Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

6/25/2005

Best excuse ever!

We've heard a lot of different excuses from able-bodied Iraq war hawks about why they haven't enlisted to help fight the war they believe in so strongly. I'd never heard anyone, however, claim that they are staying home because it is the braver thing to do - until now! Pamela a.k.a. Atlas Shrugged says:
I would give my eye teeth to head over to Iraq but I got 4 kids so I fight the more frightening fight here at home -- the fight for America's hearts and minds........as the enemy is among us.

Because calling people moonbats on your blog takes guts, dammit! Those soldiers in Iraq don't know how easy they have it!

Is oil replaceable?

Ezra Klein is worried about peak oil:
...what really worries me are the arguments from folks like Tim Lee who seem to think that just because the worst case scenario is unlikely, everything will be fine. Their answer to peak oil is that prices will rise, people will stop using so much oil, and we'll figure out other ways to power our economy. Simple. And like most simple things, it's been thought of.

The reason we're all still worried is that the alternate ways of powering our economy are all far more expensive and the long-term solutions are still decades from technological maturity...

Let me again preface my comments by saying that I am by no means an expert in peak oil. But there is a broader, general point that is relevant to this issue. Klein characterizes the argument of the 'optimists' like Lee as saying that "we'll figure out other ways to power our economy." He rejects this argument on the grounds that it might be a while before we figure out those other ways.

But what if there simply are no other ways? What if oil is the only material available to us that is capable of sustaining a society as industrialized and technologized as ours?

Sure, it's possible that another energy source could pick up the slack, doing everything that oil does. But there's no guarantee. Too many people, in my opinion, seem to assume that if we're just clever enough, we can figure out an alternate source of energy. Who said that the Earth came equipped with enough - and the right kind of - natural resources to keep us going like we have been in perpetuity? What if it turns out that oil was the only natural resource capable of supporting the way we now live?

There are people out there who will tell you that we can replace oil with nuclear energy, and they'll give you reasons A, B, C, etc. I don't know whether or not they are right, but at least they have arguments. (They certainly haven't demonstrated anything conclusively, though.) What I'm objecting to is the unquestioned assumption that there exists on Earth an energy source comparable to oil and able to do what we need it to do.

The market doesn't satisfy every demand; if the raw material ain't there, it ain't there. And once oil is scarce, the magic of the market isn't going to be able to conjure up natural resources that are tailor-made to power the kind of economy (and society) we presently have.

Kelo

RedState.org says that lefty bloggers have been 'strangely silent' on the Supreme Court's decision in the Kelo v. New London case. (Background here if you're unfamiliar with the case.) Well, I can't speak for others, but the reason I have been silent on the case (you can judge whether or not my silence is strange) is twofold:

- I just haven't had a chance to look at the case too closely. Which wouldn't necessarily be that big of a problem, except that ...

- As far as I can see, there's no real philosophical or ideological point at issue here. Excepting for the moment those on the far right - libertarians who hold private property sacrosanct - there is no real controversy over the legitimacy of eminent domain. The Fifth Amendment prohibits the confiscation of private property for the public use "without just compensation", which would seem to indicate that as long as compensation is provided, there's nothing unconstitutional about eminent domain.

For instance, it is generally accepted that a local government can seize private property in order to build a new highway. The question in the Kelo case is whether or not a mere expectation of increased tax revenues counts as a public use.

It seems to me that the answer to that question is going to be a purely pragmatic one. What would the effects of this be? The Supreme Court argued that it was better to leave the question to local governments, who would be in a better position to make this determination than would federal judges. Others are worried that a sort of reverse Robin Hood practice has just been legitimized, where property can be seized not for the sake of building a public facility, but for transferring it to another private party - usually a much wealthier one, of course - as long as this transfer is construed as beneficial to the public good. This would be fine, I think, if we could trust city governments to truly wield this power only when the public good really would be served, and not just whenever their business cronies spot a patch of land they'd like to get their hands on. Anyone who's lived in one of the many, many cities whose local government has been infested with corruption knows that it is unwise to be so trusting.

Disclaimer: I am not exactly an expert in constitutional law, so if I have the facts of the case wrong in any way, please let me know. (And, I guess, let most media outlets know, because that's where I'm getting information on the case.)

Primal fear

I'll tell you what, that Digby sure does get it:
...Neither did Rove invent this technique of derisively referring to Democrats as liberal hippie fags and dykes. Republicans have been doing this for a long, long time ... They just spent a hundred million dollars calling Kerry a "flip-flopper" which in case you didn't get it, was designed to make you think of a flaccid penis. These guys aren't very subtle.

The truth is that to ignore this stuff it is to play into Rove's hands. Because the whole point is to make us look weak. When you don't respond when people call you weak, you reinforce the charge.

...Republicans are very successful at connecting with the primal instinctive feelings voters have about people in charge. We aren't. It is their greatest weapon against us and it has nothing to do with policy or positioning or demographics. It has to do with the fact that a lot of people make their decisions about leadership on the basis of who looks the strongest. It's primitive shit. And the Republicans strip it down even more simply than it has to be. There is some room for experimenting with this in innovative ways if we would just accept that it exists and work within it.

Why does America hate America?

Wow. Via Atrios, look at these poll numbers:
Forty-nine percent (49%) of Americans say that President Bush is more responsible for starting the War with Iraq than Saddam Hussein. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 44% take the opposite view and believe Hussein shoulders most of the responsibility.

In late 2002, months before the fighting began, most Americans thought that Hussein was the one provoking the War. Just one-in-four thought the President was doing the provoking at that time.

These 49% are guilty of treason! Blaming Bush instead of Saddam - sounds like giving 'aid and comfort' to the enemy to me! Why haven't we arrested these traitors?!?

Maybe the feds are just waiting for the order from O'Reilly.

Time to go to war again

Soon, there will be a vacancy on the Supreme Court. This of course focuses attention on Roe v. Wade. From The Carpetbagger Report:
Appearing on Meet the Press last weekend, John McCain, who opposes abortion rights, said he doesn't believe Roe v. Wade will be overturned, "at least not any time soon given the tenor of politics in America and the courts in America."
I don't know if McCain is deluded or just prevaricating, but make no mistake: Roe v. Wade is very much in jeopardy.

Not everyone agrees on how many current Justices would uphold Roe. The conventional wisdom is that there is a 6-3 majority on the Court in favor of Roe, with Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas clearly against abortion rights, and Stevens, Souter, Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy and O'Connor supporting the right to an abortion.

It's the last two names that are crucial. O'Connor is the one whose retirement is rumored to be immanent. Obviously, if she were replaced, Roe loses a vote. (Rehnquist is supposed to die or retire soon, but that would simply be a wash.) So if the conventional wisdom is correct, that leaves a shaky but nonetheless decisive 5-4 majority for Roe.

Even this would be extremely worrisome. Though under this scenario, Roe would likely survive the Bush administration, this isn't certain; Stevens is 85 years old, and frankly, could die at any time, giving Bush the chance to nominate a fifth anti-abortion justice, sealing the demise of Roe. Plus, even if Roe survives Bush, it is of course quite possible that another anti-abortion Republican will succeed him.

But it's not entirely clear that the conventional wisdom - that the current count in favor of Roe is 6-3 - is correct. Kennedy is extremely wobbly on the abortion issue. Even though Kennedy joined with the majority in upholding (limited) abortion rights in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, some people believe that if a challenge to Roe were to occur now, Kennedy would flip to the anti-abortion side. Indeed, he very nearly did so in 1992, and Roe almost bit the dust.

If one counts Kennedy as a vote against abortion rights, the current tally becomes 5-4 in favor of Roe, which means that an O'Connor retirement coupled with a successful anti-abortion nomination by Bush gives the anti-abortion justices a 5-4 majority, and the next time Roe v. Wade is challenged before the Supreme Court, it dies.

*****

So the stakes, obviously, are high. With GOP control of the House, Senate, and Oval Office, the only thing preventing the criminalization of all abortions is the Roe v. Wade decision. Abortion opponents know this. Via Common Sense Desk, Charlie Quimby reports that the opposition has already launched a pre-emptive strike:
FactCheck.org reports the latest pre-emptive strike by the Administration (technically, a pro-Bush group). This time it's not against Iraqis who haven't attacked America. It's against Democrats who haven't attacked Bush's Supreme Court nominee, who hasn't been named for a vacancy that doesn't exist.

A pro-Bush group fired the opening salvo - they call it "a warning shot" - in what threatens to become a multi-million dollar advertising and public relations campaign over a possible Bush appointment to the Supreme Court. The ad predicts "Democrats will attack anyone the President nominates," saying that " a Supreme Court nominee deserves real consideration, instead of instant attacks."

But this ad itself is an attack that goes beyond "instant" - it was launched without waiting for Bush to name a replacement for the ailing Justice William Rehnquist, or even for Rehnquist to say publicly whether or not he will retire as he is reported to be considering.

...Nothing like a couple heavy bombing runs to soften up the opposition.
It's hard to imagine, though, that Bush would nominate anyone whom we could trust with safeguarding abortion rights. Alberto Gonzalez, whose name is often floated as a possible replacement for a retiring justice, is something of a question mark on abortion:
Some conservatives openly worry that Bush would appoint White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a former Texas Supreme Court justice and longtime friend, who they fear has moderate-to-liberal views on abortion rights, particularly on the issue of parental consent. "Gonzales is someone the pro-life community would be very concerned about," Wood said.
But given the Rove-Bush philosophy of 'playing to the base', the likelihood of Bush nominating an abortion rights supporter seems remote. At any rate, it is certainly not something we can count on.

However you slice it, the future of Roe v. Wade is up in the air. Protecting it is absolutely vital, and no Democrat should cast a vote for any Bush nominee who can't be trusted to do so. This is a real test for Democrats; while it will be difficult, and perhaps even impossible, to defeat a Bush nominee in a GOP-controlled Senate, they damn well better try.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is calling for 'full disclosure' from Bush nominees on the issue of abortion, meaning any nominated judge would have to make explicit whether or not he or she would vote to uphold Roe. The Democrats should join them in this, and then, if a nominee says that he or she would not uphold Roe, they should do everything they possibly can to make sure that person never ends up on the Court. Any Democrat who dares to vote to confirm an anti-choice judge should be a pariah, and liberals and progressives should see to it that they are driven out of office.

The Democratic Party is likely to wilt if left to its own devices; it is up to progressives to hold their feet to the fire on this issue. It is no overstatement to say that the future of women's reproductive rights depends on it.

Under fire

Washington Post:
Rumsfeld Under Fire On the Hill

Worry in Congress about the course of U.S. strategy in Iraq boiled over yesterday into a scalding attack on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and some of the toughest questioning of the Pentagon leader since the war in Iraq began.

...In the day's most dramatic confrontation, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a leading critic of the Iraq campaign, told Rumsfeld that the war has become a "seeming intractable quagmire." He recited a long list of what he called "gross errors and mistakes" in the U.S. military campaign and concluded with a renewed appeal for Rumsfeld to step down.

"In baseball, it's three strikes, you're out," Kennedy said before a standing-room-only session of the Armed Services Committee. "What is it for the secretary of defense? Isn't it time for you to resign?"

...Republicans as well as Democrats joined in calling Rumsfeld's attention to signs of declining public support for U.S. involvement in Iraq.

"I'm here to tell you, sir, in the most patriotic state that I can imagine, people are beginning to question," said Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). "And I don't think it's a blip on the radar screen. I think we have a chronic problem on our hands."

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) warned, "I fear that American public opinion is tipping away from this effort."

If there is such tipping among Americans, Rumsfeld allowed, "I have a feeling they're getting pushed" -- an apparent reference to unfavorable news coverage and political commentary. Rumsfeld expressed confidence that support would rebound.

[Army Gen. John P. Abizaid], in turn, voiced concern that U.S. troops are becoming aware of the drop in public support and are asking him "whether or not they've got support from the American people."

...But Abizaid also offered an assessment of the Iraqi insurgency that contrasted with more optimistic portrayals by some administration officials. He said that the resistance remains about as strong as it was six months ago and acknowledged the possibility that enemy fighters still have sufficient reserves to mount "a military surprise" such as a surge in coordinated attacks.

His remarks appeared at odds with a claim last week by Vice President Cheney -- reaffirmed yesterday in an interview with CNN -- that the insurgency is in its "last throes." Pressed on the seeming difference, Abizaid said, "I'm sure you'll forgive me" for not criticizing the vice president.

Ethnicity-specific medicine

From BBC News:
US approves first 'ethnic drug'

US drugs regulators have approved a heart failure drug specifically for treating black patients.

The Food and Drug Administration gave BiDil the go-ahead after tests found it cut by 43% deaths in heart patients who identified themselves as black.

The FDA says the drug is a step towards the promise of tailored medicine.

But critics say there are no biological differences between ethnic groups and the move is more about making money than helping patients.

...

"This approval of BiDil isn't about personalising medicine. It's about exploiting race to make money by extending patent protection," Jonathan Kahn, a law professor and ethicist at Hamline University in Minnesota who has studied BiDil's development told Reuters.

The patent for BiDil for general use is due to expire in 2007, but the FDA's approval for its use on black people will extend until 2020.

In the US, African Americans are twice as likely to develop heart failure than white people.

About 750,000 African Americans have been diagnosed with heart failure.

Half of heart failure patients in the US die within five years of the condition being identified.


No biological differences between ethnic groups?

Excuses, excuses

Why aren't College Republicans fighting in the war they so fervently support? Kos has their answers:
"I physically probably couldn't do a whole lot" in Iraq, said Tiffanee Hokel, 18, of Webster City, Iowa, who called the war a moral imperative. She knows people posted in Iraq, but she didn't flinch when asked why she wouldn't go.

"I think I could do more here," Hokel said, adding that she's focusing on political action that supports the war and the troops.

"We don't have to be there physically to fight it," she said.

Similarly, 20-year-old Jeff Shafer, a University of Pennsylvania student, said vital work needs to be done in the United States. There are Republican policies to maintain and protect and an economy to sustain, Shafer said.

My personal favorite, though, is this:
"Frankly, I want to be a politician. I'd like to survive to see that," said Vivian Lee, 17, a war supporter visiting the convention from Los Angeles.

6/24/2005

Isn't that sweet?

Mark Noonan is 'fighting' this war for all of us:
we've got an actually impossible situation these days in which the President and his supporters have to fight and win a war in the face of stiff domestic opposition to victory - we have to not only convince our foreign enemies of our resolve against them, but also convince them that our domestic opposition will not be able to topple us before victory is secured.

There is, of course, nothing else we can do - we have to win; not only for our sake, but for the sake of our sadly misguided and ignorant domestic opponents. They can't see that the noose is being tied for them as well as for us. Fortunately, we are conservatives so that we know life is unfair and the reward for sacrifice is usually ingratitude - we can take it, and we'll win this war for everyone.

Originalism

FYI, Eric and Robert have continued the discussion about originalism.

I should have a reply soon; I've been putting it off because it requires thinking, and I haven't felt much like doing that lately.

No remarks from the peanut gallery.

Wilting pansyism

Digby's analysis of the Rove hullabaloo (pun intended) is excellent. A few excerpts:
I watched the Rove interview on Scarborough last night and it's quite clear that this is a coordinated public relations "rollout." The Bush administration clearly believes that creating this controversy will result in turning down the heat on Iraq and boosting their prospects on other issues. I think they are counting on the press and the distracted public to see "partisanship" running amuck, which is how the Republicans have already positioned themselves for the '06 elections...

There are two ways we can play this. We can step back in the hopes that the Republicans will look like slavering beasts, or we can slug it out and see who comes out on top. The first is probably the instinctive reaction of the Dems because we keep relying on the public to "wake up" and realize what crazy fuckers we have running the country. But I think that works against us --- they may look like slavering beasts but we look like a bunch of wilted pansies...

I don't think we have any choice but just keep pounding away. The Democrats really have one meta-issue that they must contend with --- wilting pansy-ism. Everything else flows from that.

...

That's your genius Rove's plan. Intimidate all opposition. Feed the base. Play chicken. It ain't Machiavelli. It ain't even Dick Morris.

It's time for the Democrats to stop thinking so much about what Karl Rove is doing.He is not god. He does not have supernatural powers to control events. And he's not hard to figure out. The only thing he ever does is rile up neanderthals by making Democrats look like wimps ... The whole schtick comes down to exploiting masculine and feminine archetypes. And he didn't invent this. This has been the main political staple of the modern Republican party. He just does it with more relish and less decency than others.

This is disturbing

From the Washington Post:
Pentagon Creating Student Database

The Defense Department began working yesterday with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment in some branches.

The program is provoking a furor among privacy advocates. The new database will include personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.

Some information on high school students already is given to military recruiters in a separate program under provisions of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act. Recruiters have been using the information to contact students at home, angering some parents and school districts around the country.

School systems that fail to provide that information risk losing federal funds, although individual parents or students can withhold information that would be transferred to the military by their districts.

White House panic?

Sullypooh on Rove:
It seems to me that Karl Rove's sickening generalization about "liberals" in the war on terror is revealing in ways not obviously apparent ... You expect that kind of moronic extremism from a Michelle Malkin, but from the most influential figure in an administration leading a country in wartime? Ok, ok, I'm not surprised. Rove is a brutal operator. But to my mind, the hysterical attacks on Durbin and now this outburst (and the White House's subsequent endorsement of it) are an indication of some level of panic. We face at least three more grueling years of warfare in Iraq with our current troop level, and it's not at all clear that the public is prepared to go along with it, given the incremental progress we are making. Rove knows this. He also knows that the haphazard way in which the White House prepared for the war, its chronic under-manning of the occupation, its failure, as Abizaid conceded yesterday, to make any progress against the insurgency over the past six months despite the enormous psychological boost of the January election: all these have made the administration unable to really shift the blame. Rove's strategic decision to make social security reform the center-piece of the second term has also, shall we say, not gone according to plan.

So what to do? You do what you always do. You create a scenario in which you cannot be out-demagogued. You deflect from the awful fall-out from the decision to exempt terror suspects from bans on cruel and inhumane treatment to a senator's analogy to the Gulag. And instead of leveling with the country about the real difficulty of the war we're in, acknowledging error and sketching a unifying vision for winning, you divide the country into good folk and "liberals" and hope it works as well as it always has. If you want to know how well the administration really believes the war is going, listen to their rhetoric. And start worrying.

Bill Clinton in '08?

Captain Ed is worried:
In February, House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer introduced a Constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment, co-sponsored by Berman (D-CA), Pallone (D-NJ), Sabo (D-MN) and oddly enough, Sensenbrenner (R-WI). For those who don't have their Robert Byrd Pocket Constitution with them ("Don't leave the House without it"), the 22nd Amendment put term limits on the presidency.

...Political handicappers have debated whether Hillary has enough support to successfully win the Democratic nomination. Maybe we're talking about the wrong Clinton.

I'm sorry

I'm actually a big fan of the apology. On many occasions, I've said something on this blog that I later realize I shouldn't have, and when this happens, I apologize for it. To me, the mark of character is not whether one says stupid things sometimes - we all do - but whether or not one is willing to own up to one's mistakes and say: 'I was wrong.' I can forgive almost anything with a sincere apology, and I hope others would extend the same courtesy to me.

However, sometimes the inclination to apologize can be harmful. Via Oliver Willis, Ron Reagan calls for Democrats to stop apologizing:
After a momentary lapse of spinelessness, Senator Richard Durbin caved in the other day and apologized for using the word Nazi in the same sentence as FBI report, this in reference to prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

Democrats were no doubt concerned Durbin’s remarks would be fodder for an Republican attack and come the mid-term elections, hence the rather weepy mea culpa. Bad move.

...But maybe they should be spending their energy remind people how often Conservatives have employed the N-word [Ed.-He means 'Nazi'.] ... But, once again, the Democrats have contrived a way to lose to losers ...

...This Administration’s dishonesty is matched only but its incompetence. Memo to the Democrats: Pointing that out doesn’t require an apology.
Furthermore, apologizing all the time is not politically advantageous for Democrats. A commenter at Oliver Willis makes this point nicely:
...the public views the side that apologizes as weaker, regardless of the relative wrongness of the actual statements. Since republicans are always calling democrats weak, apologizing hurts democrats more than it does republicans. The solution is not to play the game by never apologizing.
Yup. Allowing for reasonable exceptions, of course, Democrats would do well to expunge the words "I'm sorry" from their vocabulary.

Cell phones and brain tumors

From The Rural Populist:

Another recent study suggests that there might be a link between cell phone use and brain tumors, especially in rural areas

...At issue is the radiation associated with cellular phones. In rural areas where towers are farther apart more radiation is required to boost the signal. Purchasing an ear piece that keeps the phone away from your head reduced the radiation level by 90%.

Silly loved ones of people who died on 9/11...

Don't they know the Republicans own 9/11? Don't they know that the World Trade Center attack - despite the fact that it happened in Manhattan - was most traumatic for the 'real' Americans in Nebraska, Iowa, and the other red states?

Apparently not. Via Liberal Revolt, this was a response from Families of September 11 to Rove's remarks about liberals:

As families whose relatives were victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, we believe it is an outrage that any Democrat, any Republican, any conservative, or any liberal stakes a “high ground” position based upon the September 11th death and destruction. Doing so assumes that all those who died and their loved ones would agree. In truth, some would and some would not. By definition the conduct is divisive and, because it is intended to be self-serving and politicizes 9/11, it is offensive. We are calling on Karl Rove to resist his temptations and stop trying to reap political gain in the tragic misfortune of others. His comments are not welcome.

Words of wisdom

In an earlier post, I quoted from a self-help book called You Are Worthless. Just for the hell of it, here are a few more nuggets of wisdom from Dr. Oswald T. Pratt:

On friendship:
  • If they knew who you really were, they'd hate you.
  • Let's sit down and actually count the genuine true friends you have. It's not that many, is it?
  • Actually, you probably don't have a single friend.
  • Oh, except Jesus. He's your friend. Why don't you call him and see if he wants to hang out?

On romance:
  • You have a lot of physical flaws. How do you expect anyone to be attracted to you?
  • Somebody better than you is bound to come along and steal your loved one away.
  • The next time you have sex, fixate on just how horribly unattractive your body is.
  • Your special someone is far less attracted to you than to someone he or she saw on television once.
  • No matter how much you think you love someone or trust someone, know this: Between you and everyone else on this planet there is a dark, infinite chasm that can never be crossed.

On humanity:
  • Ninety-five percent of the people on this planet live in painful, abject poverty. And you don't care. Heck, none of us do.
  • A person just died of starvation in the time it took for you to read that. Who gives a flying fart? He or she was probably clear across the other side of the world anyway.

On you:
  • You often say that you're not doing exactly what you want to be doing with your life. You will continue saying this until you die.
  • Try a role-model exercise: Picture someone you look up to who is very rich, good-looking, successful, and loved by everyone. Now slowly count to one million, because that's how many years in which you will never be as rich, good-looking, successful, or loved as that person.
  • If you fell off a horse and were paralyzed from the neck down like Christopher Reeve, you wouldn't be the noble, I'm-going-to-beat-this-thing hero like they make him out to be. You'd spend every waking moment sobbing and wishing you were dead. In fact, that's probably what he's doing right now. [Note-written before Reeve's death!]
  • You do not have the right to feel the way you are feeling right now.
  • It's not okay.

US acknowledges torture

Via Next Left, from Forbes.com:
US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo; in Iraq, Afghanistan - UN

GENEVA (AFX) - Washington has, for the first time, acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.

'They are no longer trying to duck this and have respected their obligation to inform the UN,' the Committee member said.

'They they will have to explain themselves (to the Committee). Nothing should be kept in the dark,' he said.

UN sources said this is the first time the world body has received such a frank statement on torture from US authorities.

The Committee, which monitors respect for the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is gathering information from the US ahead of hearings in May 2006.

Signatories of the convention are expected to submit to scrutiny of their implementation of the 1984 convention and to provide information to the Committee.

The document from Washington will not be formally made public until the hearings.

6/23/2005

Digby on Rove

Digby gets Rove exactly right:

He is highly overrated as a strategist --- indeed Democrats have imputed to him almost magical powers to shape events in the most complicated ways. It's much simpler than that.

He is just someone who has no limits. And he has a client and a party that are willing to do as he advises. That is a powerful thing, but it is not genius. It is useful in elections, but it is a disaster in governance, as we are seeing. Brute force cannot accomplish every task, as any plumber or mechanic can tell you.

A comparison

Karl Rove says nasty things about Democrats. Democrats are outraged. Republican response: Karl Rove was right!

Howard Dean says nasty things about Republicans. Republicans are outraged. Democrat response: Howard Dean doesn't speak for me!

Notice that Rove's remarks give the GOP a chance to echo the sentiment - that Democrats are pussies - over and over again, in print, and on TV and the internets. Notice also that the Republicans jump at this opportunity.

Notice that Dean's remarks give the Democrats a chance to echo the sentiment - that Republicans are assholes, or bigots, etc. - over and over again in the media. Notice also that the Democrats pass on this opportunity.

There is something very wrong with this picture.

A choice

Sirota says: "To the Chickenhawks: Enlist, or Shut Up."

9/11 got branded...

9/11 got sold - as something that only Republicans suffered through and cared about.

Karl Rove's comment about the left's reaction to 9/11 has been drawing fire:
Karl Rove came to the heart of Manhattan last night to rhapsodize about the decline of liberalism in politics, saying Democrats responded weakly to Sept. 11 and had placed American troops in greater danger by criticizing their actions.

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.
Peter Daou's response:
My office overlooks Ground Zero, and I'm looking at the gaping footprint as I write this. My wife and I were in New York that day, on our way to the WTC for a morning meeting. A chance phone call dragged on a few minutes too long and most likely saved our lives. I lost friends in the towers, and when I walk past the site, as I do almost every evening, the pain is as real as it was on September 11th, 2001.

I spent my youth in Beirut during the height of Lebanon's civil war, and I fought the Syrian presence in Lebanon long before the "Cedar Revolution." I watched young boys give their lives and mothers cradle their dying children in blood-soaked arms. I've seen more bloodshed, war, and violence, and shot more guns than most of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists combined. I wouldn't presume to question the strength or dignity of a stranger, and I pity those who blithely push the right=strong, left=weak rhetoric. It says far more about their inadequacies than it does about the target of their scorn. Today, Karl Rove took that rhetoric to a new, filthy low.
And Mahablog:
Words cannot express the contempt I feel for Karl Rove and for the chorus of brainless little yappers applauding his recent remarks on liberal reactions to 9/11.

I'd like to ask Karl and his puppies to stand anywhere in the vincinity of Ground Zero and repeat Karl's fatuous, lying remarks to a crowd of New Yorkers.

Whole lotta liberals in New York. Whole lotta those liberal New Yorkers lost someone in the towers. Whole lotta liberal New Yorkers who lost someone in the towers might want to break Karl's jaw today. Karl would be well advised to keep his sorry ass out of New York from now on.

Junior got less than a quarter of the New York City vote last November, as I recall. Yeah, the people most closely affected by 9/11, who are most intimate with it, are less than impressed with Junior and his war on terra.

You have to go away from New York City, to places where people barely remember watching the towers collapse on television, to find people still willing to listen to the crap that spews out of Karl's mouth. All 9/11 means to them is an excuse to advance their hard right agenda and pound the stuffing out of Muslims. And any Muslims will do.

Justice for the dead of 9/11 went on the back burner as soon as Bush decided to invade Iraq. (9/12?)

All I'll add is that Rove's comments are basically the same thing that the Republicans have been saying for the last three and a half years. Nothing new. Doesn't everyone yet understand that the GOP leadership is as loathsome as they come?

If not, understand it now, and take the gloves off from here on out. I don't want to hear one Democrat complain about Rove's comments and then turn around and bad-mouth Howard Dean the next time he says something nasty about Republicans. These are the kind of 'people' we're dealing with, folks, and they should be shown no mercy or respect. Nothing is out of bounds, not anymore.

Flag shenanigans part 3

Norbizness, reflecting on a flag-burning amendment, quotes Bill Hicks:
I personally do not believe in burning the flag. It's a personal belief, but I'll tell you something, I think people are overreacting, oh, just a little bit. "Hey buddy, my daddy died for that flag." Well, I bought mine. Sorry. You know they sell them at K-Mart for three bucks, you're in, you're out, brand new flag, no violence was necessary. "Hey buddy, my daddy died in the Korean war for that flag." What a coincidence - my flag was made in Korea!

Link: I Am The Motherfucking Graven Image Patrol!

Meta-blogging

Gilliard on the right side of the blogosphere:

There is a philosophical difference here about blog growth. On the right, it's all about getting noticed and linked to. Which accounts for the traffic jam of middling blogs in their middle. If you say something clever, the patron notices you and then pats you on the head for a day. What Wizbang doesn't get is that those links do not build audience ...

Anyone on the right who wants to get noticed has to start their own blog. Why? Because of comments. Most right blogs lack them. Which, besides moral cowardice, inhibits growth. And even if they have a good idea, they don't have the chance to deal with reaction to their opinions. I think many of us think that instead of an increasing number of blogs, it helps to have comments and feedback as well.

The problem is that they can't defend their stands. So they hide. Now, if they were too lazy to defend torture, well.... It not only reeks of cowardice, jams your mailbox and hurts your site, it also makes it harder to support people.

...Comments are the best way to encourage people to parrticipate in the blogging experience. It also serves as a challenge to writers to respond to their readers and defend their ideas. When you close down comments, you close down ideas.

...You have Redstate, which routinely bounces people, and the trogodytes of LGF and the see no evil crowd of Tacitus for comments. The rest may well be better off without them. Powerline's owners send back responses which would embarass angry drunks. Imagine if they had to deal with posts on a daily basis? The same with the rest of the crowd. Token negro LaShawn Barber routinely threatens posts she doesn't like with the FBI.

So why don't they want to talk to their readers? Because they can't deal with the challenge.

...I think when people worry more about being annointed by Instacracker than creating their own audience, they will not keep it ... The people who do good work don't beg for attention, you're drawn to their work ...

I think the left side of the blogosphere is not only growing, but growing smartly. We're now asking people to set up their own blogs, and they're bringing readers with them to their sites from other, more widely read sites. Which I think will work better in the end.

Uh-oh

Blogs for Bush says Sandra Day O'Connor might be retiring very soon.

6/22/2005

Treason! part 6

The idiocy continues. Bill O'Reilly (via Atrios) discusses Air America Radio:

Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.

Bill does realize that he doesn't have any actual authority, right? I mean - he knows that he can't actually order arrests, right?

The talkies

The American Film Institute has picked the top 100 quotes from American movies. Slublog has a couple of quotes that didn't make the list, but should have.

Personally, I would have liked to see a couple of lines from Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven:
Bill Munny: Hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.

The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess he had it coming.

Bill Munny: We all got it coming, kid.

Or this one:
Little Bill Daggett: I don't deserve this... to die like this. I was building a house.

Bill Munny: Deserve's got nothing to do with it.

And of course this one from Fight Club:
[after vigorous sex with Tyler Durden]

Marla Singer: My God. I haven't been fucked like that since grade school.

Ned Flanders must die



From a random internet forum:
Over the past several months, I, like anybody else in the world, has had to endure certain annoyances and problems. While normally being a mild, laid-back, level-headed kinda guy, I find lately that my patience is weening. Quickly. My temper is flaring more, and I find it more and more diffficult to contain my emotions. Why? Because of him. Because of Ned Flanders.

His name isn't really Ned. I just call him that because he reminds me of the very same character on the popular animated American show, The Simpsons. If you don't live in America, and/or have been living under a rock for 10 years, Ned Flanders is the neighbor to the Simpson family, and a constant annoyance to the family patriarch, Homer. So how does my Ned compare? In so many ways, it would drive a laid-back guy like me to committing murder. That's right. Murder. A 187. Homicide. You name it, I've thought of it.

Ned Flanders must die. Its that simple.

Click here to continue reading 'Ned Flanders must die.'


'Ned Flanders must die' continued:

But why go to such extremes, you might ask? Like the Simpsons, Real World Ned is the "hero" to my "anti-hero" (being me, of course). This man is dedicated to humiliating/annoying me to no end. He is more than evil itself. He is more cainiving than any mother-in-law. He is deadlier than any cancer ever imagined. He is more than a rival. More than a competitor. More than an enemy. He is deadly because he hides his evilness behind his facade of innocence. That's right, kids, he hides under the guise of friendship, and worse yet, has my wife fooled. In fact, he has everyone fooled.

Right off the bat, he annoyed me. He arrived at my house, as a guest who was dating my wife's friend. He showed up in a brown suit, with a brown boe-tie. A bow-tie! Its one of my cardinal rules in life to never trust anyone who wears bow-ties, much less this freckled-face, 25 year-old fuck. Is he 80 years-old? NO. Is he a shady car salesman from the South? NO. Is he a member of the Nation of Islam? NO. You get the picture. Right there and then - STRIKE ONE.

Like Simpsons Ned, he is as "pious" as they come. As Simpson Ned is a bible-thumping, Jesus freak, Real World Ned does charity work. Charity work . . . doesn't that make your heart melt? While most normal people are wasting their lives watching tv or eating mayonnaise sandwiches, this guy is busy crusading the planet trying to teach tap lessons to homeless people. That's right, kids, its charity with a twist. What are his other causes? Training parapalegics to run marathons. Teach AIDS patients how to prevent others from being diabetic. Breeding more and more racoons so the wolves have something to eat at night. Yes, I told you, he's that annoying. For him, charity work with a twist = STRIKE TWO.

Some other notable aspects of our friend, Ned.

- He claims to drive a sports car, yet he pimps out in a 2002 Nissan Quest. Somebody should tell "SpeedRacer" here that driving around in a large rolling, purple-laden, soccer-mom square box full of volleyball nets and sandbags does not mean you are "2 Fast 2 Furious". The bad part is, people compliment him on his "sports car". Ugh . . .

- He preaches to the children of his church about the "values of following through with your dreams and finding what you love to do, as long as it benefits society and mankind." Hey Moses, does "following your dreams" mean selling time-shares for a living? Does society really need pre-set vacation spots for thousands of dollars? Goddman Ned, you make me sick.

- Ned is a "one-upper". For example, if you tell a story about how drunk you were, Ned will fire back how he just drank a keg in less than an hour. If you were recently a participant in a 3-some, he will have had sex with a cheerleading squad. The other day, I innocently said, "Yo, I gotta run to the store to get some candy for these kids." Ned responded, "Yeah, I own a candy store. Too bad we're not in Connecticut! LOL! ROLMAO!!!!" Fuck you, Ned. I hope you choke on your candy store, you miserable sod.

STRIKE THREE came the other day. My wife and I attended a mutual friend's birthday party. I sat in the corner the entire time brooding while Ned was regalling everyone with one of his stories. Even Ned's voice is grating - its a combination of a cat drowing mixed in with someone punching him in the throat every 2 minutes. As dinner time had been called and everyone was heading into the house, Ned pulls me to the side and says nonchalantly:

"Hey man, your wife's ass is looking great in that sun-dress. I would pound that in a heartbeat! LOLLLLL!!!! ROLMAO!!!!!!"

He strutted into the house. I could feel the blood starting to trickle from my nuckles. For no apparent reason, I stormed off into the parking lot. I had a beer bottle in my hands, and suddenly, Ned's "sports car" loomed in front of me. I didn't think. I didn't hesitate. I threw the bottle at his car.

Of course, I don't have the greatest arm either. The bottle actually hooked and shattered into my friend's (the birthday boy, himself), BMW, and broke the headlight. The sound was devastating. I couldn't breathe, and the world seemed to have stopped. Everyone came rushing out of he house. There was yelling. There was confusion. There was pushing. There was an "invitation" to exit the premises.

Even though birthday boy and me are cool now, my wife is pissed. "All [Ned] did was compliment me on my dress! And you blow up! I want you to seek anger management therapy. And I will be going with you."

Fantastic.

Oh by the way, Ned offered to pay for the broken headlight, because he felt "responsible". Everyone cheered his name; they hoisted him up on their shoulders. My wife pronounced him as 'the ultimate sweetheart".

Yes. Ned Flanders must die.



Note: For all you dumb people out there, I'm not really going to kill this guy. I am just hoping to ruin his credit and/or manage to wreck his life in some sort of fashion. To be continued.

Patriots, act

Can't help but agree with this post from Liberal Quicksand:

There is one issue that should be unanimous with both liberals and conservatives.

That issue is the defeat of the Patriot Act provisions. We, as Americans, should not trade our freedom for some alleged security. To be completely secure is to completely controlled - and even then - it is a fallacy.

...As we become (stupidly and timidly) numb to this errosion of our freedom, it is only a matter of a couple more years until it is all gone.

The coservative and liberal sides of the political debate should be up in arms (literally) against the two main political parties subscribing to the end of our Constitutional freedoms.

Republicans and Democrats alike, pushing the Patriot Act, are looking for power over the citizenry. Both liberals and conservatives should drop any party affiliation and start fighting all these intrusions on our freedoms together.

2008

From the AP:
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican John McCain are considered the front-runners for their parties' presidential nominations in 2008. "They're 800-pound gorillas," says one Democratic consultant.

It's interesting that the two 'front-runners' don't seem to enjoy a whole hell of a lot of support from the 'rank and file' of their respective parties. Some lefties (including yours truly) are extremely skeptical of, if not outright opposed to, a Hillary candidacy, and most others don't seem to have any particular desire to see her nominated.

As for McCain, you all know that the guy is the subject of some pretty intense hostility from the Right. Hell, McCain made the top 20 in John Hawkins' survey asking right-wing bloggers who was 'screwing up America'.

C-POL says:
Unless some seismic shift happens in the GOP base, there is no way that McCain will make it past the primaries.

800-pound gorilla? About 750 pounds of that is an ego that gets stroked regularly by media reports like this.

I'm not so sure about this. The biggest foreseeable challenge for McCain is no doubt the GOP primaries, but I can see a scenario playing out where party leaders realize that they've got a formidable candidate in McCain and decide that they need him to carry their banner if they are going to hold on to the White House. And the party establishment of the GOP seems to get its way in such matters.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not predicting that McCain will get the nomination. But we definitely can't rule it out. And if he does get the nomination, we've got a real problem on our hands, because the media and some Democrats have spent the last five years licking the guy's balls, which has allowed him to establish quite a reputation in the public mind. It's going to be hard to undo all that.

Other deaths I blame on the GOP

In addition to Mr. Zimbleman and Hunter Thompson, here is a partial list of other people who met with an untimely demise that I blame right-wingers for:

Bruce Lee
Edgar Allen Poe
Notorious B.I.G.
Soren Kierkegaard
Buddy Holly
Roberto Clemente
Hugo Ball
Darryl Kile
Bill Hicks
Stuart Sutcliffe
Len Bias

River Phoenix
Hank Williams
Eazy-E
Arthur Rimbaud
Sam Kinison


I'll add anyone else I think of.

Flag shenanigans part 2

Brad makes a nice point:
The day that flag desecration is made illegal, by an amendment to the constitution, no less, it will signify a failure. It will signify that our government has decided that loving the name and symbols of this great nation are more important than whether those symbols still hold any meaning. It will be a sad day when our government asks that we place our faith in government and nationalism instead of freedom and individualism. It just may mean the end of this grand American experiment, when instead of continually advancing liberty, we retreat from it.

Flag shenanigans

Mark Noonan:

The American Legion sent me a reminder that the House is scheduled to vote on HJ Res. 10, the Cunningham-Murtha flag amendment. Its an old issue people, but this would allow us to, once again, protect our national symbol from desecration at the hands of sundry groups and individuals who hate America so much that they'd burn our flag at a demonstration.

I know; I've heard all the arguments about how free speech requires us to allow flag burning...to that I say a word which cannot appear on a family-orientated website. It starts with "B", and you figure it out. We bury our heroic dead underneath that flag and I'll never agree that some lousy demonstrator has a right to burn it.

I suspect Mark actually realizes how full of shit he is here. I mean, he's got to know that passing a law against flag-burning would ensure that more flags are 'desecrated'... anyway, I thought part and parcel of the conservative ideology was that more government isn't the answer.

And I seem to remember many right-wingers pooh-poohing (that's right) the stories about the desecration of the Koran coming out of Gitmo, on the basis that the Koran is 'just a book'. I actually agree with this sentiment, but I, unlike them, am consistent - the US flag is, after all, just a piece of cloth.

6/21/2005

Congo, the (non-representational) chimpanzee painter

Chimp art outsells the rest:
Paintings by chimpanzee outsell Warhol, Renoir at London art auction

LONDON (AP) — Monkey business proved to be lucrative Monday when paintings by Congo the chimpanzee sold at auction for more than $25,000.

The three abstract, tempera paintings were auctioned at Bonhams in London alongside works by impressionist master Renoir and pop art provocateur Andy Warhol.

But while Warhol's and Renoir's work didn't sell, bidders lavished attention on Congo's paintings.

...Congo, born in 1954, produced about 400 drawings and paintings between ages 2 and 4. He died in 1964 of tuberculosis.

His artwork provoked reactions ranging from scorn to skepticism among critics of the time, but Pablo Picasso is reported to have hung a Congo painting on his studio wall after receiving it as a gift.

I like how they make sure to mention that the paintings are 'abstract' ... if a chimp ever manages to create a representational painting, it should sell for a lot more than 25 grand. But Congo was a real artist:
At first Congo splashed the paint on, as any chimp would. But ... over two years in the late 1950s Congo suddenly changed the way he held the brush and became much more intense about his paintings.

Dr Morris said: "I was amazed. He focused on what he was doing. Every line he made logically followed the last one."

Congo confined his work to the sheet of paper or canvas in front of him, rarely letting the paint dribble on to the table or floor.

The chimp also seemed to know when a picture was finished, putting down his brush. If the picture was taken away and brought back later he would refuse to work on it. But if a fresh canvas was presented he would set to work again.

Economic populism part 4

Bernie Sanders, blogging on TPM Cafe, explains the formula for progressives' electoral success:
In Vermont, we have shown that when middle income and working people know you are on their side economically, they will support you even if they disagree with you on one or another social and cultural issue. It has been true during my time in the Congress and was true during my eight year tenure as mayor of Burlington.

Let me be clear. I am staunchly pro-choice. I am a strong environmentalist. I have consistently and actively opposed George Bush's unilateralist foreign policy and his decision to take this country to war on the basis of false information. Not everyone who votes for me agrees with me on these issues. I do very well with rural conservatives -- many of whom are opposed to abortion; are very leary of environmental restrictions and who (at least initially) stood behind the President on Iraq. But they know I am with them on the issues that have immediate relevance for them and their families.

And I don't just mean is some abstract sense. They know that their well-being and the well-being of their families IS my agenda.

...It is the responsibility of us progressives to make sure that the political debate stays focused on the central economic issues that affect the vast majority of Americans. These issues unite Americans across racial lines, across gender lines, across sexual orientation lines, across ethnic lines, across religious lines. A clearly, articulated and sincerely-held progressive agenda -- based on the economic needs of the American middle and working class -- is, in my view, the only way that we will put together the coalition capable of ultimately prevailing over the radical right wing Bush program.

...When American people believe someone is truly fighting for them and their families, they respond. It's time to end the mixed messages and recommit ourselves to creating an economy that works for all Americans.

Is Bush a war criminal? part 2

DJ at Casual Asides has an excellent analysis.

This is sick

Michelle Malkin mocks the death of a left-winger.

God I hate Michelle Malkin.

... apparently for Malkin, it's okay to ridicule a dead man, but if you think dumping salad dressing on Pat Buchanan is funny, "you are sick."


UPDATE: It's not just the Malkins who see fit to belittle a man who has just died simply because he was an opponent of right-wing insanity. Also finding the man's obituary amusing: Captain Ed, Brainster's Blog, BronxPundit, Macsmind, The Anchoress, Old Controller, Right Wing Religious Wacko, Museum of Left Wing Lunacy.

For what it's worth, right-wingers, I think you did kill this guy. And Hunter S. Thompson, too.

Slip-up

Somebody tell LaShawn Barber that she's diverging from conservative orthodoxy:
American Christians, including myself, complain about media bias against Christ followers and the hostility of the godless, but we don't know what persecution is.
Don't tell Pat Robertson (who claims that American Christians suffer a fate "more terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history") or David Limbaugh ("there truly is a war being waged against Christianity and Christians in the United States") that.

Naturalism ≠ materialism

Steve at Guide to Reality explains why naturalism is not the same as physicalism/materialism.

The real story

Corrente (via Daou) on Hugh Hewitt:
Next, we'll visit with Hugh for a bit and learn how Islamofacist terrorists and "anti-Americans of every stripe" were heartened by Durbin's secret code language of hate, and how it's the fat mouths of the Left, and Durbin's stubborn clinging to anti-fossil fuel rhetoric, that are endangering Americans, not our realpolitik and 50 years of economic exploitation and ruthless pragmatic expansionism belied by hollow humanitarian talk of freedom.

The right-wing P.C. police

Marshall Wittman:
...conservatives have become such sensitive souls.

The right used to decry political correctness. They had a point - our culture has become far too sensitive to the possibility that our speech or actions can possibly offend someone, somewhere. Our discourse has become far less colorful and interesting as a result of this fear of offending PC sensibilities.

However, recently the right has become fallen in love with PC as long as it serves their interests. One prime example is conservative whining about the attacks on Christians ...

...The other great Washington PC offence was Senator Durbin's remarks about Gitmo. Clearly, Durbin uttered an unartful and inappropriate analogy. It would be wise to apologize. But the conservative mob surely knows that Durbin was not suggesting that the U.S. military was either the SS or Beria's secret police. They are merely pouncing on Durbin in order to distract us from all the bad news that envelops the GOP.

Treason! part 5

This is getting a little ridiculous, don't you think? Mark Noonan says:

1968 was a bad year for America - fighting a war far from home with the enemy increasing his attacks, many Americans at home turned against the effort and started calling for a withdrawl. Some called for an immediate pull-out, others just wanted a timetable for getting out. 1968 was also a bad year for our enemies in Vietnam - in spite of MSM spin that the enemy was doing well, they were actually being slaughtered by the American military and an ever-better (but still far from perfect) South Vietnamese military. In plain terms, by 1968 we had the war in Vietnam won, and then we lost it because the enemy perceived that in spite of his huge battlefield losses, American defeatists and traitors were more than willing to hand victory to the defeated.

We're now in a similar state of affairs in Iraq - with an elected Iraqi government busily crafting a constitution and an Iraqi military and police force taking over more and more of the security duties (and killing more and more of the enemy as they do it), what we've got here at home are defeatists and traitors trying to win one for terrorism by getting the United States out either immediately, or by a set time-table for withdrawl.

Make no mistake about it - if we were to pull out of Iraq, or even announce that we will leave by a date certain (even if that date were years in the future), then we will have lost the campaign to liberate Iraq and, by extension, lost the War on Terrorism. If you do not wish to see the United States defeated, then the only rational position to take is the President's: we will stay until victory, however long and costly the road. If, on the other hand, you wish to have us pull out of Iraq, then you are advocating the defeat of the United States - you are, to put it bluntly, providing aid and comfort to the enemy. There's a word for that.

6/20/2005

Mr. Clinton on Gitmo

From DU via Daou:
Clinton slams Guantánamo Bay

Mr Clinton joined critics at home and abroad who have singled out the indefinite detention of prisoners without trial and widespread reports of human rights violations at Guantánamo. “It is time that there are no more stories coming out of there about people being abused,” he said.

Mr Clinton said the test for judging whether harsh treatment of terrorist suspects was justified was whether it challenged the “fundamental nature” of American society. If the answer is Yes, you have already given the terrorists a profound victory.”

(snip)

Aside from moral issues, there were two practical objections to the US military abusing prisoners, he said. “If we get a reputation for abusing people it puts our own soldiers much more at risk and second, if you rough up somebody bad enough, they'll eventually tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to stop doing it.” Mr Clinton was careful to avoid criticising the administration on the issue of indefinite detention. In three or four cases, his own administration had resorted to a US law that allows suspected terrorists to be held beyond the normal length of time without trial, if bringing an indictment or trial would compromise intelligence sources.

“It sounds so reasonable but you're the guy that is in prison and you are not guilty, you could be held there three, four, five years and there has to be some limit to that,” he said.

Hmm. Well, welcome aboard, I guess. Though this seems like a pretty lukewarm 'slam' to me, and it all rings a little hollow from the guy who oversaw the Iraq sanctions regime.

Is Bush a war criminal?

Not too long ago, there was a bit of disagreement here over whether or not George W. Bush is a war criminal.

I suppose it depends on how you define 'war criminal'.

Look up 'war criminal' on dictionary.com, and you'll see a couple of definitions. One is simply "an individual who has committed a war crime", 'war crime' being defined as "any of various crimes, such as genocide or the mistreatment of prisoners of war, committed during a war and considered in violation of the conventions of warfare." There have certainly been accusations that the Bush administration has mistreated prisoners, so even on this strict definition, Bush may indeed be a war criminal.

The Nuremberg Principles define 'war crimes' thus:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
To determine whether the Bush administration is guilty of these would require getting into the nitty-gritty of the way in which the Iraq war was carried out. This is certainly a worthwhile thing to do, but I don't think it is necessary to establish the criminality of the invasion of Iraq.

Another definition offered for 'war criminal' is: "an offender who violates international law during times of war." If this is used as the standard, then there is absolutely no question that George W. Bush is a war criminal. The Nuremberg Principles define 'crimes against peace' as:
Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances
And the UN Charter, article 2, reads in part:
The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

...All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
There is simply no rational interpretation of the events of the past four years on which the Bush administration has not acted in violation of international law in invading Iraq.

So funny I forgot to laugh

From Supreme Irony of Life:

The director of the CIA says he has an "excellent idea" where Osama bin Laden is hiding, but that the United States' respect for sovereign nations makes it more difficult to capture the al-Qaida chief.

Yes, when someone says 'respect for sovereign nations', I immediately think of the US. Don't you?

Malkinlogic

P → Q
~P
∴ ~Q


Silly Malkins.

Having a ball (or two)

A small Illinois town prepares for its annual 'Testicle Festival':
Euphemisms abound for the, uh, delicacy that will be the focus of a festival Saturday in Mount Sterling, Ill., about 90 miles north of St. Louis. Kevin Huston, who owns the Sportsman's Club bar, which is hosting the festival, has heard 'em all: cowboy caviar, swinging beef, mountain oysters, lamb fries. But folks in Mount Sterling (population 2,077) don't mince words, so the festival is known simply as the Sportsman's Club Testicle Festival.

...The little festival, which used to draw 100 or so people to the bar, ballooned to 2,000 or so people. They wolfed down the testicle cache. The bar even ran out of beer.

Hat tip to Birdblog.

Shrill moose

Every once in a while, 'Bull Moose' Marshall Wittman, usually quite the tool, manages to make a good point or snarky remark:
Republicans have spent the past few days braying for an apology from Senator Durbin for his unfortunate comments on Gitmo. So, let him ask our troops for their forgiveness for allegedly disparaging their service. And Dr. Frist can get on his knees and apologize for politicizing a family's tragedy to advance his political ambitions. Tom DeLay can say he's sorry for turning the House into a bordello for high roller customers.

Then, Commander in Chief can come before the American people and ask for forgiveness for his obscene Mission Accomplished photo-op on the Lincoln in May,2003. Together, W. and Rummy can offer apologies for their failure to devise an occupation plan and to provide adequate troops and equipment.

Embracing the President's culture of responsibility, Rummy then can tearfully tender his resignation.

The Vice President can show some humility and tell the American people he lied when he suggested that the insurgency was in its last throes. Chuck Colson certainly will help him through this unique display of humanity and humility.

The Moose believes that everyone will benefit from unburdening themselves of their sins. It is the only path to salvation in this City of Satan. Maybe, we can follow with an old-fashion mass baptism in the reflecting pool.
Careful, Marshall ... you're starting to sound like one of us shrill 'ultraliberals'.

The case against originalism

Originalism is the view that the Constitution ought to be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with the 'original intent' of its authors. Brian Leiter rejects this view:
Why is a "contemporary understanding of the words the Constitution uses" a basis for misunderstanding as opposed to correct understanding? Why is it even remotely relevant what those words meant when the Constitution was adopted? The right has been pushing this non-sequitur for a couple of decades now, but they still have no answers to the simplest questions about the legal or moral relevance of the "original meaning" or "original intent" of Constitutional provisions. Those who produced the "original" meanings have no claim of democratically sanctioned authority over us; they have no claim of special moral expertise or insight; to make the meaning of Constitutional provisions turn on historical details invisible in the text itself undermines rule of law values like the need for public and intelligible legal standards; and so on.

...Why is what the framers thought even relevant? They left us a text, written with words that have meaning, sometimes contestable, sometimes clear. It would take a principled explanation as to why we are bound by anything more than that text and its words. But originalism is the pathology of our current constitutional culture, so deeply embedded that the quasi-liberals and those on the left genuflect before it.

...

Originalism (whether about intentions or meanings) is now the dominant, almost entirely unquestioned touchstone of constitutional argument and interpretation in the United States. This is odd since there is no plausible, theoretical justification for it... Although there analagous questions that could be raised about constitutionalism itself, the issue of originalism as a theory of interpretation is severable. We might agree that later majorities should be bound by an earlier foundational document (the crux of constitutionalism), but that simply does not settle the question of how the meaning of that document should be fixed. (Last year, when I pressed Akhil Amar about this during a visit to Texas, he argued that to be bound by the text one has to be bound by the original understanding. This is, alas, also a non-sequitur, and not just conceptually: in practice, for example, Canadian courts are barred from originalist interpretations of the Charter, yet still manage to interpret and apply it.) Those who would supplement constitutionalism with originalism need to explain why the original meaning or intentions are authoritative. Intentions might be authoritative if, for example, we had consented to be bound by them; but that is inapposite in this case.

You're telling me I can't trust this guy?



I mean, he looks like a dependable sort. But Christopher Schroen says au contraire:

Matthew Lesko, the zany guy whose suits are emblazoned with question marks, who sells books promising "Free Government Money to Change Your Life." He's drawn negative attention from consumer-rights groups, who say he has a problem with deceptive advertising.

I guess there's no 'free money to quit your job' after all.

6/19/2005

Republicans

Apparently, Republicans spend holidays trying to catch fish. Weird.

Eyes wide stupid

This movie 'review' is not timely. It is funny, very funny.

Nice try

Republican liars swing and miss:

The first shot fired in the 2006 Vermont U.S. Senate race was fired on Monday, but the trigger was pulled far from Vermont, in Washington, D.C. The gun in question belonged to a staffer at the Republican National Senatorial Committee.

...Independent Rep. Bernie Sanders, Vermont's political living legend, has made it clear he intends to fill Jeezum Jim's Senate seat. The GOP has made it clear this week they will stop at nothing to defeat him. And despite trial balloons from political has-beens like Doug Racine, most leading Democrats are backing Bernie.

Monday's press release from the RNSC was titled "Bernie Sanders: An Ineffective Extremist and Extremely Ineffective."

...So we rang up the RNSC and spoke with Brian Nick, the staffer focused on Vermont ... We expressed our surprise that the RNSC was labeling Vermont's seven-term congressman an "extremist." Does that mean the 68 percent of Vermont voters who backed Bernie are extremists, too?

We asked Mr. Nick for an example to prove his "extremist" point. The RNSC spokesman cited juvenile justice legislation from 1999 that he said Bernie did not support. It was actually a 1999 amendment that would have "limited the exposure of pornographic material to minors." Unlike Sanders, he said, "most members did not support exposing minors to sexually explicit music or videos."

We looked it up. Oopsie!

The amendment in question was offered by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois), a legendary conservative. It would have required store owners to listen to and, when necessary, censor the lyrics on the music CDs and videos they stocked.

Good bye, America. Hello, Big Brother, eh?

Nick was right. Sanders of Vermont voted "no." But what the RNSC spokesman neglected to point out was the fact that Ol' Bernardo joined 281 other members, many Republicans among them, in defeating Hyde's porno amendment. It lost on a 282-146 roll call vote.

Goddammit

Fuck. I agree with Instapundit ... and NRO!
According to this report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch George and Elisa Robinson threw a party for their 16-year-old son at which alcohol was served. No big deal so far as I’m concerned, but foolish in that such behavior was against the law. The cops came, and the Robinsons were charged.

The initial sentence they drew was – wait for it - eight years from a judge, one Dwight J.Johnson, who has quite clearly lost all sight of what justice should really mean.

Judging by this report, The same is true of the increasingly grotesque MADD:

“Charlottesville Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) president Jill Ingram was surprised by the jail sentence— pleasantly surprised. "I'm not necessarily opposed to a judge trying to send a message that parents shouldn't supply other people's kids with alcohol. I applaud what [Judge Johnson] is trying to do."

The sentence has now been reduced by the Viginia Court of Appeals – to a still grotesque 27 months.

Some justice, some mercy, some disgrace.

Jackknifed juggernaut



Spin magazine names Radiohead's OK Computer the best album of the last twenty years.
Spin magazine named Radiohead's "OK Computer" the top album of the past 20 years, praising a futuristic sound that manages to feel alive "even when its words are spoken by a robot."

The British band's album edged out Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" and Nirvana's "Nevermind" on a list in Spin's 20th anniversary issue, currently on newsstands.

"Between Thom Yorke's orange-alert worldview and the band's meld of epic guitar rock and electronic glitch, ('OK Computer') not only forecast a decade of music but uncannily predicted our global culture of communal distress," reads the editorial note on what separated the 1997 disc from the other 99 ranked albums.

Sandwiched between Radiohead's straight-ahead rock disc "The Bends" and the more experimental, electronic "Kid A," "OK Computer" was the album that propelled Radiohead to worldwide, stadium-sized popularity. Though it never went higher than No. 21 on the Billboard charts, it won critical raves and a Grammy for best alternative music performance.

Spin's Chuck Klosterman says the album "manages to sound how the future will feel. ... It's a mechanical album that always feels alive, even when its words are spoken by a robot."

Hell no

Biden wants to run for president:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said Sunday he intends to run for president in 2008.

But Biden, who also sought the nomination in 1988, said he would give himself until the end of this year to determine if he really can raise enough money and attract enough support.

"My intention, as I sit here now, is, as I've proceeded since last November as if I were going to run. I'm quite frankly going out, seeing whether I can gather the kind of support," Biden said.

Biden said he was taking his "game on the road, letting people know what I think."

He added, "If, in fact, I think that I have a clear shot at winning the nomination by this November or December, then I'm going to seek the nomination."

There are a lot of folks who will do everything in their power to make sure Biden doesn't get the nomination. Let's hope they succeed.

"Lil' Blogger Sleuths"

From Hullabaloo:
The lil'est blogger sleuths are all excited again about their biggest and bestest scoop in the whole wide world! First the lil fellas found out that icky ole Dan Rather was a bad man who couldn't validate those funny looking Killian memos. And they won a great big prize, too, and everybody tol' them what good boys they were.

So they put their little noggins together and thought really, really hard and figured out that the mean Democrats musta made up those dumb Martinez talking points about that dead girl cuzit couldn't be true. It turned out that some dumb guy in Senator Martinez's office wrote 'em, but he coulda been a mean Democrat anyway cuz he was so dumb.

And now they put on their lil' thinkin' caps and figured out all by themselves that the Downing Street memos are fakes too --- all the icky memos just have to be fakes even when people who wrote 'em and read 'em say they aren't! Cuz the lil'est blogger sleuths are on the case ...

He he.

The Downing Street threat

Right-wing bloggers are trying to delegitimize the Downing Street Memo. Captain Ed:
Until tonight, however, no one questioned the authenticity of the documents provided by the Times of London. That has now changed, as Times reporter Michael Smith admitted that the memos he used are not originals, but retyped copies ... Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.

Why would a reporter do such a thing? While reporters need to protect their sources, at some point stories based on official documents will require authentication -- and as we have seen with the Killian memos, copies make that impossible ...

This, in fact, could very well be another case of "fake but accurate", where documents get created after the fact to support preconceived notions about what happened in the past. One fact certainly stands out -- Michael Smith cannot authenticate the copies. And absent that authentication, they lose their value as evidence of anything.

USS Neverdock
:
Since the memos cannot be authenticated and an un-named sources best guess is they "appeared authentic", all stories based on them are meaningless ...

Raw Story has this tid bit:
“I first photocopied them to ensure they were on our paper and returned the originals, which were on government paper and therefore government property, to the source,” he added. [...]

“It was these photocopies that I worked on, destroying them shortly before we went to press on Sept 17, 2004,” he added. “Before we destroyed them the legal desk secretary typed the text up on an old fashioned typewriter.”
Smith appears to be tripping up here. He says he returned the originals because they were on government paper and therefore government property. So, photocopying a page out of a book makes the words no longer the property of the author?

Now let me get this straight. Dan Rather's forged documents were typed up on a computer using the default setting of Microsoft Word. And now Smith wants us to believe that his legal secretary used "an old fashioned typewriter" to forge the Downing Street memos? When was the last time you saw an old fashioned typewriter, let alone use one? Why would you want to type them up on a typewritter instead of a computer? Was Smith trying to make them look more authentic? Was he trying to avoid his own Rathergate?

Kevin Drum, though, calls bullshit:

The wingnuts are getting desperate. Captain's Quarters, in a nostalgic attempt to recreate the glories of Rathergate, suggests that the Downing Street Memos aren't real. Why? Because Michael Smith, the reporter who got hold of them, had them retyped to protect his source and then returned the originals ...

Now, unlike the Killian memos that were at the center of Rathergate, there are quite a few principals in this case who either wrote or received these memos and therefore have absolute knowledge of whether or not they're genuine ...

Here's Tony Blair himself on May 1, the day the first memo was published:

In a Sunday morning television interview, Mr. Blair did not deny that the meeting took place in July 2002, but he recalled that "subsequent to that meeting, we went the United Nations route," seeking a resolution in November 2002, calling on the Iraqi government to disarm.

Here's Knight Ridder on May 5:

A former senior U.S. official called it "an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during the senior British intelligence officer's visit to Washington. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

Here's the Washington Post on June 12:

Excerpts were made available to The Washington Post, and the material was confirmed as authentic by British sources who sought anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.

Give it up, guys. They're real.



I'll just add that the Right must view the DSM as a real threat, given the energy they've put into 'debunking' it.

But I thought he was trying to liberate the Iraqi people...

Atrios on Dubya's "we're fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here" rhetoric:
...maybe, just maybe, when the president of the United States tells the people of Iraq that the purpose of the Iraq invasion was to turn their country into a terrorist swamp it becomes a little more difficult to win the hearts and minds.

Atrios then delivers a pitch-perfect parody of a wingnut blogger's response:
It's all the fault of anti-war bloggers who are REPORTING what the president is saying because otherwise the Iraqis wouldn't know about it! And besides, leftwingblogger posted up a picture of a dead Iraqi child, and that's going to cause much more of a problem for our troops than the actual dead child or the statement by the president that we're in Iraq so they get blown up instead of us, and besides that's the most brilliant strategic policy I've ever heard of because there are a finite number of terrorists and we just need to kill them all! Take that treasonous moonbats!

Good question

A Kos diarist asks:
If Team GOPUSA really believed Durbin's comments would get Americans killed and actually cared about that notion, perhaps they wouldn't be pulling out all the stops to make this story as loud and long-lived as possible. I mean, employing the Republican logic for a moment, if someone yells fire in a crowded theater, does one hand the person a megaphone and ask them to repeat themselves? Ad nauseum?

...and then derives two responses to use when a wingnut starts whining about Durbin:
  • If the Republicans actually cared about the effect of these comments, they wouldn't be using all their powers to keep those comments in the public spotlight for as long as possible
  • Your implied argument is that, so long as America doesn't descend to the point where direct comparisons can be made between ourselves and history's murderous rogues gallery, we're doing just fine.

The US is not Nazi Germany

It is a banana republic, according to this DU poster.

Weird

Kim du Toit's readers apparently like to send in scantily-clad photos of themselves for him to post on his site.

Oh, posing with guns, of course. Kim likes guns ... I mean, he really likes guns.

Lemon chicken, but also brain damage

From DC Media Girl via Steve Gilliard:
The point of the outrage over abuses at Guantanamo is that we are a country based on morals and principles that require us to conduct ourselves in an honorable, proper fashion ... One act of deliberate abuse is one too many.

Today we learn in L.A. Times that a U.S. soldier was badly beaten by the U.S. guards at Guantanamo because they were misled to believe he was a Muslim prisoner who had attacked a U.S. soldier. According to the Times: "Spc. Sean D. Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury."

Hopefully this causes Congressman Duncan Hunter to reflect on his idiotic assertion that what a prisoner eats determines how well they are treated. We are confronted with an uncomfortable reality that U.S. soldiers were beating unarmed prisoners ...

Maybe Representative Duncan Hunter could take Specialist Baker out for a lunch of glazed chicken and warm pita bread and try to persuade him that his brain damage is no big deal.

Blogarama - The Blog Directory Sanity is not statistical.