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Monthly Archives: January 2007

The Washington Post today has an article that proves that all politics is local, or at least personal. Seems that Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) met an Army captain in Iraq last December who was articulate and passionate in his views that U.S. troops were being overtaxed and overstressed in their missions in Iraq. He had the courage to tell them these things, and he was, you know, articulate, so no doubt they saw a little of themselves in him (or at least Kerry did, since he had something in common with him, disagreeing with the prosecution of a war that was wreaking havoc on the troops who were fighting for a cause that was no longer widely supported at home, etc).

Anyway, Brian Freeman was killed in Iraq a little more than a week ago, just after a short visit home to his (yes) 14-month old daughter and two-year-old son.

Senator Dodd, speaking about Freeman, said, “This was the kind of person you don’t forget,” strongly (but accidentally) implying that many of those other 3,000 dead, or 22,000 wounded — they are precisely the kind of persons one does forget. And that would seem to be the case, because, no matter how many times legislators make trips out to VA hospitals to see the troops that make it home, and no matter how many condolence letters their 22-year-old staffers forge their signatures on, and no matter how many funerals they show up to in their home districts and states, it’s precisely this point — that families other than their own are paying so dearly for this conflict — that Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.) was trying to make when she was toying with the Secretary of State a few weeks ago.

Senator Kerry also spoke up about Freeman, drawing the connection to his own past in explicit, if grammatically tortured terms.

“When I returned from war, almost 40 years ago now, I stood up and spoke from my heart and my gut about what I thought was wrong,” Kerry said on the Senate floor last week as he recounted his meeting with Freeman. “I asked the question in 1971: How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? . . . I never thought that I would be reliving the need to ask that question again.”

Ah, yes. “Reliving the need to ask that question again.” Making the first time he needed to ask that question again — what — a few years ago? So the first time he asked it was back in 1971, and then he relived it once in 2004 (but not very effectively), and now — even though he lost and the same President is persisting in the same war — it somehow still needs to be asked again? Even though he already relived it?

The problem, as always, is that it really doesn’t matter that these fellas feel like the war is personal now that they met an articulate white guy who didn’t like the way things were looking and then died because of the way things are.

What matters, as always, is that there’s a 14-month old, a 2-year-old and a widow, and the last thing any of them needs is a few rich white guys with blood on their hands smacking their foreheads and saying they get it now.

A little bit more about Freeman is here and here

Some information about a different soldier, also killed, also named Brian Freeman, can be found here and here.

A soldier named Bryan Freeman — same name, spelled differently — was killed in Iraq in 2004. You can read about him here and here. He was in the reserves.

You can choose any dead soldier’s name and find other dead soldiers with the same or similar names. It’s not just familiar, it’s the same.


You don’t file papers to form an “exploratory committee.” You do need to fill out FEC Form 1 (“Statement of Organization”) and you need to provide a fax number. After that, you could be the next President of the United States of America. Then you’d need a new fax number, though.

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I’m so glad my carrier didn’t fall for all of that “usability” and “beauty” and “video” and “touch screen” and “only device you’ll ever need” crap. I’m so happy with my two year old flip phone, and with the new Verizon phones that look exactly the same as the ones I chose from two years ago. It’s about the network.

A Washington hotel, one week ago. Pelosi grandbaby rocks up to the party to celebrate the launch of mom’s new documentary about the religious right. In a week, grandmother Pelosi will see-saw with the VP at President Bush’s State of the Union Address. The Politico was there, with BFFs Helen Thomas and Moby, to observe the scene.

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Apple is Off The Hook. Swimming in billions of dollars. What will they do with it?

It’s possible that President Bush’s proposal is crazy, throwing good money after bad. But it’s also possible that it’s not enough to stop the bleeding. The bleeding is horrible.

And here’s the part that hasn’t sunk in yet over here: We did this to them.

Finally, a good fight.

Sen. John Edwards calls out to unnamed Democrats who have yet to take a strong stand against both the Iraq War to date and the proposed escalation of America’s military combat presence there moving forward. He says silence is betrayal.

The exhortation from Edwards for Democrats to oppose the war — issued from the same lovely church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where Martin Luther King, Jr. announced his opposition to the Vietnam War — was taken personally by the campaign organization which, we presume, exists to put forth the candidacy of Sen. Clinton (D-NY) for president. We don’t know for sure yet, but the staff is in place, and it employs people like Howard Wolfson, who say things like “Tsk, tsk, John Edwards. You said you wouldn’t play dirty!” (Even though an exhortation to speak up for your beliefs isn’t exactly what we mean when we talk about dirty politics.)

The problem (and the reason why Mr. Wolfson might have taken Edwards’ call so personally) is that Hillary operates from a different perspective, at least when it comes to silence.

One of the slogans her campaign has been batting around when it comes to defending her staunchly bleh record vis a vis the war in Iraq? “Silence is Golden.”

As always, all that’s really needed now is a good sit-down at Orloff’s (just kidding it’s closed. has been for years.) and a session devoted to terms definition. Once we work out what silence is, we’ll be able to deal with the real issue. Evil.

I like to complain. I complain about lots of things, like if it’s too hot or cold, or if I’m a little drowsy, or if the price of gas goes up, or, in fact, if it goes down. I suppose I like to complain so much because I’m — and I don’t mean to sound immodest here — I’m good at it. We do what we’re good at. Perhaps you knit or play a musical instrument. I complain. And even though you may think you’re good at complaining, unless you devote as much time and energy to it as I do, and I’m talking more than 50% of your time awake each day, you’re probably not going to be able to compete with me. For me, it’s reached a level of virtuosity that is, if not unmatched, at least world class. I can convey a significant complaint with an eyebrow, a flutter of a grimace, a shuffle of one foot. I can convey a specific, highly-articulate complaint by saying and doing nothing, letting the absense of a remark speak as loudly as any screaming fit. It isn’t a god-given gift. I have worked at it.

Here’s my point: this past weekend here (I’m in San Francisco), it’s been cold during the day and much colder at night. It’s unseasonable and the low temperatures overnight have been record lows. The windows in this part of the world can tend toward the drafty side, because the stakes are usually fairly low. Meaning, the temperatures outside versus those inside aren’t usually significantly different. They differ, but not usually by more than, say, 40 degrees, at the outside. It’s typical, for example, in the summer, for the outdoor temperature to be perhaps 85 degrees, while indoors would be in the mid-70s. It is equally common, in the winter months, for the temperature to be in the mid-40s overnight, while indoors it would be in the mid-60s. The stress on the windows isn’t usually drastic (like on the East coast, where one side of the glass could be 20 degrees and the other side a cozy 72).

So a cold night or two comes along, and there’s a little draft and some wind and one bundles up with a sweater and a blanket and, quite naturally, complains. One may complain about the temperature outside or in. There’s justification for both.

But then, one reads a story about people who work very, very hard to produce something – a crop, in this case. They run small farms whose yields are then sold to local establishments, and they make a living against so many odds — economic valuations of their chosen crops, fluctuating demand for their crops, the tenacity and energy it takes to raise those crops, etc.

And then, along comes a weekend like this one. Farmers around Calif. stand to lose tens of thousands of dollars (or more, or less) after this temperature drop. For some, it won’t make a huge difference. And for others, it’s going to have a big impact on their lives.

Catherine Saillant, at the Los Angeles Times, has written it the way it deserves to be written. Steinbeck, whatever you think of him, has really got his talons into the way we write about farming. She doesn’t sound like Steinbeck, but it’s hard not to think of him, at least a little.

As one farmer “walked his 17 acres of citrus and avocados near midnight, he made quick calculations on what was worth trying to save and what he should let go. ‘I’m writing them off,’ Churchill said of a small grove of Hass avocados adjoining his citrus orchard. ‘I just can’t save them.'”

It’s crazy all over again. Dukakis sat out attacks on his law and order record in Mass. Kerry sat out attacks on his record as a decorated veteran. Then he sat out attacks on his incorrectly perceived attacks on veterans (wha?). Now, Senator Boxer is being willfully misinterpreted, and it’s big news in New York, among other places. It’s no liberal media that’s pushing this coverage. It’s some very loud, very base, very capitalistic papers that know how to sell copies, which is another thing liberals can’t seem to figure out.

Anyway, let’s talk about Chickenhawks. Ezra is right, and Sullivan is wrong, because they both chose the same word and one of them understands it and the other one doesn’t.

Chickenhawk. Somebody else look it up, and try to understand what it means. And then explain how Secretary Rice is going to be as personally and deeply affected by further deaths of American (and Iraqi) soldiers as the families of those soldiers. It’s an old story, old white guys sending other people’s kids off to fight wars over their portfolios, and there’s nothing shocking or even all that electrifying (for anyone) in Boxer’s remarks. She’s not a great speaker, but she didn’t misspeak, and she’s just the latest victim in the long-running game of right wing, dunderheaded pile-on.

Would be nice if the Senator would learn from her predecessors in the ring and defend herself. The way to do that? Name her own friends and relatives who have been fighting in this war, whether or not they’ve been injured or killed. And if she doesn’t have any? Then come out and say that, and explain that therein lies some of her ambivalence over being so cavalier with our volunteer armed forces. Done.

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Supernatural is pretty good to work such a pasty crowd with such aplomb. He’s getting paid. Look at the crowd grooving. Rockin’. Rockin’.