Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pope John Paul II

The Holy Father has been given the Sacrament of the Sick. The end may be near for his remarkable pontificate.

Medal of Honor

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago at the time British Army Private Johnson Beharry was awarded the Victoria Cross that the US Army was expected to announce a Medal of Honor recipient shortly. The Medal of Honor has been posthumously awarded to Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith. From Sgt. Smith's citation:

On the morning of April 4, 2003, more than 100 soldiers from the Task Force 2-7 Forward Aid Station, mortars, scouts and portions of B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion were in the median behind the forward most blocking positions. The B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion 2nd Platoon Leader was on a reconnaissance mission with the B Company, Task Force 2-7 Infantry Commander. During his absence, 2nd Platoon received the mission to construct an Enemy Prisoner of War holding area. Sgt. 1st Class Smith was in charge of 2nd Platoon.
...
While an engineer squad began to clear debris in the courtyard, one of the guards saw 10-15 enemy soldiers with small arms, 60mm mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG). These were the lead elements of an organized company-sized force making a deliberate attack on the flank of Task Force 2-7. Sgt. 1st Class Smith came to the position and identified 25-50 more soldiers moving into prepared fighting positions. Sgt. 1st Class Smith instructed a squad leader to get a nearby Bradley Fighting Vehicle for support. While waiting for the Bradley, Sgt. 1st Class Smith had members of 2nd platoon retrieve AT-4 weapons and form a skirmish line outside the gate. By this time, the number of enemy identified rose to 100 soldiers, now a confirmed company-sized attack. Three of B Company’s M113A3 armored personnel carriers (APC) oriented .50-cal. machineguns toward the opening in the wall and the surrounding guard towers, now occupied by enemy soldiers.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith’s actions to organize a defense against the deliberate attack were not only effective, but inspired the B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion Soldiers. He then began to lead by example. As the Bradley arrived on site and moved through the hole in the wall toward the gate, Sgt. 1st Class Smith ran to the gate wall and threw a fragmentation grenade at the enemy. He then took two Soldiers forward to join the guards and directed their engagement of the enemy with small arms. The enemy continued to fire rifles, RPGs, and 60mm mortars at the Soldiers on the street and within the courtyard. Enemy soldiers began moving along the buildings on the north side of the clearing to get into position to climb into the towers. Sgt. 1st Class Smith called for an APC to move forward to provide additional fire support. Sgt. 1st Class Smith then fired an AT-4 at the enemy while directing his fire team assembled near the front line of the engagement area.
...
Sgt. 1st Class Smith ordered one of his Soldiers to back the damaged APC back into the courtyard after the wounded men had been evacuated. Knowing the APC ’s .50-Cal. machinegun was the largest weapon between the enemy and the friendly position, Sgt. 1st Class Smith immediately assumed the track commander’s position behind the weapon, and told a soldier who accompanied him to “feed me ammunition whenever you hear the gun get quiet.” Sgt. 1st Class Smith fired on the advancing enemy from the unprotected position atop the APC and expended at least three boxes of ammunition before being mortally wounded by enemy fire. The enemy attack was defeated. Sgt. 1st Class Smith’s actions saved the lives of at least 100 Soldiers, caused the failure of a deliberate enemy attack hours after 1st Brigade seized the Baghdad Airport, and resulted in an estimated 20-50 enemy soldiers killed.

Above and beyond indeed.

Bush Finally About to Lose

The Chimp is about to lose two big battles; his quest to destroy social security and "save" the empty body of Terri Schiavo. The question worth asking is this: how is he going to react? This may be edifying. Stand by....

UPDATE: Terri has died.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Living Will

A friend sent this to me, so I don't know its origin. If I find out who to credit it to, I'll post that info.

I, _________________________ (fill in the blank), being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.

Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of peckerwood politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it.

If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to sit up and ask for a cold beer, it should be presumed that I won't ever get better.

When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my spouse, children and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.

Under no circumstances shall the members of the Legislature enact a special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that these boneheads mind their own damn business, and pay attention instead to the health, education and future of the millions of Americans who aren't in a permanent coma.

Under no circumstances shall any politicians butt into this case.

I don't care how many fundamentalist votes they're trying to scrounge for their run for the presidency in 2008, it is my wish that they play politics with someone else's life and leave me alone to die in peace.

I couldn't care less if a hundred religious zealots send e-mails to legislators in which they pretend to care about me. I don't know these people, and I certainly haven't authorized them to preach and crusade on my behalf. They should mind their own business, too.

If any of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make his or her existence a living hell.

_______________________________________
Signature

_______________________________________
Witness

Sounds good to me.

Terri Update

Let's see where we stand at the moment. Terri's predatory parents are a) filing another motion and b) selling their mailing list to other kooks. Tom Delay is wallowing in hypocrisy after proclaiming that Terri must live while he and his family let his father die in a similar situation. Jesse Jackson, no surprise, is making an ass of himself, so too the egregious Ralph Nader. The Bush brothers have retreated into silence. The country watches in curiosity; the rest of the world watches in horror. And Terri? She's already gone, maybe watching all this lunacy from heaven.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

So Much for Michael Moore Being a Lunatic

The right wing went into a frothing frenzy over F9/11, and one of their big complaints was that Michael Moore just out and out lied about the shrub shipping his Saudi pals the hell out of Dodge starting about as soon as the towers came down. Guess what. Moore was right.

...newly released government records show previously undisclosed flights from Las Vegas and elsewhere and point to a more active role by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in aiding some of the Saudis in their departure.

The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show.

The Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, requested the F.B.I. escorts because they said they were concerned for their safety in the wake of the attacks, and the F.B.I. - which was then beginning the biggest criminal investigation in its history - arranged to have agents escort them to their local airports, the documents show.

But F.B.I. officials reacted angrily, both internally and publicly, to the suggestion that any Saudis had received preferential treatment in leaving the country.

"I say baloney to any inference we red-carpeted any of this entourage," an F.B.I. official said in a 2003 internal note. Another F.B.I. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this week regarding the airport escorts that "we'd do that for anybody if they felt they were threatened - we wouldn't characterize that as special treatment."

It's odd that they claim no one received special treatment when in fact no one else was allowed to fly. Think of all the people stuck in Halifax, for instance. In fact, I still wonder about the flight I heard leave Port Columbus sometime between 5 and 6 pm on 9/11. It scared the crap out of me, I can tell you that. I wonder now how in the hell many Saudis were on it.

The Saudis' chartered flights, arranged in the days after the attacks when many flights in the United States were still grounded, have proved frequent fodder for critics of the Bush administration who accuse it of coddling the Saudis. The debate was heightened by the filmmaker Michael Moore, who scrutinized the issue in "Fahrenheit 9/11," but White House officials have adamantly denied any special treatment for the Saudis, calling such charges irresponsible and politically motivated.

So, exactly what is the Bush Administration definition of "special treatment?" Hm.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Screw Our Troops

While American soldiers are overseas and fat, dumb, and happy American civilians are driving around with "Support Our Troops!" magnets on their gas guzzling SUVs, some of said civilians are screwing our troops:

At Fort Hood, Tex., a soldier's wife was sued by a creditor trying to collect a debt owed by her and her husband, who was serving in Baghdad at the time. A local judge ruled against her, saying she had defaulted, even though specialists say the relief act forbids default judgments against soldiers serving overseas and protects their spouses as well.

At Camp Pendleton, Calif., more than a dozen marines returned from Iraq to find that their cars and other possessions had been improperly sold to cover unpaid storage and towing fees. The law forbids such seizures without a court order.

In northern Ohio, Wells Fargo served a young Army couple with foreclosure papers despite the wife's repeated efforts to negotiate new repayment terms with the bank. Wells Fargo said later that it had been unaware of the couple's military status. The foreclosure was dropped after a military lawyer intervened.

Read the whole thing. What these creditors are doing is illegal. It'll make your blood boil.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Important Discovery

Possible soft tissue remnants found in a T. rex femur are giving scientists hopes of learning more about dinosaurs. Cautiously, Dr. Mary Schweitzer of the University of North Carolina says that the material found "gives the appearance" of being soft tissue, not that it is soft tissue:

She discovered transparent, flexible filaments that resemble blood vessels. There were also traces of what look like red blood cells; and others that look like osteocytes, cells that build and maintain bone.

"This is fossilised bone in the sense that it's from an extinct animal but it doesn't have a lot of the characteristics of what people would call a fossil," she told the BBC's Science In Action programme.

"It still has places where there are no secondary minerals, and it's not any more dense than modern bone; it's bone more than anything."

Dr Schweitzer is not making any grand claims that these soft traces are the degraded remnants of the original material - only that they give that appearance.

She and other scientists will want to establish if some hitherto unexplained fine-scale process has been at work in MOR 1125, which was pulled from the famous dinosaur rocks of eastern Montana known as the Hell Creek Formation.

"This may not be fossilisation as we know it, of large macrostructures, but fossilisation at a molecular level," commented Dr Matthew Collins, who studies ancient bio-molecules at York University, UK.

Previously imprints of dinosaur soft tissue have been found associated with bones, but this discovery, if it holds up, appears to be of the highest importance for scientists and those of us interested in paleontology.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Junk Churches

Anyone else a little sick of megachurches that preach the "Gospel" while the preacher lives in a mansion and drives a Lexus? Anyone else sick of these creatures preaching that wealth and war are OK? Yes, me too. And, of course, these fundies just haaatteeeee Catholics, and why let the poor get in the way when you can bash the Roman Catholic Church?

A church has withdrawn its support for a food pantry serving the needy because the pantry works with Roman Catholics.

Central Church of God explained its decision in a letter March 1 from minister of evangelism Shannon Burton to Loaves & Fishes in Charlotte.

"As a Christian church, we feel it is our responsibility to follow closely the (principles) and commands of Scripture," the letter said.

"To do this best, we feel we should abstain from any ministry that partners with or promotes Catholicism, or for that matter, any other denomination promoting a works-based salvation."

Boom! Note that last line: what these phony churches - and they are phony, they are about as Christian as Satan himself, in my opinion - is that they oppose "a works-based salvation." In other words, their belief is that it's enough to believe - or claim you believe - and salvation follows. Do any of us think that's true? Hm? Considering that Jesus was a Jew and Jews are strongly works-oriented? Let us look briefly at the words attributed, perhaps correctly, to James the Righteous, the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem until his martyrdom:

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18 But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, 23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

Now I know that Paul suggests that faith alone saves. It's worth remembering that we do not have all of his writings and some writings attributed to Paul are not his. We don't know what process of editing happened before the canon of the Bible was set. In fact, a close reading of Paul and "Paul" shows major disagreements. From my reading of the Gospels, which I think have to be more definitive than the epistles, Jesus and his disciples believed that works as well as faith lead to salvation, and we would be well served to remember that.

When there is a Judgment, it will not go well at Central Church of "God." Let us end with a favorite poem of mine, by Leigh Hunt:

Abou ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight of his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
an angel, writing in a book of of gold:

Exceeding peace had made ben Adehm bold,
And to the Prescence in the room he said:
"What writest thou?" The vision raised its head,
And, with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."

"And is mine one?" said Abou, "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still, and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again, with a great awakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.


And now I shall jump off my soapbox. (via the vigilant Avedon Carol)

A Bobo's Redemption

The modern Republican Party stinks of corruption as no party in the history of America has. These guys make Tammany Hall look like the Welcome Wagon. David Brooks, of all people, wakes up and names names:

Back in 1995, when Republicans took over Congress, a new cadre of daring and original thinkers arose. These bold innovators had a key insight: that you no longer had to choose between being an activist and a lobbyist. You could be both. You could harness the power of K Street to promote the goals of Goldwater, Reagan and Gingrich. And best of all, you could get rich while doing it!

Before long, ringleader Grover Norquist and his buddies were signing lobbying deals with the Seychelles and the Northern Mariana Islands and talking up their interests at weekly conservative strategy sessions - what could be more vital to the future of freedom than the commercial interests of these two fine locales?

Before long, folks like Norquist and Abramoff were talking up the virtues of international sons of liberty like Angola's Jonas Savimbi and Congo's dictator Mobutu Sese Seko - all while receiving compensation from these upstanding gentlemen, according to The Legal Times. Only a reactionary could have been so discomfited by Savimbi's little cannibalism problem as to think this was not a daring contribution to the cause of Reaganism.

Soon the creative revolutionaries were blending the high-toned forms of the think tank with the low-toned scams of the buckraker. Ed Buckham, Tom DeLay's former chief of staff, helped run the U.S. Family Network, which supported the American family by accepting large donations and leasing skyboxes at the MCI Center, according to Roll Call. Michael Scanlon, DeLay's former spokesman, organized a think tank called the American International Center, located in a house in Rehoboth Beach, Del., which was occupied, according to Andrew Ferguson's devastating compendium in The Weekly Standard, by a former "lifeguard of the year" and a former yoga instructor.

Ralph Reed, meanwhile, smashed the tired old categories that used to separate social conservatives from corporate consultants. Reed signed on with Channel One, Verizon, Enron and Microsoft to shore up the moral foundations of our great nation. Reed so strongly opposes gambling as a matter of principle that he bravely accepted $4 million through Abramoff from casino-rich Indian tribes to gin up a grass-roots campaign.

As time went by, the spectacular devolution of morals accelerated. Many of the young innovators were behaving like people who, having read Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative," embraced the conservative part while discarding the conscience part.

Abramoff's and Scanlon's Indian-gaming scandal will go down as the movement's crowning achievement, more shameless than anything the others would do, but still the culmination of the trends building since 1995. It perfectly embodied their creed and philosophy: "I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!!" as Abramoff wrote to Reed.

They made at least $66 million.

At long last, intellectual honesty from Brooks. He must feel good about himself today.

Monday, March 21, 2005

SpongeDob

SpongeDob's dumbass followers continue to send inane emails to Keith Olbermann:

You couldn’t make this stuff up. As usual, the last names have been removed to protect the under-schooled:

-- Barbara in Tellico Plains, Tennessee:
“There needs to be a stop on people who distortes Christians who speaks out on the truth of God’s word. Christians have the right to say what ever. Put a stop on this, or first thing you know they will be doing you the same way.”

Hey, Barbara? What ever!

-- Lindsey at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado asks:
“What did Dr. Dobson actually say? Not what was reported. What were his words? His words were about a tv affiliate that is funded by gay/lesbian groups?”
I knew this day would come. The Queer Eye guys have bought their own station.

-- Cathy writes from Norco, California:
“We have watched sponge Bob for some time on occasions. Not all its subject matter is as kosher as we’d like it to be.”
Don’t let Dr. Dobson know about your kosher concerns.

-- With similar obliviousness, Frank from Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been good enough to reproach my “inappropriate toleration of pro-gay groups” by quoting one of America’s great writers:
“The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers (media) or inventors, but always most in the common people. Walt Whitman 1819-1892, American Poet.”
Um, Frank - I have a historical tidbit about Walt Whitman’s dating habits I think might interest you.

-- Kirtie from Oxford, Pennsylvania, apparently wrote after a struggle with the cat:
“Please try a litter harder to get your facts straight.”

-- Evelyn from Tigard, Oregon, had her whopper contained in her subject line:
“Subject: Misaccurate Reporting.”

-- And Belinda from Bossier City, Louisiana, sums it up neatly:
“I find it quite a show of hypochondria on your part that you absolutely refuse to find out the truth about Dr. Dobson’s comments…”

Sometimes they flat out stump you.

What would Jesus do? Clock these people upside the head, I suspect.

New Labour Needs a Hard Correction

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that enough British voters will, with an internal grimace, vote for the Tories or the Liberal Democrats in the upcoming general election to unseat dictatorial "Prime Minister" Tony Blair and the travesty he has created out of the Labour Party. Long-time newspaperman and distinguished military historian Max Hastings comments:

A Labour majority of a hundred is the likeliest outcome of the election. I suggest this without pleasure. I shall vote Tory for the first time since 1992, not because I expect Michael Howard to form a government, but because Britain desperately needs an opposition more substantial than the media. Labour's absolute dominance of the Commons is bad for democracy, and there are reasons to suppose that it could continue for a decade.

Even when ministers commit blunders, they are seldom obliged to stop and think. They can ram through decisions, confident that, even if they suffer a few bad headlines, they cannot be gainsaid. A fortnight ago, after the Lords assaulted the anti-terror bill, some ministers made threatening noises about preventing the upper chamber from again obstructing vital government business - once the electorate renews their mandate.

Most Labour MPs regard a Commons vote as the only endorsement that matters for almost any course of action. This attitude is alarming in a country with pitifully few of the constitutional checks and balances available to other nations, especially through the existence of rival centres of power to the executive.

George Bush remarked last November that he had gotten himself a lot of political capital out of his election triumph, and he intended to spend it. But, even in a country where the Republicans control both houses of the legislature as well as the White House, there are significant limits on Bush's authority. State power is the most obvious, together with the fact that US presidents cannot take support for granted, even among members of their own parties on Capitol Hill.

In Britain, by contrast, displays of independence by Blair's MPs have been rare, chiefly confined to such grotesqueries as the fox hunting ban. If Labour wins a third term with a handsome majority, we face the danger of an elective dictatorship, especially if steps are taken to complete the emasculation of the House of Lords.

It is remarkable but true that in Britain a party with a parliamentary majority is as close to a pure dictatorship as anything going in the west today. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith comments:

AS Republicans in the United States decide whether to do away with filibusters by changing Senate rules - the so-called nuclear option - they would do well to cast their eyes at their Conservative cousins across the Atlantic. Britain's backbench members of Parliament, whom I led as head of the Conservative Party from 2001 to 2003, are virtually powerless before a determined government majority. Indeed, if it were not for the House of Lords, the second and appointed chamber, which has retained limited powers of delay, British government would be an elected dictatorship.

How did this come to pass? In 1887 a group of Irish Nationalist and Liberal members of Parliament brought the House of Commons to a standstill. Outraged by the Irish Crimes Bill, which imposed draconian sanctions on campaigners for Irish home rule, the rebel M.P.'s filibustered discussion for more than a month, forcing numerous all-night sittings and making government business impossible. But they failed to stop the bill, and in the process they stretched parliamentary procedures beyond the breaking point. The Conservative government then in power accused the Irish M.P.'s of unreasonable obstructionism and, by a substantial majority, it introduced the modern parliamentary "guillotine," which allows government ministers to set a cutoff for parliamentary debates.

The guillotine was sold to Parliament as an exceptional device to counter exceptional behavior by minorities. Today, however, British governments use guillotining and similar powers to curtail debate as a matter of course. The guillotine no longer applies merely to unreasonable behavior but is used routinely to gag parliamentarians.

Blair has done his best to turn the House of Lords into a chamber of dogs who bark on order. He really has no opposition. He really needs, like Bush, to go out on his ass.

They'll reelect Labour. Shame - especially for those of us who mostly sympathize with the Labour Party and see that it needs a hard correction.

Terri: A Political Football

What a surprise that pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-strip the poor and give to the rich Repugs would use the living corpse of Terri Schiavo as a political football. Scary thing, it will work. The American people have become so stupid that they'll sit there like dogs with their tongues out listening to Bush et al claim they're pro-life - in this one case - while they kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, applaud the death penalty, abort their own babies quietly, and plan their next war (Venezuela, anyone?).

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hey, How About a Nobel for Khomeini, Too?

Thomas Friedman goes waayyy over the deep end today by recommending Iraqi Shiite religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for a Nobel Prize. He paints Sistani as a kind of George Washington figure, standing tall and proud and leading his people into the promised land:

It was Mr. Sistani who insisted that there had to be a direct national election in Iraq, rejecting the original goofy U.S. proposal for regional caucuses. It was Mr. Sistani who insisted that the elections not be postponed in the face of the Baathist-fascist insurgency. And it was Mr. Sistani who ordered Shiites not to retaliate for the Sunni Baathist and jihadist attempts to drag them into a civil war by attacking Shiite mosques and massacring Shiite civilians.

Uh, sure. All Sistani is interested in is bringing Iraq under religious Shiite rule, and that was his main reason for rejecting the original proposal for regional caucuses. Sistani knew that regional caucuses would have resulted in a representative makeup of the new Iraqi government, with Shiites in the majority, but important roles for Sunnis and Kurds. That really would cut into his plans for a Shiite religious dictatorship, and that was his only reason for insisting on early national elections. And need we mention that yes, Sunni mosques and other sites have indeed been attacked by the disinterested Shiite heroes. Friedman gets dumber:

In many ways, Mr. Sistani has played the role for President George W. Bush that Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev played for his father, President George H. W. Bush. It was Mr. Mandela's instincts and leadership - in keeping the transition to black rule in South Africa nonviolent - that helped the Bush I administration and its allies bring that process in for a soft landing.

Needless to say, Bush I and Reagan before him did their best to keep the corrupt Afrikaner government in power and Nelson Mandela in jail. I suppose Friedman relies on the stupidity of most Americans, which is indeed extreme, to get this garbage by them.

In a year, maybe less, this column is going to be laughable, in a sad and miserable way. Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani is another Khomieni. His plan is to turn a secular, relatively tolerant Iraq into another Islamic dictatorship. Could the New York Times find some new, intelligent columnists and send Friedman and Bobo back to kindergarten where they belong?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Who Said This?

Who said this? Dobson? Falwell? That bastard in Wichita?

There are those homosexuals who take the view: what I do is my business, a purely private matter. However, all things which take place in the sexual sphere are not the private affair of the individual, but signify the life and death of the nation, signify world power or 'swissification.' The people which has many children has the candidature for world power and world domination. A people of good race which has too few children has a one-way ticket to the grave, for insignificance in fifty or a hundred years, for burial in two hundred and fifty years....

Heinrich Himmler.

Thanks to grannyhelen over at Kos for that quote, and an eloquent post on the largely forgotten murder of gays in the holocaust.

Good for Eugene

Unlike many bloggers, present company included, Eugene Volokh realized he went waaaayyyy off the deep end the other day when he endorsed a particularly brutal Iranian execution. Good on you, Professor! And congrats to Mark Kleiman, whose argument appears to have convinced Professor Volokh.

Pvt. Beharry, VC

A little more on yesterday's announcement of the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Private Johnson Beharry of the British Army:

Announcement at the Ministry of Defence site, includes an interesting shot of the piece of metal - the cascabel of a captured Russian cannon from the Crimean War - that Victoria Crosses are cast from. There is supposedly enough metal for 85 more VCs. Also note General Sir Michael Jackson, Chief of the General Staff. Observe that the British don't give out medals like candy. Compare Sir Michael to our generals, who now look like Soviet Marshals bedecked with their perfect attendence ribbons. More on UK military medals here. The other living VC recipients are listed here. The most Victoria Crosses awarded for one action: Rorke's Drift, 1879, 11.

A bad war still has brave men fighting in it. The same was eminently true of Vietnam.

Two Years

Two years of the Mess in Mespotamia. Over 1500 Americans dead, thousands more maimed for life. Maybe a hundred thousand Iraqis dead, and a country left shattered and on the cusp of becoming another pest-ridden Islamic fundamentalist hellhole.

One hopes there is a hell for the people who thought this was a good idea and those who continue to celebrate it.

Ignorance is Not a Right

"Christian" asshats are influencing what IMAX theatres are showing; no movies that mention evil-ution or talk up science. What a surprise. How about we move these people to Iran where they belong?

People who follow trends at commercial and institutional Imax theaters say that in recent years, religious controversy has adversely affected the distribution of a number of films, including "Cosmic Voyage," which depicts the universe in dimensions running from the scale of subatomic particles to clusters of galaxies; "Galápagos," about the islands where Darwin theorized about evolution; and "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea," an underwater epic about the bizarre creatures that flourish in the hot, sulfurous emanations from vents in the ocean floor.

"Volcanoes," released in 2003 and sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University, has been turned down at about a dozen science centers, mostly in the South, said Dr. Richard Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer who was chief scientist for the film. He said theater officials rejected the film because of its brief references to evolution, in particular to the possibility that life on Earth originated at the undersea vents.

Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous."

In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence."


Ignorance is not a right. I keep hearing people saying that we Democrats need to be more like the Repugs; we need to take "faith" seriously. Well, what the fundies in the Bible belt believe is not faith, it's bloody-minded ignorance and no, we are not going to be like that. Evolution and Christianity are not incompatible - if you have half a brain and use it.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Volokh Goes Off the Deep End

Remember how liberal professors like the ludicrous Ward Churchill are the "problem" with America? Well, what about "libertarian" asshats like Eugene Volokh who get off on Iranian executions? Digby, as usual, gets to the heart of the matter:

This kind of “moral intuition” coming from a law professor is a rejection of just about everything the West and particularly the enlightenment has been progressing toward for hundreds of years. He rejects empiricism, reason and logic for a primitive bloodlust that can only be described as barbaric.

What in the world are we allowing to happen to us?

First Victoria Cross Since the Falklands

The Victoria Cross is the UK's highest award for bravery, and is a lot harder to receive than our Medal of Honor (which has been deflated by awarding it to, for example, successful fighter pilots ala the German Knight's Cross, which is unfortunate as many of the actions it's awarded for are incredibly desperate). Private Johnson Beharry, a 25 year old British soldier born in Grenada, is the first recipient since the Falklands campaign and the first living recipient since Vietnam (Commonwealth troops are also eligible; the Vietnam awards went to Australian soldiers). We can disagree about the war, but Private Johnson's act of bravery is one we can all admire (Ladies, he's cute, too! Check out his picture here!).

His company, the citation says, had been ordered to extract a foot patrol pinned down by small arms and heavy machine-gun fire and an attack by an improvised explosive device and RPGs.

As they passed a roundabout on their way to the pinned-down patrol, his platoon noticed that the road ahead was empty of civilians and traffic, an indicator of a potential ambush. The platoon commander ordered the vehicle to halt so that he could assess the situation. The vehicle was then hit by RPGs.

The citation continues: "As a result of this ferocious initial volley of fire, both the platoon commander and the vehicle's gunner were incapacitated by concussion and other wounds, and a number of the soldiers in the rear of the vehicle were also wounded."

Pte Beharry had no means of communication with the turret crew or any of the other Warriors around him. He did not know if his commander or crew were still alive or how serious their injuries were.

"On his own initiative, he closed his driver's hatch and moved forward through the ambush position to try to establish some form of communications, halting just short of a barricade across the road."

The Warrior was hit again by RPGs. It caught fire and filled with thick, noxious smoke.

Pte Beharry, continues the citation, "assessed that his best course of action to save the lives of his crew was to push through, out of the ambush. He drove his Warrior directly through the barricade, not knowing if there were mines or improvised explosive devices placed there to destroy his vehicle. By doing this he was able to lead the remaining five Warriors behind him towards safety."

Another RPG hit the Warrior. "The flames and force of the blast passed directly over him, down the driver's tunnel, further wounding the semi-conscious gunner in the turret."

Pte Beharry was "forced to drive the vehicle along the rest of the ambushed route, some 1,500 metres, with his hatch opened up and his head exposed to enemy fire, all the time with no communications with any other vehicle."

A 7.62mm bullet penetrated his helmet and remained lodged on its inner surface.

Pte Beharry then climbed on to the turret of the burning vehicle and, "seemingly oblivious to the incoming enemy small arms fire, manhandled his wounded platoon commander out of the turret, off the vehicle and to the safety of a nearby Warrior".

Remounting his burning vehicle for the third time, he drove it through "a complex chicane and into the security of the defended perimeter of the outpost, thus denying it to the enemy". Once inside, he collapsed from physical and mental exhaustion.

A few weeks later, on June 11, another Warrior convoy he was leading was ambushed. A grenade detonated six inches from his head.

"With the blood from his head injury obscuring his vision, Beharry managed to continue to control his vehicle and forcefully reversed the Warrior out of the ambush," says the citation. He then collapsed, unconscious.

The Grenada-born private was paraded by the top brass yesterday among his comrades in the 1st Battalion, the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, and other recipients of high military honours.

"I was just doing my job. I was just thinking of the guys in the vehicle and the guys behind me," he said.

He was asked what was going through his mind at the time. "An RPG", Pte Beharry promptly replied.

The US is reportedly very close to awarding a posthumous Medal of Honor for an Iraq action; more on that when it happens.

But It's Always BEEN the "Ugly American Bank"

I usually agree with much of what Paul Krugman has to say, but when he argues that the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz turns the World Bank into the "ugly American bank" all I can do is shrug. Paul, it's always been the ugly American bank, and most of what it does is reprehensible. If you don't believe me, check out some of what Greg Palast has written about it. The World Bank is a tool of big corporations who move into poor countries, privitize everything in sight, and loot the hell out of the place.

This is NOT "Fair and Balanced"

C-Span wanted to commit an incredible stupidity by "balancing" a televised lecture by Professor Deborah Lipstadt with a speech by reprehensible holocaust denier and self-proclaimed "real historian" David Irving, best known for accusing Lipstadt of libel in British court, a case he lost spectacularly. The idea that things always have to be "balanced" by an opposing view is just asinine and has led partly to the conservative insanity gripping this country. Trying to be fair, broadcasters have tried to "balance" what they perceive to be liberal views with conservative views, even when the conservative views are, as in this case, insane.

Professor Lipstadt has always refused to be used in this way, and she has removed her permission to allow C-SPAN to tape her lecture. For C-Span to try to "balance" the truth with the fantasies of a holocaust denier is beyond the pale, and it is and has always been to Lipstadt's credit that she avoids such situations.

"I called the producer at C-Span and told her that this was a man who was a Holocaust denier, and this idea of using both of us made no sense to me," Professor Lipstadt said.

She and many of her supporters believe that including such a figure in an account of her views would be as wrongheaded as accompanying a story on slavery in the United States with remarks from someone who said that slavery never happened.

"I told C-Span that I assumed that if they weren't going to tape my lecture, they also wouldn't use David Irving, but they said no, they were committed to having him on," Professor Lipstadt said yesterday. "This is a man who's said that Holocaust survivors are all liars, and that more people died in Senator Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers."

Complete article here.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

No Absolution

And no justice for the victims and families of those who died with 747 Kaniskha, flying as Air India flight 182. Really a mindbogglingly stupid verdict. Much discussion here at Airliners.net.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Whew!

Every now and then you see a post you wish you'd written. David Podvin takes on the repulsive Ann Coulter and her vile ilk:

Ann Coulter is not merely eighty pounds of toxic sewage wrapped in six feet of reptile skin - she is the vicious ghoul that remains after conservatism has been scrubbed of its camouflage. Satan’s concubine has been vocal in her belief that torturing anyone identified as the enemy is good, and that torturing them using the most excruciating techniques is better. Coulter is not alone in the desire to feast on human suffering. Although she is considerably less circumspect than other right wingers, it is instructive that not one prominent conservative has repudiated her.

Invoking God and country, the Confederates who currently run the United States are striving to make Andersonville a global phenomenon. Since 9/11, Republicans have dispatched domestic agents and foreign surrogates to torture countless people on various continents. Unsurprisingly, the reprobates have not been content to torment their prey physically. Conservatives are implementing a policy to humiliate other human beings, shaming their victims in the vilest ways imaginable, apparently oblivious that the true shame of this outrage is being inflicted upon the United States. Our own pious moralists have disgraced America in the eyes of everyone who does not view savagery as a virtue.
...
America’s current policymaker was a prodigy at pain implementation. George W. Bush began his highly successful career in sadism by exploding frogs with firecrackers.[1] He soon advanced to shooting his siblings with bb guns,[2] evolved to tormenting fraternity pledges at Yale,[3] and then progressed to taunting prisoners[4] as they were being lethally injected. The former Texas governor has now graduated to terrorizing civilians from Port au Prince to Baghdad and beyond. Mr. Bush has always delighted in imposing despair, and as the Leader Of The Free World he possesses carte blanche to satisfy his voracious hunger for harming others.

Bush’s appetite for destruction has earned him the abiding respect of motorcycle gangs and religious conservatives alike. There is no discernible outrage from William Bennett when civilians are kidnapped and subjected to grotesque forms of persecution. There is no indignation from Jerry Falwell when children are raped as an incentive for their parents to become more cooperative. There is no call for impeachment from Henry Hyde when the commander-in-chief violates the Constitution by sanctioning behavior that replicates the worst of Joseph Mengele. And when innocent people who have been abused are finally freed from their nightmare, there is no demand for a special prosecutor from Tom DeLay.
...
Terrorist degenerates represent a real threat to the United States, but the more imminent danger is posed by conservative degenerates who believe that vanquishing bin Laden requires emulating him. When Joe Lieberman insisted that the abominations perpetrated by Americans at Abu Ghraib did not require an apology because the other side never apologized for 9/11, he was expressing the right wing fondness for embracing the lowest ethical denominator. Left to their own designs, Republicans and their fellow travelers would have America oppose al Qaida by becoming just like al Qaida.

Whew! Check it out; it's today's must-read. (via the ever-vigilent Avedon Carol)

Shooting Down Those Asinine Magnetic Ribbons

Driving back from Florida with my Mom in September, I noticed that a large percentage of the cars on the highway with us had those now-ubiqitous magnetic "Support Our Troops!" ribbons on them. Matt over at GWBlows has the best response to the damned things I've seen yet. After quoting a newspaper story that has some brainless Repugofemme breathily saying that her ribbons - she has about a hundred - are "positive" and a sociologist claiming that ribbons make people feel like they're doing something, Matt opines:

No your not, your not doing anything. If you were raising money to buy our troops armor, you'd be doing something. If you were volunteering at a veterans hospital, you'd be doing something. If you were donating to the international red cross, you'd be doing something. If you bought a car that gets 60 miles to the gallon, you'd be doing something. If you were staying well-informed of the situation in Iraq and writing newspapers and elected officials about it, you'd be doing something. What your doing is giving a couple dollars to some company who makes cheap magnets in china and sells them in gas stations looking to make a quick buck off of people looking for the easiest, cheapest way possible to "support our troops".

AMEN, brother. BTW, you have to scroll down a bit. Matt's permalinks aren't working.

Coalition of the Bribed and/or Stupid Continues to Shrink

Even as enthusiastic a business-fascist as Silvio Berlusconi knows when to get the hell out of Dodge and Italian troops will begin leaving Iraq in September.

The announcement Tuesday by the conservative leader was the most high-profile crack in what the U.S. administration has boasted in the past was a solid alliance. The Netherlands is ending its mission this month, and Poland plans to withdraw some troops in July.

Pretty soon we're going to be there on our lonesome. And how ridiculous that will look.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Now It's Us

American soldiers in World War II were astonished when they found, tucked in between pictures of wives and children, pictures of atrocities on German soldiers they had killed. That was a different world. This is now:

When Pfc. Chase McCollough went home on leave in November, he brought a movie made by fellow soldiers in Iraq. On his first night back at his parents' house in Texas, he showed the video to his fiancee, family and friends.

This is what they saw: a handful of American soldiers filmed through the green haze of night-vision goggles. Radio communication between two soldiers crackles in the background before it's drowned out by a heavy-metal soundtrack.

"Don't need your forgiveness," the song by the band Dope begins as images unfurl: armed soldiers posing in front of Bradley fighting vehicles, two women covered in black abayas walking along a dusty road, a blue-domed mosque, a poster of radical cleric Muqtada Sadr. Then, to the fast, hard beat of the music — "Die, don't need your resistance. Die, don't need your prayers" — charred, decapitated and bloody corpses fill the screen.

"It's like a trophy, something to keep," McCullough, 20, said back at his cramped living quarters at Camp Warhorse near Baqubah. "I was there. I did this."

How very proud this junior Waffen SS type must be. There's more:

Troops often carry personal cameras and video equipment in battle. On occasion, official military camera crews, known as "Combat Camera" units, follow the troops on raids and patrol. Although the military uses that footage for training and public affairs, it also finds its way to personal computers and commercial websites.

The result: an abundance of photographs and video footage depicting mutilation, death and destruction that soldiers collect and trade like baseball cards.

"I have a lot of pictures of dead Iraqis — everybody does," said Spc. Jack Benson, 22, also stationed near Baqubah. He has collected five videos by other soldiers and is working on his own.

By adding music, soldiers create their own cinema verite of the conflict. Although many are humorous or patriotic, others are gory, like McCollough's favorite.

"It gets the point across," he said. "This isn't some jolly freakin' peacekeeping mission."

Fortunately, in spite of the propaganda we've been exposed to, the folks back home aren't real impressed by this kind of pornography of violence:

McCullough was surprised that his favorite video was disturbing to his loved ones back in Texas.

"You find out just how weird it is when you take it home," said McCullough, whose screensaver is far more benign, showing him on his wedding day.

Brandi McCullough, then his fiancee and now his wife, said she had walked in as he was showing the videos to friends who were "whooping and hollering."

The 18-year-old was shocked by images of "body parts missing, bombs going off and people getting shot."

"They're terrifying," she said by phone from Texas. "Chase never talked about anything over there, and I watch the news, but not all the time. I didn't realize there was that much" violence.

She also wondered why anyone would record it.

"I thought it was odd — a home video," she said. "People getting shot and someone sitting there with a camera."

McCullough said his father, a naval reserve captain, had told him, "'You know, this isn't normal.'

Indeed, it's not normal. But, like Abu Ghraib, it's a symptom.

And imagine when these little sickos come home from the war (via)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Acting Like Himself

The Washington Post notices that Caligula is acting kind of funny lately. Really, he's just acting like his not over-bright self:

President Bush is telling another audience that the Social Security system is in great distress, and there will be ghastly consequences if our leaders don't act, and act now.

But first, a little joke:

About a guy trying to get to Livingston, Mont. "To get to Livingston, you've got to go down the highway," Bush says during a recent "town meeting" in Great Falls, Mont. "And you go through the cattle guard. And you turn left. And go through another cattle guard."

Bush chuckles, races through his setup, then hurtles into his punch line.

"And a fellow comes back and says, 'Hey, what color uniforms do those cattle guards have on?' "

Get it? Like, the doofus in the joke thought "cattle guards" were people (protecting the cows), as opposed to steel rails (placed at fence openings to stop cows from walking onto roads).

The crowd is silent. Bush's face freezes in a guess-you-had-to-be-there smile.

Laughter comes eventually, in deference to the president's game effort, if not his joke (showing that it's possible to hate the joke but love the jokester). There are smiling grimaces and shaking heads, looks of amused disbelief that ask:

Did the Leader of the Free World really just go off on such a goofball digression?
...
When a panelist in Tampa used the word "multitasking," Bush, with a hint of sarcasm, commended her for using a "nice long word, 'multitasking.' Very good. Inject a little intellectual strength in the conversation."

Yeah. Very funny.

They Love Peons

Avedon Carol asks this pertinent question:

Where are Bush and his corporate cronies planning to live once they finish asset-stripping the United States?

That's an easy one. They're planning to live right here, as princes among peasants. It happens elsewhere, after all. Like Brazil, for instance:

"The currency of the rich in Brazil is indifference and humiliation. They wish you a good morning, but they pay to keep you and your service at a convenient distance," he says, complaining that he has never been offered so much as a glass of water by a resident.

And while Sergio's monthly income of 600 reais (about £120) is more than twice the value of the minimum wage endured by millions of Brazilians, it does not impress a man who has a bird's-eye view of the fabulous riches enjoyed by some of his compatriots.

Brazil's vertiginous income gap has long been identified as one of the less attractive features of this diverse and resource-rich nation. The growing number of Brazilian billionaires on the Forbes list, published last week, underlined the fact that rich in this country can mean very rich.

The rich here are exactly the same. They live in their little worlds and sneer at the rest of us, struggling to keep afloat as they flood our streets with Chinese products and Mexican workers. Think back to Fox's repulsive TV show with Paris Hilton and her little friend making sneering fun of the ordinary people they encounter. They think this is funny. And as long as fools keep voting for their party it will remain funny. They can party on while the peons vote as they're told and keep cleaning their toilets and diapering their privileged babies.

But whether the party can go on forever in a country as abundantly packed with guns as this one is another question. People will wake up. It will not be pretty. Nor funny.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Well Well Well

Christopher Hitchens is a well-known supporter of the Chimp and of the Mess in Mesopotamia. Guess what: he thinks the election in Ohio was stolen and writes about it in April's issue of Vanity Fair:

Here’s what happened in Gambier, Ohio, on decision day 2004.

The polls opened at 6:30 AM. There were only two voting machines (push-button direct-recording electronic systems) for the entire town of 2,200 (with students). The mayor, Kirk Emmert, had called the Board of Elections 10 days earlier, saying that the number of registered voters would require more than that. (He knew, as did many others, that hundreds of students had asked to register in Ohio because it was a critical “swing” state.) The mayor’s request was denied. Indeed, instead of there being extra capacity on Election Day, one of the only two machines chose to break down before lunchtime.

By the time the polls officially closed, at 7:30 that evening, the line of those waiting to vote was still way outside the Community Center and well into the parking lot. A federal judge thereupon ordered Knox County, in which Gambier is located, to comply with Ohio law, which grants the right to vote to those who have shown up in time. “Authority to Vote” cards were kindly distributed to those on line (voting is a right, not a privilege), but those on line needed more than that. By the time the 1,175 voters in the precinct had all cast their ballots, it was almost four in the morning, and many had had to wait for up to 11 hours.
...
Across the rest of Ohio, the Capra theme was not so noticeable. Reporters and eyewitnesses told of voters who had given up after humiliating or frustrating waits, and who often cited the unwillingness of their employers to accept voting as an excuse for lateness or absence. In some way or another, these bottlenecks had a tendency to occur in working-class and, shall we just say, nonwhite precincts. So did many disputes about “provisional” ballots, the sort that are handed out when a voter can prove his or her identity but not his or her registration at that polling place. These glitches might all be attributable to inefficiency or incompetence (though Gambier had higher turnouts and much shorter lines in 1992 and 1996). Inefficiency and incompetence could also explain the other oddities of the Ohio process—from machines that redirected votes from one column to the other to machines that recorded amazing tallies for unknown fringe candidates, to machines that apparently showed that voters who waited for a long time still somehow failed to register a vote at the top of the ticket for any candidate for the presidency of these United States.

However, for any of that last category of anomaly to be explained, one would need either a voter-verified paper trail of ballots that could be tested against the performance of the machines or a court order that would allow inspection of the machines themselves. The first of these does not exist, and the second has not yet been granted.
...
I am not any sort of statistician or technologist, and (like many Democrats in private) I did not think that John Kerry should have been president of any country at any time. But I have been reviewing books on history and politics all my life, making notes in the margin when I come across a wrong date, or any other factual blunder, or a missing point in the evidence. No book is ever free from this. But if all the mistakes and omissions occur in such a way as to be consistent, to support or attack only one position, then you give the author a lousy review. The Federal Election Commission, which has been a risible body for far too long, ought to make Ohio its business. The Diebold company, which also manufactures A.T.M.s, should not receive another dime until it can produce a voting system that is similarly reliable. And Americans should cease to be treated like serfs or extras when they present themselves to exercise their franchise.

It's a long and detailed article by a Bush supporter, and you need to read it (via).

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Moderate Republican Doesn't Like What He Sees in Today's Party

Former Minnesota Senator David Durenberger looks at the Bushies and doesn't like what he sees. Some highlights from a recent interview with Durenberger:

Today, though--I'll cite [anti-tax icon] Grover Norquist, who said something to the effect of, "Bipartisanship is like date rape." And that's what drives people now in the [Republican] party. They talk about freedom and values, but they really don't believe in representative government. They don't see that the country ought not to be divided in half. You're just looking at gridlock. I guess I'm a date-raper in the Norquist sense.
...
In my view, the problem is a chief executive who will never acknowledge a mistake, an error, or a fault. Talking about leadership is not leadership. Leadership is not just success winning the seat of the president.

From the time he was governor, and a presidential candidate, he said he never once--never once--gave a second thought to any Texan that he sent to be executed. I've got concerns about that kind of person as a leader. To never, ever give a second thought to that sort of thing.

We saw it in the debates with John Kerry. I don't think the man believes that he's capable of making a mistake. Even though he's made them in his personal life and acknowledged them in his personal life. When I say that to somebody, they say, "Well, you know the way the system works in America is that you say you made a mistake and the other side is all over you." My answer to that is, "That's America. That is representative democracy." Because at some point, if you don't acknowledge mistakes, they're gonna come back and haunt you. I mean, that's just history. I'm not saying it'll happen on Bush's watch, [but] it will come back to haunt us.

We use the words "national security" to justify absolutely everything that goes on in this country. And that's not American. But that's the track [Bush] is on.
...
The excesses of liberalism obscured the wonderful things about it. Most Republicans won't do this, but you need to read Garrison Keillor's Homegrown Democrat to understand some of the good things that came from liberalism.
...
David Brooks writes about exurbanites, the people beyond the suburbs, using the analogy of golf. Their life needs to be like a golf course, where all the grass is clean, and cut to the same size, and the sand traps are all edged appropriately. That's the way they live, that's the way of a growing number of Americans. They want to go to churches where people are just like them, and go to malls that serve people and lifestyles just like them. This is Brooks's characterization, not mine. Increasingly, people want to vote for people who look like them, talk like them, and think like them. They go to church on Sunday, and they want to vote for somebody who talks to them the way the preacher does.

And what Keillor is saying is, "You know, you guys wouldn't have those opportunities. Your girls wouldn't be playing for national basketball championships and things like that. You wouldn't have 911 to call to save your kids' life or your own life, if there hadn't been Democrats or liberals fighting for those things." Those are some of the examples he uses. And he's right.

He's really saying, Give credit where credit is due. And there's a value in universities, there is a value to big old cities. There's a value to the Hmong or whomever. Here they are. And there's a value in that that doesn't exist in the golf course community, where everybody is the same. You can't possibly say you can represent everybody in your district, everybody in your state, everybody in your nation if have this golf course community mentality.

Check it out.

List of Shame

Max has the list of Democratic losers who voted to allow the cretinous bankruptcy bill come to the floor. Read it, and remember when election day comes.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Lunatics Still in Charge of the Asylum

Some people had the weird idea that after the last election the necrocons would lose some of their influence. Wrong-o. One of the craziest has now been dispatched to the UN with a big middle finger to the world from his mindless boss, President Caligula. A few squibs on Bolton:

North Korea: "A sounder U.S. policy would start by making it clear to the North that we are indifferent to whether we ever have "normal" diplomatic relations with it, and that achieving that goal is entirely in their interests, not ours. We should also make clear that diplomatic normalization with the U.S. is only going to come when North Korea becomes a normal country." Los Angeles Times, 09/22/99

United Nations: "Moreover, many Republicans in Congress - and perhaps a majority - not only do not care about losing the General Assembly vote but actually see it as a "make my day" outcome. Indeed, once the vote is lost, and the adverse consequences predicted by the U.N.'s supporters begin to occur, this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system." Washington Times, 10/24/98

At a 1994 panel discussion sponsored by the World Federalist Association Bolton claimed "there's no such thing as the United Nations," and stated ''if the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.''

International Criminal Court: "Support for the International Criminal Court concept is based largely on emotional appeals to an abstract ideal of an international judicial system." House International Relations Committee, 07/07/00

Sen. Jesse Helms on John Bolton: "John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon." Speech at American Enterprise Institute, 01/11/01

Yick. And those are from his 2001 appointment as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control. David Neiwert has this useful suggestion for Caligula:

Now that that great supporter of the United Nations, John Bolton, has been named the American U.N. ambassador, I'd like to humbly suggest an excellent hire for the position of assistant ambassador, if there is such a job. (And if there isn't, they ought to create one.)

And I think President Bush should nominate John Trochmann of the Militia of Montana.

After all, this is a president who, as I've noted previously, has expressed nostalgia for those old John Birch Society billboards that shouted, "Get Us Out of the U.N.!" I think that when it comes to dealing realistically with the U.N., he'll find Trochmann right up his alley too, maybe even more so than Bolton.

Craptacular. The United States is represented to the world by a pack of lunatics, crazies, and torturers. Wonderful. When do we get the champagne salesman and the clubfooted propagandist?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Was Eason Jordan Right?

Eason Jordan was forced by the screeching right wing to resign from CNN after he made mild comments indicating that the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan appeared to be targeting journalists. How, then, are we to judge what happened here?

In an article Sunday, Sgrena said her captors warned her shortly before her release to beware of the Americans. She later told Italian state TV RAI that “when they let me go, it was a difficult moment for me because they told me, ‘The Americans don’t want you to return alive to Italy.”’ Sgrena didn’t elaborate, and it wasn’t clear if “they” referred to her captors.

Her editor, Gabriele Polo, said Italian officials told him 300 to 400 rounds were fired at the car. Italian military officials said two other intelligence agents were wounded in the shooting; U.S. officials said it was only one.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett said it was crucial that the facts be determined before judgments were made about the shooting. Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “Late Edition,” he called the shooting “a horrific accident” and pledged a full investigation.

The fact that she writes for a Communist newspaper couldn't have helped. Needless to say the Italians aren't real happy with the Chimp right now. Maybe this will help them grow a backbone.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

"Congressman Joe"

Is anyone else as boggled as I am that MSNBC calls the reprehensible Joe Scarborough's blog "Congressman Joe," considering the twit isn't in Congress anymore? And when he was in Congress, he was best known for having a dead aide with a head wound turn up in his district office. Still unsolved, by the way.

Heh.

Friday, March 04, 2005

There's no There There

Majikthise has the best post I've seen on the sad case of Terri Schiavo. Her parents have tended to be lionized, but in fact they're deluded.

Court-appointed, government-appointed, and private physicians have confirmed that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). Schiavo suffered massive brain damage as a result of a cardiac arrest 15 years ago, and ongoing neurological degeneration interim.

Patients in a PVS have no higher cognitive function and no chance of recovery.

Terri is neither comatose, nor brain dead. She is in a vegetative state because her higher brain centers have been destroyed and replaced by fluid.

It's an important piece, whatever side of the controversy you're on. Check it out.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Then Who Voted for This Idiot?

A new NYT poll indicates that Americans agree with President Caligula on, well, almost nothing. Several months too late to kick his sorry ass out of office, of course. Some excerpts:

Sixty percent of respondents - including 48 percent of self-described conservatives - said they disapproved of how Mr. Bush was managing the deficit. And 90 percent of respondents described the deficit as a very or somewhat serious problem.
...
On North Korea, 81 percent said that that nation does indeed now have nuclear weapons, and 7 in 10 said it poses a serious threat to the United States.
...
58 percent of respondents said the White House did not share the foreign affairs priorities of most Americans.
...
On Social Security, 51 percent said permitting individuals to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's plan, was a bad idea, even as a majority said they agreed with Mr. Bush that the program would become insolvent near the middle of the century if nothing was done. The number who thought private accounts were a bad idea jumped to 69 percent if respondents were told that the private accounts would result in a reduction in guaranteed benefits. And 45 percent said Mr. Bush's private account plan would actually weaken the economic underpinnings of the nation's retirement system.

Notice that last segment - the more people are told the truth about Social Security, the less they believe Dubya. Democrats take note.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mike Talks Back to Grover

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee let Grover "barf bag" Norquist have it:

"Grover's never been in government, doesn't have to balance a state budget, never had a state constitution forcing him to deal with a balanced budget," Mr. Huckabee said at a meeting with editors and reporters from The Washington Times.

"Grover's never been in a situation where he couldn't borrow money so he didn't have to raise taxes or tell old people he's just going to take them out of the nursing home and drop them on the curb," he continued.

Indeed.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Yeesh

Brad DeLong argues that Hitler was not a threat to the United States. Cripes.

The same goes for Hitler's Germany. D-Day was only possible because (1) 75% of the Wehrmacht was tied down by the Red Army on the Eastern Front and (2) England served as a huge aircraft carrier and logistics base. A D-Day in reverse with 1940s technology is inconceivable. The Atlantic Ocean is big. Only with the coming of the H-bomb and the ICBM does U.S. national security become dependent on what happens on other continents.

I've added emphasis to the last line. Hitler had a ballistic missile program headed by Werner von Braun. We know his quality - he put Americans on the moon 25 years later. Hitler had at least a primitive atomic bomb program (although Albert Speer in his memoirs seems to have been more sanguine about atomic propulsion for U-boats). Put the two together, Brad.

In any case, a Europe dominated by the Nazis was a deadly threat to the world, and the US took it as such (so much so that the B-36 bomber program was initiated as a way of continuing the war from the US if Britain fell). D-Day in reverse might seem ridiculous until you consider what might have happened if Germany had added the British fleet and the industrial might of Russia to its arsenal. It's far fetched, but it's not sci fi.

The entire post is a little weird. Check it, and the comments, out.

Bobo's an Idiot

What world does David Brooks inhabit? God only knows. Today he advises married women to do away with their individual checking accounts and trust in hubby:

I'm not saying that people with separate accounts have marriages that are less healthy than anybody else's. I'm saying we should pause before this becomes the social norm. Private property is the basis for our market democracy. But private property in the home is an altogether trickier proposition.

For one thing, separate accounts can easily turn into secret accounts. A person's status and resources inside the home shouldn't be based on how much he or she is making outside it. A union based on love can easily turn into a merger based on self-interest, where the main criterion for continuing becomes: Am I getting a good return on my investment, psychic or otherwise?

Bobo goes to the bookstore and is confused by people who think otherwise:

I went to the local bookstore and was startled to see how many personal finance gurus insist on separate accounts. "If you're part of a couple, maintain separate accounts - yours, mine and ours," writes Glinda Bridgforth in "Girl, Get Your Money Straight."

"Each partner needs his or her own money," writes the best-selling guru David Bach. "Regardless of whether or not you both work, each of you should maintain your own checking and credit card accounts." Bach says he doesn't need or want to know every detail of how his wife spends her money: "It's none of my business."

Now what Brooks apparently doesn't realize is there is a damn good reason married women should have their own finances. Half of marriages in our hetero paradise go bust, and when hubby hits second childhood and goes off to find his size 2 trophy wife in his new sports car, you'd damn well better have your own accounts or you're liable to end up on the street.

Who at the New York Times hired this lackwit?