Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Never Forget!

No, I'm not writing about the Holocaust, although it's true that we ought never forget. No -- I'm writing about the disaster that could have been, the nightmare that we could have invited, the political tsunami of horror that we nearly allowed to be unleashed. I refer, of course to my favorite Christianist she-devil, Sarah Palin.

Todd Purdum writes a clear-eyed reflection in Vanity Fair about the woman's political journey and her sociopathic dishonesty as she clawed her way into the Juneau governor's mansion. Sullivan notes:

The narcissism, the pathological and incessant lying, the viciousness, the delusions of grandeur, the vindictiveness, the fathomless and proud ignorance, the opportunism, the vanity, the white trash concupiscence and fraudulence in almost every respect: these are now indisputable. How an advanced democracy came that close to having this farce of a candidate running the most powerful country on earth reveals how deep the corruption of our politics and especially our media are.
Well, there is a minority swath of American voters and media outlets who revere this woman, but her influence among the overall GOP is waning, not growing. She placed tied for second in a recent straw poll (with Texas congressman and fellow whack-job Ron Paul), behind the far more media-savvy (and morally upstanding) Mitt Romney, of who would be the best potential candidate for the party in 2012. If she overcomes that loss, it will be in spite of herself. She is literally and utterly incapable of uttering a coherent sentence (like GW Bush). Referring to the campaign she'd just lost:

You know, it’s pretty brutal, the time consumption there, and the energy that has to be spent in order to get out and about with the message on a national level, a great appreciation for other candidates who have gone through this, but also just a great appreciation for this great country. There are so many good Americans who are just desiring of their government to kind of get out of the way and allow them to grow and progress, and allow our businesses to grow and progress. So, great appreciation for those who share that value.

She also has a disdain for details (like GW Bush), and she thinks that America still wants a president who'd be a good drinking or hunting buddy.

Finally, Purdum's money quote, regarding her desire to address the rabid Republican faithful after it was clear that they had lost the election:

Election Night brought what McCain aides saw as the final indignity. Palin decided she would make her own speech at the ticket’s farewell to the faithful, at the Arizona Biltmore, in Phoenix. When aides went to load McCain’s concession speech into the teleprompter, they found a concession speech for Palin—written by Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully, who had also been the principal drafter of her convention speech—already on the system. Schmidt and Salter told Palin that there was no tradition of Election Night speeches by running mates, and that she wouldn’t be giving one. Palin was insistent. “Are those John’s wishes?” she asked. They were, she was told. But Palin took the issue to McCain himself, raising it on the walk from his suite to the outdoor rally. Again the answer was no.
Sheesh. Shortly after being elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996, Palin was told by her campaign manager that she could be elected governor within 10 years. Her reply: "I want to be president."

Uh, yeah right.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The One-Basket Rule

Bernie Madoff will die in jail sometime during the 150-year sentence he received today. In reading the court transcript of his sentencing hearing (pdf), I was struck by the enormity of his fraud, and by his continued self-serving posture.

In particular, the judge made note of the fact that, while defense counsel had argued that Madoff should receive some leniency because he turned himself in and confessed to the FBI, Madoff had in fact done these things because he couldn't keep up with the requests from his investors who asked for their money. Basically, he would have been caught eventually and he knew it, so turning himself in might mean he'd get better treatment. Perhaps, if he hadn't done such an extraordinary job of stealing from his victims.

The other thing that struck me was in the statements made by the victims. Many of them were retirees who had lost their life savings. Every time I read that, I remembered how many other times I'd read or heard about swindlers who'd cheated people out of all they had in the world.

But why isn't anyone asking the really tough question: what were you thinking when you decided to invest everything you had with one investment house? It's the One-Basket Rule: as in Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket. Lisa and I used to have a pretty decent pot, which is now slowly growing again after taking a massive haircut in 2008. I have one guy managing it, but we have multiple accounts, with multiple investment houses, precisely to avoid such a thing from happening. Not only that, we have money that just sits in insured accounts.

In my line of work, I've met many, many wealthy people. One in particular has income that rivals Madoff's. Most, if not all of them, spread their wealth around -- some cash, some real estate, some private companies, some public companies -- between several different money managers. It's the only way. Madoff's victims share some collective responsibility for being short-sighted and getting seduced by Madoff's promises of high returns.

Now, Madoff was a genius, well-connected, and well-regarded in his industry, so there weren't too many people who would have advised against investing with him. But that's not the point. No matter what so-called investment experts say, common sense alone mandates that one diversify and be vigilant.

No one is going to get their money back. Many victims are ruined and face a future of untold stress. I feel horrible for them. Let their hardships be lessons for us all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Don't Take the Bait

Alec Baldwin's commentary about Mark Sanford's indiscretions was spot on. What Sanford did, to his family and to his staff, is reprehensible. What did he really do to the citizens of South Carolina? Not much, except prove to everyone that even right wing Republican nutjobs are human too. He deserves time to sort this out, whether he resigns or not. And the Democrats will gain absolutely nothing -- let me repeat, absolutely nothing -- by joining the inevitable Republican dogpile, and the efforts to oust Sanford from office. We should just stand back and say, "We understand the pain Gov. Sanford and his family are going through. Out of respect for him, his family and his staff, we urge all concerned to allow the Governor the time to deal with this unfortunate situation in private." Taking the high road here will do more for the party than joining the battle. Why give Republicans any opportunity to point to Clinton again, or to any other Democrat who had marital problems?
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Why We Are Who We Are

... "and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security,..."

My italics, from the Declaration of Independence.

We Americans should read this document often. The last administration was, in my opinion, an effort to create a despotic regime. One doesn't get to strive for a "permanent Republican majority" without being accused of this, at least.

Not Ending Well At All

Relative to my earlier post, the post-election madness is indeed assuring a bloodbath among the protestors.

Jesus is Everywhere

About the funniest thing I've seen in a while.

Holy shit, indeed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nixon revisited: Oy Vey

The New York Times published a story by Charlie Savage Tuesday detailing the contents of "more than 150 hours of tape and 30,000 pages of documents made public ... by the Nixon Presidential Library." Audio clips were posted online here, and document samples are here.

Pretty staggering shit coming from the President of the United States. Given the context of the times and his upbringing, I can't say I'm surprised, but here is one money quote about abortion:
There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white, or a rape.
Nine months after this tape, Nixon forced the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the Watergate affair. He also prompted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus. The next day, Ronald Reagan, who was then governor of California and would later be president, told the White House that he approved.

A tape of a phone call exists from February 1973 between Nixon and Billy Graham. Graham complained that Jewish-American leaders opposed his efforts to promote evangelical Christianity, like Campus Crusade. They agreed that the Jewish leaders risked setting off anti-Semitic sentiment. Nixon's words:
What I really think is deep down in this country, there is a lot of anti-Semitism, and all this is going to do is stir it up.... It may be they have a death wish. You know that’s been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries.
I really believe any efforts to canonize any Republican president or congressional leader, the way we've all seen with Reagan in particular, should be widely condemned. These two men were two of the worst leaders in US history -- although neither of them holds a candle to Bush and Cheney.

Friday, June 19, 2009

This Will Not End Well

No matter what the outcome of all these protests, Iran will become a bloodbath. Evidence here, here, and here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chicken Littles

Truthdig has an opinion piece by Chris Hedges that defies description. The headlines reads, "The American Empire is Bankrupt." OK, I'm thinking that this should be interesting, and it was, but for all the wrong reasons. I simply could not believe the level of hyperbole Hedges employs. Here's a taste:

There are meetings being held Monday and Tuesday in Yekaterinburg, Russia, (formerly Sverdlovsk) among Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The United States, which asked to attend, was denied admittance. Watch what happens there carefully. The gathering is, in the words of economist Michael Hudson, “the most important meeting of the 21st century so far.”

It is the first formal step by our major trading partners to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If they succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times. State and federal services will be reduced or shut down for lack of funds. The United States will begin to resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Obama, endowed by many with the qualities of a savior, will suddenly look pitiful, inept and weak. And the rage that has kindled a handful of shootings and hate crimes in the past few weeks will engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class. The people of this class will demand vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal, which an array of proto-fascists, from the Christian right to the goons who disseminate hate talk on Fox News, will assure the country they will impose.

But wait! There's more:
There will be block after block of empty stores and boarded-up houses. Foreclosures will be epidemic. There will be long lines at soup kitchens and many, many homeless. Our corporate-controlled media, already banal and trivial, will work overtime to anesthetize us with useless gossip, spectacles, sex, gratuitous violence, fear and tawdry junk politics. America will be composed of a large dispossessed underclass and a tiny empowered oligarchy that will run a ruthless and brutal system of neo-feudalism from secure compounds. Those who resist will be silenced, many by force. We will pay a terrible price, and we will pay this price soon, for the gross malfeasance of our power elite.
In 1994, the Northridge earthquake set off a rash of opinions from so-called experts in geology that the "ring of fire" would show a huge increase in seismological events such that the west coast of the United States would fall into the Pacific, making Denver a beachfront community. This is the level of hyperbole to which I equate the Hedges piece.

A few years back when I worked for Indymac Bank, my fellow Loan Officers and I witnessed a huge spike in the cost of basic construction materials like lumber and copper, which was pricing not a few customers out of the home-building business. The reason for this was because of a massive construction boom going on in China. I predicted then that China would, within 20 years, become the dominant economic superpower in the world. I still think I'm right, and the massive amount of US debt that China carries on our behalf is certainly one of the things that causes me to believe that.

Still, what so many on the left fail to realize is just how interdependent we have all become. China knows that in order for it to achieve its goals it must gradually separate the yuan from the dollar and let the yuan become as widely traded as western currencies, which is currently is not.
But anyone with even a remedial understanding of world economics knows that this interdependence means that if the collapse of the US economy, as described by Hedges, were ever to occur, it would mean the collapse of everyone else's economies as well. So that means that the whole world would start to resemble Zimbabwe, wouldn't it? This is why I think Hedges' piece is essentially bullshit.

Further, China's repressive society will always hold it back. A country with a government that so limits the economic opportunity of its citizens will ever be able to compete in the global free market. China's people must first become free to do whatever they want. Some resemblance to the US and European financial models must emerge in China before they will be able to be the world's economic leader. I don't see this happening soon.

This is the point where I say, "I want your comments" on this. Where do you think the truth lies in Hedges' piece?

Will Ahmadinejad do the Unthinkable?

Today is day six since the Iranian people began protesting the fraudulent results of their presidential election. The movement appears to be gaining momentum rather than petering out. Just check out the pictures and video on the NY Times Lede Blog.

Violence against the protestors, while it has been brutal, so far does not show signs of turning into a massacre. Some commentators have been saying that this protest is Iran's version of Tiananmen Square. We all know how horribly that ended. Will Ahmadinejad order his troops into his capital city to stop this movement from growing any further? Does he even have the backing of his army? It's hard to tell. But I see no signs of this letting up.

Via Sullivan, here's a great quote for today:
"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

I turned the color of my blog page green in solidarity with the Iranian people. Now I will start wearing green as much as possible.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

American Jews Support the Two-State Solution

From Matt Yglesias at Think Progress, the Union of Reform Judaism adopted a resolution that supports the Obama administration's efforts to call on the Israeli government to halt settlements in the West Bank. Notable excerpts:

The destructive impact of the settlements is aggravated by fringe settler groups that have expanded their lawless reach into newoutposts and hilltops, challenged the authority and legitimacy of the Israeli government and courts, encouraged insubordination by Israeli soldiers tasked with enforcing the law and keeping the peace, and escalated violence against Palestinian civilians.


Although Israel may need to retain some areas technically classified as settlements, the failure of the Israeli government to meet its commitments regarding the removal of unauthorized settler outposts and the halting of settlement growth are sources of concern.

In the past I've explored the idea of a one-state solution, and I've also been less than sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause in the wake of 9/11 and the continued bombardment of rockets into Israel from Gaza. I've also said that the security wall, flawed though it may be, provided at the time the most workable solution to ensuring that future terrorist attacks on Israeli soil were minimal. For the most part, it has worked. I'm not ready to embrace Hamas so long as they do not recognize Israel's right to exist, but I'm now of the opinion that a longer view is necessary to see beyond the immediate threats into what will ensure Israel's 100th and 200th celebrations of Yom Ha'atzma'ut.

A New Look for Uh, Yeah Right

I've been feverishly reading various blogs for as much up to date information about the unrest in Iran following that country's sham of a presidential election. In solidarity with the followers of Mir Hossein Moussavi, who clearly believe that their candidate was robbed of victory, and who are now becoming the victims of a brutal fascist campaign to silence them, I have adopted their color -- green -- for my blog.

To my (few) readers: if you remember the sinking feeling that many of us felt when the Islamists took over Iran from the Shah, you are probably now feeling a cautious optimism that perhaps this will lead to end of that brutal so-called "revolution." As the thugs of the religious police and conscripted Hezbollah members brutalize students, women, children, and the elderly with clubs and guns, the true legacy of the Khomeini years is playing out in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere. This Iranian government was not a theocracy; it was a fascist dictatorship in the guise of a theocracy, which in my eyes is even worse. Given that the US upset the balance of power in that country 50 years ago when it installed the Shah, it is a remarkable thing to witness the restraint our current president is exercising in dealing with the crisis in Iran:
It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be. We respect Iranian sovereignty, and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran. Sometimes, the United States can be a handy political football…

Having said all that, I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television. I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent – all those are universal values, and need to be respected. …

I can’t state definitively one way or another what happened with respect to the election, but what I can say is that there appears to be a sense on the part of some people who were so hopeful and so engaged and so committed to democracy who now feel betrayed. And I think it’s important that moving forward whatever investigations take place are done in a way that is not resulting in bloodshed….

To those people who have put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say … that the world is watching and is inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election [is]. …

Particularly, to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians, but we do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected.

The information pouring in is relatively sketchy, much of it via Twitter, Facebook and blogs. It's journalism on the fly, and it's really stirring to see it played out practically in real time. I have seen some incredibly brutal videos shot on cell phone cameras, stuff considered much too graphic for American television. Overall, however, the mainstream media look like fools, painfully ignorant of what's really going on. In particular, both CNN and Fox News have never looked more irrelevant or uncaring. While people were being killed in the streets, Wolf Blitzer led off with the latest in the Palin/Letterman tiff. Fox News anchors complained (on air!) that Iranian names were too long and had too many vowels. A couple of notable exceptions: the NY Times, which has been outstanding in its coverage; and the BBC, which has actually stood behind the protesters.

History is being made on the other side of the world. Stay in touch with it, read, send emails, share it with your family and friends. The hunger for freedom -- and all that comes with satisfying that hunger -- is being played out in living (and dying) color.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We're Smarter Now

Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times has a little anecdotal evidence that Canadian-style health care in the US won't be such a bad thing. Money quote:
But the bottom line is that America’s health care system spends nearly twice as much per person as Canada’s (building the wealth of hospital tycoons like [former hospital company CEO] Mr. [Rick] Scott). Yet our infant mortality rate is 40 percent higher than Canada’s, and American mothers are 57 percent more likely to die in childbirth than Canadian ones.
Recently, my son Eli had to be taken to the emergency room because he'd stuck a pea up his nose and couldn't get it out. Not a big deal, but Eli wouldn't let the doctors or nurses touch him. So the doctor walked Lisa through getting it out by blowing hard into his mouth and dislodging the pea, and then she snatched the offending legume with a small tweezer (a mini-version of the way Ah-nold did it in Total Recall [about 1:12 in]). The bill was several hundred dollars, and they basically did nothing except process his intake.

Don't be Hatin'

Have you seen this video from Max Blumenthal yet? He and a partner strolled the streets of Jerusalem on the night before Obama's speech in Cairo. These people are mostly American Jews living in Israel, or Israeli Jews with American roots.

It's pretty damned embarrassing for the Jews that we gave birth to children (and I use that term in the figurative sense) like these. I assumed that we'd see people like that in the States coming out of KKK rallies and watching Jerry Springer.

In particular, I love the girl who claims that Obama is a Muslim and not an American citizen (and she "knows her shit" because she's a poli sci major). When she's asked who Benjamin Netanyahu is, she draws a blank (!?) and calls him "Benjamin Yahoo?" Classic!

I understand why Huffpost pulled this video from its website. It does nothing to advance dialogue, nothing but show that stupid people come in all stripes, in all religions, and in all countries. It's just shameful.

Glenn! Glenn! Glenn!

In warning that the Holocaust Memorial shooting is just the tip of the iceberg, Glenn Beck is stirring the pot, watching it boil, and laughing all the way to the bank. Since he moved over to Fox News from CNN, Beck has done a hard right turn and is hatching all sorts of crazy right-wing ideas and hosting various nutjobs on his show. Crooks and Liars does a detailed piece about it here.

Reading the piece and watching the video got me thinking: other than being less interesting and entertaining, what makes Beck's show any different from the hood-wearing KKK-hosting, chair-throwing circus acts that were regularly featured on Geraldo, Morton Downey, Jr., and Jerry Springer in past decades?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yes, I'm Parsing Words

Via TPM and Fox News, we get a glimpse of what kind of email that they are getting. Shep Smith is one of the more engaging, likeable, pragmatic personalities on Fox. He is talking about the shooting today of a black security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. The guard has since died, and the shooter, an alleged white supremacist, is in critical condition.

I wonder when people will start taking seriously the idea that we have to be concerned about right-wing terrorism in this country?

UPDATE: However, what gets me is what Smith himself says about some of the people who send him emails. He uses the phrase, "hate, not based in fact." I know I'm parsing and getting a little picky here, but as a man of letters, it's what I do. Since when is fact-based hate more palatable than fact-free hate? So, if some guy finds some kernel of truth about the president that he doesn't like, he can use that as justification to hate all blacks, all Democrats, all non-white, non-Christians?

The Worst "Easy" Decision Ever Made

I put easy in quotes because of course it's never truly easy to terminate a pregnancy. But sometimes it's necessary, even for so-called "pro-lifers." Andrew Sullivan has been publishing emails from readers who are sharing their stories about late-term abortion in the wake of the George Tiller murder.

My story is not that compelling. Back in late 1997, I was engaged to a girl who eventually became my first wife. One weekend we got a little tipsy and had unprotected sex and she wound up pregnant. I'll never forget the look on her face when she told me: it was as though she had been given a death sentence. Since we were already engaged, I floated the idea of keeping it. But she was not ready to become a mother (I wasn't ready for fatherhood either, but I thought I was) and abortion was her only option. Being pro-choice, I completely supported her decision. Her sister took her and she had the procedure done.

Our physical relationship never recovered from that; I could have been wearing six condoms with her on the pill, and she was still afraid of getting pregnant again. We married but split up after six long years.

That pregnancy, had it resulted in a birth, would have produced a child that would be 21 years old this year. I don't regret what my ex did, but I sometimes think about what it would be like to have a grown child at my age. When I see the faces of Lisa and my sons fade because they never would have been in my life, that thought ends.

Obama is so right on: abortions should stay legal, but we should spare no effort to reduce their occurrence. And the best way to do that is through education and a firm grasp of the reality of human sexual behavior.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cool Music Video

Hat tip Andrew Sullivan:

Never heard of the band Friendly Fires, from England. But their video is very cool. Check it out.

Friendly Fires 'Skeleton Boy' by Clemens Habicht from Nexus Productions on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tell Your Friends

A reader and old friend writes:

Eric, you are now in my top three must-read-each-day blogs. I'm enjoying seeing life from your perspective. Looking back, one of the greatest gifts [being in the high school choir] gave me was to be in close contact with people of diverse backgrounds. That experience helped to form my political, philosophical and theological views. And the music was good too.

I left out the last bit he wrote, which you can see in comments if you go onto the blog site itself. And I wish that were true!

If you're reading this casually and like what you read, whether or not you agree, do share this with people you know. I never intended for this to be a public journal, but a means to dialogue. I get a response now and then, but I desire more. MORE!

View From the Christianist Cocoon

On my Facebook page this morning, a "status update" from an old high school friend, a Mormon Republican living in Wyoming:

"[I] didn't know we were one of the largest Muslim countries in the World."
I have discussed politics with this friend in the past and he appears reasonable and open-minded enough, for a Republican. And remembering the comment President Obama actually made earlier this week, which was "If you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," I actually took it as a statement that my friend was perhaps getting Obama's message of the unity of all Americans and that America is not alien to Islam.

And maybe he has; he hasn't written anything more about it. (Incidentally, Obama was wrong that we would be one of the largest Muslim countries. A reader of Andrew Sullivan pointed out that we'd be something like the 35th largest Muslim country based on our population of Muslims.)

But other friends of his have. One wrote:
We are a Christian nation and will always be so - just because BHO says we are not does not make it so, but many people will simply buy into what he's saying and what the media promotes, and then go along with that agenda. Where is the outrage? Where is the definitive action that will shut this guy down? We're losing our country...
If we are losing our country, it is because of this type of thinking. I shot back quickly:
I am a Jew, and have lived here all my life. My wife and my children are all Jews. Are you saying that as Jews we are just guests here? That this country only belongs to Christians? I don't think that's what you're saying. So it isnt just BHO saying it -- I'M SAYING IT. We are Americans, and this country belongs to ALL faiths, and to NO faith.
This person reminded me who she was, that she sat next to me at high school graduation (in hindsight, how wonderful it is that I'd forgotten all about her). Her response blew me away:
I totally disagree... We were founded on Christian principles - other ethnicities, religions, and beliefs certainly co-exist here, but we cannot compromise what our founding fathers intended and clearly spelled out. We are a diverse nation, but we must have overarching policies in place one way or the other.
My italics. This one Christianist is convinced that I and my entire family, who date back to the 18th and 19th centuries here in America, not to mention all other faiths, are afforded the ability to exist in American by the grace of white Christians, not because all human beings are created equal by God and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness regardless of our social or cultural differences.

Not only that, but our founding fathers (all of whom were white and many of whom were slave owners) always intended for our laws and social mores to be based in "scripture." The entirety of American diversity, therefore, is conditioned on those who are not white and/or not Christian feeling somehow grateful and indebted to white Christians that we can live here, and that we recognize and defer to white, Christian supremacy as the giver of American freedom. Underlying this, mind you, is the far more sinister idea that it can somehow be taken away from us if they so choose.

If you know someone like this woman, go tell them to shove it up their ass the next time they mouth off about our "Christian nation."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another Flippin' Moron

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, on how the President should handle his "date nights" with Michelle.

This, from the man whose last name was co-opted in 2003 by sex columnist and liberal commentator Dan Savage to describe a rather disgusting by-product of anal sex.

Abortion in a Nutshell

In the wake of the George Tiller murder, Andrew Sullivan has been posting emails he's received from women and men who have contemplated and/or gone ahead with late term abortions. I must say that so many of them are so compelling and heart-wrenching, I am not surprised to read that Sullivan's own views on the practice of later-term abortions are beginning to morph.

Now he posts a short but sweet reader email that goes right to the heart of the matter for me. Money quote:
Just as gays coming out and being known destigmatizes you and them, getting these abortion stories out takes away the cartoon quality of the whole abortion debate. There just is very little black and white in the world and loads of gray.
I spent nearly eight years in an organization of men who were dedicated to the idea that there was only black and white when it came to men and their lives. Midway through that experience, I learned that black-and-white had its place within the decision processes of men, but that it was a coping mechanism within a world that was so totally gray it was frequently overwhelming.

Chump Change

So one blogger is already speculating as to which Republican potential candidate would get the nom for president in 2012.

To me this is like trying to figure out which crow in my backyard is going to get the most breadcrumbs that I threw out there.

Now, I'm not equating votes with crumbs, mind you; I'm simply stating that since only about 21% of Americans self-identify as Republicans these days, trying to figure out which candidate will get the nod is one hell of an empty exercise.

Pundit vs. Petraeus

Andrew McCarthy at The National Review really is a flippin' moron. Yesterday he wrote a piece on his blog suggesting that General David Petraeus's analysis of the US's violation of Geneva regarding detainee abuse was "vapid."

Here's the text of an email I sent him in response. No word yet from him in return.

I'll tell you what's tiresome, Mr. McCarthy: the sanctimony of bloviators like yourself who proclaim to know more about international law than the most respected officer we have in our military. This is someone who a year ago was the unconditional hero of the very Bush administration before which you no doubt genuflected on a daily basis since 9/11.

General Petraeus has a PhD in International Relations from Princeton. He taught International Relations at West Point. He literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency. Your contention he has anything less than a stellar intellect in the area of whether or not the US violated Geneva reveals the shallowness of your own intellect.

But keep on keepin' on, Mr. McCarthy. I hope every Republican pays close attention to what you write. You will no doubt lead them right into the abyss of political oblivion. I couldn't be happier.

Newt Thinks You're a Flippin' Moron

John Schwenkler at The American Conservative rips Newt a new one.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another Proud Dad Moment

Last year, I posted about my beautiful older son, Max, who had performed with his band, Golden Dragon, at the Hard Rock Cafe in the finals of the 2008 RockSTAR Battle of the Bands. His band didn't win, but they did a great job.

This year, Max is in a new band, Loud in the Library, and once again they performed at the Battle of the Bands, held at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip. Video here, although Max isn't very visible behind the drum kit. They had actually written their own song this year, called "We Really Like to Rock." Lyrics:

We really like to rock, we really like to roll!
We really like it loud, we're out of control!
We play after school because we think it's cool!
We play our guitars because we're rock stars!

The House of Blues show was the first of two. At each of these shows, there are 36 bands playing from different schools in the LA Unified School District. Six bands would be selected from each week to perform at the final showcase at Universal CityWalk's Hard Rock Cafe. This year there is no final competition.

There were four bands submitted from Max's school, Cowan Avenue Elementary, led by the fantastic Mark Miller. Just as last year, three of the four bands from Cowan were selected.

Below is the "unofficial" band portait. "Unofficial" because the band's only girl, the keyboard player, was away on vacation. The official portrait will take place at the Hard Rock.

Left to right: Luke (2nd grade), bass; Raymond Anderson, Jr. (1st grade), guitar; Neil O'Laughlin (1st grade), vocals; Max Potruch (1st grade), drums; Nick Scollan (2nd grade), lead guitar; Ramzy Latif (2nd grade), guitar.

Monday, June 1, 2009