Tidy Up: Ikea's Best Banned Ads

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Morning Again in America
Not to spoil a good moment with Reaganesque age spots, but it really does feel like a new day: First, Obama's rejection of the Bush ban on stem cell research (a rejection of Medievalism if there ever was one). Then his order "to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making," because in this administration "we base our public policies on the soundest evidence," not ideological conceits. And finally, his eloquent fuck you to George W. Bush's presidential signing statements. According to the Times, "Calling into question the legitimacy of all the signing statements that former President George W. Bush used to challenge new laws, President Obama on Monday ordered executive officials to consult with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. before relying on any of them to bypass a statute. " Obama will still draft the occasional statement, as those things have been drafted since the days of Thomas Jefferson. But, one guesses, he'll draft them more in the spirit of Jefferson than that of Il Duce from Crawford. New day. New deal.

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William's Tyre
In his comment in the "Waltz With Bashir" thread William says: "I have a friend whose mother still lives in Tyre. He e-mailed me a veritable travel brochure, pictures of the ports, towns, mountains of Lebanon. Beautiful country, one I would like to visit and explore. In some aspects what I saw was not entirely unlike some of the places of my youth." Tyre is one of the wonders of the world, the older part once an island that Alexander the Great, if memory serves, dyked up (should I be spelling it that way?) the better to invade it. I was there in 2000, so I'm unearthing a couple of shots from that trip for memory's sake: what's left of Tyre's fishermen, and what's left of a Roman triumphal arch. My colleague Austin Cline has more on this. Thanks for the reminder William.

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The Action We Need
We can once again let Washington's bad habits stand in the way of progress. Or we can pull together and say that in America, our destiny isn't written for us but by us. We can place good ideas ahead of old ideological battles, and a sense of purpose above the same narrow partisanship. We can act boldly to turn crisis into opportunity and, together, write the next great chapter in our history and meet the test of our time.

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Obama's Bow to Rick Warren
I'm no fan of Rick Warren, the USDA's beefiest pastor and darling of New Evangelism — you know the kind: intolerance with a human face. And I winced at the announcement that Warren will be delivering the invocation at Obama's inauguration. It's bad enough that these religious rituals are still in our faces at hyper-public events, infantilizing the nation for appearances' sake. But if an invocation has to be delivered, I'd be dishonest if I thought Warren shouldn't be the one delivering it just because of his beliefs. Obama was asked about the choice at his news conference today. “I think that it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans,” he said, noting that he'd been invited by Warren to speak at his church a few years ago — despite their differences — and that “that dialogue, I think, is part of what my campaign’s been all about; that we’re not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable.”

Isn't that what it's all about, or what it ought to be about, at the Notebooks?

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Michael Dawson Has a Question
I have a question to which I was hoping somebody here might know a good answer: I'm going to be teaching a sociology class starting in January, and the premise will be to study and gather evidence and analysis of the three main explanations for modern US militarism:
  1. Mainstream -- the world hates us for our freedom/success
  2. Alt v. 1 -- runaway Pentagon/loose cannons/secret teams
  3. Alt v. 2 -- constant war-making is required economically and politically by corporate capitalism

What is the single best statement of the mainstream position?
I have the latter two well covered, but want to give people the most coherent version of #1. Any nominations? Muchas gracias.

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Shoe Thing: In Defense of Muntadar
Can you blame the guy? Stupid question. Of course you can. Muntadar al-Zaidi’s double-barreled shoe-throwing at President Bush in Baghdad yesterday is an event fit for an ecstasy of sanctimony (with apologies to Philip Roth, whose phrase this is). How dare a twenty-something Iraqi amateur journalist so brazenly offend the leader of the free world, after everything Bush has done for Iraq? How dare he so insolently break the surly bonds of decorum, on live television to boot? What’s with Iraqis not volunteering to kiss the president’s shoes? And so on. O irony, where art thou?

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Watch Me on Al Jazeera
I'm one of three guests on the half-hour Inside Story program on Al Jazeera, airing several times December 2 and 3. We're discussing the Hillary Clinton appointment at State and its implications for the Mideast. The other guests are Annie Lowrey of the New Yorker and a Mideast expert from Jordan whose name, I'm ashamed to say, escapes me.

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Begich Beats Stevens in Alaska
You don't have to wait for the bean-counters in Alaska to tell you. Mark Begich has won the Senate seat held by Ted Stevens since Alaskan pre-history. Here's why.

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Sanitize This
Here's post-surge Baghdad. Here's what we're “winning.” Here's the collateral to a nation's demolished moral sense.

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Bill Ayers Speaks
“Whew! What was all that mess? I’m still in a daze, sorting it all out, decompressing. Pass the Vitamin C.”

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Obama's First News Conference
Finally, someone is in charge.
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November 7: Today's Readables
Why white Americans can be stupid, why Lebanese-Americans can be even more stupid, why Georgians are the stupidest of all, and why Iraqis are smart, Franken's deficit of 263 and more...
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On the House
Should anyone be offended? I'm not.

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Goodbye and Good Riddance
And about those clothes? It was a lot more than $150,000. Check out what Alaska's Imelda Marcos was up to, according to Newsweek...

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The Economist Endorses Obama
"It's Time," The Economist says, endorsing Obama. "He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency."

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Who Is Rashid Khalidi?
Rashid Khalidi is, to put it bluntly, the latest pawn in the McCain campaign's attempt to character-assassinate Barack Obama by proxy. Shame on the blogging reactionaries who manufactured this demolition derby. Shame on the McCain campaign for grasping for the wrecking ball. The full story...
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Arizona Republic: Race Tied in Arizona
This should warm everyone's mugpies: "Sen. John McCain's once-comfortable lead in Arizona has all but evaporated, according to a new poll that has the underdog Republican presidential candidate struggling in his own backyard."
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His Choice

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Intrade: McCain's Stock Tanks
Intrade is virtually never wrong.

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Cass Sunstein on Barack Obama
An endorsement worth reading, especially for what it says about Obama's legal mind and his relationship with the ultra-conservative University of Chicago.
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"John McCain Was Never Tortured in My Jail"
The London Times interviews John McCain's Hanoi Hilton jailer.
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Fox VP On Hoax: McCain Quest Over
Take him at his word. This is what John Moody, executive vice president of Fox News, wrote about the fake assault on that McCain campaign volunteer: "If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."
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Best and Worst TV Ads of the Campaign Season
Politico unearthed the ten worst ads of the season (none of them Obama or McCain). Watch the best and worst.
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Hoax Mugging of a McCain Staffer
There’s something luridly fishy—and disgustingly familiar in a Mockingbird kind of way—about a McCain volunteer’s claim that she was mugged by a “black” man and had her face carved with a “B.”
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Keep Up With the Absolutely Latest Polls
Attention poll junkies: there's only one place to go for your fix. True, it's worse than a crack pipe; the high lasts maybe two or three minutes a hit, tops, but the good news is: new polls posted every twenty minutes or so. Perfect for addicts.

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Outrage! Obama Takes 767 To See Grandma!
Republican strategist Brad Blakeman finds a way to counter the criticism of the Palins' $150,000 wardrobe. Watch.
 
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RNC Spends $150K To Dress Up Palins
Sarah and Todd Palin went on a $150,000 shopping binge at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to dress themselves (and their kids) up for the campaign trail. So much for relating to Joe the Plumber.
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The Bigotry Sarah Palin Enables
It may be an al-Jazeera video, but it's by an American reporter interviewing a string of Americans at a Sarah Palin rally. This is her America. Watch...
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Obama Well Ahead in MO, CO, VA, NC
With the exception of Ohio, where “Joe” the plumber's disinformation effect is clogging airwaves, conservative pollster Rasmussen's latest numbers have Obama ahead by 10 in Virginia and comfortably ahead in three other battleground states. The details...
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Palin's Unreal America
Sarah Palin and her Slime-and-Slander Sisterhood (SS for short) are falling all over each other trying to separate the "real" America from the treasonous America. Look who's unreal...
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Colin Powell Rehearsing Obama Endorsement?
From the LATimes: “This picture of former Secretary of State Colin Powell gettin' down on stage with Nigerian rap stars at the Africa Rising Festival is, in fact, not Photoshopped. It's just funny. So no biting commentary to make about it because after all,  Powell is just being a good sport. Or is he? Fox News sees ominous signs in the general's impromptu boogie. It posits that because Powell not only "showed off hip hop moves,"  but audibly referred to himself as "African American" while on stage in London, all the signs are present for him to soon endorse Barack Obama for president. Well, who knows? Powell did say he would wait to hear from both candidates before throwing his support behind one of them.”

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First Democratic Endorsement in 161 Years
Chicago Tribune Endorses Obama
On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose. The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States.Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them. We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president. We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready. This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president.The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States. The full editorial...

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Sarah Palin's Saudi Streak
What was that about keeping government off your back? Let's not forget what the dangerous choice is.

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“I'm Not Bush” = “I'm Not a Crook”
McCain's line about Bush is getting a bit of mileage, but it puts me in mind of the famous line by Nixon, that other plumber-enamored Republican. The Obama campaign makes the point.

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McCain’s Demons Rise Again
It wasn’t quite a Hail Mary pass. More like Hail Marty, as I inadvertently wrote in the preview—Marty being the Everyman plumber, officially named “Joe,” that John McCain attempted to turn into the debate’s headliner. It looked like McCain was onto something in the first half hour. There he was, punching away. But nothing landed enough to shake Obama. Then McCain’s punches turned to flails, the way he kept bringing up that “Joe” as if the entire national economy rested on the fate of a quarter-million-dollar business owner who seems astounded that he should be paying taxes. From punches to flail to unadulterated anger: a 90-minute arc of creepiness that built into a crescendo all the way to McCain’s closing, which sounded like the pleadings of an old aristocrat begging voters to take him over the other guy because of that “long line of McCains.” Still fighting his demons, that one. But the smellier part of the debate was the whole Joe-the-Plumber thing. Who is this guy, Joe Wurzelbacher, allegedly a plumber who wanted to buy his own business but was discouraged by the prospects of paying too much taxes? Have a look at him—his demeanor, his, calculated poise, his martial bearing. Better yet: have a listen. He’s all talking points. Has anyone checked his background? The guy sounds as polished as his skull, too polished to be an average Joe, too obviously coached not to have been a well-timed plant by the McCain campaign, with an assist from Rove, to create exactly the sort of Everyman narrative McCain lunged for, entirely unbelievably, during the debate. That was his big gambit. I’ll be waiting over the next few days, if not the next few hours, for the right bloggers to get on the plumber’s trail and fish out his “associations.” Bottom line: this was all a sideshow that confirms McCain’s Strangelove nature. I laugh every time I hear his henchmen either wonder where the “old McCain” was or cheer at the “return” of the old McCain. There never has been an old McCain. There’s just a McCain who’s old, and who’s been showing us every day on the trail who he really is. A man possessed. I made the point in the very first piece I wrote about him before he decided to run for president. The point stands. McCain can’t get past his demons.

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McCain’s Debate Surprise
Tonight in his debate with Barack Obama, John McCain is going to give us the pleasure, or cringe, of a Hail Marty pass live on national television. I don’t know what it is. I know that he’ll make one. It won’t be the Ayers thing. He’ll deal with that, but only to rattle Obama, or try to. Look for his attempt at a one-two punch: first, soften the ground with a little Ayers bomb, then go for the surprise attack on an entirely unexpected theme. I have no idea what that will be, but I suspect it’ll entail McCain challenging Obama directly to something nutty, like five more town hall meetings or a pledge to jointly go where no other presidential candidates have gone before—something moronic, risky, but also, possibly, for McCain’s sake, “daring.” The pathological turn of his campaign in the last few weeks demands it. He’s no longer in control of Sarah Palin, no longer in control of his campaign staff, no longer in control of anything remotely like a message. He’s still in control of himself, and he’ll let that fly tonight. Being so far behind, he has nothing to lose. Being guaranteed to lose if he doesn’t do something drastic, which may well end up rhyming with spastic, he has no choice but do something radical. It can’t really be called “unexpected” anymore because his entire campaign has turned the unexpected into a game of expectancy: what will the old nut do next, that sort of thing. Tonight he’ll have his last large audience of the campaign. He’ll be sitting next to Obama. He’ll turn to him, and he’ll put his “honor” on the line with whatever crazy scheme he comes up with. That, anyway, is what I’m betting on, because if he doesn't do anything, he's lost. There’s one chance in a thousand that should he opt for the radical gambit it’ll be an original idea, one chance in ten thousand that it’ll work as McCain intends it—turn his campaign around. There’s a much greater chance that this will be it, McCain’s last pass, and that one may well end up rhyming with gas.

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The Palin-Biden Debate
Joe Biden is a brilliant senator who has a reputation for saying dumb things. Sarah Palin is a glittery governor who’s building a reputation for saying dumber things. People sitting down to watch the two debate on Thursday may have had a pre-race NASCAR thought or two: Will there be a crash? Or 10? There were none, except for Palin crashing through the lowest bar of expectations in the history of vice-presidential, and, perhaps high-school, debating. She smiled. She did the Reagan head tilt. She spoke mostly coherent sentences, even if most of her answers had nothing to do with the questions. And, you betcha, she out-NASCARed herself with rapid-fire flips through the Darn Official Thesaurus of Folksiness (Wasilla edition). Mccain's race is too much about her, too little about him. And what there’s been of her as a vice-presidential nominee remains unsettling about both of them: her sanctimonious ignorance, his devalued judgment. More...

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Shot of the Day
The artist (and a friend of the Notebooks), just sent this in.

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Palin Second-Guesses Bush & US, Not Israel
Kissinger, whose entire career as a Middle East and Vietnam strategist was based on second-guessing anyone not on his team (including, on occasion, second-guessing Nixon), must not have told Palin what he's said all along about Israel: "Anybody who gets 100 percent of the confidence of the Israelis has discovered something that has not yet existed." Which is to say: never give Israel your own 100 percent confidence, if it's your own country's interests you're protecting. Evidently, Palin disagrees. More...

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McCain Blinks, Will Debate Obama
You knew he'd have to cave sooner or later, with even his friendliest pollsters telling him he was tanking and now Kathleen Parker, the latest in a string of conservative columnists, to come out against Sarah Palin. (Choice words from Parker: "If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself." And: "Only Palin can save McCain, her party and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first. Do it for your country." Of course, at this point if McCain is interested in doing something for his country, bowing out himself should top the list.
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Bail-Out Blow-Up Boys
Fear, haste and political gamesmanship won't fix America's financial mess. Fairness paired with the kind of transparency and accountability that ensure confidence in markets and government might. Capping off a remarkable day of posturing -- by Congress, by the presidential candidates, and ultimately by the president -- George Bush on Wednesday evening became visible again only to do what he usually does in time of crisis. He told Americans that they should be very, very afraid if Congress doesn't pass his bail-out plan. Instead of Saddam Hussein raining nukes on American cities, or Osama bin Laden unleashing more 9/11s, "the value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. More businesses would close their doors and millions of Americans could lose their jobs." Where's he been? The rest…

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The GOP's Supremacist Hypocrites

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Why I Qualify To Be Secretary of State
WASILLA, Alaska - Dianne Keller, who succeeded Sarah Palin as mayor of this small city, proclaimed Tuesday afternoon that "the process for running the city of Wasilla is probably much like the process for running our country.

I once attended a School Improvement Council meeting where we decided how to distribute a few thousand dollars in bonus money for teachers at my daughter’s elementary school. The experience was revealing, so, thinking “Country First,” I immediately phoned Colin Powell, secretary of state at the time, to let him know that I could be lead mediator in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Powell told me that Bush’s “road map” for peace in the Middle East had taken a turn for cryogenation somewhere in a Fairbanks suburb, where it’s been stuck for the last six years. Wasilla thaws and all, I’m hoping I can put my experience to use in the next administration now that Sarah Palin, boning up on stuff with Dick Cheney in their undisclosed location, has just learned that the West Bank is not, in fact, a financial institution that mortgages subdivisions (or is that settlements?) all over the West Coast.

(And please, Notebookers, like Ohdave, share your reasons why you qualify to be president, vice-president or chief justice of the United States in the era of McPalin.)

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Peggy Noonan on McPalin: “It's Over”
You didn't have to wait until today to know that Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan and the first Bush's former speechwriter, was nervous about Obama: he'd seduced her in his acceptance speech. And today she admitted in print, despite a misleading headline by Wall Street Journal editors, that “The choice of Sarah Palin IS a Hail Mary pass, the pass the guy who thinks he has a good arm makes to the receiver he hopes is gifted.” Then did let it all out in this exchange with Mike Murphy, off-mike, during a television appearance. Here's the full transcript and the video:

Murphy: ...because I come out of a blue swing-state governor world. Angler. Whitman. Tommy Thompson. Mitt Romney. Jeb Bush. And I mean, and these guys, this is all like how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And, IT'S NOT GOING TO WORK.
Noonan: IT'S OVER.
Murphy: Still, McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech and do himself some good
Chuck Todd. [Unintelligible]... think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson?
Noonan: ...saw Kay this morning.
Todd: [sounds like 'she's not comfortable talking about it????]
Murphy: They're ALL bummed out
Todd: Is she really the most qualified woman?
Noonan: Most qualified? NO. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives.
Todd: yeah, they went to narratives.
Murphy: I totally agree.
Noonan: Every time Republicans do this, because that's not where they live, and that's not what they're good at, they blow it.
Murphy: You know what's really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is "no cynicism" and this is cynical.
Todd: And as you called it, "gimmicky."

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Palin To Be Withdrawn as McCain's VP?

The markets, so beloved by the GOP, have their own idea. Join the trade. Price for Sarah Palin to be withdrawn as Republican VP nominee at intrade.com

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Family Values
“After attacking the morals of the Democrats for years, we find this. And Palin is presenting it as a wondrous gift and her unsupervised daughter as beautiful. And blaming the liberals for talking about it. Who are these people and why have they been inflicted on us?” — rowdy, Florida (one of more than 1,500 comments on Times story, “Palin Daughter's Pregnancy Interrupts Script

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Atheism Just Won't Do
I discovered last night that “atheist” is an extremely simplistic way of describing my spiritual beliefs. I don’t believe in God, true, but I am something of a dreamer (I heard that’s a line from a Stevie Nicks song–have I mentioned that I loathe her music? and Fleetwood Mac as well?). I don’t believe in literal magic, but I do believe in the effect that ritual has on a person; in the effect that worship of a god brings focus to certain traits that one might want; in the connection between people that seems to exist (call it quantum theory, string theory, or Jungian, if you will). But I don’t believe in the hocus pocus, the invisible man (or people) in the sky. I’m too rational for that. What do they call it, “spiritual but not religious?” It would take me a while to describe it. Perhaps I shall. Read the rest at Rebel Yell...

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Readables: July 26-27

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Vice President Charlie Crist?
Word has it the assisted-living candidacy of John McCain is so desperate to take back the glow from Barack Obama's latest Rolling Stone act across Europe and the Middle East that it may announce its vice presidential choice early. It may be down to Mitt Romney, the waxy Mormon, and Charlie Crist, who plays a Florida governor on TV. If Crist is the choice, it will be entertaining during the campaign. Jupiter knows the McCain camp can use the injection of political eroticism that Crist likes to project. But it would be a disaster if the act survived the campaign. Remember Chauncey Gardener in Being There? That’s Charlie Crist. I say that having had the chance to observe him as a reluctant Floridian in the last dozen years, interview him a few times, be vaguely seduced by his charms more than a few times, and watching him once in my office go mildly misty eyed as he pointed at a map of Lebanon I have hanging there, looking for Ammoun, the north-Lebanese village his grandmother is allegedly from (though his tan is all Greek), the whole time thinking he was playing me the way he plays every member of the press—the way Paris Hilton plays for the best camera angles. More...

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Readables: July 24

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Gas Efficiency and the B-52 Bomber
No question: the B-52, with its eight engines, its 185-ft wingspan, its longevity (first flew in 1952, scheduled to stay in service until 2040) is an impressive plane, if you can live with its ultimate aim—to flatten everything below its path with 10,000 pound of bombs and missiles. Based in Louisiana and Missouri, bombing crews have been known to have breakfast with their families at home, head for the hangars, fly a bombing mission to Iraq or Afghanistan, and be home for dinner a couple of days later (whatever the calculations may be). Now they just fly training or scaring runs, one of which claimed a plane near Guam Monday, claiming at least two, possibly six lives. Here’s what the plane also costs: Its fuel capacity is 50,000 gallons for a range of about 4,500 miles, or 11.1 gallons to the mile. The distance from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, where a good number of B-52s are based (more are based at Minot Air Force Base in North dakota), and Guam in the Pacific, where they go to warm up for bombing runs, is 7,200 miles—one way. Round trip, a single plane will burn 160,000 gallons of fuel. OK, make that 120,000 gallons, assuming an emptier payload. I commute 300 miles a week or so. I burn 15 gallons a week, because I, too, drive an antiquated, inefficient American car (when I’m sparing my antique Subaru). What all that comes out to is that it would take me 8,000 weeks, or 154 years, of commuting five days a week to burn through as much fuel as a B-52 burns through in a single round trip from Missouri to Guam. The plane is suddenly much less impressive, and a lot more obscene, not just for its ultimate purpose. The Air Force had 94 of these things until this year. It wants to keep 56 and send the rest to the boneyard. No need to wonder why.

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