spirit of the age
Speak for yourself
One of the goons at National Review:
I cannot remember the last time, or first time, this newspaper [the New York Times] reported a leak that was helpful to our war effort."Our" war effort?
Human see, human do
Why does this not surprise me?
Many people have the intuition that imitation is a primitive type of learning: Small children learn by imitating adults and other children, but more sophisticated learners try to intuit the goals behind another's actions, and are not so slavishly dedicated to reproducing actions exactly. Recent studies comparing the learning styles of chimpanzees and humans, however, show that it is the humans who faithfully imitate actions without understanding, while it is the chimpanzees who focus on the goals.(Via Battlepanda.)
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - just so long I'm the dictator."
I haven't said anything so far about the breaking scandal over Bush's illegal, warrantless monitoring of US citizens, mostly because I don't know that I really have much to add. The outrageousness of it pretty much speaks for itself, and it is certainly not in the least bit surprising. It would have surprised me much more if this administration hadn't been pulling shit like this.
I will say two things. First of all, the fact that the New York Times has been sitting on this story for a year should put an end, once and for all, to the myth of the 'liberal media'. (Actually, the attention given to the Swift Boat Liars during the campaign last year should have done that as well.) Second, any 'conservative' or 'libertarian' who continues to support this administration is officially completely full of shit and has permanently lost any credibility they might have had.
I try to avoid the "Can you imagine if the Democrats had done this?" cliche, but here I'll indulge myself. Can you imagine for one minute the uproar on the Right if President Hillary Clinton were to be caught illegally eavesdropping on Americans? But they'll defend it because it's their man doing it.
Anyone who claims to support 'less government' yet continues to support this administration is so full of shit that Jayson Blair would be jealous. At this point, you're either horrified by the Bush presidency, or you should just go ahead and admit that you're a fascist.
The case against Hackett
Most of you are probably sick of hearing about this, but that's OK, because David Sirota quotes a passage from The Nation which sums it up in one brief paragraph:
"In Ohio a leading backer of the Woolsey amendment, Representative Sherrod Brown, has entered the Senate primary race against Paul Hackett, the Iraq War veteran who was bluntly critical of Bush's handling of the war during a losing race this past summer for an open House seat. In his House race Hackett surprised many fans of his anti-Bush remarks by opposing a timeline for withdrawal, and he has since disturbed war critics by dismissing the Congressional push for a timeline as 'absolutely ludicrous.' There is no such ambiguity with Brown. He was an outspoken foe of the 2002 resolution authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq, and since the start of the war he has written House letters demanding answers from the Administration about the misuse of prewar intelligence, co-sponsored withdrawal resolutions and regularly read letters from antiwar constituents--particularly members of military families--into the Congressional Record."
Glenn Reynolds, the shame of the blogosphere
Here's what the pied piper of Right Blogistan had to say today about the president of Iran's recent remarks about Israel (emphasis added):
As far as I'm concerned, in light of these statements the Israelis are entitled to launch a first strike of any magnitude, whenever they choose.Anyone who would say such a thing in seriousness is a sociopath, plain and simple. If conservative bloggers had even a hint of decency, they would shun Reynolds like the sorry excuse for a human being that he is.
I won't hold my breath.
Some random advice
On just about any prepackaged food that you have to prepare (frozen pizza, macaroni and cheese, etc.), you will see special "High-Altitude Directions" on the back of the box, for people 3,500 feet above sea level or higher.
Unless you are literally preparing food on top of Mt. Everest, you are probably better off just following the regular directions.
High altitude directions are a crock of shit. Just because you live in Western Kansas or something doesn't mean you have to cook your food differently.
Can't say as I blame them
American Jews feel threatened by the Christofascists on the right:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Jewish leaders say they are increasingly worried that Christian conservatives want to turn America politically and culturally into a country that tolerates only their brand of Christianity.Republicans sometimes don't seem to understand why their party isn't more popular with the Jewish population; they apparently think that their unthinking support for Israel is enough to earn their loyalty. But even if Jews did march lockstep in support of Israel - which they don't - it's not surprising that they might be more worried about the efforts on the part of the American Taliban to use the power of the state to enforce the principles of their twisted bastardization of Christianity.
"There is a feeling on all sides that something is changing," said Abraham Foxman, director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League.
"The polls indicate a very serious thing -- that over 60 percent of the American people feel that religion and Christianity are under attack," he said on Thursday in an interview.
"Some are saying we are attacking (Christianity). This whole movement is not anti-Semitic or motivated by anti-Semitism. But sometimes unintended consequences are much more serious than intended" he added.
(Hat tip: AMERICAblog.)
What are you, retarded?
If not, surely you won't mind someone trying to shove a broomstick up your ass. At least, that's what Sam Alito seems to think:
Here's some ScAlito language to ponder:[Plaintiff's] brief never asserts that his work environment was one that a reasonable, non-retarded person would find hostile or abusive.
Pretty interesting in that the plaintiff, a man with a subaverage IQ, presented, via his attorneys, allegations that:a co-worker attempted to push a broomstick into [plaintiff's] behind as other staff watched.
Marcel Duchamp, meet Weird Al Yankovic
And a happy New Year
Socialist Swine says to the 'War on Christmas' set: you want to cry? I'll give you something to cry about.
Pandas pandas pandas
The rogue state of Israel
Brian Leiter excerpts from a piece in the London Times indicating that Israel is preparing to attack Iran:
ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.Can somebody tell me what conceivable right Israel has to do this? Israel, a rogue nuclear state itself, is going to preemptively attack another nation because it has the capability of developing nuclear weapons? Pardon?
The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.
...Defence sources in Israel believe the end of March to be the “point of no return” after which Iran will have the technical expertise to enrich uranium in sufficient quantities to build a nuclear warhead in two to four years.
“Israel — and not only Israel — cannot accept a nuclear Iran,” Sharon warned recently. “We have the ability to deal with this and we’re making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation.”
...If a military operation is approved, Israel will use air and ground forces against several nuclear targets in the hope of stalling Tehran’s nuclear programme for years, according to Israeli military sources.
Israel has no place dictating the terms of the use of nuclear power by other states. It refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its own nuclear program is therefore completely unregulated. (Its parent state, the US, itself stands in violation of the treaty.)
The treaty gives every nation the right to use nuclear energy, which means that Iran has the right to enrich uranium. The Israelis may not like this, but they have no plausible case to make that Iran shouldn't be allowed nuclear energy when they won't even disclose whether or not they have an active nuclear program.
Israel doesn't get to play by its own rules, and it doesn't get to attack 'civilian locations' inside Iran just because they've decided, without any evidence, that Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons. However, for some reason criticism of Israel continues to be treated as a third rail in American politics, so don't expect to hear much opposition to Israel's aggressive posturing from either party.
The Wizard of Oz, reimagined
I'll be damned
From the AP:
Pregnant skydiver survives face-first fall
Shayna Richardson was making her first solo skydiving jump when she had trouble with her parachutes and, while falling at about 50 mph, hit face first in a parking lot.
Although badly hurt, she survived and doctors treating her injuries discovered she was pregnant. Four surgeries and two months later, Richardson said she and the fetus are doing fine.
"Just this last week we went and saw the doctor and we've got arms, we've got legs. We've got a full face. The baby is moving around just fine. The heart rate looks good. So not only did God save me but he spared this baby," she said.
Richardson, 21, of Joplin, Mo., was skydiving in Siloam Springs on Oct. 9 when her main parachute failed.
"I heard a snap and I started spinning and I didn't know why. I didn't know what to do to fix it. I didn't know how to make it stop," Richardson told Fort Smith, Ark., television station KFSM.
She cut away her primary chute so her reserve could deploy, but it didn't open all the way. She spun out of control, heading straight for the asphalt below.
"At the end I said, 'I'm going to die. I'm going to hit the ground. I'm going to die,'" she said. "I don't remember it. I don't remember hitting the ground. I don't remember the impact or anything that came with it."
Rescuers got her to a hospital in Fayetteville, where Richardson underwent surgery. She broke her pelvis in two places, broke her leg, lost six teeth and now has 15 steel plates.
"I went into the first surgery where they cut me from ear to ear and they cut my face down and they took out all the fractured egg-shelled bones and put in steel plates," Richardson said.
During treatment, doctors found that Richardson was pregnant, which was a surprise to her. She said she would not have jumped had she known.
Her fall was videotaped and Richardson said she was able to watch it, without qualms.
"I wanted to watch it," said Richardson. "And the whole reason I'm comfortable with watching it because I know how it ends."
Richardson said her due date is June 25. She plans to make her next parachute jump in August.
Then and now
WorldNetDaily is probably not even a half-step up from Townhall.com, and Joseph Farah is pretty low on the wingnut totem poll. But still, I found this column of his, from 1999, amusing and telling (emphasis added):
Bill Clinton says there was no justification for the Serbs to "abduct" three U.S. servicemen wearing United Nations colors in Macedonia.
This statement, so Clintonesque in its phony authoritativeness, isn't even flying in the United States, let alone Belgrade. What are the Serbs supposed to do -- sit there while U.S. bombs fall on their cities and vital infrastructure and not fight back? Is that what Bill Clinton honestly expected?
Never has this sociopathic president been so obviously out of touch with reality than in this dirty little Serbian war of his.
...Slobodan Milosevic is the bad guy in this war. But a couple years ago, Bill Clinton, NATO and the U.N. were propping up the unpopular Milosevic as a force for peace in the region. Now he is a "war criminal." Isn't this a perfect illustration of why the U.S. has no business interfering in the complex religious and cultural wars that have been plaguing the Balkans for the last 600 years?
...For the first time in the history of the world, a non-governmental organization -- or NGO, as the United Nations is fond of calling them -- has attacked a sovereign nation, not to stop a war between two countries, but to enforce its will in a country's internal struggles.
...Many of the same Americans who opposed the Vietnam war so passionately 30 years ago because it was a "civil war" are just as passionately defending Bill Clinton's actions in Serbia. Clinton himself was a draft dodger during the Vietnam conflict. Now he is a hawk -- raining death on Serbs like some madcap character from "Apocalypse Now."
This wag-the-dog-and-pony show of Clinton's is a disgrace. This war is immoral. It is illegal. There are no vital U.S. interests at stake in the region. There is no battle plan. There is no exit strategy. There is only death and destruction in this war -- no higher calling, no noble purpose, no lofty goal...
Pull the troops out of the Balkans. Stop the bombing today. Relieve the draft-dodging commander-in-chief from further responsibilities.
Alito (remember him?)
Bush's SCOTUS nomination has been off the radar screen a bit lately, but it's made a return with the news that the GOP is threatening to respond to any attempt to question Alito's character - e.g., bringing up the fact that he has a hard time telling the truth to the Senate - by bringing up Chappaquiddick. Chappaquiddick!
And the Democrats are the ones with "no new ideas"??
The GOP team working with the White House to win confirmation of conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is putting out a warning to Alito's Democratic critics: Question his ethics and character at your own peril. In their sights: Sens. Edward Kennedy and Joe Biden. "We're absolutely prepared to have an ethics debate with Teddy Kennedy," says one insider who mentioned the "C" word: Chappaquiddick. "Questioning Alito's credibility and character will be hit back hard," said one of the Alito supporters.AMERICAblog thinks this smells of desperation, and they may be right. It's becoming more and more clear that Alito, who looked like a reasonably smart pick at the time, is actually an enormously flawed nominee. Even conservatives have to admit as much, if they're being honest. (Yeah, I know...)
Don't get me wrong; I'm not predicting his defeat. Never underestimate the Senate Dems' capacity to buckle even when they've got the majority of the public behind them. But the fact is that Alito represents the Bush administration's second consecutive awful choice for the Court, and GOP 'insiders' appear to know it.
Angelica is challenging liberal bloggers to catch up to the other side in speaking out against the pending execution of Cory Maye, whose murder conviction was highly questionable at best:
Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frightened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.Unlike the Tookie Williams case, Maye is a highly sympathetic figure, and the seeming injustice of his conviction, not to mention his execution, is a cause that should be more amenable to people of all political persuasions, since conservatives are always telling us how important it is to have guns so that people can protect themselves from intruders busting into their house, and putting people to death for doing exactly that would seem to undercut their argument quite a bit.
Unfortunately, Maye was convicted in Mississippi, and as the passage above mentions, he is black, his victim is white (and well-connected). So the odds of preventing his sentence from being carried out are probably grim. But Angelica is right: this is an instance of injustice that should be unacceptable to anybody with a modicum of decency, and there's nothing to lose in trying.
"It is impossible to reason someone out of something that he did not reason himself into in the first place"
Jedmunds, jumping off of that Jonathan Swift quote, crafts a superb response to Ezra Klein's thoughtful post a few days ago wondering what the point was of spending so much time and effort mocking the other side, and suggesting that perhaps we should be engaging them in more constructive debate instead.
You cannot reason with people who could give a fuck about being wrong. Reason has been tried. And it has been tried. And it has been tried. And it has been found lacking. This country is not being run by so called “reasonable conservatives.” It is being run by that 43% of the population who actually sincerely believe that there is a fucking war on Christmas being perpetrated by secular liberals. Ponder that. All the nice little bon-mots and civil conversations with your David Brookses and your George Wills are merely self delusion. Pretending it is not so might feel good, but I don’t really think it’s solving anything, or moving your agenda. It’s nice. But it’s not changing minds. Does open mockery change minds? Is that any more effective? Maybe not. But I’ll try to make the case that it is.The rest is here; I think jedmunds is, as usual, spot-on.
Those with a herd mentality respond to shunning, and they respond to being welcomed back into the community. It’s the carrot and the stick of social control. The Republicans have been selling they’re herd-mentality for decades by playing up the “I’m just a simple-minded regular joe with a pitchfork and a third grade education, but I got two things no liberal will ever have and that’s common sense” schtick. Why do you think they go to the trouble of demonizing liberals? Why do you think not a single one of them cares when they are proven wrong on any given fact, but they go apeshit with outrage when someone makes a picture calling the red states “dumbfuckistan?”
It’s cause they know that human beings are fucking pack animals. And they’re gonna flock to the herd that’s not a fucking joke. We’ve got to market our herd just as hard they do, and the open mockery of the other is the most effective way to do it. We don’t expect to browbeat Townhall into discovering the enlightenment. We expect to convince the spectator that he is like us, normal, reasonable, sane and that Townhall is the other, and deserving of open mockery. For twenty years, conservatives have been convincing people that liberals are the other. And it’s been successful. It has fuck all to do with logical reasoned arguments.
Incidentally, similar sentiments were at the core of the Dada 'movement' back in the day. Dada is often misinterpreted as nihilistic, when in fact it was the exact opposite. Its embrace of absurdity and ridiculousness wasn't as much a rejection of the very notion of rationality as it was an acknowledgment that the "square little reason" (Nietzsche's words) of humanity was leading us into some horrific territory. The statement implicit in the ludicrousness of the Dadas was that "gadji beri bimba" wasn't nearly as absurd or irrational or stupid as trench warfare. 'Civilized' people were repulsed by Dada, but what they didn't realize was that Dada was just presenting them with a mirror, and that therefore their disgust with Dada was actually a disgust with themselves.
Of course, all the efforts of the Dadas didn't prevent World War II, and bloggers' mockery of the GOP didn't prevent the election of George W. Bush. But this is hardly surprising, since mockery then and now is relegated to the fringe. The respectable element of society solemnly considers the fine print, and the world burns.