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


Hostile takeover

Apparently there is a Christian organization that is trying to get fellow Jesus Freaks to move en masse to the state of South Carolina, for the purpose of seceding from the United States and establishing a Christian theocracy there.

Which, you know, fine by me.

Now you feel bad, don't you?

Via Socialist Swine.


A question

From the Poor Man Institute via Battlepanda:
If Faction A destroys the fourth-most holy site (built 11 centuries ago) of Faction B with a gigantic bomb in the middle of the day, inciting dozens of retaliatory attacks, is it maybe a little late to ask if this will start a civil war?

Attention, Democrats

If there's one advantage to this business about Dubai and the ports, it's that it provides an opportunity for Democrats to emphasize the fact that "security" is something that should be primarily dealt with at home - foreign wars have little to nothing to do with protecting Americans from terrorism. A new poll indicates that the public might be receptive to this message (HT: Moderate Voice):
From a political perspective, President Bush's national security credentials have clearly been tarnished due to the outcry over this issue. For the first time ever, Americans have a slight preference for Democrats in Congress over the President on national security issues. Forty-three percent (43%) say they trust the Democrats more on this issue today while 41% prefer the President.
If these kind of numbers maintain, that is an extraordinary turn around on the 'national security' issue.

Is this a good idea?

In response to the reprehensible decision by the South Dakota state legislature to pass a blanket ban an abortion, one blogger suggests that women in the state learn how to perform abortions themselves:
In the 1960s and early 1970s, when abortions were illegal in many places and expensive to get, an organization called Jane stepped up to the plate in the Chicago area. Jane initially hired an abortion doctor, but later they did the abortions themselves. They lost only one patient in 13,000 -- a lower death rate than that of giving live birth. The biggest obstacle they had, though, was the fact that until years into the operation, they thought of abortion as something only a doctor could do, something only the most trained specialist could perform without endangering the life of the woman.

They were deceived -- much like you have probably been deceived. An abortion, especially for an early pregnancy, is a relatively easy procedure to perform. And while I know, women of South Dakota, that you never asked for this, now is the time to learn how it is done. There is no reason you should be beholden to doctors -- especially in a state where doctors have been refusing to perform them, forcing the state's only abortion clinic to fly doctors in from elsewhere.
She then goes on to describe in detail how to perform a certain type of abortion.

My initial reaction to this was that it was a horrible idea - isn't the prospect of amateur abortions one of the reasons it is so important to keep the procedure legal?

But people whose opinion I trust have linked to the post with seeming approval of the basic idea (though not necessarily vouching for the specific information contained therein), so maybe my initial reaction was wrong.

I do know that in a sane world, this wouldn't even be an issue, so a big "fuck you" to all politicians who make it necessary to confront these kinds of dilemmas because of their backwards religious superstitions.

The new Fatboy Slim video

Starring a shitload of kittens!

Watch it here (HT: Welcome to the Nut House).

The truth, via Ted Koppel

Bizarre editorial in the NYT by Ted Koppel. He says things that leftists get ridiculed for saying - you know, pretty much anything that ought to be obvious to anyone with human DNA and a pulse, e.g., maybe oil had something to do with the invasion of Iraq, maybe the US isn't planning on leaving Iraq any time soon - but he doesn't really seem to disapprove. The article is behind NYT's annoying subscription wall or whatever you call it, but here are some excerpts via Cracks in the Facade and Editor & Publisher (emphasis added by me):
But the Bush administration's touchiness about charges that we acted — and are still acting — in Iraq "because of oil"? Now that's curious. Keeping oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz has been bedrock American foreign policy for more than a half-century.

Fifty-three years ago, British and American intelligence officers conspired to help bring about the overthrow of Iran's prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. Mossadegh's shortcomings, in the eyes of Whitehall and the State Department, were an unseemly affinity for the Tudeh Party (the Iranian Communists) and his plans to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The prospect of the British oil industry being forced to give way to Soviet influence over the Iranian oil spigot called for drastic action. Following a military coup, Mossadegh was arrested, imprisoned for three years and then held under house arrest until his death in 1967. Power was then effectively concentrated in the hands of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

The shah's unswerving commitment to the free flow and marketing of Iranian oil would, by the end of the 1960's, become a central pillar of the so-called Nixon Doctrine, in which American allies were tapped to be regional surrogates to maintain peace and security. The sales of sophisticated American weapons to Iran served the twin purposes of sopping up billions of what came to be known as "petro-dollars," while equipping (in particular) the shah's air force.

That reliance on Iran to maintain stability in the Persian Gulf enjoyed bipartisan support. On New Year's Eve in 1977, President Jimmy Carter, visiting the shah in Tehran, toasted his great leadership, which he said had made Iran "an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas in the world." By January 1980, after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had driven the shah from the Peacock Throne, President Carter made absolutely clear in his final State of the Union address that one aspect of our foreign policy remained unchanged:

"An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."


In 1990, when Saddam Hussein appeared likely to follow his invasion of Kuwait by crossing into Saudi Arabia, the defense secretary at the time, Dick Cheney, laid out Washington's concerns:

"We're there because the fact of the matter is that part of the world controls the world supply of oil, and whoever controls the supply of oil, especially if it were a man like Saddam Hussein, with a large army and sophisticated weapons, would have a stranglehold on the American economy and on — indeed on the world economy."

What Mr. Cheney said was correct then and remains correct now. The world's oil producers pump approximately 80 million barrels a day. The world's oil consumers, joined today by an increasingly oil-hungry India and China, purchase 80 million barrels a day. Were production from the Persian Gulf to be disrupted because of civil war in Iraq, the freezing of Iranian sales or political instability in Saudi Arabia, the global supply would be diminished. The impact on the American economy and, indeed, on the world economy would be as devastating today as in 1990.

If those considerations did not enter into the Bush administration's calculations when the president ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it would have been the first time in more than 50 years that the uninterrupted flow of Persian Gulf oil was not a central element of American foreign policy.

That is not to say that the United States invaded Iraq to take over its oil supply. But the construction of American military bases inside Iraq, bases that can be maintained long after the bulk of our military forces are ultimately withdrawn, will serve to replace the bases that the United States has lost in Saudi Arabia.

...Perhaps the day will come when the United States is no longer addicted to imported oil; but that day is still many years off. For now, the reason for America's rapt attention to the security of the Persian Gulf is what it has always been. It's about the oil.
I may disagree with Koppel regarding the normative implications of all this, but it would be nice if the discussion could proceed based on a similar acknowledgment of reality by all parties concerned. Until then, it will just be more silly rhetoric about "freedom," "democracy," "The War on Terror," blah blah blah blah blah.


Eros or Agape?

The Socialist Swine loves David Hume. I mean, he really loves David Hume. Maybe too much.


Circumstantial ad hominem

Slate's John Dickerson gives you the rundown on "Bush critics with pro-Bush backgrounds" and what they can "teach the public—and perhaps the administration—about the president that the lefty hacks can't." To wit:
  • Bush isn't a small-government conservative.

  • Bush is incompetent.

  • Bush was determined to invade Iraq no matter what.

So, yeah, when was the last time you heard someone on the left make those arguments?


In response to complaints about the torture and killing of detainees on the part of the US military, you'll often hear the same excuse: "The difference between the US and Saddam is that we punish those who mistreat prisoners."

Well, sorta kinda:
Two-thirds of US detainee killings 'go unpunished'

In only 12 of 34 cases has anyone been punished for the confirmed or suspected killings of US-held detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, a US human rights group reported today.

The steepest sentence for any American soldier linked to a torture-related death has been five months in jail, said Human Rights First.

Beyond those cases, in almost half of 98 known detainee deaths since 2002 the cause was either never announced or reported as undetermined, the New York-based group said.

Unite against American Empiricism!

We all make mistakes, but some mistakes are funnier than others.

Dubai port business, part 2

D.J. Waletzky delves more deeply into the issue.

Look in the mirror

Malkin mocks a Muslim second-grader who says that "God doesn't like people to draw." And she's right; that's just silly. But is it any more silly than the notion that God doesn't like it when two men have sex with each other?

And homophobic wingnuts don't have the excuse of being in second grade, either.

It's almost like they want to go to war...

From the Salt Lake Tribune - U.S. may have blown chance of open dialogue with Tehran:
In May 2003, shortly after the U.S. military destroyed the army of Saddam Hussein, a fax arrived at the State Department with an Iranian offer to open talks that would include a discussion of weapons of mass destruction.

The one-page document was written by Sadegh Kharazi, Iran's ambassador to France and nephew of Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi and passed on by the Swiss ambassador to Tehran, who represented U.S. interests in Iran, a former administration official said.

The official, who saw the document, said it indicated that Iran wanted to negotiate a grand political bargain with the United States that would include everything from Iran's nuclear program to its support for groups that Washington regards as terrorist.

But the Bush administration was in no mood for conversation or grand political bargains, the former officials said. According to Leverett, who left government in mid-2003, the administration rejected the Iranian probe and instead sent a complaint to Swiss Ambassador Tim Guldimann, saying he had overstepped his role as an intermediary by passing it on in the first place.

Critics, including the two former Bush administration officials, European diplomats, and policy experts, say the United States may have squandered an opportunity to negotiate an end to Iran's nuclear program by not talking with Tehran.
A more detailed look at this can be found in Newsday.

A point for Edwards

I was reading Dean Barnett talking about Hackett (he calls him the "most overtly mean-spirited politician I’ve ever seen," but consider the source), and he said something interesting:
This [Hackett's supposed 24/7 mean-spiritedness] contrasts with guys like John Edwards who radiate warmth and sunshine when the cameras on but are ruthless jerks in private.
Now, I have absolutely no idea whether or not this is an accurate description of Edwards. He certainly does seem to "radiate warmth and sunshine," but I've never met the man and have no way of knowing if he's a ruthless jerk in private. But I'll tell you what - if he ends up being the nominee in 2008, I hope to God that Barnett is right about him, because that is exactly what we need - someone who is well-liked by the public but still willing to be a ruthless son of a bitch when he needs to be. That is a recipe for electoral success - witness George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan.

Contrast this with somebody like Barack Obama, who, in addition to radiating warmth and sunshine, actually does seem to have an aversion to political hand-to-hand - that is, he seems like a "nice guy" in public and in private. I suppose some might see this as an admirable trait, and maybe they're right, but it's not generally something you want to see in a candidate who has to win a tough race.

Dubai port business

Whatever you think of the deal, it does illustrate one important point - that all the "you're either with us, or with the terrorists" stuff goes right out the window when there's business to be done.


Marriage and suicide

A factoid via Bitch Ph.D.:
...states that legalized no-fault divorce experienced an average 20% decline in suicide rates among married women in the following five years...
I assume this will be taken as reason NOT to institute no-fault divorce by a certain segment of the population.


This is getting nasty

Have you ever seen a primary campaign get so vicious, especially considering it never really began?
Paul Hackett is blaming his former Democratic Senate primary opponent, Rep. Sherrod Brown, for spreading a "whisper campaign" of rumors accusing him of war crimes in Iraq.

In an interview Monday on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, the Iraq veteran, who quit the Senate race last week, went further than he has in the past. "The word came to me from many Democratic chairs in the state of Ohio that my primary opponent was spreading rumors about my service in Iraq.''

Asked by Matthews about rumors that photos exist showing he mishandled body parts in Iraq, Hackett called the rumors "preposterous."

"I have heard those stories and they're absolutely preposterous. I invite anybody who wants to make those allegations to come onto your show. I'll meet them here.''

Hackett repeatedly said he was told Brown's campaign was the source of the rumors. "I do believe it came from his campaign,'' said Hackett.

My advice to introverts

Battlepanda links to what she sees as an accurate account of shyness/introvertedness:
I marvel at Michael [Rauch's extroverted partner] who can always somehow turn the conversation right over effortlessly and keep it going even when what he says is not necessarily profound or interesting. What he comes up with is perfectly tuned to the sense and flow of the conversation. But it's not words that are particularly intended to convey ideas or mean things. It's words that socialize — that simply continue the conversation. It's chit-chat. I have no gift for that. I have to think about what to say next, and sometimes I can't think fast enough and end up saying something stupid. Or sometimes I just come up dry and the conversation kind of ends for while until I can think of another topic.

This is why it's work for me. It takes positive cognition on my part. I think that's probably a core introvert characteristic that you and I have in common and which can probably be distinguished from shyness per se — that small talk takes conscious effort and is very hard work. There's nothing small about small talk if you're an introvert.
One solution: ditch the small-talk, and just open your mouth and let whatever bullshit you're thinking about come out without any regard for whether the other person is interested in hearing it or not. That's what I do, and it either works, and we have a good conversation, or the person goes away and it's a moot point anyway.

Let's get ready to rumble

Sez Atrios:

I really am dreading the coming presidential primary season, even aside from the fact that it ushers in the the Extreme Silly Season in American journalism. While in 2003-4 various competing online camps managed (barely) to avoid all out nuclear war with each other over who should win I don't expect that to happen next time. Everyone knows their favorite candidate is the only one who can win, everyone knows their candidate is the one true future of the nation. I see how people are tearing at each other over a Senate primary in Ohio and really don't look forward to what is next...

Are you kidding?  It's going to be AWESOME!  Let the rhetorical bludgeoning begin!

That's not very cool

Hackett staffers trying to undermine Brown in the general?


To the victors

Kevin Drum wonders why the US press seems incapable of putting the words "permanent", "bases", and "Iraq" in the same sentence.

A mitigating factor

In Italy, raping your stepdaughter isn't as big of a deal if she's already spoiled herself anyway:
Sexually abusing a teenager is less serious a crime if the girl is not a virgin, Italy’s higher court said on Friday in a controversial ruling that immediately drew a barrage of criticism.

The court ruled in favor of a man in his forties, identified only as Marco T., who forced his 14-year old stepdaughter to have oral sex with him after she refused intercourse.

The man, who has been sentenced to three years and four months in jail, lodged an appeal arguing that the fact that his stepdaughter had had sex with men before should have been taken into consideration during his trial as a mitigating factor.

The supreme court agreed, saying that because of her previous sexual experiences, the victim’s “personality, from a sexual point of view, is much more developed than what would be normally expected of a girl of her age”.

“It is therefore fair to argue that (the damage for the victim) would be lower” if the abused girl was not a virgin, Italian news agencies quoted the court as saying.

This means the man could now be handed a lighter sentence.

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