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

7/23/2005

Fucking asshole

I've been trying to watch my language, but there's just no other way to describe the miserable excuse for a human being that is John Gibson (HT: Atrios.):
Five in the Noggin

...My faith has been renewed in the Brits. Even though they talk a good politically correct game out in public, evidently, behind the scenes they are as ruthless as I would expect from a civilized country under attack by bloodthirsty barbarians who have been brainwashed.

...I love the way the Brits have 10 million cameras sticking up the nose of every citizen no matter where they are, except in the loo.

...What is also good is the Brit police tactics that we saw at work in the subway Friday morning. The tackle and kill team is incredible, if for no other reason than their bravery. Can you imagine the job of those cops? Tackle the guy wearing a vest bomb and hope your colleague is right behind with the gun to put five bullets in the noggin before he sets off the bomb.

Turns out he didn't have a bomb, and turns out he wasn't one of the four bombers Thursday. And if it turns out ultimately that he had nothing to do with anything, no doubt there will be hell to pay. But the police say he was linked to the terror probe, so let's wait and see.

Meantime, got to admire the cojones of those Brit cops to go after him like that. All of this trumps any of my other complaints that the Brits weren't making the right noises about fighting terror. They like to go about things a bit more quietly than us. Not my style, but okay, fine — as long as they get the five in the noggin of the right bomber boy. They do that and I'm fine.

So for the moment, alls well. Just catch the four bombers. Five in the noggin is fine. Don't complain that sounds barbaric. We're fighting barbaric.
Come to think of it, "fucking asshole" is a pretty good description of whoever at RedState.org wrote this:
CHOOSING SIDES: The Muslim Council of Britain is upset that police at the Stockwell tube station in London knocked an Asian man (in the UK, this usually signifies south Asian) to the floor of a subway car and shot him dead -- five bullets in succession -- as he lay prone. Think this through: a man of the same apparent ethnicity as the suicide and would-be bombers of 7/7 and 7/21 flees from police; he is wearing a bulky winter coat in summer; and there is an active suicide bomb threat in the Underground. Did the police have reasonable alternatives? Not unless you consider yet more scores dead a risk worth running. Unfortunately, shoot to kill is the only real tactic available in the presence of a suicide terror threat. Not only do both parties get what they want, public safety is maximized.
Unless, of course, you are a member of the public who happens to be "a man of the same apparent ethnicity" as the bombers. Then you're fucked. But everybody else - you know, the regular people - can rest easy.

Wrong place, wrong time part 2

My initial reaction to the London shooting was to regard it as a tragic accident. But Blake at The Next Left seems to think it is more likely a clear-cut case of murder.
It seems that many in the media are acting as apologists for murder: this man ran from police, so he got what was coming to him. However, these were plain-clothes police officers. The man was South-Asian (or perhaps Brazilian - the London police seem to have trouble distinguishing between the two), and it is unclear if he spoke fluent English. But regardless of one's language ability, if people wearing everyday clothing chase someone, that person should run to where there are other people who can help defend him and diffuse the situation. That is exactly what the suspect did. He didn't run away. He ran onto the train.

Here's how one witness described the scene:

"He looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox, absolutely petrified ... They pushed him onto the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him. I saw it. He's dead."

If that account is accurate, this is murder in every sense of the word. The case not only highlights the need for police to use restraint and non-lethal methods of subduing people, it also highlights the need for plain-clothes officers to have a way to show they are police. The man likely thought he was being attacked by thugs rather than plain-clothes officers.
The fact that these were non-uniformed officers is crucial. If someone pulled a gun on you, and you didn't know it was a police officer, you'd probably run away too.

And I'll be interested to hear their justification for shooting him after he had been subdued.

Wrong place, wrong time

Shit. From Reuters UK:
British police admit shooting wrong man in bomb hunt

LONDON (Reuters) - Police admitted on Saturday they had shot dead the wrong man in a tragic error as they combed London for four men after attempted bomb attacks on the capital's transport system.

Plainclothes police chased the man onto an underground train on Friday after he ignored warnings to stop, shooting him five times in the head because they feared he was carrying a bomb and was going to detonate it.

"We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005," police said on Saturday.

"For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."

...Muslim groups condemned the killing and expressed shock at the news of the victim's innocence.

"To give license to people to shoot to kill just like that, on the basis of suspicion, is very frightening," Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain told BBC television.

...Human rights activists said police were in an impossible position, with split seconds to take a life or death decision, but insisted on a full and independent inquiry.

...The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it was investigating the killing, as it did all fatal police shootings.
What a fucked-up situation. It's hard to evaluate it further than that or assign any blame until more is known; my immediate response is to agree with the remark about the cops being in an impossible position, and also with the call for an investigation. Something this serious definitely calls for a full examination of what happened.

Of course, if this had happened in the US, there would be ferocious opposition to even investigating the incident.

The Billmon hypothesis

Author Jared Diamond asks:
How can people be so dumb? It's a crucial question, with a complex answer. ... sometimes it's a failure to perceive a problem, especially if it comes on very slowly, like climate change. Often it's a matter of conflicting interests with no resolution at a higher level than the interests -- warring clans, greedy industries. Or there may be a failure to examine and understand the past.
Billmon has his own ideas:
I have to wonder if [Diamond] isn't overanalyzing things. Maybe the reason humans act so dumb isn't because of their intellectual frame of reference, or their clan structure, or because they lack historical awareness. Maybe people act dumb because a lot of them are dumb -- dumb as turnips. So stupid they have trouble each morning remembering that their shoes go on their feet...

Might that not be a more plausible explanation for our present predicament then a complex failure of the intellectual substrata of our socio-political paradigm considered as a subset of the tragedy of the commons?

Maybe we're simply not smart enough to fix the massive mess we've created -- just as some of our early ancestral cousins couldn't quite make the evolutionary grade either ... Maybe we've reached the end of our rope ... maybe we've risen to a level of intelligence just high enough to create problems we're not bright enough to solve...

Certainly, I don't see anything about our current national leadership, or the dominant political party in America, that would disprove my hypothesis.
I think the question - How can people be so dumb? - can best be answered by appreciating an important distinction between what we usually call intelligence and what you might call wisdom or good judgment.

Humans, as a species, are obviously highly intelligent, in the sense that they are quite clever. They are problem-solvers - natural born engineers, really. When given a task, humans generally find a way to achieve it, even when this requires mastering something enormously complex. The crown jewels of human achievements - the computer, space travel, quantum mechanics, etc. - are not the work of a generally dumb species.

While it's true that these were achieved not by the average man but by the exceptional one, the fact is that Einstein's brain was vastly more similar to an average person's than different from it. And besides, even people of average intelligence manage to pull off, on a daily basis, feats that require no small amount of brainpower. Billmon was obviously being facetious about people not remembering to put their shoes on their feet, but the fact is that people are able to do that, and a lot more. Even people we wouldn't hesitate to call stupid.

In general, however, the human animal is not a wise one; it exhibits sound judgment with a much lesser frequency than it does cleverness. While humans are capable of staggering intellectual exploits, they are also capable of remarkably poor judgment. It wasn't just the dumb Germans that supported Hitler. Kim Jong-il is said to have a genius-level IQ, but he is not a wise man. It is this discrepancy between human intelligence and human wisdom that accounts for the phenomenon that Diamond and Billmon are trying to explain.

Good judgment is never just a matter of understanding the facts. Judgment requires us to go beyond the facts, into the realm of evaluation. This is where humans tend to fail. They decide that someone is trustworthy when really they are criminal, or they decide that their desire for greater wealth is more important than the needs of the poor. They remain stuck in the same cycles that prevent them from progressing, failing to implement what they have learned from their past mistakes. Intelligent people make these kinds of choices all the time; wise people, people of sound judgment, never do.

Think of a teenager who drives recklessly on dangerous roads. We often say that he is "dumb," but is that really accurate? It's not as if he is acting that way because of a faulty analysis; it is not that there is some mistake in his reasoning that led him to the conclusion that reckless driving would be a good idea. His failure is a failure of judgment, a failure to choose wisely. He is not being "dumb" so much as he is being foolish, and we have seen that such foolishness is distributed more or less proportionately across the spectrum of IQ scores.

If the human species is indeed at the end of its rope, I don't think it is because its ability to create problems has outstripped its ability to solve them, but rather that its judgment hasn't kept pace with its raw intelligence. After all, it's not so much that there are a lot of problems with no answer - for many of the biggest problems before us, the solutions are rather simple and obvious, and the vast majority of those who spend any time thinking about them with any degree of seriousness end up coming to the same conclusions. What's missing is the strength of character necessary to accept these conclusions, and to implement the course of action dictated by them.

The inadequacy of impeachment

A Republican who is running for Bernie Sanders' House seat (Sanders is running for Senate) wants to impeach President Bush:
GOP candidate calls for impeachment

A Congressional candidate who wants to impeach President Bush insists he can win the Republican primary.

Dennis Morrisseau, 62, of West Pawlet, plans to seek the Republican nomination to run for U.S. House of Representatives. A central part of his platform, Morrisseau said, will be bringing articles of impeachment against Bush.

...Morrisseau said he considers himself more of a Republican than the president, and he thinks a lot of Vermont Republicans agree with him.
Speaking of impeachment, Liza Sabater says it ain't gonna happen:
The trail of slime is everywhere: Tenet, Flischer, Hughes, Powell, Rice, and of course, her hus ... I mean, her employer, Dubya.

...Couple this with Bush's approval ratings ... and you know he will never get impeached. The man is the anti-Clinton. Even if he got caught performing voodoo sex on Condoleeza on a bed of slaughtered spotted owls and after signing away 20lbs of uranium to Osama Bin Laden, he'd still wouldn't be booted out of office. No wonder people have to resort to revolutions to overthrow tyrants.
Does Bush deserve to be impeached? Probably. Will it ever happen? Not unless something completely unanticipated happens in 2006.

Another question: what would it accomplish? As Liza says, the trail of slime is everywhere, and Bush is basically just a figurehead; the administration wouldn't miss a beat in the event of his removal. You could impeach Cheney, too, but he's just one of the many "slimy" members of the administration.

Basically, you'd have to gut the whole administration, which is of course impractical. Impeachment is really a very limited mechanism for dealing with misconduct in the executive branch. If the president were the equivalent of a dictator, it might make sense, but rarely is corruption limited to the nominal head. Impeachment removes a piece of the apparatus, but leaves the apparatus itself intact.

What we need is some mechanism for removing an entire administration. Rather than (or at least in addition to) impeachment, we could call a special election, with members of the incumbent administration (though not the incumbent party) prohibited from running, thus guaranteeing a new order.

State-sponsored terrorism

David Lindorff writing in Counterpunch:
No More Moral Relativism - The US is a Terrorist State

...Sure the attack in London was an outrage. It was an outrage whether it was the work of four alienated second-generation British-Pakistani young men acting on their own, or of four foot soldiers of Al Qaeda.

Get angry, sure. But let's not get all self-righteous about it.

When George Bush or his poodle Tony Blair act all indignant about this "attack on innocents," we need to remember that the U.S. and Britain are terrorist states in their own right, and on a much grander scale.

If you have any doubts about this, check out an article in a magazine called Electronic Iraq, written by one William Van Wagenen. This well-documented and footnoted article quotes from the original planning document for "Shock and Awe," developed by the U.S. National Defense University in 1996 and adopted by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as policy well before the start of the war, called for using aerial bombardment and other military resources for "controlling, affecting, and breaking the will of the adversary to resist." The approach goes on to call for attacking "means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure," with deliberate violence designed to be "all encompassing" in scope. (This strategy--particularly as it targets food and water--it should be noted, is on its face a war crime.)

Luckily for Iraqis, the Pentagon in the end did not fully apply the strategy as laid out in "Shock and Awe" (a phrase which, incidentally, is a pretty good synonym for "terrorize"). As Wagenen points out, the plan was to occupy and run Iraq after the defeat of Saddam, and so it was felt that the power grid, water system, etc., should not be destroyed. But clearly some elements of the strategy for intimidating the people of Iraq were adopted.

...

This, dear reader, is deliberate terrorism, pure and simple.

It might seem odd, if you are one of those who buy into the Bush rhetoric that America was "liberating" Iraqis from a brutal regime.

After all, how exactly are you "liberating" people if you bomb their markets and malls and deliberately seek to terrorize them with a Shock and Awe campaign that, in the words of a Pentagon official quoted by CBS News on the eve of the invasion, will mean "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad"?

The answer, of course, is that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was not and is not about liberation; it's about conquest and creation of, if not a colony, then a client state.

This is the invasion which our "heroic" soldiers are today being asked to continue to defend with their weapons and their lives.

And make no mistake: Shock and Awe is continuing. The leveling of Fallujah, once a city of 300,000, was just another chapter. Many smaller such levelings of towns and villages are going on now.

The Nazis in World War II had a tactic, especially popular on the Eastern Front, of leveling any town or neighborhood where partisans were active. It's a tactic that the Israeli Army has been officially using against Palestinians for years.

American forces did the same thing in Vietnam, and they're doing it now in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whatever they call it at the Pentagon or in the White House War Room, the real name for such a tactic is terror.

D'oh!


7/22/2005

Is this image anti-Semitic?

The Minor Fall, the Major Lift says:
Leaving aside the obvious irony, what do you suppose the folks at National Review are trying to suggest about Senator Schumer here? That by hook or by crook he'll try to deny Judge Roberts a seat on the Supreme Court? That the protocols he and his fellow Senate elders wish to follow during the confirmation hearings are somehow sinister and un-American? That's he's a big matzah-eating giant-proboscis-sporting Christian-baby-blood-drinking Heeb? Yeah, probably that last one. Good job, art department!
(via Ezra Klein.)

Bilin



From Yahoo News:
Palestinians, left-wing Israelis and foreign peace activists carry masks with pictures of George W. Bush during a rally in Bilin. Protestors at a rally against Israel's West Bank barrier donned masks of Bush and Condoleezza Rice in a parody of the campaign against the pullout from the Gaza Strip.

The Bolton connection

Apparently Prairie Weather has been predicting for quite some time that Bolton would be implicated in the Plame affair, and now it seems he (she?) might be right -
David Schuster of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews made a whopper revelation about grand jury testimony in the Valerie Plame-outing investigation: John Bolton has testified about the top secret document that Colin Powell had aboard Air Force One.

TWN has confirmed with MSNBC that it it standing by its story.

Shuster's report yesterday:
A witness who testified at the grand jury and lawyers for other witnesses say the memo was written in July of 2003, identified Valerie Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame, as a CIA officer, and cited her in a paragraph marked S for sensitive.

According to lawyers, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and undersecretaries, including John Bolton, gave testimony about this memo. And a lawyer for one State Department official says his client testified that, as President Bush was flying to Africa on Air Force One two years ago, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer could be seen reading the document on board.

The timing is significant, because the president's trip on July 7 was one day after Ambassador Joe Wilson's column was published criticizing the administration. In other words, on July 6, Wilson's column comes out. On July 7, the State Department memo about Wilson's wife is seen on Air Force One. And, on July 8, Karl Rove had a conversation with columnist Robert Novak, but says it was Novak who told him about Valerie Plame, not the other way around.

Rove also says he never saw the State Department memo until prosecutors showed it to him. Six days later, on July 14, 2003, Novak published the now infamous column that publicly identified Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife, as a CIA operative.

Grand jury witnesses say a call record kept by Ari Fleischer shows Novak placed a call to him during this period. And lawyers for several witnesses say their clients were questioned by investigators about Fleischer's conversations. Fleischer, however, did not have the power to be a decision-maker in the administration. And White House observers point out, he wouldn't have likely taken it upon himself to disseminate the State Department memo. In any case, Fleischer and his lawyer have declined to comment...
This takes us back to whether it is possible that John Bolton's shop played a role in promulgating not only the Niger/Uranium story inside the State Department but in its cozy relationship with the Vice President's office tried to help undermine Joe Wilson by exposing the identity of his wife.

The John Bolton and Fred Fleitz rap was that they constantly crossed lines of appropriate behavior and conduct.

Playing the faith card

From the official GOP talking points on Roberts (via Daou):
Opponents will undoubtedly argue that Roberts is hostile to abortion rights based on a pair of briefs on which Roberts appeared while Deputy SG (a) Rust v. Sullivan and Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263 (1993). Roberts’ opponents have argued that Roberts unnecessarily called for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in Rust, a case challenging federal regulations which prohibited certain receipients of federal funds from counseling patients on abortion. Critics argue that the case could have been argued solely on the basis of statutory construction of the provisions at issue. Critics also point to Roberts’ co-authoring the government’s amicus brief in Bray, a private suit brought against Operation Rescue, which argued that Operation Rescue was not engaged in a conspiracy to deprive women of equal protection rights. The unspoken undercurrent of these charges, and the likely basis for a whispering campaign against Roberts, is that he is a practicing Catholic and therefore predisposed to advancing the social policies of the Catholic Church through judicial opinions.
So ... Democrats are going to criticize Roberts for advocating the criminalization of abortion, but really they just hate him because he's Catholic.

These people are absolutely shameless. They screech like maniacs whenever someone makes an accusation of racism - "They're playing the race card!" - but they don't fucking hesitate to accuse their opponents of religious prejudice, even when it makes no sense at all.

Perjury

From Think Progress:
Rove, Libby Accounts in CIA Case Differ With Those of Reporters

Two top White House aides have given accounts to the special prosecutor about how reporters told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to persons familiar with the case.

Lewis “Scooter'’ Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn’t tell Libby of Plame’s identity.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who was first to report Plame’s name and connection to Wilson. Novak, according to a source familiar with the matter, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor.

These discrepancies may be important because one issue Fitzgerald is investigating is whether Libby, Rove, or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation.

...There also is a discrepancy between accounts given by Rove and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. The White House aide mentioned Wilson’s wife — though not by name — in a July 11, 2003 conversation with Cooper. Rove says that Cooper called him to talk about welfare reform and the Wilson connection was mentioned later in passing.

Cooper wrote in Time magazine last week that he told the grand jury that he never discussed welfare reform with Rove in that call.

The leak case shows that administration officials have in effect been using reporters as shields by claiming that the information on Plame first came from them.

7/21/2005

Advice column

If any Democratic Senators out there want to know what to say when asked about John Roberts, Neil the Werewolf has an answer.

PATRIOT Act renewed by the House

The House of Representatives has endorsed the indefinite extension of key provisions of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act - a.k.a. the USA PATRIOT Act. From NY Times:
House Beats Back Challenges to Patriot Act

WASHINGTON, July 21 - The House voted Thursday to extend permanently virtually all the major antiterrorism provisions of the USA Patriot Act after beating back efforts by Democrats and some Republicans to impose new restrictions on the government's power to eavesdrop, conduct secret searches and demand library records.

The legislation, approved 257 to 171, would make permanent 14 of the 16 provisions in the law that were set to expire at the end of this year. The remaining two provisions - giving the government the power to demand business and library records and to conduct roving wiretaps - would have to be reconsidered by Congress in 10 years.

The House version of the legislation essentially leaves intact many of the central powers of the antiterrorism act that critics had sought to scale back, setting the stage for what could be difficult negotiations with the Senate, which is considering several very different bills to extend the government's counterterrorism powers under the act.

One version, approved unanimously Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would impose greater restrictions on the government's powers.

But a competing bill passed last month by the intelligence committee would broaden the government's powers by allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to demand records in terrorism investigations without a judge's order and to have sole discretion in monitoring the mail of some terrorism suspects. That proposal has the strong backing of the Bush administration.

No govt. cheese for yer rug

From Reuters:
Bald men in Germany have no entitlement to state support for toupees, a court ruled on July 20. Throwing out a legal challenge by a bald 46-year-old man, the court said the state was not discriminating against men even though health insurance covers the cost of wigs for women. 'In contrast to women, the involuntary loss of hair among men is common and accepted as nothing out of the ordinary,' the court ruled, rejecting the suit from the man who said he suffered because of his baldness.

That's what I like to hear

Whether there's a chance in hell that Roberts won't be confirmed remains to be seen. But at the very least, the confirmation process should be geared towards "full disclosure" with regard to Roberts' views on abortion and other matters. That's why I'm glad to hear this:
Senate Democrats promised yesterday to scrutinize the positions of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. on key social issues, and said they intend to force him to clearly state his position on whether the Constitution gives women a right to abortion during his upcoming confirmation hearings.

As Roberts made the rounds yesterday on Capitol Hill, Democratic senators gave him a warm reception, but served notice to their Republican colleagues that they want to see memos Roberts produced as deputy solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush, whose administration advocated the reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. The current Bush administration has fought the release of such documents in the past.
We also might want to get ahold of his video rental history; I'd be particularly interested in whether he's ever rented any of the 'Left Behind' movies.

7/20/2005

Quotable quotes

John Roberts' track record is kind of scanty, in the sense that he hasn't said a whole lot about the most controversial legal issues (at least, not that I've seen so far). There are a couple of quotes that are getting a lot of attention. One of them is used to suggest that Roberts is hostile to choice:
"We continue to believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled."
Others say that not too much can be read into this, since the context was a brief filed by the first Bush administration; Roberts, they say, was simply advocating for his "client's" position, not expressing his own personal view. There's something to be said for this.

But, there's another quote that the other side is pointing to in an attempt to refute charges that Roberts poses a danger to Roe, this one from his confirmation hearings for his position on the court of appeals:
"Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent.''
This means nothing as far as Roberts' personal view toward Roe, or what he would do if given the chance to overturn it. Roberts had been nominated to the appeals court, where it was not his job to correct the past decisions of the Supreme Court, but rather to apply them. When he says that Roe is "the settled law of the land," he's just stating a fact. Roe is the settled law of the land, and an appeals court judge is simply not in a position to change that fact.

Bottom line: we can't conclude much from Roberts' public comments on Roe. All we have to go on is what you might call educated conjecture - his wife is a member of a group that advocates the criminalization of abortion, etc. - and whatever Democratic senators can squeeze out of his at the confirmation hearings.

"Abortion is wonderful"

Beautiful post by Pinko Feminist Hellcat, courtesy of Feministe:
I am not Kos, he of the "abortion is horrible, but I guess it should be legal" chant. I'm not one of those moderates who thinks that abortion should be somehow restricted depending upon the choices of the woman in question. I'm not one of those people who thinks that reassuring women that gosh, yes, abortion when the woman's life is in danger/raped/a victim of incest is okay, so you girls don't have to worry because you're not sluts who deserve punishment. I'm not one of those people who decry abortion as a necessary evil. I'm not one of those self-righteous misogynists who would pass judgement on pro-choicers, pregnant women, or women who chose to abort. I don't hate abortion.

I think it's wonderful.

I think it's wonderful because it frees women from unwanted pregnancies, it keeps women from enduring the risks and complications that can arise from pregnancy, and it gives them say over when they will have children. If ever.

...

In the comments at Alas, A Blog, alsis puts it succinctly:
. . . . I’d say that while there’s nothing particularly wonderful about the act of abortion, it’s also not “horrible,” to use Kos’ words from a month ago ... When guys say this kind of shit, you wonder if it ever occurs to them that the woman across the breakfast table from him (his wife, mom, sister, daughter) may well have had an abortion in secret, that she can only have the life with him that she has because she had one, and that some part of her is withering inside because the person closest in the world to her would think she was a “killer” or “horrible” if he knew.
If I was pregnant today, I would make an appointment at the nearest clinic. I would have an abortion with no regrets, no guilt, and no shame ... For me, abortion is not horrible, it's a godsend.

...

I am tired of looking for the middle ground, which has nothing but quicksand. I am tired of being reasonable, since in this political climate, being reasonable means elevate the fetus and ignore the woman. Being reasonable gets women who want an abortion shamed and blamed. Being reasonable gets the peanut gallery to examine your situation, pass judgement on you, and decide if you made a worthwhile decision.

Not. Your. Business.
Never forget: on demand and without apology.

An angle

Here's one angle one could, hypothetically speaking, attack John Roberts on:
In Acree v. Republic of Iraq (2004), seventeen American soldiers who had been tortured as POWs during the Gulf War filed suit against the Republic of Iraq, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and Saddam Hussein.

Generally, under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), other countries are immune to lawsuits seeking money for injuries, but there is an exception when personal injury or death have been caused by torture or other acts of terrorism.

When the defendants failed to appear in court, the Washington, D.C. district court judged against them by default and awarded damages of more than $959 million to the 17 soldiers.

But the federal government contested the right of the district court to decide upon the subject matter, arguing that the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act (EWSAA) “made the terrorism exception of the FSIA inapplicable to Iraq" and that the District Court thus had no jurisdiction over the suit.

...Two sections in the Act address Gulf War veterans: Sec. 1701 limits the total amount of FEDERAL US temporary assistance to U.S. citizens harmed or impoverished from the war "or similar crisis" to less than $1 million a year, and Chapter 8 grants additional money to the Department of Veterans Affairs for processing Persian Gulf veterans claims. Thus it was tangentially related to the case.

The district court denied the federal motion based on timing, but the federal government appealed and in the DC Circuit Appellate Court, the three-member panel unanimously decided the district court erred in the technicality denying the federal government's intervention.

However, Judges Harry Edwards and David Tatel held that the district court did indeed have jurisdiction over the case. Bush's shiny new nominee Judge Roberts disagreed, agrguing for the Feds that the EWSAA “deprived the courts of jurisdiction over suits against Iraq” for damages resulting from torture and other terrorist acts.

Had his (and the Bush Administration's) position carried the day, American soldiers tortured in Iraq would have become permanently unable to seek restitution in federal court.

Judges Edwards and Tatel concluded there was nothing in the EWSAA or its legislative history “to suggest that Congress intended [it] to alter the jurisdiction of the federal courts under the FSIA.”

They further pointed out Judge Roberts' and the federal government's position would grant Iraq immunity from damages “...even for acts that occurred while... still considered a sponsor of terrorism.”

They also found “little sense” in such a "bizarre" interpretation of the EWSAA, considering the sunset provisions of the Act would theoretically deprive the courts of jurisdiction only from May 7, 2003 till September 30, 2004 “based on events that occurred while Iraq was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Heightened expectations

Jami at Hillary Now:
I want the person who started the Clement rumor's head on a plate for getting my hopes up like that.

Bowers on Roberts

From MyDD:
I have done some reading, and this guy is clearly and ultra-right conservative ... This guy is totally unacceptable, and probably was chosen in order to start a fight.

...If Republicans are forced to use the nuclear option to confirm Roberts, then so be it. As far as I am concerned, that is the only way he should be confirmed. People will pay attention to this one. We just have to make the case ot them why he was unacceptable.

Mr. Preznit

Moon map

"In honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we’ve added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor."

http://moon.google.com/

(Be sure to zoom in.)

Best case scenario

Brian Leiter says that about the best we can hope for with regard to Roberts is that he turns out to be another Scalia, and not another Thomas - that is, "a bright ideologue, as opposed to a dull-witted one."

7/19/2005

Now that's what I call funny

Giving up already?

Norbizness has advice for lefties in a post titled Save Yourself The Ulcers, People:
Enjoy him until the year 2035. No use in trying to block him, I suppose. As for the people who thought that the President wouldn't nominate a young, lifelong conservative who believes in unlimited executive power and limited legislative power... then I guess you underestimated the size of the distraction that was needed to keep ol' Turdblossom out of the headlines for as long as possible. All in all, it could have been a lot worse, so I would suggest not freaking the fuck out and fuelling the distraction.

Hey, don't get mad at me for short-circuiting tens of pointless posts that will have no influence at all in getting anybody to invoke the filibuster (it ain't happening). I didn't lose the Presidential election.
A commenter echoes this sentiment:
I'm with you. He's going in, and he's nowhere near as batshit crazy as the other contenders. If the Democrats are smart, they'll let him move through quickly and get the spotlight back on Rover.
Boy, I'll admit that I don't understand this line of reasoning. It's one thing just to say that resistance is futile, but we're supposed to give up on something that's going to have ramifications for the next thirty years because it's a "distraction" from going after the basically inconsequential Karl Rove? Huh?

The Plame leak is being investigated; if Rove gets charged with a crime, it will be because of Fitzgerald, not Democratic activists. Aside from that, the best case scenario is Rove has to resign, Bush is embarrassed. Someone tell me how this is more important than the Supreme Court, which will determine the future of reproductive freedom in the US, among other things.

This could be useful

FindLaw has put together a page of links to documents relevant to the Plame inquiry.

I owe somebody a hat tip on this one, but fuck if I can remember who.


UPDATE: SGO says to throw the tip o' the hat to Lindsay at Washington Monthly.

Bad news

Still gathering info, but it's seeming like Roberts is bad news ... from Bush v. Choice:
As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts argued in a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court (in a case that did not implicate Roe v. Wade) that “[w]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled…. [T]he Court’s conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion… finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution.”

...Roberts, again as Deputy Solicitor General, filed a “friend of the court” brief for the United States supporting Operation Rescue and six other individuals who routinely blocked access to reproductive health care clinics, arguing that the protesters’ behavior did not amount to discrimination against women even though only women could exercise the right to seek an abortion.
Not good, but about what you'd expect. I'd also like to find out what Roberts thinks about legislation like the Endangered Species Act.

QUICK UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive:
In the short time since he was confirmed by the Senate in May 2003, Judge Roberts has issued troubling dissents from decisions by the full D.C. Circuit not to reconsider two important rulings. These included a decision upholding the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act as applied in a California case and a ruling against Bush Administration efforts to keep secret the records concerning Vice President Cheney's energy task force.

So...

There's this quote from Roberts:
"Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."
But NARAL thinks he'll overturn Roe v. Wade (and presumably Carhart):
"If Roberts is confirmed to a lifetime appointment, there is little doubt that he will work to overturn Roe v. Wade," the organization said, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman's right to abortion.

"As deputy solicitor general under the first President Bush, he argued to the Supreme Court that 'Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled,' " Naral said in its statement.

Slightly troubling

We'll know shortly who Bush is going to pick, but if it's Edith Jones, this is kind of troubling:
…Ms. Jones is controversial. She was part of a 3-judge panel that ruled on a gruesome sexual harassment case in 1988. The plaintiff had alleged that her supervisor and others had repeatedly propositioned her, that she was groped and grabbed, that obscene comments about her were played over the company’s public address system, that pornography was placed in her locker and she was the subject of obscene graffiti scrawled on the company’s walls.

That, according to the plaintiff, constituted a hostile work environment.

Judge Jones seemed to find it significant that some of the plant’s employees were blue-collar workers, as opposed to “lawyers” or other “white-collar” workers. “We’re dealing with people whose standards are different,” she said.

The plaintiff’s lawyer noted that her client had complained when “one of the guys pinched her breast.”

Judge Jones replied, “Well, he apologized.”

There were gasps in the courtroom.

Bill Clinton pisses me off

Bill Clinton's advocating for "tort reform," and saying that "Roe v. Wade was the unfortunate beginning of the end of civility between left and right."

I really don't like Bill Clinton. Hillary had better distance herself from this kind of nonsense if she wants to be the Democratic nominee next time around.

Clinton is supposed to be a smart guy, so I find it hard to imagine that he really believes in this mythic era of American politics where "civility" reigned. And he says that "Democrats are wrong to deny that malpractice suits don’t drive up medical costs" even though he knows damn well - or at least ought to - that this isn't true.

Mixed signals

Contradictory SCOTUS rumors: Armando says it's Gonzales (HT: Auguste); Outside the Beltway reports that conservatives have been assured that it's not going to be Gonzales.

Hmm...pointless speculation...can't wait three hours....

Left-wing cannabis

From the Hannity and Colmes show (HT: Donklephant):
HANNITY: Finally tonight, college has long been called an institution of higher learning. But it seems that some people, well, they may be taking that a bit too far. Now, contractors working on a water main project on the Long Island campus of the State University of New York discovered a massive underground -- get this -- marijuana facility. A factory, actually.

They found three massive underground tanks, each 60 feet long, 10 feet high, each with about 100 marijuana plants growing inside. The university's plumbing and electric lines had been tapped into the water to heat the plants, and the tanks were accessible by a homemade hatch door and a ladder that the culprits used to climb down into their secret liberal lab.

ALAN COLMES: Liberal?

Carhart

NRO's Hadley Arkes:
For the conservatives, the most consequential shift would come in flipping the decision on Stenberg v. Carhart (2000) and upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortion. Either one of the Ediths would guarantee that outcome; and in my own reckoning, such a decision on partial-birth abortion would virtually bring to an end the Roe v. Wade regime. For it would send up a signal to legislatures throughout the country that the Court was now open for business in sustaining many varieties of restriction on abortion. They might be measures to require the method of abortion most likely to preserve the life of the child, or measures actually to bar abortions late in pregnancy, or abortions ordered up because of the likely disabilities or afflictions of the child (e.g., Down’s syndrome, spina bifida). Just whether or when Roe v. Wade is actually, explicitly overturned may cease to matter quite as much.
Of course, Arkes thinks this is a good thing, but his analysis is probably correct nonetheless. Overturning Stenberg v. Carhart would have a disastrous effect on abortion rights, and would present a very real danger to women - it would be illegal for a woman to obtain a late-term abortion even if failing to do so would jeopardize her health.

Clement on abortion

The AP says that Clement has "eased fears among abortion-rights advocates":
She has stated that the Supreme Court "has clearly held that the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution includes the right to have an abortion" and that "the law is settled in that regard."
But NARAL, via Bush v. Choice, isn't so sure:
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that Clement's record raises ``seriously troubling'' questions about her commitment to protecting personal freedom. ``Unless she was able to put those concerns to rest in Senate hearings, pro-choice Americans would oppose her nomination,'' Keenan said.
I'm not sure what to think yet. I'm not going to do too much research until it's for sure that it's going to be Clement - CNN just said that some people think Owens is still "in the mix" - because if it's not Clement it will just be a waste of time, and my time is valuable, god damn it.


... now the rumor is it's Edith Jones ... who apparently is a more strident abortion opponent.

SCOTUS

The Supreme Court nomination blog has a run-down of "interesting" opinions by Edith Clement, Bush's rumored pick.


...and Think Progress's Supreme Court Extra has information on some of Clement's opinions that might shed light on what kind of justice she would be.

My Sister Souljah moment

I agree with Bill O'Reilly:
Here's the stark truth in the land of the free: Many American children under the age of ten can no longer play on their front lawns unsupervised for fear they may be abducted. Time after time we read about young kids being snatched, raped and murdered by known sexual offenders and our society seems powerless to stop the madness.

The latest is the horrific case of Joseph Duncan, a convicted child rapist who apparently murdered two adults, a 13-year-old and a 9-year-old boy in Idaho. When police arrested Duncan, he was having breakfast with the murdered boy's 8-year-old sister, who told authorities Duncan had brutally molested her for weeks.

...every state in the union must pass a criminal statute like Florida's Jessica's Law. That calls for a minimum 25 year-to-life prison term for a first offense sexual assault conviction against a child. And second, if these predators do manage to leave prison, they have to register their addresses with the federal government so a national database can track their movements. Any failure to do this--ten years in federal prison.

...Only 13 states currently have mandatory prison sentences of ten years or more for convicted child sexual offenders. The other 37 states are mostly chaotic in the way they adjudicate these cases ... The bottom line is that Jessica's Law could be and should be enacted quickly in every state. There is an urgency to this. And if your Governor doesn't get the urgency, give him a call and let him or her have it. Enough is enough with the brutalizing of American children. Every one of us must hold the lawmakers accountable and demand protection for the kids.
I am baffled by the leniency which sexual predators receive. The shit we put people in jail for, and child rapists get a couple of years? That's obscene.

What reason is there not to throw these subhumans in prison for life? What interest does society have in letting them walk the streets? What dictate of justice is obeyed by incarcerating them for a shorter period of time than low-level crack dealers?

The GOP is the party typically associated with "law and order" (read: harsh sentences and quick executions), but if Democratic politicians were smart, they'd be all over this. I think the tendency on the left is to see these kinds of issues as red herrings - at the end of the day, the chances of your child being abducted, raped, or killed are small - and they might be right. But the horrific nature of such crimes is enough to make this cause an important one.

Shasta Groene witnessed the murder of her family, and was then held, and sexually abused, for six weeks. Jessica Lunsford was sexually abused and then buried alive. Preventing the suffering these kids had to endure would have been worth almost anything.

Sex offenders are among the most dangerous and contemptible people out there; their existence is a mark of shame upon the human species. I see no reason to show any mercy toward them.

7/18/2005

Center? Right...

Apparently there's a new "centrist" blog called "Donklephant" - you know, like a combination of a donkey and an elephant. Blech.

It seems they're catching shit from lefties, who tend not to take too kindly to self-described "centrists." (Think Joe Lieberman, who I'm sure the guys at Donklephant just looove.) TBogg calls them "Yoosta Bee Democrats" (a reference to this very funny Tom Tomorrow cartoon), and Roy Edroso says "it is generally accepted on the site that liberals should be allowed to live. I'll try back in a few months when it goes totally right-wing."

Donkephant blogger Michael J. Totten responds to those who accuse him and his comrades (oops, sorry) of being closet right-wingers:
Look, kids, the center by definition isn’t right-wing. That’s why it’s the center. How many times do we have to go over this? Do I need to draw you a picture?

Left_Center_Right.JPG

You’ll notice that the center isn’t left, either. There are, generally speaking, at least two kinds of people who argue with the left. Both right-wingers and centrists do it. Not only is that allowed, it’s part of the whole point of being in the middle instead of on the left.

You can’t even stick one little pinky toe outside the left-wing perimeter without being denounced as a right-wing death beast by some people. That exclusive bitchy little high school clique really does subscribe to the whole “you’re either with us or you're against us” mentality. How unnuanced and simplisme.
Two points here:

1. Just saying that you occupy the center doesn't make it so. Even if you genuinely think you're a centrist, that doesn't make it so either. Everybody thinks they're a centrist; hell, I'm sure Tom Coburn thinks of himself as a moderate-type of guy.

2. Even if the folks at Donklephant do occupy a position smack in the middle of the Republican and Democratic parties, that still doesn't make them objectively "centrist," for the fact is that both of these parties lean strongly to the right. America is a bird with two right wings; I think it would be reasonable to consider anyone to the right of, say, Howard Dean or maybe John Kerry to be a bona fide right-winger. I mean, we'd call bullshit on Newt Gingrich if he went around calling himself a liberal, even though he might have been considered one in Nazi Germany (well, maybe he'd be a "centrist"). So when those on the left slag you off as just another bunch of right-wingers, keep in mind that they're probably adjusting for the fact that the spectrum of mainstream political discourse in the US tilts heavily to the right.

Is that nuanced enough for you?

Ebonics

A disparate pair of bloggers make a similar complaint today about a school district in California that plans on incorporating so-called "Ebonics" into its curriculum. Michelle Malkin, in a post with the racist-tinged title "Ebonics Be Back," says:
Check out the latest edu-follies in San Bernardino, Calif. Apparently, ebonics has been resurrected and is now a considered a civil right...
Oliver Willis also takes issue with this:
This is so stupid...

Black students aren’t doing well, so we should use this crappy, broken language to communicate with them. What the hell?
I don't know enough about the specifics of the proposal to evaluate it, but I don't understand why Willis regards Ebonics - properly referred to as African-American Vernacular English, or AAVE - as "crappy" or "broken." Contrary to popular belief, AAVE is not intrinsically ungrammatical or incorrect. Though its use does violate the norms of "Standard" English - e.g., the missing copula in a sentence like "He crazy" - the converse is also true: Standard English violates the norms of AAVE. Neither one is "better" or "correct." AAVE may not share the superficial grammatical rules of Standard English, but it has its own grammar that is on a par with Standard English in every way except one - socioeconomically.

Among linguists, there is little controversy about this fact. We know that children, subject to normal development - as in, they're not kept in a dark room away from human contact - and in the absence of any pathology will learn to speak grammatically. This was demonstrated conclusively by the so-called "linguistic big bang" in Nicaragua:
Following the 1979 Sandinista revolution, the newly installed Nicaraguan Government inaugurated the country's first large-scale effort to educate deaf children. Hundreds of students were enrolled in two Managua schools. Not being privy to the more than 200 existing sign languages used by hearing-impaired people around the world, Managua's deaf children started from ground zero. They had no grammar or syntax -- only crude gestural signs developed within their own families. These pantomimes, which deaf kids use to communicate basic needs like "eat," "drink" and "ice cream," are called mimicas in Spanish.

Most of the children arrived in Managua with only a limited repertory of mimicas. But once the students were placed together, they began to build on one another's signs. One child's gesture solidified into the community's word. The children's inexperienced teachers -- who were having paltry success communicating with their profoundly deaf students -- watched in awe as the kids began signing among themselves. A new language had begun to bloom.

A decade later, the children's creation has become a sensation of modern linguistics. Nicaraguan Sign Language (known to experts as I.S.N., for Idioma de Signos Nicaragense) has been patiently decoded by outside scholars, who describe an idiom filled with curiosities yet governed by the same "universal grammar" that the linguist Noam Chomsky claims structures all language. Steven Pinker, author of "The Language Instinct," sees what happened in Managua as proof that language acquisition is hard-wired inside the human brain. "The Nicaraguan case is absolutely unique in history," he maintains. "We've been able to see how it is that children -- not adults -- generate language, and we have been able to record it happening in great scientific detail. And it's the first and only time that we've actually seen a language being created out of thin air."

Managua's deaf children were stranded in school, not on a desert island. Spanish-speaking teachers were there to guide them. Yet it turns out that Nicaraguan Sign Language doesn't resemble Spanish at all. Indeed, the Managua teachers say they left hardly an imprint on the children's improvised language...

This failure to adopt a workable teaching strategy, paradoxically, gave the Nicaraguan children an opportunity to erect a linguistic structure of their own. Indeed, the frustrated Managua teachers began to notice that although the children could barely communicate with their instructors, they were beginning to communicate well among themselves, using a sign system that no teacher recognized. But what, exactly, was it?

In June 1986, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education contacted Judy Kegl, an American sign-language expert at Northeastern University. They invited her to visit the deaf schools in Managua and see if she could shed some light on the enigma.

...


It was noticeable at once that the younger children used signs in a more nuanced way than the older students. For example, the teen-age pidgin signers at Villa Libertad had a basic gesture for "speak" -- opening and closing four fingers and a thumb in front of the mouth. The younger children used the same sign, but modulated it, opening their fingers at the position of the speaker and closing them at the position of the addressee. To Kegl, this apparently small difference had enormous implications. "This was verb agreement," she says, "and they were all using it fluently."

..."What happens," Kegl explains, "is that these gestures become gradually richer and more varied. But we can't see the leap between them and the first signs of language because the grammar is inside the child. It manifests itself only as the child is exposed to this ever-richer mix of odds and ends." This ability to organize a heap of stones into a fence lies within the brain itself, and is apparently stimulated by interaction with other children.

...After more than a decade of study, Kegl and Ann Senghas have mapped out an idiom striking in its flexibility. Verbs, for example, can be stretched like a rubber band to include all kinds of nouns and prepositions. ... With all of these idiosyncrasies, it is easy to forget that Nicaraguan Sign Language is but the accidental creation of children. Indeed, adult-engineered idioms like Esperanto seem pallid by comparison. As Kegl marvels, "No linguist could create a language with half the complexity or richness that a 4-year-old could give birth to."
These are only a few excerpts; if you're interested in this kind of thing, the whole article is well worth reading. It's actually quite an uplifting story, and a reminder that just because a language develops among those who are not in a position of power doesn't mean it isn't every bit as rich and complex as whatever the "official" dialect is.

Is there no limit to the depravity of Rick Santorum?

He characterizes child molestation as consensual sex:
"In this case, what we're talking about, basically, is priests who were having sexual relations with post-pubescent men. We're not talking about priests with 3-year-olds, or 5-year-olds. We're talking about a basic homosexual relationship. Which, again, according to the world view sense is a perfectly fine relationship as long as it's consensual between people. If you view the world that way, and you say that's fine, you would assume that you would see more of it."

How many terrorists were created today?

More than yesterday, that's for sure, when they already pissed-off Muslims see the headlines that say "US Congressman suggests attacking Mecca."
Tancredo: If They Nuke Us, Bomb Mecca

DENVER — A Colorado congressman told a radio show host that the U.S. could "take out" Islamic holy sites if Muslim fundamentalist terrorists attacked the country with nuclear weapons.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (search) made his remarks Friday on WFLA-AM in Orlando, Fla. His spokesman stressed he was only speaking hypothetically.

Talk show host Pat Campbell (search) asked the Littleton Republican how the country should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.

"Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

The congressman later said he was "just throwing out some ideas" and that an "ultimate threat" might have to be met with an "ultimate response."

Spokesman Will Adams said Sunday the four-term congressman doesn't support threatening holy Islamic sites but that Tancredo was grappling with the hypothetical situation of a terrorist strike deadlier than the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"We have an enemy with no uniform, no state, who looks like you and me and only emerges right before an attack. How do we go after someone like that?" Adams said.

"What is near and dear to them? They're willing to sacrifice everything in this world for the next one. What is the pressure point that would deter them from their murderous impulses?" he said.
So far, I've only seen a handful of righty bloggers defending Tancredo. But the Malkins have yet to comment.


UPDATE: Steve Gilliard makes an apt analogy:
So the next time a Christian soldier kills an innocent Iraqi, the Vatican is nuked?

Turd Blossom



From Rotton.com's biography of Karl Rove:
It's hard to imagine how Karl Rove's appearance could fit his role any more perfectly than it does.

Portly, balding, malicious, simpering, he looks like a cross between Sesame Street's Mr. Hooper and the Third Reich's Heinrich Himmler. And he acts like a cross between Heinrich Himmler and Henry Kissinger. Whom he also looks like. And not in a good way.

Oh yeah, he's a man who compromised national security, putting lives of American agents in danger. Wait, I forgot a word there. What was it? Oh, I remember! Allegedly.

Rove is an old-school political operator who would have been right at home working on Huey Long's campaign. Of course, Long did a lot of good things for his constituents, to offset the sleaze and corruption. Rove's protege, George W Bush, has a ways to go in that regard.

Rove was a "Young Republican" back when being a Young Republican wasn't cool (a historical era ranging from 1959 through the present). As a student at the prestigious University of Utah, Rove (who still had hair at the time) teamed up with a young Lee Atwater to seize control of the College Republicans political club in the early 1970s.

By all accounts, the race for the coveted chairmanship of the meaningless College Republicans organization was a portent of things to come. According to the Washington Post, the two men executed a balls-to-the-wall campaign to put Rove in the catbird's seat, and once there, he wasted no time getting his group involved in dirty tricks on behalf of Richard M Nixon's 1972 campaign. You may remember that campaign, it was the beginning of Watergate.

Oxymoronically, Rove dropped out of college to become executive director of the College Republicans, all the while practicing dirty tricks on behalf of the candidates of his choice. According the Post, these tricks included identity theft, petty larceny and campaign fraud. Rove characterized these felonies and misdemeanors as a "youthful prank."

A political visionary, Rove recognized early on that he had the opportunity to leech onto not one, but two failed, third-rate presidents in the form of what is comically referred to as the "Bush Dynasty." Rove worked as an assistant to George Bush Sr. in the Republican National Committee during what is arguably the lowest point in the history of the Republican Party, the aftermath of the Nixon presidency.

For the next decade or so, Rove kept his nose buried up the ass of the nearest Bush. He helped George Jr. embarrass himself in a 1978 congressional bid, then bailed out of Bush Sr.'s first and failed presidential bid in 1979.

He maintained a close buddyship with the future president Junior, however. In a high point of Time Magazine's history of powerful journalistic coverage, a 2001 report revealed that George W. Bush's pet name for Rove is "Turd Blossom." No, really.

Rove helped Bush Jr. transform himself from rich-dilletante wastrel into rich-dilletante-wastrel-with-power in 1994, acting as his political adviser in Dubya's successful run for Texas governor. According to ABC News, more than half of the campaign's nearly $1 million budget went to Rove. Considering the challenge of making Bush look good, the sum was probably not out of line.

...

Brought in to shepherd Junior to his rightful place as chief executive of the last superpower, Rove was largely responsible for creating the veneer of "compassionate conservatism" that led George Jr. to his triumphant loss in the 2000 presidential election.

First, Rove and his little buddy had to beat off a surprise primary challenge from charismatic war hero John McCain, whose sacrifices in a military prison camp in Vietnam looked all the more impressive against Bush's no-show National Guard travesty. Rove conducted a whisper-campaign to spread sleaze, pushing ridiculous allegations, such as that McCain was a stoolie while imprisoned in Vietnam. Rove was reputedly the brains behind a sleazy e-mail forward that alleged McCain had fathered an illegitimate black daughter, a lie which was "proven" by actual pictures of McCain with his black daughter, whom he had actually adopted.

...

In the end, Bush came out on top, of course, catapulting Rove into a position of power that few Mr. Hooper-lookalikes have ever achieved. Although the White House repeatedly insisted that Rove had no policy-making role, the advice of his "White House Office of Strategic Initiatives" was sought on virtually every major decision that Bush administration faced.

...

His thoughtful evaluation (told to Woodward) of the ramifications of invading a sovereign country and deposing its leader? "The victor is always right."

Tit for tat

Auguste sees the Malkins' Mary Jo Kopechne and raises them a Michael Dutton Douglas.

Saddam might defend himself

Just heard on MSNBC that Saddam might be defending himself in his upcoming trial. I would imagine if he does, he would do his best to try to embarrass the Bush administration by emphasizing the complicity of many of its members in his actions.

It's holiday time in Wingnuttia

They're celebrating the 36th anniversary of Mary Jo Kopechne's death!

What does your family have planned for MJK Day?

The anti-Walmart

The NY Times has an absolutely surreal piece about Costco; basically, the company is getting criticized for being "too generous" to customers and workers. Excerpts (emphasis added):
How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart

JIM SINEGAL, the chief executive of Costco Wholesale, the nation's fifth-largest retailer, had all the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old in a candy store as he tore open the container of one of his favorite new products: granola snack mix. "You got to try this; it's delicious," he said. "And just $9.99 for 38 ounces."

Some 60 feet away, inside Costco's cavernous warehouse store here in the company's hometown, Mr. Sinegal became positively exuberant about the 87-inch-long Natuzzi brown leather sofas. "This is just $799.99," he said. "It's terrific quality. Most other places you'd have to pay $1,500, even $2,000."

But the pièce de résistance, the item he most wanted to crow about, was Costco's private-label pinpoint cotton dress shirts. "Look, these are just $12.99," he said, while lifting a crisp blue button-down. "At Nordstrom or Macy's, this is a $45, $50 shirt."

Combining high quality with stunningly low prices, the shirts appeal to upscale customers - and epitomize why some retail analysts say Mr. Sinegal just might be America's shrewdest merchant since Sam Walton.

But not everyone is happy with Costco's business strategy. Some Wall Street analysts assert that Mr. Sinegal is overly generous not only to Costco's customers but to its workers as well.

Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."

...At Costco, one of Mr. Sinegal's cardinal rules is that no branded item can be marked up by more than 14 percent, and no private-label item by more than 15 percent. In contrast, supermarkets generally mark up merchandise by 25 percent, and department stores by 50 percent or more.

"They could probably get more money for a lot of items they sell," said Ed Weller, a retailing analyst at ThinkEquity.

...Emme Kozloff, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, faulted Mr. Sinegal as being too generous to employees, noting that when analysts complained that Costco's workers were paying just 4 percent toward their health costs, he raised that percentage only to 8 percent, when the retail average is 25 percent.

"He has been too benevolent," she said. "He's right that a happy employee is a productive long-term employee, but he could force employees to pick up a little more of the burden."

...

"We're very good merchants, and we offer value," he said. "The traditional retailer will say: 'I'm selling this for $10. I wonder whether I can get $10.50 or $11.' We say: 'We're selling it for $9. How do we get it down to $8?'

...

Tim Rose, Costco's senior vice president for food merchandising, recalled a time when Starbucks did not pass along savings from a drop in coffee bean prices. Though he is a friend of the Starbucks chairman, Howard Schultz, Mr. Sinegal warned he would remove Starbucks coffee from his stores unless it cut its prices.

Starbucks relented.

"Howard said, 'Who do you think you are? The price police?' " Mr. Rose recalled, adding that Mr. Sinegal replied emphatically that he was.

...

Costco contributes generously to its workers' 401(k) plans, starting with 3 percent of salary the second year and rising to 9 percent after 25 years.

Its insurance plans absorb most dental expenses, and part-time workers are eligible for health insurance after just six months on the job, compared with two years at Wal-Mart. Eighty-five percent of Costco's workers have health insurance, compared with less than half at Wal-Mart and Target.

Costco also has not shut out unions, as some of its rivals have.

...Workers seem enthusiastic. Beth Wagner, 36, used to manage a Rite Aid drugstore, where she made $24,000 a year and paid nearly $4,000 a year for health coverage. She quit five years ago to work at Costco, taking a cut in pay. She started at $10.50 an hour - $22,000 a year - but now makes $18 an hour as a receiving clerk. With annual bonuses, her income is about $40,000.

"I want to retire here," she said. "I love it here."

Leakage

Kevin Drum has an interesting post speculating about the motives of whoever is behind all the leaks coming out of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation. He suspects that it might be coming from someone who doesn't have access to all the "juicy" information, but wants to keep the story alive in the press...

Rubber Johnny


Still from "Rubber Johnny"

I'm not sure if you all have heard of this or seen it, but I just ran across the short video piece called "Rubber Johnny" by Chris Cunningham, who is most well known for directing music videos for Aphex Twin, Bjork, and many other artists. The Wikipedia entry for "Rubber Johnny":
The film showcases a young child called Johnny (played by Cunningham). Johnny is an isolated mutant child in a wheelchair with a huge overgrown cranium, locked in a basement. Capable of morphing his body, he spends his life trying to amuse himself and his dog, a terrified chihuahua.

The film starts out with a doctor trying to communicate with Johnny. Johnny seems rather unfocused, and answers "no" to every question. Then he starts repeating something which sounds like "mama", to which the doctor asks whether he wants to see his mother. Johnny becomes nervous and violent and the doctor has to calm him down with a sedative injection.

From this moment the actual music video starts to begin. After the introduction of a blinking neon light, a rat climbing over a text decal saying "WARP FILMS [...] PRESENT" and a condom saying "Rubber Johnny" (which is the british slang for it) being inflated and then popped, we see the dog eating food from his dish and starting to watch the kid lying in his wheelchair with his huge head hanging out. As soon as the music kicks in, the Johnny starts to "dance" in his wheelchair, acting and morphing to the extremely unorganized beat of the music, spectated by the seemingly discomforted dog. At one scene he appears to snort up a line of a cocaine-like substance. The video is interrupted twice by someone (presumably the father of Johnny) opening the basement door and throwing various insults at Johnny, although during both interruptions, he is rather calm, at the second time he's lying almost lifeless in his wheelchair, just like he did at the beginning. The second part of the video has scenes of Johnny pressing his face raipdly against something what seems to be a glass wall, resulting in various disgusting images as his head seems to splatter on every contact.

The film was shot entirely in infrared night vision on digital video.
The film caused some controversy, and its release was apparently delayed because the printers refused to print it:
Because the Italian printers employed by Warp Films have deemed Rubber Johnny too offensive, we've had to put our release date back from the 23rd May 2005 to 20th June 2005 in the UK and in Europe.

The printers protested that the artwork was too indecent to subject their workers to seeing it at the mill, and they have flatly refused to print it on moral grounds.
That's probably overstating things a bit, but there are some disturbing images, to be sure. At least, I found them disturbing.









There's also, however, a cute dog in it.



You can watch "Rubber Johnny" here.

7/17/2005

Worth it?

John Cole (via Daou):
Hussein charged for his crimes ... Now watch Democrats shoot themselves politically by running around saying things like "Sure Saddam Hussein was a bad person but was it worth _____________."

Because you just know they will. They can't resist. When you have your sightings of said behavior, document them here in the comments.

And, because someone will accuse me of being unfair to Democrats, and will inevitably say something snotty in the comments like "Well, what SHOULD they say," here is what they should say:

"I am glad that Saddam Hussein will finally be made to pay for his horrible crimes."

That is it. That is all they need to say, or some variation on that. There need be no killer 'but,' as there will be plenty of time to attack Bush and Republicans about the war later on. Instead, they will overstep (AGAIN), and look like a bunch of idiots.
I wonder who Mr. Cole thinks will view them as idiots? His Republican buddies? Certainly not the nearly 60% of the American public that thinks the Iraq war wasn't worth fighting.

Furthermore, those who think that Saddam's crimes justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq are presupposing a false dichotomy - that the only way the Iraq people could be free of Saddam was via a US invasion. There's no way of knowing if this is the case or not (and if it is, the US government bears a portion of the responsibility for that fact, given the brutal US-supported sanctions regime which put the Iraqis in no position to overthrow Saddam).

Furthermore, Saddam's been out of power now for a year and a half. Even if his brutality did justify the initial invasion, a separate argument needs to be made to justify the continued occupation.

Hillary

Every so often, since Nov. 3, 2004, the question of a possible Hillary Clinton run for presidency pops up. Most recently, Washington Monthly hosted a mini-debate over whether Hillary in '08 was a good idea. I haven't thought enough about this to make up my mind, so I'm posting this piece from Common Dreams just for your perusal, and because I don't want the debate over Hillary to be limited to: "She's too liberal!" -- "No she's not!"
More than 1,750 U.S. soldiers have died so far in Iraq, needless victims of Bush’s maniacal war. [Ed.-Don't forget at least 23,000 Iraqi deaths as well.]

So what is the leading Democrat proposing instead?

Withdrawal of the troops, and an end to the occupation, and a sober reassessment of U.S. foreign policy?

Nope.

There was Hillary Clinton instead calling for 80,000 more troops for the Army so that the United States can be fully equipped to patrol the far corners of the empire at a moment’s notice.

Hillary, the darling of the Democrats for 2008 (pssst, I don’t think she can win!), has been steadily repositioning herself on the far rightward reaches of the Democratic Party when it comes to the Pentagon.

She’s always been for the Iraq War, and she still is.

And in case you needed any other clue about where she stands, she was accompanied by Joe Lieberman at her press conference calling for more troops.

“She has emerged as a staunch ally of the armed services and a strong proponent of a forceful American military presence abroad,” as a recent profile in The New York Times noted.

But we do not need Hillary Clinton to run the empire.

We need to stop being an empire.

And for those who invest in Hillary as some sort of savior, you’re making a bad bet.

I prefer the immortal words of Milton Mayer, who for decades wrote for The Progressive: “I won’t be disillusioned because I was never illusioned.”

Triple suns

This is kind of cool:
Planet with triple-sun detectedPlanet with triple-sun detected

The planet, a gas giant slightly larger than Jupiter, orbits the main star of a triple-star system known as HD 188753 in the constellation Cygnus.

Beijing July 17 (Xinhuanet)-- A newly detected planet far away in the galaxy has not one, but three suns, according to the astronomers.

The planet orbits the main star of a triple-star system known as HD 188753 in the constellation Cygnus.

So the planet, a gas giant slightly greater than Jupiter, experiences the unearthly spectacles of multiple sunrises and sunsets. Its main sun, bright yellow, hovers close by.

The stellar trio and its planet are about 149 light-years from Earth and about as close to each other as our sun is to Saturn, US scientists reported on Thursday in the current edition of the journal Nature.

Maciej Konacki of the California Institute of Technology, who made the discovery with the Keck telescope in Hawaii, said scientists previously had no evidence that planets could form or survive in the traffic of such gravitationally complex stellar systems, which were thought to be inhospitable to them.

"The environment in which this planet exists is quite spectacular," said Maciej Konacki from the California Institute of Technology. "With three suns, the sky view must be out of this world — literally and figuratively."

The heat coming from a nearby star frustrates the initial stages of giant planet formation — the gluing together of planetary seeds, called cores. Therefore, the typical hot Jupiter is thought to form farther out — beyond a theoretical limit called the snow line.

Cause and effect

Nietzsche on necessity:
Against determinism and teleology.-- From the fact that something ensues regularly and ensues calculably, it does not follow that it ensues necessarily. That a quantum of force determines and conducts itself in every particular case in one way and manner does not make it into an "unfree will." "Mechanical necessity" is not a fact: it is we who first interpreted it into events. We have interpreted the formulatable character of events as the consequence of a necessity that rules over events. But from the fact that I do a certain thing, it by no means follows that I am compelled to do it. Compulsion in things certainly cannot be demonstrated: the rule proves only that one and the same event is not another event as well. Only because we have introduced subjects, "doers," into things does it appear that all events are the consequences of compulsion exerted upon subjects--exerted by whom? again by a "doer." Cause and effect--a dangerous concept so long as one thinks of something that causes and something upon which an effect is produced.

Don't have children with Steven Tyler

In an old issue of Rolling Stone, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith is asked if he is ever "inappropriately attracted to his daughter Liv" (an actress). His answer:
Oh, absolutely. How can a father not be attracted to his daughter, especially when she's a cross between the girl he married and himself? Unless he's an ugly man, a father is always gonna be sexually attracted to his daughter on a certain level.

...There's a certain level of narcissism in incest. But the real man knows that's just a place to never go. Instead, he celebrates it by telling his daughter how beautiful she is and what a precious child of God she is. There's ways to love it without making love to it - I wrote 'Janie's Got a Gun' about fathers who don't know the difference.
That's gross. It's reminiscent of Jessica Simpson's father, who, when Jessica was 12 years old, gave her a ring and had a little ceremony wherein she promised that he would be the only man in her life until she got married. He also made the following comment about his daughter in a GQ interview last year:
Jessica never tries to be sexy. She just is sexy. If you put her in a T-shirt or you put her in a bustier, she’s sexy in both. She’s got double D’s! You can’t cover those suckers up!

Conspiracy theory

Right-wingers are unhappy because Oliver Stone is going to direct a film about 9/11. They ridicule Stone for being a conspiracy nut, referring to his 1991 picture JFK, in which elements within the CIA conspired with right-wing Cuban exiles to murder Kennedy. They say he is paranoid, that he rewrites history.

But now it's the GOPers who are asking us to believe in a CIA conspiracy to bring down a presidency - that of George W. Bush. Via Dum Pendebat Filius, this article by David Horowitz is the wingnuttiest thing I've read in quite some time:
Prosecute Plame: More Treachery in the War at Home

So now we know a lot of the facts. In the midst of a war, a rogue CIA employee named Valerie Plame set out to sabotage the President's war policy -- a policy ratified by both political parties and both houses of Congress. To do this she sent her husband on a mission to Niger to discredit the President's statement that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium there -- in other words to discredit a justification for the war in which Americans were continuing to die...

Her husband, Joseph Wilson, went off to Niger, did no investigation and came back and lied about what he had allegedly discovered. The bi-partisan 9/11 commission concluded that Wilson's claims were false -- a year and half after the damage the Plame-Wilson team intended was already done.

The Plame-Wilson lie was designed to make the President look like a liar and the nation's democratically and legally arrived at war policy a fraud ... Immediately the Democratic Party leadership jumped on the President calling him a liar and a fraud using the 16 words in the January 2003 State of the Union address about Niger as evidence. These 16 words were perfectly true than (as now) yet that didn't stop Democrats from using the Plame-Wilson lies to undermine the authority of the commander-in-chief in the eyes of the American people and before the entire world. No psychological warfare campaign ever conducted by an enemy against the United States has been as effetive as this one.

It emboldened our terrorist enemies, and sowed distrust in Europe and throughout the world about American policies, continued for more than six months with of course the megaphone provided by the NY Times and other Bush-hating and America bashing media institutions.

Joseph Wilson threw fuel on the fire by falsely claiming that Vice President Cheney had sent him and not his treacherous anti-Bush wife in her attempt to protect Saddam Hussein and his monster regime. David Corn of the Saddam- and terrorist-sympathizing Nation and other journalists in the opposition press jumped on the story and projected the treacherous activities of Wilson and Plame onto the Bush Administration which was still trying to carry on an anti-terrorist war in the Middle East.

Corn was the first to suggest that outing Plame as a rogue CIA employee was itself treason and certainly against the law. It was not. Plame is not a cover CIA operative and besides and all its Democrat friends in Congress opposed the law protecting CIA agents and protected and even lionized the rogue CIA agent Philip Agee whose leaks of the names of covert CIA agents had gotten one agent killed and was responsible for the enactment of the law. The Nation also has been in the forefront of the fawners at the feet of liar Joseph Wilson giving him a dinner and award for his treachery. (Working against your own government in time of war, while in the employ of your government is by definition treachery.) In other words The Nation is entirely consistent: it will protect those CIA agents (Agee, Plame) who are enemies of the United States or its policies, and and only those agents.

...It's time for the Democrats to stop their sabotage of the war on terror. It's time for them to put away the witch-hunt against Karl Rove and Homeland Security, and to begin finally to think about defending this country instead of its internal enemies.
I suggest reading DPF if you want to see Horowitz's argument taken apart. I'll have to refrain for the sake of my own sanity.

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