Wednesday, August 27, 2014

As Long As We're All Writing About Presidents and Golf: " watch this drive..."

Earlier this week Maureen Dowd accidentally hit send on "The Golf Address," possibly the worst piece of prose ever to appear on the Op/Ed pages of The New York Times. However, she was only the latest in a long line of pundits and ideologues since 2009 who have been condemning President Obama for taking time to play the traditional sport of upper-middle-class white Anglo-Saxon businesscriminals when he should have been chaining himself to his desk.

Only Eisenhowers, Nixons, Fords, Clintons, and Bushes are allowed time on the links while serving as President. Starting in 2017, President (and golf course impresario) Trump will certainly benefit from the fresh air as he solves all the problems left behind by the current administration while hitting little white balls.

Now watch this drive:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Robert F. "Bob" McDonnell and his CBN University Thesis on the GOP and the Family

No one should be surprised that when you do a Google image search for "bland generic white guy" you get a page full of "Bob" McDonnell photos, should they? (And TBL readers don't need me to label this image as satire, do you?)

That, and the fact that he wrote the following in his 1989 thesis at Christian Broadcasting Network University (now Regent University) as a 34-year-old married man make it all the more surprising predictable that he is now in the process of throwing his wife under the bus to protect himself and whatever shreds may be left of his former political daydreams.
The family as an institution existed antecedent to civil government, and hence is not subject to being defined by it. It is in the law of Nature of the created Order that the Creator instituted marriage and family in Eden, where He ordained that "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Family arises out of this divinely-created covenant of marriage between a man and woman, the terms of which can neither be originally set nor subsequently altered by the parties or the state.   --page 13 of "The Republican Party's Vision For the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade"
Another gem from the young Republican politician's CBN University thesis and wedge-issue playbook about the importance of paying lip service to marriage and the family.
 {NOTE: While the Google Image Search results may have been altered for satirical purposes, there actually was a university founded by Pat Robertson and named after his Christian Broadcasting Network in 1978. It changed its name to Regent University in 1989 when Bob McDonnell received his master's and law degrees from that institution of religious indoctrination. If you look at the first page of his thesis, you'll see that it was written at "CBN University", not Regent.}

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

" faith teaches people to massacre innocents." Has Barack Obama read the Bible?

President Obama was perfectly correct today to condemn the Islamic State murderers who executed American journalist James Foley, but I have to take exception to some lines in his remarks:
... They [the group known as ISIS, ISIL, or The Islamic State] have murdered Muslims -- both Sunni and Shia -- by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people. So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ...
--Barack Obama, 20 August 2014 [emphasis added]

We don't have to search further than the unread books sitting in every American hotel room to find a "faith that teaches people to massacre innocents":
Deuteronomy 13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.
12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;
15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.
16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.

And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;

18 When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God.
--King James Version [emphasis added]
We have to stop paying lip service to this god of the three Abrahamic faiths as if he were nothing but a benign and peaceful poltergeist.

Another August Anniversary : Joyeux Anniversaire AFP

When the Allied forces entered Paris in August 1944, eight French journalists took over the Office Français d'Information (OFI), which had been a tool of the Vichy regime and the Nazis.

On August 20, 1944 the Agence France Presse (AFP) we all know today sent out its first dispatch.
«À tous les journaux libres de Paris. Grâce à l'action des Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur, les premiers journaux libres vont paraître, à la veille de l'entrée des troupes alliées, dans Paris presque entièrement libéré. 
L'Agence Française de Presse leur adresse aujourd'hui son premier service. Au moment où des combats se livrent encore dans la ville, et où tombent de nombreux combattants de la liberté, nous saluons tous nos camarades de la presse, disparus, emprisonnés et déportés, et notamment nos 21 collaborateurs tombés dans les mains de la Gestapo. 
Au service de tous les journaux libres, l'Agence Française de Presse assurera, avec l'objectivité stricte qui est le devoir d'un organisme d'Information, la diffusion de nouvelles scrupuleusement contrôlées et recoupées, qui, en attendant l'installation d'une censure militaire, ne doivent en rien gêner la marche des opérations sur différents fronts.»
Happy 70th birthday to the AFP.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

R.I.P. Lauren Bacall 1924-2014, True Blue Liberal

Lauren Bacall passed away at the age of 89 in her apartment at the Dakota on August 12. This quote comes from the end of an article by Clancy Sigal I read on Salon this morning:
"All her life Lauren Bacall stayed a true-blue, New York, left-of-center, liberal Democrat lobbying for Adlai Stevenson and Bobby Kennedy. Or as she proudly boasted in a late interview, 'I’m anti-Republican. A liberal. The L-word!' "
I knew there was a reason other than her looks and "The Look" that I loved her in To Have and Have NotKey LargoSlick Hare, and The Big Sleep (and anything else she appeared in). I didn't have to dig too much deeper to find the transcript from "the L-word" interview with Larry King on CNN from May 6, 2005, when many liberals were renouncing that label.

KING: Have you always been politically motivated? 
BACALL: I have. I have. I come from a...
KING: You go back -- In fact, I saw you.
BACALL: I saw you? 
KING: I saw you speak for Adlai Stevenson. 
BACALL: You did? 
KING: In New York. I believe Bogey was with you. 
KING: In '52. 
BACALL: '52. That's when my -- two of my greatest friendships began with Arthur Schlesinger and Alistair Cooke, 1952. 
KING: And what a man Stevenson was. 
BACALL: Oh, what a great man. (INAUDIBLE) you see this country. Please. Don't get me started, as they say. 
KING: So we missed a good opportunity. I think, even his critic was say that Adlai Stevenson was a great...
BACALL: He was a brilliant, brilliant man. But no one had heard anyone except Roosevelt speak with wit. You know, they couldn't figure out what that was all about. Couldn't be serious. 
KING: He had a great wit. 
BACALL: He was brilliant. 
KING: Are you big a "D" Democrat? Do you...
BACALL: I'm a total Democrat. I'm anti-Republican. And it's only fair that you know it. Even though...
KING: Wait a minute. Are you a liberal? 
BACALL: I'm a liberal. The L word! 
KING: Egads! 
BACALL: I love it. Being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you're a liberal. You do not have a small mind. Little picayune things. You want to welcome everyone. Liberal, little picayune thing. 
KING: You're open to...
BACALL: You want to welcome everyone. Liberal, I'm a Roosevelt. I'm a -- and I hear anyone say anything about FDR... 
KING: You're a new dealer, fair dealer. 
BACALL: I'm a total -- and I was a kid and I'm total, total, total liberal and proud of it. And I think it's outrageous to say "the L word". I mean, excuse me. They should be damn lucky that they were liberals here. Liberals gave more to the population of the United States than any other group. 
KING: Well, Social Security. 
BACALL: Everything.
KING: Very well said. Spoken as a true liberal.    BACALL: Don't knock the liberals.   KING: I'm not.    BACALL: Yes, you are. You secretly you do.   

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Quote of the Day: "Visit the Caliphate Before the Caliphate Visits You"

It's not just NPR, but NPR is what I listen to when I'm not listening to music, so I have to blame them for giving over much too much of their Iraq coverage to the experts who were part of the fuck-up of the last decade. Having a uniform and brass on one's shoulder should not automatically qualify a person for opinions about war and peace, but NPR has been interviewing a lot of officers lately.

Here's the one I heard on the ride home this evening. At the 3'45" mark of this interview, Marine Colonel Gary Anderson (ret.) disqualifies himself by using the forbidden jargon "Boots on the Ground," but ten seconds later when Audie Cornish asks him if those "Boots" should be worn by Americans, he gives us our quote of the day:
"Well, I know it's not a popular thing. The American people think that they're uh tired of war, but uh they're gonna be a lot less tired when some of his [Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's] American passport holders come back and start shooting up shopping malls and things like that. I think the watchword that I would use is 'Visit the Caliphate Before the Caliphate Visits You.'" 
This "watchword" (another suspect bit of jargon) would fit perfectly coming from a mouth of a Bush Administration cabinet member and could have been written as one the publicity tropes coming out of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) in 2002-2003.

Network News Sums Up Woodstock for the Nation on August 18, 1969

Here's Walter Cronkite and the CBS News team. Be sure to watch the John Laurence commentary after the commercials for Carnation Slender and Friskies dog food:

Here's Frank Reynolds' ABC broadcast, in which Howard K. Smith's commentary sees Woodstock as a precursor of future overpopulation:

And here's a young Lem Tucker reporting from the scene for NBC:

It's too bad that there was no such thing as cable news in August 1969 so that Fox News could tell us how awful it really was.

Friday, August 15, 2014

45 years ago this afternoon, this happened...

... Richie Havens was the first performer to take the stage at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, and he set the mood and theme for the next three days of peace and music.
Try to forget this summer's bad news for at least the next four minutes and fifty-two seconds as you watch this video:

John 'n' Hillary

Seeing eye to eye on foreign policy.

Mother Jones has a quiz online today asking you to decide whether a foreign policy quotation came out of the mouth of John McCain or Hillary Clinton.

I have to admit my complete failure to tell the two apart, scoring an impressively mediocre 5 of 10 correct (but that's the point, isn't it?).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Let George Carlin Respond to Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh actually attributed Robin Williams' suicide to his liberalism:
"He had everything, everything that you would think would make you happy. But it didn’t. Now, what’s the left’s worldview in general? What is it? If you had to attach not a philosophy but an attitude to a leftist’s worldview, it’s one of pessimism and darkness, sadness. They’re never happy are they? They’re always angry about something. Not matter what they get, they’re always angry."

This vile nonsense doesn't deserve a reasoned answer about sadness and anger and clinical depression being totally different things; I feel better letting another gifted comedian who died too young reply to the stogie-sucking angry fat man hiding behind the radio microphone:
Sometimes a cigar isn't just a cigar.

Friday, August 08, 2014

In a week of significant anniversaries, here's another.

The day after Philippe Petit walked between the World Trade Center towers in New York City in 1974, Richard Nixon tried to distract our attention from that feat by calling a press conference in Washington.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A Day to Remember Ernest Gruening and Wayne Morse

On this fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that pulled us deeper into Vietnam on false pretenses, I wasn't happy to turn on my computer at lunchtime to see this updated headline about Iraq on The New York Times' homepage:
"U.S. Weighs Iraq Airstrikes, Citing Crisis" The New York Times, 8/7/2014 at 1pm EDT
On August 7, 1964, the House voted unanimously and the Senate voted with only two exceptions to give President Johnson the authority to "take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force" in Vietnam after an incident between American warships and North Vietnamese patrol boats in the Gulf of Tonkin that turned out to be not at all what it was presented to be when Johnson and McNamara explained it to the press, the Congress, and the American people.

Members of Congress and the American people should always remember when they read a bellicose headline or watch a speech from a Secretary of Defense or State with professional-looking maps, that only two members of Congress took a correct action 50 years ago today.

All Vietnam is not worth the life of an American boy...
Alaska Senator Ernest Gruening, August 1964
I believe that history will record this resolution as a historic mistake. I am not going to go along with this kind of program, in South Vietnam … that in my judgment is going to kill needlessly untold numbers of American boys, and for nothing.
— Oregon Senator Wayne Morse, August 1964

If you want more details of the event itself, click here for the the Gulf of Tonkin excerpt from Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

40 Years Ago Today Above New York City.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

69 Years Ago Today

Very few people alive today remember clearly what it was like to be a member of a species that never felt threatened with complete annihilation.

In the film above, as you can see from the curtains moving around the porthole behind him, President Truman is on a ship returning from the Potsdam conference, but here's the full text of the statement he's reading as it was released by the White House 69 years ago today, when the world was ushered into the nuclear age.

August 6, 1945

THE WHITE HOUSE Washington, D.C.


Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British "Grand Slam" which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.

The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development.

It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.

Before 1939, it was the accepted belief of scientists that it was theoretically possible to release atomic energy. But no one knew any practical method of doing it. By 1942, however, we knew that the Germans were working feverishly to find a way to add atomic energy to the other engines of war with which they hoped to enslave the world. But they failed. We may be grateful to Providence that the Germans got the V-1's and V-2's late and in limited quantities and even more grateful that they did not get the atomic bomb at all.

The battle of the laboratories held fateful risks for us as well as the battles of the air, land, and sea, and we have now won the battle of the laboratories as we have won the other battles.

Beginning in 1940, before Pearl Harbor, scientific knowledge useful in war was pooled between the United States and Great Britain, and many priceless helps to our victories have come from that arrangement. Under that general policy the research on the atomic bomb was begun. With American and British scientists working together we entered the race of discovery against the Germans.

The United States had available the large number of scientists of distinction in the many needed areas of knowledge. It had the tremendous industrial and financial resources necessary for the project and they could be devoted to it without undue impairment of other vital war work. In the United States the laboratory work and the production plants, on which a substantial start had already been made, would be out of reach of enemy bombing, while at that time Britain was exposed to constant air attack and was still threatened with the possibility of invasion. For these reasons Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt agreed that it was wise to carry on the project here. We now have two great plants and many lesser works devoted to the production of atomic power. Employment during peak construction numbered 125,000 and over 65,000 individuals are even now engaged in operating the plants. Many have worked there for two and a half years. Few know what they have been producing. They see great quantities of material going in and they see nothing coming out of these plants, for the physical size of the explosive charge is exceedingly small. We have spent two billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history -- and won.

But the greatest marvel is not the size of the enterprise, its secrecy, nor its cost, but the achievement of scientific brains in putting together infinitely complex pieces of knowledge held by many men in different fields of science into a workable plan. And hardly less marvelous has been the capacity of industry to design and of labor to operate, the machines and methods to do things never done before so that the brainchild of many minds came forth in physical shape and performed as it was supposed to do. Both science and industry worked under the direction of the United States Army, which achieved a unique success in managing so diverse a problem in the advancement of knowledge in an amazingly short time. It is doubtful if such another combination could be got together in the world. What has been done is the greatest achievement of organized science in history. It was done under pressure and without failure.

We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war.

It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such number that and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware.

The Secretary of War, who has kept in personal touch with all phases of the project, will immediately make public a statement giving further details.

His statement will give facts concerning the sites at Oak Ridge near Knoxville, Tennessee, and at Richland, near Pasco, Washington, and an installation near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although the workers at the sites have been making materials to be used producing the greatest destructive force in history they have not themselves been in danger beyond that of many other occupations, for the utmost care has been taken of their safety.

The fact that we can release atomic energy ushers in a new era in man's understanding of nature's forces. Atomic energy may in the future supplement the power that now comes from coal, oil, and falling water, but at present it cannot be produced on a bases to compete with them commercially. Before that comes there must be a long period of intensive research. It has never been the habit of the scientists of this country or the policy of this government to withhold from the world scientific knowledge. Normally, therefore, everything about the work with atomic energy would be made public.

But under the present circumstances it is not intended to divulge the technical processes of production or all the military applications. Pending further examination of possible methods of protecting us and the rest of the world from the danger of sudden destruction.

I shall recommend that the Congress of the United States consider promptly the establishment of an appropriate commission to control the production and use of atomic power within the United States. I shall give further consideration and make further recommendations to the Congress as to how atomic power can become a powerful and forceful influence towards the maintenance of world peace.

Source: Harry S. Truman Library, "Army press notes," box 4, Papers of Eben A. Ayers.

Friday, August 01, 2014


This is a question about language and how it frames our debates. If Israeli defense forces and Hamas are at war in Gaza, how can the action of taking a prisoner of war by either side be described as a "kidnapping"?
And when will the United States return all those kidnap victims we've been holding in Guantanamo for over a decade?