One line from Cheney's AEI speech Thursday has stuck with me. Pooh-poohing the assertion of, among others, John McCain that torture "serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us" (as Obama cleverly referenced in his speech), Cheney sniffed: This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the president himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. Of course it does not. It doesn't excuse anybody anything.
Ah, the Weekly Standard parody, quintessence of comedy: President Barack Obama has announced that June will be officially designated Gay Awareness Month in the White House....
I actually like this Pope, not that my likes and dislikes in this matter count very much. And, as that truly wonderful New York Times reporter Rachel Donadio tells us from Jerusalem today, Benedict XVI also wants a homeland for the Palestinians. Actually, the Holy Father's views on Palestine aren't of great importance, although perhaps a bit more than those of the Archbishop of Canterbury who has even less divisions than the Pope (Stalin's cruel metaphor for Vatican power) and is one of those modern clerical goofies, besides.
Okay, so thanks to a final, heroic burst of leaks, we have a pretty good idea of who stands where, stress-test wise: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and GMAC all need $10-billion-plus increases in common equity, which is just ordinary stock ($34 billion in BofA's case). Citigroup needs another $5 billion--this on top of up to $45 billion in bailout money it's already converting from preferred shares to equity.
OK. Last quick plug from the conference before I go tend to my poor puppy who has been waiting patiently for a walk. Responding to Francis Collins' presentation was NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty, who has a new book out--"Fingerprints of God"--in which she explores the latest research being done on matters of spirituality and the brain.
(Though not so brief I could actually tweet it...) In response to my post on (er, about) Twitter the other day, commenter rozenson opined: [W]hat I hate is that Twitter gets so much attention while literally nobody I know uses it. Businesses, politicians, the media -- all the grown-ups -- are trying to reach out to us kids by being "hip" and tweeting, but it really comes across as condescending more than anything else.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat best-known for directing his city to recognize same-sex marriage in 2004, announced today that he's running for governor of California. But there was no rally or speech. He spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. "It's official- running for Gov of CA. Wanted you to be the first to know," he told his Twitter followers. On the one hand, I suppose this keeps with Newsom's reputation as a young, with-it politician.
Responding to this morning's eloquent New York Times op-ed on human rights in Afghanistan, Michelle Goldberg of the Prospect writes: So far, the administration's realism has overshadowed its idealism, especially in Afghanistan, where the United States is reaching out to "moderate" elements of the Taliban. Lots of observers seem relieved by this scaling back of American ambitions. By cynically cloaking its own aggression in the language of human rights, the Bush team did much to discredit the latter. But ... there are real moral costs to realist compromises.
I've pondered for years what to say about the Bush administration's use of torture in the years after 9/11. So far I've remained quiet about the issue because I'm so uneasy about it -- not just about what the United States has done, but also about the reactions of nearly everyone who has commented on it. On one side, the right mocks those concerned with our actions in that insufferably smug, proudly parochial tone that has marked nearly all conservative commentary about foreign affairs for the past seven years.
Every time I see Pat Buchanan on C.N.N. I get the creeps. He hates Hispanics although they are mostly very pious adherents of his religion, Roman Catholicism. Some day a prince of the church will rebuke him and deny him communion. He also hates the Jews and Israel, the state that incarnates the nation which first gave substance to the idea of peoplehood itself. And, of course, as a corollary of this antipathy he has enormous passion for their enemies. The Palestinians, for example. But his weirdest soft-spot is for Nazis, particular Nazis, the most vicious Nazis. Pat has a strong stomach.