When President Bush visits military bases, he invariably receives a
foot-stomping, loud ovation at every applause line. At bases like Fort
Bragg - the backdrop for his Tuesday night speech on Iraq - the
clapping is often interspersed with calls of "Hoo-ah," the military's
all-purpose, spirited response to, well, almost anything.
So the silence during his speech was more than a little noticeable, both on television and in the hall. ...
Terry Moran, an ABC News White House correspondent, said on the air on
Tuesday night that the first to clap appeared to be a woman who works
for the White House, arranging events. Some other reporters had the
same account, but [public affairs officer] Captain Earnhardt and others in the back of the room
say the applause was started by a group of officers.
Could there be anything less important to discuss? The military is not turning on the war, or on Bush, and you certainly can not divine anything from how troops who had been briefed on how to behave did or did not clap.
As the numbers of U.S. war injured in Iraq and Afghanistan soared, the Bush administration admitted to lawmakers on Tuesday it had underestimated funds to cover health care costs for veterans and Congress would have to plug a $2.6 billion hole.
The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel.
In one year, that estimate will be half again as large. Bet on it.
A friend of mine is friends with Carrot Top. A while ago, they were waiting in line at Wal-Mart together. They get up to the checkout, and the checkout lady looks at Carrot Top and says, "You know, you really look like that Carrot Top guy from TV... I mean... no offense."
Our universe is about 14 billion years old, our planet is about 4.5 billion years old, complex animal life has thrived for about a half billion years, modern Homo sapiens arose about 150,000 years ago, and none of this had any meaning until a few clannish goat-herders started worshipping a single sky-god a few thousand years ago.
"I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), the Northern Virginia lawmaker who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings. "I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight."
Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions" from anti-trust laws.
If you're a saver, Hudson United Bank is offering a 3.5% interest rate on new savings accounts until July 8. They have several locations in Pennsylvania and elsewhere on the East Coast - the hitch is that you have to go to a branch in person.
Sigh. Remember the 80s, when you could get a 13% rate on a money market account?
Dumbassery from the porn police slipped through Congress and is now law:
Any site affected by 2257 must also publish a physical address that serves as its "place of business." Someone must be available at that address 20 hours a week just in case a law enforcement officer wants to gain access to those 2257 records. This doesn't seem too onerous if you imagine a Penthouse.com or Vivid Video type of operation. But consider all the mom-and-pop adult Web sites run out of private residences, or Webcam girls who don't turn the cam off when they take someone to bed. These rules mean that your local Webcam girl and our friends over at sex blog Fleshbot.com must publish their physical addresses online, thus leaving performers and writers vulnerable to stalking and harassment. But hey, it's a great full-access wank pass for cops who can't afford to pay for really primo porn sites every month.
Scott Lemieux, guest-blogging at Ezra Klein's, on today's Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London:
The lesson here, again, is the the Constitution does not provide a remedy for every bad public policy. Combining upper-class tax cuts with increased pork-barrel spending, like the current administration is doing, is awful public policy, but it's constitutional, and the same goes for Robert Moses' grandiose road-building schemes. You beat them the way the West Side Stadium was beaten; through politics. Expecting the courts to protect poor property owners by determining which policies are legitimate public interests is a sucker's bet.
Right. On a narrow point first, it's the just compensation requirement that is a more powerful guarantee of fairness than the public purpose requirement in takings law. But more largely, we liberals like to define the scope of governmental interest widely, and we should. Conservatives have been on a crusade to knock back things like the scope of the commerce clause to advantage other power interests - social conservatives and the wealthy. Liberals like having a semi-accountable source of power in the government to counter them. But power is amoral, and like Scott says, don't expect judges to fix the problems of the abuse of power by circumscribing its limits.
Yo, Karl? I was standing on line at a blood bank with peoples' ashes raining down on me while you and everyone you work with except Richard Clarke - who says you guys really, really blew this one - were shitting yourself in a bunker in the White House basement
While the average liberal was wondering, "What can I do to help?", Republicans were wondering, "How can we use this to our advantage?"
There is no person who more speaks for the President than Karl Rove. These remarks advance the Right's narrative about Liberals and Democrats as weak and treasonous. Compare the reaction to these remarks with the reaction to remarks by Howard Dean, advancing a narrative that Republicans are a white, Christian party that only helps the rich. Democrats attacked Dean for his remarks. You already know that Republicans will praise Rove for his.
Also, you will see the argument that if it is okay for Dick Durbin to express outrage that American military personnel are committing acts that remind one of totalitarian regimes, then it is okay for Karl Rove to argue that liberals want terrorists to kill Americans. Because in the two-brain-cell mind of the rightwinger, they are the same thing.
Yes, that's how people become homosexual -- by seeing homosexuality on TV, and thinking that doesn't look half bad, so they might as well give it a try. (You know, just like how they ended up with the Ronco Pocket Fisherman or the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler.)
Anyone else notice this in their feedreaders from yesterday?
A Rehnquist retrospective by Charles Lane titled "Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies/Retires" showed up, along with a bio piece with a general byline titled "A Justice's Journey". Unfortunately, they only syndicate what you see there, and the full articles are 404, of course.
Oops. I guess there is a new intern. Editor: "Don't *smack" press "smack" the "smack* 'publish' "smack* button *smack* until *smack* I "smack* tell *smack* you!"
A headline and article summary that appeared to indicate that Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist had either retired or died was inadvertently published on washingtonpost.com and through a washingtonpost.com RSS feed on June 23. The headline and summary have been retracted and no longer appear on the site.
Jeralyn Merritt thinks Susan Estrich and Fox News are just peachy:
I've done legal commenting on Fox News for eight years, mostly from Denver but many times at their New York studio. ... I can underscore they never, ever tell you what to say and you can say whatever you want. Their producers are top notch. They are appreciative, professional and a pleasure to interact with. I may not share the views of their anchors, but on a personal level, I like every one of them.
I've never met Roger Ailes, so I don't have anything to say there, but I think the attacks on Susan are catty and misinformed. Susan is a law professor and expert on politics and feminist issues. I don't always agree with her either - I'm far to the left of her - but the attacks on her embarrass me. Liberals need to stop eating their own.
(Emphasis added.) Whoo boy. Angling for a full-time gig, Jeralyn?
This is also related to the instapundit game - criticize the Democrats for not speaking out on something, and then when they do criticizing them for "politicizing it." The only way to oppose torture is to support it, the only way to oppose the war is to support it. Apparently the only way to have an anti-war movement is not to have one.
Maybe. The infinitely paranoid, infinitely stupid Right can always find treason in the air, a stab in the back in their imaginations. You showed the Abu Grahib pictures, you discussed the Gitmo torture, you didn't clap hard enough, liberal faggots. But if no one hands them any ammunition to use, if the Reichstag doesn't burn, then all they have to work with is "We're not as bad as Stalin" and "Yet another car bombing in Iraq today". In short, sit on your hands, let people die and allow events to change the minds of the sheep who followed the stupid fuckers into this mess. Slow, deadly, maybe the best option.
If you're running Windows of some flavor and have antispyware software installed, it pays to update the spyware definitions, then reboot the computer in safe mode and then run the antispyware program. I did so and found 22 pieces of spyware that was otherwise hiding from me. Here are instructions on how to boot in safe mode. If you're curious, I use Microsoft Antispyware, Ad-Aware, Spybot and A2.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday offered a tearful apology on the Senate floor for comparing the alleged abuse of prisoners by American troops to techniques used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge, as he sought to quell a frenzy of Republican-led criticism.
But perhaps Comrade Durbin has not fully reformed:
"They are extremely well organized," Durbin said in an interview, referring to the conservative movement. "And, inevitably, they drag the mainstream media behind them."
Mainstream media, tovarisch? There is only Fox. Fox above all, Fox loves the fatherland/motherland/homeland.
But there is forgiveness from the authorities, too:
[Commissar] McCain said the lesson is "Watch your words."
"It's a very partisan atmosphere," he said. "Things have a great resonance."
JIMMY SMITS Jesus, not every scene needs some digital character in them. She's giving birth, can't we leave at least a FEW frames of the film free from CGI bullshit? Hell, Ewan chould have delivered the twins, that would be more dramatic.
Anonymity allows people the freedom to speak without fear of reprisals in other elements of your life. On the internet, where every little comment can potentially hang around forever, it allows people to communicate views without worrying about what current/future employers or customers may think of them. People do get fired/not hired for this kind of stuff. Without anonymity many people would not be able to talk politics on the internets. It allows people to separate their personal political/religious/whatever views from their personal/professional lives otherwise. It's truly a gift.
I went out to take a few pictures today and stopped at the power plant around 25th & Catharine:
So, of course, within 5 minutes, I was visited by the police:
Officer Furey nicely asked me for my ID and explained - three times - that this was a normal precaution against terrorism. I gave him my papers and let him know it wasn't illegal to take pictures, which he acknowledged. They ran the ID and probably added my name to some list. Sigh.
What a stupid policy. Are the terrorists going to stand on the street with a camera in plain sight?
I have no time lately and way too many blogs to read, so I am culling my subscriptions on Bloglines. First to go: anyone who doesn't syndicate the whole post. I am sorry if your revenue model depends on clicks or if you're so inept you can't figure out how to change your RSS settings. I gotta move on.
Here is my contribution to the war effort. Print it out, carry it with you, and when you run across a warlover - whip it out and give them a pen to sign with. Remember to administer the oath on page 3. (I know, it's not legally binding - but the simpletons won't know that.)
And so it goes with Mr. Bird. The reality of torture is obviously of zero actual interest to him - if it was, why propose a “solution” which has no power to get at anyone who would actually have the power to set up this American gulag, and no power to make it stop? No, Bird, like the rest of the moral degenerates who are the postmodern Republican party, is fundamentally only concerned with words, appearances, and the power both can wield. Bird is upset because Amnesty’s use of the word “gulag” in reference to Republican policies weakens the Republican party, a group that cares nothing for human rights, only power, and has substantially strengthened Amnesty, a group that cares only about exposing powerful violators of human rights, and no fear of making enemies, with a decades-long record to back it up. He responds with some pitiful proposal designed to deflect criticism of his party’s use of torture, to create the appearance that he gives a shit, but, reality being what it is, forces him to acknowledge a few of the unavoidable and undesputable facts of the matter (but, lacking the delicate touch of an A-list right-wing hack, further exposes him as a delusional, deceitful coward.) But, by forcing him and his fellow travelers to inch closer to the reality they have created, they have inched closer to a point where their torture-enabling position is no longer tenable, and inches all of us closer to the day when this outrageous and humiliating chapter in American history is brought to a close. Maybe that’s what’s really important.
We hardly have the same number of people in unjust detention than the Soviet gulags ever did. But as others have pointed out, "we're not as bad as Stalin!" is hardly a stirring motto. And the smaller scale of our ghost gulag is both a reflection of the difference in circumstance and our superior technological and administrative skill - we don't need to deport whole peoples to carry out our five-year plan. But scalpels and meat cleavers are both knives, all the same.
The reality is that innocent and not-so-innocent people are being hooded and manacled and flown off to disappear into U.S. prisons or foreign prisons at U.S. behest. And what happens to those prisoners is and will remain an untold story, because there is no oversight, no one alive to tell the truth who doesn't have blood on their hands or a gun to their heads. And in both the Soviet and the U.S. political prisons, the jailors really do want to protect their countries. Certainly, some of Stalin's victims might have risen up against the Soviet Union if they had not been imprisoned and liquidated. And - simply by the law of averages - some of the people the U.S. is holding and will disappear in the future are Bad People who want to do Bad Things.
This is has been said ad nauseum but let's say it again. Incarcerating, torturing, and murdering the innocent is a horrendous crime. Doing it to the guilty is also wrong, and worse, will harm this country in profound ways. Some of us believe that we are fighting a political battle against extremism. That is, we have to convince the world audience of the nobility of our cause, and the best example of that nobility is the manner in which we prosecute the war. The short-term logic of intelligence-gathering will render our ultimate aims impossible. Some may in fact want those aims to fail, because they believe that annihilation of one culture or the other is the only resolution. It is possible, then, that these forces carry out these crimes partly in order to advance the day of that confrontation.
Like the Soviet Union before us, in the course of trying to control events we may end up destroying ourselves. We're betraying the principles, or perhaps the myths, the country lives by. Either way, we're stepping over a line which will be hard to re-establish once the smoke from 9/11 clears. If it is good and right and necessary to disappear these terrorists, then others which are nearly as dangerous or possibly dangerous should be disappeared as well. Liberty is nothing without life, this logic goes, and so we must do everything to preserve life, including destroying liberty. I hope we can re-establish the line that's been blurred. But I don't think it will be easy. And I think we've gone a good way toward pitching ourselves on the ashheap of history.
Philadelphia will host Welcome America! from June 26 to July 4. Basically a big promotion for the city, it should draw 3 million people, especially for the fireworks and the Elton John concert on July 4. On top of that, Live 8 is holding one of its concerts here on July 2, starting at 8 a.m. with videocasts of the European acts. That show is free and should draw a million plus.
I figure the idiots will start arriving in droves on Friday, July 1, and stay basically constant until Tuesday the 5th. A large chunk of center city will be shut down on July 1-2. Forget going out or getting something to eat. Foot traffic only on July 2-4. Paradoxically, though, I think things like grocery stores will be empty, and starting July 5 the city should be extraordinarily quiet, because a bunch of people will just leave town for the week.
I think that, properly played (which means, not overplayed), the Downing Street Memo can be part of an effective political strategy and may even be moderately helpful. But people who think that if we just talk about it enough that the scales will fall from the public's (from Republican?) eyes are just deluding themselves.
Look, I know it's been a frustrating 5 (10, 20, 30 - pick one) years, but news flash: the American people are not motivated by stories about memos which are not about fucking or drugs, okay? If it were a memo entitled "President Determined to Lie to the American Public" and signed by Dubya, it would be the same, okay? Much less what the British cabinet thought the United States government thought way back when before we found all those Iraqi WMDs. I mean, in what universe do you live where a substantial number of people believe that the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis yet those same people will be educable using the minutes of a cabinet meeting?
Anyway, the DSM is equivocal proof. It hangs on what "C" thought of the atmosphere in Washington and the British Attorney General's opinion of the legal bases for war. "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military
action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the
intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Well, no shit, Sherlock. That was pretty clear in October of 2002.
The other "smoking gun":
It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind
to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But
the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his
WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.
Which amounts to, "If you invade Iraq, you have to invade these other places, too." Which is something people have been saying for, oh, 2-3 years now.
Bush has easy counters for this weak attack. First of all, as a counter, there's denial:
"There's nothing farther from the truth," Mr. Bush said in his first
public comments about the so-called Downing Street memo, which has
created anger among the administration's critics who see it as evidence
that the president was intent to go to war with Iraq earlier than the
White House has said.
"Look, both of us didn't want to use our
military," Mr. Bush added. "Nobody wants to commit military into
combat. It's the last option."
Mr. Blair, standing at Mr.
Bush's side in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White
House, said, "No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form
Whew, all that lying makes me a little dizzy. But look - it was reported, and not on A18. Second, there's minimization. See above: "the administration's critics who see it as evidence
that the president was intent to go to war with Iraq earlier than the
White House has said." Is this a huge revelation? I can just imagine Smirky leaning over the podium, saying, "Did I think we might have to go to war against Saddam? Sure I did. Saddam was a bad guy. The world is safer without him in power." (With that wheedling tone he uses when he thinks you should just accept what he says without question.) It's the same with the issue of Libya, North Korea and Iran being more dangerous - Bush will come back with democracy in the heart of the Middle East, mass graves, rape rooms, yada yada. Frustrating, but you know, effective.
So yes, please mention the DSM. Just don't expect lightning to start falling on the White House, even if you get a million signatures on that letter. But hey, if it doesn't work, you can always blame Atrios and Steve Gilliard.
(If you don't know what the fuck I am talking about, don't worry - it's not important.)
What wins a propaganda war like we're having with the Right here is the
ability to spin and contextualize the facts that everyone already
knows, not revealing supposedly earth-shaking secrets via classified
memos. We're weak on that skill, and grasping at this straw - no matter
how big and strong it looks to us - shows how weak. If it fails to gain
traction then we fall on our faces. Further, some on the left have
decided to attack others for showing insufficient enthusiasm for the
promotion of the memo story. Again, it's a sign of weakness - we're not
winning, so we're looking for scapegoats. Again. Which, I submit, is
The device, which Sonette Ehlers, its inventor, has patented, is worn like a tampon but is hollow. In the event of a rape, she said that it would fold around the rapist’s penis and attach itself with microscopic hooks. It is impossible to remove the clamped device without medical intervention.
Apparently there is some controversy among anti-rape activists in South Africa over this device. On the merits, I can't see how it will work effectively: first, you have to walk around with it inside you all day. Second, if the word gets around and rapists are concerned about it, they would just use objects to trigger it.
I just heard on the radio that the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to expand the ORWELL USA PATRIOT Act to permit the FBI to seize your papers without a warrant and without a court being involved at all.
To quote some great, apparently outdated language:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The vote was 11-4. This means that while, as usual, we can lay this infringement of personal liberty at the feet of the Republican Party, a bare minority of Democrats also joined in to trash the most basic protections of the Constitution.
Osama Bin Laden could not take away our freedom. Only we have done that.
It's downright amazing to me that in such a short period of time, the same theories of animalistic violence that can't be controlled have been dusted off and moved from black people to men, but this time the exact opposite conclusion has been reached. Instead of men's supposedly inherent violence being used as an excuse to lock them up and throw away the key, it's being touted as a reason for feminists to give up and suggest to women that we just put up with it or somehow tailor our behavior somehow to fix it. (This particular theory that [WSJ writer Sharon] Begley criticizes suggests that partner-murder is tied into female infidelity, which is a slap in the face to the thousands of women killed each year who did not "ask for it" by cheating.)
That the exact same "just so" story can be used for wildly different ends is just more evidence that the actual theories touted are utterly irrelevant--regardless of the evidence, regardless of the theory, the conclusion is always the same--the current power structures and hierarchies of society are intractable and a product of nature. In other words: "Sorry, oppressed and battered peoples of the world, wish we could help, but Mother Nature hates you and likes us."
Maybe I have just become more sensitized to it, but I have noticed this kind of thing more frequently recently, especially since Larry Summers shot himself in the mouth. Just yesterday, the local corporate-fascist AM radio station was talking up a study that "proved" that men just don't read other people's emotions as well as women. The point of the story was that (1) implicitly, such inability is innate, not learned, and (2) therefore, men can't be expected to deal with their female partners' emotions. (A follow-up study will attempt to show that men just don't "see" a messy house, until a woman points it out.) The idea that women have been socialized to pay attention to others' feelings, and men have not, doesn't seem to have been considered.
Men seem to be eager to grab onto anything "objective" they can use to justify the status quo, just as racists have long done, even if the explanation given is implausible or obviously self-serving. It would be pathetic if it weren't so harmful.
I just heard that the Supreme Court has ruled that the government may prosecute people who, on the advice of their doctor, smoke pot to relieve their cancer symptoms (or, rather, to relieve the harmful side effects of chemotherapy). It fascinates me, one, that our strain of Puritanism is so strong that we would rather people suffer needlessly while they die than legalize the smoking of a plant. Second, there are some medical decisions - like abortion - which are inside the legally-cognizable zone of personal autonomy, and others, like pain relief, which are not. It sort of makes sense. There are alternatives to marijuana - including, ironically, a pharmaceutical cannabinoid chemically identical to pot - but there is no alternative to abortion for ending a pregnancy. So the courts can say that the legislature may regulate one treatment so long as there are plausible alternatives available to achieve the same result. It still rubs me the wrong way that laws can so minutely interfere with a doctor's care for a patient.
Regarding this issue, I have to agree with Engadget: no phones on planes! It's bad enough that people want to bring their children with them or hold extended conversations about nothing with other passengers while I'm trying to sleep. And as much as I would love to use the web while traveling, I can imagine the first time the person next to me goes to fatgrannysluts.com. Sartre was wrong: Hell is other people's porn.