Saturday, February 25, 2006

Intellectual inconsistency fueled by blind rage

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Pretty basic stuff. I stand behind every word. I am a zealous advocate of civil liberties and am committed to the notion that I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Except for this bastard and his ilk:

These miserable bastards "protesting" at military funerals are a disgrace. I have no rational or cogent legal argument to make about how they can be stopped. I have nothing more than a gut-level wave of disgust and contempt for these miserable creatures that is so intense that I would say civil liberties be damned, lock this filth away forever from the view of decent people.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Get with it, Gov...

Ill. Governor Confused by 'Daily Show' Bit

ST. LOUIS -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn't in on the joke. Blagojevich says he didn't realize "The Daily Show" was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes-puzzled Democratic governor.

"It was going to be an interview on contraceptives ... that's all I knew about it," Blagojevich laughingly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a story for Thursday's editions. "I had no idea I was going to be asked if I was 'the gay governor.'"

C'mon Gov--you're about my age. Don't you have cable? And don't you have a STAFF that preps you for interviews?

Hail to the Chimp

This is old news, but as Iraq slides further into chaos, remember this:

In January 2003, the President invited three members of the Iraqi opposition to join him to watch the Super Bowl. In the course of the conversation the Iraqis realized that the President was not aware that there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. He looked at them and said, "You mean...they're not, you know, there, there's this difference. What is it about?"

The dangers of lobbyists

Bill Moyers has a great speech up about Delay, Abramhoff, Bush, etc, so on, and so forth, and the details of some of the buying of our government away from us.

The more I hear about it, the more I think that the only way to save our government is 100% publicly financed campaigns. We'll all save money. Well, not the big rich corporations, but they'll just have to cope.

Irony, Part II

Remember irony?

IRONY (i-ro-ny) (noun) The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning; an expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.

This afternoon, the Pentagon is expected to release a new progress report on I-wreck entitled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq."

See above.

Here's hoping

that one of the bright spots of the Cubs sucking last year, well, more than usual, will be some ticket availability. Currently kicking it in the virtual waiting room, hoping to snag a couple of tickets to one of the 6 "value" days on the schedule. A schedule which, despite literary conventions to the contrary, contains 44 "prime" dates out of 81. Of course, I'd just be happy to get tickets to any game, after being shut out last year.

On the other hand, despite the Sox winning it all last year, I know that, in a pinch, if I want to go to a ballgame, I can always get some ducats for the Cell.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Stupidity is not a crime

As the BBC reports, British historian David Irving has been found guilty in an Austrian court of denying that the Holocaust occured, and has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Surveying the Daou Report on, this story is getting a lot of play on right wing blogs, probably because they don't want to discuss the failings of their "leader". Regardless of their reasoning, this is one time I actually agree with the nutjobs. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom of only saying things that aren't stupid or offensive. That Irving is a bad historian and a total freakin' moron doesn't give Austria or any other country the right to throw him in jail (and apparently prosecutors are appealing to get the sentence tougher). I realize that Germany and it's neighbors believe that they bear a continual and perpetual guilt over the millions of deaths their countrymen either participated in or allowed to happen, but emulating Hitler by being fascist about allowed speech is exactly the wrong approach.

It's stories like this that make me glad, despite the myriad things I despise about some of the people in my government, that I'm an American. It's also a story that makes me sad that we don't all practice vigilence in protecting our rights, when so many other countries (even ones like Great Britain) don't share them. What we have, in principle, is rare, and is treated with disdain by the same voices on the right who are decrying the injustice in Austria.

This just in--

We have the official photo of Fox News viewers:

What, me worry?

President Bush on Thursday defended his administration's decision to allow a company from an Arab country to operate six major U.S. ports, saying, "People don't need to worry about security."

"This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America," Bush told reporters during a Cabinet meeting.
So, there's no need to worry about security. This from the man who's spent 4 1/2 years trying to scare the pants off us with every sentence out of his mouth. Indeed.

Trust me.....

"Again, I repeat, if there was any question as to whether or not this country would be less safe as a result of the transaction, it wouldn't go forward."

I trust him, don't you? After all, he's never misled us before....

One last note

I know I said I was done with this subject, but re-reading one of the comments (which may well have been a spoof because it was so ridiculous, but anyway..)

Commenter "porcupine" said...Why did Hitler call Switzerland the "small porcupine"? Why did he not attack them? The populace is armed.

Riiiiight. Let's think about it. Germany attacks the leading industrial powers of the world, and has the Luftwaffe and, you know, panzer tanks, but avoids Switzerland because Bruno and Gerhardt have squirrel rifles.

Thanks for playing.


IRONY (i·ro·ny) (noun) The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning; an expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.

Today's headline in the Chicago Tribune:

Iraq's Unity Teeters After Blast at Shrine.

See above.

I wonder if they saw it coming?

I wonder what the Roman senators felt like when it finally dawned on them that their republic was gone, transformed into an empire that would combine both great expanse and grotesque corruption? How did your average German citizen feel when they realized their republican experiment had turned to evil?

I am being overly melodramatic, perhaps, but I truly fear for the fate of the American republic. These are not just bad policies and incompetent government, We have lived through that before. It is not even just a deceitful war where the administration couldn't and wouldn't tell us why we were fighting and dying. We came through Viet Nam and Watergate without really wondering if the nation would survive.

But today--why is this experience different? I have been trying to get my arms around that concept for quite a while now, and then it dawned on me. This administration has accomplished something that past miscreants could not--they changed the way we think. Ladies and gentlemen, the revolution was televised, and we were watching something else.

Just think about a few things for a second. American citizens, no matter how we may feel about their conduct and crimes, are rounded up and held without charges indefinitely. You hear people say daily that they don't mind government eavesdropping because they have "nothing to hide." Folks, do you realize that a couple of centuries ago, these grievances helped to fuel a revolution? Now instead of changing our government, we change the channel.

A couple of young reporters brought down a president when I was in high school. Now, the press doesn't even care that the White House sets a stooge in their midst--who just happens to be a gay prostitute, and the "newspaper of record" serves as the adiministration's PR firm beating the drum for the Iraq war. They refuse to say anything for fear of being cut off from an administration that says nothing.

What about the political process? Well, the last two presidential elections may well have been stolen and we all go meekly about our business. A disgraced Tom Delay is not ostracized for his theft and conscience-shocking avarice, but rather, is rewarded with a seat on the approriations committee. What about the "loyal opposition?" Despite having an agenda supported by a majority of Americans, and even with the gift that keeps on giving of Republican corruption and incompetence, the Democrats still appear muddled and marginalized. The presidency is a fraud, Congress has been bought and paid for, votes won't matter and the Democrats are are lost somewhere on DuPont Circle.

And then there is the war. I have beating my head against this particular wall for years. We know it was a lie (I would like to think that most saw it as a lie at the time, but alas I cannot). We know that it has caused tremendous harm domestically and internationally, and sadly, the results were absolutely predictable. While we have not spilled as much American blood as in Viet Nam, we have done much more damage. That war was fought within the carefully constructed paradigm of a cold war world that bears no resemblance to today, where power is dispersed across various religious and ethic groups, new national forces, oil cartels and foreign banks.

In addition, there is a psychological aspect to the war in Iraq. There was talk about a "Viet Nam" syndrome in the past, of a scarring resulting from a defeat at the hand of that tiny country. The Iraq syndrome is different, because it involves the final shattering of an illusion. The reality may well have been long dead, and in some ways perhaps always a fantasy, but Americans could always cling to the comforting belief that we were the good guys. Now we have to squarely face the sad and ugly truth that we are the despised villain, and that we have brought this upon ourselves. In this new century, might does not make right--might makes chaos.

Republics come and go, sometimes with fanfare, sometimes in silence. Do you hear anything? And I do indeed wonder how those Romans felt.

Best Cheney Chuckle

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Before and after

The Askariya shrine (the Golden Mosque)

Meanwhile, back in Frostbite Falls...

Hi, this is Handbasket. Can you show me the way to Hell?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A large explosion heavily damaged the golden dome of one of Iraq's most famous Shiite shrines Wednesday, spawning mass protests and triggering reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques as leaders pleaded for calm. It was the third major attack against Shiite targets this week and threatened to further stoke sectarian tensions.

Calling Mr. Language Person....

"I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I'm trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to people of the world, we'll treat you fairly. And after careful scrutiny, we believe this deal is a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country, and at the same time, send that signal that we're willing to treat people fairly."


He told us he was going to do it...

An unpleasant stroll down memory lane. This is from fearless leader's first inaugural:

We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors. The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake: America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Waiter, one dead horse smoothie please

OK, I know I'm going beyond beating a dead horse, I'm putting it in a blender, but i want to close this out.

This whole guns thing started with a very innocuous comment to a post by my pal Jill. I wrote " I hope you recognize that the 2nd Amendment does not guarantee private gun ownership." That is---a fact.

I usually tend to avoid this argument because it boils down to would Batman beat Superman. I can also get conflicted because I wear two hats, lawyer and historian, and the legal scholars and the historians tend to take very different approaches to this issue.

What is comforting, though, is that the issue as to what it IS has been largely resolved by the courts. Admittedly, the Supreme Court has been less than helpful. In 1939, they give us the quite less than clear U.S. v. Miller. Old Justice Mcreynolds wrote that

In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.

But since, the federal circuit courts--which define binding federal law for their circuits in the absence of controlling Supreme Court precedent, have, with one caveat, unanimously found that the 2nd Amendment conveys no private right of gun ownership. Now of course the caveat is the 5th Circuit case of U.S. v. Emerson, but its statements concerning the 2nd Amendment are generally seen as dicta (statements by judges concerning matters not germane to the decision). In other words, these statements are not binding precedential law, merely expressions of judicial opinion. Note that in the subsequent case of Gillespie v. Indianapolis, the 7th Circuit didn't even bother citing Emerson. Naturally, the Supreme Court denied cert (I can explain that if needed) because it doesn't want to touch these cases.

Those were federal--the courts also have routinely held that the 14th amendment does not incorporate the 2nd against the states (again, legalese, let me know if you need an explanation.)

OK, let's take off the lawyer hat but keep it close by in terms of, you know..evidence, but replace it for now with the geekier historian's cap.

First of all, by way of background--I must acquaint you with the theory of "republicanism." No, it has nothing to do with the grotesquely corrupt American party sharing that name. Rather, it refers to a late 17th and 18th century dualistic political philosophy. Republicanism saw a historical evolution from virtue to corruption, and to many American revolutionaries, at least in a purely ideological sense, their revolution was the overthrow of the old (corruption) by the new (virtue).

One of the hallmarks of republican ideology, and expressed throughout American history, was the distaste for the standing army. A key component of republican igy was that standing armies lead to corruption. If the "prince" had access to a peacetime military, he would be tempted to use it for mischief. THAT is why the militia is mentioned, the citizen force would be virtuous as compared to the standing army. You see that notion throughout American history, as a standing peacetime army is a post-WWII phenomena, and of course, a generation later, we had to resort to the draft.

You can look at the writings of George Mason. one of Virginia's leading Anti-Federalists, and he rails upon the constitution's failures to protect the STATE MILITIAS. That leads me into my major complaints against the gun right crowd--the "quotes."

We showed below how one of the "quotes" was faked up. You will also note that none of the quotes are dated or provided with context, and of course, NONE of the quotes address the 2nd Amendment, In fact, Jefferson's quote, which comes the closest--was made in 1776.

Shall we also provide some historical context? I cited below Patrick Henry complaining about equipping the militia, and how it hadn't been done? Of course there was bureaucracy and incompetence, but also--guns were scarce and expensive. They either had to be hand-made here or imported. Most Americans didn't have guns--they were too damned expensive.

Let us return also to April 1775, lexington and Concord. Why did the british move? To attack the MILITIA STORES, the COMMONLY-HELD arms.

We can go back to Shakespeare referring to "well-bourne arms" to describe war to Garry Wills saying that you don't "bear arms" against a rabbit. But despite that, even factoring in the "standard model" approach from Robert Shalhope, Joyce Malcom and Stephen Halbrook, I see them as wishful thinkers because (damn that lawyer in me) the courts have spoken.

Now it gets interesting...

(AP) The Supreme Court said Tuesday it would consider reinstating a federal ban on what opponents call partial-birth abortion, pulling the contentious issue back to the high court on conservative Justice Samuel Alito's first day. Alito could well be the tie-breaking vote when the court decides if doctors can be barred from performing the abortion procedure. It is the first time the court has considered a federal restriction on abortion, and conservatives said they expect the membership change to affect the outcome.

Alex, may I have intellectual dishonesty for $1000?

Copied from the comments:

"The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun."
Patrick Henry

Shall we place it in context?

"Our militia shall have two sets of arms, double sets of regimentals, &c.; and thus, at a very great cost, we shall he doubly armed. The great object is that every man be armed. But can the people afford to pay for double sets of arms, &c? Every one who is able may have a gun. But we have learned, by experience, that, necessary as it is to have arms, and though our Assembly has, by a succession of laws for many years, endeavored to have the militia completely armed, it is still far from being the case."

When you read the quote, you realize that he is talking about arming the militia at public expense (with arms that would presumably be "kept" with the other militia stores, it is highly doubtful that the assembly is funding private hunting weapons.)

This quote also has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. He is objecting to Article 1, Section 8, this particular provision:

"To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; "

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Meanwhile, back in Frostbite Falls....

Iraq Feb 18, 2006 (AP)— Car bombs and gunmen killed more than 20 people on Saturday across Iraq, including an American soldier, as the government said insurgency-related violence cost the country's vital oil industry about $6.25 billion in damage and lost revenue last year.

Freedom's on the march.....

Hello to the Mrs....

Peggy is in Vegas for a conference this week. Let's see if she reads the blog?

I love you honey and miss you..leave a comment

Memo to E. Pearson of Elmhurst, Illinois

You are a moron.

You wrote to the Chicago Tribune:

I cannot believe how we are eager to kick a man when he is down! Cheney's accident is an accident, not planned and who doesn't feel bad enough when it happens that he wants to broadcast the event to the whole world, with every aspect dissected and exploited. America, once warm and kind-hearted to all is now the enemy of every citizen. Who will be next? Probably another Republican.

Right, there E--it is such a pity, that the major networks, owned by corporate conglomerates hate those damn Republicans! Care to consider how the veep possibly acted with criminal negligence or recklessness? Or perhaps how your beloved veep after DAYS to think about it BLAMED THE VICTIM? How we wouldn't talk to local law enforcement? How he went back and DRANK instead of going to the hospital? How about the woman not his wife? And please let us not forget..HE SHOT A MAN IN THE FACE.

Poor Republicans. And--you're a moron.

I thought by now you'd realize.....

There ain't no way to hide your lyin' eyes...(sorry, one round of Babs is enough)

After digesting the article in the post below, please don't forget the pithy remarks by that president who never politicized the "crisis," remarks that were made to the same Condi Rice and some senators in March 2002 (yes, 2002, that is not a typo):

“Fuck Saddam,” Bush said. “We’re taking him out.” (link)

Misty water-colored memories....

I thought it might be interesting to take a stroll down memory lane. Tomorrow we honor those who have led our nation, and the current president has wrestled the worst president ever trophy away from (in my opinion) Andrew Johnson. We are also approaching the third anniversary of the biggest foreign policy debacle in U.S. history, so

(cue Babs)...Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line? If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me, would we? Could we?

Rice: Iraq trained al Qaeda in chemical weapons

Thursday, September 26, 2002

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's national security adviser Wednesday said Saddam Hussein has sheltered al Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad and helped train some in chemical weapons development -- information she said has been gleaned [editor's note: read "gleaned" as "tortured"] from captives in the ongoing war on terrorism.

The comments by Condoleezza Rice were the strongest and most specific to date on the White House's accusations linking al Qaeda and Iraq. The accusations followed those made by President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who earlier in the day said the United States has evidence linking Iraq and al Qaeda, but they did not elaborate. [editors's note--gosh, I wonder why???] And the charges came as the White House sought to dispel accusations by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who blasted the administration for an "outrageous" effort to seek political gain from the Iraq debate. .....

In an interview with PBS' "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," Rice said the U.S. government clearly knows "that there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al Qaeda going back for actually quite a long time." "We know too that several of the detainees, in particular some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development," Rice said.

"So, yes, there are contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. We know that Saddam Hussein has a long history with terrorism in general. And there are some al Qaeda personnel who found refuge in Baghdad," she said. "There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented."

At the same time, she cautioned that "no one is trying to make an argument at this point that Saddam Hussein somehow had operational control of what happened on September 11th, so we don't want to push this too far." Rice added: "This is a story that is unfolding, and it is getting clear, and we're learning more. ... When the picture is clear, we'll make full disclosure about it."

"There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented," Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday in a PBS interview. With the administration trying to build support at the United Nations and in Congress for possible military action against Iraq, the White House in recent days has sought to place its push to depose Saddam in the context of the war on terrorism, warning that Iraq could give nuclear, biological or chemical weapons to terrorist groups like al Qaeda -- the group responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans in four attacks September 11, 2001.

Bush Wednesday warned that al Qaeda could become "an extension of Saddam's madness." "Both of them need to be dealt with," Bush told reporters at the White House. "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."

Seeking to fend off criticism from Democrats, he called the Iraq issue "a legitimate national security concern." "I view it as my main obligation -- that is to protect the American people," he said. Speaking in Poland, Rumsfeld said U.S. officials shared information linking Iraq and al Qaeda with NATO defense ministers meeting in Warsaw.

"The deputy director of central intelligence briefed on that subject. I have no desire to go beyond saying the answer is yes," Rumsfeld told reporters. Daschle accused the White House of exploiting the threat of war with Iraq for political gain and demanded that Bush apologize. "We've got to rise to a higher level," Daschle said. "Our founding fathers would be embarrassed by what they are seeing going on right now. Those who died gave their lives for better than what we're giving now."

Rumsfeld told the allies that Bush has made no decision on whether to attack, but argued that a decade of sanctions and occasional aerial bombardment has failed to deter Iraq from attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction. "Everyone is on notice," he said. "All now have a clear understanding of the threats that are posed."
The White House quickly dismissed the demand for Bush to apologize. Asked by reporters at the White House whether he was politicizing the war, Bush responded, "My job is to protect the American people."

At a fund-raising dinner later Wednesday evening for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the president seemed to respond to Daschle's comments. "Unfortunately, some senators -- not all senators -- but some senators believe it is best to micromanage the process, believe the best way to secure the homeland is to have a thick book of regulations which will hamstring this administration and future administrations from dealing with an enemy that could care less about thick books of regulations," Bush said.

"Unfortunately, some in the Senate --not all in the Senate--want to take away the power that all presidents have had since Jimmy Carter, and I'm not going to stand for it.The Senate must hear this, because the American people understand it -- they should not respond to special interests in Washington, D.C. They ought to respond to this interest: protecting the American people from future attacks," he added.

In the PBS interview, Rice said, "The president has never politicized this concern about war and the national security of the American people."
[editor's note: at this point, Dr. Rice had to be removed from the studio due to spontaneously combusting pants. Sickening, isn't it?]

Who wouldn't want this???

Retard America, if you can read, I have found you a leader

What Is the Value of Algebra?

By Richard Cohen
Thursday, February 16, 2006; 12:00 AM

Here's the thing, Gabriela: You will never need to know algebra. I have never once used it and never once even rued that I could not use it. You will never need to know -- never mind want to know -- how many boys it will take to mow a lawn if one of them quits halfway and two more show up later -- or something like that. Most of math can now be done by a computer or a calculator. On the other hand, no computer can write a column or even a thank-you note -- or reason even a little bit. If, say, the school asked you for another year of English or, God forbid, history, so that you actually had to know something about your world, I would be on its side. But algebra? Please.

Gabriela, sooner or later someone's going to tell you that algebra teaches reasoning. This is a lie propagated by, among others, algebra teachers. Writing is the highest form of reasoning. This is a fact. Algebra is not. The proof of this, Gabriela, is all the people in my high school who were whizzes at math but did not know a thing about history and could not write a readable English sentence. I can cite Shelly, whose last name will not be mentioned, who aced algebra but when called to the board in geography class, located the Sahara Desert right where the Gobi usually is. She was off by a whole continent.
Richard. Rich. Dick. No one has ever made the case more clearly that learning math teaches one reasoning skills than you have. Thank you for that.