Irresponsible Prediction


Plenty of idle speculation on very little info in the passport files breach...so, heck, I believe I'll briefly join in. If and when we know the full story -- probably way too late to make a difference -- I suspect we will find we are seeing two things here:

(1) Actual snooping on the necessarily-extensive passport file of Sen. Barack Obama (which file started in his childhood, natch) in hopes of finding something to damage his campaign; and

(2) "False-flagging," meant to divert suspicion towards the Clinton campaign as being behind the breaches.

There were three breaches of the Obama file: two of them punished by firing without the benefit of an Inspector General's investigation -- and once fired, people are no longer subject to the IG's questioning -- and a third breacher only disciplined, so he or she can be questioned, who also breached Sen. McCain's file. (The breach of Sen. Clinton's own file is alleged to be, and could well be, a training mistake, immediately rectified.) If I hadda predict, I'd predict that breachers one and two of the Obama file will prove impossible to follow up on, but that breacher three -- who has conveniently snooped on both of Sen. Clinton's opponents, and can also still be questioned -- will end up either "confessing to," or looking really guilty as having done, the dirty deed on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

This is the single most classic Karl Rove technique, btw, according to the film, and book, Bush's Brain: Do something bad in a way that suggests your opponent did it, and reap the benefits of public sympathy. Rove is alleged to have done this all the way back to his own assumption (and/or "stealing") of the post of chair of College Republicans, through several political campaigns (like the one where a listening device was "found" in his candidate's office), and through the revelation of candidate George W. Bush's drunk-driving arrest in his first presidential campaign...the source of which, I believe, was in fact revealed to be Rove, long after people felt bad about the Gore campaign for having presumably done it.

Idle speculation on my part to link the two; I have no way to know what happened. If it was all just "imprudent curiosity," okay, fair enough. If a genuine Clinton partisan was involved, nobody will denounce it more than I will. But I have to tell you, the mere diversion of suspicion to the Clinton campaign ain't gonna cut it with me, because that's how these guys operate, is the thing. Spy on Obama, see what you find, tell no one...then, after it's well covered-up, "false-flag" a followup that targets McCain and Obama, and yell "Hillary! How could you?!"

So there it is: today's Tinfoil Hat Report. Doubtless I'm being paranoid. Let's hope so. :(

93 93/93 -- AJ

P.S. In 1992, when George H.W. Bush was President, candidate Bill Clinton's passport file was hacked, in an attempt to prove he traveled to Russia as a student. A special prosecutor was appointed to look into the breach; one extensively interviewed in recent days about these new breaches. That "independent" prosecutor? (who finally found no wrongdoing after three years): Joseph DiGenova: husband of Victoria Toensing, and the both of them famous Clinton-haters on TV during the Lewinsky scandal. These. Guys. Don't. Take. Chances. :P

More on the independent, non-partisan Mr. DiGenova -- presented, like his wife, as an unbiased expert, each defending Karl Rove's role in what became the Libby case:


Quick tiptoe through a minefield ;)


Senator Barack Obama lost Mississippi's white vote last night by like 70-30. He won 91% of the black vote, hence the primary itself. This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with race, and only a KKK, stone-racist David Duke type would think otherwise.

Does that sound reasonable to you? Well, we're walking a minefield, so let's walk careful-like.

Of all the stupid things that can be said, the idea that (as Orrin Hatch has often suggested, in effect) black people have it too darned good in this country is perhaps the stupidest. Black skin is, even today, a serious disadvantage in this country, no question about it.

That said, at certain times and under certain circumstances and in certain company, blackness can in fact give one an edge: rare as hell, but it happens. To call such an observation "racist" is to rob the word of its meaning. Barack Obama was elected to the United States Senate straight out of the Illinois legislature -- but (as maxomai instructed me) this has everything to do with the divorce-scandal meltdowns of both his primary and general election opponents, so let's leave that one out of our equation. Before that had even happened, though, this unknown state legislator was given the stellar honor of delivering the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Party Convention -- traditionally a tryout spot for Presidential contenders of the future -- and after serving a mere two years in the Senate, announced his candidacy for President.

Obama is a politician of quite extraordinary gifts: oceans of charm, tons of charisma, wonderful public speaking skills, you name it; and his campaign has, to this point, been one of the most effective ever seen in American life. His chief opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton, has by contrast run one of the worst campaigns in living memory, quite aside from her years of "high negatives," and her general failure to "present well" as likable, warm, human, and so forth. Obama is trouncing Clinton because he deserves to, in at least the political-campaigner sense: he's done so well, and she's done so poorly. Let's not lose sight of any of that.

Some folks -- former VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro, for example -- are really frustrated at this state of affairs, not least because (they argue) normally a state legislator who walked into the U.S. Senate and after serving two years there decided to run for President would be engaged in an impossible act of hubris: nobody (they argue) would give such a person a second thought as a serious candidate. Hence Ferraro's comments, now widely decried as racist, that Obama wouldn't be in this position were he not black. Finally, then, to the point of this post.

* Had Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro been Congressman Gerard Ferraro, he would never have been considered, much less nominated, for VP in 1984. That's simply a fact. (It's also a quote from Ferraro.)

* Had Hillary Clinton run for Senate from New York without having been First Lady to President Bill Clinton, she'd have been laughed out of town. That, too, is simply a fact.

Such are the accidents of politics, in given times, circumstances, and company. It takes nothing away from these gifted politicians to note that once upon a time, they got a "lucky" leg-up, a break not available without some accidental quality they possessed. That's how I, anyway, took Ferraro's statements about Barack Obama: "Normally a first-term Senator with two years' experience wouldn't have a prayer at reaching the White House, however gifted he might be; and in a lot of these races, the black vote is proving to be key. Hence, he's lucky (in this instance) to be black."

I'll take it one step further, and this one does involve real racism:

* For my money, if Barack Obama weren't half-white -- and in particular didn't "present" with so many of the mannerisms and speech patterns of elegant white privilege -- he wouldn't have a prayer at the White House, even this year. America isn't "post-racial," but it would like to believe that it is, and a Kenyan-American law professor who reads like the reincarnation of Jack Kennedy is just what the doctor ordered, on that score.

What Ferraro said was extraordinarily stupid, however frustrated she is, and whatever truth there is to what she said. The answer to "X wouldn't be winning elections if it weren't for accidental quality Y" is always gonna be, "Yeah? So what? He's lucky. Deal with it." (Try, "That JFK is just lucky he's so handsome and well-mannered," or even, to reduce it to the absurd, "That John McCain is just lucky he was tortured by the North Vietnamese" -- each stupid comments, whatever limited truth-value they possess in a political context.) But was Ferraro's underlying assertion untrue, or racist? For my money, no, it wasn't.

Finally, let me note my fear that this constant airing of Obama-supporters' cries of racism (as well as their general tone of contempt for those who disagree with them) could destroy much of the Obama magic, perhaps threaten his campaign itself. The Mississippi results cited above could just be, well, Mississippi...but if Obama transforms into the hypersensitive black candidate in the roiling mind of whitey, it won't serve any Democrat's interests at all -- least of all his own.*

93 93/93 -- AJ

* For the disturbing view that Obama's campaign has deliberately "played the race card" from the beginning, see:
I tend to doubt it, but if true, it's an extremely unwise tactic, IMO, and quite likely to backfire. Anyway, were I the Obama folks, I'd shut up about race, starting, well, weeks ago. :(

Quadrennial Suicide Pact :/


Every four years, the Democratic Party goes through an ever-more-complicated regimen of primaries and caucuses, with one goal in mind: to winnow out of a large field of able candidates the single least electable one, and proceed to nominate them for President.1 This doesn't always work: sometimes the GOP has been so bad that a Dem gets in anyway (e.g., Bill Clinton) -- but more usually it's Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and so forth. Anyway, that field has come down to the two I predicted thirteen months ago:


...and while I'm a fan of neither (though Senator Clinton sure looks better when you see who hates her, much as the impeachment made Bill more popular), I thought you guys might enjoy a quick nod at reality before the game is over. Here it be.

I've long realized that most people are hearing a different speech from Senator Obama than I am. He's a fine speaker, particularly (and maybe not coincidentally?) when Ted Sorensen was hanging around with him, but -- putting it charitably2 -- I don't believe most Dems are paying sufficient attention to what he's actually saying, in his occasional descents from glittering generalities to some few specifics. To take just the most prominent example: he promises that he's a better candidate because instead of the hateful, strife-filled politics of the past, he'll bring a new spirit of across-the-aisle cooperation.

Now, given that it wasn't Democrats spearheading such slash-and-burn partisanship -- ever, but especially in the last several decades -- there are only two ways this promise can be kept. Either, (a) Senator Obama plans to put something in the water to get the GOP to give up its policies, beliefs, general competitiveness, partisanship, and what have you; or (b) Senator Obama plans, on behalf of the Democratic Party, at a time when the public is leaning toward some Democratic solutions3, to compromise Democratic positions in favor of the GOP preferences, wherever he can. I mean, it's pretty obvious when you think about it.

Want some evidence of which it is? Go here for Obama's record:


Look, I don't disagree with all his positions myself...and in any case, I was an Edwards man, hence have no horse left in this race; and federal judges being so crucial, I'll doubtless vote for the Democrat, whomever it proves to be. But well, y'know, a word to the wise 'n' all; "footnotes for philosophers," as it were. :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

1. The Republican process is exactly the opposite. They know that most folks don't want most of what they're selling, so they have to find someone electable...even if, as this time, they don't much like him.
2. This is the polite version of this post, btw, which began as an annoyed lampoon of both "Barrage Odrama" and "Chillary Flinton." Quick excerpt:
ODRAMA: "Some people seem to feel...that you folks are, uhh, hypnotized. Are you hypnotized?"
ODRAMA: "So you can still, uhh, think for yourselves?"
You get the idea. Anyway, cooler reflection prevailed. ;) Peace to all beings.
3. The conspiracy-minded might wonder at the fantastically-swift course Sen. Obama has had: into the U.S. Senate virtually without opposition, then immediately into the Presidential race. True, 90% of his donors are small donors, but 50% of his actual money comes from the other 10% (les chats grands). Some who favor tinfoil hats might suggest that the GOP belatedly realized that the current President had so screwed up, well, everything -- so harmed the GOP "brand" -- that even Sen. Clinton might prove electable. Voila: a Democrat who vows to "end partisan bickering" and thereby give the GOP much of what it wants without a fight.
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Oh, Noes!..."Nudged"! :)

93, all!

For those who care either way (and especially that stalwart who took the time to LJ-"nudge" me about it -- bless you for your interest! :) ), please be aware that I'm doing the Greater Magical Retirement thang at the moment: withdrawing for a bit to catch up, catch my breath, take stock, meditate, and so forth: "feeding the machine," as it were.

In the meantime, thanks for the interest of such as find this stuff interesting; I won't feel hurt in the slightest if folks want to cut my LJ for lack of traffic; and I loves you all bunches, 24/7/365-1/4. :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

P.S. Those waiting will want to know that ITNV won't be out before next year, alas. OTOH, those who find this whole post lamebrained ("Who cares whether you're posting or not, dumbass?") should be aware that I agree...which is why I didn't post about the "Retirement" in the first place. Peace to All Beings. ;)

Dear Mr. President...


It's been a while since I bugged you here, and I realize it's a holiday and all, but I really wish you'd checked with somebody who knows about these things before deciding to commute Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison term for perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to the FBI, from "thirty months" to "not a single day." Had you asked around, you might have found out that, say, executive clemency isn't supposed to be considered until someone's already serving his term, and his appeals process is over; or, at the least, that you're supposed to wait for the guy to apply for clemency before, y'know, granting his application. As it is, though, within hours of the appellate court unanimously agreeing with the trial judge that the sentence was fair, you vacated it...and that, sir, sorta leads to a problem for you, personally.

There's actually a reason the federal sentencing guidelines are pretty harsh in perjury/obstruction cases -- the courts hope that a little prison time might make the perpetrator "remember" what actually happened in his case, rather than the lies he told about it, see? This is so widely understood, in fact, that a lot of people could really see only one motive for a President to grant instant clemency to a former aide -- that is, to let a criminal co-conspirator off the hook before he can rat out the President's own criminal conduct. I mean, ouch!, you know?...particularly considering we have the authority of James Madison himself that such a use of presidential clemency powers would itself be an impeachable offense, calling for charges from the House, and removal from office by the Senate. And, hey, there was already a perception problem here, right? -- people saying "He can't fire Gonzales as Attorney General, because he couldn't replace him. Professional GOP prosecutors are one thing; criminal co-conspirators are a lot harder to find."

People say awful stuff about you and the Vice President, sir. I hate to see you add fuel to the flames.

Still, I wouldn't worry about it overmuch. This is America, and a lot of people take acts of high treason very seriously. I'm quite certain that the full truth will come out about this matter sooner or later, and that the guilty parties will be punished. Doubtless you're praying that will happen, just as so many millions are, all over the world.

93 93/93 -- AJ
July 4th 2007 EV - Two hundred thirty-first anniversary of America's Independence
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St. Stephen Crane -- 1 November 1871 - 5 June 1900


In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter -- bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

-- Stephen Crane
yes, the 1890s, Red Badge of Courage guy, also a breathtaking poet:


I believe isomeme* and I may have discussed him here (or there) before; I figured the 107th anniversary of Crane's Greater Feast (yesterday) allowed for a little repetition. :)

93 93/93 -- AJ

* WTG, MU!!!!!!! :D

A Different Memorial


From here: http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/68.html

Musee des Beaux Arts - by W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the plowman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Breughel's wonderfully-named "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" may be seen here:


Enlarge it and you'll get Auden's references -- particularly if you look closely in the water at the image's lower right.

93 93/93 -- AJ

...and sure enough, it was


So it's thirty years ago today -- May 26, 1977 EV -- and a twenty-two year old Jonathan returns to his sunny, airy Pacific Palisades apartment with the new TIME Magazine, glances at the cover, and is just snarking at its banner referring to the alleged "Year's Best Movie" (what, in May?, gimme a break) when the phone rings, so he answers it. Uh-oh: it's Dad: and Jonathan loves his dad beyond measure, but Dad is also really high-maintenance, especially in person, and he's calling to suggest they go to a movie. Like, you know, Right Now.

"I played hooky from work yesterday to see it myself" -- (Dad is a sole practitioner criminal defense attorney, and hooky from work comes even easier to him now that Jonathan no longer works in his office) -- "and it's just a hell of a lot of fun." He sounds almost defensive about it, and explains why: "It's a sort of a kid film, harking back to the Saturday matinees of my youth, but they did such a good job -- Star Wars, it's called."

Surprisingly enough, Jonathan has known about Star Wars for months now: was floored by its trailer at the Avco Westwood last Christmas (and embarrassed himself by trying to suggest to one of his UCLA professors that judging from said trailer, said upcoming film would be heavy with archetypal and mythical material -- "'Star Wars'?" the prof countered, wrinkling his nose), and even bought the novelization when it came out, thanks to the spooky Ralph McQuarrie helmeted guy on the cover (but didn't read it, of course, so as not to spoil the film). Then again, if Dad's up for a movie -- quick flip to TIME's "Year's Best Movie," and sonofagun -- it's Star Wars!


Automatically suppresses having known about the film, since that would ruin Dad's fun at having discovered it. "What the hell," Jonathan says. "Sounds cool. Let's go."

Jonathan's dad will live another seventeen years, and given the three hothouse years they worked together nonstop (1973-76) they already had plenty of fine memories, whatever their differences and the distance your parents divorcing when you were eight can make. There were happier, funnier, and more triumphant days -- but 26 May 1977 might be the sweetest day they ever share: particularly with Jonathan now on his "spiritual path," having started same only two months before....

I am in awe of the Star Wars phenomenon (he types, as always, whilst sitting under the "STAR WARS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS" poster* he bought at Disneyland in 1987): three films of extraordinary joy, beauty and, yes, inspiration, when we needed them most; then three more warning us what was coming next, always pointing through the darkness to the "New Hope" ahead. Lucas taught a generation or more of us to plot, just as Stephen King taught us (mutating Harlan Ellison) a vivid, personal prose style. And finally, Lucas and company -- and what company! -- pulled off the miracle of telling stories that can reach nearly everybody, with very little compromise.

Sure enough, it really was the Best Movie of 1977...and they're all among the best of succeeding years. This stuff changed not only the face of culture; like TV's Star Trek and a handful of others, it actually helped change the world.

And mostly it gave me and my dad perhaps our sweetest day ever, which is why I posted this.

May the Force be with you, gang. :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

P.S. I kept no notes at the time, and can't absolutely swear that I had that "30 May" TIME mag in hand when Dad called, but that is my recollection, so thass what I said here. In Canada it came out a week before the film's release: see the reminiscence here: http://www.exn.ca/starwars/culture.cfm , which links the Menachem Begin cover itself.

* Other cool SW swag in storage: many of the original Kenner toys, the little filmstrip set, the original, pulled "Revenge of the Jedi" poster, and on and on. Cheryl, my first wife, and I were fanatics, and early members of the Fan Club...as, come to that, is the Jedi I married after her death. Btw, if you find this mawkish, be aware that it could have been a lot more so: to pick just one of my Star Wars memories, there's taking a nearly-translucent Cheryl to the 1997 rerelease (with changes), she shuffling very carefully on the Westwood sidewalk to get there, having very nearly died three months before from the cancer that would take her four years later. I am no objective judge of Star Wars, I'm sure: too much of my life blood is in it. On a happier note, there's Cheryl's and my waiting up all night with the quiet but buzzing crowd on Wilshire Boulevard in May 1983 for Return of the Jedi's 9am first screening. However tortuous it can also be, memory is (as I have written) "our sole persistent treasure."


"[W]hether your time call you to live or die, do both like a prince." – Sir Philip Sidney, The "Old" Arcadia, 1580 EV

"...therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm..." -- Elizabeth I, 1588 EV


Sidney -- who wrote so well, and so horribly, about the combat he'd seen -- must be proud today. So must the first Queen Elizabeth, who despite her "feeble body" had the heart and stomach of a King -- "and of a King of England, too."

You may have heard that Britain's Prince Harry, having recently completed his military training, insisted on being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, on the theory that he was damned if he was going to sit home in comfort while "his boys" were in harm's way. You may also know that he'll shortly be deploying for Iraq.

Unsurprisingly, militants there have already announced that they plan to especially target him. Indeed, there'd been some criticism here (in the U.S. and U.K.) of his desire to be deployed, on the theory that he'd be further endangering the men in his unit. Well -- per last night's Bill Moyers Journal on PBS -- now we know what the men in his unit themselves think about this:

They've had khaki t-shirts printed up for the whole unit, with a black bull's-eye right over the heart, and in big red letters the legend: "I'M HARRY."

Translation: our prince has balls enough to put himself at risk. Fuck you.

America has had leaders willing to put themselves at risk in war: many of the older ones, in WW II (JFK, the elder George Bush) or (like Charles Rangel) Korea, but also Vietnam vets like Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain, Chuck Hagel and Gray Davis. My favorite moment from the gubernatorial recall that handed California to Ahnodd: dimwit newscaster asking Gov. Davis whether this recall were the greatest challenge he'd ever faced.

"Well," he said, "I served in Vietnam, so, No, not really."

Sure, Harry will be surrounded by a contingent of special forces (SAS) men, directly tasked to protect him: he's in line for the throne, besides which we don't want the fanatics we're up against to score a propaganda victory off the situation. But he could have stayed home, and partied, and hung out with girls.

And he didn't. And "his boys" seem to have no trouble telling whether that was admirable or not.

93 93/93 -- AJ