Thursday, March 20, 2008

Five Years Later

The most consistantly clear headed and reasonable news and messaging coming from the main stream media during the course of George W. Bush's reign of folly has been found in the editorials of the New York Times.

Here is what the board had to say five years ago at the beginning of the Iraq invasion and their comments from today.

War in the Ruins of Diplomacy (March 18, 2003)

Mission Still Not Accomplished (March 20, 2008)

You should also read Juan Cole's year by year breakdown of the Bush Administration's propaganda campaign and its falsehoods - Five Years of Iraq Lies

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

News Flash - Iran Working with Al Qaeda

Er, actually John McCain just has no idea what he's talking about. During his recent trip to the Middle East Mr. McCain told reporters, on at least two occasions, that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda fighters.

(from the New York Times)

Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”
Yeah not quite what's going on over there Senator, but it was only your fifth trip to Iraq since the war began, and it was just designed to bolster your foreign policy and national security credentials. So I wouldn't worry too much about screwing it all up.

As the Times and other outlets reported the US believes that Iran is training and financing Shiite insurgent groups, not the Sunni based Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Say What?!

A couple of weeks ago NPR's Morning Edition ran a series called Conversations with Conservatives featuring a cast of real winners; Richard Land, Grover Norquist, Glenn Beck, and David Keene.

Mr. Beck is probably the leading wack-job of this group, he's certainly the loudest, and has a rich recent history of making patently ridiculous statements. He really took the cake with this one though; responding to Steve Inskeep's query about rising stars within the Republican party, Mr. Beck singled out former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, calling him a Winston Churchill.

INSKEEP: Have you come across someone that you would regard as a rising star that you might put more hope in than many conservatives seem to have put in their Presidential candidates this time around?

BECK: You know, there’s only really one guy that I’ve talked to that I really really like. I think the guy is a Winston Churchill in many ways. He blew his Senate campaign because he spoke the truth. His advisers kept saying, “Don’t say this, don’t say this, this is going to hurt you."

And that's Rick Santorum out of Pennsylvania. I think this guy really has it. I think he really understands the world we live in right now

Really? Rick Santorum? Really? Yeah, speaking the truth is why he didn't get reelected, not because he's a morally repugnant human being and was a terrible, terrible Senator.

Churchillian my ass, if you need to know any more, just google the man.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I like the sky, thanks.

This afternoon I was desperately in need of some fresh air, so I escaped from the office for a stroll around the neighborhood (Dupont South, at least that's what I call it). It was a gorgeous afternoon and I really enjoyed my bit of time outdoors, especially the sun and sky, the fresh air, the wide streets, the flowers being planted around the trees in the sidewalks, the fact that I wasn't shuttered in and oppressed by behemoth obnoxious skyscrapers.

So when I was once again cloistered away at my desk you can imagine my disappointment when I saw that Matt Yglesias was attacking my fair city. Matt seems to think that we should have taller buildings and destroy the character of our city, I couldn't disagree more.

I was born and raised and currently reside in Takoma Park (right by the metro, and yes that means I get to say that I'm actually from here) and I don't know any locals (natural born or long term enough to have raised kids) who would even consider the possibility of constructing taller buildings in DC. The suggestion that we need taller buildings always seems to come from someone from away, quite often from the land of early twilight and vertigo itself.

The quick background, if you need it - and it turns out I did, self-professed low skyline lover that I am, I had always bought into the urban legend that no building could be taller than the Capitol dome with the exception of the Washington Monument. Actually, in 1910 a building called The Cairo went up and dwarfed its neighbors and generally upset folks around town. Congress got in the mix and passed the Height Act of 1910 which stipulates that a building's height cannot exceed the distance between it and the building across the street, plus 20 feet.

Paul Schwartzman wrote a great article on the history of the limitation and some modern-day challenges to it last May, there are fantastic graphics involved as well, check it out. Paul also handles the principle arguments for and against taller buildings in town.

Roger K. Lewis had what amounted to a response later that same month, reminiscing about being shouted down by Jonathan Yardley, lo these many years ago, for suggesting that DC needed taller buildings. Roger has a great summation of the choice made though:

People offended by the Cairo made a definitive value judgment: The building fabric of Washington was to remain uniformly low-rise. There would be a memorable skyline but no skyscrapers. The Height Act of 1910 ensured that Washington's streets and neighborhoods would remain airy, sunlit and protected from soaring buildings that are inharmonious with their surroundings.
And so we live in a great town, with a unique character and feel that has a lot to do with how tall the buildings are and the sense of openness and freedom that they help impart upon us.

Like I said in my comment to Matt, if you're jonesing to be hemmed in by some tall, oppressive buildings take it across the river.