Friday, May 30, 2008

A Scenario In Which Hillary Clinton Might Win

Candidate Clinton shocked literally everyone in the world earlier when she took the unprecedented step of acknowledging reality for the first time in almost half a year. When asked about whether she expects the Democratic Primary to continue beyond the June 3rd primaries, she answered:

"It could, I hope it doesn't. I hope it's resolved to everyone's satisfaction by that date, because that's what people are expecting, but we'll have to see what happens."
Well, 50/50 on the whole reality thing. She seems to understand that at this point there is only one person in the Democratic Party who’s happy about how long this whole thing is taking- maybe two, if you count Bill. On the other hand, her mysterious comment at the end about how we have to “see what happens” is totally baffling. What does she expect might happen? Obama only needs to win a fifth of the remaining delegates to capture the nomination, something which is all but assured at this point.

When I first read the story it took me hours to understand the full meaning of that quote. I stared at my monitor for what felt like a lifetime, contemplating the deeper nuances. We sat there, the quote and I, until only the quote remained. I have now returned from my meditation upon the words of Hillary Clinton, and can tell you exactly what she sees coming, and how the next few weeks will go down:

First, the next week proceeds exactly like everyone knows it will. Obama and Clinton vie for the delegates from Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota. The results from these primaries, combined with the ongoing movement of super delegates leave Obama only a few short of victory by June 7th or so, when Hillary finally unleashes her attack! Using her status as the establishment candidate, she gets the Rules and Bylaws Committee and Seating Committees to allow the Florida and Michigan delegates’ seats at the convention- and only her delegates from these states will be allowed in! Also, she renounces the statehood of any state using a caucus system. This doesn’t just remove them from the Democratic Convention, mind you- these states are officially out of the Union.

All of this naturally leaves Obama in a tight spot. He would probably be out for good, but for the last minute conversion of none other than WILLIAM CLINTON! On the road to Denver Bill has an epiphany, changes his name to Pilliam, and arrives preaching the gospel of Obama. This leaves many of the party insiders hopelessly confused, as disobeying an order from a Clinton is an unthinkable notion to many of these brainless deadweights. Chaos ensues.

At this point the Republicans step in, led by the professional water-carrier and eldritch horror himself, Rush Limbaugh. He and his army of Dittoheads had been massing on the borders of Colorado for weeks, hoping that their plan to muddle the Democratic Primary would see just such an opportunity. Nonsensical talking points and meaningless rhetoric fill the air, deafening thousands of Americans.

It is in the final hours of this fight that Obama finally takes off the mask. All of those email forwards you received from your crazy grandparents? They were right. Obama is a secret Muslim! He is quickly joined by Keith Ellison, the other secret Muslim senator. Representative Virgil Goode’s head explodes. Things get pretty crazy for a while, with Obama and Keith calling people to prayer many times a day, eating halal food, going on pilgrimages to Mecca, and following the other Pillars of Islam. A bunch of other stuff happens too and the Christian Right isn’t too happy about it.

The entire debacle is finally brought to an end when a group of mediators from some Scandinavian country show up and quickly negotiate a ceasefire. The terms? All the surviving delegates will play a game of musical chairs, to the tune of “Yakety Sax.” The outcome of this is unclear, as there’s only so much meaning you can glean from any words that come out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth. Still, at least now you know what she’s talking about. In the coming weeks American will be tested as never before, and after the unspeakable carnage is brought to an end we will have a nominee.

Suck. On. This.

5 Years ago today, one of the nations "premier" foreign policy analysts said this: (via Atrios)

I think it [the invasion of Iraq] was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie.
We needed to go over there, basically, um, and um, uh, take out a very big stick right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble, and there was only one way to do it.

What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?"

You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna let it grow?

Well Suck. On. This.


That Charlie was what this war was about. We could've hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That's the real truth.
For the record, Thomas Friedman still has a job as a prominent columnist at the New York Times, was named #16 of the top 100 public intellectuals by Foreign Policy magazine and has gotten 2 multi-millon dollar book deals since 2003. Gotta love how the cream rises to the top, huh.

Lies Lies LIES!

Nancy Pelosi: (Via Stoller)
''I almost wonder how anybody associated with this war, unless they were of completely different philosophy, would not come to the conclusion that this war is a grotesque mistake, that it was misrepresented from the start, not prepared for correctly,'' said Pelosi.

''This war is a big lie. It was a lie to begin with..and it continues to be a some point, maybe the lies just got to be too heavy for him to carry,'' she said of the former White House spokesman.
Great point Nancy, only if it wasn't coming from you. I wonder when the burden you're describing is gonna catch up with you for your own lies over the Iraq war. I mean, you didn't start this war, but you've had the power to end it since 2006, and have done nothing but lie to those who brought you into office on the promise of bringing that horrific war to a close. We all know why you don't want to use your power to end the war: you've decided it's better strategy to let more people die before 2009, because you think if you use your power to end it now, the republicans will call the democrats pussies during the next election cycle. And while that plan may win the election, it doesn't mean it isn't morally bankrupt. (And also, I have a funny feeling the republicans will call us pussies and commies no matter what we do, it's kind of their only card to play)

So as fun as say take a pot shot at Scott McClellan for being a liar with blood on his hands, just don't forget that what you're doing is that far off.

A few more questions...

So by now you've all probably heard about Scott McClellan's tell all book about his time in the white house. I gotta say, the firestorm has been pretty funny to watch, but at the same time it seems like there are some really logical follow up questions that should probably be asked.
  • Now that it seems like everyone is comfortable with the idea that the Iraq war was based on lies and a PR campaign... shouldn't that mean something? I feel like there's this thing - in that other thing - high crimes and... something? Oh well, moving on.
  • Before I saw the interview he did last night on Olbermann, my main question about the whole thing was "why is he doing this?" McClellan wasn't Cheney, Rove or Rice, he was one of the few remaining connections to Bush's era as Texas governor, and I think he might be coming to grips with what he was a part of. Like everyone else, I originally figured this was about making money, but the more I thought about it, I don't really think so. I mean, he's gonna make money from this book and all, but this book cuts off any other chance of making money on the conservative book/speech giving/consulting/think tank circuit, which seems like it would be insanely profitable over the long haul. And it's not like he had a courageous resigning in protest moment that will endear him to the left like Richard Clarke or Paul O'Neill, so there might not be much money on that side either. It's almost impossible to believe that someone who spent that long lying to all of us is trying get the truth out, but after watching his interview last night, thats the impression I got.
  • Anybody want to point out that all the attacks are on McClellan as a person, and no one in the administration is denying the truth of his specific claims. Shouldn't that tell us something?
The majority of the outrage of about this story completely misses the point. There isn't really too much new news when it comes what he said. The surprise here is that you're getting this info from as inside of a source as you're going to find. The fact is if you've been a journalist covering the Bush white house (like David Gregory for example), and you are shocked by the claims that he made (like Gregory's outrage about the timid questions before of the iraq war)... THEN YOU HAVEN'T BEEN DOING YOUR JOB! If the guy whose job it is to take your questions says that you weren't hard enough on him, then you should probably hand in your notepad and call it a career, because well, you're just not good enough. Call Jeremy Scahill and give him your press pass on your way out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let's not go down this road

Disturbing news out of Major League Soccer, as the Washington Post Soccer Insider Steven Goff revealed that a racial slur was directed at a player at a game between Columbus and New England. The slur was audible on a video clip posted on YouTube, which Goff linked to on his blog yesterday. And this, my friends, is the beginning of a very slippery slope for MLS and soccer in this country. 

The sad truth is that racism in soccer is alive and well, with many high profile incidents taking place in recent years in Spain, France, and eastern European countries. I was going to link to a few of them here, but instead, just do a google search for "soccer racist abuse" and see the long list of incidents, most of which occurred in the past 12 months. Racism in soccer is hardly new either, but until now it had never been seen as an issue in American soccer.

In American society? Oh yeah, who are we kidding? Racism is about as American as apple pie. But specifically with soccer, this has the potential to further deteriorate to the point of being similar to the actions in Europe, where banners with racist slogans are unfurled, bananas are thrown at Black players, as well as monkey chants directed their way whenever they touch the ball. Now, I don't believe for one second that this would be allowed to happen in America the way it has in Europe, where the governing authorities routinely turn a blind eye towards this sort of stuff. What it can do is give the American sports pundits another reason to further denigrate soccer, cast it aside and call it "un-American."

Soccer is one of my favorite sports. I am as big a proponent for the sport to succeed in this country as anybody else and that has actually started happening recently. Beyond just David Beckham's arrival in Los Angeles, ESPN has increased its coverage of the sport to more than just showing UEFA Champions League games. The network has started showing soccer highlights on nearly every episode of Sportscenter, will carry the European Championships this summer and are reportedly exploring the option of creating an all-soccer channel.

I've always said that for soccer to truly take off in the U.S., it needed to copy off the European model of how the sport operates. Soccer big-wigs in this country decided for us a while ago that Americans only like sports in a certain way and since soccer doesn't fit into all those traditional North American values, that it would have to be "Americanized." Well, they were wrong as hell. Gradual integration of the international aspects of the sport have seen it grow in popularity.

But let's not get carried away.

It started with the streamers in Toronto, then there were recent reports of violence at a recent L.A. Galaxy/Chivas USA game, but we have to draw the line well in advance of racial epithets being yelled at players. This has to stop. Not only to protect the sport I love, but for the good of the country. In many ways, sports act as a microcosm for the nation as a whole. As the election has shown us, we still have a lot of skeletons left to clear of this country's closets. Instead of stuffing them back in and hoping they never fall back out, we need to get this stuff out in the open and confront it head-on.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An exit with dignity and class

Or not:
ABC News' Kate Snow Reports: In an interview with the Argus Leader, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., took the unusual step of invoking the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y., when discussing the continuing Democratic nomination battle.

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it." Clinton said.
Wow. When my mom called me and told me what she said, I actually didn't believe believe her. There are few people who loathe Hillary Clinton as much as I do, and I gotta say, after all the race baiting, smearing, and bullshit to come from her campaign, I still didn't think she'd sink this low. From now on, I'll remember that there really is no remark too classless, and no limit to how low she will go. Lesson learned.

Enough of the offensive, how bout' some good old fashioned lies? (via devilstower)
ABC News' Sarah Amos reports: Former President Bill Clinton in South Dakota today delivered a harsh critique of how his wife has been treated during her presidential bid, telling the crowd that he has "never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running," and that, "she will win the general election if you nominate her. They're just trying to make sure you don't."
Clinton also spoke against bullying superdelegates to make up their minds, saying, "I cant believe it. It is just frantic the way they are trying to push and pressure and bully all these superdelegates to come out. 'Oh, this is so terrible: The people they want her. Oh, this is so terrible: She is winning the general election, and he is not. Oh my goodness, we have to cover this up.'"
"She is winning the general election today and he is not, according to all the evidence," Clinton said. "And I have never seen anything like it. I have never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running. Her only position was, "Look, if I lose I'll be a good team player. We will all try to win but let's let everybody vote and count every vote.'"
Well, in addition to that other stuff he said not being true... this whole disrespected thing is really getting on my nerves. That's true Bill, I can't think of a candidate who's had a worse ride in the media then someone who had a the press crowning them as the nominee and building up her non-existent credentials and accomplishments for 3 years. It's hard to think of someone with more institutional advantages ON her side... so to portray her as some kind of underdog story is beyond ridiculous.

But to give you a taste of a current Hillary supporter's mindset, I came across this at Huffington Post, written by one of their columnists. Keep in mind, this may read like sarcasm, but I'm pretty sure she's serious:
How Dare You! By Gill Iscol

We need to talk. How dare the leadership of the Democratic Party turn on Hillary Clinton! How dare they betray Bill Clinton! How dare they not speak out when Hillary is disrespected by words like bitch, whore and the "c" word! How dare they allow them both to be smeared as racists, playing the race card! Where was Howard Dean ? Where was Nancy Pelosi ? Where were Hillary's colleagues in the Senate when the Clintons were being so unfairly accused and denigrated? The Democratic Party has a lot to answer for. If we had stood as a party with one voice and said, "no", we will not allow one of our own to be so disturbingly maligned, we would now have a unified democratic party electorate at the end of a virtually tied primary race. Instead we are deeply divided. Now, since the party's leaders have chosen again and again not to speak up, I will.

I am a Hillary supporter and along with millions of Democrats throughout our country , I have been outraged by how the media have treated her throughout this primary season. But what is most disturbing is how my Party has stood by and allowed the demeaning and dishonest attacks on Hillary to continue. This is not the party I thought I belonged to. This is not the party that espouses fairness, justice and equality for all. This is not the party that elected Bill Clinton President in 1992 and 1996 and Hillary Clinton as Senator in 2000 and 2006. That party knew that it had benefited enormously from the Clinton administration as well as the incredible accomplishments of one of the most activist, hardworking First Ladies in our history. That Party stood proudly by a president who many called the first black president because both he and his wife had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to civil rights and human rights.

Imagine if Democratic leaders had done what Hillary did when President Bush associated Barack Obama with terrorism in his much lauded speech in Israel. Remember, Hillary gave a heartfelt statement that Barack was one of our own and she would not stand by and allow him to be so denigrated ?

Women are outraged. We are still fighting for her, and we are ashamed of how our candidate, a woman who has devoted her adult life to serving others, a woman who has been a distinguished First Lady, a woman who has helped her colleagues pass legislation and win races in their own states, a woman who has stood up for all of our rights, has been treated not just by the media but by her own Democratic Party. Throughout all this, Hillary has maintained her focus, her message and her dignity. This is truly courage under fire. This is what it takes to be a great president. It is not over until the lady in the pant suit says it is and I and millions of others are with her.

She certainly captured the Hillary Clinton/Brick Tamlin monotone yelling in writing, which is no small feat. I'm not gonna talk about all the bullshit that she claims in the piece, I just feel like it's good to point out the absurdity of the arguments being made by the remaining Clinton supporters, and I just wish there was a better way to keep track anyone who said something this stupid, so we don't have to take them seriously in the future. Oh yeah, and speaking of people who are looking to put themselves in that category, Paul Krugman's credibility continues to plummet further into the abyss with his latest national column. Seriously Paul, on a completely selfish note, you're making everyone who backed you up when you were wrongfully attacked by the Obama campaign look stupid for having ever defended you on anything. I blame myself though, I should have known better than to trust a free trader.

I really can't wait till this is over. I never thought I'd miss the days when Hillary Clinton was just a crappy senator who ranted about flag burning and pushed us into unnecessary wars.

Monday, May 26, 2008

DC Train of Thought: The Official Beijing 2008 Olympics Celebration Station, Part Two!

It’s been over a month since I nominated one of the eleventh Panchen Lamas (specifically the one endorsed by Tibetan Buddhist religious figures, not the one endorsed by the officially atheist Communist Party of China) for the spot of Beijing 2008 Poster Child. I figured one month would be more than long enough for him to get back to me, but apparently His Missingness places higher priority on being abducted by authoritarians than he does on ensuring the success of the 2008 Summer Games. Children these days, right?

In the meantime, the Chinese have continued to promote “The Friendlies.” These mascots are no replacement for a proper poster child, and it should be noted that some of them are probably bad influences on anyone who sees them: one, for example, is made of fire. I can hardly wait for when children across the world start burning and/or exploding things to emulate this kid-friendly Friendly. Another one resembles a panda, an animal known for embracing sloth, gluttony, and excessively loud sneezing.

All of this brings me to my second suggestion: the Yangtze River Dolphin, or baiji!

This uniquely Chinese dolphin lived in the Yangtze River, which stretches from deep inside mainland China to the East China Sea near Shanghai. For the purposes of navigating this river the dolphins had invented or evolved sonar, proving that dolphins are truly incredibly smart. When you add this to the other typical examples of dolphin intelligence (high-pitched squeaking, an unstoppable compulsion to jump through hoops) it really does leave one in awe of them.

Visitors to the Olympics may be hard put to find one, however. One of the many benefits of the Cultural Revolution was that the Yangtze River, which had previously been teeming with unspeakable hordes of baiji, was left with very few of them. If you are wondering what killing piles of dolphins has to do with advancing revolutionary class struggle, consider this: dolphins are undeniably bourgeois oppressors. Freeing the proletariat from these capitalist landlord dolphins was a vital step in advancing the class interests of poor Chinese peasants.

Today baiji are classified as critically endangered, and possibly extinct. Aside from one possible sighting last summer, it has been years since any have been found. All of this makes the baiji a great example of the skill with which the Communist Party of China has taken care of the environment and species within their country. Set your calendars, river dolphins: you have one month to accept the role of Beijing 2008 Poster Child, or I’m passing it on to someone else.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Joke or no joke?

I mean, she seems serious, but this has to be a joke, doesn't it? The entire column, by a legitimate columnist at Talking Points Memo:
What If Hillary Clinton Returns to the Senate as Labor's Voice?

By Jo-Ann Mort - May 21, 2008, 11:19AM

If the tremendous--and deserved--outpouring for Senator Ted Kennedy's well-being shows anything, it shows the power of a savvy legislator who has a clear agenda and keeps at it for decades. As one of his congressional colleagues noted in the NYTimes today, not only has he stuck with his vision and has been one of the most successful-- if not most successful-- legislator in our time, but he's also hired excellent staff who have aided not only his efforts, but the broader progressive cause for decades.

Now, labor's lion, Senator Kennedy, is going through a critical personal struggle, just at a time when the union movement will need his stature to assist a President Obama to pass a progressive agenda for this nation.

Obama, if elected, will need a smart and effective senator as partner to garner support for key union issues like Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform.

Even if the Senate and House gain more Democratic seats, as is likely, the labor movement will need someone to pull their support together, to be on the stump and to be play the type of role that Senator Kennedy has played for decades. Senator Clinton could take all the support she gathered in this primary season and play a pivotal role in the Senate and could offer hope to all the working class Americans that she has been hawking on the campaign trail. There is no better response that she can offer her union and non-union supporters than returning to the Senate to legislate a pro-worker agenda. Think Roosevelt and Wagner.

I mean, looking at what she's written in the past few days: "Geraldine Ferraro's next move: Civil Rights activist?" and "John Terry: The closer" we should have known she'd lost her mind a bit. I know as Nick reminded me in the comments a couple of posts ago that anything is possible, but Hillary Clinton, labor activist? I just can't wrap my mind around that one in any way. I'd like to ask her(or anyone for that matter) to name one and only one bill or cause that Hillary Clinton has championed on behalf of the working class during her time as a senator. Hell, we can make it a bigger time period if that helps. Let's call it the "From her time serving on Walmart's board listening to their strategy sessions about busting unions to having a union buster as her most trusted adviser and chief strategist of her presidential campaign" era.

So no matter how legit her column may seem to be, it's just really hard to take it seriously. Sorry Jo Ann, I just can't do it. But do look out for next week's column: "Sound financial planning: The Pacman Jones way"

Hope on Trade?

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a piece lamenting the fact that Obama is going to have a hard time if he wants to govern as a free trader:

Since at least John F. Kennedy, presidential candidates have campaigned as tough on trade and then governed as free traders. Some business leaders are expecting the same if Barack Obama makes it to the White House.

Don't count on it.

Sen. Obama, the Democratic party frontrunner, and his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, have expressed some support for trade liberalization during their careers, as public opinion and congressional politics have shifted markedly against free trade. A coalition of anti-free trade activists and labor unions also has used the long primary season to wring commitments from the two candidates on an astonishingly detailed list of trade issues, making it hard for them to reverse course.

In the general election, Sen. McCain plans to use his stance to present himself as outward-looking on economic issues, says an adviser, while the Democratic nominee is likely to counter that Sen. McCain is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

The political environment has been weakening for a decade as Americans blame trade for job loss and stagnant wages.

A number of trade skeptics won seats in the 2006 Congressional elections and the Democratic party is recruiting other anti-free traders to compete for open seats in 2008. Even Democratic free-trade intellectuals are focusing more on the downsides of global integration.

The change in Democratic Party politics makes it less likely that Sens. Obama and Clinton would change their views if they make it to the White House. For the past 50 years, presidential candidates have wooed voters with pledges on trade and sometimes cracked down on specific sectors. Presidents Kennedy and Richard Nixon restricted textile imports. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton took on Japanese imports. And George H.W. Bush promised to help the West Virginia steel industry and delivered import restrictions.

But all of them governed largely as free traders, negotiating arduous rounds of global and regional trade negotiations that lowered tariffs and opened the U.S. and foreign markets wider to international competition, sometimes at the cost of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

I’ve always had very serious doubts Obama’s commitment to his criticisms of free trade, mainly because he has a record of voting for further free trade deals and hiring free trade economists as his chief economic advisers. But what this article suggests is that believe it or not, that whole democracy thing might be taking hold of the trade issue after all these years.

If there is enough popular support, and hopefully with the help of the newly created leftist infrastructure on trade, we can fight back any attempt to go back on those promises, or even stop their plans before they start with a continued show of power. Obama and his advisers may be free traders at heart, but if we can convince them that it’s not worth wasting their political capital on a costly fight that would alienate a large chunk of his supporters, then we might have a chance. Either way, the good news remains that the support and infrastructure for fighting these deals is better than it’s been at any time in the twenty or so years. And if that remains in place, we will be in a position to make progress or fight back no matter what the next president decides to do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Get well, Ted

Horrible news yesterday. For all the writing I do about the problems of the democratic party, it's worth pointing out that Ted Kennedy has been and continues to be one of the truly great leaders for progressive causes in our government today. My dad always points out that after all his family has gone through, he could have moved to an island somewhere and no one would have blamed him one bit. Instead, he chose to work his ass off and fight like hell for what he believed in, and for that we can't be grateful enough. He's someone I've always admired tremendously, and this news hits really hard. Get well soon Ted, our thoughts are with you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sports musings

A few things going on in the world of sports lately:
  • The San Antonio Spurs were able to pip the Hornets to the Western Conference Finals last night, defeating New Orleans 91-82 in Game 7. Without a doubt, I was rooting for the Hornets, hard, as was much of the rest of the country. In addition to the sentimental reasons still attached to all New Orleans franchises in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets were the biggest surprise of the NBA season, spearheaded by phenomenal young guard Chris Paul. When the Hornets easily dispatched of a seasoned Dallas team, there was a feeling that maybe this was a team of destiny that could ride an incredible wave of momentum beyond the defending champs. The Spurs are just too good, though. I still don't know why they are branded as boring (I really think it might be their drab uniforms). The fact of the matter is that San Antonio plays great team basketball, Greg Popovich is undeniably one of the great head coaches of our time and their series against Los Angeles should figure to be another one for the ages.
  • D.C. United is clearly in disarray after yet another loss over the weekend. At 2-6 overall and riding a three-game losing streak, it should only be a matter of hours, not if not minutes, before Coach Tom Soehn is fired. Not that this is really his fault, it's just not good enough for the recent winning tradition for the team. I'm not going to waste everyone's time by going over the 30 different reasons the team is struggling. It really all boils down to one factor; lack of team chemistry. For all the new players brought in during the offseason, D.C. has had virtually no time to gel or get a feel for each other. The lineup is so vastly different than what it was last season that growing pains are only natural. United has a home-and-home against Toronto FC (in the T-Dot tomorrow, then back at RFK on Saturday) to get its shit together. Anything less than two wins from two and Soehn is fired. Grim, I know, but the good news is that the MLS regular season is so worthless that a few wins a month from here on should be good enough to make the playoffs.
  • All quiet on the Redskins front... which I gotta say is how I like it to be. Apart from some front office moves, there is nothing else to really talk about. As boring as that is for Skins fans, I would always rather come in under the radar as opposed to being the lead story on Sportscenter every night in May. In the draft we took a lot of pass catchers and I would have liked to see us strengthen our offensive line, secondary and D line a little more, in that order, but when was the last time the Redskins amassed 10 draft picks? I can't remember.
  • Detroit vs. Boston in Game 1 tonight of the Eastern Finals, as well as... drumroll please... the NBA Draft Lottery! What's that? The Wizards aren't in it? Oh yeah, jeez sorry. Just mental conditioning. All those years of anxiously awaiting the draft lottery has made it tough to remember that Washington isn't always involved in it. There's also a game between two teams I hate more than almost anything in soccer's biggest club cup competition tomorrow at 2:30pm. Finally, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between Detroit and Pittsburgh is Saturday night, which I absolutely can't wait for.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kevin James, meet Alton Lister.

Alton Lister Fan Club membership is reserved for those who are publicly dominated and humiliated in a way reminiscent of Shawn Kemp's brutal dunk over Alton Lister. And yes, this is a complete rip off of Sirota's Tom Chambers award. Deal with it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or something like that. And besides, he hasn't done it in a while, so someone needs to continue comparing current events to amazing dunks.

This week's addition to the Club is unknown right wing hack(until this) Kevin James. I give Chris Matthews a lot of shit, but you gotta give credit where credit is due. His evisceration of this tool is pretty great to watch.

Ooh. That was ugly. What's funny about James is that he really looks exactly like the cut-out republicans from This Modern World. I swear there's a warehouse out in Northern Virginia that just stores these douchebags until they need to put a conservative pundit on tv or have to field the 2009 Duke lacrosse team.

You'd like to think an appearance like that would put him out of TV work, but I think we all know better. See you on Fox news, brah.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Train of Thought Lounge: Tokyo Police Club

Hello all. Today's installment of The Train of Thought Lounge features a Canadian band called Tokyo Police Club, if that isn't too confusing. They sound somewhat like a cross between Bloc Party and The Decemberists, their songs mainly consisting of frenetic, two-and-a-half minute pop-powered energy bursts. I really was put on to this band, quite simply, because of its name. I thought it sounded cool. Luckily, out of a slew of indie bands with avant garde names (Feist, Spoon and Vampire Weekend come to mind), Tokyo Police Club live up to the anticipation with a refreshing sound.

Here they are live on the David Letterman Show performing "Nature Of The Experiment" off of 2006's "A Lesson In Crime" album. The band has subsequently released "Elephant Shell" in 2008.

Tokyo Police Club - Nature Of The Experiment

Friday, May 16, 2008

John McCain understands Colonialism

From an interview with Matt Bai (via Matt Yglesias):
as we talked, I tried to draw out of him some template for knowing when military intervention made sense — an answer, essentially, to the question that has plagued policy makers confronting international crises for the last 20 years. McCain has said that the invasion of Iraq was justified, even absent the weapons of mass destruction he believed were there, because of Hussein’s affront to basic human values. Why then, I asked McCain, shouldn’t we go into Zimbabwe, where, according to that morning’s paper, allies of the despotic president, Robert Mugabe, were rounding up his political opponents and preparing to subvert the results of the country’s recent national election? How about sending soldiers into Myanmar, formerly Burma, where Aung San Suu Kyi remained under house arrest by a military junta?

“I think in the case of Zimbabwe, it’s because of our history in Africa,” McCain said thoughtfully. “Not so much the United States but the Europeans, the colonialist history in Africa. The government of South Africa has obviously not been effective, to say the least, in trying to affect the situation in Zimbabwe, and one reason is that they don’t want to be tarred with the brush of modern colonialism. So that’s a problem I think we will continue to have on the continent of Africa. If you send in Western military forces, then you risk the backlash from the people, from the legacy that was left in Africa because of the era of colonialism.”
There's quite a few insane things about that statement. First off, does McCain not know that Iraq WAS in fact colonized, in addition to quite a few places other than Africa:

Second, and really strangely, it seems like he gets it for second with the "tarring with the brush of modern colonialism" line, but be can't seem to wrap his mind around how that completetly conflicts with his views on Iraq or his hawkish outlook on the rest of the world. Yglesias points out:
Actually, though, I think McCain's not alone here. Very few Americans (even American elites) seem to recognize that most of the "pro-American" regimes in the region -- all the monarchies, basically -- just are colonial regimes set up by the British imperial authorities. Eventually, the United States took over from Britain as the foreign underwriter of those regimes. But to understand U.S. policy in the region and how the U.S. is viewed, you need to understand that Jordan and the G.C.C. aren't just autocracies, they're autocratic creations of the British Empire and CENTCOM is seen as the successor to the Colonial Office. Meanwhile, the "anti-American" or "radical" regimes in Syria, Iran, and (formerly) Iraq all have their origins in rebellions against colonial regimes.
I definitely see Matt's point that the majority of Americans don't understand what our role was/is in the middle east, just because the discourse on our history as well as Europe's is completely sugar coated (to put it mildly). But then again, most Americans don't run campaigns claiming to be experts in foreign affairs. Ladies and Gentlemen, John McCain! Your 2008 Republican nominee for president of the United States!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Different era, same shit.

Vietnam, 1880:

Following the colonial conquest, the French symbolically took over the Hà Nội Citadel, destroying what few buildings were left and replacing them with military barracks and depots. It has remained an army base ever since, though at the time of going to press some of its outer sections are being opened up to the public.

In order to make the colonists feel more at home and at the same time to reflect its vision of imperial grandeur, the French colonial government set about systematically rebuilding the major Vietnamese cities according to European specifications. Central to French urbanist plans was the segregation of these cities into quartiers, based primarily on the ethnicity of residents. In marked contrast to the relative squalor of their neighbours in the quartiers indigènes, the inhabitants of the European quarters of Hà Nội and Sài Gòn were given wide boulevards lined with spacious residential villas.

Prior to 1920 many important public buildings were constructed in Parisian neo-classical style; the latter is best illustrated in Hà Nội by the architecture of St Joseph's Cathedral (1891), the Governor General's Palace (1906), the Palace and Office of the French Resident (1906), the High Court (1906), the Opera House (1911) and the Directorate des archives et bibliothèques (1917, now the National Library of Việt Nam); and in Sài Gòn by the Town Hall (1873, now the People's Committee Building), Notre Dame Cathedral (1880), the High Court (1885), the Vice-Governor's Palace (1890), the Central Post Office (1891) and the Opera House (1900).

Iraq, 2008:

Picture, if you will, a tree-lined plaza in Baghdad's International Village, flanked by fashion boutiques, swanky cafes, and shiny glass office towers. Nearby a golf course nestles agreeably, where a chip over the water to the final green is but a prelude to cocktails in the club house and a soothing massage in a luxury hotel, which would not look out of place in Sydney harbour. Then, as twilight falls, a pre-prandial stroll, perhaps, amid the cool of the Tigris Riverfront Park, where the peace is broken only by the soulful cries of egrets fishing.

Improbable though it all may seem, this is how some imaginative types in the US military are envisaging the future of Baghdad's Green Zone, the much-pummelled redoubt of the Iraqi capital where a bunker shot has until now had very different connotations.A $5bn (£2.5bn) tourism and development scheme for the Green Zone being hatched by the Pentagon and an international investment consortium would give the heavily fortified area on the banks of the Tigris a "dream" makeover that will become a magnet for Iraqis, tourists, business people and investors. About half of the area is now occupied by coalition forces, the US state department or private foreign companies
One Los Angeles-based firm, C3, has said it wants to build an amusement park on the Green Zone's outskirts. As part of the first phase, a skateboard park is due to open this summer.

American officials stress that final decisions about reconstruction and development rest with the Iraqi government. Karnowski added that as well as the benefits of renovating and demilitarizing an important area of Baghdad, the blueprint would help to create a "zone of influence" around the massive new US Embassy compound being built on the eastern tip of the Green Zone. The $1bn project to move the embassy from Saddam's old presidential palace is planned for completion later this year."When you have $1bn hanging out there and 1,000 employees lying around, you kind of want to know who your neighbours are. You want to influence what happens in your neighbourhood over time," Karnowski told Associated Press.

For many Baghdad residents, the Green Zone has been a no-go area for years, first under Saddam and now under the occupation. "What do I care?" shrugged one, Ahmed Hussein. "I don't have electricity, I don't have fresh water and I don't have a job."

Call me a dork, but few things piss me off more than people using words like fascism, socialism, empire etc. without having any idea about what they actually mean.

We are an imperial power, and as we have shown in Iraq, we are an imperial nation where the colonial mentality is still very much alive in our words and actions. It's not a pleasant truth to look at ourselves in that light, but M.O.P. would say: "DEAL WITH IT MOTHER FUCKER!!!"

And while this isn't a new idea (Most recently the best case was made by Chalmers Johnson), it is important to keep in mind in order to not lose perspective of our actions in the world, and equally important, how we are seen by the rest of the world.

As you can see at the top of the page, we have a new address,

It was insanely cheap and easy to do, so when I had the chance I figured why not.

You can change your bookmarks if you want, although the old address should still forward you to the new url. Blogger says the transition between the sites should take a few days, so if there are any fuck ups, hopefully they will be fixed by next week once the switch is finished.

Functionality or design wise, having our own url doesn't really change anything. It just makes the site seem a bit more professional ballin', thats all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This can't be a good sign

From the DC Sports Bog this morning, news has broken that longtime sports columnist Tony Kornheiser has taken a buyout from the Washington Post, where he was an employee for nearly 30 years.

"All I ever wanted to be was a newspaper writer," he said, which is likely not something that anyone under the age of 30 will ever say again. "This other stuff is great, but I don't care about it," he continued. "In my mind that's what it says on the headstone, it says 'newspaper guy.' "
(via the Bog).

Hey, wait a minute... I'm under the age of 30! What does this mean for my upcoming degree in print journalism? Should I flush it down the toilet?

You see, up to this point my plan was to follow in the footsteps of guys like Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon and write about sports for a living at a reputable newspaper (maybe even a world-renowned paper like the Washington Post). Then, if I became any good, I could become a columnist (like those guys), become rich and famous, live happily ever after and all that jazz.

Clearly though, this is an odd time to become a journalist, what with the declining revenues and increase in people looking to the internet or television to get their news. The largely-held belief that newspapers will be entirely digital in the future is hard to argue against, but 15-20 years ago not a single aspect of any paper was online. About 25 years ago, there was no internet, at least not in the way it exists today. My question is what will become of the internet 25 years from now? Theoretically, there could be some whole other system in place that is completely unforeseen.

So I'm not so sure about this notion that newspapers will no longer exist in a physical form at some point in the future. What exactly it will consist of, though, is anybody's guess.

As for Kornheiser, I've never agreed with everything he's had to say but I always had enormous respect for him. It's not the job of a sports columnist, or any columnist for that matter, to always go along with the popular opinion. You are entitled (and paid) to say whatever the fuck you want, within reason. The reason I've always respected Kornheiser and Wilbon is that they brought their own opinions to the table, passionately defended them and never tried to run from them if they turned out to be completely wrong. It's no coincidence that the two went on to host "Pardon The Interruption" on ESPN; they are two of the best in the business. As other shows like "Around The Horn" later proved, most sports columnists are unbelievable idiots.

Kornheiser will still host his radio show, as well as PTI and will be in the booth for Monday Night Football. Plus, you could see him being fazed out from the Post for the past couple of years, really. With that being said, farewell to one of my biggest sportswriting influences.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Progress Marches On in Myanmar (or “Burma, it’s an industry term”)

Go ahead and picture this if you will: Rule by military junta. An oppressed democracy movement. A Nobel Peace Prize winner under house arrest. Peaceful demonstrations by monks cut short by gunfire. A disastrous cyclone followed by a government response so skilled it makes the Hurricane Katrina assistance from FEMA look positively amateurish.

Yes, there’s only one place that fits all of these criteria: Burma! Technically all I really had to type was the one about house arrest, as Burma is currently the only country in the world to have taken the bold move of imprisoning a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Still, it does feel good to have all of accomplishments of the Burmese government listed in one paragraph.

The last time we heard about Burma in the news was when the junta put an end to what some refer to as the Saffron Revolution. Those of us who have been raised in the decadent West have no idea what it must be like to live in a country with so many Buddhist monks running around, peacefully agitating for human rights and democracy- what unspeakable horror! Fortunately the junta was able to take a few cues from its friends in Beijing, and quickly restored law and order and harsh merciless oppression to the land.

I know that I’m personally pretty glad that the United States, United Nations, European Union, ASEAN, and pretty much every other potential force for good in the world were happy to sit that one out. One factor partially explaining why the U.S. didn’t do anything may be the efforts of one Doug Goodyear, who was until quite recently the coordinator for the 2008 Republican National Convention. Turns out his lobbying firm had accepted a contract from the junta, to try and improve relations between DC and the Burmese government!

With this deal exposed and Myanmar likely not getting its moneys worth, I’ve taken it upon myself to provide a few potential slogans for use on posters, flyers, t-shirts, and blinking flashing moving pop-up ads:
  • Aung San Suu Kyi rocks the house! (with a picture of the house she’s been confined to for 18 or so years)
  • Myanmar: More than just dead monks! (probably don’t want a picture for this one)
  • Military Junta? More like FUN-ta! (attempt the impossible task of procuring a picture of any Burmese citizen having fun)
Today the news is again filled with images of the Burmese regime doing what it does best. Food only somewhat extremely past its prime is being distributed to survivors. The military, with little else to do while the people of Burma struggle to survive, has taken to hassling the monks again. A good thing, too, because the monks were close to overshadowing the official government response, despite having practically no resources. Outside help has been largely rejected by the government. Yes, progress truly marches on in Burma.

Odds and Ends

A few reads:
  • Hillary Clinton is 20 Million dollars in debt. Hilarious. Not being able to manage a campaign without resorting to lending yourself millions, and yet still finding yourself in massive debt. Now that's someone who should be running a country!
While the Daily Kos diary in question is specifically arguing that the Cooper plan was great (although that is implied), it does take as its main point that health care reform failed in 1993-1994 because Democrats, specifically Hillary Clinton, weren't nice enough to conservatives. If only Hillary Clinton had been nicer to conservatives, then we could have had great health care plans like Jim Cooper's. Hell, Jim Cooper himself says so. And look, David Brooks agrees, so it much be right.
This is a very disturbing argument. The moment when dislike of Hillary Clinton is combined with calls for Democrats to compromise in the manner of Jim Cooper, and it is all justified by citing David Brooks, is a moment when I really fear for the internal logic of some Barack Obama support.
Jim Cooper=Bad. Check out the rest of the post for the full story and background.
  • Paul Krugman once again lets his feud with Obama get the better of his judgment:
Discussions of how and why Mr. Obama’s support narrowed over time have a Rashomon-like quality: different observers see very different truths. But at this point it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. What does matter is that Mr. Obama appears to have won the nomination with a deep but narrow base consisting of African-Americans and highly educated whites. And now he needs to bring Democrats who opposed him back into the fold.
I've defended Krugman before during the primary because he was right in his policy criticism of Obama, and instead of responding to the criticisms, Obama's team put out a factually inaccurate hit piece on him. Here he moves away from issue based critiques, and on to utter bullshit. One Drop from Too Sense has a great response:
Not to get all racial up in here, but have any of you noticed how quickly white folks start talking about "it doesn't matter whose fault it was" . . . when the responsible party is white? You hear the same kind of rhetoric whenever the uncomfortable topic of race comes up, "Let's not go pointing fingers now," or "Playing the blame game isn't going to help anyone." Those statements, and similar ones, are really just euphemisms to avoid saying "Now, let's not go blaming white people for anything!"

In Krugman's case, I can't say that he's trying to deflect blame away from white people in general. He's definitely trying to deflect blame from Hillary and her campaign, though. If Krugman had any plausible way to put the entire blame for the recent racialization of the Democratic primaries on Obama, "It doesn't matter whose fault it was" is the last sentence he would have written.

So who is responsible for the increase in racial tension? Well, did Obama go on tour in front of exclusively black audiences and tell them that Clinton does not care about "people like you?" Has Obama ever gone before a black audience and told them that Hillary, the white candidate, was making fun of them for supporting him? Has Obama ever referred to "hard working Americans, black Americans" or stated that Clinton has no support among black voters?


Okay, next question: Has Clinton done the reverse?
Few things piss me off more than a whitewashing (no pun intended) an event and pretending there was equal blame to go around. It's always important to understand who is to blame for what and why, for the simple reason of not repeating your mistakes or trusting people who should not be trusted or listened to.

And just for the record, the first paragraph of One Drop's response is also describes what's wrong with the current discussion of colonialism. "Look, it's not about assessing blame, its about what we can do now" is the most common response from European powers when it comes to issues of the developing world. Ok, it's about right now, but how the hell can you understand what's going on now if you don't acknowledge how we got there, who got us here and why?

On another note, it'll be fun to see how Hillary Clinton responds tonight after a win in West Virginia. Her speeches have really been comedy gold recently, with all her talking of "winning" and "being the nominee". It's a level of delusion that would be hard to keep up, and it'll be interesting to see how she plays it. Interesting enough to watch during one or two commercial breaks of the Spurs-Hornets game.
If it's a blowout.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Train of Thought Lounge: 2 for 1 Saturday!

Welcome all to the latest installment of The Train of Thought Lounge. Today we feature the newest singles from two of my absolute favorite bands in the world. First up is the new Weezer song, "Pork and Beans," off the upcoming Red Album which is slated for a June release.

Weezer - Pork and Beans

Next is the new single from The Roots, the scorching-hot "Rising Up" featuring D.C.'s own, Wale and hook chanteuse supreme Chrisette Michele. Enjoy!

The Roots - Rising Up

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hillary Clinton: you're done, son!

Dear Hillary, why won't you go away?

Contrary to common logic, your belief that you still have a chance to win the Democratic Party nomination is, how should I put this... wrong. You didn't win North Carolina. In fact, Obama's margin of victory in the state all but nullified the gains you made when you won Pennsylvania. Plus, you barely even won Indiana at a time when winning one out of these last two primaries would effectively end all hopes for you.

So please tell me why you refuse to end your campaign? Are you really telling me that you would ask superdelegates to overturn the popular vote and pledged delegate totals, which would in turn, destroy the Democratic Party? Oh wait, that may no longer even be possible seeing as how your once-commanding lead among superdelegates has disappeared. Sucks for you!

Finally, you must stop this incessant blabbering about how Florida and Michigan's votes should count now. Why wouldn't you say that now? Is it just a coincidence that you're losing? Let's not forget that these two states clearly broke the rules by having their primaries so early, refused to push them back after the DNC told them they would not count and didn't even put Obama's name on the ballot in one case.

I hope this letter finds you well and, you know, QUIT THE RACE! Give my best to Bill and Chelsea,

Sincerely, your favortie blogger's favorite blogger XOXO.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Iraq War Retrospective

Every week of May, will be presenting a special report focusing on each stage of the occupation. Now, I am aware that like all news outlets, anything out of Aljazeera must be taken with a grain of salt, but I feel that it is important to see news from sides that we may not be wholly comfortable with. Especially from a news outlet that so many look to outside of the United States.
The first video covers the first year, and I would like to know what you all think. Consider this an open discussion on the points presented in this first video, in particular I'd like to hear thoughts about:

  • Paul Bremer blaming Iraqi Politicians for Debathification Policies
  • Kurdish Secession
  • UN Security Council and the change of Coalition Status to an 'Occupying Force'

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fox news tackles class politics

This speaks for itself:

You know, it's easy to forget how bad fox news is, so it's good to have clips like this every now and then to remind ourselves why it's such a joke. Also, 4 right wingers blowhards... what a panel to discuss the DEMOCRATIC nomination! I sure care what they think about the fate of a party they spent their careers trashing!

Side note: I'll be out of town for a few days, but don't worry the Train of Thought will roll on thanks to the fantastic work of our contributing writers. See you next week, where we'll continue to enjoy the final stages of the Hillary Clinton's meltdown/fall from grace. It couldn't happen to a nicer person.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Train of Thought presents: The War Declaration Brain-Cell Quorum Forum!

An excellent post below by JJ, who eloquently explains the reasoning behind his advocacy for armed conflict with Iran. I'd like to take a moment to reiterate that we really cannot thank AIPAC enough for giving our legislators a hand with the authorization bill, fantastic work and high-fives all around!

Iran is just one threat, though, and the clock is ticking. This is something that the White House and its Republican allies should understand well from having watched so much 24- time is always about to run out! While I'd love to be able to physically waterboard some sense into them, this list will have to do. I've tried to prioritize, so that Bush and his merry men can make the best use of the few months they have left to run wild and do whatever they want with US foreign policy.
  1. North Korea: Alright, we may as well go ahead and finish the trilogy. Plus these guys have been totally asking for it lately, what with their bizarre attempt to help Syria build a nuclear reactor. Why they would do that, given that it would probably upgrade their threat status in Israel from 'guys we don't interact with much but probably dislike' to 'guys we're likely to eradicate with nuclear weapons next time we get bored' is beyond me.

  2. South Korea: While we're in the neighborhood, South Korea has to go. We protect them from Kim Jung Il, we trade with them, we even sent them their national sport, Starcraft. Yet even with North Korea aiming millions of dollars worth of weapons at them, and with their traditional enemy Japan sitting right across the sea from them, and with China lurking ominously nearby and empowering Kim Jung Il, and with The Overmind up to its usual antics, they somehow chose the United States as their national enemy. Go ahead and think about that for a minute: we defend their borders, we disarmed the crap out of Japan last time that whole thing was an issue, we didn't even get too angry with them about the actions of late playwright Cho Seung-Hui. Way to be ungrateful, South Korea.

  3. Kyrgyzstan: What an awfully-named country! Seriously, what am I even looking at?! The whole 'Y as a vowel' thing was just made up to retroactively make a few words acceptable in the English language, it was not an invitation to go nuts and create the weirdest sounding country you possibly could. Also, the capital of Kyrgyzstan is named Bishkek. I rest my case.

  4. Libya: I know they look like they're trying to play it straight now, but I'm pretty sure that Libya is working on weapons of mass destruction again. Also, they have or have had ties to terrorists. I'm going to throw this out there: Libya was actually responsible for 9-11. I'm more or less sure that some Libyan guy has run into someone from Al'Qaeda at some point, so they're pretty clearly implicated.

  5. Israel: You're going to have to hear me out on this one. Pre-emption is the latest trend in international conflict, right? Now we all know that any number of countries and terrorist groups want to attack Israel, it's practically all some people talk about. What better way to foil them and ruin all of their big plans than by pre-empting them and invading Israel ourselves? Imagine the frustration felt in so many Afghan caves, Middle Eastern palaces, and Palestinian slums: "The Great Satan has done it again! We would have done it, too, if it weren't for you meddling Americans!" Later they are all arrested, and George and Barney get high in a van.
So there we are! I hope that these suggestions are taken into full consideration. To help make sure they are, I am forming a new think tank: The Project for the New New American Century. I know, I know, but one "new" was already taken. We will be sending a policy letter with our views to the White House soon.

UPDATE: Someone just informed me that all that stuff about Libya is pretty shakey. Apparently large numbers of Intelligence Community members hold the opinion that Libya is not reforming its WMD programs, and that thing about a Libyan guy running into a terrorist is not only mind-blowingly inconsequential, but also likely untrue. Strike that one off the list, you'd have to be a maniac to follow through with the invasion knowing all that.

Just what we need...

Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector, someone with lots of contacts as well as great knowledge of US policy in the region:
There’s no doubt in my mind that the United States is planning right now, as we speak, a military strike against Iran. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and almost every senior US military official has pretty much acknowledged the same. They speak of the need to punish Iran and deter Iran from continuing to provide material assistance to Iraqi groups, these so-called “special groups” that operate, according to the United States, outside of the umbrella of the Mahdi Army. And they speak of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command as being a rogue organization within the Iranian government that provides this support. The United States Senate, through the Kyl-Lieberman resolution, has pretty much given a target list blessing to the US military by passing a resolution that labels the Revolutionary Guard Command as a terrorist organization. And the Bush administration, of course, is engaged in a global war on terror backed by two congressional war powers resolutions.

We take a look at the military buildup, we take a look at the rhetoric, we take a look at the diplomatic posturing, and I would say that it’s a virtual guarantee that there will be a limited aerial strike against Iran in the not-so-near future—or not-so-distant future, that focuses on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command. And if this situation spins further out of control, you would see these aerial strikes expanding to include Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and some significant command and control targets.

When the reports of the US planning strikes on Iran came out back in 2006, I was really skeptical. I mean, these guys are stupid... but are they really that stupid? Even for Bush and Cheney, that would be a new level.

Well, after several dozen times over the last 7 years when I thought they had hit rock bottom, I've come to the realization that literally anything is possible, even something as mind-bendingly stupid as attacking Iran. Although it wouldn't be fair just to blame the Bush administration, they can't pull something like this off on their own. Special thanks to AIPAC for writing the authorization bill, and to the 76 senators who signed it. Congrats guys, it wouldn't have been possible without you.

Scott Ritter has been right on just about everything else in this area, lets just hope he's wrong on this one. The thought of going to war with Iran on top of everything else is really just too much to take.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Nelson Mandela and the Reagan Legacy

Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA.
The idea that Nelson Mandela is on a US terrorist watch list may seem like just another story reminding us that this type of institutional incompetence knows no bounds, but it also serves as a reminder of Ronald Reagan's despicable legacy as president.

Nelson Mandela's name didn't end up on that list because of some bureaucratic mistake. His name was included, as well as anyone else associated with the African National Congress, which still listed as a terrorist organization by England, the US at the request of the apartheid south African Government.

We have an amazing ability to re-write history and conceal unpleasant truths about our past, and Reagan's legacy just happens the most over-the-top example of this trend. South Africa during the 1980s as told by ANC member Father Michael Lapsley:

Father Lapsley: Yes. I think it’s good to think about what South Africa was like inside the country as well as what was happening in the front line states at that time. During those years, there were two states of emergency. Vast numbers of people were imprisoned. It was during those years, and this is a salient point for people this country this time that torture became normative. It became a principle weapon used by the Apartheid regime against people, particularly against black children during that period. It was also a period where there were a vast number of people on death row in South Africa. Every Thursday, up to seven people at a time were executed, but it was also a time when the Apartheid regime was in the rampage in the Front Line States attacking Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. There were a number of massacres of refugees that took place. It was also a time of civil war in Angola. And it was the Reagan administration that was supporting the Unita bandits in Angola and fomenting war. And it was clear to the people of South Africa during those years, that whilst there were a vast number of ordinary people in the United States, particularly African-Americans who stood with us, the Reagan administration was on the side of Apartheid. It was both Reagan and Thatcher who were giving succor to the Apartheid regime and in a sense prolonging our struggle. More people had to die in South Africa because of the support that came from western governments, particularly from Washington and London at that period.

Amy Goodman: What about this quote of former president Reagan, talking about the Apartheid regime as, quote, a country that stood by us in every war we have ever fought, a country that strategically is essential to the free world in its production of minerals.

Father Lapsley: I think the interesting thing about that comment is that it focuses on profit. It doesn’t focus on what happens to people. And of course, remembering that that regime that Reagan was supporting was a regime in which the majority of the people were voteless. The majority of the people had no legitimate way of removing an illegitimate regime.

Amy Goodman: This was a time in the United States and its policy towards South Africa of the term coined, “constructive engagement.”

Father Lapsley: Sure. And it was constructive for death. That’s the real point. It was not constructive with the people of South Africa, who were living and dying for basic fundamental human rights, rights that people all over the world take for granted, that we had to die in great numbers to achieve simply the right to go to the polls to choose a government for ourselves.

Amy Goodman: What difference did it make what role the U.S. played within South Africa or in the Front Line States?

Father Lapsley: Well, the African National Congress of South Africa leading the struggle in South Africa was saying to the world, we will free South Africa; we ask the world to be in solidarity with us. So the role the international community had to play was to shorten that struggle, to mean that we would die less. So in a way, the support, the economic support to Apartheid meant the struggle lasted longer. It took us longer to achieve those fundamental rights, to achieve democratic freedoms.

Although South Africa is just one example, understanding our past actions and their consequences is an absolutely critical step for our country to take in order to move forward. When we refuse to acknowledge the disastrous effects of Reagan's policies and instead remember him as an action figure who singlehandedly defeated communism, it seriously hampers our ability to create a sane foreign policy in the present.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wizards out, but not down

I wanted to say something really quickly about the end of the Washington Wizards' season after losing Game 6 at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who eliminated Washington from the playoffs for the third consecutive year. While it obviously hurt to fall short of the second round, especially to be knocked out by LeBron and Cleveland yet again, this is not the end of the world for this team. 

In my opinion, this series was lost in Game 4, a heart-wrenching 100-97 home loss which saw D.C. native Delonte West sink the game-winning shot in the final seconds. The Wizards valiantly fought back to force a sixth game, but there was no way back in a series this evenly matched. We saw the same thing happen to Phoenix, who was dispatched after only five games, as well as Dallas who lost in five to the New Orleans Hornets. These were good teams that might have fared better with slightly different luck (say, for instance, the Suns had stolen Game 1 in San Antonio, you would have to like their chances to win the series after that).

I do not think Wizards fans should hang their heads after this playoff loss. The pieces are in place to set them up well for the future, whether Gil comes back or not. That being said, I would be concerned if the team fails to improve next season. After so many years of missing the playoffs entirely, making them four straight seasons seems like an accomplishment. Normally, I'm not of the mind that you should fire a coach for not getting to the Finals or the semis if the team is consistently a contender, but in this case I think we'll need to raise our ambition. Eddie Jordan has done well enough for now, but only enough to get by. He's not the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference for nothing, but if he wants to stay that way he needs to take this team to a higher level.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Five Years ago today:
Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world
The Battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001, and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men — the shock troops of a hateful ideology — gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the "beginning of the end of America." By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed.
The war on terror is not over, yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide. No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken our resolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory.

Other nations in history have fought in foreign lands and remained to occupy and exploit. Americans, following a battle, want nothing more than to return home. And that is your direction tonight. After service in the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of war — after 100,000 miles, on the longest carrier deployment in recent history — you are homeward bound.
He was right about one thing, Americans want nothing more than for the troops to return home. Too bad there's still occupying and exploiting to be done. The idea that this man or any of the other cowards who lied us into war haven't been punished for their crimes is truly shocking. Something tells me history isn't going to look back on this era kindly. Whether pushing us to war or refusing to end it, there's plenty of blood for everybody's hands.