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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
What about Mini Ditka?
I am optimistic about the future of the Illinois delegation to the U.S. Senate. The past few days have given us just a taste of what we can look forward to when Barack Obama joins Senator Dick Durbin in Washington.
Then there was the news, released by the Obama campaign, that whoever the Illinois Republican party chose as their sacrificial lamb would need to bring a thick wallet with them. Obama's campaign has raised a stunning $4 million in the past three months. Of that he still has $3 million on hand. That will be quite a prohibitive obstacle for many of the prospective fill-ins.
Indeed, one of Jack Ryan's primary opponents, State Senator Steve Rauschenberger has already said he will not fill the void because he is afraid of going up against Obama's popularity and stack of cash. He said this soon after U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert endorsed him as the best stand-in possibility for Ryan. Oops.
"If Ditka ran, Democrats would claim to vote for Obama and then secretly vote for Ditka," said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) "It would immediately put Chicago in play."
Mmmnk. Kirk, of course thinks everything is in play after he was able to win the 10th Congressional District after spending $10 million of his own money. That sure makes things easier.
But that's beside the point. It seems the Illinois GOP has regressed into desperation where they think they can beat anything and anyone if only they got Da Coach. I imagine this conversation within the 19 member nominating committee:
Suit #1: "Who would win, Obama or Ditka?"
Suit #2: "Ditka, 98 percent."
Suit #1: "But what about Mini Ditka versus Obama, Kerry and the '72 Dolphins?"
Suit #2: "Da Coach, 86 percent."
Suit #3: "OK, OK, dat dere may be trues, but what about Mini Ditk... oh geez... anudda heart attack..."
Suit #1: "What my friend dere is tryin' to say is: What about Super-mini Ditka minus da Levitra versus Obama, Kerry, da '72 Dolphins, a 180 MPH hurricane, a healthy Ricky Williams, da Fridge, and Air Jordan?"
Suit #2: "Aww geez. Tough one. I'd say Da Coach by 77 percent."
Cynical Democrats and left-wing loonies alike have made something of a parlor game out of guessing when the Bush administration will produce the head of Osama bin Laden or that of one of his Associates in Evil. Most have hysterically warned that, come October, bin Laden might suddenly show up in a body bag as the freakiest Halloween costume around.
Personally, I think bin Laden will show up soon as well, though I tend to (naively?) believe the Bush administration is doing what it can to get him as soon as possible. Maybe he would have been captured by now if we hadn't started a war in Iraq, but given the resources committed, I expect him to show up as soon as he possibly could be captured.
Would the Bush administration play politics with national security? I would hope not, but according to the New Republic the trap is set for just such a thing. The New Republic has learned that Bush administration officials have exerted extreme pressure on the Pakistanis to deliver bin Laden, second in command Ayman Al Zawahiri, and/or Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar before the November election.
A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
That's blatantly playing politics with national security. There's no other way to describe it.
Is it reputable? First off, the New Republic is very well respected as a painfully middle-of-the-road political magazine. No argument there. Are the Pakistani sources reliable? These leaks come from ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service which tends to have more pro-Islamist leanings than the Musharraf regime. The ISI knows that if they don't start producing results they could face heavy pressure concerning its loose nukes. The ISI is feeling the heat.
The Bush administration has suddenly decided to push Pakistan for results this Spring and Summer. Curious timing. We should have been going after bin Laden this whole time. The fact that we have not been laying all our weight on Musharraf and his generals in the past is profoundly enlightening.
"Pushing Musharraf to go after Al Qaeda in the tribal areas may be a good idea despite the risks. But, if that is the case, it was a good idea in 2002 and 2003. Why the switch now? Top Pakistanis think they know: This year, the president's reelection is at stake."
For the Bush administration it's all about politics. All of it.
You may have heard that the Republican Convention in New York will prominantly feature pro-choice, pro-gay rights California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former New York mayor and New Yorker-above-all-else Rudy Giuliani, and every moderate's favorite man of conviction Arizona senator John McCain. Also on the docket will be Education Secretary Rod Paige - a secretary who never sees the light of day save for the moments when the administration wants an African-American official for a photo-op.
Why is the Republican Party pretending that this is who their party is? If this was legitimately the makeup of today's Republican party, the Democrats would be done for. Republicans would dominate by 60% or more. Those types of Republicans are the kind that moderate America can get behind.
Why is the GOP hiding Santorum, Delay and the rest of the right-wing loonies? What are they afraid of? Kevin Drum has some thoughts on this:
"Whenever you hear anyone — and you hear it from both liberals and conservatives — crowing about how conservative the country has become in the past couple of decades, just remember this: if America is so damn conservative, why is the Republican party afraid to put any red-blooded conservatives on prime time TV shortly before the election? Why are they so afraid of the social conservatives who make up the heart and soul of their party?
"...Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum deserves a prominent speaking slot at the convention — and he should be encouraged to speak his mind. Let's find out just how conservative America really is, shall we?"
The country is sooooo conservative, but Republicans won't let America see its conservative leadership? That makes no sense. Perhaps, just perhaps, America isn't so "red-blooded" as the GOP and many pundits would like to suggest.
"CLARIFICATION: It has come to the editor's attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission."
That's an understatement if I ever saw one. This of course, wasn't an unusual position for most editors of southern newspapers back then, but it's still a very blunt admission of neglect. An admission that was needed.