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Bush White House Guided Military to Develop Nuclear Strike Plans Against Rogue States, FAS Finds

| Mon Nov. 5, 2007 10:30 AM EST

The Federation of American Scientists' director of the nuclear information project Hans Kristensen reports that he has gotten ahold of a surprising document that shows the Bush White House guided the US military to change the US nuclear posture in 2002 to develop nuclear strike plans against rogue states, including North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

"Everybody got so afraid of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorists and the combination of the two that White House guidance ordered the military to prepare nuclear strike plans against them," Kristensen tells me in a phone interview Monday. "This particular document is the main surprise here. It is a briefing that that US strategic command held sometime in 2002 which is about national nuclear war plans that went into effect in March 2003. Since then, there has been only upgrade of the plan."

Kristensen says the document he got hold of is a compilation of slides, 126 pages. "They only released 23 of those, and most of that is heavily redacted," Kristensen says. "But one thing they surprisingly let through is the identification of new strike plans against rogue states. And this is a surprise. ... This shows nuclear strike planning rose all the way to the top, the national strategic war plan, a new development."

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Crazy Like a Mother

| Mon Nov. 5, 2007 9:14 AM EST

Now, the Nebraska teacher who was having sex with her sixth-grader has cost herself prison and him the good life in America. Turns out he's an illegal immigrant from Mexico and, having fled with him there, he's now stuck. What's love got to do with it? Everything. Maybe women should do some re-thinking about their school girl notions of love and romance and how entitled to them they are. Maybe we should do that before we cross the line into child abuse and violence. Like Nowak, I don't have much sympathy for Peterson, however much in love she thinks she is, however well she treated him. She's turned this child from a munchkin who should be playing X Box too much into a smooth operator. She's his "Baby Gurl" and -- check this -- he defends their relationship as "[not just] about the sex but that it was pretty good."

"Pretty good"? That's how he should be rating the latest Simpson's episode, not sex. What little benefit of the doubt I had for her, sure she believed herself in love and wasn't a habitual abuser, evaporated. Perspective restored. The great sex guru Dan Savage frequently reminds the older partner in a sexual relationship to treat the younger one like a campsite -- left better than when found. There's simply no way for an adult to accomplish that with a sixth grader.

Fred Thompson's Surprising Social Moderation

| Sun Nov. 4, 2007 6:27 PM EST

Fred Thompson had this to say on Meet the Press today, via Marc Ambinder:

MR. RUSSERT: This is the 2004 Republican Party platform, and here it is: "We say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution"... Could you run as a candidate on that platform, promising a human life amendment banning all abortions?
MR. THOMPSON: No... No. I have always—and that's been my position the entire time I've been in politics. I thought Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. I think this platform originally came out as a response to particularly Roe v. Wade because of that. Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That's what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government is, is, is—serves us very, very well. I think that's true of abortion. I think Roe v. Wade hopefully one day will be overturned, and we can go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days. But...
MR. RUSSERT: Each state would make their own abortion laws.
MR. THOMPSON: Yeah.

Bravo for not pandering, Mr. Thompson, though you've made your life just a little bit harder. Also, this is tricky issue on which to apply the old federalism argument. If you believe life begins at conception, it's hard to argue that states ought to make their own laws. Life ought to be protected everywhere. If you believe women have a fundamental right to control their own bodies, then you believe that right ought to be protected everywhere. This isn't like school vouchers or gun laws. Inalienable rights are in question.

Anyway, I also liked this from MSNBC's First Read:

We noticed more than 30 "umms" from Thompson before losing count and at least nine throat clearings -- often right before answering a difficult question.

Yeah, he's not the slickest guy in the world.

Lisa Nowak: Separating the Women from the Girls

| Sat Nov. 3, 2007 12:05 PM EDT

Lisa Nowak, the diaper-wearing astronaut who went whacko over a man, is probably going to get away with stalking, assault, attempted kidnapping (to God's know what end) and, setting feminism back a thousand years.

A judge has thrown out everything but the supposed bats in Lisa Nowak's belfry. The evidence obtained from her car (including diapers, allegedly both used and unused): gone. Her statements to the police: gone. Her electronic ankle monitor: gone. Hell, it wasn't even me that Nowak stalked cross country and pepper-sprayed but I'd like to know where she is at all times; what if I'd accidentally scored some killer shoes on sale that she'd been eying? Fire alarms should accompany her every movement. This matters because Nowak's attorneys "in August filed a notice of intent to rely on an insanity defense, saying in court documents her diagnoses include a litany of more than a dozen psychiatric disorders."

How novel, women just can't control their emotions and shouldn't be held accountable. She was in love! I guess we should be grateful she isn't going with the PMS defense. "More than a dozen psychiatric disorders" and NASA never noticed? Females like Nowak hurt women everywhere with this kind of sorry-ass, female jealousy and emotional collapse. It's not bad enough that she was going to put a beat down on another human over a man, now she's going to make every woman in a high stress environment wonder if those around her are watching to see if she'll buckle and go haywire on the corporate retreat, let alone the flight deck.

The Conjugal Classroom

| Sat Nov. 3, 2007 11:11 AM EDT

The latest female teacher caught boffing her young male student got busted in Mexico. Even women-haters take the weekend off, but you can bet that come Monday, the right wing blogosphere will be afire 'proving' that feminism = female monsters and that female criminals benefit from a double standard in public reaction and come sentence time.

These are crimes, to be sure, whatever the perp's gender but there's no arguing that the grown woman-paperboy thing is qualitatively different from the football coach abusing youngsters in his care. According to William Saletan at Slate, both should be punished but female abusers are rightfully punished less severely and regarded with less animus:

Move over, Mrs. Robinson. The new public enemy is the bespectacled babe who teaches our kids math in the classroom and sex in the parking lot. Dozens of female teachers have been caught with male students in recent years, and the airwaves are full of outrage that we're letting them off the hook. On cable news, phrases like "double standard" and "slap on the wrist" are poured like pious gravy over photos of the pedagogue-pedophile-pet of the month. "Why is it when a man rapes a little girl, he goes to jail," CNN's Nancy Grace complains, "but when a woman rapes a boy, she had a breakdown?"
I hate to change the subject from sex back to math, but this frenzy—I'm trying hard not to call it hysteria—reeks of overexcitement. Sex offenses by women aren't increasing. Female offenders are going to jail. And while their sentences are, on average, shorter than sentences given to male offenders, the main reason is that their crimes are objectively less vile. By ignoring this difference, we're replacing the old double standard with a new one.

The data are startling; women who having sex with young boys are wrong and deserve punishment, just not as much as the average, and far more numerous, male abuser. Now if we could just figure out why a love of children can lead to sex and how to stop it.

The Chutzpah of Bernard Lewis

| Fri Nov. 2, 2007 10:20 PM EDT

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A small group of Middle East studies academics, led by Bernard Lewis, have formed a new professional group, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, according to InsideHigherEd. Their stated reasons for establishing the group are "the increasing politicization of these fields, and the certainty that a corrupt understanding of them is a danger to the academy as well as the future of the young people it purports to educate." Funny, that, because Lewis, from his perch at Princeton, is probably the country's greatest practitioner of Mideast studies in the service of politics. A few of Lewis' greatest hits:

  • Participated in a pre-9/11 "study of ancient empires, sponsored by [Donald] Rumsfeld's office, to understand how they maintained their dominance," according to the Times.
  • Became one of the earliest and most public proponents of war with Iraq soon after 9/11, writing op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, including "A War of Resolve" and "Time for Toppling."
  • In a series of personal meetings after 9/11, helped disabuse Dick Cheney of "his former skepticism about the potential for democracy in the Middle East," according to Time.
  • Earlier this year, received standing ovation after defending the Christian crusades in his speech accepting the Irving Kristol Award at the American Enterprise Institute.

The new association rounds out its apolitical "Academic Council" with U.S. News columnist Fouad Ajami, National Review writer Victor Davis Hanson, and former Secretary of State George Schultz.

—Justin Elliott

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Hindu American Foundation on the Defense About Lobbying Practices

| Fri Nov. 2, 2007 9:51 PM EDT

Last month, the New York Times published an article about how the Hindu American Foundation, a "human rights group whose purpose is to provide a voice for the 2 million strong Hindu American community," sees Jews as a "role model in activism." The article states that HAF "learned from the success of Jewish groups that it needed a full-time staff member to lobby Congress."

The HAF has shot back with an online statement accusing the NYT of skewering the "views expressed in an interview" with one of its member. The statement says that "as a non-profit organization, the Foundation does not lobby officials for any legislation, and our efforts are limited to educating legislators as to issues of importance for Hindu Americans."

The thing is, there's a thin line between "educating" and "lobbying." HAF's response probably has a lot to do with the fear of being accused of prohibited lobbying activities as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, but they proudly post press releases and photos about their "achievements" on Capitol Hill, like this Washington D.C. reception in September of this year —the fourth annual get-together of its kind during which they meet with senators and Congress members. In addition, they have a D.C. office to bring a "consistent Hindu American voice to Capitol Hill, the White House and non-governmental organizations in Washington, D.C."

None of these actions are unlawful, and non-profits brief Congress members on special interest issues all the time. But HAF's statement makes it seem like they aren't vigorously inclined to be politically active in Washington when they are clearly skirting the line between lobbying...and well, lobbying.

—Neha Inamdar

The Players Behind Anti-Muslim Pogrom Caught On Tape

| Fri Nov. 2, 2007 7:32 PM EDT

Last week, the Indian independent weekly newspaper Tehelka published the findings of their six-month long undercover investigation into the Gujarat 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom which left more than 2,000 people dead. Armed with spy cams, journalist Ashish Khetan captured incriminating evidence of the state's collusion.

The expose reveals how various government and political party affiliates were involved in planning the carnage. One attacker said that Muslims should not be allowed to breed, and recounted how he ripped open the stomach of a woman nine months pregnant and pulled her fetus out, and then threw it in the fire.

The state's complicity is not new news. In 2002, the Human Rights Watch published a 68 page report pointing to the state's involvement and in 2005, the U.S. State Department revoked Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi's visa to the U.S. for his involvement. But the importance of this expose is that this time, it was all caught on tape.

At first, the expose elicited mud slinging that had little to do with the actual evidence of state complicity. Modi's party, the BJP, claimed that the expose is a "political stunt" and it's "confident" that it will still win the elections. Others charged that it was a "political conspiracy to defame the Hindus." But long time politician and Railways Minister Lalu Prashad Yadav has demanded the immediate arrest of Modi, while the Concerned Citizens of Gujarat, a civil society organization in Gujarat, protested yesterday, urging citizens to depose Modi's government and demanded a re-broadcast of the Tehelka expose since it has been banned in most of Gujarat. Let us hope that state officials do not escape justice.

—Neha Inamdar

Breaking: Schumer and Feinstein to Support Mukasey's Nomination

| Fri Nov. 2, 2007 5:52 PM EDT

No sooner had Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy said he'd oppose Michael Mukasey's nomination when Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein announced they'd support him. Yesterday, David posed the question of whether the Dems would unite to torpedo Mukasey's nomination, in light of his views on executive power and refusal to call waterboarding torture, or whether they'd wimp out. Looks like we have our answer.

Heavy Rotation: Calvin Harris - I Created Disco

| Fri Nov. 2, 2007 5:47 PM EDT

mojo-cover-calvinharris.jpgWith my rep around here as a glowstick-waving techno-bunny, I try to restrict my postings about dance music (really!), so the Riff doesn't turn into, you know, XLR8R's Dubstep Blog. But every once in a while an electronic full-length comes along that sticks in my head and seems like a candidate for mass crossover success, and right now that CD is the fantastic debut from Calvin Harris.

Another Scottish wunderkind, his clearest antecedent in the realm of solo Scot electro producers is, of course, the brilliant Mylo, and their styles do have some similarities, especially a kind of cheeky take on a certain decade between the '70s and the '90s. But while Mylo often seems to veer off into hypnotic, dreamy chill-out sounds (and doesn't sing), Harris is all about getting down and dirty on the dance floor, and strutting his stuff with winking, goofy vocals. Check out "Vegas," in which he insists, in a kind of Zen koan of partying, "I've got my car, and my ride, and my wheels… I've got my drugs, and my stuff, and my pills":

Just when it seems like the funky bassline is all we get, an unexpected chord pattern swoops in over the top, giving the track a strange edge of uncertainty.