Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The New Faux Apology

I am not a big fan of pornography, contrary to the perception of most males, but I found this hilarious, showing the absurdities not just of racism, but I suppose even pornography itself. From the folks of, the masters of fake news. Warning: Not for the Weak of Mind or Those Without a Sense of Humor:

Use Of 'N-Word' May End Porn Star's Career

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Self-Congratuations, the FEMA Way

You would think an organization that has taken such harsh criticism after Hurricane Katrina would learn its lessons, try to correct them, and make sure, no matter what you do, when the next disaster happens (and if Al Gore is right, it is only a matter of time and will be more frequent in occurrence), for the love of all that is common sense, avoid this:

In FEMA's defense, they at least staged a realistic-looking news conference. And you must admit, as bad as it is, is it any worse than the sycophancy the American media (the real, so-called media) displayed and sunk itself to in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Strange Dreams

I do not normally post about my personal life, but I thought one of these days I probably should. No better time than the present. My pseudo-dilemma is that over the course of the last few weeks, I have been having strange dreams. I know from what I read in Psychology class that this is supposed to be some doorway into my subconscious, which is quite scary, because my subconscious is on the fritz.

Officially, I am not and have never been a superstitious person, so what I am about to write is only from my dreams.
It is not supposed to be any veiled representation of anything, at least not that I know of. Moreover, I do not usually remember my dreams. I typically forget them as soon as I wake up, and the ones I do remember often involve being chased, falling, or the seemlier ones with Salma Hayek or some choice fantasy (even we godless pinkos need our 72 virgins).

The first one I recall, the classic, is one where I was being frightened out of my wits, to which I was unable to respond verbally.
We have all had these dreams--nightmares, really. You try to scream, but of course you cannot. I was being chased by some force, one I still cannot remember (as aforementioned, I usually forget my dreams after I wake up). As it is, I finally awoke upon gathering the constitution to deliver a yell, which manifested itself into screaming myself awake. This is not a usual occurrence for me (I typically sleep like Dracula in his coffin), so I thought about why this must have taken place. There were no events in my life that I can think of when this happened (which was a couple of weeks ago), and I was not drinking or ingesting any substances of ill repute the evening before. I just chalked it off to one of those strange things that happens.

The second, most recent, and strangest of my dreams is the one I had yesterday morning.
After meeting my mother’s new beau the night before (my father died some years back), a meeting I thought quite cordial (seeing how it was the first time I met him), I went home and drank some red wine. I only drank one glass (as I do not really drink that much, maybe once a month anymore if I am fortunate) and went to bed.

While I was in bed, fast asleep, a vision of my mother’s house came to me, but this was not any version of my mother’s house. Somehow, someway, it was located (even though it was the same neighborhood she lives in) on the Soviet-Nazi border in June 1941. From what I gathered, my mother’s house was on the Soviet side, and stranger yet not one member of my family, myself included, or anyone I knew, was in the house or on the property. It was occupied by Red Army soldiers. Anyway, the Nazis attacked, initiating Operation Barbarossa on my mother’s back yard and house. They basically bombed the back yard to smithereens. The German Stukas really did a job on the garage, although the Soviets succeeded in shooting one of them down (and it was pretty vivid in the level of realism to watch a plane wreck into the ground and its pilots smashed like a coin on a railroad track).

Of course, before long, the Germans had the upper hand, and they were on the march, breaking into my mother’s house, and killing off the Ruskies one bullet and bomb at a time.
The Red Army was in the midst of losing the house, or what remained of it, when I finally woke up. I tried for the longest time to figure this one out. Admittedly, I am a World War Two buff, and the Great Patriotic War in particular, but since grad school my side hobbies have been colonized by work and research.

My assumption is that this must have been a product, in conjunction with the red wine, of my meeting my mother’s new boyfriend for the first time.
I do not consciously remember thinking he was anything like the Germans (which metaphorically would have been the comparison, since he would be the invader, I suppose), but I am not sure. I do not interpret or believe in interpreting dreams, because it is speculative (and these days, everything in my mind that is on the outside of the empirical world is deemed negatively [thanks to those self-hating closet queen messiahs parading themselves around their pulpits, with tax exemption, swearing up and down that we are all less than 6,000 years old]). On the other hand, I am interested in guessing what this means, even inferentially. Maybe I was thinking politically and ideologically, although my mother’s new boyfriend is not political (if he was, he almost certainly would have volunteered such views to someone that makes his living in the field).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Global Warming: Paying the Piper

It is a testament to any ideologue or dedicated apologist of a worldview to be able to deny what is happening, or make themselves believe it is something else. History is replete with such exhibitions, from the grain reports at the height of the famine during the Great Leap Forward to those denizens of The Weekly Standard and National Review that claim Iraq is a perfect demonstration effect of democracy in action.

Not to be outdone, contemporary negationists have found a new cause to embrace. The alleged non-existence of global warming. The problem with this proposition is that it flies in the face of what is occurring.

Notice the high correlation (over .90 covariation [with 1 being a perfect correlation]) between temperatures and CO2 emission rates. This is not mere opinion, or some fantasy novel. These are the warm hard facts.
According to deniers, this is a part of earth's "evolution" (at this point I am only giving time to those that actually admit the earth is getting warmer, not those members of the Flat Earth Society, or Congressman Bridges's office, who continue to cling to the illusion it is lie perpetrated by the Illuminati). They even cite the increases in temperatures back in the Middle Ages as a comparison to show that this is not a new or unique occurrence. However, what is not addressed is that while there was a warming period during the Middle Ages, it stabilized, becoming non-linear, and ultimately decreased over time. Moreover, it still was not as warm as it is now.

What does all of this mean? As you can see, the projections are not going to decrease or stabilize over time. In fact, it is going to continue to get warmer.

More ominous, CO2 emissions are going to continue to increase at a similar pace.

Naturally, there is still much debate as to the causes. There is no doubt that much of it is natural, either through volcanic eruptions, weather changes, but much of it is also of our own doing. Regardless of whether anyone wants to face it, drastic increases in fossil fuel usage, particularly the over-use of coal burning as a source of energy, and deforestation has had significant contribution to increases in both CO2 emissions and by causation our warming temperatures. This should not be a revelation. Here is the CO2 emission rates (parts per million, or ppm) from the ice ages to now. Again, notice the rapid increase in CO2 emission rates right at the time of the Industrial Revolution (i.e., the time when we started to contribute to global pollution).

These are the kind of phenomena that anti-environmentalists like John Stossel believes to be over-hyped or could be easily solved by Adam Smith's invisible hand. Unfortunately, it is not going to go away, with or without those that claim it is the product of a socialist conspiracy to take away their coal and regular gas.

This also comes off the recent CDC's semi-report on climate change before Congress. It is an open secret in DC that the Bush Administration is attempting politicize federal agencies on the issue, with the implicit (sometimes less so) understanding that scientists in those agencies are not to reveal the full problem, on the threat of losing their job. To illustrate the mendacity, CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding's report to the Senate over global warming was heavily edited and redacted by the Administration. Here is the kind of story you will not be hearing from those "liberal media" outlets on your radio stations anytime soon.

White House Cut Warming Impact Testimony

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer Tue Oct 23, 8:31 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The White House severely edited congressional testimony given Tuesday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the impact of climate change on health, removing specific scientific references to potential health risks, according to two sources familiar with the documents.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Atlanta-based CDC, the government's premier disease monitoring agency, told a Senate hearing that climate change "is anticipated to have a broad range of impacts on the health of Americans."

But her prepared testimony was devoted almost entirely to the CDC's preparation, with few details on what effects climate change could have on the spread of disease. Only during questioning did she describe some specific diseases that likely would be affected, again without elaboration.

Her testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had much less information on health risks than a much longer draft version Gerberding submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review in advance of her appearance.

"It was eviscerated," said a CDC official, familiar with both versions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the review process.

The official said that while it is customary for testimony to be changed in a White House review, these changes were particularly "heavy-handed," with the document cut from its original 14 pages to four. It was six pages as presented to the Senate committee.

The OMB had no comment on Gerberding's testimony. Gerberding could not be reached late Tuesday for comment.

"We generally don't speculate and comment on anything until it is the final product," OMB spokesman Sean Kevelighan said in reference to the draft testimony. He added that OMB reviews take into consideration "whether they ... line up well with the national priorities of the administration."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the committee chairman, in a statement Tuesday night said the Bush administration "should immediately release Dr. Gerberding's full, uncut statement, because the public has a right to know all the facts about the serious threats posed by global warming."

The Bush administration has been trying to defend itself for months from accusations that it has put political pressure on scientists to emphasize the uncertainties of global warming. Earlier this year a House committee heard testimony from climate scientists who complained the Bush administration had sought frequently to manage or influence their statements and public appearances.

The White House in the past has said it has only sought to provide a balanced view of the climate issue.

The CDC is part of the Health and Human Services Department and its congressional testimony, as is normal with all agencies, is routinely reviewed by OMB.

Copies of the original testimony already had been sent to a number of associated health groups representing states, county and city health agencies that the CDC routinely coordinates with, a CDC official said.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner sought to play down the White House changes. He called Gerberding's appearance before the Senate panel "very productive" and said she addressed the issues she wanted during her remarks and when questioned by the senators.

"What needed to be said as far we're concerned was said," said Skinner in a telephone interview from Atlanta. "She certainly communicated with the committee everything she felt was critical to help them appreciate and understand all the issues surrounding climate change and its potential impact on public health."

The deletions directed by the White House included details on how many people might be adversely affected because of increased warming and the scientific basis for some of the CDC's analysis on what kinds of diseases might be spread in a warmer climate and rising sea levels, according to one official who has seen the original version.

Gerberding seems to have tried to address some of those issues during questioning from senators.

Boxer produced a CDC chart listing the broad range of health problems that could emerge from a significant temperature increase and sea level rise

They include fatalities from heat stress and heart failure, increased injuries and deaths from severe weather such as hurricanes; more respiratory problems from drought-driven air pollution; an increase in waterborne diseases including cholera, and increases vector-borne diseases including malaria and hantavirus; and mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress.

"These are the potential things you can expect," replied Gerberding when asked about the items listed. "... In some of these areas its not a question of if, it's a question of who, what, how and when.";_ylt=Avpdftm8uWTbJLOh8cjJlt5h24cA

All of this is transpiring in the backdrop of the raging fires in Southern California this week--the consequences of the warming climate, associatively caused by our own pollution of this planet. It is now the largest movement and evacuation of Americans since the Civil War. Here is just a snippet of what people like Dr. Bellamy claims is poppycock.

I would not be so presumptuous as to assert that I have the answer to all of this. It could be that much of this is going to happen or will continue to take place, regardless of our actions. It may be that one day we will have to drastically alter our lifestyles, economies, even distribution of population in certain areas of the world. All of this remains an open question. Nevertheless, I am positive of this much. There has to be a better way than our current path.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The World's Worst Date

Reason #3,210 that your date is not going well: When she ties you up, takes out a knife, and declares that she likes to drink blood. Check.

Woman stabs tied-up lover to drink blood
Tue Oct 23, 6:32 PM ET

MESA, Ariz. - A woman who stabbed her tied-up lover so she could drink his blood has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tiffany Sutton told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Udall that she was sorry for the incident and said she never meant to hurt anyone, but received the stiff sentence anyway after he called the crime especially heinous.

Sutton, 24, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in August. She was arrested by Tempe police in February after she repeatedly stabbed her lover during an alcohol- and drug-fueled sexual tryst.

According to police reports, the victim, 46-year-old Robert McDaniel, agreed to be tied up during sex but became alarmed and asked to be untied when Sutton pulled out a knife and said she liked to drink blood. Sutton then attacked him, slicing his leg, puncturing his arm, shoulder and back and cutting his neck and stomach. When he escaped, she chased him with a pickax.

Sutton's attorney, Elizabeth Houck, told the judge at Tuesday's hearing that she suffers from a personality disorder that causes instability and has taken responsibility for her actions, according to the East Valley Tribune.

Houck wrote in a sentencing memo that prison records show Sutton thought she was a vampire for the first several weeks she was in jail.;_ylt=All8dt4JiD9Yk0sUdEGTkpoE1vAI

Just in case you are wondering single men ten years from now, yes, she is a goth gal.

In Tiffany's defense, it must be said, drinking your lover's blood does save on the beverage bill. And she is proficient with knives.

Terrorist Busters

If ever it occurred to you, like it did the 9/11 Commission Report, as to why an organization like the Central Intelligence Agency could allow the likes of Zacarias Moussaoui to sneak into this country, knowing as far back as the 1990s about his ties with al-Qaeda-linked organizations, you need to look no further. Introducing (I swear this is no joke) the CIA's new anti-terrorist logo.

I suppose this is the new means to make you forget that they let a group of people in our midst to murder en masse 3,000 of our fellow citizens. You see, when they are not bungling up the greatest intelligence failure in American history, overthrowing democratically-elected leftist governments abroad, and employing the services of dried up Nazis to write torture manuals for those military dictatorships that overthrew the democratically-elected governments, the CIA has also designed what appears to be something you would see on an ADT Home Security sign in someone's front yard. Undoubtedly, this will deter any budding sympathizer of terrorism.

Monday, October 22, 2007

GOP Base to Candidates: All War All The Time

For my principled libertarian friends within the Republican Party who wonder why the Ron Paul Presidential campaign has not caught on, this article is emblematic of their problem. The Old Right is dead and contemporary conservatives, the base of the Republican Party, even with 65-70% of the population against them on the war in Iraq, are not your grandfather's and great grandfather's conservative Republicans.

Tough going for antiwar Republicans

A handful in Congress have opposed increased troop levels or backed a pullout — or both. Many of their constituents are not happy.
By Noam N. Levey
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 21, 2007

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. — The Crystal Coast Republican Men's Club faithful were all smiles as they gathered at a restaurant to listen to their candidate for North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District.

But the warm reception wasn't for the Republican who since 1995 has represented this stretch of coast from the Virginia state line to the sprawling Marine base at Camp Lejeune. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., a soft-spoken, deeply religious man who two years ago turned against the Iraq war, was not there.

The GOP activists dining on fried fish were cheering Joe McLaughlin, a county commissioner and retired Army major who has launched a hard-charging bid to dispatch Jones in next year's primary by highlighting Jones' votes against the war.

"His is a message of despair, a message of defeat," McLaughlin told the appreciative crowd as he derided Jones, accusing him of abandoning the troops, President Bush, even talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.

Jones, who has never had a primary challenge but is being abandoned by GOP officials across his district, is not alone.

Across the country, other Republican lawmakers who have broken with over the war are under fire from party loyalists.

The revolt could cost Jones and a handful of other members of Congress their seats next year. It also helps explain why the stalled Democratic legislative campaign to end the war is unlikely to revive any time soon.

Despite months of pressure, no more than eight Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have backed any measure that mandates a troop withdrawal. And GOP strategists predict that is unlikely to change.

"Republicans have to be cognizant of where their base is," said pollster Bob Wickers, whose company has worked with Republican candidates in a dozen states in recent years.

While most Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq, Republicans remain solidly behind the president and the war. A recent CBS News survey found 58% of Republicans approve of the way Bush is handling the war, compared with just 5% of Democrats and 20% of independents.

GOP politicians have defied that sentiment at their peril.

In Maryland, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest -- who like Jones has backed Democratic proposals to set a timeline for withdrawing troops -- faces a well-funded Republican challenger. So too may congressmen in Florida and South Carolina who opposed the president's increase of troop levels.

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska faced a primary challenge from the state's attorney general, who got into the race as Hagel escalated his criticism of the president's conduct of the war. Hagel announced last month that he won't run for reelection next year.

Not long ago, many political strategists believed public opinion would push Republicans to join the legislative campaign to end the war, rather than resist it.

When the war debate intensified this year with the president's January announcement that he would send 28,500 additional troops to Iraq, many Americans were skeptical of the Bush strategy; surveys showed that more than two-thirds opposed the plan.

And in February, more than two dozen Republicans in the House and Senate crossed the aisle to support nonbinding resolutions opposing the president's "surge" plan.

Yet, even as public support for a congressionally mandated withdrawal grew -- by March, most Americans wanted a withdrawal deadline -- Republican support never materialized on Capitol Hill.

In July, only four voted for a withdrawal bill in the House and just four backed a similar measure in the Senate. By September, nearly united GOP opposition had all but assured that there would be no more legislation this year aimed at forcing the president to change strategy in Iraq.

The resistance of Republican lawmakers stunned many political observers. But it largely reflected the opposition of rank-and-file Republicans, particularly the most conservative who vote in party primaries.

In Nebraska earlier this year, pollster Wickers found that Atty. Gen. Jon Bruning's lead over Hagel among Republican primary voters jumped from 9 to 24 points when respondents were told of Hagel's criticism of the president and his support for Democratic-sponsored withdrawal legislation.

Nationally, roughly two-thirds of Republicans oppose forcing the president to follow a timetable to withdraw troops, according to Tony Fabrizio, a longtime GOP pollster who has worked on numerous House and Senate campaigns. "Republicans don't have much to gain by changing positions," Fabrizio said.

Some who have done so are paying a price.

In Florida, Rep. Ric Keller was labeled a "white flag Republican" by talk-show host Hugh Hewitt after he voted in February for the nonbinding resolution opposing the president's troop surge. Keller potentially faces two primary challengers, even though he has opposed every Democratic withdrawal plan.

There is talk of a possible primary challenge to South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis. He also voted for the nonbinding resolution in February but has remained loyal to the party line since.

Gilchrest, a Vietnam War veteran who has represented Maryland's conservative 1st Congressional District since 1990 and strongly opposes the war, is trying to fend off a challenge from a state senator who has targeted Gilchrest's war votes and won the backing of numerous GOP officials, including former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich.

All year, Gilchrest has unabashedly voted for Democratic legislation that would mandate a troop pullout. "Some may fear there is a political price to be paid," Gilchrest said in an interview outside the House chamber. "Some may think they have to follow the commander in chief and Congress has no real responsibility in making military decisions or foreign policy decisions. I completely disagree with that."

In North Carolina, Jones is equally unapologetic.

Shaking hands and posing for photos with Boy Scouts at the annual Scuppernong River festival in tiny Columbia, N.C., the congressman dismissed the notion that Republican voters might drive him from office in the party primary next May.

"The Kool-Aid drinkers, those who don't know the truth, who only hear the half-truths and the opinions of a Rush Limbaugh, they believe it. But I know too many" voters, Jones said. "When my days end in Congress, I would rather be able to say I did what was right for America, rather than my party did this, my party did that."

On a Main Street that runs past a historic brick courthouse and Confederate war memorial and dead-ends in the swamp forests that cover this isolated region, Jones has his defenders.

Durwood Cooper Jr., a real estate broker whose family has farmed in Tyrell County for generations, said he would back Jones next year, even though he disagreed with the congressman on the war.

"I'm open to his viewpoint, as I would hope he's open to mine," Cooper said, noting that Jones' loyalty to his district counts for more than his votes against the war. "Some people get elected and it becomes a job. With Walter, it's a service."

But service has a distinct meaning in a congressional district that is home to more than 50,000 active-duty Marines and traces its martial history back centuries.

At the Old Burying Ground in the nearby historic port of Beaufort, the story is told of a British sailor who died at sea in the 18th century and was buried standing up in full uniform because he wanted to face the king of England.

And today, money is being raised for a Vietnam War memorial to be built outside Camp Lejeune, next to a wall that commemorates the 241 servicemen killed when the Marine barracks in Beirut were blown up in 1983.

Jones, who served in the National Guard as a young man, has tried to honor the sacrifices of those killed in Iraq by writing letters to the families of every dead service member, a ritual that has taken on a penitential quality for him.

But his decision to openly repudiate the Iraq war, in part by joining forces with liberal lawmakers such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), has not gone over well with voters for whom opposition to the war amounts to a betrayal of the troops.

And it is helping McLaughlin, who has emblazoned his campaign signs with "Support the Troops" to rally veterans, elected officials and business leaders from across the district to his side.

Peter Grimes, a retired Marine colonel with a son who is being deployed to Iraq, is one of those who will support McLaughlin next year.

"You get elected to represent the constituency that put you there," said Grimes, standing by the Beirut memorial as a warm, fall breeze blew leaves off the trees. "Walter has lost touch with our community."

Thus it is one of the greatest weaknesses of all ideologues: the inability to see reality and face it when it contravenes what they think is the truth.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Myth of Academic Freedom

I received an email not too long ago, inquiring as to why I do not reveal my identity. Assuming this person was sincere, and not just trying to get me to out myself, as an academic there are many reasons for this. One, I do not want my students or colleagues to come in here and ever feel that I am revealing any personal information about them or my classes (although I have typically avoided this [on the off chance they ever do come across this site and recognize me]). Two, I do not want to be hounded by today's commissars, who target anyone left-of-center in academia for future unemployment. Sound crazy? Just ask Ward Churchill, axed for writing an essay that people did not like (in spite of the fact he was a state employee with tenure), Norman Finkelstein (a victim of those who cannot tolerate a reasoned critic of Israel [even one with impeccable scholarship, credentials, and a descendant of Holocaust survivors]), or the profs fired from Oral Roberts University after they made public their complaints about how the university was spending their money.

This is the life I have chosen, so I suppose my complaints should be more measured (it beats working back in the lumber yards or as a forklift operator without benefits or barely any pay). However, I do not yet have the shield of tenure to keep the wolves at bay (as Mr. Makdisi has in this column), and as aforementioned in the Ward Churchill case even that is not a full protection anymore. Here is just one manifestation of this attempt to control a debate on college campuses--the kind you will not see in any of David Horowitz's literary attacks on colleges as dins of Bolshevism and anti-Americanism.

Campuses Have Become Poisoned by an Atmosphere of Surveillance and Harassment

Academic Freedom is at Risk in America


"Academic colleagues, get used to it," warned the pro-Israel activist Martin Kramer in March 2004. "Yes, you are being watched. Those obscure articles in campus newspapers are now available on the Internet, and they will be harvested. Your syllabi, which you've also posted, will be scrutinized. Your Web sites will be visited late at night."

Kramer's warning inaugurated an attack on intellectual freedom in the U.S. that has grown more aggressive in recent months.

This attack, intended to shield Israel from criticism, not only threatens academic privileges on college campuses, it jeopardizes our capacity to evaluate our foreign policy. With a potentially catastrophic clash with Iran on the horizon and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict spiraling out of control, Americans urgently need to be able to think clearly about our commitments and intentions in the Middle East. And yet we are being prevented from doing so by a longstanding campaign of intimidation that has terminated careers, stymied debate and shut down dialogue.

Over the past few years, Israel's U.S. defenders have stepped up their campaign by establishing a network of institutions (such as Campus Watch, Stand With Us, the David Project, the Israel on Campus Coalition, and the disingenuously named Scholars for Peace in the Middle East) dedicated to the task of monitoring our campuses and bringing pressure to bear on those critical of Israeli policies. By orchestrating letter-writing and petitioning campaigns, falsely raising fears of anti-Semitism, mobilizing often grossly distorted media coverage and recruiting local and national politicians to their cause, they have severely disrupted academic processes, the free function of which once made American universities the envy of the world.

Outside interference by Israel's supporters has plunged one U.S. campus after another into crisis. They have introduced crudely political -- rather than strictly academic or scholarly -- criteria into hiring, promotion and other decisions at a number of universities, including Columbia, Yale, Wayne State, Barnard and DePaul, which recently denied tenure to the Jewish American scholar Norman Finkelstein following an especially ugly campaign spearheaded by Alan Dershowitz, one of Israel's most ardent American defenders.

Our campuses are being poisoned by an atmosphere of surveillance and harassment. However, the disruption of academic freedom has grave implications beyond campus walls.

When professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer drafted an essay critical of the effect of Israel's lobbying organizations on U.S. foreign policy, they had to publish it in the London Review of Books because their original American publisher declined to take it on. With the original article expanded into a book that has now been released, their invitation to speak at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs was retracted because of outside pressure. "This one is so hot," they were told. So although Michael Oren, an officer in the Israeli army, was recently allowed to lecture the council about U.S. policy in the Middle East, two distinguished American academics were denied the same privilege.

When President Carter published "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid" last year, he was attacked for having dared to use the word "apartheid" to describe Israel's manifestly discriminatory policies in the West Bank.

As that case made especially clear, the point of most of these attacks is to personally discredit anyone who would criticize Israel -- and to taint them with the smear of "controversy" -- rather than to engage them in a genuine debate. None of Carter's critics provided a convincing refutation of his main argument based on facts and evidence. Presumably that's because, for all the venom directed against the former president, he was right. For example, Israel maintains two different road networks, and even two entirely different legal systems, in the West Bank, one for Jewish settlers and the other for indigenous Palestinians. Those basic facts were studiously ignored by those who denounced Carter and angrily accused him of a "blood libel" against the Jewish people.

That Israel's American supporters so often resort to angry outbursts rather than principled arguments -- and seem to find emotional blackmail more effective than genuine debate -- is ultimately a sign of their weakness rather than their strength. For all the damage it can do in the short term, in the long run such a position is untenable, too dependent on emotion and cliché rather than hard facts. The phenomenal success of Carter's book suggests that more and more Americans are learning to ignore the scare tactics that are the only tools available to Israel's supporters.

But we need to be able to have an open debate about our Middle East policy now -- before we needlessly shed more blood and further erode our reputation among people who used to regard us as the champions of freedom, and now worry that we have come to stand for its very opposite.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and a frequent commentator on the Middle East.

Saree Makdisi, a professor of English at UCLA, is the author of Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s (University of Chicago Press, 2003). His new book, "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation," is forthcoming from Norton. Makdisi can be reached at:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Moron Report #5: Clearing His Name

You would think after getting caught trying to gain the intimate acquaintance of a police officer in a public facility that you would have the gumption, dare I say the balls, to own up to the fact that if not a raging closet queen, you are at least a switch hitter. With Senator Larry Craig, you would be wrong. In a recent interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, the good Senator, with his wife in tow, swears up and down it was perfectly innocent, not at all sexual when he plays footsie, leers into your stall while you are going to the bathroom, and that his only mistake was pleading guilty without first seeking counsel.

Craig files to appeal judge's decision

In NBC interview, senator blasts Romney for abandoning him after arrest

Updated: 1:43 p.m. ET Oct 15, 2007

BOISE, Idaho - Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in his ongoing attempt to withdraw his guilty plea in connection with an arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting.

Craig's appeal was filed at the court in St. Paul less than two weeks after Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter refused to overturn the guilty plea.

Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August, two months after he was accused of soliciting sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The four-page appeal filing didn't detail the basis for the appeal.

Craig repeated Sunday that he will not resign from the Senate and said he had the right to pursue his legal options.

But legal experts have predicted Craig would have a hard time winning on appeal.

The senator speaks out
In an interview with Matt Lauer, anchor of NBC’s TODAY morning program, Craig said that he defied calls for his resignation after he pleaded guilty in an airport restroom sex sting because that would be “the easy way out” and “I don’t just walk away from a fight.”

In addition, Craig bitterly criticized Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, for whom he had worked as a liaison to the Senate, for abandoning him in his hour of need.

After Craig’s arrest was reported in August, Romney issued a statement saying Craig had stepped down from his campaign, but Craig made it clear that the choice was not his.

“He not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again,” Craig said, according to brief excerpts of the interview released late Sunday by an NBC spokeswoman. The full interview was scheduled to air Tuesday night on NBC stations, the network said.

Craig acknowledged that he was in “the toughest fight of my political life,” but he declared: “I'm a fighter. ... I don’t just walk away from a fight.”

The interview, one of two Craig conducted Sunday, came the day after he was inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame, an honor for which he was chosen in June before his arrest. Craig heard polite applause and a few encouraging hoots when he was introduced Saturday night at the Boise convention center.

Many of Craig’s Republican Senate colleagues have been pressuring him to resign, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who called the actions that led to Craig’s arrest June 11 “unforgivable.”

Craig to appeal plea ruling
Craig, 62, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct after an undercover officer said he exhibited behavior consistent with that of someone seeking a sexual encounter. Craig, insisting repeatedly that he was not gay and that his arrest had been the result of a misunderstanding, unsuccessfully sought to withdraw his plea last week.

In the second interview, with NBC affiliate KTVB of Boise, Craig said he would appeal a judge’s refusal to let him withdraw the plea, adding: “I am pursuing my constitutional rights.”

After initially saying he would give up his Senate seat, Craig reversed course last week and vowed to serve out his term, again proclaiming his innocence and touting his seniority, especially on the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has responsibility for many issues important to Idaho.

Craig also said he was staying so he could fight to “clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee — something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate.”

“There's are so many people who don't want him to resign,” his wife Suzanne said.

Craig did rule out running for re-election next year, however. Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Risch and Democratic former Rep. Larry LaRocco have both announced their campaigns for the seat. Risch handily defeated LaRocco for the lieutenant governorship last year.

'Walked into an entrapment'
When asked by Lauer if he knew of the reputation of the restroom where he was arrested, Craig says say “No — not at all.” The restroom has been described as a hotspot for anonymous sexual encounters between gay men.

“I had no reason to know that,” he says. “I don't use the Internet. I don't have a computer at my desk. I e-mail with my Blackberry.”

“I walked into an entrapment and a sting.”

Suzanne Craig stunned by news
Craig’s wife, Suzanne, told Lauer that “I felt like the floor was falling out from under me” when Craig told her that the story was going to break.

“It happened right here in this room,” she said, according to NBC. “And I felt like almost like I was going down a drain for a few moments.”

In the interview, the Craigs defended their 24-year marriage against rumors that it was a marriage of convenience to cover up a gay lifestyle.

“People know me and know that I would never do that,” said Suzanne Craig. “That's almost like selling your soul for something.”

“I love this woman very, very much,” Craig said. “The day I found her, I fell deeply in love. And we're heading toward our 25th anniversary.”

Larry Craig told Lauer that he kept the arrest quiet because “I didn’t want to embarrass my wife, my kids, Idaho and my friends.”

Of all this, Craig says the biggest lesson has been “full disclosure.” “[With] public life and in the glass house you live, you hide nothing from nobody.”

He added, “I made a very big mistake. I should have told my wife. I should have told my kids. And most importantly, I should have told counsel.”

What the Senator does not try to explain is that if it was only a mistake in hindsight, how did he as a lawmaker, with extended experience in writing crime legislation at that, never think that this would be something for counsel at about the time the police officer arrested him in the little boy's room? Could it be, peril the thought, that maybe, just maybe the reason he never told his wife, kids, lawyer, or anyone else, was that he hoped the charge would (pun intended) blow over without notice, thereby making it possible for Mr. Craig to carry on his career as an anti-gay conservative member of the US Senate?

What I find most amazing about this scandal is just how many more anti-gay gay Republicans there are in office and positions of authority and power in this country. Congressman David Dreier, who has voted against every gay rights piece of legislation throughout his career, has been in a longtime relationship with another male (all of which is commonly known among anti-gay conservative friends [who were nice enough to avoid revealing this little tidbit of information for the past couple of decades]).

Another gay-bashing conservative, and one I did not know about until very recently, is Armstrong Williams. For years, Armstrong has advertised himself as the authentic black Christian in this country, and used the "traditional values" card to allot many columns attacking his own community for its out-of-wedlock birthrate, when not criticizing liberals for supporting gay marriage "as a civil right." As it turns out, Armstrong was a top man who liked fondling male workers and propositioning them (including an ex-employee of, I kid you not, the YMCA) for sexual favors. The price tag for his self-hating inclinations was $200,000. In light of that, it sort of makes sense that Williams took $250,000 of taxpayer's money in payments to propagandize the Administration's No Child Left Behind Act.

Then there are the Anti-Gay Gay Republican Troika in the Senate, Senators Craig, Mitch McConnell, and Lindsey Graham. To date, Craig is the only one people are openly talking about in the news, although according to him he still wakes up each morning wanting his chain him up, spank him, and tell him what a naughty, naughty Senator he has been. It is still an open question before we find out how many privates Mr. McConnell was grabbing for during his short stint in the military.

Still think the Senator is not lying?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Academic Misconduct in the Heart of Jesusland

Typically, when ideologically-motivated columnists write about academia, it is to bash the institution as a Stalinist hellhole out to brainwash your kids and turn them into pot-smoking homosexuals, listening to the Indigo Girls (although personally I prefer Alan Hovhaness’s ‘Mysterious Mountain’ Symphony during states of inebriation).

What you generally do not see is the other side. Contrary to the views of some holy warriors, there are many right-wingers in academic institutions (I can attest since my last three department chairs were conservative Republicans). There are evermore smaller, private, religiously conservative universities floating around the heartland--more than people realize. Just look at Ave Maria University, which was started by Domino's Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan (using his gains pilfered from his inferior cardboard pizzas to found a religiously Catholic college, created for the purpose of proselytizing the sweet words of the same Pope that recently declared Protestants to be unconscious Catholics).

Then there was Hillsdale College. Founded by political liberals, Hillsdale was one of the first colleges in the America to ban discrimination on the base of race or gender. By the 1970s, however, Hillsdale became a battleground for religious conservatives who took over the operations of the university, and was a party to the Grove City v. Bell decision by the Supreme Court that required private universities that accepted federal monies to have some affirmative action policies in admissions. Under the leadership of President George Roche III, Hillsdale became an intellectual home away from home for conservative scholars, such as Russell Kirk (the author of The Conservative Mind and probably the last great conservative intellectual in the US).

Low and behold, in 1999 it was revealed that the school's President was having a near two-decade long affair with his daughter in-law, who after informing her husband (Roche's son) of her tussles with his old man, and that his dad was the father of her child, decided to commit suicide (fittingly, by way of firearm). It made for wonderful headlines, and it did much to attract negative attention to an otherwise ignored small liberal arts college. It sort of made real, in the worst possible fashion, the old adage that the best way to find a partner is to go to church. Roche died in obscurity, spending most of his last years hiding out in a cabin in Colorado. I am sure when he checked out he spent his final fatherly breaths feeling his creator forgave him for sleeping with a married family member.

Just in time to remind us of the fun of hypocrisy, or the gift that never stops giving, Oral Roberts University has joined the conservative academic sexual fray. Apparently, when not misspending millions of dollars of money accrued from students' tuition and donations from suckers, I mean wealthy donors, the wife of the University President (Oral Roberts Jr.) likes the boys of the underage variety. So much so, she likes to spend quality time with them at her place of residence, after midnight, on numerous occasions (including weeknights, when the little ones should be home dreaming of their next Bible reading), which I am certain is innocent enough (since like Senator Craig behaving in this way is perfectly normal and non-sexual).

Without further ado.

Wife of university president denies nights alone with 'underage male'

The wife of the president of Oral Roberts University is denying allegations in a lawsuit that she spent the night in a university guest house with an "underage male" on nine occasions.

Lindsay Roberts, in a statement on the university's Web site, said the allegations against her "sicken me to my soul. ... I live my life in a morally upright manner and throughout my marriage have never, ever engaged in any sexual behavior with any man outside of my marriage as the accusations imply."

The suit, filed earlier this month, has drawn international attention to the private Christian school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, founded by evangelist Oral Roberts, father of university President Richard Roberts.

The new allegations come in an amended version of the wrongful termination suit filed by three former professors, who say they lost their jobs after reporting that Roberts and his family lavishly spent school money for personal expenses.

The amended lawsuit, filed Friday, also alleges that the university gave a "convicted sexual deviant unrestricted access to students" while the man acted as a "mentor." The lawsuit also claims the university shredded evidence three days after the suit was filed against the school. The school denies both accusations in a statement on its Web site.

The new allegations involving Lindsay Roberts come in a section titled "Scandal Vulnerability Assessment."

It says that photos show her and an underage male smoking at the president's residence and that she "spent the night in the ORU guest house with an underage male on nine separate occasions." It also references 29 photos it says show her and an underage male alone in her car, time-stamped after midnight, despite a citywide 10 p.m. curfew for minors not with their parents.

The suit does not allege sexual behavior.

The suit says Richard Roberts "sought approval from stakeholders for moving the underage male into the family residence," and "a longtime maintenance employee was summarily fired so that the same underage male companion could have his position."

In her statement, Lindsay Roberts denied all the allegations against her in the lawsuit. "The part that grieves me the most is that these accusations are being brought forth in so many areas and being seen and heard through the media when the parties suing have continued to say they don't even know if these allegations are true," she said. "I believe it's grossly unfair to allow such speculation to be used against me and attached to a lawsuit in which I am not even named as a party."

Other allegations in the amended version of the lawsuit are in a section accusing the ORU board of negligence. It says that this past summer, the Board of Regents allowed the president and the school "to give a convicted sexual deviant unrestricted access to the students of the university." The man had previously "confessed to crimes" in courts in Tulsa and the surrounding area and was convicted, the suit says.

"In one of these convictions, this 'Mentor' for ORU students -- reportedly hired at the direct personal instruction, and under the direct supervision of President Richard Roberts -- confessed to the facts regarding exposing himself to a 15-year-old boy in a school locker room," the suit says.

It also says three days after the initial lawsuit was filed on October 2, the board allowed ORU and Roberts to fire the school's financial comptroller after 26 years of service. Within hours, "voluminous materials and documents were shredded and destroyed, constituting spoilation of evidence," according to witnesses, the suit says.

Beyond the online posting, university officials did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday by CNN.

The suit was filed by John Swails, Tim Brooker and Paulita Brooker, who accuse Richard and Lindsay Roberts of treating school funds like their own bank account, using them for home renovations, expensive vacations and clothes -- allegations the Robertses and the school have previously denied.

After complaining to the school's Board of Regents about university spending, two of the professors were fired from their jobs and the third was thrown into conditions "so intolerable" that he had no choice but to resign, the lawsuit says.

One of the firings, the suit says, was also in retaliation for the plaintiff refusing to drop a sexual harassment complaint that one of his subordinates made against an associate provost, who is named as a defendant.

The suit calls for actual damages "in excess of $10,000" and punitive damages also "in excess of $10,000" for each plaintiff, as well as attorneys' fees, court costs, "and any further relief that the court deems just an equitable."

In an interview last week on CNN's "Larry King Live," before the latest allegations were added to the suit, Richard Roberts called it "the most unusual thing I've ever witnessed in my life." Asked whether someone is out to get him, he responded, "It sure seems that way." Lindsay Roberts called the allegations "preposterous."

The three plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit, meanwhile, accuse school officials of making libelous public remarks about them in an effort to discredit the lawsuit.

Last week, before the amended suit was filed, the board vowed to hire an auditor to look into "allegations made in regards to Oral Roberts University and certain members of the administration," board Chairman George Pearsons said in an October 7 statement posted on the ORU Web site. "The Oral Roberts University Board of Regents is committed to operating the institution in accordance with all ethical, legal and moral standards."

I should remind, this is the same institution whose founder claimed twenty years ago that the Lord God Himself was going to "call him home" if he did not raise several million dollars for medical missionary work. An even bigger whopper, if you could imagine such a thing, after claiming God was going to kill you, came several years earlier when the dear leader declared that he received a vision from a 900 foot tall Jesus (in his sleep, naturally [least anyone think the old man crazy]), who gave Oral the vision to build the now-defunct City of Faith. Great University, I am sure.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Adventures in Blackwater: Mercs Hold Up American Soldiers

When not massacring Iraqi civilians, the good folks at Blackwater are living off our tax dollar holding up American soldiers, which includes pointing guns at them, under the threat of death, and forcibly disarming the people we actually pay to be there under our flag. Who would have thought that our tax dollars are subsidizing privately-employed American insurgents inside of Iraq?

Here is something you are unlikely to see on Fox News or the Drudge Report anytime soon.

Blackwater Is Soaked
An arrogant attitude only adds fuel to the criticism.

By Rod Nordland and Mark Hosenball

Oct. 15, 2007 issue - The colonel was furious. "Can you believe it? They actually drew their weapons on U.S. soldiers." He was describing a 2006 car accident, in which an SUV full of Blackwater operatives had crashed into a U.S. Army Humvee on a street in Baghdad's Green Zone. The colonel, who was involved in a follow-up investigation and spoke on the condition he not be named, said the Blackwater guards disarmed the U.S. Army soldiers and made them lie on the ground at gunpoint until they could disentangle the SUV. His account was confirmed by the head of another private security company. Asked to address this and other allegations in this story, Blackwater spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said, "This type of gossip has led to many soap operas in the press."

Whatever else Blackwater is or isn't guilty of—a topic of intense interest in Washington—it has a well-earned reputation in Iraq for arrogance and high-handedness. Iraqis naturally have the most serious complaints; dozens have been killed by Blackwater operatives since the beginning of the war. But many American civilian and military officials in Iraq also have little sympathy for the private security company and its highly paid employees. With an uproar growing in Congress over Blackwater's alleged excesses, the North Carolina-based company is finding few supporters.

Responsible for guarding top U.S. officials in Iraq, Blackwater operatives are often accused of playing by their own rules. Unlike nearly everyone else who enters the Green Zone, said an American soldier who guards a gate, Blackwater gunmen refuse to stop and clear their weapons of live ammunition once inside. One military contractor, who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution in his industry, recounted the story of a Blackwater operative who answered a Marine officer's order to put his pistol on safety when entering a base post office by saying, "This is my safety," and wiggling his trigger finger in the air. "Their attitude was, 'We're f---ing security; we don't have to answer to anybody'."

Congress disagrees. Until now, private security contractors working for the State Department, as Blackwater does, have effectively not been covered by either U.S. or Iraqi law, or military regulations. A bill that overwhelmingly passed the House last week would close that loophole. But the law would also require the FBI to establish a large-scale presence in Iraq in order to investigate accusations against private contractors. Law-enforcement officials worry that this would draw valuable resources away from FBI efforts to combat terrorism in the United States. Also, whenever FBI agents venture into Iraq now they are guarded by ... Blackwater operatives. The bureau has sent a team to Baghdad to investigate the Sept. 16 shooting in Nasoor Square, in which Blackwater guards are accused of killing as many as 17 Iraqi civilians. In order to avoid "even the appearance of any conflict [of interest]," according to an FBI spokesman, the agents will be defended by U.S. government personnel.

It is not an idle concern. Blackwater's staunchest defenders tend to be found among those whom they guard. U.S. officials prefer Blackwater and other private security bodyguards because they regard them as more highly trained than military guards, who are often reservists from MP units. A U.S. Embassy staffer, who did not have permission to speak on the record, said, "It's a few bad eggs that seem to be spoiling the bunch." Late last week the State Department announced that it would increase oversight of Blackwater in particular, installing cameras in its vehicles and having a Diplomatic Security Service officer ride along on every convoy. But another State Department official, also speaking anonymously, says that DSS agents in Baghdad have not been eager to rein in the contractors in the past: "These guys tend to close ranks. It's like the blue wall."

Testifying before Congress last week, 38-year-old Blackwater chief Erik Prince vigorously defended his company's "dedicated security professionals" who "risk their lives to protect Americans in harm's way overseas." Prince probably had no reason to be as smug as he seemed to many observers. In deflecting questions about a drunken Blackwater operative who allegedly shot and killed a bodyguard for Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi in the Green Zone on Christmas Eve last year, Prince said that the employee, later identified as Andrew Moonen, had been fined and fired. But on Friday House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman released a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recounting evidence that Moonen was able to return to Iraq and worked there for another company. Moonen's attorney, Stewart Riley, told NEWSWEEK his client denies wrongdoing and is not facing criminal charges. Blackwater is no doubt in for further fire fights.

With Larry Kaplow in Baghdad and Michael Hastings in Washington