Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Negotiating with Iran and Syria

Andy McCarthy notes the death of the Bush doctrine, and seems to think that's a tragic thing. He links to Frank Gaffney's incredibly wrong-headed analysis of the situation. He makes three points, each of which can be quickly refuted:
First, such negotiations will legitimate one of the most dangerous regimes on the planet.

And our policy of shunning our "enemies" has been wildly successful? How has this worked out in Iran and Cuba, to give two examples?
Second, embracing Ahmadinejad and his mullahs in this way can only alienate our natural allies: the people of Iran.

Actually, the most likely way to alienate Iranians who are sympathetic to the West is to bomb them.
Third, the adoption of the negotiating track effectively forecloses other options for dealing with the danger posed by the Iranian regime.

Frank, if anything precludes other options, it's the decision to go to war. That's why it's considered by most people to be the last option on the table. Clearly it's not the last option for neoconservatives, it's the first. That a conservative would think that a willingness to negotiate rather than bomb represents a "costly diplomatic error" shows how little our current leaders know about foreign policy and the effectiveness of diplomacy.

Thankfully, not all Cornerites subscribe to this madness. Stuttaford has seem more and more disillusioned as of late.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ben Bridges

Okay, this next guy makes Virgil Goode seem perfectly normal. I was reading Talking Points Memo this morning and came across this bit from Josh Marshall:
It's times like these you've just got to miss that dear lady Molly Ivins.

Meet our new friend, Georgia State House Rep. Ben Bridges (R), chairman of the retirement committee in the state house.

Bridges is now in a bit of trouble for spilling the beans about evolution being the product of a Pharisee Jew conspiracy to bamboozle normal Americans and destroy Christianity.

“Indisputable evidence — long hidden but now available to everyone — demonstrates conclusively that so-called ‘secular evolution science’ is the Big-Bang 15-billion-year alternate ‘creation scenario’ of the Pharisee Religion,” reads the letter that went out under Bridges' name. “This scenario is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic ‘holy book’ Kabbala dating back at least two millennia.”

Yep, "secular evolution science" is actually a vast Jewish conspiracy, deriving from the Kabbala, says the memo. It refers to a website Fixed Earth, which claims to offer conclusive scientific proof that the Earth is the center of the universe (warning, severe html abuse found at Fixed Earth). From the couple of dumbstruck minutes I spent looking at the site, his claims seem to be based entirely on an inability to understand how time lapse photography works. Perhaps I didn't dedicate enough time to truly understanding how superstring, evolution and the Copernican view are all just facets of the ancient Kabbala. Anyway, the ADL is on the case.

In Muhammad We Trust?

Man oh man. Remember Virgil Goode, the guy who tried to prevent Keith Ellison from taking his oath on a Koran? Well he's back with more deeply stupid ranting. Now he's claiming that if lawmakers don't support the president's Iraq surge plan, our currency will soon read In Muhammad We Trust. Good to see that Republicans are still contributing to the national debate.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fire Michael Gordon

Looks like Glenn Greenwald's got a gig at Slate now, and he gives more details on the Michael Gordon / Judith Miller saga. It's incredibly disappointing to see a good paper going down this road again. The NYT is, in general, fantastic, but one of the most inconsistent papers I know of. For all of the grief they get from conservatives for being "far-left," I think many in the administration must be quite pleased with the Times and certain elements within the paper. It's much more valuable for the "liberal" NYT to be parroting their intelligence than, for example, the Washington Times or Wall Street Journal to do the same.

Update: Some particularly disturbing bits. One Times reader, a young New York journalist, wrote Gordon the following email:

Your article today is a shameless reiteration of what may very be administration propaganda. Please, in your next article, make an attempt to verify administration claims somewhere, anywhere else. As a young journalist, I find your work discouraging for the profession as a whole. I'm sure it's a great deal of work to get the administration to give you quotes off the record supporting their policy du jour, but can you please take the time to fact check it? Just a little bit please? For the sake of your paper's reputation, I hope you do. Cheers, [name withheld]

And this was Gordon's reply:
I suggest you embed in Iraq for a few months, live with the troops, ride in their Humvees, learn about the risk of EFP attacks, then spend several months asking military and Western experts about the technology, the tactics for employing them and its origin. Let me know what you learn and we'll compare notes.


As Greenwald notes, "Gordon's reply, aside from being arrogant and rude, is a complete non sequitur." In an interview with Democracy Now he was similarly rude to his interviewer, saying:

don't know if you understand how journalism works, but the way journalism works is you write what you know, and what you know at the time you try to convey as best you can. . . .

And he made similar references to how he was embedded in Iraq, as if that was the only qualification he needed (as an aside, perhaps critics of embedded journalism are being proved right - it doesn't improve access, it just makes you a pawn).

Finally, Gordon was apparently admonished by the Times bureau chief for explicitly advocating the president's surge plan on the Charlie Rose show. What a friend. How long till Michael Gordon is sent packing like Judith Miller?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Michael Gordon

The days of Judith Miller may be over, but it seems the NYT still has some lessons to learn from that debacle. Michael Gordon seems to be parroting his anonymous sources without any demand for further proof other than their word, and gives no space to counter-evidence. As Glenn Greenwald notes at the link above, Gordon himself was involved in co-authoring the bogus WMD pieces with Judith Miller.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

logic radicalises

I think I can say this made my day. A moment of Zen from the daily tipped me off to this one. It left me speechless.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Science Bribery

Now that we know ExxonMobil has tried to bribe scientists into refuting climate change findings, it would be great if some enterprising young blogger would start a website documenting scientists who accept the American ExxonMobil Institute's offer. If they want to throw away their credibility for $10,000, go right ahead.

Groundhog Day Meditation

It's that time again:
In the 1993 film, Murray plays cynical, self-important Phil Connors, a Pittsburgh TV weatherman sent to cover an assignment he loathes: the Groundhog Day festivities in tiny Punxsutawney, Pa.

"A thousand people freezing their butts off, waiting to worship a rat," he gripes.

Following the ceremony, a blizzard strands Connors in town, and when he wakes the next morning, it's Groundhog Day again. And again, and again, and again.

Connors tries everything to break the cycle - including driving off a cliff with a kidnapped Punxsutawney Phil at the wheel - but not even death can free him.

To Buddhist fans, Connors' endlessly recurring day illustrates samsara, the circle of birth and rebirth.

"The word reincarnation is never mentioned, yet it's such an obvious metaphor," said Paul Schindler Jr., an Oregon teacher whose writings on the film include the online column "Groundhog Day: The Movie, Buddhism and Me."

Connors' arrogance obstructs his enlightenment. Only when he surrenders his ego - "I don't even exist anymore" - does he achieve anatta, emptiness of self, and begin to practice seva, service to others without expectation of reward.

By devoting himself to his fellow man, by fixing a flat tire for a carload of old ladies and trying to save the life of a homeless man, Connors starts to escape his eternal Feb. 2.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


It's hard to believe that this Aqua Teen Hunger Force scare is still the top story at CNN. I can't help but think that all the outrage mustered by Boston officials is just to cover their embarrassment. And they're really stretching to find a reason to be angry and stern about all this:
Assistant Attorney General John Grossman called the light boards "bomb-like" devices and said that if they had been explosive they could have damaged transportation infrastructure in the city.

Uh, yeah...and if crackers were bombs, my kitchen would've been decimated by now. 'Cause I love crackers.

Anyway, the Mooninite press conference is moderately funny.