Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Spanish Civil War Photos Found

You might recall a feature story I wrote last year on Hayward resident Nate Thornton who is one of the last living American veterans of the Spanish Civil War.

Read the article here.

The New York Times last week ran a story and slideshow of rediscovered photographs from the three year war that captured the imagination of anti-fascists across the world and some historians labeled the dress rehearsal for World War II.

I interviewed Thornton and his wife last October just as the economy was beginning to suffer wholesale damage. His commitment to the socialist revolution is still strong after over 60 years and possibly quite prescient.
I know that socialism is going to be the '-ism' of the future, he says, I don't know when it will happen, not in my time, I'm sure of that. Once this thing is all done, the capitalists are going to have to go to work with a pick and shovel like the rest of us. That's what they don't like. That's what they don't want. The system is breaking down.
There's a cadre of former titans of industry like Dick Fuld, Angelo Mozilo, John Thain and maybe Kenneth Lewis looking for jobs at the quarry.

Sotomayor Is A Bitch; TNR's Rosen Is An A-Hole

If President Obama waits until the end of summer to nominate a Supreme Court justice for retiring David Souter then Sonia Sotomayor's candidacy will certainly wilt in the muggy D.C. heat. Especially, if journalists like The New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen conjure up hack jobs with the specter of nepotism hover over his work.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald reported yesterday the controversial article published Monday may contain of wild web of deception. Let's break it down: Rosen's brother-in-law is the deputy solicitor general to the Supreme Court. The current and yet-to-be-tested solicitor general is Elena Kagan--another possible nominee on Obama's short list. What won't Rosen do to get sissy's husband a promotion?

The image of impropriety would not be so stark if the article did not tweak the nose of political insiders, journalists and feminists with quotes which appeared vengeful and childish name-calling. A high-powered judicial version of Sotomayor is "dumb", "a girl" and a "dumb, smelly girl" all at once.

Rebecca Traister, writing in Salon, illustrated some of Rosen's inherent sexual biases, namely as she points out, the same criticisms strong female figures like Martha Stewart and Hillary Clinton invariably receive. They are bossy, moody, profane and just plain bitches. You know, the same qualities male CEOs receive as a strange compliment.

As to what happens to Rosen? The New Republic advertised his articles on the possible Supreme Court nominees as being part of an on-going series. How about we stop at one. It would be one thing if Rosen disclosed his familial connections to the inner-workings of the court, but he didn't and proceeded to unleash a whisper campaign that may torpedo Sotomayor's chances of being the first Latino on the bench. As the Talking Points Memo mentions (along with a video clip from the Late Show), when an obscure appellate judge becomes part of Letterman's monologue, there is no way she can withstand what lies before her and the sheer months until, if you can imagine, the real spotlight shines upon her.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Will The Real James Jones Come Forward

President Obama's "Team of Rivals" propaganda did more to fatten book sales of Dolores Goodwin Kearn's book of the same title than provide any real rivalry among cabinet members (the book can also put you to sleep.)

I mention this because two mainstream articles, one by Time's Joe Klein and a feature by Robert Dreyfuss in Rolling Stone show two different portrayals of one of Obama's notable "rivals", National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones.

The Rolling Stone piece reads like a rehashing of four month administration talking points set along the "rivals" theory of governance. The article says Obama does not have much of a relationship with the general but has spent the past two years gaining familiarity with him on the campaign trail. Jones, a supporter of Obama and frequent critic of the war, is described along the lines of how the Administration would have you believe him to be behind closed doors. According to a Time opinion piece last week, Jones is anything but a go-getter and Type-A personality in meetings.
There is some concern, however, about National Security Adviser James Jones, who is still adjusting to civilian life after a brilliant career in the military. "Obama has appointed all these high-powered envoys like [Richard] Holbrooke and [George] Mitchell, but we don't know who's going to really be in charge of setting the foreign policy priorities," says a prominent foreign policy realist who admires Jones. "That should be Jim's job. But he's throwing off a sense of uncertainty." Several sources say Jones seems to attend meetings rather than lead them. "He needs to drive the agenda," the foreign policy expert adds.
The appointment of old Democratic hands like Mitchell and Holbrooke to Middle East hot spots way back in February may signal Obama had already viewed Jones as overwhelmed by the position. Are there foreign policy problems bigger than Israel/Palestine and Iraq/Afghanistan?

Rolling Stone may primarily be a music and culture magazine but it does churn out insightful public affairs pieces from time to time. This is not one. It gives the appearance of sloppy journalism or worse by its shocking mimicking of the party line, the feel of propaganda.

Other than that, what can I say? There's a pretty good story about the porn industry's top actress in this week's issue.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sotomayor Is The Perfect Choice

It just has to be 2nd Circuit Appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Not only would she be the second woman on the court, but the first Hispanic in U.S. history. If you believe the Latino vote swung the last election towards President Obama (I don't), then this milestone would be a significant thank you.

Sotomayor, who is known as the judge who ended the ruinous 1994 Major League Baseball strike, is quite attractive other than demography. If Obama is hoping for uncontentious confirmation hearings, the 54-year-old Puerto Rican might placate Republicans. She is fairly moderate and was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to the U.S. District Court in New York.

Of course, these things look easy on paper. If chosen by Obama, Sotomayor's entire life will be examined. Every single piece of writing from college term papers to her decision on the second circuit will be examined for clues to her "real" judicial compass while hoping she does not share a peculiarly common trait amongst Obama nominees of not paying her taxes.

Salon lays down the skinny on other possible selections in an article posted shortly after election day that includes the other possible woman, Elena Kagan. The Daily Kos also has a quick thumbnail on Sotomayor.