Saturday, February 26, 2005

Link dump!

Here're some links. Enjoy:

Margaret Cho gets "fanmail" from Freerepublic! See how many YOU can read before developing a desire for human blood!

CPAC took place recently. It's a conference thing where a bunch of Republicans get together and say what they really feel. It's as telling as a Freerepublic post.

CPAC whispers from a mole in the conference.

More commentary from either the same mole or a different one. And even more commentary!

And for that matter: that campusprogress.org site is pretty good in general. Here's something else from it...
The biggest problem with Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights is that it is serving as the Marxist linchpin for a Stalinist movement. The Academic Bill of Rights, which may or may not have been written in good faith, is still a deeply flawed and it is being used across the country for the most dangerous of purposes. In Colorado, Gov. Bill Owens and the former Senate President called for imposing political quotas on academic departments. In Ohio, one State Senator is calling for a prohibition on the repeated discussion of controversial subjects. As Berube emphasizes, his definition of controversial includes "religion and politics." Sara Dogan, who works for Horowitz's unaptly named Students for Academic Freedom, has gone on unsubstantiated academic witch hunts, as outlined in a new Todd Gitlin article in Mother Jones.

(From this post.)

Speaking of academic witch-hunts: More on Ward Churchill. I still don't agree with him, but i can't support witch-hunts that purportedly respect the letter of the first amendment while at the same time having the effect of punishing dissent. That's what the campaign against Churchill is and don't you believe otherwise: it is revenge.

President Bush must have had a lousy week lately. Let's hope he has a few more over the next few years.

Enough of the "hawks": A response to twenty seven different justifications for the Iraq war. Conspicuously absent is "The Book of Revelations".

MyDD's book club: The Republican Noise Machine, by David Brock of MMFA. One of my personal favorite personalities in this whole mess.

The GAO rebukes the Bush Administration:
... in violation of federal law, failed to disclose the administration's role ...

Can we impeach him yet? How about now?

...Now?

Okay, ignoring perhaps the biggest threats to our national defense (as per that last link up there) aren't an impeachable offense. They're just vile. Especially when they're being used to punish people who voted against Bush and reward people who voted for him. No, those aren't impeachable offenses. But getting a blowjob is. Yessiree, it sure is a good thing Bush isn't getting any blowjobs. I mean... think about the grave danger to our nation that would pose!

RMS manages to describe the objections to copyright law as-is in a single paragraph. This is a new record for him.
In US law, copyright is a deal between the public and authors: the public sold the freedom to republish, which only publishers could do anyway, and gained more progress. Progress is valuable, but freedoms that we want to use are even more valuable. Nowadays, that includes the freedom to share copies on the internet. To make copyright law a good deal for the public, we should scale it back. If this means some companies and a handful of superstars make less than their wildest dreams, Prendergast may be shocked, but Adam Smith would not have been.

Considering this was my real foothold in politics back when i first getting involved (yes, really) i would of course be remiss in not occassionally mentioning things in this arena. It's just that fixing copyright won't do us much good if we lose all our other freedoms and rights in the process.

Oh, and while i'm on the subject: Don't just click through EULAs--they really do control you.

Heck, have more commentary on the economics of sharing.

The "war on drugs" and The Masquerade: part 1, 2, and 3. They're fairly long so you might want to bookmark them. The second one is the best IMO. They're all important though especially with a certain Negroponte's nomination. Again: nobody is too corrupt for the Bush administration, apparently.

Disgusting ad attacks the AARP. News at 11.

Actually no, i'm not going to brush that off. See, i stubmeld on the people whose picture was used in the ad. They're not happy. They've contacted their lawyer.

B.O. (that's Bill O'Reilly if you haven't caught on) is a strange, strange man.

The Republicans are starting to realize Dean isn't just some bad dream. Too bad. I was hoping they'd laugh a bit more.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." -M.K. Gandhi


On Republican extremism.

Democrats afraid of touching the Gannon/Guckert affair shouldn't be. I'd throw in a "Stop listening to their propaganda you simpletons!" but i doubt it'd do me much good.

The UN calls for Darfur war crimes tribunal. Too late to be much other than a symbolic gesture, though. Let me just bring up Rwanda as well. "Never again" my ass.

"Some 83% of students polled felt people should be allowed to express unpopular views..." Don't go pat yourself on the back. That's 17% of students who think people should not be allowed to express unpopular views. These people can't vote. Not yet, anyway.

Transgender celebrity, though not in the way you might think.

On the curious way the Right Wing abandons babies as soon as they're born. I don't do much on abortion (probably not as much as i should) because i'm still torn on the issue. I won't get into it here, but i do advise you read the above article.

Bush's secret tapes. I'm sure most of you have heard of these as they've been all over the news. Still, he sounded like a real human being. Unlike how he normally sounds. It's too bad he also appears not to have a spine. He doesn't want to "kick gays", indeed. You may not want to, President Bush, but that's exactly what you have been doing.

And on this Wead guy? Bush's friends sure like protecting him from anything resembling "accountability".

This didn't surprise me. Apparently people think that if you want to have kids that means you're going to be a model parent. People think a lot of things, though.

"Misunderstanding Malcolm X"

Congress curbs class-action suits slaps the American public in the face.

Churches being used as military recruitment centers. Okay, show of hands: anyone surprised? No? Didn't think so. If i had the time i'd outline how this relates to Don Rumsfeld's secret ops program but that's not for today i guess.

“Don’t take on the Bushes” is becoming an unwritten rule in American journalism.

Speaking of journalism: Orcinus discusses the "pestilence on our nation".

Democrats consider redistricting. I'm a bit torn on this one. I like free seats as well as anyone but i'm not sure throwing the conventions into the wood-chipper is the right way to go.

Time for a bit of envy: British minimum wage actually exists in the real world...

Propaganda to keep us sedate.

And finally: the real memos on Bush's national guard service.

Friday, February 25, 2005

On the "Bush Doctrine"

I was originally writing this for another website but that site sorta went flaky on me and i think this really deserves a larger audience. So without further ado:

The "Bush Doctrine" and war



To begin with: this post is a response to a proposition put forth by someone else. The proposition goes, essentially, like this:

In the debates Kerry said that he would retaliate if the US was attacked but that Bush said he wouldn't wait for the US to be attacked. Therefore Bush's approach was proactive and Kerry's reactive. In other words: Bush "gets it" and Kerry does not so nothing else matters: no matter how terrible Bush is otherwise he could protect America whereas Kerry could not.

Leaving the arguments about the real positions of the politicians out of it: I propose that precisely the opposite is true. I propose that Just War (in the ethical sense) is never proactive but instead always reactive. I propose that the "Bush Doctrine" is not proactive at all but entirely reactive. And finally: i propose that the "Bush Doctrine" is not a revolutionary way to approach terrorism but instead a limited and useless approach.

Many of my readers may already intuitively believe this but i suspect many of you would have trouble describing precisely why. Well here's why:

Was the Iraq War Proactive or Reactive?



This seems a bit of a counter-intuitive question in our world today. "Of course it was proactive!" goes the conventional wisdom. But i'm going to argue precisely the opposite: the Iraq War was entirely reactive. I propose that the Iraq War, even if the fear-mongering about weapons of mass destruction were justified--in other words: even if there were WMD in Iraq--the Iraq war would have, at best, been a reactive and short-term approach to terrorism and threats in the world today.

Why is that? Consider this:

The backdrop: You're minding your own business today and someone catches your eye. I'm going to deal with four hypothetical scenarios.

Scenario 1: This someone pulls a gun on you and shoots you, you pull your own gun and shoot this other person back.

Almost everyone will agree these actions are defensible and just for almost any particular scenario imaginable that follows this pattern. But more importantly: it's clearly reactive and not proactive.

Scenario 2: Someone pulls a gun on you, but you pull your own gun and shoot this other person first.

Although this one isn't as clear as the above: i propose it, too, is reactive. If this other person hadn't pulled a gun you wouldn't have drawn yours. You responded to the threat, but you just managed to stop yourself from getting shot. The only difference between this and the first scenario is in terms of reflexes and awareness--"are you fast enough" and "did you notice" are the two questions whose answers separate the first and second scenario. This, too, is almost always agreed to be defensible. You are almost always going to be in the right--and even if you shoot someone who doesn't deserve it they probably shouldn't have been waving a gun around like that.

Scenario 3: You see someone who you believe is going to pull a gun on you. You pull your gun and shoot this other person immediately.

This, too is reactive. You're reacting to something other than direct actions on the part of the other party since the other party hasn't acted against you yet you (for some reason) believe they will. The difference between the first two and the third is that you're no longer relying on direct threats (such as shooting someone or pulling a gun on someone) but rather on perceived threats--the questions become "are you fast enough", "are you aware", and "do you have some reason to believe this person is a threat". This action is much more questionable than the above and you're going to shoot innocent people far more often than in either of the first two scenarios. Most people agree that it can be justified under the right circumstances but that care must be taken to not shoot innocent people or you're going to be straying into scenario 4...

Scenario 4: You see some random stranger and shoot this stranger.

Clearly this one is proactive--you're entirely self-directed and in no way is responding to someone else. This one is also the least defensible on ethical grounds--even if you do occassionally nail someone who deserves it you're only doing so by pure luck (or numbers, depending on how many people you shoot) and by no means does that justify your actions.

The only proactive option of the four is the one that is almost never defensible on ethical/moral/etc grounds. That doesn't mean that war (even the "Bush Doctrine's" pre-emption--which more or less falls under #3) is never justifiable but that it simply is not a "proactive" approach.

Furthermore: I propose that America is powerful both militarily and economically (and in a couple other ways)--more powerful than any other individual nation on this planet (we'll leave the EU out of it--that's an unknown entity) and maybe even more powerful than any given two or three--but that America cannot rule the entire world by force.

Given the above four scenarios and limitations of the power of the USA we can outline why the "Bush Doctrine" does not fulfill the role.

As mentioned above: almost everyone already agreed that scenarios 1 and 2 were legitimate--they represent "we were attacked, now we'll attack back" and "we are facing an imminent threat of attack and therefore must attack now or attack later". The "Bush Doctrine" adds number 3 to the list of policies (almost everyone agreed that #3 was circumstantially acceptable), which is what made the Democrats really nervous. However: what the addition of option #3 doesn't do is increase our "proacivity" to threats of terrorism or war.

So the Iraq War, which fits the pattern of scenario 3, is not proactive but instead reactive. In fact: Bush argued the Iraq war as though it were scenario 2 (though the Bush administration tried real hard to avoid explicitly claiming it fell into scenario 2) and not scenario 3. The fact that we have now accepted scenario 3 as legitimate is purely a product of revisionist history on a national scale.

And that's beside the question of whether the Iraq War was justified or not.

I could further describe this theory, but i think the rough outlines ought to be clear so i'll leave it at that for now. Onto the second part:

The Proactive Approach



So if the third scenario is still reactivity then what, precisely, would a "proactive" approach to threats look like?

A proactive approach to threats on national security would involve (just as a starter) diplomacy, education (think "books not bombs"), supporting rational approaches to problems (think: as opposed to allowing theocratic insanity to fester or even actively supporting it), and using other non-coercive/non-violent means of overcoming threats.

So, i would propose, the "Bush Doctrine" doesn't really solve the problem of terrorism in the 21st Century. Instead it only responds to terrorist threats. It might respond more often and/or more effectively than previously (at least: Bush's post-Sept-11 policy sure beats his pre-Sept-11 policy) but it is entirely defensive in the large-scale conflict. If you want a "war on terror" to be taken seriously the idea that military aggression is the ideal response must be discarded.

This isn't a new idea, either. For an example:

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
--Sun Tzu, the Art of War

Sun Tzu is full of goodness. Goodness that the US's current leaders are, so far as i can tell, completely ignorant of. You think the idea that some dead Chinese dude knows more about modern war than our enormous military is crazy?

"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign."
--Sun Tzu, the Art of War (Emphasis mine)

See: Rumsfeld's assertion that we only needed a few troops in Iraq.

Of course: interference on the part of "the sovereign" is a fundamental piece of Democracy in the USA so we're setting ourselves up for failure on that part. How to fix it? Don't vote total idiots into office.

"The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory."
--Sun Tzu

Same as above.

Anyway: i'm not going to quote the whole Art of War at you people and i'm not going to get into the Killing Sword or other obscure Asian theories about war and conflict. I'm trying to keep on a single topic for this post :P

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Now this is irony...

Due to Microsoft brain-damage i'm now trying to pirate their damn operating system.

Let's back up and see why. For those of you who have had some... experience... with Windows you probably won't be surprised.

So a while back my hardware started flaking out and my video card broke itself. At the same time a bunch of other stuff went wild and lossy. Including my Windows XP install which ate the NTFS partition it was installed on and then randomly distributed the bits onto my Linux partitions. Major losing.

Well i didn't bother to fix it since i figured it might (just maybe) not be Windows' fault for once. Who knows. In reality i just didn't want to clean up the inevitable bit-vomit again. Lazy like that. But i only really used XP for playing games, so no big loss to not have it. Besides: my video was all mangled since the video card was a bit crispy.

Well i got replacement hardware. I decided i was feeling a bit of an urge to do some gaming so re-installation of the XP system would be required. I started up the Windows XP CD and it helpfully suggested i repair the broken partition rather than install on a new one (considering the amount of difficulty i was having getting it to even admit the partition i was aiming it at existed i figured i'd go with the repair). Well it did its happy thing for a while, rebooted, did more stuff. Then it asked me for my cd key.

I was waiting for that, of course, as Microsoft has a fascination with cd keys that borders on Freudian. I punched the cd key in and hit enter.

I'm sure those of you with experience with Windows know what happened. For those of you who need the blanks filled in it said "CD Key invalid. Also: I fucked your mom!"

Okay, i'm exaggerating. A little bit.

I went down and took a shot of some whiskey. Vile stuff. Came back up and hit "enter" again and the same thing happened. No go. I re-read the cd key. Maybe i was mis-reading it, i thought, so i tried a couple permutations. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

"That's annoying..." says i. I boot into Linux and hit Google up for some suggestions. Google suggests i stab myself in the eye. Both Google and i know that's where this is going anyway. I politely decline, however. Google's second suggestion is that this is the desired behavior of Windows XP. Your CD key is only good once. Want to re-install? Windows doesn't.

"Wonderful... just wonderful... i love being treated like a criminal after coughing up cash for this junk. And being told it's for my own good, to boot!" says i. Eye-stabbing time...

Well, not one to let a little bit of brain damage stop me, i'm now investigating various ways to circumvent this nonsense entirely.

Great work, Microsoft. Your anti-piracy scam actually encourages me to pirate your software. What the damnity-fuck am i giving you money for? To get slapped in the face?

Every time a new Windows operating system comes out i swear i won't buy it. But i even have a Windows ME disc. ME for God's sake! And i don't really have piles of money just lying around, either!

*Sigh*

At least i get to use irony in a way that actually respects the meaning of the word. I think i'd better quit while i'm not-further-behind-than-i-already-am. I need sleep and i have class tomorrow. I don't have time for this nonsense...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Commentary and links for you! (With update)

Without getting too much into it: there's been a lot of talk about Social Security lately.

Let me propose something: The President may well be trying a bait-and-switch.

Consider: the President proposes some totally brain-dead plan for SS with the hopes that it gets shoved through. If it succeeds then he gets to strip one of the foundations of modernity out of America. This is apparently one of his goals. But if it fails then he co-opts the Democratic position and in the meantime makes the Democrats fight a war of attrition against his brain-dead plan.

I'm not saying the Democrats ought to have rolled over on this (that would have been very stupid) but rather that they need to be thinking strongly about... shall we say... an exit strategy from this mess.

Make the President sign on to the Democratic proposal, don't let him take the lead.

Let me repeat that: don't let him take the lead! Don't let him steal the credit for your plan.

Propose a fix for SS TODAY. Do it with a law if at all possible. If Bush says "Hey, I have an idea! Let's raise taxes!" don't let him claim it was his idea. Make the Republicans either reject the plan right now or make them sign on. Either way is a win.

Once more: do not let them take the lead!

Bush hasn't actually put forth a real plan yet. He's still testing the waters. I fear he's going to propose something virtually identical to the Dem position and then say "I never actually PROPOSED a plan!" and the Democratic Party will be left high and dry.

In other news...

I've intentionally stayed away from the Gannon/Guckert story in the past but i'm going to make a brief foray into the realm of gay prostitutes and the Republican Party that loves them.

The whole "private life" thing is bullshit. It's the same bullshit they coughed up when it was Mary Cheney. Yeah, she had a job as GLBT sensitivity leader at a publically traded company--but the fact that she likes girls is nonetheless "her private life and you're an evil homophobe for even mentioning it!"

Guckert (a.k.a. Gannon) running a military "escort service" is not his private life. Fuck, his "privates" are not even private. I have a picture of them on my computer screen. That's not private. It's not like this is some private photo collection that somehow got hacked into--not even like a private photo collection that accidentally got put up publically.

McClellen claimed not to know "Gannon" was an alias--but don't they do background checks?

So did he escape the background checks? Did McClellen just flat-out lie? Was McClellen out of the loop (as he was on the Condolezza Rice perjury)? All unanswered questions...

Furthermore, Guckert was apparently in on when the Iraq war would start 4+ hours prior to the actual announcement. Not only that but he leaked it.

And that's not all! He was also inovlved in the Plame leak in some shadowy way.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Hatemongering, projection, so-called "bloggers", and YOU!

More on the "mainstreaming" of hate.
Neo-Nazi organizations are not only putting up billboards, they're also instructing members to hide tattoos and dress for rallies in conservative suits to avoid being dismissed as extremists. Thomas Robb, the national director of the Knights of the KKK, urges his members to serve on community boards and in political parties so they can push their white-power agenda from positions of social respect.


How the Republicans are destroying the electoral process.
  • Undermine the legitimacy of any Democrat elected to office, regardless of the margin.
  • Undermine public confidence in long-established election procedures, particularly hand recounts, as well as confidence in the integrity of the officials conducting the elections.
  • Undermine the voting rights of minorities and lower-income voters, particularly by purging supposed felons from the voting rolls, thereby discouraging participation in the election process and underscoring their historic disenfranchisement.
  • Undermine the integrity of the voting process itself by introducing readily manipulable electronic voting technology that leaves no auditable paper trail.


A story on Yahoo claims the army destroyed more pictures from Abu Ghraib--and ones that were worse than the ones we've seen so far.

The US opposes ICC trials.

But hey, Rwanda and Sudan were no big deal right? It was the UN Oil for Food program that's really important. What's a million lives here or there?

It's like a bad episode of Babylon 5. Things are so out of control that even the guy who started the war in the first place can't manage to get anything out of it. So those are my reasons why I haven't been excited about the blooming desert flower of democracy in Iraq. To me that `flower' is looking more and more like kudzu. Sure it spreads, but it's damn near impossible to get rid of it. And even though it seemed like a good idea at the time, it's turned into a complete nightmare. A lot of Republicans will call this `hand-wringing.' I consider it `giving away the ending.' I probably should have put a Spoiler Alert up at the top. I hope I haven't ruined it for you. I just hope I'm wrong.


You know how, in my previous post, i discussed a certain someone who was tangled up in Guantanamo Bay? I'm not the only one who has been noticing Bush's nominations are a little... out there...

Limbaugh lies about lying. And so does B.O. (That's Bill O'Reilly to you).

"Now, I know that Limbaugh doesn't have a lot of experience with successful relationships, but attacking someone's spouse is generally considered to be pretty low down and dirty. In fact, some would call his reckless allegations libelous -- my lawyer, for example. I also know that Limbaugh suffers from a rather severe case of McCarthy-era nostalgia, but equating liberalism with communism is tired and boorish even for someone who is a big, fat idiot. I use the term advisedly."


James Roosevelt Jr. suggests Hume resign. I second that.

FreeRepublic and Republican talking head are having a go at each other. Quick: can we drive a wedge between them further, perhaps?

"Frist's Fury Over Filibusters"

Global warming is a myth!

Backdoor privatization remains privatization

Guantanamo is our generation's "internment camp".

Let the slander begin!

(As an aside: the Democrats ought to get behind Dean on this one. All of them. Dean is taking the stand that the Democrats should have taken fifteen years ago.)

The Democrats should oppose this in the same manner.

And more of the same.

Twenty-seven rationales for war.

In the same vein: "Shifting the Goalposts".

On Bush's "Charm Offensive"...

A request for new hearings with Dr. Rice. This one deserves some more air time!

"Why We Hated Clinton."

"The Soft Racism of Low Expectations"

Finally: Dean and Perle debate on CSPAN tomorrow night. Perle gets a shoe thrown at him. Yes, a shoe. I wonder if the person doing the shoe-throwing was an Iraqi?

(Update)

Democrats introduce voting reform legislation. It looks pretty good, but it has approximately a snowball's chance in Hell while the Republicans are in-charge. But i'll save the Republican electoral strategy talk for later.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A definition of Fascism

Fascism

  1. A style of government that seeks order and control as an end in and of itself. Historically this control has stemmed from the state as the prime construct in a culture

  2. A political theory espousing such a style of government or one similar.

  3. The act of calling for a move from non-order to order or from the uncontrolled to the controlled. regardless of any justification for such a move or for its own sake. Fascism also often espouses an "eternal struggle" in which all are constantly fighting for their lives (either literally or metaphorically) and claims that without struggle humanity would become soft and civilization would collapse.

  4. A style of government similar to authoritarianism or totalitarianism but appealing to nationalism and attempting to minimize the power of the working class and labor unions as much as possible (in other words, rejecting individualism and socialistic ideology). This government often uses war as a way to inspire nationalism or silence dissent at home. See Goebbels' comment on "All you have to do is to tell the people they are being attacked and they will give you anything you want."

  5. "The State not only is authority which governs and molds individual wills with laws and values of spiritual life, but it is also power which makes its will prevail abroad.... For the Fascist, everything is within the State and... neither individuals nor groups are outside the State.... For Fascism, the State is an absolute, before which individuals or groups are only relative...." (From Encyclopedia Italiana, 1932 edition, attributed to Benito Mussolini)

  6. A militant form of right-wing populism. (Fascism as described by Fritzsche)

Suggestions for alteration? Objections?

(Revision 3)

On the nomination of Justice Chertoff

Oh Father, my Father, Oh what must I do?
They're burning our streets and beating me blue.
"Listen my son, I'll tell you the truth:
Get a close haircut and spit-shine your shoes."

Oh Mother, my Mother, my confusions remove,
I long to embrace her whose hair is so smooth.
"Now listen my son, although you're confused,
Cut your hair close and shine all your shoes."

Oh Teacher, my Teacher, your life with me share.
What books ought I read? What thoughts do I dare?
"Oh Student, my Student, of dissent you beware.
Shine those dull shoes and cut short your hair."

Oh Preacher, my Preacher, does God really care?
Are all races equal? Are laws just and fair?
"Boy -- here's the answer, no need to despair:
Shine those new shoes and cut short that hair."

That one certainly reminds me of our government's approach (at least, certain people within our government) to problems recently. No question is too tough or complex to be answered with anything other than the talking points.

Let's take a look at Justice Chertoff.

As i write this a man named Judge Michael Chertoff is currently getting a confirmation hearing in the Senate. He was nominated as head of Homeland Security. I was watching it on CSPAN while eating lunch.

Chertoff is an interesting nomination. At least as interesting as Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Gonzales, and so on.

Let's start from the top.

Chertoff has, as far as i'm aware, not a single success on his record. It is a record of failure. Chertoff has the anti-Midas touch: everything he touches turns to shit. He is engaged in what can only be categorized as an Orwellian meteoric dive upward. But that's Bush-world for you.

Chertoff was a special counsel in the Whitewater investigation. You remember that? Republican fishing expedition looking for an excuse to impeach then-President Clinton so the Republicans could get back to their job of stripping the Democracy off of America?

Following the September 11 World Trade Center attacks, Justice Chertoff orchestrated the roundup of over 1,000 Muslims who were subsequently held without trial. Not a single one of them, from what i understand, has provided anything useful.

Chertoff is, like Alberto "Abu Ghraib" Gonzales, entangled in the US's softballing of torture. In Chertoff's case he was involved with Guantanamo Bay.

According to reports at Guantanamo Bay one of the "interrogation techniques" used there was to lock a prisoner into a solitary confinement cell and then turn spotlights on him 24/7.

One prisoner was "interrogated" in this manner for three months straight. After three months of this he suffered "serious mental derangement" and was no longer really a reliable source for anything. That's even beside the question of whether or not he had any useful information to begin with.

This. Is. Torture.

If the Bush administration continues to call this sort of treatment an "interrogation technique" they deny the fact. If that sort of "technique" must be called an "interrogation technique" that does not change its true nature: it remains torture in everything but name alone.

What does this have to do with Chertoff? He was legal counsel at Guantanamo Bay.

This is yet another nomination by the Bush administration of someone directly entangled in the torture scandals.

Chertoff may not have actively supported torture at Guantanamo bay but he certainly didn't call those who did on their support.

And even if he didn't really have much to do with it: he has refused to answer questions and the Justice Department (under Gonzales--another one entangled in the torture scandal) has claimed they don't have to release the information (or, in fact, any other information at all). So we won't know. But despite the fact that there are grave questions with answers that might go down in history under the "INFAMY" column it's likely Chertoff will get approved anyway. Why? Go ask the Republicans.

Who are some others on the Bush Greatest Hits of Torture list?
Donald Rumsfeld
Jon Bybee
Alberto Gonzales
William J. Haynes II
Ricardo Sanchez
John Abizaid
And More!

All of these people were kept on by Bush, or promoted, in his second term. Are you detecting a pattern?

For all the White House's simpering petulence about be challenged on whether or not they support torture ("Of COURSE we don't support torture, only sinful democRAT traitors would suggest otherwise!") they sure as hell aren't taking instances of actual torture performed on actual human beings seriously. Instead: they're padding the upper levels of the US government with people who are entangled in the whole mess.

And even the Bush nominees that don't fall into the "might be accomplices to some of the most grotesque violations of human decency in American History" category aren't really that great. Although the Republican talking points on the matter--that the Democrats are "obstructionists" and are "undermining the President's constitutional right to nominate who he sees fit"--are untrue (see: Clinton) it probably wouldn't be undeserved even if it were.

"You Heard Me Right" -- Take the Republicans' rhetoric and turn it back at them. Who can claim, after reading this, that the Republicans and Democrats are truly value-equivalent?

Speaking of right-wing extremists: Instapundit spews some more bile. I know arguing with these people only empowers them, but for the sake of those out there who don't immediately see what's wrong with the logic: "the pressure of public opinion" that Hussein mentioned was objectively correct with respect to the Bush administration's justification for war, whereas the Bush administration and it's sycophants were objectively incorrect. In other words, this is another permutation of the "If we don't X the terrorists have already won!" defense. Jim Henley and Hesiod are right to complain about this.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Woo!

Dean is the new DNC chair!

Technically. You have to wait until tomorrow until he gets officially installed.

But: i figure a good welcome for him would be to send some cash-money. I've added a link to actblue on the side and also a direct contribution thingy. Feel free to use it.

(And that's enough shilling out of me for a while...)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Orrin Hatch (R, UT) and Tort Reform...

So i was watching CSPAN (as i have taken to doing) and saw Orrin Hatch talking about the proposed tort reform. Technically i saw the end of Lehay's speech on the matter and then the start of Hatch's. Well, in any case: Hatch argued that the proposed tort reform (as i understand it: tort lawsuits must be brought at a federal level) is vital to stopping bad lawyers from extracting outrageous sums and (his words) going "district shopping" for favorable judges.

Aside from the fact that this is merely a recitation of the original proposed reasoning and failed to take into account any of Lehay's objections at all; and aside from the fact that i don't necessarily think district shopping is a bad thing (corporations shop out favorable locations to set up shop and do their various businesses--why can't normal citizens?) although i would agree that lawyers ought not be able to steal the proverbial farm: Hatch's primary evidence of lawyerly misconduct was from works of fiction. Literally. As in: books that go into the "fiction" section of your library. Like "The King of Torts", a book about lawyers who abuse the legal system. That's one of the things he used. He wants to reform the legal system based on situations that are entirley imaginary.

I need to invent new adjectives to describe how fucking crazy this is.

New adjectives!

I'm not going to say that the American legal system is totally just and that there's simply no room for changes--it's clearly not--but this and related pieces of legislation don't really address the problem. Rather, they gut key provisions of our legal system (in this instance: the ability to bring class action lawsuits). By forcing all class action suits to go through the more reliable federal courts the law hopes to negate the "district shopping".

That's nice. But there's one problem: the federal courts are not currently set up to handle that many cases. So, simply by the fact that there aren't enough judges or places to hold a trial you're going to end up with the majority of the cases thrown out. Only the most extreme will make it through, furthermore: not only will ramming thousands of cases through the federal courts force the courts to toss class action suits out but it will also force the courts to ignore other cases.

In other words, this legislation will hinder the ability of the Federal courts to actually provide justice. The courts, of course, are vital to a functioning democracy.

But of course: that's no mere accident.

This seems to be the retribution from the class action suits of the past few years. Firestone tires and Minnesota's class action suit against cigarette companies has made others sit up and pay attention.

"Holy shit!", goes the cry, "We're not in control here! We're vulnerable! We have to put a stop to this! How can we make a profit when people can sue us after being hurt by our stuff?"

So we get a bill that strips the ability to sue away.

And what does Senator Hatch justify this bill on? Not on providing companies with immunity from the consequences of their actions but on fictional accounts of Evile Triale Lawyers.

We're not talking about just undoing the New Deal here, people. We're talking about undoing stuff from the Declaration of Independence on forward.

But then again: Senator Hatch has had some troubles in the past with these sorts of laws. There was the one time he proposed an anti-copyright law that was in violation of federal anti-hacking law--and not only that, but a law Senator Hatch himself violated blatantly.




Other stuff...

Mark Dayton set to retire, apparently. I hope the backlash from Tim "Moron" Pawlenty hits these elections hard...

Meanwhile: "You will address us as 'LORD KARL ROVE'! Just as soon as we finish with all these meetings, at least..."

Monday, February 07, 2005

You might go to jail for reading this!

Like many of you, I carefully reviewed the lawsuits against the airlines in order to determine which airlines had engaged in the most egregious discrimination, so I could fly only that airline. But oddly, rather than bragging about the charges, the airlines heatedly denied discriminating against Middle Eastern passengers. What a wasted marketing opportunity! Imagine the great slogans the airlines could use:

"Now Frisking All Arabs -- Twice!"

"More Civil-Rights Lawsuits Brought by Arabs Than Any Other Airline!"

"The Friendly Skies -- Unless You're an Arab"

"You Are Now Free to Move About the Cabin -- Not So Fast, Mohammed!"

--Ann Coulter

It's official: She's jumped off the deep end and has become a full-on nutcase whackjob frothing lunatic. No longer are her appeals to the racist, worst elements of US culture. Base pandering to the true radical fringe elements of America apparently mean money: and Coulter is selling.

She'll be first against the wall and all that.

If you don't believe me go back and read about the pro-Nazi movement in the WW2 era United States. The Nazis had quite a following in the States--but that ought not be that surprising considering the pieces of Nazi ideology that got imported from the USA.

..."any person who shall teach or advocate anarchy" will go to prison for ten years.*

How did it go again? Oh yes:

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The Falcon cannot hear the falconer ;
Things fall apart ; the center cannot hold ;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned ;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
--William Butler Yeats


(* Note:this bill has been officially withdrawn (and the anti-anarchist provision had about a snowball's chance in hell of surviving the First Amendment in any case) so i guess the title is a bit sensationalist. Yeah, okay. You got me. People only want you to go to jail for reading this. It won't (necessarily) happen (yet).

I'm also having a little bit of trouble getting the official text of this bill as it seems to have vanished down ye olde Memory Hole. Insert standard warning not to believe everything you read on the internet here.)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

How's this?

A definition of fascism:

A struggle to impose Order above Chaos, regardless of any justification for Order, which justifies any means necessary.


Keith Olbermann's response to Dobson's response to Olbermann's column on Dobson's bizarre attack on SpongeBob Squarepants' ambiguous sexual orientation.

Whew. That's a mouthfull.

"...a quick hit of the reply button, and they seem largely confounded that anybody has disagreed with them..."
--Olbermann

Yes, he's surely one of the few journalists out there who is not bought-and-sold. Keith Olbermann: I salute you!

9/11 changed everything...

In their own words.
At first I see an open wound,
infected and disastrous.
It breathes chaotic catastrophe,
it cries to be renewed.
Its tears are the color of anger,
they dry to form a scab.
To the touch, its stiff and resilient,
underneath, the new skin breathe.

Its all been saved...
with exception for the right parts.
When will we be new skin?

As outwardly cliche as it may seem,
yes, something under the surface says,
"C'est la vie."
It is a circle, there is a plan...
dead skin will atrophy itself to start again.
Look closely at the open wound...
see past what covers the surface
Underneath chaotic catastrophe,
creation takes stage.

Dead skin will atrophy itself to start again.
Dead skin will atrophy itself to start again.
Dead skin will atrophy itself to start again.

Its all been saved...
with exception for the right parts.
When will we be new skin?

Its all been seen...
with exception for what could be.
When will we be new skin?

until the 20th century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see,
and hear.
since the inital publication of the charged electromagnetic spectrum, humans
learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear...is less than one
millionth of reality.

Fallacious cognitions,
spewed from televisions,
do mold our decisions.
So stop and take a look,
and you'll see what I see now.

Its all been seen...
with exception for the right parts.
When will we be new skin?

Its all been seen...
with exception for what could be.
When will we be new skin? skin?

--Incubus, New Skin

The civil unrest of the 60's, Vietnam, and then Nixon's impeachment were so alarming to some that the psyops tools perfected in shadows of foreign lands were brought home.

Don't forget who was in charge of the SBVfTL: a man Nixon essentially invented from whole cloth to destroy John Kerry in order to keep Nixon's popularity up.

On the same thought: How the war was sold. Well, it's not quite that impressive a link. But it's another piece of the picture.

And speaking of invented from whole cloth: that's where the "72% of Iraqis voted" number came from. And that's ignoring the question of "what were they voting for?"

Gonzales added to the war crimes complaint. God willing.

Addendum...

Same sex marriage ruled constitutionally protected in New York.

And there was much rejoicing.

The cost of inexpensive goods.

That's an interesting way of looking at it. There's the price, and then there's the cost.

Lalalala, no electoral fraud here! Nope! Never mind the man behind the curtain!

And here's about another country with electoral problems! No, not the US. Not Ukraine. Take a guess! (Hint: it's Iraq...)

Now, i'm not surprised that the Sunni triangle didn't get polling stations put up or anything. I mean, duh! I think it practically goes without saying that the Sunni triangle is, at present, not going to be a good spot for voting.

But the real question is: why did we go ahead with the vote anyway?

I mean, how convenient for us that our opponents don't get to vote... out of their own... what, stupidity i guess... but still...

Speaking of stupid religious fanatics, we've got some of them back home!

In fact: we've got so many religious fanatics that we don't know what to do with them!

(That one is a look back at the anti-D&D craze of a few decades back.)

More on "frivolous lawsuits". Is anyone surprised?

How convenient for Herr Bush!

Paul Bremer lost 8.8 billion USD in Iraq. No, not "spent unwisely". Misplaced.

A picture of Paul Bremer being awarded with the Medal of Freedom, the most distinguished medal a civilian can attain.

(Update!)

This is called a flame.

"Democratic suicide bomber" (With commentary!)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

"...we never once did that to Clinton."

JOE SCARBOROUGH (former U.S. representative (R-FL) and MSNBC host): After the Democrats booed and hissed, Republicans were on the floor saying, you know, we never once did that to Clinton. So every time he would talk about Social Security, the roars got a little louder. And they got behind their president. [MSNBC, Hardball, 2/2/05]


Oh really?

I've been sorta hiding for a while. Number of reasons. Most of them frustrating. I'm not going to give you the litany of complaints.

Anyway, i've still got a ton of stuff up: but i had to bring this one up while it was still timely.

In other, quicklike, news: I actually saw this book. I picked it up and read it. It's every bit as bad as the link claims.

Think back. Way back. No, further than that. Even further than last Thursday. Back past last Monday, too. Go back to before the November 2 disas... elections. Go back to the Presidential debates. Remember those?

It's like a sequence out of an old Chinese Wire-Fu film.

National Guard memos what?

(That was actually hard. It was a cross between referencing the whole 60 minutes pseudo-scandal and making some joke about how Bush is a puppet--possibly sprinkle in some lyrics from Pinnochio songs.)

Remember this? I do believe the AFA tipped me off to this one.

Some examples of those frivolous, evil lawsuits that must be stopped... At least, if you listen to Bush.

Let's play a game!

Soviets or Nazis? We report: You decide!

(As a side note: the answer is obviously "Lenninist"/Communist. Duh.)

Well, that's all for tonight!