Articles from Monday, October 08, 2007

“Some Time for Young People: Images of Multiple Worlds.” This is a photo-gallery that turns our attention toward looking at the lives of teenagers, both through the years and from around the world.

These beautiful photographs are truly memorable ones, and are presented in stunning high-resolution. Music audio accompanies this photo-gallery.

[tags: young people, teenagers, the lives of teenagers, photographs, music]

Saturday, Larry Craig (NOT GAY-R) enters The Idaho Hall of Fame. No one wants to be sitting next to him, now a man of infamy. With Senate Republicans, colleagues they like are retiring, and the one they eagerly want to leave won’t budge. A Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” debate on Craig turned into an incomprehensible exchange. Photographs and very interesting videos are included.

[tags: Larry Craig refuses to leave, sex, sexy studs, sexy hunks, gay, photographs, videos]

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Shattering the Political Trance of Inevitability: Obama Trusts Himself to Think in the Moment

Shattering the Political Trance of Inevitability

Photography by: Annie Leibovitz

Some political observers have begun to take greater notice of Obama’s capacity for deep engagement in contemplative observation and introspection. This is a characteristic that I referenced some time ago, a kind of thoughtfulness that Obama believes anchors political actions core decency and hope through detailed reflections about the myriad details of the issues underlying socio-political action in the here and now.

At first, commentators begin to observe that there is something exceptional about his manner and demeaner. As Peggy Noonan wrote in today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal, “Barack Obama has a great thinking look. I mean the look he gets on his face when he’s thinking, not the look he presents in debate, where they all control their faces knowing they may be in the reaction shot and fearing they’ll look shrewd and clever, as opposed to open and strong. I mean the look he gets in an interview or conversation when he’s listening and not conscious of his expression. It’s a very present look. He seems more in the moment than handling the moment. I’ve noticed this the past few months, since he entered the national stage. I wonder if I’m watching him more closely than his fellow Democrats are.

Mr. Obama often seems to be thinking when he speaks, too, and this comes somehow as a relief, in comparison, say, to Hillary Clinton and President Bush, both of whom often seem to be trying to remember the answer they’d agreed upon with staff. What’s the phrase we use about education? Hit Search Function. Hit Open. Right-click. “Equity in education is essential, Tim . . .

Peggy Noon, who is a Contributing Editor of the WSJ, went on to say:

“You get the impression Mr. Obama trusts himself to think, as if something good might happen if he does. What a concept. Anyway, I’ve started to lean forward a little when he talks. But he doesn’t stand a chance, right? His main competitor, Mrs. Clinton, is this week’s invincible. She broke through 50% for the first time in a big national poll–53% saying they would support her, a full 33 points more than Obama. Her third quarter fund raising beat everyone else’s. “It’s all over but the voting,” said Rep. Tom Petri, who will probably get pummeled a bit by the campaign for premature triumphalism. But he only said what a lot of people are starting to think….

Mr. Obama’s experience, as we all know, is as limited as Mrs. Clinton’s, which is to say limited indeed. She has held elective office for only 6 1/2 years. Before that she was first lady of Arkansas and then first lady of the United States. He has held national office for only 3 1/2 years, and before that was a state legislator for eight years. But he has impressed people, and not with money, résumé or clout but something rarer, natural gifts. That’s not nothing. Big talent is rare, and deserves consideration. And yet the Democrats remain in their Hillary trance….

That to me gets to the heart of the problem and the heart of The Trance. Mrs. Clinton is so far ahead so early on for the same reason Mr. Bush was so far ahead so early on in 2000, and after only six years as governor, with no previous offices behind him. It is the nature of modern politics. A political family gains allies–retainers, supporters, hangers-on, admirers, associates, in-house Machiavellis. The bigger the government, the more ways allies can be awarded, which binds them more closely. Your destiny is theirs. Members of the court recruit others. Money lines spread person to person, company to company, board to board, mover to mover.

The most important part is the money lines. Power is expensive. The second most important part is the word “winner.” The Bushes are winners; the Clintons are winners. We know this, they’ve won. The Bushes are wired into the Republican money-line system; the Clintons are wired into the Democratic money-line system. For a generation, two generations now, they have had the same dynamics in play, only their friends are on the blue team, not the red, or the red, not the blue.

They are, both groups, up and ready and good to go every election cycle. They are machines. There are good people on each side, idealists, the hopeful, those convinced the triumph of their views will make our country better. And there are those on each side who are not so wonderful, not so well-meaning, not well-meaning at all. And some are idiots, but very comfortable ones.

Is this good for our democracy, this air of inevitability? Is it good in terms of how the world sees us, and how we see ourselves? Or is it something we want to break out of, like a trance?

I deeply hope that interested readers will take the time to access Peggy Noonan’s extraordinary WSJ article in its entirety here.

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Articles from Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Quoted: Photo of the Day: Roman Performance Trash Photography by: Susan Sanders Technorati: Photo of the Day, Photograph of the Day, Roman Performance Trash, Performance Trash, Rome, Italy, performance art, art, image, picture, photo, photograph, photography, photographer, Susan Sanders, culture, cultural, social, society, blog, blogger, blogging, photo-blog

[tags: blogs]

“Bruce Springsteen: The Streets of Philadelphia.” Lest We Forget: Will We Leave Each Other Alone Like This?

This posting includes classic photographs of Bruce Springsteen by Annie Leibovitz, as well as the official Springsteen music video of “The Streets of Philadelphia.”

[tags: Bruce Springsteen, The Streets of Philadelphia, movies, Annie Leibovitz, photographs, music video, YouTube, gay]

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My Articles for Monday, October 01, 2007

“Photo of the Day: A Fluorescent Beauty.” This babe’s gorgeous!! Her Beauty is absolutely luminous. When I see her on the street at night, I can hardly keep away.

This is an absolutely beautiful photograph, presented for you here in stunning high-resolution. Enjoy!!

[tags: Photo of the Day, A Fluorescent Beauty, beauty, beautiful, sexy, photograph]

An audio-clip of a phone conversation between Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover was released last week. The context of that exchange is Nixon’s fury about publication of The Pentagon Papers, a secret history of the Vietnam War. The government made great effort to suppress publication, attacking freedom of expression in America.

Photographs and a video are included.

[tags: Politics, Richard Nixon, FBI, The Pentagon Papers, freedom, photographs, YouTube]

See the Rest of My Articles at Blue Dot

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Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI: The Assault on Freedom of Expression

J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI from 1924-1972

Former President Richard Nixon

Listening in on a Nixon/Hoover Telephone Call

I have written a number of articles here about the issue of the freedom of expression in America, including pieces about Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the 1950’s, The Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial (1969-70), and The 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. This article is a continuation of my postings on the issue of freedom of expression. It begins with an audio clip and transcript of a seven-minute telephone conversation between Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover. The conversation was posted to the Web last week by the Presidential Recordings Program at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. According to the program’s Ken Hughes, the National Archives originally made this conversation available to the public in October 1999, but Hughes believes this is the first time the sound-clip and its transcript have been published together.

The sound-clip/transcript of this conversation is followed, then, by a look at the context in which this conversation occurred, namely Nixon’s fury about the publication of what came to be known as The Pentagon Papers, a secret history of the Vietnam War that had been prepared in the Pentagon. It is within this context that the sound-clip can be seen as part of a wider assault upon the freedom of expression in American by Nixon and Hoover’s FBI.

Readers can listen to the Nixon/Hoover telephone conversation here.

The Pentagon Papers

It was June 13, 1971, when The New York Times began publishing long articles on, and excerpts from, what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers: a secret history of the Vietnam War, prepared in the Pentagon. The Pentagon Papers is the popular term for a 7,000-page top-secret United States government report on the internal planning and policy decisions within the U.S. government regarding the Vietnam War. The documents gained fame when they were leaked and published in The New York Times in early 1971 by former State Department official Daniel Ellsberg. President Nixon picked up his Sunday, June 13th copy of The New York Times and saw the wedding picture of his daughter Tricia and himself in the Rose Garden, leading the left-hand side of the front page. Next to that picture, on the right, was the headline over Neil Sheehan’s first story on the Pentagon Papers, “Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces 3 Decades of Growing U.S. Involvement.” The uproar occasioned by the publication is dim and distant now. Even among those who remember it, many probably think the whole episode did not matter much in the end. But it mattered a lot.

The Papers revealed that the United States government deliberately expanded its role in the war with air strikes against Laos, raids off the coast of North Vietnam, and U.S. Marine Corps attacks before the American public was told of them, while at the same time President Lyndon B. Johnson was promising not to expand the war. The publication of this previously secret document widened the credibility gap between the U.S. government and the American people, hurting the Nixon administration’s war effort.

One of the “credibility gaps” that The New York Times wrote about was that a consensus to bomb North Vietnam had developed in the Johnson administration on September 7, 1964, before the U.S. presidential elections. However, according to the “Pentagon Papers,” none of the actions recommended by the consensus on September 7 involved bombing North Vietnam. On June 14, 1971 the Times declared that the Johnson administration had in fact begun the last rounds of planning for a bombing campaign in November.

Another controversial issue was the implication by the Times that Johnson had made up his mind to send U.S. combat troops to Vietnam by July 17, 1965 and this became the basis for an allegation that he only pretended to consult his advisors from July 21–27. This was due to the presence of a cable which stated that “[Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus] Vance informs McNamara that President has approved 34 Battalion Plan and will try to push through reserve call-up.” When the cable was declassified in 1988, it was revealed that it read “there was a continuing uncertainty as to [Johnson's] final decision, which would have to await Secretary McNamara’s recommendation and the views of Congressional leaders, particularly the views of Senator [Richard] Russell.”

Presidential power was one thing affected by the publication and the controversy that followed. President Nixon saw what the The New York Times and then other newspapers did as a challenge to his authority. In an affidavit in 1975 he said that the “Pentagon Papers” were “no skin off my back,”because they stopped their history in 1968, before he took office. But, he said, “the way I saw it was that far more important than who the Pentagon Papers reflected on, as to how we got into Vietnam, was the office of the Presidency of the United States….

Therefore, Nixon ordered his lawyers to go to court to stop the Times from continuing to publish its Pentagon Papers series. On Monday evening, June 14, Attorney General John Mitchell warned the Times via phone and telegram against further publication. On Tuesday June 15, the government sought and won an restraining order against the Times, an injunction that was subsequently extended to the Washington Post when that paper picked up the cause. The epic legal battle that followed culminated on June 30, 1971 in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to lift the prior restraints, arguably the most important Supreme Court case ever on freedom of the press.

Then, angry because J. Edgar Hoover seemed less than enthusiastic about acting against possible sources of the leaked documents, especially Daniel Ellsberg, Nixon created the White House unit known as “The Plumbers.” They arranged for a break-in at the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist to get his records. They also discussed, but did not carry out, the idea of fire-bombing the Brookings Institution in Washington and sending in agents dressed as firemen to look for connections to the leak. The lawlessness of “The Plumbers,” and the presidential state of mind that their actions reflected, led to Watergate and Nixon’s resignation in 1974. One lesson of those years was seen to be that presidents are not above the law.

Public disclosure of “The Pentagon Papers” challenged the core of a president’s power: his role in foreign and national security affairs. Throughout the cold war, and well into the Vietnam era, virtually all of the public had been content to let the presidents of both parties make that policy on their own. However, as the Vietnam War ground on, cruelly and fruitlessly, dissent became significant. “The Pentagon Papers” showed Americans that all along there had been dissent within the government itself. Publication of “The Pentagon Papers” broke a kind of spell in this country, the idea that the people and the government had to always be in consensus on all the major foreign policy issues.

Placing “The Pentagon Papers” into the Public Record

When the Justice Department had initially succeeded in obtaining injunctions halting further publication of these stories, there was doubt as to whether the newspapers would be allowed to continue publication of their stories. On the evening of June 29, 1971, in the face of this doubt, United States Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska attempted to read the collection of “The Pentagon Papers,” which he had furtively been able to obtain, on the floor of the Senate. However, his efforts were frustrated by a parliamentary maneuver which prevented him from gaining access to the Senate floor.

In response, Gravel created his own maneuver to make the papers public. As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds, Senator Gravel immediately convened a hearing, allegedly to receive testimony from Congressman John Dow of New York on the war-related lack of funds to meet our nation’s needs for public buildings. As his opening remarks to the hearing, and during the course of the evening, Senator Gravel read part of the Pentagon Papers into the record. The remaining portions of the Papers were incorporated into the record of the subcommittee and then were released to the press.

The government managed to prevent most publishing houses from printing the Papers. MIT press backed away, as did Houghton-Mifflin. Systematic harassment and intimidation tactics were brought by the government upon the Universalist Unitarian Association and its Beacon Press in an attempt to stop publication of the controversial “Pentagon Papers.” Nevertheless, Beacon Press went ahead with publication of the Papers

Publication of “The Pentagon Papers” by Beacon Press

Mike Gravel: Placing “The Pentagon Papers” in the Public Record

Today, however, we are again confronted by similar issues with regard to the war in Iraq. One high-ranking military official has referred to the actions of the Bush administration and The Department of Defense as The New Pentagon Papers.

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My Articles for Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Clinton campaign’s way of dealing with complaints that Hillary looks too cunning is to toss in a bit of personality. This is worse: now she’s laughing like an alarm clock buzzer. “The Daily Show” pictured a voice inside her head saying, “Humorous remark detected, prepare for laughter display.”

Photographs and a video are included.

[tags: Hillary Clinton, politics, news, ceelebrities, photographs, video]

“Paris Hilton’s Many Talents: Film Star, Recording Artist, Entrepreneur and Ex-Con.” David Letterman grilled Paris Hilton mercilessly on his television show last week. Letterman’s “jail interrogation” made Paris squirm and squirm!! Poor thing. It’s very funny to watch!

Photograph and video are included.

[tags: Paris Hilton, David Letterman, television, celebreties, socialite, video, YouTube]

See the Rest of My Articles at Blue Dot

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Hillary’s Wonkery: And Then There’s “That Laugh”

Frank Rich has written an interesting Op-Ed piece in today’s edition of The New York Times. In his article, he suggests that Hillary Clinton’s appearance of always being in complete control has “cracks” in it, which may lead to her downfall. One of those “cracks,” Rich points out, is that Hillary Laugh:

“The Beltway’s narrative has it not only that the Democrats are shoo-ins, but also that the likely standard-bearer, Hillary Clinton, is running what Zagat shorthand might describe as a “flawless campaign” that is “tightly disciplined” and “doesn’t make mistakes.” This scenario was made official last weekend, when Senator Clinton appeared on all five major Sunday morning talk shows — a publicity coup, as it unfortunately happens, that is known as a “full Ginsburg” because it was first achieved by William Ginsburg, Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer, in 1998.

Mrs. Clinton was in complete control. Forsaking TV studios for a perfectly lighted set at her home in Chappaqua, she came off like a sitting head of state. The punditocracy raved. We are repeatedly told that with Barack Obama still trailing by double digits in most polls, the only way Mrs. Clinton could lose her tight hold on the nomination and, presumably, the White House would be if she were bruised in Iowa (where both John Edwards and Senator Obama remain competitive) or derailed by unforeseeable events like a scandal or a domestic terror attack.

If you buy into the Washington logic that a flawless campaign is one that doesn’t make gaffes, never goes off-message and never makes news, then this analysis makes sense. The Clinton machine runs as smoothly and efficiently as a Rolls. And like a fine car, it is just as likely to lull its driver into complacent coasting and its passengers to sleep. What I saw on television last Sunday was the incipient second coming of the can’t-miss 2000 campaign of Al Gore.

That Mr. Gore, some may recall, was not the firebrand who emerged from defeat, speaking up early against the Iraq war and leading the international charge on global warming. It was instead the cautious Gore whose public persona changed from debate to debate and whose answers were often long-winded and equivocal (even about the Kansas Board of Education’s decision to ban the teaching of evolution). Incredibly, he minimized both his environmental passions and his own administration’s achievements throughout the campaign.

He, too, had initially been deemed a winner, the potential recipient of a landslide rather than a narrow popular-vote majority. The signs were nearly as good for Democrats then as they are now. The impeachment crusade had backfired on the Republicans in the 1998 midterms; the economy was booming; Mr. Gore’s opponent was seen as a lightweight who couldn’t match him in articulateness or his mastery of policy, let alone his eight years of Clinton White House experience.

Mrs. Clinton wouldn’t repeat Mr. Gore’s foolhardy mistake of running away from her popular husband and his record, even if she could. But almost every answer she gave last Sunday was a rambling and often tedious Gore-like filibuster. Like the former vice president, she often came across as a pontificator and an automaton — in contrast to the personable and humorous person she is known to be off-camera. And she seemed especially evasive when dealing with questions requiring human reflection instead of wonkery.

Reiterating that Mrs. Clinton had more firsthand White House experience than any other candidate, George Stephanopoulous asked her to name “something that you don’t know that only a president can know.” That’s hardly a tough or trick question, but rather than concede she isn’t all-knowing or depart from her script, the senator deflected it with another mini-speech.

Then there was that laugh. The Clinton campaign’s method for heeding the perennial complaints that its candidate comes across as too calculating and controlled is to periodically toss in a smidgen of what it deems personality. But these touches of intimacy seem even more calculating: the “Let’s chat” campaign rollout, the ostensibly freewheeling but tightly controlled Web “conversations,” the supposed vox populi referendum to choose a campaign song (which yielded a plain-vanilla Celine Dion clunker).

Now Mrs. Clinton is erupting in a laugh with all the spontaneity of an alarm clock buzzer. Mocking this tic last week, “The Daily Show” imagined a robotic voice inside the candidate’s head saying, “Humorous remark detected — prepare for laughter display.” However sincere, this humanizing touch seems as clumsily stage-managed as the Gores’ dramatic convention kiss.”

That Hillary Laugh

Jon Stewart: And Then There’s That Laugh

Interested readers can find the entire New York Times Op-Ed piece by Frank Rich here.
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