Blogs

Tucker Carlson On Dancing With the Stars

| Tue Aug. 15, 2006 11:49 AM EDT

Define "stars."

Can you do a grand jeté over a shark? Because I'd sure like to see Jerry Springer (who's also signed up for a turn on DWTS) try. (Though, in fairness, Springer is shelling out to defeat Ohio's Kenneth Blackwell, a cause for which we are perhaps willing to forgive all past and present assaults against taste.)

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Sean Hannity Sucks...?

| Mon Aug. 14, 2006 8:49 PM EDT

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Good guerrilla marketing. But will it change hearts and minds? Who cares?

Oh, and the reaction:

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Military recruiter wrongdoing and military criminal violations on the rise

| Mon Aug. 14, 2006 7:44 PM EDT

The Government Accountability Office announced today that allegations of wrongdoing by military recruiters increased by 50% in the period from 2004 to 2005, and that criminal violations such as falsifying documents and sexual harrassment more than doubled during the same period. (An educated guess says that sexual assault complaints significantly increased, also.) The Department of Defense has no oversight system, so it is impossible to know the full extent of these violations.

"Determined to find ways to succeed in a challenging recruiting environment, some recruiters reportedly have resorted to overly aggressive tactics, such as coercion and harassment," the report said. Unlike the Marine Corps, the Army, Navy and Air Force measure recruiter performance by the number of recruits who enlist and report to basic training, as opposed to the number who complete basic training.

Who Wants to Invade Iran?

| Mon Aug. 14, 2006 7:01 PM EDT

From the latest broadcast of Mother Jones Radio:

  • Who wants to invade Iran? Joe Cirincione of the Center for American Progress says the neoconservatives want to, but he doesn't think they'll succeed: "I don't believe that the neocons for all their big bluster, for all their big lie techniques, are going to be able to do to us what they did in 2001 and 2003."

  • Suellen Miller says a simple, $150 device can save the lives of thousands of women around the world who are at risk from dying during childbirth. Miller explains the "life wrap," which looks like a wet suit, and tells us how it can save lives.
  • An ominous "dead zone" where aquatic life can't survive has appeared off the coast of Oregon again. Is global warming the cause? We talk to Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist from Oregon State University.
  • Who's making good political music these days? Music and politics organization Music for America is distributing podcasts of the "Top 50 Progressive Songs" We talk to MFA director Molly Moon Neitzel and Geologic of the Blue Scholars, a hip-hop group on the organization's Top 50 list.
  • Listen to the show here.

    Unmarrieds and Singles, Your Time is Coming

    | Mon Aug. 14, 2006 5:15 PM EDT

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    By which I mean National Unmarried and Single Americans Week (Sept. 17-23) is coming! So plan something. Go out. Or stay home. The week is an opportunity to join together (temporarily!) to, as this website puts it, "C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E the lives and contributions of unmarried and single Americans!" In any event, here, via ResourceShelf, are some "fast facts" from the U.S. Census about this segment of the population (which comprises about 90 million people, or 41 percent of all U.S. residents age 18 and older).

    Single Life
    54
    Percentage of unmarried and single Americans who are women.

    60
    Percentage of unmarried and single Americans who have never been married. Another 25 percent are divorced and 15 percent are widowed.

    14.9 million
    Number of unmarried and single Americans age 65 and older. These older Americans comprise 14 percent of all unmarried and single people.

    86
    Number of unmarried men age 18 and older for every 100 unmarried women in the United States.

    55 million
    Number of households maintained by unmarried men or women. These households comprise 49 percent of households nationwide.

    29.9 million
    Number of people who live alone. These persons comprise 26 percent of all households, up from 17 percent in 1970

    Parenting
    32
    Percentage of births in 2004 to unmarried women.

    12.9 million
    Number of single parents living with their children in 2005. Of these, 10.4 million are single mothers.

    40
    Percentage of opposite-sex, unmarried-partner households that include children.

    672,000
    Number of unmarried grandparents who were caregivers for their grandchildren in 2004. They comprised nearly 3-in-10 grandparents who were responsible for their grandchildren. (Source: American FactFinder)

    Unmarried Couples
    4.9 million

    Number of unmarried-partner households in 2005. These households consist of a householder living with someone of the opposite sex who was identified as their unmarried partner.

    Dating
    904

    The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2002. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed nearly 4,300 people and pulled in $489 million in revenues.

    Voters
    36
    Percentage of voters in the 2004 presidential election who were unmarried.

    Education
    82

    Percentage of unmarried people age 25 or older in 2004 who were high-school graduates.

    23
    Percentage of unmarried people age 25 or older with a bachelor's degree or more education.

    Lamont's Victory Signals the End of Triangulation?

    | Mon Aug. 14, 2006 3:09 PM EDT

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    MoveOn's Eli Pariser is in a mood to exult.


    [Ned] Lamont's victory...marks the beginning of the end for an old favorite of Washington insiders: the tactics of triangulation. Originally employed as a survival strategy by a Democratic president in the wake of 1994's Republican revolution, the policy of seizing the political middle ground no longer makes sense in an era when any attempt at bipartisanship is understood as a sign of Democratic weakness and exploited accordingly.

    Had triangulation worked, we'd be in a different moment. But for six long years, it hasn't. Even Sen. Hillary Clinton has seen the writing on the wall in recent weeks, criticizing the Bush team's Iraq fiasco by publicly confronting Donald Rumsfeld, calling on him to resign and demanding that troop withdrawals from Iraq begin soon.

    With triangulation passing, a new era of bolder, principle-driven politics can begin. Lamont's success should be the opening salvo in a 90-day campaign to establish the clear-cut differences between Democrats and Republicans. Most independent voters, like Democrats, want change, but many of them aren't sure yet whether Democratic candidates are capable of giving it to them. Now's the chance to seize that mantle. ...

    If the Democratic Party can emulate Lamont's principled progressivism, a durable national electoral majority and a government that embraces real people's concerns awaits. Americans want change as badly as they did in 1994. They want an end to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. They want a shift in national priorities that makes government their ally in dealing with soaring energy prices and increasingly inadequate and unaffordable health insurance. And, yes, they want their officeholders and candidates to hold the president accountable for his failures.

    Well, it's a bit of a leap from Lieberman's primary defeat to "a durable electoral majority and a government that embraces real people's concerns" (and the evidence for Hillary's conversion has to go beyond her kicking Rummy when he's already down, by which she risks nothing, and demanding troop withdrawals, which polls now show to be a mainstream position). But there's no doubt the nation wants change.

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    New Kid on the Blog: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

    | Mon Aug. 14, 2006 1:40 PM EDT

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    Talk about your blogfathers! Iranian President Ahmadinejad has taken to blogging. As relayed by the Guardian's Brian Whittaker (the site is down at this writing), the first (and so far only) entry is pretty ho-hum. (No "Wanker of the Day," no "Yglesias Award," no Bush-bashing, no "Cheers and Jeers," no "Why oh why can't we have a better...Council of Guardians?" -- at least not yet.)

    After my birth - the fourth one in the family," Ahmadinejad writes, "my family was under more pressures.

    My father had finished six grade of elementary school. He was a hard-bitten toiler blacksmith, a pious man who regularly participated in different religious programs. Even though never the dazzling look of the world was appealing to him, but the pressure of the life caused that he decided to migrate to Tehran when I was one year old. We chose to live in south central part of Tehran where is called Pamenar.

    He concludes, teasingly.

    I will continue this topic later on as it took long in the beginning. From now onwards, I will try to make it shorter and simpler. With hope in God, I intend to wholeheartedly complete my talk in future with allotted fifteen minutes.

    Whittaker is unmoved.

    All this underlines the fact that Ahmadinejad doesn't really get the point of blogging. A presidential blog is almost a contradiction in terms: blogs represent the voice of ordinary people, not politicians who are pretending to be ordinary people. And of course ordinary people who blog in Iran and other parts of the Middle East risk ending up in jail.

    I say give him time to, you know, find his voice.

    Terror Arrest Timing: White House Spins Lamont Victory at Expense of Our Safety

    | Sun Aug. 13, 2006 9:36 PM EDT

    The Tattered Coat has a great post on how the Bush administration forced the timing of the recent London terror plot arrests. Analyzing reporting done by NBC and others, TTC's Matt notes:

    This goes way beyond what we understood previously — that the Bush Administration knew about the arrests ahead of time, and timed a PR offensive against the Democrats around it.
    It turns out that it was the other way around: the Bush Administration orchestrated the timing of the arrests to coordinate them with the PR offensive, which attacked Democrats after Ned Lamont's victory in the Connecticut primary.
    For the GOP, the short-term political importance of getting the Lamont victory, and the developing sense that America had fully turned against the Iraq War, off the news was reason enough to disrupt an active terror investigation. The disruption hurt the legal case against the terrorists — it will be much harder to convict them without passports or airline tickets. The GOP was so insistent on the timing that they threatened to "render" the lead suspect if the British did not comply with their wishes.
    The Republicans, in other words, once again played politics with national security, and hurt anti-terrorism efforts as they did so.
    They cannot be trusted to protect us from the threat of terrorism because — to paraphrase The Downing Street Memo — they fix terror investigations around smear campaigns.

    And it's not just liberal bloggers who won't be fooled again. This morning I heard a commentator on the (delightfully) sleepy show CBS Sunday Morning (the one with all the suns) say pretty much the same thing. Lyndon Johnson once said he'd knew he'd lost the country when he lost Walter Cronkite. Watch any show where reporters or anchors or pundits are allowed to deviate from the teleprompter, and it's becoming increasingly clear Bush has lost us all. Well, except for Charles Krauthammer. But then he yells at rabbis.


    Memo to Lieberman: It's the Sanctimony, Stupid

    | Sun Aug. 13, 2006 2:23 PM EDT

    Lost in all the discussion over to what degree Ned Lamont's victory in the Connecticut Democratic primary does or does not indicate regarding

    1) public opinion on the war
    2) potential for a reprise of the Eugene McCarthy split in the Democratic Party
    3) anti-incumbent fervor
    4) Joementum

    is perhaps the real reason Lieberman lost. He's sanctimonious. And he's opportunistic about his sanctimony.

    Now I have no doubt that Lieberman is a religious man, who takes his faith seriously, and that his faith does inform his politics, making him more conservative than some in the DNC on some issues. But there's a difference between piety and sanctimony. As the editorial page of the New Hampshire Concord Monitor put it:

    To say that Lieberman lost merely because of his steadfast support for the war oversimplifies the case. Lieberman has a strong sense of morality that unfortunately can spill over into righteousness and sanctimony. That side came out when he harshly chastised President Clinton over his affair with an intern. It came out again in December when he issued this warning: "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander-in-chief for three more critical years, and in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."
    Of late, Lieberman's sanctimony has reared its ugly head in his statements that Lamont voters had handed a victory to terrorists, and his self-righteous persistence in staying in the race over the wishes of his constituents and his party. Lieberman may keep his political career alive by going further down the path of sanctimony. Indeed, pundits are already speculating that if he wins as an independent and keeps his committee seats he could find himself as a key Senate tiebreaker, forcing both parties to kiss his ring.

    Such an outcome would, no doubt, reinforce Lieberman's high opinion of himself. But I would argue that what Lieberman's primary loss might really augur is voter rejection of politicians who lecture us from on high, who wrap themselves in the flag and twist scripture, who are patronizing in their "trust us" statements, who offer no solutions other than their continued "leadership."

    That would be a Joementum we could all get behind.

    Is Al Qaeda Finished? No, Really

    | Sun Aug. 13, 2006 3:16 AM EDT

    James Fallows no doubt wishes his Atlantic piece (you can't read it here--subscription required) on why it's time to declare the war on terror over (because we won) had run, oh, just about any other time. But timing isn't everything, and Fallows--one of a vanishingly small number of big-name journalists who actually bother to go out and talk to people--impressively lays out what most people who follow Al Qaeda have been trying to say for some time (and are still saying in the wake of the London plot): Al Qaeda as the group that masterminded 9/11 hasn't existed since the war in Afghanistan, since its top operatives were killed or driven into hiding, since it lost the ability to freely communicate via cell phones or the Internet, to transfer money over international financial networks, etc. What exists now, as Peter Bergen's Mother Jones story on "The Wrong War" noted some time ago, is a loose confederation nominally inspired by the occasional Osama or al-Zawahiri tape, but mostly proceeding on the Environmental Liberation Front model (no overall comparison intended) of like-minded cells that claim affiliation with an ideological brand when it suits them. The problem is that thanks to current U.S. policy in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, that unstructured network is growing larger and stronger every day, even in spite of its own mistakes (such as killing large numbers of Muslim civilians). Which is why Fallows is right: It's time to stop. Not stop going after terrorists, which is what the Brits were doing in investigating bomb plotters, but stop the "war" (meaning what, exactly?) on "terror" (ditto), and move on to what might actually make the world more secure.