It's been well-documented that James Dobson hates most of the Republican field, but he realllly hates Rudy Giuliani. According to Salon's Michael Scherer:

A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination.
The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives...
"The conclusion was that if there is a pro-abortion nominee they will consider working with a third party," said the person, who spoke to Salon on the condition of anonymity. The private meeting was not a part of the official CNP schedule, which is itself a closely held secret. "Dobson came in just for this meeting," the person said.

I wonder if this is just another form of pressure — that is to say, perhaps the Christian right is letting it be known in the press that they will consider supporting a third party if Giuliani wins the nomination as a way of pressuring Giuliani into moving his views on gays and abortion closer to theirs.

If you think that theory presumes too much organization and discipline on the part of the evangelical community, you obviously haven't read our cover package on the Christian right.

Hey, here's a shocker — there's no accountability in the Bush Administration.

Rudy Giuliani and Those Horrible Phone Calls

If you're a regular user of the internets, you've probably seen the video of Rudy Giuliani awkwardly interrupting a speech to the NRA in order to take a phone call from his wife Judith.

Turns out, Rudy's made quite a habit of this behavior. According to John Fund at the Wall Street Journal, Rudy's own staffers estimate the candidate has taken phone calls from his wife "more than 40 times in the middle of speeches, conferences and presentations to large donors." And it's pissing people off. Witness:

Consider a spring incident in Oklahoma City. Mr. Giuliani spoke twice at the Oklahoma History Center, first at a small private roundtable for $2,300 donors and then to 150 people who donated $500 apiece. Ten minutes into the roundtable, Mr. Giuliani's phone rang. He left the room to take the call, apparently from Mrs. Giuliani, and never returned. The snubbed donors received no explanation. "The people there viewed it as disrespectful and cheesy," says Pat McGuigan, a local newspaper editor who was asked by the Giuliani campaign to moderate the roundtable.
An hour or so later, Mr. Giuliani was speaking to the bigger group of donors when his phone rang again. While he spoke with his wife, he invited her to say hello to the assembled crowd...
I've been told of many other incidents, from a California fund-raiser to a Florida speech to a gathering with top donors at Bear Stearns in New York. At the Bear Stearns meeting, Mr. Giuliani took a call from his wife and then noting the strained faces of his supporters, he sheepishly tried a joke. "I've been married three times," he explained. "I can't afford to lose another one. I'm sure you understand."

Rudy's bizarre behavior just gives the media more opportunities to bring up the "Queen Bitch" meme about his wife. Consider this from Fund's closing paragraphs: "Staffers have been fired, advisers shut out of meetings, schedules changed based on [Judith Giuliani's] whim. But it was her idea for Mr. Giuliani to suggest on national TV that he might let her attend cabinet meetings... The staff remains "terrified" of her, according to a former staffer. "Mollifying Judith is at the top of the to-do list for far too many people on the campaign," one person close to Mr. Giuliani told me."

So what's the deal? Is Rudy really so devoted to his wife that he can't resist taking her phone call even at the most inappropriate of times? Or does he think this staged tenderness humanizes him? Or is he as afraid of his wife as his staffers are? Whatever the explanation, I certainly hope this trend continues. I'd love to see Rudy interrupt a nationally televised debate by taking a phone call from his wife. Or, heaven forbid, the oath of office itself.

Oh, and PS — Rudy's explanation for all this? What else, 9/11.

Race War, Schmace War: Racial Porn is the Real Problem

My good buddy, and one of the smartest race-thinkers we have, the LA Times' Gregory Rodriguez has a very good question for America: "Why is everyone so anxious to elevate Latino-black violence to historic levels?" (Violent crime, generally, is down there due to police innovations like asking locals to help instead of only asking them to assume the position.)

As he wrote in his latest column, "A new study by three UC Irvine criminologists has concluded that Los Angeles is not on the brink of a major interracial crime wave. Surprised? That's understandable. Because for the last several years, the media have been increasingly fixated on the specter of black-versus-brown violence."

Sadly, violence remains intra-communal. It aint even close. Though Gregory's analysis is great, as usual, I think there's a puzzle piece missing in figuring out why everyone's primed for a good old-fashioned race war.

It's true that scaring readers sells newspapers and magazines. It's also true that whites like to believe that black-white relations are good (75% of white Angelenos think so, given how well our racial rivenings work out for them), while black-Hispanic (black-anybody) relations must be bad (46% think so). Funny, then, that 68% of blacks and 59% of Hispanics think the opposite. True, too, that white racial fatigue, well underway while Kunta Kinte was getting his toes chopped off, compels them to flip the script. "We're not the problem anymore. Look at how those people behave." Career criminals are always bored by their victims' complaints. Still, however real white fatigue may be, it's only a slice of the phenomenon.

People see what they want to see. In this racially ridiculous country, people want, need, to see 'the other' reduced to the characteristics assigned to them by their worst enemy. Blacks and browns are lazy, rapacious animals who could never handle freedom. Raping, clawing and murdering each other in the Super Dome post-Katrina. Grandmothers at 14. Welfare queens. Super predators. Sing good, though and boy can they box/dance/shoot hoops. All's right with the world when whites are socially constructed as beneficent, enlightened, long suffering. When white criminals are culturally understood as individuals, minority criminals: mascots. When there's lots of blacks and browns to feel superior to. And here's the bonus: jones-ing for minority crime 'proves' that our criminal justice system isn't racist. Just a sad fact of life.

We all do it.

Worldcom, Enron, Halliburton's no-bid Iraq contracts, Blackwater, insider trading, stolen elections, corporate kickbacks--we Negroes LOVE that stuff. Don't even get us started on how sexually kinky we believe whites to be. I'm guessing, Hispanics get off on white corruption, too (but I have no idea how Asians fit into this except as the 'model minority'). Even as we lose our jobs, pensions, and houses, wer'e crowing, we can't forward each other emails fast enough, because we have the threadbare, pathetic joy of seeing whites exposed as their 'true' selves: hypocrites who'd deal with the devil for a dollar, happily selling their own mothers out for a time share in the Hamptons. Selling out the nation? No problem if the price is right.

It's porn. Racial porn. And we all do it.

The Attack of the Brain-Eating Amoebas

Yet another reason to worry about rising global temperatures: Brain-eating amoebas are apparently thriving in warmer water in lakes and other popular swimming spots. The amoebas have killed a record six people nationwide this year, a trend that's expected to get worse as the world gets hotter. The amoebas swim up your nose and eat away at your brain until you die. Experts warn against performing somersaults in shallow water where the bugs hang out. Nose plug sales are expected to skyrocket...

Obama may want to pre-emptively strike Pakistan, but we're already well on our way.

From June to September Afghan and Pakistani civilians were killed during U.S.-led air strikes in record numbers. Afghan civilian casualties reached its climax in August, when 168 civilians died. Two-thirds of the deaths were attributed to "military operations conducted by international forces." And today it was reported that over 2,500 families have been displaced in southern Afghanistan due to the Taliban; of that, hundreds were forced to flee due to "intense aerial bombing by international forces."

Some have pointed out that there is a gruesome air war quietly going on in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Foreign Policy in Focus points out that some of these air strikes are conducted by unmanned aerial vehicles called MQ-1 Predators (which we fly over our south-west border, I might add). The missiles are guided from a base in Nevada. There has been a "five fold increase in the number of bombs dropped on Iraq during the first six months of 2007 over the same period in 2006," and more than 30 tons of that have been cluster bombs. More civilians, the writer suggests, are being killed by coalition forces than the Taliban.

Furthermore, 59,787 pounds of cluster bombs have rained upon Iraq since April 2003; the Air Force dropped 111,000 pounds of bombs over Iraq in 2006 over a span of 10, 519 "close air support missions." This figure does not include all the other types of weapons and munitions dropped over Iraq, as well as some Army, Marine and private security contractors' operations. Overall, an average of 75 to 100 airstrikes are carried out in the 2 countries everyday by the U.S.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission remarks how Coalition bombardments against civilians come "at a time when the government and people of Afghanistan expect...international forces to cooperate and assist them in ensuring security, rule of law and reconstruction of Afghanistan. But, regretfully, the people of Afghanistan have always been witnessing civilian casualties in their operations against terrorists, particularly during last year [2006]."

— Neha Inamdar

Blackwater's Troubles Deepening

Blackwater USA's involvement in the shooting deaths of up to 11 Iraqi civilians on September 16 is metastasizing into the the largest scandal the company has yet faced regarding its conduct in Iraq. Numerous investigations are underway, both here and in Baghdad. There is growing speculation that, if the political pressure in Washington continues to build (a big if, given the legion of DC lobbyists the company employs to represent its interests), Blackwater's Iraq contract could be in jeopardy.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday at which Blackwater founder Erik Prince will make a rare public appearance. In the run-up to the hearing, Waxman's committee has been trying, without success, to obtain relevant documents from Blackwater. The company's reluctance to cooperate has led to a stand-off between Congress and the State Department, whose contracts with Blackwater for the physical protection of its diplomats are at issue in this month's shootings in Baghdad.

According to a letter sent Tuesday from Waxman to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, "Blackwater has informed the committee that a State Department official directed Blackwater not to provide documents relevant to the committee's investigation into the company's activities in Iraq without prior written approval of the State Department." The State Department issued a statement later the same day, claiming there had been a "misunderstanding" and that all available documentation requested by Waxman's committee "has been or is in the process of being provided."

Perhaps, but according to a congressional staffer I spoke with this morning, Waxman's committee has yet to receive any documentation from the State Department or Blackwater.

Meanwhile, new details have emerged about the September 16 shootings, suggesting that at least one Blackwater operator refused to cease fire when told to do so. He allegedly stopped firing only after another member of the security team leveled a weapon in his direction. A narrative of the incident as reported in this morning's New York Times:

The episode began around 11:50 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16. Diplomats with the United States Agency for International Development were meeting in a guarded compound about a mile northwest of Nisour Square, where the shooting would later take place.
A bomb exploded on the median of a road a few hundred yards away from the meeting, causing no injuries to the Americans, but prompting a fateful decision to evacuate. One American official who knew about the meeting cast doubt on the decision to move the diplomats out of a secure compound.
"It raises the first question of why didn't they just stay in place, since they are safe in the compound," the official said. "Usually the concept would be, if an I.E.D. detonates in the street, you would wait 15 to 30 minutes, until things calmed down," he said, using the abbreviation for improvised explosive device.
But instead of waiting, a Blackwater convoy began carrying the diplomats south, toward the Green Zone. Because their route would pass through Nisour Square, another convoy drove there to block traffic and ensure that the diplomats would be able to pass.
At least four sport utility vehicles stopped in lanes of traffic that were entering the square from the south and west. Some of the guards got out of their vehicles and took positions on the street, according to the official familiar with the report on the American investigation.
At 12:08 p.m., at least one guard began to fire in the direction of a car, killing its driver. A traffic policeman said he walked toward the car, but more shots were fired, killing a woman holding an infant sitting in the passenger seat.
There are three versions of why the shooting started. The Blackwater guards have told investigators that they believed that they were being fired on, the official familiar with the report said. A preliminary Iraqi investigation has concluded that there was no enemy fire, but some Iraqi witnesses have said that Iraqi commandos in nearby guard towers may have been shooting as well, possibly leading Blackwater guards to believe that militants were firing at them.
After the family was shot, a type of grenade or flare was fired into the car, setting it ablaze, according to some accounts. Other Iraqis were also killed as the shooting continued. Iraqi officials have given several death counts, ranging from 8 to 20, with perhaps several dozen wounded. American officials have said that no Americans were hurt.
At some point during the shooting, one or more Blackwater guards called for a cease-fire, according to the American official.
The word cease-fire "was supposedly called out several times," the official said. "They had an on-site difference of opinion," he said.
In the end, a Blackwater guard "got on another one about the situation and supposedly pointed a weapon," the official said.

In a separate article, the Times also reports that Blackwater operators may be a lot quicker to the trigger than their counterparts from other private security firms. The State Department revealed yesterday that Blackwater contractors have fired their weapons 56 times so far this year while escorting diplomats on 1,873 convoy runs. This may seem like a relatively low number. But compare it with that of Blackwater's biggest competitor, DynCorp International. In all of 2006, DynCorp operators fired their weapons just 10 times during about 1,500 convoy runs—this at a time before the much heralded 'surge' supposedly reduced the level of violence in Baghdad.

Does Scalia Think Clarence Thomas is a Nutter?

In his new book on the Supreme Court, The Nine, Jeffrey Toobin apparently claims that Justice Antonin Scalia called his conservative colleague a "nut" in a public speech. While we can't really blame Scalia if he did, not everyone agrees with Toobin's analysis. Read more about it here.

What if They Gave a Debate and Nobody Showed? Again.

Well, somebody showed at historically black Morgan State University in Baltimore last night for the All-American Presidential Forum, just no one likely to be our next president and, man, is the Afro-sphere hacked off about it. My inbox was humming like a tea kettle.

Touted as "the first time that a panel comprised of journalists of color is represented in primetime," focused on 'minority' issues like unemployment and the criminal justice system, and moderated by Tavis Smiley on PBS, you'll understand why the GOP's A-Team all misplaced their invitations. Introducing the world's first invisible perp walk, Rudolph W. Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson found themselves silently indicted as spotlights glared on their empty lecturns all night. (If you can name the ones who showed, C-SPAN must indeed be your dearest friend. And why, oh why, was the Ayatollah Alan Keyes allowed to attend, let alone mic'd for sound? I thought the election for the President of Heaven wasn't til after the Rapture.)

Unsurprisingly, the GOPs usual-suspect mouthpieces made quick work of any notion that their homies were either too scared, too uninterested or too disgusted to show this time either. Having brushed past lame excuses about fundraising cycles and their astrologer's travel advisories, a few addressed the main issue: an auditorium full of hostile Negroes (or, seen another way, the candidates' embrace of an agenda designed to incarcerate every hostile Negro in the auditorium). Jim Geraghty wrote: "when asked about Republicans not showing up for this debate, Smiley responded, "When you reject every black invitation and every brown invitation you receive, is that a scheduling issue or is it a pattern?... I don't believe anybody should be elected president of the United States if they think along the way they can ignore people of color. That's just not the America we live in." Then, Geraghty noted, "When you pretty much accuse candidates of racism before they walk in the door, that doesn't make them more inclined to accept your invitation."

It also doesn't make your "accusers" anymore likely to vote for you. And note the disgraceful sleight of rhetorical hand: Smiley didn't "pretty much accuse" the candidates of anything except either disdaining or passing on the minority vote. However racist he may believe the GOP and/or its candidates to be, Smiley merely pointed out that minority votes have to be both valued and earned or the GOP should formally renounce its renunciation of the Southern Strategy.

Still, you have to give Tancredo, whoever he is, the nod for having the vertebrae to shoot back that he couldn't "agree with th[e] race-baiting comments" of his fellow candidates, who did indeed pander with both hands and all day Sunday. I'm a little embarrassed for them. But since when is pandering new?

But. I started this entry because I, too, am sorta queasy with all these "If not 'A,' then B must be true" denunciations. Barack Obama skips Jena and Jesse Jackson, who endorsed him, accuses him of "acting white". Black Republicans are self-hating sell-outs doing The Man's bidding. Black women who criticize the community's misogyny have been brain washed by white feminists.

If playing "spot the Uncle Tom" has played itself out, perhaps "spot the racist" should, too. Condemning actions and policies as racist is one thing, but mandatory appearances at prescribed black (or most other) venues should not become a litmus test. I hate myself for it, but I had to give Bush his props for refusing to address the NAACP for so long. The organization's rhetoric regarding him had been far too intemperate for far too long (for instance, Willie Horton-ing him with the men who dragged James Byrd to death behind a pick up truck).

Landing at Ground Zero but doing a fly-by over Katrina's devastation? Racist.

Ignoring those who dog you unmercifully, let alone immaturely? Good time management.


Gary Condit Refuses to Go Quietly

Six years after the disappearance of Washington's second-most famous intern, Chandra Levy's former paramour and ex-congressman Gary Condit is back in the news. On Sept. 24, an Arizona judge ordered Condit to pay $43,000 in legal fees to the editor and publisher of the tiny Sonoran News for bringing a frivolous libel suit against the paper, which had no libel insurance. Condit has filed a host of similar suits against other publications that covered the Levy investigation, most of which have since been dropped.

Serial plaintiff Condit is also about to become a defendant. The Modesto Bee reports that his Baskin-Robbins franchise has flopped, and his former business partners are about to sue him over his role in the meltdown.