me think that it would be worthwhile melding Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon to see if the result looked like W. Because George W. Bush faces the weight of a long Asian land war gone badly wrong, just as Johnson did. And he faces the charges of high-level corruption and illegal wiretapping that dogged Richard Nixon. He has become both “Mah feller Amurcans” Bush and “tricky Georgie.” W. has survived all this relatively well, given the dreadful facts of it.

Unlike Johnson, he does not operate a hated draft, but depends on gung-ho volunteers (some of whom are a little too gung-ho and have made a lot of unnecessary trouble in Iraq by shooting a lot of people for DWI, Driving While Iraqi). The volunteers’ families and friends are not clamoring for an end to the war with the fervor that those of the draftees did in the 1960s and early 1970s. Johnson was in the end defeated by powerful challenges from within his own party, which caused him not to seek another term. Bush faced no such challenge in ’04. His party has gone along with him. Of course, Tom DeLay is not exactly a paragon of virtue. The corruption of the party itself, which has few Robert F. Kennedys, has abetted Bush’s continued dominance and free ride for his crimes.

Interesting thought.

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05 April 2006 · Comments Off on A History of America’s Foreign Adventures · Categories: Uncategorized

Stephen Kinzer details a century and a decade of American attempts for regime change, and the side effects thereof.

We don’t like to admit it, or even realize it, but this country has indulged in regime change for a long time. And it has done so uniformly to benefit American economic interests, or, at least, what was seen as American economic interests at the time.

There is an American imperialism; it is imperalism of and for the corporations, rather than imperialism of and for territorial gain, but it is still quite real. We do not like to think of this because it implies that our nation’s motives are not always pure and wholesome.

Sadly, they are not always pure and wholesome.

Live with it. Or do something about it. Or bury your head in the sand and watch the rich get richer while they cause the poor to get poorer.

And, in the long-term, it rebounds against us. Those who wonder, “Why do (insert nationality here) dislike us?” would do well to study our own history.

Any serious student of American history knows this (my field of study is American history–I’ll share my credentials with anyone who wants them). This interview sets it forth quite clearly:

Stephen Kinzer has had a peripatetic tenure at The New York Times. He has reported from more than 50 countries and served as the paper’s bureau chief in Turkey, Germany and Nicaragua.

He employs that far-flung perspective to examine America’s history of regime change in his new book, Overthrow.

Though Iraq is the most recent example of the United States exerting its power to alter another country’s leadership, Kinzer notes that it is certainly not the first. He notes that Iraq “was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons.” Kinzer discusses the book with Terry Gross.

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05 April 2006 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

Up, sharply. I have more samples because my daily run now takes me deeper in the wilds of darkest South Jersey. Highest price observed: $2.59; lowest, $2.38:

Runnemede, NJ, Gulf, $2.44; Wawa, $2.38.

Bellmawr, NJ, Power Plus, $2.41; Citgo, $2.41; XTra, Texaco, and Valero, $2.39.

Gibbstown, NJ, Valero, $2.48.

Paulsboro, NJ, Lukoil, $2.39; Exxon (TA Truck Stop), $2.41; BP, $2.42.

Claymont, Del., Exxon, $2.47; Sunoco, $2.51; Getty, $2.49; BP, $2.53; Gulf (Cumberland Farms), $2.49; Gulf, $2.53; Wawa, $2.47.

Holly Oak, Del, Mobil, $2.55.

Penny Hill, Del., Exxon, $2.59; BP, $2.51; Getty, $2.52.

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04 April 2006 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

I am not a cat person. But I have a cat, inherited from my father. She is actually a very nice cat, affectionate (which I will argue is not typical cat behavior) and a good mouser.

Not like this cat:

Connecticut authorities have slapped a restraining order on a cat which, according to shaken locals in Fairfield, has subjected the residents of a quiet suburban cul-de-sac to a feline reign of terror during which it attacked several people and even had a pop at the Avon lady.

The chilling Connecticut Post report into 5-year-old Lewis’s antisocial tendencies recounts how the black-and-white longhaired cat – dubbed the “Terrorist of Sunset Circle” – would attack from behind and without warning, as two-time victim Janet Kettman explained: “I was walking along the sidewalk when he sprang at me. I never saw it coming, but that’s how it often is. He comes at you from behind, springs and wraps himself around your legs, biting and scratching.

(snip)

Cisero (the cat’s owner feeder) said: “I’ve tried to tell them to just stay away from Lewis and he will stay away from you; this has caused complete havoc for me. He’s a cat’s cat, he climbs trees and sits on people’s roofs but now he’s forced to be in the house all the time.”

Sorry. I’ve been around cats all my life. Unprovoked attacks from behind are not typical cat behavior.

Unprovoked boredom, laziness, and general lack of cooperation, maybe, but not unprovoked attacks.

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04 April 2006 · Comments Off on Bush Seems To Have Plucked Richard Cohen’s Last Nerve · Categories: Uncategorized

Read about it here:

Little wonder Bush focuses on posterity. The present has to be painful. His embrace of incompetents, not to mention his own incompetence, is impossible to exaggerate. Rummy still runs the Pentagon. The only generals who have been penalized are those who spoke the truth. (They should get some sort of medal.) Victory in Iraq is now three years or so overdue and a bit over budget. Lives have been lost for no good reason — never mind the money — and now Bush suggests that his successor may still have to keep troops in Iraq. Those of us who once advocated this war are humbled. It’s not just that we grossly underestimated the enemy. We vastly overestimated the Bush administration.

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