Friday, July 27, 2007


Hillary's peek-a-boob neckline

Somehow I missed it, but Robin Givhan, the Washington Post's Pulitzer-Prize winning fashion editor, didn't: On Wednesday, July 18, Hillary Clinton was caught by C-SPAN2 on the floor of the Senate looking like a Frenchwoman.

Here's what Givhan saw

She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

Now Givhan is going to the pillory over Hillary. Columnist Ellen Goodman went so far as to suggest that Givhan deserves a booby prize—

Only in Washington would a fashion reporter get tips watching C-Span2. But the Post piece managed to make a media mountain out of a half-inch valley. As one of the thousands who have scrutinized the black V-neck top on the Internet, I can attest that it barely (in both senses of the word) fits Wikipedia's definition of cleavage....

Not even Nora Ephron, who wrote a book called "I Feel Bad About My Neck," could have spent more energy deconstructing a neckline. Isn't there, somewhere, a booby prize for covering pulchritude instead of policy?

Sen. Clinton's décolletage became the topic on "Hardball." Mark Jurkowitz described the debate—

"Directing attention to ‘is she showing cleavage or isn’t she’ is kind of a complete waste of time given the dire straits our democracy is in,” asserted writer and feminist Naomi Wolf. For her part, conservative talk host Melanie Morgan advised the New York Senator to “wear bipartisan clothes [but] she shouldn’t wear her cleavage so low.” ...

Hillary herself is using Givhan's story to launch a fundraising appeal. E&P reports that—

The email to supporters was penned by Ann Lewis, the longtime Dem operative and now a senior adviser to Clinton.

Among her comments: “It’s insulting to every woman who has ever tried to be taken seriously in a business meeting. It’s insulting to our daughters — and our sons — who are constantly pressured by the media to grow up too fast.

“Take a stand against this kind of coarseness and pettiness in American culture. And take a stand for Hillary, the most experienced, most qualified candidate running for president.”

Of course if I were insulted by Givhan's story, I don't know why I'd give money to Hillary. I'd be more inclined to save some by cancelling my subscription to the Washington Post.

But the pundits clearly had not read my recent post on Hillary's choice for a campaign theme song, nor in fact did they give a very good reading of Givhan's article.

It was startling to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative — aesthetically speaking — environment of Congress. After all, it wasn't until the early '90s that women were even allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor. It was even more surprising to note that it was coming from Clinton, someone who has been so publicly ambivalent about style, image and the burdens of both.

The last time Clinton wore anything that was remotely sexy in a public setting surely must have been more than a decade ago, during Bill Clinton's first term in office when she was photographed wearing a black Donna Karan gown that revealed her shoulders.

Givhan was not writing about "fashion"; she was writing about her discomfort with Clinton's dress—

.... It's tempting to say that the cleavage stirs the same kind of discomfort that might be churned up after spotting Rudy Giuliani with his shirt unbuttoned just a smidge too far. No one wants to see that. But really, it was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!

And she suggests that that discomfort comes from Clinton herself—

Not so long ago, Jacqui Smith, the new British home secretary, spoke before the House of Commons showing far more cleavage than Clinton. If Clinton's was a teasing display, then Smith's was a full-fledged come-on. But somehow it wasn't as unnerving....

With Clinton, there was the sense that you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private. You were intruding -- being a voyeur....

To display cleavage .... requires that a woman be utterly at ease in her skin, coolly confident about her appearance, unflinching about her sense of style. Any hint of ambivalence makes everyone uncomfortable. And in matters of style, Clinton is as noncommittal as ever.

Givhan was clearly off on one point: While this may have been Givhan's first introduction to Clinton's cleavage, it was not Clinton's first offering in 10 years. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet has the goods in a photo from the Clintons' visit to Iowa on July 3. Sweet comments that "She’s showing her feminine side." But if that's her feminine side, she's very oddly built.

I suspect that Hillary dropped her neckline somewhere around the time she selected her theme song, and I further suspect that in some recent campaign focus group it emerged that Hillary was viewed as "not feminine enough." As a result—and contrary to her own impulses—Hillary has let some small part of herself hang out.

Though the boobs are real, that isn't quite what we meant when we asked for more authenticity.

And speaking of Hillary's authenticity, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair are running a series of profiles beginning with "Why Hillary Clinton has Always Been a Republican." The blurb for this subscription-only series states

Watch her as she zigzags from Nixon campaigner and vote-fraud investigator in 1960 to Goldwater Girl and President of Young Republicans at Wellesley to her internship for Gerald Ford and campaigner for Nelson Rockefeller. Witness her reaction to the student protests at Yale and the demonstrations at Grant Park during the Democratic Convention in 1968. Learn how she and Bill vowed to "remake" the Democratic Party—using the Nixon model HRC learned about as a member of the House impeachment staff.

Republican Fred Thompson's unannounced candidacy for the Presidency is at risk for his earlier support for abortion. But you won't find knowledgeable Republican politicos trying to bring down Hillary—they're recommending her. And why not? They figure that as the Democratic candidate, she'll offer them their best chance to hold onto the Presidency. On the other hand, if she wins they still win!

Previous posts
Another reason I won't be supporting Hillary for President in 2008 (12/13/04)
Quote of the Day (2/20/05)
Newt nominates Hillary (4/15/05)
Observation of the Day (11/5/05)
Political Profile of the Day (8/30/06)
Iran and the New York "money people" (1/12/07)
Political Jargon of the Day (4/19/07
"I'm Hillary, fly me" (6/27/07)


Thursday, July 26, 2007


Update on "Foreign Agents of the Day"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Foreign Agents of the Day

A dozen Christian university students from the US will spend the day receiving advocacy lessons at the Israeli parliament (the Knesset) on Sunday. —Lede to a story in Israel Today

It goes on to say—

The visit is part of the Israel Experience College Scholarship Program, referred to by some as the “Christian Birthright,” which is put on annually by New York-based Eagles' Wings Ministries.

The program is an effort to “raise up educated ambassadors who are articulate about the truth about Israel's situation, about God's promises to Israel, and about why it's important for Christians to pursue that,” Eagles' Wings program director Joel James told Israel National News.

Israel is regularly portrayed as an oppressive and illegitimate state on American university campuses.

The students will be hosted at the Knesset by the parliamentary Christian Allies Caucus, which exists to strengthen political ties between the Jewish state and the Evangelical Christian world.

I decided to toddle on over to the Eagles' Wings website to find out how I might become an ambassador for Israel. They immediately gave me the background I would need for my venture into ambassadorship—

On campuses across the country, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has led to demonstrations and activism by pro-Palestinian groups fueled by hatred for Israel and Jews.

Shorter version: It's all about anti-Semitism and has nothing to do with the injustices visited upon the Palestinians.

The University should be a place of open discussion and an exchange of ideas, not a forum for hatred and intimidation.

Shorter version: We need to silence those pro-Palestinian voices on U.S. campuses.

To further these goals the Israeli government has offered its full support—

The Israel Experience is in full cooperation with and endorsed by the Christian Allies Caucus of the Knesset (Parliament). Students will have a private audience with the Mayor of Jerusalem, dialogue with influential leaders from all levels of society, tour IDF [Israeli Defense Force] bases, interact with Israeli university students as they put their hands and feet into the landscape of scripture.

Well, hello, Sailor!

Why, it's remarkably similar to the experience enjoyed by former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey when he visited Israel in 2000. McGreevey, you'll recall, brought back a dashing young former naval lieutenant in the IDF whom he eventually appointed to be his homeland security advisor, among other things.

This makes me hopeful that if I play my cards right, I may find love and be able to bring back my very own Israeli agent. I'll do my best to convert him, of course, once we're alone.

Will I need to register as a foreign agent?

This brings me to wonder what my own status will be after I return from training: If I'm an Israeli "ambassador," do I need to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)?

The Department of Justice website says that—

The purpose of FARA is to insure that the U.S. Government and the people of the United States are informed of the source of information (propaganda) and the identity of persons attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws.

What a good idea! But are there exemptions for those who would influence us on behalf of a foreign power? Of course.

Persons whose activities are of a purely commercial nature or solely of a religious, scholastic, academic, scientific or fine arts nature are exempt.

So I can avoid registration if I insist on the religious nature of my calling, and I just won't mention that the Israeli government and Defense Force are secular institutions.

Converting the Jews

While in Israel I hope to convert as many Jews to Jesus as I can, but I'll have to do it on the sly. Despite the clear need for my help the Israelis can be downright hostile when it comes to Christians. Only this Sunday I read that the HOT cable network is petitioning to drop its Christian channel—

HOT filed a request with the Israeli Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting last week for authorization to cut Daystar out of its programming, arguing that the Christian network is targeting Jews for conversion to Christianity.

This grieves my heart.

Back home

Once I've received my ambassadorship training there'll be lots of work to do, but we're fortunate to be assisted by some of the top media personalities. Take, for instance, Glenn Beck of CNN. Israeli Insider gives us the lowdown on the fine work he's doing for Israel—

Beck, 42 and host of what is considered the fastest-growing TV show in cable news, can make Bibi Netanyahu look like a dove. The baby-faced former Top 40 radio disc jockey has been known to describe Saudi Arabian leaders as "nut jobs" and "dirt bags" and says that if America doesn't support and protect Israel, "we will lose our only strategic ally in the Mideast and we will lose our souls."

Yes, Beck, an admitted former alcoholic and drug addict, is now a devout Christian who believes in an Armageddon in which millions will die. He also believes in God's love for Israel, and he is not shy about discussing his own support for the Jewish state on his hour-long show that airs nightly at 7 p.m. on CNN Headline News....

And speaking of Armageddon...

A friend sent me a link to an interview with an Anglican priest whose book Zion's Christian Soldiers has recently been released.

The interviewer from radio station WMNF introduced Father Sizer this way—

Two of the best-selling authors in the United States—Tim LaHaye of the Left Behind series and Hal Lindsay's Late Great Planet Earth—postulate that we're in the "End Times."

Our next guest is a Christian minister from England who's studied the "End Times," who says that in Israel conservatives there are cooperating with Christian Evangelicals who believe that we are in the "End Times" to try to hasten some sort of Armageddon.

Fr. Sizer's remarks are well worth a listen, though you have to skip a few minutes of the recording to get to the interview.

Well, with Armageddon coming, maybe Israel doesn't really need me as an ambassador after all. What they seem to want more than anything are some Christian guns.

7/26/07 - 6:30 pm

Pastor John Hagee, founder of CUFI.
Today Max Blumenthal released his story and video of the annual Washington-Israel Summit of the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) held July 16. According to Blumenthal, CUFI lobbies Congress for "an expansion of Israeli territory and a unilateral attack on Iran."

The video opens on a brief interview with former Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay—

BLUMENTHAL: And how much of an inspiration is the Second Coming in your support for Israel?

DELAY: Obviously it's what I live for. I hope it comes tomorrow....

Star Wars' Jabba the Hutt
In light of the charges Delay faces in the State of Texas, that may be an understatement.

CUFI was founded by multimillionaire pastor John Hagee, who appears to be the sluglike Star Wars character Jabba the Hutt in very thin human disguise. Well ... maybe not so thin.

Related posts
Christo-Republican cadres (6/22/05)
Word of the Day (7/13/05)
Novak acknowledges Israeli policy of apartheid (4/9/07)
Headline of the Day (7/17/07)
One more reason not to vote for Giuliani: He's gone Neocon (7/20/07)


Monday, July 23, 2007


Currency of the Day

So today, in honor of the Federal Reserve Chairman's Humphrey Hawkins testimony, the Fed's release of the FOMC minutes, the rising cost of everything except those things included in core inflation, the $2 trillion worth of dollars put in circulation between 1776 and 1990, the $2 trillion more dollars that were added between 1991 and 2000, the $2 trillion more dollars added between 2001 and 2003, the $2 trillion more dollars added in 2004 and 2005 and the $2.8 trillion more dollars added from 2006 through the first half of this year, then yes, let us by all means embrace the Weimar Aesthetic! —Kevin DePew writing in his column of July 19

Kevin Depew is the managing editor of, which is described in Wikipedia as "financial infotainment." It attempts to inform the public about the world of finance, and does it admirably. Depew's column "Five Things You Need to Know" is one of the few I would recommend reading on a daily basis even if you don't have a dollar in your pocket—because if you don't, you may find yourself without a pocket.

It's through Depew that I was alerted to the latest New York arts fad dubbed the "Weimar aesthetic." This is a vaguely retro style alluding to the Weimar culture, that amazing artistic period that followed Germany's defeat in the First World War and lasted till 1933 when Hitler rose to power. There was sex and decadence and creativity and despair—all the things you'd expect before a fascist takeover. Most Americans know of it, if at all, through the musical "Cabaret."

The Weimar period may be better known among financiers for its hyperinflation. At one point one U.S. dollar could purchase 80 billion German Marks. The only currency in the running these days is the Zimbabwean dollar, which went from Z$1.50 to the U.S. dollar in 1980 to Z$255,090 as I write.

The dollar, of course, is not facing such a drastic loss of value. But by jerks and spurts the loss of value must and will continue.

What to do?!

If you're a major investor you've already diversified overseas and are sitting pretty right now. But what can a person with a small savings do?

Here are several possibilities—

The Chinese yuan, of course, is artificially undervalued. If the Western powers ever convince the Chinese to let it float (or even permit a slow rise against the dollar), anyone holding Chinese securities or currency will be looking at a passel of dollars. "Yahoo Answers" has some advice on that here.

But my favorite is the Certificate of Deposit (CD), which is where many conservative savers keep their money anyway. Most people don't realize that they can buy CDs valued in other currencies. And the CDs are guaranteed up to 100,000 US dollars by the FDIC!

As I write, is offering a one-year CD valued in Australian dollars ("Aussies") with an annual percentage yield (APY) of 4.97%. Any investment banker will tell you that the Aussie is "sound." Today's top CD rate in dollars, according to, is yielding 5.46%. While the APY may be slightly lower, the gain of the Aussie against the USD stands to cover more than the difference.1 Around a quarter of Australia's exports are to China, which is desperate to spend its depreciating US dollars somewhere, anywhere.

If you want to really fly high you might try the New Zealand dollar CD offering 6.65% APY or the South African rand, which is being offered at 7.71% APY for a 3-month CD.

Well, at this point don't say you haven't been warned. I've been harping on the topic for three years and hope to leave it alone for awhile. On the other hand, if you should take any of the options I've mentioned above and lose your ass, don't sue me. Not only do I not hold any of these investments, I also don't hold any money.

Related posts
Something you should know about your dollars (4/24/04)
More comment on the dollar (10/11/04)
Yet more news about the dollar (and the global economy) (10/21/04)
Buying a used Mercedes (2/8/05)
What's hot? Loonies and dongs (4/23/07)
Bubble of the Day (4/26/07)



1The Aussie is at an 18-year high against the dollar. Kick yourself that you didn't buy this CD last September. [back]

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