Gotta love this story about a Vanity Fair issue devoted entirely to the environment. The columnist is sympathetic to the cause, but get this detail on the cover shot:
It shows movie heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio on an iceberg with a very cute little polar bear cub.
Said Vanity Fair: "Polar bears are imperiled by the melting of the Arctic ice. The Bush administration, which has yet to decide whether to list the polar bear as a threatened species, understands the power of symbols, and has warned government scientists not to speak publicly about polar bears or climate change at international meetings. Knut, the cub on our cover, was born in the Berlin Zoo. We brought him together with Leonardo DiCaprio the only way we could, in a photomontage. Knut was photographed by Annie Leibovitz in Berlin. DiCaprio, no stranger to icebergs, was photographed by Leibovitz at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland. Yes, we know, there are no polar bears in Iceland. If trends continue there won't be any in Canada either."
Yep, global warming is real and so important that Vanity Fair flew its photographer to Berlin and Iceland just to create a dramatic cover.
This time I wasn't late for the conference call, and I actually managed to get a chance to ask a question!
There were a fair number of bloggers on the conference call, and questions were asked by John Hinderaker, Lorie Byrd, Ann Althouse and others.
The first question was on the news I reported just below this post, about Romney's statement that indicated catching Bin Laden was not a priority. Senator McCain said that he did not want to get into criticizing the other candidates, but that he absolutely felt that capturing Osama bin Laden was one of the top goals for any administration in battling the terrorists.
Lorie Byrd asked how Senator McCain would improve the communications problem that President Bush has had at times. He noted that the President had given an excellent and detailed briefing on the war just last week. He also said that he wasn't going to get into the media bashing game, that he's quite accustomed to dealing with the media.
Another blogger asked about hybrid vehicles and what we could do to encourage their use. McCain said that as a country we need to do more but that he was reluctant for government to take a lead role in that with mandates and restrictions.
John Hinderaker asked about Social Security and Medicare and how we can get those on solid footings. McCain suggested it would take a bipartisan approach.
Ann Althouse asked about the Supreme Court and whether McCain would be open to maintaining a moderate balance on the court. McCain said that while he was not in favor of litmus tests on issues like abortion, he did feel that he wanted strict constructionalists. He also indicated that he would like to see some people with real world experience in there, not people whose sole qualifications were being lawyers and judges (although obviously they need to have some experience there as well).
I got on near the end and noted that everybody had covered specific issues quite well, so I wondered if I could ask an "inside baseball" question. Looking at the electoral college map, were there any blue states in 2004 that he felt he could flip to the Republican column?
He complimented me on the question and noted that we were all political junkies so he liked a little inside baseball. He felt that California was a state that the Republicans need to at least make competitive, and that as a Westerner, he would have a chance in the Golden State. I note that President Bush won 44% of the vote there in 2004. He also liked his chances in Pennsylvania, which of course is certainly in play. He also thought that New York was possible, which seems unlikely especially if Hillary is the Democratic nominee, and that he'd like to make a good showing in New England, while recognizing that time and money pressures would make that less likely.
One big thrill came when Senator McCain noted that his fellow POW, Colonel Bud Day had introduced him to the crowd in Sioux City, Iowa. Those who've been reading this blog know that Colonel Day is a big hero to me, as he should be to all Americans.
[Romney] said the country would be safer by only "a small percentage" and would see "a very insignificant increase in safety" if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," Romney said. Instead, he said he supports a broader strategy to defeat the Islamic jihad movement.
I agree with York's take on this; it is absolutely worth spending billions of dollars to get Osama. Note as well that if we either capture or kill Osama, the odds are very high that we will be doing the same to a bunch of other Al Qaeda higher-ups.
And Osama isn't just 9-11, although that is obviously his worst exploit. He's also responsible for the embassy bombings, the USS Cole, and just recently admitted to being behind an attempt on the life of Vice President Cheney.
"The September 11th Commission reported that al-Qaeda had been trying to acquire or build nuclear weapons for well over a decade. Former CIA Director George Tenet said that Osama bin Laden sees the acquisition of WMD as a 'religious obligation.' Jihadist clerics have issued fatwas authorizing the use of nuclear weapons to... 'defeat the infidels.'
Here's the claim, regarding Curt Schilling's famed performance in the 2004 World Series:
The great story we were talking about the other night was that famous red stocking that he wore when they finally won, the blood on his stocking. Nah. It was painted. Doug Mirabelli confessed up to it after. It was all for PR.
Schilling's one of my favorite players in baseball, and not solely because of his conservative politics and support for President Bush. It's because he works hard to be successful:
He reviews pitches he's thrown to opposing hitters on his laptop computer. He has 90 CDs loaded with 20,000 pitches dating back to 1995. "I'm a computer nerd," said Schilling.
He also has a detailed book on the tendencies of every major league umpire.
"You get a feel for them," he said.
Even when he's not pitching, Schilling is in the dugout watching and taking notes.
I suspect strongly that this is not about Game 2 of the 2004 World Series. Indeed, this transcript indicates that Thorne has other issues with Schilling:
If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.
Ah, I've been meaning to get into a 10-step program for awhile now; let's see what they entail:
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."
Okay, so your rule should be "Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy with no defined end?" You can tell that Wolf is going off the deep end already if her Rule #1 doesn't really quite fit. And Wolf does not even pretend that Bush has created an "internal" enemy.
2. Create a gulag
Of course, Wolf is referring to Camp X-Ray, but the Russians did not create a gulag for outsiders, they created a gulag for their own people. Ditto with the Nazis and their concentration camps.
3. Develop a thug caste
Here Wolf has in mind the Brownshirts, the Blackshirts and those terrifying security company thugs here in the US. Seriously.
It goes on, but you get the point. As I've said many times in the past, the idiots who claim America is turning into the Third Reich are not minimizing the evils of Nazi Germany, or overblowing the supposed evils of the Bush Administration. They are fancying themselves the noble heroes who resisted Hitler.
A reporter from the Cleveland Plain Dealer encouraged USS Kucinich to contact planet Earth. "But Nancy Pelosi says this is not going anywhere," she pointed out.
"Have you talked to her today?" Kucinich shot back.
"Yes, I did," she replied.
Kucinich had not expected that answer. "Then I would say I have not talked to her," he acknowledged.
Read it all; it's quite a romp. Milbank goes after Kucinich for his height, for his rug, and for his kooky belief that the American public wants Cheney impeached. Of course, this is all really aimed at the Democratic primary voters for 2008, not at Dick Cheney.
From Mark Burnett Productions and MySpace, INDEPENDENT is an interactive television series that will engage and empower young Americans to participate in the political process at an unprecedented level. The show is a reality-based competition where America will select a candidate whom they feel will best reflect the voice of young Americans.
By combining reality-competition television with the Internet, INDEPENDENT will help reshape the face of American politics, including the next Presidential election.
It's got the typical prize: One million bucks, but with an atypical string:
In INDEPENDENT, the winner will receive an award of one million dollars that they cannot keep. What they do with that million dollars is subject to a list of options, all political in nature, but the choice the winner makes will be greatly influenced by the MySpace community and the viewers of the network television show.
Will the winner choose to donate the money to a political action group (e.g. global warming or education reform)? Will they provide the initial donation to form a third political party that better represents the voices of young Americans? Will they make their own run for the White House in 2008? All of these decisions will be shaped by viewers who watch the show, and influence our winner.
I'll make a prediction right here and now; the winner donates the money to Hillary's campaign.
Allah may have been influenced by our posts over at Screw Loose Change, which he linked. I'll admit that there's an argument to be made that Kerry had to know what the questioners were really implying, but from our standpoint at SLC we don't want to chide Democrats and liberals for dodging the Truthers as long as they don't really encourage them. We try to be non-partisan at that site (although both of us are Republicans).
If Kerry replies about this stuff being crackpottery, the questioner may start on about "free fall speeds" and "NORAD stand-downs" that a) Kerry's not equipped to answer and b) that doesn't sell copies of his book. And in fairness to Kerry, the questions were oblique enough that they didn't require a forceful refutation.
If a Democrat wants to dodge the Truthers, I'm willing to cut them a break, just as I would cut Republicans a break who dodge the North American Union nonsense, and all politicians dodged that "notch-baby" crap. I don't like Kerry; I've got pretty good credentials in that regard.
I've commented in the past that I don't particularly like O'Reilly's bombastic style, but he's right on the money with his criticism of George Soros and Media Matters, a kook outfit that harasses any media outlets that aren't comfortably to the left of Fidel Castro.
Here's a graphic used on the program:
The Tides Foundation has attracted attention in the past. In 2004 it was disclosed that John Kerry's wife, Teh-RAY-za Heinz Kerry, had financed Tides to the tune of $4 million. Among other groups, Tides donated $150,000 to the Ruckus Society, a bunch of nutty anarchists who caused $3 million in damage to Seattle during the WTO riots in 1999. The Ruckus group also planned major disruptions of the Republican National Convention in 2004, although they were largely unsuccessful:
Although they threatened a ruckus disruptive enough to force the evacuation of the Big Apple’s Madison Square Garden, protester activists left last week’s GOP convention with their proverbial tails tucked between their legs. For all of their big talk, tall tales, pink panties and traffic-stopping tactics, the Republican convention went off without a glitch.
Needless to say, all this talk about Soros cash and the Media Matters creeps has the Lefty blogs up in arms:
Here is how it works: You see, George Soros gives million dollar bills to someone (probably Hillary Clinton) at the mysteriously named Open Society Institute who then goes to the check cashing place and gets them broken down into thousand dollar bills (out of sequence of course) which are then placed in those Hallmark envelopes (with the oval for the dead president face to show through) that grandmothers use to give out five dollar bills on birthdays and mitzvahs.
This is pretty amusing. Apparently Maureen Dowd took a break from her routine of bashing Bush to give John Edwards a helping of criticism for his $400 pompadour. And the Lefty blogs are tearing into each other and her and him:
What I don't understand is John Edwards. A presidential campaign demands so many sacrifices. It rips you from your family, forces a ceaseless travel schedule, demands constant kowtowing to parochial primary voters, demands endless humiliating fundraising calls, and imposes a thousand indignities and inconveniences, some major, some minor. So why, in all that he is giving up, did he not eschew the big house or the costly cut?
ezra klein's an idiot about maureen dowd at least. and we say that with deep regret since we read him regularly and normally we find him thoughtful and informative. plus he writes well. but about l'affair du haircut, he's an idiot. and worse, he's a battered democrat, hoping the abusive press won't hit our candidates if they behave well.
I know several female on-air television personalities who spend considerably less than this on haircuts, though Japanese straightening treatments can take them into the over $500 range. I can’t imagine Edwards spent $400 for just a haircut. That seems excessive, even for a top salon, given how short his hair is, how basic his style is, and given that men’s cuts generally run less than women’s.
We are currently suffering through the last two years of a President who is manifestly unqualified for the job, and has no discernible interest in most of the issues that affect ordinary Americans. Thank heavens, then, that Maureen Dowd has decided to use her column not to score cheap points, but to focus our attention on an issue of immense national significance: John Edwards' haircut.
But of course if La Dowd had written a column on Bush's haircut, they would not be talking about how this was a distraction from issues that affect ordinary Americans.
I propose a limitation be put on how many sqares [sic] of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required. When presenting this idea to my younger brother, who's (sic) judgement [sic] I trust implicitly, he proposed taking it one step further. I believe his quote was, "how bout just washing the one square out."
I suspect Sheryl's greener, because her brother's probably brown by now.
The Amazing Race: All the Best Macao Boys Have Chinese Eyes
Or, the show that never ends. I'm a little ticked off at the producers for today's episode. Teams take a ferry to Macao, where they must find the tallest structure, the Macao Tower. Caution: Yield ahead. Young gay is low on funds, so they make a deal with the Beauty Queens to yield Eric and Danielle. The BQs reason that this protects them, and puts a tough team on the ropes, since they're already marked for elimination. Charla and Mirna arrive shortly thereafter and offer the Young Gays money. Ah, the irony! For the Roadblock, one player must walk around the top of the tower, then skydive off:
Miss New York does it for the Beauty Queens and makes a comment about how she almost crapped her pants. Not an image we need! Meanwhile, Eric and Danielle are stunned to be yielded again and furious at Young Gay.
Next stop: Go to a Chinese garden, where the cluebox has a Detour: Noodle or Dragon. In Noodle, teams must make Chinese noodles using a see-saw like device to flatten the raw materials. The key here appears to be cutting the noodles fine enough, as both the Beauty Queens and One and a Half Women end up having to redo the task. The BQs leave first followed by Eric and Danielle.
Meanwhile Young Gay have gotten lost on the way to do the Dragon task, which requires them to bring a Dragon's head and a drum down to the boat docks. At first their cabbie takes them to the docks, so they have to go back to the start. Then they get lost on the way back to the docks (Dudes, you didn't pay attention?). When Charla and Mirna finish the noodle task they are ahead.
Next task: Drive Mini-Mokes (which look like golf carts to the Pitstop on the Island of Taipa. The Beauty Queens finish first and win Wave-Runners (I assume some sort of Jet-Ski) Eric and Danielle arrive next, but must wait out the half-hour penalty. Charla & Mirna arrive about halfway through, and things are looking a little grim for the Frat Boy and his girlfriend.
Meanwhile, the BQs flat out lie to Eric and Danielle, claiming they gave the money to Young Gay to not yield them. That's a bunch of baloney; they specified they wanted Eric & Danielle yielded.
But the Young Gays get lost yet again (ditch that taxi driver) and it appears that the Yield Karma has come back to bite them on the rear. Finally Phil checks in Eric & Danielle and when the Young Gays arrive Phil tells them that they are the last team to arrive... and... and... oh, for Pete's sake, another non-elimination leg? Aaarrrggghhhh!
The Power Line guys have an excellent post up about the heroism of Admiral James Stockdale:
Years after being freed, Stockdale presented himself for vice president on Ross Perot's ticket. He began his campaign by asking, "Who am I? Why am I here?" - only to be mocked by the press as a bumbler who was out of his depth. But his family can take comfort in the fact that generations, even centuries from now, when the individuals who belittled those words are forgotten in the dusts of history, Americans will know exactly who James Stockdale was and exactly why he was here.
As I have remarked in the past, I realized this guy Dennis Miller was something special when he blasted the media and the American public for the initial reaction to Stockdale's performance in the debate:
The reason he had to turn his hearing aid on at that debate is because those f*cking animals knocked his eardrums out when he wouldn't spill his guts. He teaches philosophy at Stanford University, he's a brilliant, sensitive, courageous man. And yet he committed the one unpardonable sin in our culture: he was bad on television. Somewhere out there Paddy Chayefsky must be laughing his ass off.
Indeed, if you look at the men who were held as POWs by the North Vietnamese, their heroism is quite amazing:
"The Navy Cross is presented to Jeremiah A. Denton, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from February 1966 to May 1966. Under constant pressure from North Vietnamese interrogators and guards, Rear Admiral Denton (then Commander) experienced harassment, intimidation and ruthless treatment in their attempt to gain military information and cooperative participation for propaganda purposes. During this prolonged period of physical and mental agony, he heroically resisted cruelties and continued to promulgate resistance policy and detailed instructions. Forced to attend a press conference with a Japanese correspondent, he blinked out a distress message in Morse Code at the television camera and was understood by United States Naval Intelligence. Displaying extraordinary skill, fearless dedication to duty, and resourcefulness, he reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces."
Colonel Bud Day, the most decorated living American:
On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him.
In addition to the physical tortures, Commander Galanti was subjected to an agonizing session after "violating the prison regulations." Having received two letters and a package from Phyllis, he assumed it was a special deal to make him look bad in the eyes of his fellow POW's. In order to show that such was not the case, he threw a package of Lifesavers to one of the other cells in the bath-house. A guard saw and reported it. For this he was made to sit on a small stool in an interrogation room during the coldest part of the year. He sat there for ten days and nights, drugged and deprived of sleep, before being forced to apologize to the camp commander.
It wasn't over yet. Again low on fuel, Thorsness headed for a tanker just as one of the strike force pilots, lost and almost out of fuel, called him for help. Thorsness knew he couldn't make Takhli without refueling. Rapidly calculating that he could stretch it to Udorn, some 200 miles closer, without taking on fuel, he directed the tanker toward the lost pilot. Once across the Mekong, he throttled back to idle and "glided" toward Udorn, touching down as his tanks went dry. That four-hour mission had been, as Johnson said, "a full day's work."
Eleven days later, while Thorsness was on his 93rd mission, a MiG popped up from behind a mountain and put a missile up the tailpipe of his F-105. He and Johnson ejected at 600 knots, Thorsness suffering severe injuries. Both men spent almost the next six years in North Vietnam's prisons. Because of his "uncooperative attitude," Thorsness was denied medical attention, spent a year in solitary, and suffered severe back injuries under torture. On March 4, 1973, both men walked away from prison, Thorsness on crutches. No one could ever say that Leo Thorsness hadn't paid his dues in full.
There are many more stories like these about our incredibly brave POWs. Look into the stories of Kenneth W. Cordier, Kevin McManus, Carlyle S. "Smitty" Harris, John McCain and many others.