McCain’s Straight Talk Express Takes Every Fork In The Road?

While ‘œswiftboating’ seems to have been the catch phrase of the 2004 election, I suspect that ‘œYouTubing’ could become the defining term for the 2008 presidential election. Given the following clip, it looks like opponents of John McCain have launched the first virulent viral video.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

It looks like it won’™t take a swiftboating to highlight John McCain’™s propensity to parse his words for political expediency. As a matter of fact, I suspect that the catch phrase for the 2008 presidential election may turn out to be YouTubing’¦and there’™s little doubt the following video may be the first salvo in a concerted effort to redefine John McCain as a man who is unable to choose which fork in the road best suits his presidential aspirations.

McCain’™s short temper and his dogged determination to claim ownership of all that can be construed as honorable and high-minded doesn’™t always endear him to the impartial observer. Unfortunately for the Arizona Senator, it can easily be interpreted as arrogance and insolence’¦especially when the video footage frequently confirms the inconsistencies he’™s been forced to adopt in hopes of creating a broader appeal in November.

At its worst, the McCain indignation only enhances the perception that his ‘œgrumpy old man’ persona is a natural accompaniment to his advancing age. If that impression takes hold, McCain may lose any experience advantage he would have otherwise been able to espouse. If his coming exchanges with the Democratic nominee result in more YouTube moments’¦moments that appear to show a cranky man with a waning grasp of his prior utterances’¦he’™ll quickly pigeonhole himself as the silver-haired senior with a surly certainty that cannot be sustained.

Should his opponent astutely position himself as someone willing to give respectful deference to age while refusing to relent on those matters of import to the voter, McCain will quickly appear to be a relic worthy of respect who has also eclipsed his capacity to command the issues that concern the citizenry. If this scenario begins to unfold, I would speculate that McCain’™s testy temperament will work to his detriment’¦while also allowing a younger Barack Obama to position himself as the symbol of a changing political climate.

The Real John McCain (VIDEO)

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Saturday, May 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Rep. Sam Graves: Bringing San Francisco Chic To Missouri?

Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) seems to think his Democratic opponent wants to import San Francisco values into the ‘œShow-Me’ state. Unfortunately, the images Graves uses to make his point suggest he may be living in ‘œla la land’’¦and I’™m not talking about Los Angeles.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

It looks like San Francisco has become the new France (freedom fries anyone?)’¦at least for some members of the GOP. Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) has taken to featuring those awful ‘œSan Francisco values’ to attack his Democratic opponent, Kay Barnes.

He’™s apparently doing this because he wants Missourians to believe that Barnes’™ singular goal is to take solid midwestern values and transform them into a San Francisco style Sodom & Gomorrah. Unfortunately, the music and images are a miserable melange comparable to what one might expect to find on a late night TV commercial promoting a singles hook-up phone line.

I could be wrong, but it looks to me like Rep. Graves has spent too many restless nights on the couch in front of his television. A more sinister interpretation of the image might suggest that Graves wants his constituents to ponder the slippery slope mentality one would expect to hear from Rick Santorum’¦you know, the one that thinks gay marriage is just the tip of the iceberg in the progression towards allowing ‘œman with his favorite pet marriages’.

All that’™s missing from this multi-racial, pansexual, menage a trois Solid Gold meets Queer as Folk dance club image to complete this ludicrous mindset is a dirty dancing German Shepherd and a pair of ‘œin sync’ silver-haired sister spinsters.

Rep. Graves (R-MO) First San Francisco Values TV Ad (VIDEO)

Rep. Graves (R-MO) Second San Francisco Values TV Ad (VIDEO)

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Saturday, May 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Executive Privilege to Silence McClellan?

Congress may ask Scott McClellan to testify, but what will the effect of that testimony have on the Presidential race in the Fall? Of course, the White House, through Dana Perino, is making noises about preventing such testimony on the basis of “executive privilege.” Isn’t Scotty a private citizen now?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It’s beginning to look like the attacks from commentators on FauxNews, from people still in the White House, from Rush and his dittoheads, from Karl Rove and Bob Dole. . . it’s beginning to look like these attacks are not going to be enough for the Republicans. The Democrats who run the House, including Reps. Conyers and Wexler, are talking of having Scott McClellan testify before the House about revelations in his book. The White House appears to have something to say about that. But first. . .

What good is Scott McClellan’s testimony going to be? If you really want to get to the bottom of the deception and criminality that has been the routine at the Bush White House, all the testimony in the world from Scott McClellan isn’t going to get you there. But does such testimony have value in relation to the election in November? Surely the Democrats would like the election to be a referendum on the Bush Administration, and hearings would write this story large, though if Scotty doesn’t testify to anything that isn’t in his book, it’s just a ramping up of what’s already out there. On the other side, the GOP attack machine is energized by this story like they haven’t been in the last several months. Is it wise to wake them up? I don’t have the answer to that. But I suppose I’d approach this based on how such hearings starring Scott McClellan would relate to the candidacies of Barack Obama and John McCain.

If the McClellan testimony focuses like a laser on the lead-up to the War in Iraq, and the ways in which the White House made the case through PR and what Scott McClellan calls the “permanent campaign,” then the hearings might just have a bearing on the Presidential race in the Fall. There’s nothing that separates Barack Obama and John McCain more than Obama being against the War in Iraq from its inception and John McCain carrying water for the Bushies on that same subject. Sure, there would be little in the way of testimony directly about John FlipFlopTalker McCain, but America is tired of this war. Still, I’m betting the wingers and independents who were fooled by Bush’s permanent campaigning about the War in Iraq are not likely to take kindly to being reminded that they were so duped. Yeah, I’m unsure whether this testimony would help or not.

Be that as it may, the testimony may not happen, as Dana Perino has left open the door that the White House may bar such testimony on the grounds of Executive Privelege, even though they vetted McClellan’s book on such grounds already. From ThinkProgress (they’ve got video goodness, as usual):

QUESTION: Could the White House block him from testifying, if he wanted to testify? Or how does that work?

PERINO: Conceivably?

QUESTION: Yes.

PERINO: Hypothetically, which I’m not supposed to answer a hypothetical, yes, I think so. The law would allow for that. But by saying that, I’m not suggesting that that’s what would happen or not happen.

I think this is a riot. The White House has already vetted the book on the topic of executive privilege, according to quotes from Perino in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Perino also said White House lawyers routinely had reviewed the book before publication “for any possible classified information or any needs for executive privilege to be asserted.”

“None of them were in this case,” she said, adding, “So we’ve known for a little bit of time that this was coming.”

So it looks like they’ll assert executive privilege just to get this thing off the news. After all, they’ve already vetted everything in McClellan’s book, so what else is there to assert that is “executive privilege.” This seems a whiney excuse to get the whole thing out of the news to me.

Saturday, May 31st, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

The Decline of the American Brand in the Middle East

In the geopolitics of the Middle East, the heavy hand of the Bush administration is increasingly overshadowed by bottom-up initiatives of local powers.

Commentary By: Raymond McInnis

A survey of opinion in the foreign press (posted below) registers a decline of American influence in the middle east. My question would be: ‘œIs the alleged decline affecting the current presidential campaign?’ The Republicans wouldn’™t have you believe it.

But here’™s another question: ‘œDo you know how to make a foreigner roll his eyes?’

Answer: make the triumphalist claim, that ‘œAmerica is the greatest nation on earth!’ I heard McCain utter this phrase yesterday, and as a transplant, know that, for foreigners, it is ‘œinflammatory talk’.

I know that such rhetoric is for domestic consumption, but in today’™s climate of instant messaging, cable TV, and the like, the phrase ‘” and many more like it ‘” has no boundaries.

What about McCain and the decline of America? Checkout the following:

John McCain and the Decline of America
An Unnatural Disaster
Gary Indiana on Hobsbawm’™s ‘On Empire’™

Is this Decline of American Power in the Middle East Affecting the Campaign? (Also see links above) ‘” basically any question about America’™s decline is political, of course, one that, according to political bent, necessarily, elicits different responses. For Republicans, for America to embrace a more internationalist stance ‘“ promoted by liberal Dems ‘“ is a sign of decline, especially anything that signals a warmer embrace of the UN. For Liberal Dems, not to embrace the UN is a sign of decline.

Back to the original question:

IN THE GEOPOLITICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST, THE HEAVY HAND OF THE BUSHIES IS INCREASINGLY OVER-SHADOWED BY BOTTOM-UP INITIATIVES OF LOCAL POWERS

The Beirut Daily Star columnist Rami G Khouri writes that,

The Doha agreement that resolved the immediate political crisis in Lebanon is the latest example of the new political power equation that is redefining the Middle East. It reflects both local and global forces and, 18 years after the Cold War ended, provides a glimpse of what a post-Cold War world will look like, at least in the Middle East.

Several dynamics seem to be at play, but one is paramount: the clear limits of the projection of American global power, combined with the assertion and coexistence of multiple regional powers – Turkey, Israel, Iran, Hizbullah, Syria, Hamas, Saudi Arabia and others. These regional actors tend to fight and negotiate at the same time, and ultimately prefer to make compromises rather than perpetually wage absolutist battles. ‘¦

Iran, Turkey, all the Arabs, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Israel all share one and only one common trait: They routinely ignore the advice, and the occasional threats, they get from Washington’¦

Condoleezza Rice was correct in summer 2006 when she said we are witnessing the birth pangs of a new Middle East. But the emerging new regional configuration is very different from the one she fantasized about and tried to bring into being with multiple wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia and Lebanon, and threats against Iran and Syria.’¦

America is ‘œMissing in Action’

In McClatchy Newspapers, Warren Strobel and Hannah Allam wrote:

In a week of dramatic developments in the Middle East, the most dramatic development of all may have been the fact that the United States, long considered the region’™s indispensable player, was missing in action.

As its closest allies cut deals with their adversaries this week over the Bush administration’™s opposition, Washington was largely reduced to watching.

More painful for President Bush, friends he’™s cultivated – and spent heavily on – in Lebanon and Iraq asked the United States to remain in the background, underlining how politically toxic an association with the US can be for Arab leaders.

Over the past few days, Strobel and Allam claim,

  • The Lebanese government, which has received $1.3 billion and political support from the Bush administration, compromised with the Hezbollah-led opposition, giving the Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim group, which Washington considers a terrorist organization, a greater role in running the country.
  • Israel ignored U.S. objections and entered indirect peace talks with Syria through Turkey, another longtime U.S. ally.
  • The U.S.-backed Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki deployed military forces to Baghdad’™s Sadr City slum under an agreement that specifically excluded U.S. troops.
  • Saudi Arabia, a crucial oil supplier and long a major buyer of U.S. weapons, is quietly closing what could be a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Russia, according to a U.S. defense official.

Is this Decline of American Power in the Middle East Affecting the Campaign? (Also see links above)

According to Strobel and Allam,

Not even Mr Bush’™s allies at home feel comfortable being visibly associated with him. For the first time in nearly three months, the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, Senator John McCain was seen in public with Mr Bush this week. The appearance, during which neither spoke to the press, lasted 47 seconds.

(Update 6-1-08: According to NYT’™s Frank Rich, it was 29 seconds, not 47: read Rich’™s take on how McClellan’™s What Happened has impacted the McCain campaign.)

Diplomatically, Qatar is on the Ascendant

As American influence in the Middle East falls into the background, a new trend is emerging fostering home grown solutions for the region’™s problems. Most prominent among these recently have been Qatar’™s role in bringing about political reconciliation in Lebanon and Turkey’™s mediation in talks between Israel and Syria.

In Lebanon, political rivals made a major step towards reconciliation when they signed the Doha agreement. The first result of the accord was seen in the election of Gen Michel Suleiman as Lebanon’™s new president. Qatar’™s instrumental role in advancing this diplomatic initiative led to emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani being given the unusual honour of addressing the Lebanese parliament.

For IPS, Meena Janardhan wrote: ‘œQatar’™s latest diplomatic success could be attributed to its ties with the rival factions and regional powers with influence in Beirut.

‘œWhile Doha is a close ally of Washington, which also supports the government in Beirut, it has maintained good relations with Tehran and Damascus, which back the Lebanese opposition led by the Shia militant movement Hizbollah. Recent reconciliation with Saudi Arabia, which also supports the Lebanese government, helped in the process too.

The mediation efforts, according to Doha-based political analyst Mehran Kamrava, is consistent with Qatar’™s ‘increasingly proactive diplomacy’™ over the last few years both in the Gulf region and larger Middle East.

The Christian Science Monitor added:

Qatar’™s nonaligned role in regional politics may be a survival mechanism in an unforgiving corner of the world, given its small size and enormous oil and gas riches. But it may also signal a shift from the polarisation of the region during the tenure of President Bush toward a greater emphasis on negotiation and compromise. Turkey, for example, has emerged as a key player in quietly brokering initial peace moves between Israel and Syria.

The actions of Turkey and Qatar suggest we are moving away from the black-and-white dichotomies of the higher Bush years,’ said Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Endowment’™s Middle East Center in Beirut. ‘œNow mediators, like Qatar and Turkey, are trying to find accommodation between players previously considered as either good or evil.

Turkey Sponsoring Talks Between Israel and Syria

The announcement last week that Israel and Syria have opened indirect peace talks through Turkish mediation has rapidly been overshadowed by uncertainty over the Israeli prime minister’™s future.

The New York Times said:

Israel’™s defence minister called on Wednesday for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to remove himself from his post pending the outcome of a high-profile corruption investigation in which Mr Olmert is embroiled.

The defence minister, Ehud Barak, a former prime minister, was the first senior member of Israel’™s coalition government to insist Mr Olmert relinquish his office over the corruption case.

‘The prime minister must disconnect himself from the daily running of the government,’™ Mr Barak said at a lunchtime news conference broadcast live from the Parliament building.

Iran/Syria Ties Continue

Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles Times, Borzou Daragahi wrote:

Iranian and Syrian officials poured a bucket of ice water this week on Israeli hopes for a rupture in the long-standing Tehran-Damascus relationship.

Israeli officials had demanded Syria break ties with Iran in exchange for returning the occupied Golan Heights to Syria.

Instead, Syria this week appeared to strengthen its ties with Iran, signing a defense cooperation pact in a showy Tehran photo-op on Tuesday.

Friday, May 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq,Middle East

Scott McClellan: What If It’s All a Ruse?

Could Scott McClellan ‘™s book, and the apparent outrage from his former colleagues, be an elaborate GOP ruse, staged in order to bolster McCain’™s (and the GOP’™s) message of bipartisanship? The repetition of some curious phrases from McClellan makes one wonder. McClellan was a true believer. True believers don’™t turn on the cult. Think about it’¦

/wp/

Watching Scott McClellan on Countdown last night, a frightening thought struck me. What if his book, and the kerfluffle around the book, is simply more psyops from the GOP? Here’™s an example of what I mean:

In the interview with Olbermann, former Minister of Propaganda McClellan invoked the term ‘œpermanent campaign’ about 10 times to describe how he ostensibly feels about the hyper-partisan mindset in Washington, D.C., and how the bunker mentality of the Bush administration has evolved over the past 8 years.

It occurred to me that one of the selling points of the McCain campaign has been (and will continue to be) John McCain’™s ‘œmaverickness’ and willingness to reach across the political divide to get things done.

Let’™s be honest, there are few revelations in McClellan’™s book that appear to be new, at least to anyone who’™s been paying the least bit of attention during the course of the Bush regime’™s dismantlement of the American dream (more on that in a future post). Mostly, what McClellan relates is no more than insider confirmation of incidents and hubris that for the most part is already in the public domain.

So, could McClellan’™s book, and all of the apparent outrage from McClellan’™s former colleagues, be an elaborate GOP ruse, staged in order to bolster McCain’™s (and the GOP’™s) message of bipartisanship? As I listened to Olbermann’™s interview, it was almost like McClellan was utilizing the time tested GOP strategy of repeating focus-grouped phrases (such as ‘œpermanent campaign’). As the interview progressed, the words he was using started sounding like he was reading from a Frank Luntz talking points script.

Are McClellan’™s words (and indeed, the book itself) a well-calculated psyops move by the GOP to put further distance between the party and George Bush? Let’™s not forget that Scott McClellan was a true believer in the Bush deity. He didn’™t just drink the Texas koolaid, he power chugged it from a firehose. True believers do strange things for their godheads ‘” such as creating the illusion of throwing themselves under the proverbial bus ‘” for the greater good of the cult. Just think about Scooter Libby for a moment. Or Joseph Goebbels.

As we’™ve discovered over the past 8 years, in the Bush house of mirrors, any illusion is possible. Don’™t believe a thing that you read or hear right now. As I noted before, anyone who harbors a present (or past) association with this criminal regime is at great personal legal risk going forward, so nearly anything is possible.

It’™s all very strange’¦and something just isn’™t quite adding up. There’™s no need to put on a tinfoil hat when it comes to analyzing any move by the GOP and Bush administration. However, there is the continuing necessity to think outside the box, look beyond the obvious, and consider alternate realities, because the Bush administration has specialized in creating false illusions.

I’™m not the only one who’™s thinking there is something amiss in how all of this is playing out.

Friday, May 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Name Larry Craig’s Book!

Larry Craig is writing a book about energy, but he’™s going to discuss those little adventures in airport restrooms as well. I’™m thinking this guy needs a catchy title for his book. Maybe our readers can come up with good ones.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Yeah, Larry Craig is writing a book. Here’™s a bit of the story from an interview with KTVB in Boise:

In a live interview on NewsChannel 7 Tuesday night ‘“ Craig, 62 – told Dee Sarton that he is in the process of writing a book on energy – that will also talk about his time in Congress ‘“ and the events of the past year.

‘œThere will be a bit of what’™s happened in the last year, and the way it evolved,’ Craig said. ‘œI think that’™s important for Idaho and those outside Idaho who are interested to know.’

He hopes the book will be on store shelves in the next year.

Let’™s have some fun. Craig is going to give his version of his public restroom escapades, so that probably figures in the title, doesn’™t it? Wonkette is forming a book club to, presumably, read and dissect the book. I’™m thinking that’™s not necessary. The book needs a title! Post them in the comments. How about. . . .

Wise Cracks From a Wide Stance?

Edit, 1:40: Seems Levi Strauss is bringing out a new line of Wide Stance jeans in honor of Larry Craig. Be the first on your block to get the, From CAP News:

‘œWe will be marketing the pants to cowboys and others who straddle things for a living, as well as men of discretion and adventure,’ said Levi spokesperson Janice Weiss. She denied that the pants would be solely marketed to closet homosexuals, despite a flurry of pre-advertising that seems to suggest otherwise.

‘œIs the closet homosexual market huge? Of course it is, but that’™s not who we’™re trying to attract with our Wide Stance Pants,’ Weiss said. ‘œWe’™re looking to farmers straddling rows in a field, Seattle residents who find themselves constantly trying to avoid puddles, men who just honestly like the feel for more space between their legs. That sort of thing.’

I’™m thinking Larry Craig may have a future in marketing.

Friday, May 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

So, Is Dana Perino “Gruntled”, Then?

You knew it was coming. The current Minister of Propaganda, Dana Perino, went after her former boss today. She says that Scott McClellan was “disgruntled”. I guess that means she’s still gruntled.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Ok, so, the White House smear campaign against former Minister of Propaganda Scott McClellan is raging in full force now. According to current MP Dana Perino:

White House aides seemed stunned by the scathing tone of the book, and Bush press secretary Dana Perino issued a statement that was highly critical of their former colleague.

Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House,” she said. “For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad – this is not the Scott we knew.” …

The implications of Perino’s statement are pretty clear: Scottie has jumped the shark. We don’t know if he’s had a brain injury, or what. But clearly, he’s not in his right mind. As opposed to me. I’m merely gruntled. Next question, please.

Listen, I don’t even want to waste a byte of internet bandwidth in dissecting Ms. Perino. I’ve said before that I don’t know how she can wake up in the morning and look at herself in the mirror. Ari Fleischer, Scott McClellan, Tony Snow, all of them – each of the Bush propaganda ministers – have revealed themselves as little more than a pack of lying, snide, smug, sycophantic shills. They knew their roles. (In Perino’s case, still do.)

Perino said the reports on the book had been described to Bush, and that she did not expect him to comment. “He has more pressing matters than to spend time commenting on books by former staffers,” she said…

Yeah. He always has.

John Feehery (Dennis Hastert’s former press secretary) writes blithely at Politico:

It is hard to know what Scott McClellan’s motives are for writing this book. He is not the only one to jump ship and turn on his former client. Doug Feith, Jerry Bremer and a host of others have tried to shift the blame to others for failed policies in the Bush administration…

No, John, it’s not hard to understand the motivations. In fact, it’s incredibly easy. Start with war crimes and the International Court of Justice (The Hague), then work your way down the laundry list of complaints to common criminal investigations. They’re all in it up to their hips, and they know it. They’re scared. They’ve all lived a charmed media life for the past 8 years, and it’s about over.

I’ll return to blogging full time when every single one of the enablers of this criminal regime (including la Perino and McClellan) have been shackled and frog marched in a conga line through the front gates of the White House, and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been empaneled by congress.

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Are Those Opposed To GI Bill In Favor Of Stealth Conscription?

George Bush and John McCain oppose the expanded benefits in the GI Bill passed by the Senate yesterday. They believe it might entice service members to leave the military. Limiting benefits because they provide alternatives to military service is stealth conscription.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

The passage of Senator Jim Webb’s expansion of the GI Bill to provide expanded educational benefits highlights a topic most don’t want to discuss. Since abolishing the draft and making service in the military voluntary, critics have argued that an inordinate number of the ranks are filled by those who lack other opportunities…including the ability to afford a college education. In other words, they contend that the election to join the military can often be a de facto economic decision.

When critics, like New York Representative Charlie Rangel, raise concerns that an inordinate number of new enlistments come from lower income families, those opposed to reinstating the draft accuse them of insulting our service people. Essentially, they contend the criticism impugns the patriotism of those who have volunteered to serve their country. If that deflection fails, they have also argued that the criticism insults the intelligence of military personnel by suggesting that those who serve in the military are uneducated.

That brings us back to the Senate’s passage of the Webb bill. One of the redeeming benefits of the passage of time is that is frequently shines a bright light on hyperbole and hypocrisy. In what can only be seen as a reversal of logic, some of those who rejected the assertions of men like Charlie Rangel are now opposed to expanding the benefits provided by the GI Bill. Yes, they are now arguing that those expanded benefits might entice some service members to exit the military in order to take advantage of the educational benefits. In other words, given other and better opportunities, some members of the military might not want to continue serving.

Let me be clear. The patriotism of those who enlist has never been the issue and it wasn’t for those who criticized the all volunteer army. Those who contended that it attracted individuals who lacked other opportunities always believed in the patriotism of those who enlisted…just as they will continue to believe in it should some service members elect to leave the military in order to utilize their expanded educational benefits.

Those who aligned with George Bush and John McCain in opposing this bill have simply exposed their inclination to make military service a matter of necessity. Voting to deny service members the same level of educational benefits that existed when the GI Bill was first passed is evidence that they recognize the differences between conscripted service and volunteer service. Why else would they not support a bill that would give volunteer service members the same benefits that were afforded to conscripted ones?

Truth be told, those opposed to this bill don’t want to provide a plausible alternative to military service because they know that the decision to enlist is, in fact, often a decision of economic necessity because there is a lack of other opportunities for those whose families lack the means to send them to college.

Look, I don’t object to the government using carrots to entice enlistment. The military can be the means to advance one’s education that might not otherwise be possible. Regardless, choosing to deny former service members access to benefits that will reward their patriotism and service is a far more egregious act than to question the inequity of an all volunteer military.

So what is the message given by those who would deny these benefits? Well it clearly states that they favor a system that facilitates the enlistment of the economically disadvantaged and they certainly don’t want to do anything that might take away the leverage that it provides. In other words, it tells our enlisted persons that we’re happy to have them defend their country’s commitment to freedom but we’re opposed to providing them the opportunities that would grant them the opportunity to exercise that freedom.

While I’m not in favor of a draft, I am in favor of an honest discussion on the shortcomings of the existing all volunteer system. It seems entirely hypocritical for those who have attempted to ignore the contention that economic motivations may lead to the population of our military to now be speaking out against providing the very opportunities and alternatives that their adversaries have long suggested were lacking.

When Charlie Rangel suggests that a draft would make members of Congress think twice about sending American soldiers into harms way if they knew their own sons and daughters might have to serve, he’s simply pointing out the same hypocrisy. In the end, if our volunteer military results from the fact that some individual’s lack or are denied reasonable alternatives, then it is, in essence, a form of conscription.

If I didn’t know better, I might conclude that those opposed to the expansion of the GI Bill are not only in favor of stealth conscription; they may actually be endorsing de facto enslavement…with pay…of course.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Friday, May 23rd, 2008 |

Bad Day To Be A Climate Change Denying Christian Creationist?

Two new findings will make it more difficult to reject the theory of evolution and dismiss man-made climate change. For those who are adept at discerning their denials from the Bible, the Rapture is apt to be their last rationale for discarding science.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

Try as they might to undermine science, those who reject evolution and downplay the impact of man-made climate change will have to work overtime to deny newly revealed evidence of both.

Time and again, creationist’s contend that the fossil record lacks the transitional forms of life to support the theory of evolution. Unfortunately, time isn’t on their side since each passing day seems to reveal another piece of the evolutionary puzzle. With the discovery of a creature that seems to be a combination of a frog and a salamander (frogmander), creationists will have another formidable hurdle to overcome.

From Yahoo News:

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The discovery of a “frogamander,” a 290 million-year-old fossil that links modern frogs and salamanders, may resolve a longstanding debate about amphibian ancestry, Canadian scientists said on Wednesday.

Modern amphibians – frogs, salamanders and earthworm-like caecilians – have been a bit slippery about divulging their evolutionary ancestry. Gaps in the fossil record showing the transformation of one form into another have led to a lot of scientific debate.

The fossil Gerobatrachus hottoni or elderly frog, described in the journal Nature, may help set the record straight.

“It’s a missing link that falls right between where the fossil record of the extinct form and the fossil record for the modern form begins,” said Jason Anderson of the University of Calgary, who led the study.

The fossil suggests that modern amphibians may have come from two groups, with frogs and salamanders related to an ancient amphibian known as a temnospondyl, and worm-like caecilians more closely related to the lepospondyls, another group of ancient amphibians.

Many of these same individuals have also taken to denying the existence of man-made climate change…arguing that God is in charge and has a plan for his creation and that means we needn’t spend time and money fretting about carbon emissions or minor shifts in temperature that scientists consider significant. With the finding that western oceans have a rapidly expanding acidity as a result of greenhouse gas pollution, these deniers may want to consider the possibility that God, in granting us free will, expects us to use our brains to preserve the planet on which we live.

From Wired:

Greenhouse gas pollution has acidified the coastal waters of western North America more rapidly than scientists expected, says a study published today in Science.

In a survey of waters stretching from central Canada to northern Mexico, researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Richard Feely found cold, unexpectedly low-pH water “upwelling onto large portions of the continental shelf.” In some locations, the degree of acidification observed had not been expected to occur until 2050.

Ocean acidification is a side effect of excessive atmospheric carbon dioxide, lesser-known but no less troubling than climate change.

In September of 2005, Feely was among the authors of a Nature article predicting that acidication would claim Antarctic Ocean waters by 2050, spreading into the subarctic Pacific by 2100. “Our findings indicate that conditions detrimental to high-latitude ecosystems could develop within decades, not centuries as suggested previously,” they wrote.

“Water already in transit to upwelling centers is carrying increasing anthropogenic CO2 and more corrosive conditions to the coastal oceans of the future,” write the authors. Ocean acidification “could affect some of the most fundamental biological and geochemical processes of the sea in the coming decades.” If anything, the clinical language of science only makes their words more disturbing.

No doubt these two findings are part and parcel of the march towards science fully eclipsing the validity of Bible based beliefs that often form the basis of religious doctrine. Regardless, each discovery appears to generate a new rationalization intended to preserve the literal interpretations that have proven so effective in granting and maintaining the authority of religious leaders and the institutions they promote.

I suspect these two items will simply give fuel to those religious leaders who suggest that we are entering the period that will culminate in the Rapture…the final piece of an end of days prophecy that is also derived from the Bible. Nothing like bending each and every fact to fit a faith based fallacy.

Unfortunately, I’m not yet convinced that the manipulated masses will be willing to follow these zealots into their vision of the fatalistic abyss…even if they promise to deliver the lot of them into the perpetual happiness they guarantee is just beyond the horizon. In the end, I expect most mortals will choose the surety of science over the abstract assertion of an after life.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008 |

When the Heart Stops Beating…

I got nuthin’ right now.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

It’s been a long and winding road for me here on All Spin Zone. There have been times in the past five years when I’ve been energized beyond all belief. This is not one of them.

I’m going to be taking a break from blogging on ASZ. That doesn’t mean I’m disappearing completely, as I’ll still be reading every day, maintaining the behind-the-scenes infrastructure and might even chime in on an occasion or two with a post, if something really moves me.

At this present time, I’m having a hard time revving up the passion for politics. It’s not that I don’t care. Gawd, I hope longtime readers of ASZ know better. I’m just tired , bone weary tired right now, of fighting against a rising tide of general public indifference as our government continues the drift toward authoritarianism. It’s also clear that the infrastructure supporting this drift toward authoritarianism has become so firmly entrenched over the past several years that no presidential candidate, Dem or GOP, is going to be able to successfully dismantle the neocon wet dream that Dick Cheney’s crew has created.

As many of our readers are no doubt aware, I’m also quite put off by the ridiculous level of acrimony that has developed in the progressive blogosphere this year. I have an operating theory on what has actually happened to cause the acrimony – call it GOP COINTELPRO, if you’d like – but whatever the root cause, there is no joy for me at the moment in political blogging. Like I said in the slug for this post : I got nothin’ to bring to the table right now.

So until someone (or some event) can bring in a virtual defibrillator, and jump start my political heart again, I’ll be taking time off from front page blogging. Over to you, Steven and Daniel!

Enjoy your summer!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Admin
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