Completely short on time, I can only satisfy my weekly blog hit by simply posting what I have here... Sorry folks. But some of it is pretty interesting, starting with some good misc political links.
(BTW that was some lively discussion session, after the last one!)
Barack Obama drains 3-point jumper on first try in Kuwait. Wow. (I am hoping also to get some grapevine buzz over how commanders felt, after meeting him. I hope he works as hard as Clinton did, to meet and understand the Officer Corps. It would do him no harm to quietly invite a senior officer with him on the plane, every other day. And listen.)
-- Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales broke the law by using politics to guide their hiring decisions for a wide range of important department positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility and independence, an internal report concluded Monday.
-- Another tedious reminder... I have long said don’t forget local races. Booting the paleocons out of a dozen statehouses will do as much for America as anything else could. Indeed, nothing else could more devastatingly show the GOP that they must re-invent themselves from the ground up. Find the nearest state assembly or senate or congressional race that is “competitive.” That is where a little volunteer time could make the biggest leverage-effect... and where you’ll have more personal fun... than just helping the national campaign. If there are no such local races, or you live in California or New York, where it doesn’t matter, then look farther afield. If just five Texas Assembly seats change hands, this year, that state will experience an earthquake-level flip, reversing the horrible deLay Gerrymandering. This will not only doubly punish the cheaters, but (I predict) cause the GOP to “discover virtue” and suddenly become the party that opposes gerrymandering! (If so... 2010, some of us may even start listening to conservatives again! But they’ll have a ways to go, to re-earn any trust.)
-- Stuff from Russ Daggatt:
Turns out, McCain is WAY out in front for the most votes missed by any Senator: He has missed 62.6% of all votes – the only other Senator to miss a majority of votes was Tim Johnson of South Dakota who, as you may recall, suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage and spent several months recovering. Even then, Johnson only missed 50.3% of Senate votes. Apparently a senator would have to die to have a worse voting record than McCain. (So now you are probably asking, what about Obama? Despite a much longer primary campaign than McCain, Obama only missed 43.7% of the Senates votes – casting 50% more votes than McCain.)
Oh, and despite being the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain attended ZERO of his own committee’s six hearings on Afghanistan – not important, I guess. And now McCain is running attack ads against Obama asserting that as chairman of the European Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Obama failed to hold a single hearing on Afghanistan . I bet you didn’t know Afghanistan was in Europe , did you? But, see, according to McCain, since we have NATO allies in Afghanistan , the war there falls under Obama’s subcommittee jurisdiction (even though Committee chairman Biden thinks otherwise).
Identifying Who Survives Disasters — And Why -- "Since 9/11 the U.S. government has sent over $23 billion to states and cities in the name of homeland security. Almost none of that money has gone toward intelligently enrolling regular people like you and me in the cause." http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92616679
More Worries about McCain Mother Jones co-founder Jeffrey Klein is hardly impartial. Still, he’s a respected journalist and the facts in his recent scathing article about John McCain speak for themselves. Some snippets:”All of the (accusations) that the New York Times published a flattering lie about McCain's (naval) career on its front page are easy for John McCain to refute. All he needs to do is sign Standard Form 180, which authorizes the Navy to send an undeleted copy of McCain's naval file to news organizations. ... There's no reason McCain's full file shouldn't be released immediately. In June 2005, seven months after he lost his bid for president, Senator John Kerry signed the 180 waiver, authorizing the release of his complete military service record ... Unlike Kerry, McCain shouldn't wait until after the election to do so....
“Some of the unreleased pages in McCain's Navy file may not reflect well upon his qualifications for the presidency. From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain's sense of entitlement to privileged treatment bears an eerie resemblance to George W. Bush's.Despite graduating in the bottom 1 percent of his Annapolis class, McCain was offered the most sought-after Navy assignment -- to become an aircraft carrier pilot.... (even so) instead of the sleek and newer Phantoms and Crusaders, McCain flew the dependable Douglas A-4 Skyhawk in an attack, not a fighter squadron. He was thus on the lower end of the flying totem pole."
In training exercises, he crashed four expensive jets... not a major indictment in itself, but Klein describes a devil may-care and flippant, fly-boy attitude that bears uncanny resemblance to that of Air National Guard pilot George W Bush, who similarly got his wings under strong aromas of favoritism.
FUNDAMENTALS OF LIBERAL VS CONSERVATIVE THINKING? ---
'A study funded by the US government has concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity".' .
Well... for the sake of credibility, let’s be fair: as we've seen, there are countless leftists who exhibit precisely the same neurotic failings. Indeed, these are traits far more typical of romanticism - of left or right - than conservatism, per se. And romanticism, as a deep, memic imperative, most definitely is deeply opposed to the entire Enlightenment project.
Certainly, it seems quite valid to make a distinction between most "liberals"-- who tend to be non-dogmatic, adaptable, and sensitive to nuance -- and the "leftists" who fixate on dogmas, litmus-tests and nonsensical political correctness. The latter are classic romantics and can be as anger-drenched as anyone on the right. Only with one major distinction...the loony lefties do not - and never have - control a major American political party, while the loony right has seized total control over theirs.
Are conservatives statistically more likely, en masse, to be romantics than liberals are? I think that can be argued with a great deal of confidence. Still, I am frankly disgusted with "psychological researchers" who are so blind to the common threads that link the far right and left, rather than dividing them.
Vastly more interesting is the work of Jonathan Haidt, who found a liberal-conservative distinction that seems to have far more generality, correlation and explanatory power. Haidt found five general drivers of moral opinion and fervor:
Cultural conservatives work hard to cultivate moral virtues based on all five of these... in keeping with the patterns that are seen in nearly all predecessor cultures.
Liberals are the ones who are historically anomalous -- raised in a modern society with high degrees of personal safety, predictability, comfort, physical and social mobility and education, they tend to pick only the latter pair of fundamental moral drivers -- (4) who is being harmed/neglected and (5) whether a situation seems fair. Hence unusual marriage patterns and/or recreational drugs seem less threatening, lacking any victims. Indeed, Haidt’s research reveals a very powerful point -- one of the things that has driven the decline of liberalism has been its refusal to credit any validity to the other three moral drivers, even though all five were potent in every known, prior human culture.
In fact, liberalism’s refusal to grant any honor or dignity to the “older” three drivers would have to qualify as a form of... well... bigotry. Let’s admit it, and try to listen better, so we can fight for the future more effectively. (Oh, and consider the many ways in which liberals, especially of the left, actually carry dogmatic passions of “sanctity and purity and authority” themselves! What is political correctness, then?)
More from Daggatt: Asked by Diane Sawyer whether the situation in Afghanistan in precarious and urgent," McCain responded: "I think it's serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border."
But as ABC's Rick Klein noted: " Iraq and Pakistan do not share a border. Afghanistan and Pakistan do."
Okay, maybe you’ve heard that one. But just last week, McCain repeatedly referred to Czechoslovakia, a country that hasn't existed since 1993. And, of course, there was his confusion of “Shiites” and “Sunnis” in Iraq . Not just once. But at least twice.
And finally... I just learned how much of the world's investment capital is held by pension funds and similar workers' retirement plans. THIRTY TRILLION DOLLARS. That is more than a third of the amount currently invested in available investment equities, including the stock of nearly all corporations. In other words, the workers already own the means of production. Wrap your heads around that one... then discuss why they aren't using that ownership power.
Got to run.