Looking to Vietnam for Answers to Afghanistan


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For three hours Wednesday, Barack Obama and his national security team looked bleakly in the Afghan abyss and debated whether to send as many as 40,000 additional troops to a land that was once synonymous with obscurity. The troop request number – drawn from a leaked memo by Gen. Stanley McChrystal – underscores the lasting implications of Obama’s statement during the second presidential debate last October, “Part of the reason I think it’s so important for us to end the war in Iraq is to be able to get more troops into Afghanistan.”

 

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John and Elizabeth Edwards Getting Divorced?


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Elizabeth Edwards is threatening to divorce her husband, John, after learning of allegations he had committed adultery with more than one woman, the National Enquirer is reporting.

According to the Enquirer, the allegations are in a book proposal by former Edwards aide Andrew Young in which he says he falsely claimed to have fathered Rielle Hunter’s 19-month-old daughter, Frances.

 

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Voters Critical of Obama on Afghanistan, Iran


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Voters are split evenly on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan as General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander there, has requested, and they are also critical of President Obama, saying he is not doing what it takes to win, according to a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted Sept. 29-30.

 

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Support for Legal Abortion Drops


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Support for legal abortion has declined over the last two years while the percentage of those opposing it has grown, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted during August.

 

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Poll: Abortion Support Slips Since Obama’s Election


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Americans have become markedly less supportive of legal abortion since President Obama’s election. The country is almost evenly split on the contentious issue, while views in both camps appear to be hardening — a trend that runs counter to Obama’s longstanding desire to find common ground on the issue.

The shift is not too surprising given the election of a pro-choice president after two terms of a pro-life president, George W. Bush. Pro-choice forces were galvanized by the challenge Bush posed, and a similar dynamic seems to be occurring now, with religion proving to be an especially potent factor in rallying opponents of abortion.

On the other hand, far fewer Americans believe abortion is a critical issue — just 15 percent, down from 28 percent in 2006 — and the percentage of Americans who believe abortion is “morally wrong” is unchanged.

In 2006, just over half of Americans, 52 percent, agreed that abortion is morally wrong, with 12 percent saying it was “morally acceptable” and 23 percent saying it was not a moral issue. In 2009, the same percentage of Americans, 52 percent, said it was morally wrong, while 10 percent said it was morally acceptable, and 25 percent said it was not a moral issue.

The data is found in a new, large-scale survey from the Pew Forum that offers a complex portrait of Americans’ often conflicting views on abortion rights, but one that will provide ammunition for all sides in the ongoing battles over abortion, especially as it relates to health care reform.

 

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Don Draper and James Grady’s Dante Reflect Our Own Infernos


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Soon my 30-day Netflix trial will end, and I will have caught up on Seasons 1 and 2 of “Mad Men.” While time consuming and a bit jarring, simultaneously watching old and new episodes of the show illuminates the breadcrumbs the writers dropped to lead us to Don Draper’s current juicy pickle.




 

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The Three Disgraces: Roman Polanski’s Defenders


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You know what I can’t believe? I can’t believe there is even a debate going on about film director/confessed pedophile Roman Polanski. The guy skipped town to avoid a legal sentence in a plea deal that he agreed to. He needs to be brought back to face the consequences of his despicable actions, as Bonnie describes here. That is the law in our country. Period. As you said, Mary, creative talent does not excuse criminal acts.

Just as disgraceful as Polanski’s craven behavior of avoiding the law for the past three decades is the misguided, contorted reasoning of those who have come to his defense or sought to explain away his actions. I am thinking of three high-profile people in particular:

1. Whoopi Goldberg, the actress and talking head on ABC’s “The View,” said this the other day: “I know it wasn’t rape-rape. It was something else but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.” Yesterday she clarified her comments, saying that what she was referring to was the charge that Polanski ultimately pled guilty to; not rape, but rather having unlawful sex with a minor — or, put another way, Ms. Goldberg, statutory rape.

The other five original felony charges Ms. Goldberg pointed out on Wednesday — furnishing a controlled substance to a minor; perversion; sodomy; committing lewd and lascivious acts upon a child of under 14; and rape by use of drugs — were dismissed as part of a plea bargain.

I guess Ms. Goldberg is right — it was not rape-rape. According to the unsealed testimony of the victim, which Bonnie links to here, Polanski plied the girl with drugs and champagne and, in spite of her repeated protests, forced himself on her orally, vaginally, and anally. So, I guess that would be rape-rape-rape, rather than rape-rape.

2. Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, called for Polanski’s release, writing that the arrest was “a shocking way to treat such a man,” especially one who had suffered through the Holocaust and the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, by the Manson family. He is now circulating a petition in support of Polanski.

“I will be organising the effort myself by emailing everybody I know to sign the petition,” Weinstein wrote in the Independent. “I’m not too shy to go and talk to the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and to ask him once and for all to look at this.”

So magnanimous and compassionate when it comes to aiding his Hollywood peer, and yet when it comes to Polanski’s then-13-year-old victim, this is all that Weinstein could muster:
“Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time.”

I guess Mr. Weinstein didn’t want to get bogged down in any gory details of that “so-called” crime — an odd omission from the producer of “Inglorious Basterds” and “Grindhouse.”

3. Anne Applebaum, the Washington Post op-ed columnist offered perhaps the most outrageous defense of Polanski. She sought to minimize the crime by calling “bizarre” the decision by a U.S. judge to pursue the case after “so many decades.” That reasoning itself seems bizarre to me when, in the next breath, Applebaum excuses Polanski’s “original, panicky decision to flee” because of the tragedy he and his family suffered during the Holocaust (which took place some three decades before Mr. Polanski committed child rape).

Applebaum asserted that Polanski has already paid dearly for his crime “in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.”

After a blogger pointed out that Applebaum is married to the Polish foreign minister, who had indicated he might lobby for clemency on behalf of Polanski, she defended her position and said she was offended by the implication that she might be acting as a spokesman for her husband.

I’ll give her that; I’m of the opinion that Applebaum is mistress of her own views. Too bad they are so misguided.

 

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Castle Leads Biden in Delaware Governor’s Match-Up


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The two top names floated for next year’s governor’s race in Delaware still have not said if they will run, but if they do nine-term Rep. Michael Castle leads Democrat Beau Biden, the state’s Attorney General, 47 percent to 42 percent with 6 percent undecided and 3 percent preferring someone else, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Sept. 30. The margin of error is 4.5 points.

 

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Nancy Pelosi: No Apology Needed For Grayson’s ‘Die Quickly’ Floor Speech


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There is a tradition in Congress of referring to members as “gentlemen” and “gentle ladies.” But recent bipartisan offenses on the floor of the House of Representatives have put members in anything but a polite mood with each other.

The most recent example comes from the gentleman from Florida Democrat Alan Grayson who excoriated Republicans for what he said was their refusal to work toward a solution on health care reform. Grayson spoke from the well of the chamber Tuesday and presented three posters that he said detailed the Republican Health Care Plan. They read: 1. Don’t get sick. 2. If you do get sick. 3. Die quickly.

The gentleman from Georgia, Republican Tom Price, called on Grayson to formally apologize, and filed a privileged resolution like the one filed by the gentleman from Maryland, Steney Hoyer, to reprimand the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson, for yelling “You lie!” at the president during a joint session of Congress last month.

Rather than retracting his words, however, Grayson returned to the floor Wednesday to give his regrets, but not to Republicans. “I would like to apologize to the dead,” he said, referring to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health that estimated the mortality rate because of poor access to health insurance. “I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.”

Later, Grayson went to CNN to declare that he has “no intention of apologizing,” telling Wolf Blitzer, “I didn’t insult the president in front of 40 million people. What the Republicans have been doing is an insult to America.” He also said, “There are foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who think they can dictate policy to America by being stubborn.”

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Republicans are holding Democrats to a higher standard than they hold members of their own party, referring to Rep. Joe Wilson’s refusal to apologize for shouting at the president. “There’s no more reason for Mr. Grayson to apologize than for…” Pelosi said. “In other words, if anyone is going to apologize, everyone should apologize.”

Republican leaders did ask Wilson to apologize after his outburst, but he refused.

She continued, “I again want everyone on all sides to take the level of debate to a plane that is worthy of the subject that we have at hand.”

And with that, the gentle lady from California went on with the press conference.

 

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Republican Leads Race for Upstate NY House Seat


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Republican state Rep. Dede Scozzafava is the early favorite to fill the upstate New York House seat vacated by GOP Rep. John McHugh when President Obama appointed him to be Army Secretary, leading Democrat Bill Owens 35 percent to 28 percent with 16 percent for Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, according to a Siena College poll conducted Sept. 27-29. The margin of error is 3.9 points.

 

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Exactly What Roman Polanski Did


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You said it, Mary. I understand the political and community cohesiveness that prompts residents of
Hollywood (or Hackensack, for that matter), to publicly support a person whose work they admire and whose company they enjoy. We all occasionally refuse to focus on unflattering or boorish behavior in the haze of our affection or awe for someone we care for.

But I also believe in understanding what you are fighting for, and I suggest the friends of Roman Polanski, if they can stand it, read several pages of the unsealed testimony by the 13-year-old child before they sign any petitions. (Melinda in deference to your squeamishness, I want to warn you, the following and the text filled links are NSFW ). In the transcript, the child, clearly uncomfortable, describes to Los Angeles County grand jury members how Polanski gave her champagne and a sedative, then removed her panties (she later put them back on, only to have him again remove them), and then performed oral sex on her (she mispronounced the clinical term as “cuddliness“.) He also penetrated her, and, after asking if she was taking birth control (no), he sodomized her. Before the kings of Hollywood and editorial writers excuse him completely, they should also note she repeatedly said “No,” “C’mon, stop it,” and “I want to go home.” (Polanski pleaded guilty to a single charge of unlawful intercourse.)

The movie-making culture is known for its excess, so perhaps that influence makes its denizens more willing to forgive or forget. As Mary noted, some of Polanski’s supporters, including Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen have, from time to time, also displayed some lack of judgment. Perhaps they now deeply regret their unfortunate acts — especially those that became bad for business. (I’m fairly certain that if the Mamas and Papas founder John Phillips were alive, he’d wish he’d prevented Mick Jagger from having sex with his teenage daughter — not to mention his own drug-addled further despoilment.)
Maybe in three decades since Polanski fled Los Angeles, he has found rectitude and drawn boundaries in a life once punctuated by Rorer 714‘s washed down with champagne. Everybody makes mistakes, and I believe in redemption. If the multilingual, internationally acclaimed director, who has since become the father of a daughter, could find it in his vocabulary to admit his behavior was despicable or that he is deeply ashamed, I might believe him.

Until then, his legal troubles are his to resolve. His lawyer, Reid Weingarten, is a well-connected and ferocious criminal defense lawyer, so Polanski very likely will, in time, be in position to collect another Oscar at the Kodak Theater, this time in person, whether he’s actually sorry or not.

 

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Video: Rep. Michelle Bachmann Warns of Abortions at School Clinics


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Wednesday night on the House floor, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) said the latest Democratic health care bill would allow school officials to take girls out for an abortion during the day and send them home on the school bus that night with their parents being “never the wiser.” Video:

[Via Wonkette]

 

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Mark Sanford Tries to Block Release of Ethics Report


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South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who has been fighting calls for his resignation ever since his affair with an Argentine woman earlier this year, has asked the state’s Supreme Court to block release of the results of a state ethics investigation, according to The State newspaper. Sanford believes the ethics investigation, if released to lawmakers, could arm his opponents and intensify the electorate’s opposition to him remaining as governor.

“Sanford argues that only prosecutorial bodies can gain access to the State Ethics Commission’s preliminary report, which is akin to an indictment and does not contain the governor’s full defense,” the paper reports.

The House ethics committee says it has the right to the panel’s findings should it decide to start impeachment procedures against Sanford. The ethics commission was asked to review Sanford’s use of state and private planes and purchase of business-class airfare on commercial flights.

Governor: Don’t Release Ethics Report [The State]

 

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Less Than Half of Americans Trust the Media


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Only 45 percent of Americans say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the news media to report stories accurately and fairly, and 8 percent have no faith at all in the Fourth Estate, according to a Gallup poll conducted Aug. 31 – Sept. 1.

 

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Palin Joins Conservative Pundits, Politicians In Dominating Bestseller Lists


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Just a few days after Sarah Palin announced the title and release date of her memoir “Going Rogue: An American Life,” it’s already number one on the Amazon bestseller list — the spot that represents the most-sold book of the retailer’s millions of titles.

Palin’s memoir joins a plethora of conservative tomes that have dominated various bestseller lists for the past year. After two days on shelves, Glenn Beck’s latest book, “Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government,” will debut atop the New York Times bestseller list, and is preceded on Amazon’s list only by Palin and Dan Brown’s latest novel, “The Lost Symbol.” Beck’s last book, “Glenn Beck’s Common Sense,” is currently number one on the Times paperback list.

Palin and Beck may be the marquee leaders of the conservative book invasion at the moment, but they are backed by a number of like-minded best-selling right wingers. Michelle Malkin’s “Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies” just descended from the number two spot on the Times hardcover list, and along with both of Beck’s most recent books, is among Amazon’s top 25. Radio host Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto” has spent all of its 26 weeks on the Times lists in the top 10. “End the Fed,” the latest from Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), is inside the top 10 on both lists.

 

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Political Fiction a Hot Genre


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James Grady is at the top of his form in his “What’s Going On: A Political Fiction” novella up on the Politics Daily site.

 

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Specter and Toomey in Dead-Heat in Pa. Senate Race


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Sen. Arlen Specter, the newly-minted Democrat, has a big lead over his challenger for the party’s nomination, Rep. Joe Sestak, but he is locked in a statistical dead-heat with Republican opponent Pat Toomey, a former congressman who had also headed the conservative Club for Growth, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted Sept. 22-28.

 

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Ayotte Leads Hodes in NH Senate Contest


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Republican Kelly Ayotte leads Democrat Paul Hodes by 41 percent to 34 percent with 25 percent undecided for the New Hampshire senate seat that opened up with the announced retirement of GOP Sen. Judd Gregg, according to an American Research Group poll conducted Sept. 25-29. The margin of error is 4.1 points.

 

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Corzine Nipping at Christie’s Heels in New Jersey


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A day after a Quinnipiac poll showed New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine closing the gap on Republican challenger Chris Christie, a new survey by Monmouth University/Gannett conducted Sept. 24-29 has Christie ahead of Corzine by just 43 percent to 40 percent among likely voters, with independent Chris Daggett at 8 percent. The Corzine-Christie figure is within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error.

 

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Atheism’s Rebirth — Just in Time for Christmas


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First, there were the summer camps. Then came the de-baptisms. Next up? A best-selling book entitled “The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas.” Is it just me, or does atheism seem to be enjoying a renaissance?

 

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