Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Mashup (4/19/10)

(I also posted some videos and stuff here.)

1) In a column about former President Clinton recalling the awful events of this day in history (Waco, Ruby Ridge, and of course the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City), Mark Halperin tells us the following…

The atmosphere today may be less poisonous by some measures, but it still should cause grave concern. The combination of the nation's severe joblessness, an incumbent President who has, in some ways, become more polarizing than his two predecessors

(Oh, and by the way, concerning Clinton, the wingnutosphere, with typical rhetorical jujitsu, is blaming him here for connecting the dots as opposed to those who have actually threatened or carried out acts of violence.)

I realize the whole bit about Obama supposedly being a divisive president is an old right-wing talking point, but as long as Halperin has tried to breathe added life into it, I thought I should link to this TPM post, which tells us the following…

Much has been made of the new Pew Poll that seems to find President Obama as polarizing figure, with a 61-point differential between the 88% approval among Democrats and the 27% approval from Republicans.

Pew associate director Michael Dimock told Greg Sargent that the amazing part here is the 88% approval among Democrats, which would seem to guarantee a differential high enough to be termed "polarizing."

But here's another theory I have, that I called Dimock up to ask about: That Republican approval of Obama is so low because the number of Republicans is so low -- only 24% self-identification in this survey, in fact, compared to 33% in 2004. Here's how it would work: If the number of Republicans has shrunk, then the people who peeled away would have been the more moderate GOP respondents, the type of people willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt in the form of an approval answer.

"That is reasonable, I think," Dimock told me. "There is no doubt that there have been fewer Americans describing themselves as Republicans, and the ones that are no longer describing themselves that way, compared to say four or five years ago, are the more moderate or middle-of-the-road ideologically, segment of the party. So those who still use the term Republican when we ask them are potentially more conservative and rock-ribbed Republicans than might have been three years ago."

And Halperin also tells us the following…

Back in 1995, though, it was the response of the people of Oklahoma after the bombing that healed the wound and reset the tone for a time. The world witnessed moving and remarkable individual acts of heroism in the wake of the disaster. Survivors faced the grief and horror of an unthinkable attack and, like the people of New York City six years later, responded with courage, faith and a belief that America can ably withstand the assaults of terrorists, whether homegrown or foreign. In addition, Clinton, a Democratic President, worked closely with Frank Keating, Oklahoma's conservative Republican governor, to present a united team of public leadership and human compassion. "There was," as Clinton said at an anniversary event this past Friday, "this sense that this is something we had to do together and that's exactly what happened ... We didn't stop our political fights. Everything didn't turn into sweetness and light ... [But] it changed something in us. We sort of got over the idea that our differences justified our demonization of one another."

No sane person wants to see a repeat of the awful events of fifteen years ago today, but if that tragic outcome were somehow realized, I am not at all sure that people who claim that President Obama is really from Kenya, hid his birth certificate and is trying to take over our government would suddenly grow up and realize that they had to execute the public offices they’ve been entrusted and work with our federal leadership to help heal the wounded, bury the dead, and provide aid and comfort to everyone who needed it.

And if that isn’t a damning indictment of our politics, I don’t know what is.

2) Also, the New York Times told us the following on Saturday (here)…

Roger J. Stone Jr. has more than a bit of a thing for Eliot Spitzer.

In 2008, he reveled in the disclosure of the governor’s dalliance with prostitutes from a pricey escort service called Emperor’s Club V.I.P. He delighted in Mr. Spitzer’s downfall — and continues to do so. He even claimed credit for bringing Mr. Spitzer’s penchant to the attention of the federal authorities, however unconvincingly.

So it has been little surprise that the self-proclaimed Dark Prince of political dirty tricks has placed himself squarely behind the unorthodox campaign for governor — and grand d├ęcolletage — of one Kristin Davis, an erstwhile madam for another escort service.

I could really care less about Kristin Davis, who, as the story tells us, “served a three-month jail sentence on Rikers Island in 2008 after pleading guilty to promoting prostitution.” I give the Times credit, though, for trying to connect the dots between Stone, Davis, and Ashley Dupre, perhaps the most famous prostitute to come along since Heidi Fleiss operated her ring in the ‘90s (no, I’m not calling Fleiss a prostitute since, by all appearances, she wasn’t, and I’m trying really hard to avoid snark on Rielle Hunter, by the way). Times writer William Rashbaum points out that Stone, Davis and Dupre all share the same address of 55 West 25th Street in Manhattan.

However, Rashbaum really doesn’t tell us why Stone is referred to as the “Dark Prince,” so please allow me to do so.

As noted here (nested link), Stone visited X-rated sex clubs with his wife in Florida and “placed ads and pictures in racy publications and a website seeking sexual partners for himself and his second wife, Nydia although he does enjoy frequenting ‘Miami Velvet’ a swingers club in Miami.” Stone denied the report.

Stone also denied having anything to do with the Willie Horton ad that Lee Atwater ran against Michael Dukakis on behalf of Poppy Bush in 1988, and Stone also denied having anything whatsoever to do with the infamous “Brooks Brothers Riot” that halted the Miami Dade vote recount in Florida in November 2000 (I guess this is typical for a guy who says, “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack”).

Also, Stone chaired a 1995 presidential bid by Sen. Arlen Specter (then a Repug, of course – he admitted that much anyway), and in 2004, Stone was responsible for distributing “Kerry/Specter” signs in a successful effort to defeat Dem Joe Hoeffel, who was challenging Specter for his Senate seat at the time (interesting company Arlen keeps, isn’t it?).

Oh, and remember the awful Citizens United ruling by the High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR? Well, Stone founded the group in its original form in 2008 under the name “Citizens United Not Timid” against Hillary Clinton (I’ll let you, dear reader, determine the meaning of the acronym).

Yes, New York Times, Roger Stone is indeed the “Dark Prince.”

And if you mention that in another story, please tell us why.

3) Finally, Michael Smerconish revisited Marcus Luttrell yesterday here, author of the book “Lone Survivor” about Luttrell’s experience after three of the four members of his squad were killed in Afghanistan, and he very nearly was also.

Smerky tells us the following…

As Luttrell detailed in his book, he and his teammates - Lt. Michael Murphy and Petty Officers Matthew G. Axelson and Danny P. Dietz - were hiding in broad daylight in the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistan border when the unarmed goat herders stumbled upon them.

The SEALs were faced with an unenviable dilemma: Let the herders go - and risk that they would reveal the SEALs' location to the Taliban - or kill them.

Luttrell described the ensuing deliberation and vote. He wrote that Axelson wanted to kill the herders and Dietz was noncommittal. Murphy voted to let them go, a call with which Luttrell ultimately agreed - and later came to regret. He wrote that his decision was "the stupidest, most Southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life."

(By the way, Smerky’s story tells us that the father of Lt. Murphy, Daniel, has worked together with an author on a book about his son, which “sheds additional light” on the story of the four men.)

Yes, as it turns out, Luttrell did say that in Smerky’s story three years ago. And he also said the following (here)…

"It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life. I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I'd turned into a f--ing liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit."

And as I pointed out at the time, maybe if our prior ruling cabal had decided to pay attention to the “f-ing liberal(s)” who were yelling all the while about wasting our precious military resources in Iraq instead of investing them in a battle that actually mattered, maybe Luttrell’s teammates wouldn’t have died.

Think about that while you’re counting up your earnings in book royalties, Luttrell.

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