Monday, August 11, 2008

On Books

THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE by Ron Suskind, published by Simon & Schuster, the edition I reviewed was the 2007 Trade Paperback. It retails at $15.00 and is 375 pages in length.

Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist having won his award for his feature reporting in the Wall Street Journal. Here he reports on how our intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, and the White House, especially the President and the Vice President, reacted after the events of 9/11. His main point is that the desire to calm the public and to prevent another terrorist attack drove the intelligence agencies to ever greater lengths to match their leaders words with deeds, eventually leading to torture and the apparent fudging of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

His prose is smooth, conversational, and highly readable. His sources are at the very top and he uses their information to make the reader feel that they are at the table, or in the field, when the decisons are being made and/or the action is going down. This intense you-are-there style offers plenty of intensity and insight; in particular the interplay in the Bush cabinet and how its makeup guaranteed the end of Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq (an outcome that Suskind, in this book, argues was pre-ordained, with or without the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by al Qaeda).

This view is helped by Suskind's essential premise, regarding the power struggles at the top of the American government: "In these complex engagements of powerful men, it is important not to overlook basic human interaction..." (page 25). This personality-centric view of human history is crucial to Suskind's understanding of events post-9/11 (through essentially 2004) because it allows him to view history in a correct and profound manner as the results of decisions made by men which shape events, rather than the pendantic and limiting view that people are somehow shoved around by events. This latter view is obviously an incorrect way of viewing reality, for instance: does anyone believe that our recent history would be the same had Al Gore been at the helm on 9/11 rather than Bush? Case closed.

This book will change the way you view recent history and I recommend it to everyone who wants to understand what has happened to America in the last seven years.

One small note to Mr. Suskind and Mr. Tenet: the headquarters of Microsoft is located in Redmond, Washington, not Redmond, Oregon (page 342)!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Warning To Obama and Clinton: Beware Scorpions

You know the old story. An animal, be it a frog, or a squirrel, or some other woodland creature, is about to cross the river when a scorpion approaches and asks for a ride. The creature is dubious saying that if it lets the scorpion ride across then the scorpion would have to agree not to sting it during the crossing because if that would happen they both would drown. And sure enough halfway across the scorpion stings it and as they are both drowning the creature asks the scorpion why, and the scorpion replies: "it's what I do." In other words some creatures cannot help themselves, their nastiness is natural, and a bit self-desctructive as well.

Well, I propose an alternate ending.

The creature swims across the river to the other side and up the bank to safety. The scorpion crawls off and the creature thanks it for keeping to it's bargain, and the scorpion says, "Sure, no problem," and then stings the creature, and as the creature is dying it asks why and the scorpion replies, "it's what I do, but I'm no dummy, I waited until you carried us across to safety. If I'd stung you while we were both in the river, we'd both be dead."

I propose Hillary Clinton, her husband, and their political team are smart scorpions. They have waited until Barack Obama has delivered them to the convention before demanding that her name be placed in nomination, supposedly for purposes of emotional closure for her supporters.


Don't do it Barack. She'll bite you.

And then this past week his campaign helped the Clintonistas along by asking the rules committee to reinstate the full compliment of delegates to Florida and Michigan (who were initially stripped of -- all -- and eventually -- half -- of their delegates as punishment for disobeying party rules and holding their primaries too soon). If those delegations vote at full strength for Hillary she might well have more than half of the total number of pledged delegates on her side. All she would then have to do is ask the superdelegates to cast a present vote on the first ballot thus throwing the nomination to a second ballot.

Her arguement is simple: Obama is losing the election at the same time where all Democrats (except Bill Clinton) have lost it since the election of 1964, and that is during the summer when, contrary to popular belief (which holds that elections are decided in the fall when poeple start to pay attention), the electoral narratives are hardened along with initial perceptions and the electroral process is set, unless a candidate blows it during the debates (as with Gerald Ford's comment about the Soviet Union not dominating Poland -- which clearly won the 1976 race for Jimmy Carter).

If the superdelegates buy that and the nomination goes to a second ballot, Barack Obama will be perceived as a weak candidate who cannot -- for whatever reason -- close the deal. His pledged delegates, no longer bound by party rules to support him past the first round (the GOP forces their delegates to pledge their support for the first two ballots -- or they did in 1996 when I was a delegate for Bob Dole) will be free to support anyone they choose. Chaos will break out on the floor and Hillary will win, and Barack -- and the Democrats -- will loose Big Time (as Dick Cheney likes to say).

Given the above scenario I postulate the following will happen: First, African-Americans will bolt the Democrats forming a third party, call it the Justice Party, with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as their ticket. Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus will join the new party, and they will go on to win a number of seats, probably around thirty, in the 2009 Congress. The GOP will win back both the House and Senate, without African-American support the traditional weakness of the Democrats among European-Americans will be on full discplay. Hillary will -- after a quick post-Convention bounce fueled by the mainstream media (which will love her vampiric rise from the dead) -- fall back, and John McCain will exploit her weakness everywhere but the Northeast, Appalachian region, and she will lose by Carter-like 1980 numbers.

Thus in the end, although she thought she was being clever by waiting until the Convention in Denver to bite, in reality, this nomination must be Obama's or the Democratic Party will suffer a wound that it cannot heal. In effect she will have out-smarted herself and revealed her true nature in the middle of the river.


The safety of the opposite bank is 2012. Can you control yourself and your followers? That is the question. I eagerly await the next several weeks and your decision.

Likely all will go relatively smoothly and Obama will emerge with the nomination and contend with a wily and crafty McCain this November, but...

...the current on the river is swift and the urge to bite is overwhelming. Come on Hillary, you can feel the venom rising in you even now. You know what you want to do. That's it, I can feel your nerves tingling in anticipation; just one little bite, it'll feel sooo good; it's -- just -- the -- wrong -- thing -- to -- do.

What, you've decided to ask Bill what he would do....


Do not put her on the team as Veep -- see above warning about scorpions. Do not let her followers put her name in nomination. See above scenario. If bitten, see the case of Leiberman, Joe, and run as an Independent.

Remember, just beware of venemous creatures; oops, you're a politician, well good luck, and hey, watch out, I hear the current is especially swift for the next several weeks....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Facts and Questions re McCain's advertising strategy

FACT: The Senior United States Senator from Arizona John McCain proposed sweeping changes to campaign finance laws in legislation co-sponsored with Wisconsin U. S. Senator Russ Feingold.

FACT: These legislative efforts, ultimately signed into law by President George W. Bush, were known as McCain-Feingold.

FACT: A broad-based coaltition including NARAL (the National Abortion Rights Action League), the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and the NRA (National Rifle Association) opposed all, or aspects of, McCain-Feingold.

FACT: Charleton Heston was the President of the NRA at that time.

FACT: Mr. Heston's image (he recently passed away) in a scene from the movie The Ten Commandments where he played Moses was used in an Internet ad attacking Barack Obama by John McCain's campaign this last week.

FACT: Mr. Heston joins a growing list of Hollywood celebrities, including Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton, whose images have been used by the McCain campaign to attack Barack Obama.

QUESTION: Why would McCain want to use a dead man who cannot defend himself, and two young actresses who are not overt political figures, to attack the presumptive Democrat nominee?

QUESTION: Why would McCain juxtapose the image of two young blonde women with that of Senator Obama's?

QUESTION: Why would McCain ridicule and use an image of one of the most iconic and beloved events in Jewish and Christian theology: the parting of the Red Sea, for political gain?