Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rising Tide 2 begins on Friday Night!! 

Come to Buffa's lounge on the corner of Esplanade and Burgundy for free food, films and fun. Many of your NOLAblogger heroes will be there, as well as several local writers who will be participating on a panel at the Rising Tide Conference on Saturday.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

99.5fm interview tomorrow at 8:30am 

I'll be a guest on Jim Brown's radio show on 99.5fm at 8:30am, talking about the Rising Tide 2 conference, and blogging. (And here's a link to Jim Brown's personal blog, for good measure .)

Also, big thanks to internet radio host Shaun OMac for letting me talk at length on his show earlier tonight, which dealt with New Orleans 2 years after Katrina and the Federal Flood. Archived copies of my 38 minute babbling interview on Shaun's 8/22 show can be found here.

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Bush embraces neo-con historical revisionism about Vietnam. 

Truly stunning and insane.

Bush adopts the neocon dream that if we had only poured more blood and treasure into Vietnam until "victory" magically occurred, then today's brainwashed Islamofascist terrorists would have more respect for us.

And as a wonderful bonus, Pol Pot would never have arisen. Because after we bombed the shit out of peasants and NVA's on the Cambodian border, and after the peasants fled to and overpopulated Phnom Penh, and after the resulting destabilization helped create the crisis conditions for the Khmer Rouge's ultimate success, THEN the American public would be primed to invade another civil war-torn SE Asian country and police the "killing fields" so we could spread the honorable peace and stop the falling Commie dominoes.

That's the neocon thinking, I suppose. Regarding war, they believe any "entry strategy" will do, but that the only acceptable "exit strategy" is victory. Therefore, we've failed only because our past wars have been insufficiently long, due to those awful hippie liberals who stab us in the back just before the mission is accomplished.

Another version might be: "give war a chance and if it doesn't work then we can always try more war". (H/T HFN)

These people sport all wars and will break our army.


Update: Suspect Device points us to more lunacy. NeoCon Philip Atkinson says, "The very least that must be done to halt the Hispanic invasion is the mass enslavement, or execution, of the invaders, which must be followed by an American invasion of Mexico to enforce American language and values upon the Mexicans."

That's the "very least" that must be done. And then there's this "wisdom", from the right wing outfit Family Security Matters: "The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life".

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Simple answers to simple questions 

In GQ, conservative talk show host Glenn Beck discusses his quest for knowledge about Germans, World War II, and the holocaust:

“I’m of German descent,” Beck says. “I really wanted to know if they didn’t know. It led me down a road of 'Who would I be in that situation?'”

You'd be a NAZI in that situation, Glenn.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

Update: Apparently, the day after this post was written Beck spouted off some anti-New Orleans sentiments (H/T Ashley).
Update #2: MD Filter corrects the many places where Beck was "wrong" about New Orleans.

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"You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you." 

I think grub worms have more strategic insight than the Louisiana Democratic Party.

These new attack ads on Jindal's religious essays are so disgracefully awful and stupid, I don't know where to begin. The main thing is they will fail because they are false, and by being false they will hurt the other Democratic candidates, and thereby play right into the Jindal campaign's hands.

Referring to Jindal quotes like this one

One of the most consequential, and yet neglected, Reformation beliefs is the view that utterly depraved man is incapable of meaningful sanctification.

the LA Dems derive this attack:

Most Americans believe we should respect one another's religion. But not Bobby Jindal. He wrote articles that insulted thousands of Louisiana Protestants. He has referred to Protestant religions as scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical.

You have to be a real hack to think what Jindal wrote could be fairly characterized as an insult to Louisiana Protestants.

The Dems are taking words totally out of context and trying to scare people. I deplore and reject this effort, and call on them to immediately stop.

The ads have a textbook structure. There's the female person/voice to "soften" the attacks, and the corresponding black and white pictures of Jindal (on the web site ), so you know he's a "bad" guy. Some outfit got paid big bucks for this childish crapola.

It really irritates me when I have to agree with political analysis provided by someone like Cap'n Feathersword. And Professor Sadow will no doubt claim his earlier predictions were justified, and that's an even greater irritation. There was a veritable treasure trove of stuff in Jindal's religious essays to work with, but it had to be handled carefully and precisely. This ham-handed effort by the LA Dems will surely backfire, and deservedly so.

And by the way, if you think that all my criticism of Jindal means I've ruled out voting for him-- think again.

Which brings us to... Mayor Nagin's gubernatorial ambitions. T-P columnist Stephanie Grace quoted and analyzed the "ever-unpredictable" Nagin discussing his political "options":

"I have talked to a lot of people about options, and particularly the people in the Democratic Party. Because what people are concerned about is (that) the party is so fragile right now that if the Republicans go in and are not challenged, and they get a candidate to win in the first primary and not go to a runoff, then they can turn their attention to all of the other seats that are out there, take control of the House, take control of the Senate, potentially, and then in '08 the last Democratic Senator that's up there could have a tough time."

That's a mouthful, but the bottom line is that Nagin wants to keep Democrats competitive in the fall legislative elections, if not the governor's race, and put U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in a stronger position to defend her seat next year.

The question is, where did this fealty come from?
Nagin has made it clear he doesn't think outgoing Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco has done enough to help spur New Orleans' recovery.

And while New Orleans has gotten a more positive reception from Congress since Democrats took over, Nagin and Landrieu aren't exactly best of friends either. In fact, in his reelection campaign against her brother Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, Nagin tapped into Republican support from voters whose goal was to weaken her.

And more importantly, why is he worrying about all this just now, when he's got so much else on his plate -- and when the next gubernatorial administration he'll go to for help may well be run by Republicans?

Grace asks all the right questions here. It's ludicrous to think Nagin wants to run for Governor so he can help other state Dems this year, and Mary Landrieu in '08. Is he being a "useful idiot", again, for the GOP? Or does he honestly view a Gubernatorial campaign as good preparation to jump into Rep William Jefferson's seat (assuming he eventually resigns or is convicted)?

As soon as Nagin jumps in the Governor's race with some idiotic "strategic rationale", here's what I would do if I were Democratic candidates Boasso or Campbell: run hard against Nagin (as well as Jindal, and if possible connect the two). The press likes a fight, but since Jindal's refusing to really engage or debate, I would start saying things like "Louisiana doesn't need Nagin for Governor, Louisiana needs Nagin to be a better Mayor of New Orleans". The press will pick that up, and Boasso or Campbell could profit from the contrast. Of course, I'd advise all Democratic candidates to disavow the recent LA Dem attack ads, too.

Update: Kos selects some quotes from Jindal's essay and tries to justify the attack ad's claims. I'm still totally unpersuaded.
Update #2: The Jindal campaign has freaked out over the ads, and their lawyers have demanded that tv stations withdraw them. The letter from their Patton Boggs attorneys (natch) says "The ad is defamatory, intended to make Jindal appear to make disrespectful and insulting statments towards all Protestants".
* title quote is Leon Trotsky's

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Magazine counterpoint #2 

This post is part of a series of quotable "counterpoints" to my own views, which I found in magazines I read at an airport.

The New Yorker explains candidate Rudolph Giuliani's seemingly strong appeal amongst the "heartland", the swiftboaters, and the Christian fundagelical right.

Even before Giuliani began his run for the Presidency, the consensus, sounded in news columns, blogs, and political journals, was that he could not survive scrutiny of his political heterodoxy and his personal imperfections by the Republican Party’s conservative base.
Barry Wynn, [Rudy's] South Carolina campaign chairman, talked up his candidate’s chances, solicited donations, and took questions from the waiting group seated before him. Someone asked what effect the Christian right would have on Giuliani’s prospects. “Good question,” Wynn replied. He lives in the Greenville-Spartanburg area, the home of Bob Jones University. In South Carolina, another way of saying Christian right is “Greenville Republicans,” the group credited with John McCain’s undoing in his 2000 run against George W. Bush. Wynn’s uncle was Lester Maddox, the axe-handle-wielding Atlanta segregationist who became governor of Georgia. Wynn himself is a former state Party chairman. “I’ve already talked to a lot of people I consider very hard-core social conservatives, part of the religious right, who are supporting Rudy Giuliani,” Wynn said. “I think this idea that someone just blows a whistle and all of a sudden people go heading off in one direction—it doesn’t happen that way. It’s a little bit of a myth that’s created by the press.”
Among those smiling appreciatively at Giuliani’s remarks was retired Rear Admiral William L. Schachte, seated several rows back. Schachte gained notoriety in 2004 as a key figure in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry. Schachte had been Kerry’s commanding officer in Vietnam and, in August, 2004, declared that he was on Kerry’s boat the night Kerry saw combat action that brought him his first Purple Heart. Schachte asserted that Kerry had not encountered enemy fire that night. (Kerry and two of the men who served with him have said that Schachte wasn’t on the boat.)
But to many in the heartland Giuliani was heroic for what he did in New York before September 11th: his policy prescriptions and, mostly, his taming of the city’s liberal political culture-- his famous crackdown on squeegee-men panhandlers, his workfare program, his attacks on controversial museum exhibits (“The idea of . . . so-called works of art in which people are throwing elephant dung at a picture of the Virgin Mary is sick!”), and the like. Speaking before the Alabama legislature this spring, he received a standing ovation, and Governor Bob Riley told him, “One of these days, you have to tell me how you really cleaned up New York.” To conservatives, pre-Giuliani New York was a study in failed liberalism, a city that had surrendered to moral and physical decay, crime, racial hucksterism, and ruinous economic pathologies.
Giuliani’s supporters longed for the old Rudy, who could marshal the facts, vanquish his foes, and then, for good measure, berate the “jerks.” That was a moderate the movement could love.
“Rudy was a person for whom the world was only black-and-white,” another lawyer who worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office told me.
His crusades against crime and quality-of-life annoyances served his larger ambition, which was to root out the assumptions that had built New York into a welfare city-state always at the edge of crisis.
Giuliani admitted no dissent from his vision, and... ruthless reprisal often seemed his first resort when anyone disagreed. His personality only sharpened the edges of his policies, leaving an impression, broadly felt, that was summed up by former Mayor Ed Koch in the title of a 1999 book: “Giuliani, Nasty Man.”
Giuliani’s obduracy was felt most keenly in New York’s black community, where by 2000 his approval ratings had descended into the single digits.
Some black allies of Giuliani’s... attributed his political failure among minorities to his inability to relate to the world outside his own experience. During most of his professional life, Giuliani has situated himself at the center of a tight-knit group of associates, almost all of them white and male, whose foremost attribute is devotion to him.
Loyalty is the virtue that he most prizes, and its absence in an aide is the surest route to exile.

One of the ideas here is that Rudy's extreme authoritarianism will soothe heartland and religious conservatives who are suspicious of his views on abortion, guns, gays and immigration. In other words, his winning strategy has him positioned as "Bush/Cheney Dark", for those who felt that the Bush/Cheney response to terrorism was insufficiently authoritarian. Embedded in this idea about Rudy, perhaps, is a racist admiration for how he "cracked down" on crime in New York. Note how the article quoted Alabama Gov. Riley's request for an off-the-record explanation of how Rudy's iron fist tamed the "welfare jungles" of NYC.

Another one of the ideas presented in this article is that many Rudy supporters like it when he tells the "jerks" to shut up. Jeffrey no doubt agrees, since he posited the theory that Rudy's signature ability to tell the dirty hippie left to "shut up about Iraq" will trump everything else, and he'll win the GOP nomination with significant support from social conservatives.

I disagree with this analysis, and still consider it fanciful to think Rudy will win the nomination. There's more to come out about Rudy's past, and any rival candidate worth his salt will crush him with tv ads about the social issues. So even a nasty, combative authoritarian-- no matter how appealing to a certain strain of wingnuts-- will look a lot less desirable when it's demonstrated that he's hard on guns, but soft on gays and the illegal hordes.

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How's that Iraq occupation progressing? 

The Wall Street Journal reports that "Maliki faces fresh doubts":

BAGHDAD -- Senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq are increasingly divided over whether Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his weak coalition are capable of making the necessary compromises that might help end the fighting in the country.

Although some -- including the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus -- say Mr. Maliki is starting to take small steps needed to build a multisectarian state, or at least should be given more time, a growing number of officers say they are concerned the current U.S. strategy of "surging" troops into Baghdad and its environs won't produce lasting gains unless he is replaced.
Gen. Casey, who served as the top U.S commander here in 2005 and 2006, said the U.S. may have erred in believing that Mr. Maliki, with a lifetime of Shiite activism, would be willing or able to make political compromises with the country's Sunnis.

Ya think?

However, there are some perceptive active-duty soldiers who are unified in their assessment of the war's current status. They recently wrote:

As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day...

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Magazine counterpoint #3 

The next few posts will include some quotable "counterpoints" to my own views, which I found in magazines I read at an airport. If it's not entirely clear to you how these quoted counterpoints differ from my own worldview... then tough noogs.

From the Glenn Danzig interview in the August Spin magazine:

[Idiotic Spin question not worth transcribing]

Danzig: The Misfits helped form what American punk is. People just didn't know what to do with what was happening. They knew it was exciting, but it was too uncontrollable for them, like holding an atom bomb in your hand. "What do I do?" "Don't let go of it."

[Another idiotic Spin question not worth transcribing]

Danzig: ... that's one of the things I always hated about MaximumRocknRoll-- "Wear this uniform. Say this. Hate Ronald Reagan." Well, no. I'm not gonna look like you. And the Misfits didn't look like any of those bands. And I wasn't writing about their kind of shit. I don't care about politics, I care about sociology. You're retarded if you think you're gonna be able to change shit.


Surely one of the Misfits' best and most outrageously offensive songs is Bullet, which includes some awful lyrics about Tejas, JFK and Jackie. Remember, kids, the Misfits were fusing horror and punk just as Black Sabbath fused horror and metal a decade earlier.


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