Archive for January, 2010

Deliverance Meets Lawrence of Arabia

Ralph Peters with some words of encouragement for sub-Saharan Africa:

Whatever planet Earth may find in short supply in 2010, violence and misrule will remain abundant, from the most-recent round of Muslim-vs.-Christian massacres in Nigeria to Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez’s delight in unleashing his thugs on students marching for freedom.

But no region — not even sub-Saharan Africa — competes with the greater Middle East when it comes to wanton savagery, thwarted opportunities and the danger posed to innocent populations around the world. With fanatical terrorists of unprecedented brutality, Islamist extremists pursuing nuclear weapons, rogue regimes, disintegrating states and threats of genocide against Israel, the lands of heat and dust between the Nile and the Indus form a realm of deadly failure that will haunt the civilized world throughout our lifetimes.

A survey of the region’s key countries — and problems — doesn’t offer much good news for the Obama Administration’s naive foreign policy efforts:

Said survey follows.

Oh, okay, you want a few highlights?

LEBANON: This isn’t a country — it’s a temporary stand-off.

Hezbollah has been rearming mightily in the wake of its 2006 war with Israel. A new war would devastate much of Lebanon — if internal strife doesn’t do it first.

EGYPT: … Egypt faces a potential succession crisis as octogenarian president Hosni Mubarak, who’s ruled the country for almost three decades, grooms his singularly unimpressive son, Gamal, to take over upon his death.

SYRIA: The neighborhood’s in such awful shape that this police state’s beginning to look like a success story…. When Damascus looks like a beacon, it’s getting awfully dark in the Middle East.

IRAQ: Can’t say we didn’t try. After years of serious progress toward a national compromise… [r]econciliation has come to a screeching halt. The Shia are smug, the Sunnis feel betrayed, and the Kurds are still denied title to the traditionally Kurdish city of Kirkuk. Every faction’s fighting for a greater share of oil revenues. And the Obama administration’s AWOL (this was Bush’s war — we wouldn’t want a positive outcome).

SAUDI ARABIA: Its two main exports are oil and fanaticism…. They care only for their repressive version of Islam. The birthplace of Bin Laden, Saudi Arabia’s differences with his terror organization are over strategy and tactics, not over their mutual goal of forcing extremist Islam on all of humanity.

IRAN: Racing to acquire nuclear weapons, delighting in the prospect of a cataclysmic war that would lead to the “return of the hidden imam,” beating the hell out of its own people in the streets, murdering members of the intelligentsia, and explicit in its vows to destroy Israel, the government of Iran continues to be protected by China and Russia.

If you want to know more about that benighted, poxy patch of scrub and swampland… I pity you. You need a date.

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How It Went Down

[Channeling my inner Bob Newhart, this is how I see this policy shift having been made.]

So, Mr. President, your plan to bring KSM to the big town flopped. It always was a bit of a long shot, sir, I’m sure even you will agree.

Not that big of a long shot, no sir. It’s just a figure of speech.

But the show must go on. As the song goes, sir:

Nothing’s impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start All over again.

Yes sir, no more singing. If I may offer a suggestion, however, sir, perhaps you might look at another venue to stage this little spectacle. No one said you had to open on Broadway.

Well, yes sir, I guess you did. But perhaps you might look a little further south.

Even farther south, sir. The Minetta Lane Theater is a lovely space, to be sure, and I’ll never forget seeing The Fantasticks at the Sullivan—yes sir, I’ll finish my review later.

Let me give you a hint, if you’ll allow me, sir. Think Godfather II, Hymen Roth, Michael Corleone….

Yes sir, Little Italy is a very good guess.

Yes, Orchard Street is another good guess, sir. But I’m thinking even further south. If I may, sir:

I like to be in America,
Okay by me in America…

Sorry about the singing, sir, I was just trying—yes, I know that’s Puerto Rico, sir, but it was just supposed to be a hint. Let me give it away, sir.

You Want Me on That Wall You Need Me on That Wall sound bite

You don’t want the truth because deep down in places that you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.

The China Syndrome, sir? Oh I see. Yes, indeed, China does have a wall. I’m sorry, I should just tell—no, not Chinatown, either.

Cuba, sir. A Few Good Men… Guantanamo… ring a bell sir?

The trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed won’t be held in lower Manhattan and could take place in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, sources said last night.

Administration officials said that no final decision had been made but that officials of the Department of Justice and the White House were working feverishly to find a venue that would be less expensive and less of a security risk than New York City.

The back-to-the-future Gitmo option was reported yesterday by Fox News and was not disputed by White House officials.

Such a move would likely bring howls of protest from liberals already frustrated that President Obama has failed to meet his deadline for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

It would also indicate that after years of attacking the Bush administration for its handling of the war on terror, Obama officials are embracing one of the most controversial aspects of it.

Okay, maybe my little scene wasn’t hysterically funny, but you’ll have to agree this turn of events is.

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So, It’s Not a Bolshevik Plot, Huh?

The CPUSA begs to differ:

RUSH: So Obama says he’s not a Bolshevik but, folks, the Communist Party USA loves Obama. Here are just some sample headlines. “CPUSA and Obama Platforms are Identical.” August 8th, 2008: “Forget for the moment about Bill Ayers and Obama’s other Communist friends and mentors of the distant past,” and they go on to cite how his agenda and theirs are platforms, Obama’s and the CPUSA, are identical.

It’s just what the Communist Party USA wants, just what Obama is doing. Here’s another: CPUSA: Obama Will change USA Forever,” and they’re happy about it! August 7th, 2008: “Communist Party CPUSA Endorses Obama.”

“Communist Party USA Hails Obama Victory.” “‘From the understandably elated editors of the Communist Party USA’s people’s weekly, formerly the Daily Worker, July 1st, 2009: ‘Communist Party USA Eelebrates Obama’s First Six Months.’” “Communist Party USA to Take the Streets for Obama,” August 10th, 2009. This is to oppose the tea parties and the town hall meetings that were going on. “Communist Party USA Honors SEIU and the AFSCME Union Leaders.” “CPUSA Speech Lays Out Obama Agenda.” I mean, it’s right there for people to see; and these are not, you know, play communists. They’re not all that powerful here. Well, they are actually with Obama in office. But he says that he’s not a Bolshevik. “I’m not. I’m not an ideologue,” but he most definitely is.

QED

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Cross Words

Just found out about this, but a new (as in 65-year-old) Chagall crucifixion has returned to the art world:

[W]hen David Glasser, one of the museum’s chairmen, was perusing a Paris auction catalog a few months ago, he found it hard to believe what he saw: a previously unknown 1945 gouache by Marc Chagall. It was one of a small group of images Chagall made in direct response to the Holocaust, after he and his wife had fled France in 1941, after the German occupation and after he had begun to learn the details of the Nazi atrocities.

The gouache on heavy paper, which Chagall signed and titled himself lightly with a pencil in Russian — “Apocalypse in Lilac, Capriccio” — employs one of his familiar motifs, an image of a crucified Jesus, which he used as a metaphor for persecuted Jewry. But this crucifixion, painted in New York, where Chagall settled for several years, is one of the most brutal and disturbing ever created by an artist primarily known for his brightly colored folkloric visions.

“Apocalypse” shows a naked Christ screaming at a Nazi storm trooper below the cross, who has a backwards swastika on his arm, a Hitler-like mustache and a serpentine tail. Another small figure can be seen crucified and a second being hanged, and a man appears to be poised to stab a child. A damaged, upside-down clock falls from the sky. The darkness and directness of the work may have been a response not only to the war but also to the death of Chagall’s wife, Bella, a year earlier from a viral infection that might have been treated if not for wartime medicine shortages.

As the article mentions, Chagall adopted the theme of the crucifixion (lower case) as central to his work.

Perhaps most famously (and certainly more recognizably Chagall) in “White Crucifixion”:

The White Crucifixion is enigmatic. To describe it, the roughly square painting depicts a slightly distorted crucified Christ clad, not in the traditional loin cloth, but a Jewish prayer shawl; the cross bathed in a blistering white beam of light from above while all around are elements of the Jewish unrest and persecution taking place in Germany and Russia at the time. A synagogue burns, homes are destroyed, the Red Army marches, no match for the impending holocaust. The white and grey tones of the overall painting make all the more disturbing the bursts of colour as refugees flee aboard a boat or on foot, attempting to rescue sacred scrolls, or merely themselves, from the onslaught of terror. This was Marc Chagall’s Guernica.

The crucifixion is the perfect symbol for European Jewry, reflecting bigotry and persecution, not to mention the fact that Jesus was born, lived, and even died a Jew.

Chagall went to that particular well often:

Even at the tender age of 25, under full Cubist influence:

But the recently rediscovered crucifixion differs from the others in some key respects. While the characters on the periphery are Chagallian, and the ladder and clock are familiar from previous depictions, the central crime is the Holocaust, the German extermination of the Jewish people, not Russian pogroms. No flying fish or floating cows, no rich colors, no scenes of shtetl life.

One of the commentaries above calls the White Crucufixion “Chagall’s Guernica”, which has a point (not least because it was painted shortly afterwards).

But Apocalypse is also inspired by Picasso’s masterpiece (one of many):

I don’t think I need to spell it out.

There are different ways to engage with great themes (evil, in this case). One can study history (Hilberg’s Destruction of European Jews), read first-person accounts (Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi), watch documentaries (Night and Fog, Shoah, Sorrow & Pity).

I think art can makes its case, too. It slips past our intellectual defenses and stabs us right through the heart. God damn it.

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Got Safety?

TSA guard takes cat nap at LaGuardia Airport on Sunday. The agent has been reassigned to desk duty pending investigation.

Desks have been duly warned.

I post this only to alert frequent fliers to bring nail clippers, plastic forks, small amounts of shampoo—anything—with which to defend themselves should another Calvin Klein killer attempt to detonate his derriere mid-flight. You’ve got to look out for yourself because some of the people we’re entrusting with the duty are not up to the job.

Does she seem chagrined in the least? What would make her think she was safe to pass out in front of everybody at a busy airport? Can we be sure this was the first time—for her or anyone else?

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Of All the Bad Luck [UPDATED]

The Palestinians toil and sweat and bleed and cry for statehood—but they never seem to get any closer.

I wonder why?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the corrupt officials who used to work for his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, and that’s why Hamas will one day take control of the West Bank, Fahmi Shabaneh, who was appointed by Abbas four years ago to root out corruption in the Palestinian Authority, said on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, Shabaneh, who until recently was in charge of the Anti-Corruption Department in the PA’s General Intelligence Service (GIS), warned that what happened in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, when Hamas managed to overthrow the Fatah-controlled regime, is likely to recur in the West Bank.

“Had it not been for the presence of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, Hamas would have done what they did in the Gaza Strip,” Shabaneh told the Post. “It’s hard to find people in the West Bank who support the Palestinian Authority. People are fed up with the financial corruption and mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority.”

You mean it’s not all about the settlements???

In fact, the only thing keeping the West Bank from becoming a fetid swamp of Islamist hatred (rather, a more fetid swamp of Islamist hatred) is Israel’s presence?

Huh.

Why the big secret? Everybody is telling us Israel has to get out of here and leave there and don’t even think of looking at anywhere. When the truth is that Israel is the only peaceful influence in the region. Is there an ulterior motive, I wonder?

But hey, how bad could the corruption be? I mean, the aspirations of liberty and self-determination must keep the Palestinian heart fairly pure, no?

Shabaneh cited several specific cases of alleged corruption within Fatah and the PA in the course of the interview, including asserting that Fatah personnel stole much of a $3.2 million donation given by the US to Fatah ahead of the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, won by Hamas, which had been intended to improve Fatah’s image and boost its chances of winning.

“Some of the most senior Palestinian officials didn’t have even $3,000 in their pocket when they arrived [after the signing of the Oslo Accords],” Shabaneh said. “Yet we discovered that some of them had tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in their bank accounts.

Until today we didn’t hear about one official who was brought to trial for stealing money from the PA, although we had transferred many of the cases to the Palestinian prosecutor-general.”

Questioned as to why he had decided to go public now, Shabaneh said: “I’m not criticizing the Palestinian Authority simply because I like to criticize, but because I want to see a state of law, one with no room for corruption. I was offered $100,000 not to expose the last sex scandal, but I chose not to accept the bribe. I’m the one who resigned after my arrest, because after all that I’ve seen I no longer believe that Abbas’s authority can be reformed.

Oh, sure it can. It’s just that $3.2 million wasn’t enough. How ’bout another five million—or ten? Can you guys last the weekend on ten million?

I’m sure Suha Arafat can lend you a few bucks in a pinch. That bitch is loaded.

UPDATE
Corruption comes in all varieties, I would note:

The following are excerpts from an interview with Muhammad Dahlan, former PA security chief in Gaza, which aired on Palestinian Authority TV on January 4, 2010.

I was astounded by what Hamas did, even on the human and moral level. They summoned Fatah girls, and violated their honor in prison, during the interrogation, using words that even the Israelis wouldn’t use. I’m sad to say this. I don’t understand how Ismail Haniya can sit at home, and not feel ashamed of the things done by Hamas. I am not talking about the political conflict, or about the disagreement over the national issues. I am talking about human conduct and about Palestinian conduct.

Once, in 1982-1983, we wanted to incite against Israel, so we spread a false story, which we fabricated, that the Israelis had attacked a Palestinian girl, and thus, demonstrations and rallies ensued. Hamas cannot continue to employ this logic. They should not try the patience of the Fatah activists towards Hamas. If they think Fatah is not capable of doing anything, they are mistaken. Sabotage is the easiest thing to do. I have tried this. I tried this in the resistance against the occupation, and I tried it when I was in the PA, and was responsible for maintaining law and order. I am not making threats, but I advise them not to put the patience of Fatah activists to the test.

Whatever. Palestine is a lie, based on lies, told by liars who lie all the time. Could I be any clearer?

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President Obama Doesn’t Like Black People

What other conclusion can one draw?

The U.S. military has halted flights carrying Haitian earthquake victims to the United States because of an apparent cost dispute, though a doctor warned that some injured patients faced imminent death if the flights don’t resume.

The evacuations were temporarily suspended Wednesday, said Capt. Kevin Aandahl, spokesman for U.S. Transportation Command. The flights were halted a day after Florida Gov. Charlie Crist asked the federal government to help pay for care.

However, Dr. Barth Green, a doctor involved in the relief effort in Port-au-Prince, warned that his patients needed to get to better hospitals.

“We have 100 critically ill patients who will die in the next day or two if we don’t Medevac them,” said Green, chairman of the University of Miami’s Global Institute for Community Health and Development.

Crist asked Sebelius to activate the National Disaster Medical System, which is typically used in domestic disasters and pays for victims’ care. His letter noted the state’s health care system was already stretched by the winter tourism season and annual “snowbird” migration. South Florida hospitals also were preparing for a surge in visitors for the NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday and the Super Bowl next weekend.

While in Tampa on Saturday, Crist said Florida’s Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon estimated the state’s costs had reached about $7 million.

Poor coordination and limited resources, not medical care costs, drove the governor’s request, said John Cherry, spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management.

“We’ve made it clear that (the cost) is an issue we’ll deal with down the road,” he said.

Health officials say the medical flights landed without any advance notice, and the poor coordination may be keeping some survivors from getting the help they need, Cherry said. He cited the case of a burn victim flown earlier this week into Tampa, which is not equipped to treat those injuries.

I would say this this is Obama’s Katrina, but Katrina wasn’t Bush’s Katrina (as much as it was Nagin’s and Landrieu’s), so we’ll just call this Obama’s Haiti.

Can you imagine the howls and imprecations we’d hear about this cluster[bleep] if Bush were still president? They’d be calling it genocide.

You know I’m right. Just replay the liberal media talking points after Katrina: they’d all fit here.

And speaking of the differences between Presidents Bush and Obama:

George W. Bush didn’t get a whole lot of attaboys on his way out of the White House. But on World AIDS Day near the end of last year, the outgoing U.S. President was the man of the hour, fielding praise from global health advocates and world leaders for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPfAR, which increased tenfold the number of HIV-infected patients in Africa who receive antiretroviral treatments. At megachurch pastor Rick Warren’s Global Health Forum on Dec. 1, 2008, Bush lingered to discuss this untarnished highlight of his presidency, a commitment of $15 billion over five years to combat HIV/AIDS. “No U.S. President or political leader has done more for global health,” said Warren.

But now some critics are wondering if Bush’s successor is doing enough. Many global health advocates worry that the success of PEPfAR — an initiative that has consistently enjoyed broad bipartisan support — may be jeopardized by harsh economic realities and shifting political priorities. Although Barack Obama pledged during the 2008 campaign to boost PEPfAR funding by $1 billion each year, his first budget proposed just $366 million more for fiscal year 2010 than the current year, and a majority of the 15 countries that receive PEPfAR funds will see no increase. After five straight years of funding hikes and public-health victories — in 2008, Congress reauthorized PEPfAR with a new commitment of $48 billion over five years, with Senators Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden all voting in favor of the move — the slowdown has AIDS advocates scratching their heads: Why would the Obama Administration back off from the one universally popular program inherited from Bush?

Love the use of the word “inherited”. Nice touch.

Hey, if President Obama doesn’t think it’s a priority for this country to prevent the deaths of thousands and thousands of black people across the globe, I’ll defer to his wisdom, as he is half black himself—more money for me (though I think he should see a shrink for his—and their—sakes).

I just wish his psychopathy were more part of the discussion. It’s a little creepy, don’t you think?

PS: Speaking of Obama and Africans (and I had to go all the way to Scotland to find even a mention of this:

Week ahead

Published Date: 31 January 2010

MONDAY

Former cricketer Sir Ian Botham will open the salmon season on the River Teith, near Callander.

Aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious will arrive at Rosyth dockyard on the Forth for a £40 million maintenance and upgrade programme.

TUESDAY

The deadline will expire for Cadbury shareholders to approve the chocolate-maker’s takeover by America’s Kraft.

Groundhog Day will take place in the Pennsylvanian town of Punxsutawney.

WEDNESDAY

The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee will meet to decide on interest rates – and whether to “print” more money under its policy of quantitative easing.

THURSDAY

BBC presenter Neil Oliver, below, will open the Scottish Caravan & Outdoor Leisure Show at the SECC in Glasgow.

A full asylum request hearing for Barack Obama’s Kenyan aunt is scheduled to take place in Boston. Zeituni Onyango had been living in the country illegally.

FRIDAY

The charity Samaritans will mark Stress Down Day by asking people to give their feet a treat and wear their slippers to work in return for a donation.

SATURDAY

An exhibition marking the 25th anniversary of EastEnders will open at the National Media Museum in Bradford, Yorkshire.

The Six Nations rugby championships kick off. Scotland’s opener is against France at Murrayfield.

Did you miss that?

An exhibition marking the 25th anniversary of EastEnders will open at the National Media Museum in Bradford, Yorkshire.

No, not that.

This:

A full asylum request hearing for Barack Obama’s Kenyan aunt is scheduled to take place in Boston. Zeituni Onyango had been living in the country illegally.

Gee, I hope I didn’t give away a state secret or anything!

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Put Your Money Where Your Big Fat Mouth Is

Pretty much everyone on both the left and the right of the political spectrum has shot down President Obama’s patently absurd charge that the recent Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case would open up campaigns to foreign influence.

We can be charitable, and call him ignorant—or we can be honest, and call him a bald-faced lair with the most incendiary pants since No-nad the Barbarian smoldered in failure.

But most of all, we should call his bluff:

[I]f Obama really is concerned about foreign campaign donations, then Obama should request that Attorney General Eric Holder (or an Acting Attorney General since Holder likely has a conflict) appoint a special counsel with the power to investigate, and if justified, prosecute violations of the laws, and conspiracies to violate the laws, forbidding foreign contributions.

And the place the special counsel can start is with Obama’s 2008 campaign, which disabled security features in its credit card web portal so as to allow donors to evade restrictions on numerous aspects of the federal campaign laws, including the prohibition on foreign contributions:

Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor’s identity, campaign officials confirmed….

The problem with such cards, campaign finance lawyers said, is that they make it impossible to tell whether foreign nationals, donors who have exceeded the limits, government contractors or others who are barred from giving to a federal campaign are making contributions.

That the Obama campaign received foreign donations as a result of this scheme may be the only thing agreed-upon by both Pamela Geller and Charles Johnson. Indeed, Obama for America has admitted receiving foreign contributions. The fact that the Federal Election Commission is not investigating the allegations necessitates a special counsel.

There will be no follow-up on this, of course. He will forget he ever said it. If, by some miracle, a reporter ever asks him about the charge, and his own campaign’s suspicious involvement, he will smile and chuckle, and say, “Look, let me be clear…”, and all else after will be a blur.

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Next!

An ayatollah can’t-ah get-ah enough-ah this-ah:

Speaking in a Friday prayer sermon, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said the wave of street demonstrations sparked by the disputed June presidential election would not have lasted until now if protesters had been executed early on.

“Whatever we suffered was because of our weakness. How many did the judiciary execute on July 9?” he said, referring to one of the particularly large protest days.

“We showed weakness, so then we had Ashoura,” he said, referring to a major protest on December 27. “If you show weakness now, the future will be worse … There is no room for Islamic mercy.”

“Islamic mercy”, that’s a good one.

“Stand up courageously for the sake of God, the same way you executed these two persons very quickly.”

Jannati cited verses from the Quran, Islam’s holy book, that he said show Islam permits rulers to kill their opponents, including “hypocrites, those with evil intentions and those who spread rumors.”

I took some heat here a while back for asking of the Buddhist protesters in Burma what did they expect to happen. They could take to the streets with all the righteous indignation and karmic justification they could muster, but if they weren’t armed, if they didn’t have a Plan B should the government choose not to surrender to their moral superiority, their saffron robes just made them target practice.

In the short term, I was right, of course. Who knows, maybe millennia from now, I’ll look like an ass (don’t say it!).

I was more hopeful of the Iranian protesters. If anything, the government was even more entrenched, more determined to defeat them—but the common Iranian man and woman (we still weep for Neda) had a little more fight in them, I thought.

And, who knows, maybe America was supporting them. (If we ever were, I could see President Obama putting an end to it.)

But now I have to wonder what it was all about. There is certainly no cause more just than liberating yourself from a cruel and repressive totalitarian regime, be it in Iran, or Burma, or wherever. But failure can’t be an option. The picture above was intended to be offensive and cruel to those who didn’t expect it. That’s the nature of failed insurrections. I wouldn’t blame you for not trying, but I can’t celebrate you for trying and losing. It’s not fair to those in the picture.

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We Choose Not to go to the Moon

That was then:

This is now:

“Constellation is dead,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity, referring to a program that envisioned returning to the moon by 2020 and using Earth’s nearest neighbour as a base for manned expeditions to Mars…

Reports added that the US space agency will work on finding a commercial solution to ferrying US astronauts to the International Space Station after the scheduled end of NASA’s shuttle program in September 2010.

Astronauts will be able to hitch rides aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft, but the United States will need a commercial alternative if Congress approves White House plans to scrap development of a successor to the shuttle program.

Put me down as agnostic. We get so much science from unmanned space missions (we’ve found water on Mars and the moon without benefit of humans on hand) that the geometric increase in cost to add people to the missions can hardly be worth it.

I get the value of human missions—the science, the technological advantages of low gravity—I just accept that there’s a valid debate. I think I even questioned President Bush’s doubling-down on human space flight when there was so much to be learned (for so much less money) from unmanned missions.

And there’s nothing wrong with a little competition from the private sector.

But canceling human space flight is one thing. What are they replacing it with? What is the vision?

In the meantime, the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change – and on a new technology research and development program that will one day make human exploration of asteroids and the solar system possible.

There you go: that’s our mission. From “we choose to go to the moon” to “I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale”.

I would welcome NASA’s free and independent scientific inquiry into the issue, but that’s the last thing it would bring:

The real reason is that liberals have long viewed NASA as a global warming research entity rather than the exploration agency that President John F. Kennedy ably set on a course for the stars. And this is despite the recent discoveries that NASA’s global warming leaders, such as James Hansen, may have been manipulating data to suit their political needs for some time. While exploration enthusiasts wanted to see rockets lift for the heavens, environmentalists wanted to see satellites watching ice caps. President Obama will most likely face stiff congressional opposition from both sides of the aisle if he continues on this path towards charging NASA with a purely Earth science mission.

He’s politicized everything else, why not the Sea of Tranquility?

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Olympia Snowe

A very thoughtful and impressive woman

I recommend going to the link and listening to this interview with Snowe about the health care bill. There is no ranting or contemptuous rhetoric at all. She describes the process and what, in her opinion, went wrong. Fascinating and impressive.

- Aggie

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John Edwards: Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

I should have known that by the time the John Edwards story began to make even my stomach curdle, it was ready for its close-up (after hair and make-up, of course):

Back before they realized John was knocking up videographers while his wife lay dying, Edwards’ staff worried that his beverage choices were too girly:

He had very weird soda preferences. For the longest time it was all Sprite Zero. And then at one point the word came down that he would no longer drink Sprite Zero. He would only drink Diet Orange Sunkist. And Diet Orange Sunkist can be very difficult to find on short notice. It had to be in cans. It could not be in bottles. We’d pick him up at the airport you’d have to have a cooler of that and white wine on ice.

Whoever plays Edwards has to have the hair, above all else. Costner would need augmentation in that department (but not others, so we hear!), and Clooney doesn’t reek of white trash.

The late John Ritter is a dead ringer for Edwards…:

But also just plain dead.

Ed Norton might be right…

No, look over there—to the right. The dude. Oh, for pete’s sake, men are such pigs:

There, see the resemblance?

And we know he can play debased and deranged:

Anyway, where were we?

We all bought the spin. Until the pregnancy stuff surfaced, it wasn’t that crazy a story, just a report that he had an affair with a videographer. But when the other layers came out—the child, and the timing with Elizabeth’s cancer—it became more monstrous.

Listerine heiress and Jackie Onassis bosom buddy Bunny Mellon’s “Bunny money” also played a role:

Everybody knew about the Bunny money, though not that it was part of that [the sex scandal]. Everybody knew ‘Bunny money’ as this rich heiress who thought [Edwards] was the reincarnation of Robert Kennedy. You sort of pieced it together by working backwards: You hear the story about Rielle living in a house, and you know she doesn’t have an income. You know that Fred [Baron] has a billion dollars, and you know Fred would do anything for John.

That’s when I knew it had to be a movie: when the loaded dowager (played by Joanne Woodward? Shirley MacLaine? Betty White?) believed Edwards to be the second coming of RFK. And why not? Another cut-throat with nice hair and a long trail of mistresses in his past—Edwards could play him in a movie.

I see the picture opening up with panning shot of devastation and ruin: Haiti after the quake. We hear moans from the dying and cries of children lost and frightened. Violins play a dirge of heartbreaking poignancy, its march-like rhythm matching the stride of a determined man. Just then, the pan reaches the beach, and one man is shown walking seemingly from nowhere out of the surf. He is there to help. He is there to make it better. He is there to sue.

Asked about Edwards’ recent camera-friendly trip to Haiti, the staffer comes as close to rolling his eyes as one can by telephone:

I think there is less than zero chance of him ever having a public career again. And I am absolutely positive that he will try. He’s addicted to it. He needs attention. … He was the kind of guy who’d been told all his life he was the golden child. I think that’s what Rielle tapped into. She told him he was the golden child, and I think he liked to believe that.

The guy needs professional help. There’s a big-ass screw loose in that guy’s head, and unless he gets professional help, it’s going to stay loose.

And there’s your working title: Big-Ass Screw Loose.

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