Saturday, December 29, 2007

Touch Screens Out in Ohio

Ohio SoS to Cleveland: Ditch the Touch Screens

[New Secretary of State] Jennifer Brunner cast the deciding vote in the 3-2 decision to get rid of Cleveland's touch screen voting machines, which have helped the Republicans cheat their way to victory in the last several elections.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Q's for Candidates, and CIA Torture

Nieman Watchdog lists a series of questions every candidate should get asked. It's not about Bush-bashing, it's about defining how you, Candidate, will operate as president.

Inside the CIA's notorious "black sites".

The nightmare started for him back in fall 2003. Bashmilah had traveled to Jordan from Indonesia, where he was living with his wife and working in the clothing business. He and his wife went to Jordan to meet Bashmilah's mother, who had also traveled there. The family hoped to arrange for heart surgery for Bashmilah's mother at a hospital in Amman. But before leaving Indonesia, Bashmilah had lost his passport and had received a replacement. Upon arrival in Jordan, Jordanian officials questioned his lack of stamps in the new one, and they grew suspicious when Bashmilah admitted he had visited Afghanistan in 2000. Bashmilah was taken into custody by Jordanian authorities on Oct. 21, 2003. He would not reappear again until he stepped out of a CIA plane in Yemen on May 5, 2005.

Bashmilah's apparent innocence was clearly lost on officials with Jordan's General Intelligence Department. After his arrest, the Jordanians brutally beat him, peppering him with questions about al-Qaida. He was forced to jog around in a yard until he collapsed. Officers hung him upside down with a leather strap and his hands tied. They beat the soles of his feet and his sides. They threatened to electrocute him with wires. The told him they would rape his wife and mother.

It was too much. Bashmilah signed a confession multiple pages long, but he was disoriented and afraid even to read it. "I felt sure it included things I did not say," he wrote in his declaration to the court delivered Friday. "I was willing to sign a hundred sheets so long as they would end the interrogation."


The CIA's torture teachers

According to congressional sources and mental healthcare professionals knowledgeable about the secret program who spoke with Salon, two CIA-employed psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, were at the center of the program, which likely violated the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Finally, a Horoscope that's "Me"

From The Onion, of course:

Dec 11, 2007
Libra SEPTEMBER 23 - OCTOBER 23
An engrossing read will soon transport you to a strange and faraway land, leaving you stranded in Harlem after 30 missed stops.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Feminism the Movement and Feminism the Ideology

One may wax and wane, but every woman who says "I'm not a feminist, but" actually is one.

Why Young Women Fear the Feminist Label. Or: The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise of Feminism.

The Fundamentalism Project

Book series. Excellent discussion in context over at Group News Blog: Teen Killed by Fundamentalist Father

Canada Holds US Violating Convention Against Torture, Will Accept Refugees, Asylees

Federal court strikes down refugee agreement

"... The United States' policies and practices do not meet the conditions set down for authorizing Canada to enter into a STCA," Phelan wrote in his 126-page decision.

"The U.S. does not meet the Refugee Convention requirements nor the [UN] Convention Against Torture prohibition (the Maher Arar case being one example). Further, the STCA does not comply with the relevant provisions of the Charter."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Reduce Oil Spills?

You know, if we used less oil, there'd probably be fewer oil spills of ships transporting the stuff or other facilities.

Beaches blackened in South Korea's worst oil spill.

San Francisco California Oil Spill Pilot To Surrender License

Philippines Oil Spill Spread to Lake Feared

Santa Barbara California: Crude Oil Spills into Sisquoc River Tributary

Russian Spills in Kerch Strait

And in other news,

BP Pleads Guilty in 2006 Alaska Spill. BP Exploration Alaska entered its guilty plea on Thursday, Nov. 29, to one violation of the Clean Water Act for a 200,000-gallon spill at the Prudhoe Bay field in March 2006.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Give Back.

Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary.

Awesome Calendar

The Lovely Mistresses of George W. Bush -- a pinup calendar of various special interests.

The Lovely Mistresses of George W. Bush is a classically styled, 13 month pin-up calendar ending on January 20th, 2009, the final day of George W. Bush's presidency. Packed with jaw dropping all-original images by Burke Heffner, The Lovely Mistresses features some of America's hottest burlesque stars and pin-up girls.

Every stunning girl is a hilarious reveal of the corporations, special interest groups and billionaires who have influenced George the most. Each pin-up includes her vital statistics, important dates and a farewell love letter to the president.


Oh, that's clever.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Historical Maps of US Cities

Maps maps maps! U.S. Historical City Maps Ooooooooo!

Thanks to J, for the tip.

Nifty Yet Confusing Idea: Donating Laptops to Poor Kids in Africa

Here's the confusing part -- do these kids have electricity? How will they charge the battery after it dies?

One Laptop Per Child Program

ETA: Medley points me to OLPC laptop features - hand cranks! *That* makes sense!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another Link Salad: Impeachment, Cover-ups, and the Environment

Suddenly, Impeachment Hearings Are Looking Like a Strong Possibility

One indication of the change in the political climate in the House is the announcement by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), a six-term congressman and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, that he will call for the Judiciary Committee to take up Kucinich’s impeachment [of VP Cheney] bill. This is significant because Wexler, no left-wing hothead, is not a co-signer of the Kucinich bill.

In an email message to constituents, Wexler said:

"I share your belief that Vice President Cheney must answer for his deceptive actions in office, particularly with regard to the preparations for the Iraq war and the revelation of the identity of covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson as part of political retribution against her husband."


Boxer: Bush Administration Hiding Global Warming Data From Americans

On Wednesday’s Hardball Senator Barbara Boxer talked with Chris Matthews about testimony given to the Senate Environment Committee by CDC Director Julie Gerberding about global warming and related health issues. Boxer says that Gerberding admitted that her original testimony had been heavily redacted by the White House and much of that was information on the public health impact of Global Warming.

When a letter was sent to President Bush asking for clarification on the redacted portions of the testimony, Boxer claims she received a letter back from White House Counsel, Fred Fielding, refusing her request claiming….you guessed it — Executive Privilege.


And,

California sues US over car fumes

California is suing the US federal government over its failure to back the state's tough new anti-pollution laws regulating greenhouse gas emissions.


In lighter news,

Barbie Trabbed in Carbonite. Cool.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Link Salad, size: small

Public Lands, Recreational Opportunities, and Natural Resources Or, yes, Virginia, global warming is real, the EPA knows it, and it's having a dramatic effect on Alaska, my much-loved home, that will never be the same again, gods curse every damn polluting one of us.

Drivers stranded by car signals. See? This is why I want a damn *KEY*.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Last Word on Waterboarding -- It's Torture, Pure & Simple

Waterboarding is Torture… Period, from Malcolm Nance at the Small Wars Journal.

As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.


Once at SERE and tasked to rewrite the Navy SERE program for the first time since the Vietnam War, we incorporated interrogation and torture techniques from the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia into the curriculum. In the process, I studied hundreds of classified written reports, dozens of personal memoirs of American captives from the French-Indian Wars and the American Revolution to the Argentinean ‘Dirty War’ and Bosnia. There were endless hours of videotaped debriefings from World War Two, Korea, Vietnam and Gulf War POWs and interrogators. I devoured the hundreds of pages of debriefs and video reports including those of then Commander John McCain, Colonel Nick Rowe, Lt. Dieter Dengler and Admiral James Stockdale, the former Senior Ranking Officer of the Hanoi Hilton. All of them had been tortured by the Vietnamese, Pathet Lao or Cambodians. The minutiae of North Vietnamese torture techniques was discussed with our staff advisor and former Hanoi Hilton POW Doug Hegdahl as well as discussions with Admiral Stockdale himself. The waterboard was clearly one of the tools dictators and totalitarian regimes preferred.


It's torture, and the DOJ and White House know it because an Assistant Attorney General went out to assess it, had it inflicted it on himself to truly understand it, and concluded that yes, it's torture. Legally and ethically, it's torture. And he got fired for it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Climate Wars

Climate Wars Threaten Billions

Retired JAG Officers on Mukasey, Waterboarding

Retired JAGs Send Letter to Leahy

While Bush says shit like this:

In a time of war, it is vital for the President to have a full national security team in place -- and the Attorney General is a key member of that team. The Attorney General is America's top law enforcement officer, with critical responsibilities for preventing terrorist attacks and protecting our Nation.


but doesn't mean it, since he wants the nation's top law enforcement officer to condone torture.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Busy Couple of Days

Well, Thursday night, as all my rabid reading audience (all what, 3 of you?) know, I got notified I'd passed the bar exam for Massachusetts. I get sworn in after Thanksgiving. I confess I'm tempted to take another bar for a different state, yet I'm glad I didn't try to do two at once -- the folks I saw doing that in July looked *DAMN* tired by day 3.

Friday I went to cheer for Delynn at the Student Award Ceremony as she picked up her CALI Award for Trial Practice. It was great to see so many grads return to pick theirs up.

My parents called during the ceremony, having finally gotten my message (left on m'mom's cellphone Thursday night) about passing the bar, and of course I couldn't talk just then.

Then D&D took me out to dinner to celebrate her CALI and my passing the bar, and we found some little middle eastern restaurant off Boylston, and ate shawarma and other good stuff.

And I just knew I had to tell the Internet all about it. You're so lucky.

In other news:

George Bush saying (caught this on NPR in my sleep Friday morning) that Mukasey doesn't have to answer a question about a torture technique being torture, because he's not briefed on whether the technique is in use, is quite possibly the most ridiculous attempt to sidestep a question I've ever heard. Regardless of whether the technique is used currently in or by the US, IT'S TORTURE.
The SOBs are caving on Mukasey, because he's "far better than anyone could expect from this administration." They still don't get it. The Bush Administration is an aggressive bully in negotiating style - staking a claim for ALL power and then backing off if you refuse. YOU HAVE TO DO THE SAME IN RETURN. STOP COMPROMISING. STOP EXPECTING THEM TO COMPROMISE IF YOU SIMPLY 'SHOW GOOD FAITH'.
Mushareff imposes emergency rule in Pakistan. Oh, dandy.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

PASSED THE BAR EXAM

Passed the bar exam!

Halloween Celebration

I had one (expected) trick-or-treater last night, one of the boys who lives in my building -- he had a most excellent fireman's costume. I gave him some candy[*] and came outside so we could take some pictures. I think he had a good Halloween, and I also think it was his first. (He's not from the US originally.)

[*] Penny Candy at CVS isn't really a penny, but it's good old-fashioned stuff and there might be a ton of sugar in there, but at least there's no high-fructose corn syrup.

Then I watched Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow in honor of the occasion.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More in the "Make You Cry" Dept

U.S. Could See a Water Shortage

Tip #1: LOSE THE FUCKING LAWN, PEOPLE! Christ! Grow local plants suited to the climate. *What* is this obsession people have with lawns?

Help an Animal

Dogs in Danger. Give money, give time, give a home.

Pro Publica: Journalism in the Public Interest

A non-profit journalism outfit. Interesting.

Things that make you go "Hm", laugh, or cry

Laugh:

Human race will 'split into two different species'. So sayeth Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics. (Those wacky economists!)

Top 10 Most Terrifyingly Inspirational 80s Songs

Hm:

Biofuels 'crime against humanity'.

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, said he feared biofuels would bring more hunger.

The growth in the production of biofuels has helped to push the price of some crops to record levels.


It was, he said, a crime against humanity to divert arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel.

He called for a five-year ban on the practice. Within that time, according to Mr Ziegler, technological advances would enable the use of agricultural waste, such as corn cobs and banana leaves, rather than crops themselves to produce fuel.


and more 'hm':

The literary criticism of J.K. Rowling has begun. Potter is a lefty, says French philosopher ("Harry Potter is a left-winger and the seven books by J.K. Rowling are a diatribe against Thatcherite Britain, a French philosopher said Friday on the day of the last novel's publication in French.")

I like the phrase "Thatcherite Britain". Hard to say why.


Cry:

American kids, dumber than dirt

FEMA "Sorry" Faked Newscast. No, they're not. They're just sorry they got caught. Typical of this Administration.

The collapse of Bush's foreign policy: From Turkey to Iraq to Pakistan, the mounting chaos proves the White House is just winging it (by Juan Cole):

Like a drunken millionaire gambling away a fortune at a Las Vegas casino, the Bush administration squandered all the assets it began with by invading Iraq and unleashing chaos in the Gulf. The secular Baath Party in Iraq was replaced by Shiite fundamentalists, Sunni Salafi fundamentalists and Kurdish separatists. The pressure the Bush administration put on the Pakistani military government to combat Muslim militants in that country weakened the legitimacy of Musharraf, whom the Pakistani public increasingly viewed as an oppressive American puppet. Iraqi Kurdistan's willingness to give safe haven to the PKK alienated Turkey from both the new Iraqi government and its American patrons. Search-and-destroy missions in Afghanistan have predictably turned increasing numbers of Pushtun villagers against the United States, NATO and Karzai.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Various Coolnesses

The Flushing Remonstrance, triggered by colonial Gov. Peter Stuyvesant being an intolerant dick. Read about it here. I love the Society of Friends (Quakers). I think, based on my scattered readings of Elaine Pagels The Gnostic Gospels, that Quakers are the most true to the form of early Christianity.

I'll gradually be changing my cosmetics usage (yes, I do wear cosmetics pretty regularly now) based on this site: http://www.safecosmetics.org/

Goth Raggedy Ann and Andy! My twin and I used to have RA&A. Not goth, though. Too bad.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

TV Torture Changes Real Interrogation Techniques

TV Torture Changes Real Interrogation Techniques

David Danzig:

It used to be [on TV] it was always the bad guys who used [torture] .... When they used these kinds of techniques, they never worked....This stuff doesn't work in the real world...


Terri Gross asked Col. Harrington, what are some of the myths of the effectiveness of torture?

His answer:

* that it works at all
* that information can be obtained quickly

Plus, the ticking time bomb scenario, in the real world, just doesn't happen.

Col. Harrington: "Harsh conditions...[are] counterproductive."

Terri Gross: You keep saying that professionals know better than to use these kinds of torture techniques. Are you implying that amateurs who really didn't know better who were responsible for putting these techniques into place?

Col. Herrington: I'll do better than implying. I'll say it. Yes.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Catching Up

This past week-plus, since last I updated, have been filled with:

Turning another year older, an important personal holiday.
Observing the other extremely important personal holiday of "Papa's Birthday".
Attending The Role of Law Schools in Fostering Commitment to Pro Bono Publico, which I believe to have been a very useful conference.

Finding out information about the new federal loan forgiveness act.

Students, take out federally-funded or federally-guaranteed loans (i.e., Stafford, GradPLUS), and then when you graduate, go to the Dept of Education website for the form(s) to consolidate everything into a *federal* direct consolidation loan. Look up your (federal) loan info here. If you already have a private consolidation loan, you may have to fill out an extra form, or otherwise affirm that the private deal isn't good enough, to re-consolidate with a federal one, and unless it has loan forgiveness, it ain't good enough. You may even need to use the contact number for the Dept of Ed's Ombudsman, which is 1-877-557-2575. Then, if it's not 2009 yet, sign up for Income Contingent Repayment, to keep your payments down. Payments will be based on your adjusted gross income. In 2009, sign up for Income Based Repayment, to keep your payments down even further, *and* get loan forgiveness after 25 years . If you work in public service (govt job, any 501(c)-type org) for 10 years (non-consecutive!!), from the time you sign up for IBR, you'll get loan forgiveness after the 10 years instead of 25. If you make shitloads of money, you may not want ICR or IBR, because a payment schedule based on your income may mean higher payments than the standard repayment schedule. This advice is for the rest of us. You go enjoy driving your expensive car.



There's a third-party ICR & IBR calculator here, among various other calculators and financial aid related tools.



Having the easiest walk through security at an airport, ever.
Reading Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year and wondering if a similar book using Hurricane Katrina would make sense or not.
Visting one set of friends, and missing a visit from another set of friends.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Petraeus says US surge has 'not worked out'

Petraeus says US surge has 'not worked out'. I think that's pretty self-explanatory. How 'bout you?

Local Memorial Planned to Honor Fairbanks Musical Legend

My dad[*] is heading up for Fairbanks next week to participate in the memorial performance for the late, great, Jim Bell. He was a Boom-dee-yay Boy for Jim in his time.

I wish I could be there. Jim was a legend, and, of course, as a kid in Alaska at the time, I didn't appreciate what I was seeing, watching a show at the Palace Saloon in Fairbanks, AK.

Jim's obit -- written with a great sense of humor -- may be read here.

[*](living, as opposed to my father, who's not.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

One Woman Tells the Truth About Iraq

Blogger Riverbend of Baghdad Burning has fled the country, with her family.

This is what we did to Iraq:

Made armed incursions and death at the hands of masked men "normal".
Made roadblocks, checkpoints, and vehicle explosions commonplace.
Ripped families apart.
Denied women any autonomy.
Killed.
And Killed.
And Killed A Nation.

Leaving Home, by Riverbend, who had to leave her home, because of what George Bush did to it. What *you* and *I*, and every American, let him do to it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Newsflash: Global Warming is Real, and We Cause It

NOAA Study Says Greenhouse Warming Was Main Cause of Unusual Heat in 2006

Warming caused by human activity was the biggest factor in unusually high temperatures recorded in 2006 in the United States, according to a report by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The analysis, released Tuesday, is being published in the September issue of Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.



Mankind to blame for warming but can slow damage

The report gives a first overview of 3,000 pages of research by the U.N.'s climate panel already published in three installments this year about the science, the likely impacts and the costs of slowing climate change.

The authoritative summary, obtained by Reuters and meant to guide governments in working out how to slow warming, reiterates that humans are to blame for climate change but that clean technologies are available to offset the most harmful emissions.

"Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (from human activities) greenhouse gas concentrations," it says.

UN Issues Desertification Warning

UN issues desertification warning

"Desertification has emerged as an environmental crisis of global proportions, currently affecting an estimated 100 to 200 million people, and threatening the lives and livelihoods of a much larger number," the study said.

The overexploitation of land and unsustainable irrigation practices are making matters worse, while climate change is also a major factor degrading the soil, it says.


The report can be found at the BBC website (PDF).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Katrina, Then and Now

First: A Katrina Timeline

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake wrote For the Love of Cheney, two years ago, and now, For the Love of Cheney — The Second Anniversary Edition.

Author Poppy Z. Brite refused to leave the city, though she doesn't live in the same area anymore:


There's also a New Orleans community on livejournal.

And, of course, there's Digby: What, Me Worry?

Bush, Katrina, and the Shame of a Nation -- Two Years Later

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fool me once... Fool me twice...

The Great Iraq Swindle

It was an awful idea, perhaps the worst America has ever tried on foreign soil. But if you were in on it, it was great work while it lasted.


C'mon, everybody! Let's line our pockets while Baghdad burns!

Reckless Abandonment

Reckless Abandonment

Unfortunately, one of the biggest misperceptions the American public harbors is that Katrina was a week-long catastrophe. In truth, it's better to view it as an era. Remember, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s lasted eight or nine years. We're still in the middle of the Katrina saga.

Bold action has been needed for two years now, yet all that the White House has offered is an inadequate trickle of billion-dollar Band-aids and placebo directives. Too often in the United States we forget that "inaction" can be a policy initiative. Every day the White House must decide what not to do.

Speak From the Heart

Because that's how people connect with you.

The Political Brain

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Respecting Copyright"

I'm making these remarks spurred by a brief article about Prism, an astroturf org apparently devoted to restricting knowledge by "respecting copyright".

At least in the US, copyright isn't a natural, god(s)-given right that must be guarded by the state. Rather, it is a tool, to keep scientists and inventors at the task of invention, by rewarding them, personally (not their heirs ad infinitum), for their efforts. Copyright is a *tool*, a means. Not an end.

To promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

Who That?

Bush had lots of nice things to say about this guy Alberto Gonzales -- honorable and all that. A real mensch. This must some other guy than our Alberto Gonzales.

Truly, Bush lives in Bizarro World.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We Have Become the Enemy

One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.


US demotes, imprisons, tortures own citizens for whistleblowing. The article was named with some reasonably innocuous title. This one's more representative of the content, don't you think?

Dr. Returns American Psychology Assoc. Award

because the APA sanctions torture:

I do not want an award from an organization that sanctions its members' participation in the enhanced interrogations at CIA Black Sites and at Guantanamo. The presence of psychologists has both educated the interrogation teams in more skillful methods of breaking people down and legitimized the process of torture in defiance of the Geneva Conventions.

The behavior of psychologists on these enhanced interrogation teams violates our own Code of Ethics (2002) in which we pledge to respect the dignity and worth of all people, with special responsibility towards the most vulnerable. I consider prisoners in secret CIA-run facilities with no right of habeas corpus or access to attorneys, family or media to be highly vulnerable. I also believe that when any of us are degraded, all of human life is degraded. This letter is as much about us as it is about prisoners.

In our Ethics Code we agree to promote honesty and accuracy. Our involvement in these projects has been secretive and dishonest. Finally, as psychologists we vow to do no harm. Without question, we violate this oath when we allow people in our care to be deprived of sleep or subjected to sensory over-stimulation or deprivation.


Backstory:

APA to work within the system for change
Substitute Motion Three
What Does a Psychologist Do at an Interrogation?

Not Interested in Governing, Redux

The current administration labors under the presumption that market forces can fix everything. Like, say, lead in toys from China.

Bush is "Soft on Lead"

“The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it,” said Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch, a government watchdog group formed in 1983. “That’s been the philosophy of the Bush administration.”


Except that the market doesn't fix everything.

Alexa Engelman, a researcher at the Center for Environmental Health, said, “They knew this all along and they didn’t take action on it. It’s upsetting to me. Why are we, as a country, protecting the companies? We should be protecting the kids.”

Well, we should be, but the administration has a philosophical problem with government regulations. If that means more kids are exposed to more lead, well, it’s the market’s problem.


So, here's the country we live in: one where the people in charge of governing don't care to do so, don't think it's important, since, the market should be able to do it, and is never, ever, willing to change its mind on anything.

The presidency of George W Bush is waning and laming. The time has come to think about the future and when it comes to policies for US science and to the use of science in US policy, let's put it bluntly, pretty much anything will be an improvement.

Over the past seven years, Mr Bush has shown a disturbing unwillingness to change his mind or admit to errors of fact or judgment. So we are probably safe in assuming he will not significantly alter course on the leading science policy topics of the day - embryonic stem cell research and global warming.

In each case, Mr Bush made a policy decision back in 2001 based upon false, incomplete, or misleading information and has since fought a rearguard action to prevent either acknowledging these deceptions or their obvious implication - that the 2001 policies should be reversed.


We're going to be paying for these mistakes for a long, long time.

The Crusading Army

To add to my preceding post: and they don't care about the separation of church and state, either.

DOD-Connected Christian Group Draws Fire;

The Pentagon Sends Messengers of Apocalypse to Convert Soldiers in Iraq;

Not So Fast, Christian Soldiers

Maybe what the war in Iraq needs is not more troops but more religion. At least that's the message the Department of Defense seems to be sending.

Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering "freedom packages" to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

The packages were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the "Military Crusade."

Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word "crusade" and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.


You know, put all this together and it spells one thing: the current Administration isn't actually American.

Don't Care About Governing? Join the GOP!

How did we let Katrina happen? Today, you don't even have to be onsite in floodwater, to be drowning. Stuck and Suicidal in a Post-Katrina Trailer Park

He was young, tall, and solidly good-looking. I asked if I could speak to him for a moment and he agreed. We found a spot of shade beneath a tree, and I started with what I considered a casual warm-up.

"What's it like to live around here?" I asked.

"Well," he replied, "I'll be honest."

"Ain't a day goes by when I don't think about killing myself."


How did we let this happen? Well, the current administration doesn't care about actually running the country. It ran FEMA into the ground, and uses federal agencies for political marketing rather than actually governing.

How Rove Directed Federal Assets for GOP Gains;

Waxman Confirms Existence Of Rove’s Politicization ‘Teams’.

Politics. Rather than policies.

There's that famous quote of Norquist's about drowning government in a bathtub. Well, one city has been drowned, and now people are drowning on dry land. How much more of this do you want?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Foreign Affairs Magazine: Campaign 2008

FA Magazine is publishing articles by presidential candidates "previewing the foreign policy agendas they would pursue if elected." What a great idea. Is there a Domestic Affairs Magazine, for their articles on domestic topics?

In Which a Feminist Woman is Like Unto a Chihuahua

The Context ("I was recently informed by a friend, via a note passed to me at a party after I had reacted negatively (or, as he explained, like a chihuahua) to some sexist comment he made, that feminists are “bored and abused” chauvinists who have nothing better to do than to attack men...")

[A note!? He passed her a note?!! God, that's weird. -- Sid]

To which Twisty Faster, in The Fucking Pedantic Asshole Chronicles, contributes:

You know how you’re sauntering along through your life minding your own beeswax, and some sexist shit goes down, and you, a feminist, naturally respond as one who is sick and tired of sexist shit, perhaps saying aloud in mixed company “that’s some pretty sexist shit, yo,” and your unwillingness to just laugh it off with the rest of the ladies raises the hackles of some asshole pedantic dude who then, out of his profound concern for your well-being, tries to rescue you from pariah-dom, lavishing you with the benefit of his superior grasp of the human condition by setting you straight on the distaste with which every other rational person on Earth regards ‘feminism’? Perhaps even adding that if you really want to get anywhere with your arguments, you’ll get better at appeasing your oppressor with a more solicitous, more conciliatory, more sexyfun tone?


At which point in the "discussion", every woman who has been around the feminist block a few times rolls her eyes, thinking:

a. it's not about "appeasing my oppressor", you dip;
b. gee, thanks for enlightening me, o beneficiary of this excruciatingly dehumanizing system;
c. when oh when will this yahoo shut up?

The fundamental premise of feminism is an easy one: women are human beings. (Just like you! How terrifying!)

It's an inconvenient truth, I know, and one from which so much cognitive dissonance flows. How do you, a male in a patriarchy, maintain your position in that patriarchy, that position that works so darn well for you and your (male) buds, if women are actually human beings?

By objectifying, of course. By denying that women are human beings in the same way that soldiers in Vietnam turned human beings who lived there into "Charlie" or "gooks". Because that objectification is what made it possible to kill them.

Twisty is right: the patriarchal position is irrelevant to feminist theory, and the substance of feminism, the value of the liberation of women, is not itself a legitimate subject for debate among rational beings.

When we talk about patriarchy we're talking about a system that requires you to deny someone's humanity. That's sociopathy. It doesn't get more perverse than that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Don't Give Me That "Founding Fathers Never Intended" Crap

Because they did intend religious freedom for everyone, not just Christians, and you can get that straight from Thomas Jefferson, in his remarks on the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which was the basis for the Religion Clauses in the Constitution's Bill of Rights[*].

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it's protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.


So, you can put that in your pipe, Congressman Sali, and smoke it.

[*]BACKGROUNDER ON THE VIRGINIA STATUTE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Further, the Library of Virginia provides a Services for Teachers portion of its website, including a list of the known sources relied upon for the Bill of Rights:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Excellent Integration/Segregation Article

By Nora, Angry Black Woman's guest blogger: So Let’s just go back to segregation, then. She has some very interesting things to say about race, immersion, segregation and integration, and what looks like a must-read book, Beverly Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Usual Security Excellence from Bruce Schneier

I'm thrilled to read that the Calif. Sec'y of State has decertified these systems, especially the appalling Diebold, and I'm appalled to find she's conditionally re-certifying them. (See the SOS's reports here.)

Assurance

While this is a good effort, it has security completely backward. It begins with a presumption of security: If there are no known vulnerabilities, the system must be secure. If there is a vulnerability, then once it's fixed, the system is again secure. How anyone comes to this presumption is a mystery to me. Is there any version of any operating system anywhere where the last security bug was found and fixed? Is there a major piece of software anywhere that has been, and continues to be, vulnerability-free?


Exactly. The proper assumption is that your system is vulnerable until shown otherwise, not the other way around.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Excellent Article by Sara @ Orcinus

But that's to be expected. I think, as someone who has emerged from that mind-set herself, she offers a clearer and better understanding of the authoritarian mind than anyone else.

Leering Old Men, which I could so easily just quote the whole damn thing but won't:

Which brings me around to my point, which is that the over-the-top behavior around masculine gender roles Digby and Dave are noticing is pretty classic early primary behavior, too. The games boys play at this age often involve extreme masculine archetypes -- cowboys, cops, soldiers, sports heroes, spacemen, and so on. (It's interesting that Little Boots has, at one time or another, tried to cast himself in all of these roles -- and that the male Kewl Kids just swooned over it, every time. Remember the fuss over Jet Pilot Action Figure Bush's "package"? Damn fool didn't loosen his straps before getting out of the jet. Nobody else on the deck had his crotch trussed up like a Christmas goose; and to them, he looked like a rookie idiot. But Chris Matthews practically had an orgasm on-air while watching him prance and strut.) The fact that so many mainstream and conservative media guys are suckered by this posturing shows that they don't really have a clue about what a Real Man looks like -- though, somewhere deep down inside, they're pretty sure they don't qualify. That's why they're so easily wowed by men who can put on the costume and make it look good.

But they're even more easily cowed by men who can actually fill the boots. John Kerry. John McCain. Colin Powell. Bill Clinton. (You don't have to agree with their politics; but nobody can say these men haven't comfortably worn the full measure of male power and responsibility for some critical stretch of their lives.) Like little boys, the media guys are so awed by the outward forms of masculinity that they eagerly make a fetish out of them; but they also actively fear and resent men who display the authentic internal goods that make an honest-to-God man. These guys' very presence incites such a strong sense of personal inadequacy that the Boys On The Bus can only resort to attacking them in ways that are openly calculated to feminize them -- that is, to bring them down to their own level. He look French. He's whipped by his powerful wife. He's preoccupied with his hair. Translation: This guy has more balls and more maturity than we do -- and we need to take him down before everybody figures out how inadequate that makes us feel.

Whatever the "real" content of manhood is (that's a whole separate discussion), sexual agency and virility lie somewhere near the core of it. It takes a sexually mature and capable man to find and woo a partner, father children, sustain the relationships that make a home, and take his place among the valuable men of the community. When you're a kid, Dad's sexual competence is the very heart of what makes him the alpha male in your family pack. At five or six, the physical attributes that make him a man are magical stuff -- and not only do you not have those attributes, your childish sense of time is such that it's easy to fear that you never will. The whole issue, as Freud knew, is fraught and uncomfortable. The only way little boys can deal with this deep and mysterious discomfort is to make giggly jokes about it. It's either that, or stand in dumbstruck awe about the power that your young life utterly depends on, yet you simply cannot comprehend -- and that's not an option on prime time TV.

The howling conservative and MSM men we're seeing on the air these seem to be stuck in some early sexual stage -- a stage where manliness and sexuality are scary adult mysteries, the obsessive stuff of wild curiosity, rampant misunderstandings, crude jokes, dress-up play-acting, and bizarre fetishes. For all their media power, these guys have sexually scarcely moved beyond playing doctor-- and, at this late stage, probably never will. Scratch any leering old man, and you'll expose a scared kid who, fifty years on, still hasn't come to terms with his own uncontrollable wet dreams, let alone the challenge of engaging productively with his own adult sexuality and that of the real-life adult women he shares the world with.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gonzales' Testimony

Firedoglake liveblogged the testimony: part I, II, III, IV, and V, where Leahy makes his displeasure clear:

I have a lot more questions, but we aren’t going to get answers to them. I’ll think about submitting them in writing where I also won’t get answers. The tragedy on this is the decent civil servants who deter crime and prosecute crime — who work long hours at difficult jobs protecting the public. I’ve never once asked a DOJ employee or law enforcement personnel what their political affiliation was because it doesn’t matter — what metters is facts and evidence. You come here seeking our trust. Frankly, Mr. AG, you have lost mine, and I have never said this to another cabinet official in my entire career in government. Once the system of justice loses credibility and the public loses faith in it — when that credibility is lost, those career professionals have an uphill battle to do their jobs. This committee is going to do what it must to restore that credibility. I take no pleasure in saying this, but I am seriously, gravely disappointed.



The Galloping Beaver sums up this whole debacle: "Either he's lying or he has the worst memory of attorneys-general in US history."

Harry Potter Complex System Commentary

Rather than pick something out of thin area, recognize the diverse threads that came together to make HP such a success. Easily Distracted identifies 9 tributaries that made it happen.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to rewrite many similar kinds of events using the vocabulary of complex-systems theory. Such a shift isn’t necessarily radically unlike anything we know, but it does strike at the heart of one kind of common explanatory framework that many of us turn to when we’re trying to explain why a social or cultural event has occurred. I’ll call this “popular social science”, a kind of generalized, public-sphere version of the disciplinary practices of economics and political science. It’s regression analysis without the math. People try to explain an event by identifying its causes or inputs and then proceed to identify the single most important independent variable through common sense or observed assertions about the effect size of that variable. So we end up with stories like, “It was going after the squeegee men that reduced crime in New York”, “The reason that 9/11 happened is US training and arming of jihadis in Afghanistan during Soviet occupation”, or “Pirates of the Caribbean 2 sold as well as it did because of Johnny Depp’s performance in the first film, not because the audience liked the second film better than the first.” These are popular arguments about causation, echoed by a variety of scholarly arguments.


When the real causation can be so much more...well, complex.

Hypocrite

John Yoo, hypocrite. Short version of Yoo's argument: "Oh, it's awful when Clinton invokes Executive Privilege, but just dandy when Bush does it." That's hypocrisy, my friends.

Great Point

What FDR and [Martin Luther] King understood is that the truth needs help. It needs stories told about it, works of art made of it, it needs to use symbols and be embedded in myths that people find meaningful. It needs to be yelled from the mountaintops. The truth needs help, but helping it along doesn't mean abandoning it.
-- Stephen Duncombe

What he's saying is, truth needs to speak to the heart and the gut, where the instinctual responses come from, not just the mind, where the rational responses come from.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Spoiler-Free Harry Potter Post

PSA: Your friends taking the bar exam this coming week have probably not read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet, even though it's a whole 36 hours or so after the book became available for sale.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fun with Spam

This could be one of my sporadic recipe posts, with a title like that.

But it's not.

No, I got spam today, big surprise, but it's spam that made me pay attention to it. That is a surprise.

The spam asked me, "What do you want your website to do?"

What the hell kind of question is that? What do I want my website to *do*? Well, shee-it. I'll tell you what I want my website to do.

I want my website to have kittens.
I want my website to jump rope with me.
I want my website to keep the kids who live on the second floor from getting into too much trouble.
I want my website to stop drinking so much.
I want my website to educate readers on issues of science, politics, law, and government.
I want my website to give me tickets to, oh, anywhere.
I want my website to stop hogging the covers.
I want my website to taste more cheese-y, but without the extra calories.
I want my website to kick ass and take names.
I want my website to impeach the President of the United States for High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
I want my website to impeach the Vice-President of the United States for High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
I want my website to restore the rule of law to this country.
I want my website to make me proud of being an American, instead of ashamed.


But I don't think there's a setting for all that on the Ronco Web-O-Matic.

More's the pity.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Look in the Mirror if You Want to See the Enemy

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness

This is so wrong it defies any other response than this: we have to get out.

Bill O'Reilly has Lost His Mind

Bill O'Reilly and the Pistol-Packing Mamas In which Bill O'Reilly and one of his guests make up some bizarre story about pink-gun-toting lesbian gangs.

Pink Pistols, A Second Shot In which someone attempts a "correction".

Pink Pistols: Ready, Aim, Fire In which the truth will out. Includes one of the best intro paragraphs for a blog entry I've read in a year. Seriously.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Environmental Updates

South China City Hit By Toxic Red Tide of Algae

"This is the biggest red tide that has ever appeared off the city's coast," the China Daily quoted Zhou Kai, an expert with the local marine environment monitoring station, as saying.

Zhou said the 50-sq-km (19-sq-mile) slick off the west coast of Shenzhen, a major industrial centre bordering Hong Kong in Guangdong province, was the third outbreak this year and was likely to persist without rain.


One-Third of U.S. Water Estuaries in Bad Shape

The EPA analyzed 1,239 sites in its first survey of the country's 28 major estuaries, which provide breeding grounds and shelter for fish and birds.

It found that bodies of water with large numbers of people living nearby suffered the most. While counties with big estuaries make up only 6 percent of the coastal land area, they contain more than two-thirds of the coastal population.


New Blood Tests Needed After Dominican Delays Ruin Survey Into Polluted Site

Blood samples from children in one of the world's most polluted places will have to be retaken, prompting fears the cleanup will be further delayed at the site nicknamed "the Dominican Chernobyl," researchers said Tuesday.

Testing delays ruined the samples from 230 children living in the port town of Haina, where run-off from a former battery recycling plant has poisoned scores of people, said Steve Osborne, a spokesman for the Montefiore Medical Center in New York.


Surge of Dead Seabirds Alarms Scientists

The deaths of the birds -- similar to gulls and called greater shearwaters -- have wildlife officials worried about possible changes in the ocean that could have affected the fish that the birds usually eat.


Dutch Try To Grow Environment-Friendly Meat in Lab

Although it is in its early stages, the idea is to replace harvesting meat from livestock with a process that eliminates the need for animal feed, transport, land use and the methane expelled by animals, which all hurt the environment, [Utrecht University veterinary science professor Bernard Roelen] said.

"Keeping animals just to eat them is in fact not so good for the environment," said Roelen. "Animals need to grow, and animals produce many things that you do not eat."


I'd eat it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Greenwald on the Authoritarian Mind

Tucker, Jonah, Elizabeth and Jillian

Our Leaders are Good and want to protect us. Therefore, we must accept -- and even be grateful -- when they prevent us from knowing what they are doing. The less we know, the more powerful our Leaders are. And that is something we accept and celebrate, for our Leaders are Good and we trust that the more powerful they are, the better we all shall be.


If this piques your interest in understanding authoritarianism, start reading Orcinus.

Compare and contrast with Theodore C. Sorenson's The New Vision: The speech I want the Democratic nominee to give, which calls out to the best of American ideals, rather than fear, hate, and willful ignorance.

Other Half of Four-Part WaPo Cheney Series

Cheney, Part III and Part IV


Publius has some interesting remarks over at ObsidianWings:

[D]ismissing Cheney as “evil” is too easy. Cheney is not some one-time moral aberration, he is the product of deeper, more structural flaws in the American political system. For that reason, we can expect future Cheneys if these fundamental flaws aren’t recognized and addressed.


P gets into the ideological aspect of the broader "process" -- asserting, quite rightly, I think, that "the emergence of a shadow presidency" was "the direct product of the ideology of the 2000 election."

Money and outdated election systems create their own problems, but they don’t necessarily lead to electing inexperienced, unqualified presidents. What does lead to electing inexperienced, unqualified presidents is a media narrative and public debate focused on juvenile, high-school popularity-type criteria.


And now, for my voice, in a brief remark that I shall leave to you, gentle reader, to unpack, mostly, whilst I go back to studying for the bar exam:

We changed how we elect presidents, with JFK. Look, not content, became pre-eminent when Nixon sweated in televised debate with JFK in 1960.

From the Eagleton Digital Archive of American Politics:

Indeed, those who heard the first debate on the radio pronounced Nixon the winner. But the 70 million who watched television saw a candidate still sickly and obviously discomforted by Kennedy's smooth delivery and charisma. Those television viewers focused on what they saw, not what they heard.


Thanks, TV. Now, the Internet, founded in content rather than look, many community voices rather than one paternalistic one, may save us, I don't know. It's changed so over the years, so, I just don't know.

Monday, June 25, 2007

ObsidianWings on the WaPo Cheney articles

The Cheney Series: Abu Ghraib

Second, John Yoo "verbally warned lawyers for the president, Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that it would be dangerous as a matter of policy to permit military interrogators to use the harshest techniques, because the armed services, vastly larger than the CIA, could overuse the tools or exceed the limits." The fact that these techniques spread through the military was not some sort of tragic unforeseen event. They were warned that this might happen; they decided to allow the use of these techniques anyways; and if they did anything to try to prevent something like Abu Ghraib from happening as a result -- if they tried hard to train everyone involved in interrogations about what they could do and what they could not -- I haven't heard about it yet.


The Cheney Series: War Crimes

Time after time, various people say to Cheney and his staff: look, you need to realize that this line of argument will never be accepted by the courts. And every time, Cheney's response is: we insist on everything; we concede nothing; screw them. There is, as far as I can tell, no acknowledgement of the fact that the Courts have an independent role in setting out the legal limits on the actions of the Executive, or that they are anything more than an annoying hoop that has to be jumped through. Similarly with the Congress.

For this reason, it's not surprising that Cheney treats reversals of his policies in the Courts, or Congressional action overruling them, not as setting limits on what he should do, but as minor setbacks in a bureaucratic war, setbacks that he can overturn through deviousness and persistence. It's worth stopping to think about how wrong this is.


The Cheney Series: Weakness And Dysfunction

Besides explaining the backstory behind the administration's policy on torture, the Post's series of articles on Cheney (1, 2) also makes it clear that Dick Cheney is the co-worker from hell: secretive, devious, vindictive, backstabbing, and absolutely relentless in pursuit of his goals.
.

Part 2 of WaPo's article on Cheney

"Pushing the Envelope of Presidential Power"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ever notice

How we always describe people who die of cancer as doing so after an x-many-weeks/years/whatever battle?

Always the heroic battle metaphor.

Excellent Article on VP Cheney

'A Different Understanding With The President'

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Firstborns Get Dibs on Everything -- Even IQs

Research Finds Firstborns Gain the Higher I.Q. (NY Times)

Oh, the things I love about this article:

4. The way the article seems tailor-made to depress everyone who's not the eldest of their sibs. Can't you just hear a younger sib, now? F--- me, even my damn IQ is a hand-me-down!.
3. The "golly, we bet the results are the same for women, even though we only analyzed male subjects."
2. That adult attention as an infant is theorized as a factor, yet that doesn't explain men who become the eldest sib, and apparently smarter, to boot. Instead -- and this is my out-of-thin-air theory, thanks -- maybe being pushed to do, to sink or swim, in a pressure cooker that younger sibs don't get to the same degree, has a significant effect on IQ. Push comes to shove, you find yourself developing all sorts of necessary skills.
1. The fact that we measure intelligence w/such rough devices to begin with. I mean, honestly, how many kids' answers change to these dippy IQ questions, that have nothing to do with how smart they might actually be? (Something to bear in mind when asking yourself if these results really would be the same for men and women, given the patriarchy.) Look at the whole section in there on once-a-decade advancements v. genuinely revolutionary ideas:

Charles Darwin, author of the revolutionary “Origin of Species,” was the fifth of six children. Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish-born astronomer who determined that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the planetary system, grew up the youngest of four. The mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, the youngest of three, was a key figure in the scientific revolution that began in the 16th century.

Firstborns have won more Nobel Prizes in science than younger siblings, but often by advancing current understanding, rather than overturning it.

“It’s the difference between every-year or every-decade creativity and every-century creativity,” Dr. Sulloway said, “between innovation and radical innovation.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This is deeply unsettling and disappointing

Scalia asks, ‘Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?’

Remember, in some legal circles, Scalia is considered one of the giants in conservative intellectual thought.

It’s likely that Scalia was using a cultural reference to prove a broader point about torture and the rule of law, but I’m not entirely sure what that point is. It seems to have something to do with Scalia’s apparent belief that those U.S. officials who commit torture deserve legal amnesty, just so long as the ends justify the means.

Just think, having this guy sitting on the Supreme Court was disconcerting before he started using fiction to rationalize torture.

I’ll spare you the tirade on why torture is morally indefensible, and why torture doesn’t provide useful information anyway, and why relying on fictional characters to justify real-life crimes is patently ridiculous, but will instead focus on two points.

First, Bauer-like scenarios don’t happen.

[snip]

Second, Bauer-like scenarios offer the wrong lessons.




Monday, June 18, 2007

Ultimate Flip-Flop

Bishop Romney's Sadistic Anti-Abortion Counseling If you're too busy to read it: eyewitness testimony that Mitt Romney claimed to be pro-choice for political reasons only, when running for office in Mass. He lied, flat out, to get elected.

It's a great article for other reasons:

Suzan Mazur: How do you think Mitt Romney will do ultimately in the presidential race?

[Prof.] Judy Dushku: He’s got so much money. He’s publicly appealing and charming – more charming than McCain. And I think the Republicans will not tolerate a Guliani, so he has a very good chance. It depends on whether the Democrats can get their act together and present someone better.

Suzan Mazur: And he’s a good business man. But don’t you think the business model has gone as far as it can go in presidential politics? Isn’t it time for a switch to leadership that cares about more than business moguls and generals?

Judy Dushku: You’re talking to a Social Democrat who reads Paul Krugman and CounterPunch and thinks that it has all been downhill since the New Deal restraints on business and legal protections of unions and peoples’ rights. As a professor of government for over 40 years, I believe that we’ve never been in such terrible shape since the robber barons. The control of corporate money on America is a disaster and has led to the decline and fall of democracy.

Remember Abu Ghraib

Sy Hersh's story on General Taguba.

This is Appalling

Some group of Christian fundamentalists intend to honor their 'martyr', Paul Hill, by
reenacting his murder of Dr John Britton and James Barrett
at an abortion clinic.

They're going to celebrate the murder of two human beings. By reenacting it.

These people are sick.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Guiliani: Bush III, Only Worse

Definitely an article to read: Giuliani: Worse Than Bush He's cashing in on 9/11, working with Karl Rove's henchmen and in cahoots with a Swift Boat-style attack on Hillary. Will Rudy Giuliani be Bush III? . At RollingStone.com.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Busting the "Pottery Barn Rule" Applied to Iraq

You Did Not Buy It When You Broke It

I did not even realize until now how this you-break-it-you-buy-it "We have to fix Iraq, since we caused so much damage" epitomizes the America-as-world-cop concept.

Yes, we broke Iraq. We invaded a sovereign nation, toppled its government, killed and still are killing its citizens.

I believe it is moral to respond that we must undo the harm we inflicted. Do wrong, try to make it better.

But my reply to that assertion has always been that we can't, in this case. We're simply not equipped. I realized after reading this entry at Big Brass Blog that what I'm really saying is that the conclusion that we must undo the harm we've inflicted is a poisonous one, as it's rooted in the same world-cop, white-man's-burden, what have you, concept that let us think we could blithely invade another country in the first place.

So here is my conclusion: we broke Iraq. That makes us -- America -- the one people who can't fix it. Some other organization or country might be able to, I don't know. But we'll never know, especially if we don't get out.

Greedy Little Shits -- Now Showing

This really pisses me off. The WGA (Writer's Guild of America) is keeping money from members and non-members alike.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Don't call me "bitch"

It's Bitch, Esquire, now. Class of '07.

I've also accepted a fellowship at my alma mater.

Save the American White Male Oppressor Class

Bill O'Reilly Defends the American Christian Patriarchy.

In a discussion of "the immigration problem"[*] with John McCain, who never had my vote for anything and never will,

Bill O'Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you've got to cap with a number.


[*] the "immigration problem" most people have is that they've been trained to think that only white people from Europe should have been allowed to come here. America! The Self-Righteous, Racist Nation!

Look at what O'Reilly is saying. First, he says "they" want to break down a white, Christian, male, system that's oppressing everyone who isn't white, Christian, and male. Well, I'm a member of that "they", and you bet your ass that's what I want. And if it makes you nervous because a brown woman from Ethiopia might be representing you in court some day, too damn bad. You can suck it up and deal.

Second, look at his next statement. O'Reilly panders to the fear of the Other, by asserting that "they" want to bring in "millions" of foreigners -- trans., non-white, non-Christian, non-male people -- to destroy the fabric of America.

This is asinine. First off, you don't have to import "millions of foreigners" to break down a social structure and destroy America, these radicals who've taken over the government have been doing it just fine, and they're all white, male, and self-identify as Christian. But that's not my real point. My real point is that O'Reilly is first accusing 'leftists' of wanting to destroy America, which is not true, and in the next breath asserts that they want to do so by sending in lots of people-who-don't-look-like-you-oh-how-scary to live here.

His thesis is that non-white, non-Christian, non-male people coming to America, and striving for the American Dream, is antithetical to the structure of this country, which was founded on that same American Dream. Hard work leading to prosperity isn't the American Dream, apparently, if it's a brown person from another country dreaming it.

These men make me sick.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Way to Go, John Edwards!

Edwards slams war on terrorism as "bumper sticker"

"The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan," Edwards said. "It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world."

"By framing this as a 'war,' we have walked straight into the trap that the terrorists have set -- that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war against Islam," said the former senator from North Carolina.


Finally, someone who gets it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On Muslim Religous Language

Really interesting two pieces over at Small Wars Journal on Religion and Insurgency, and More on Religion and Insurgency, particularly the latter.

They're not jihadists, they're irhabis and mifsuduun. Fascinating. We need to stop shying away from the religious and linguistic cues, and begin using them.

Comey Testimony

My god, this is an astounding betrayal.

Mr. Comey's Tale: A standoff at a hospital bedside speaks volumes about Attorney General Gonzales (WaPo).

Comey's testimony raises new and vital questions about the NSA scandal, by Glenn Greenwald (Salon).

This is the testimony (summary, PDF transcript, YouTube), which A.G. Gonzales didn't want to have happen (article at Salon), since, among other things, Comey might just tell folks that the President broke the law via warrantless eavesdropping.

White House Again Creating Own Mgmt Structure

Rather than using existing tools. Idiots.

Intel Dump has some things to say about this 'war czar' business.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stealing My Topics from Twisty Faster

Thanks, Twisty! Very intriguing comments thread over at I Blame The Patriarchy, last month:

She Said I Know What It's Like to be Dead. Read the comments. Read them with an eye to the gender of the author, if you can.

Done? Great. Here's the lowdown: Twisty proposed that non-explicitly-consensual sex be rape. Every time. (This would naturally necessitate some changes -- hopefully liberating ones -- on how women signal interest in sex. By, you know, saying so. Maybe a little green light, red light, card would do the trick.)

What's so interesting is, as I'm about halfway through the comments and expect more of the same shortly, that the men in the comments are talking about how unfair it would be to have some chica accuse them of rape, a couple years after the fact, while what the women are talking about is a fundamental change in views toward consensual sex. A conceptualization of a default 'no', rather than a default 'yes'.

And, feeling threatened by the whole idea (my diagnosis), but only able to quarrel and nitpick over the thought of what a 'no' two years after the fact might do to them, the men on the thread quarrel and nitpick this technical bit Twisty proposed that maybe isn't, IMO, such a great idea, which is an open-ended statute of limitations.

In so doing, they neatly circumvent any actual discussion -- at least on their parts -- of the fact that 'no' from a woman gets ignored all the time, and that imposing and enforcing a default 'no' is therefore a fantastic idea, if you want to actually reduce rape. We can and should move the onus off the woman, who currently gets put on trial as much or even more so than her accused rapist, and onto the actual defendant.[*]

Very interesting behavior to observe.

[*] Saying this, I am not advocating a shift of the burden of proof from the prosecution -- it's the state's job to prove the crime -- to the defendant, but I fully support the idea of an affirmative defense of "She specifically said yes," rather than the unspoken current affirmative defense of "she's a slut."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Is the Army Bleeding Out?

Brian Gellman of Intel Dump has a great post on the exodus of captains from the Army, and what it means for the ethical model captains serve as.

L.A. Times Calls for Withdrawal From Iraq

Bring Them Home

This newspaper reluctantly endorsed the U.S. troop surge as the last, best hope for stabilizing conditions so that the elected Iraqi government could assume full responsibility for its affairs. But we also warned that the troops should not be used to referee a civil war. That, regrettably, is what has happened.


I was reading some letter to the editor in the Metro (freebie paper) yesterday, asserting that we can't leave Iraq now that we've broken it. Here's the problem: we can't fix it. Yeah, we broke their country. We invaded, toppled their government, destroyed infrastructure, and we blew it from day one. We outsiders, we foreigners, cannot fix this.

So, I find the argument that we can't leave until we do fix it unpersuasive. How to fix it? Tell me, editorial-writer. How? And explain to me why we haven't been doing your 'how' by, now, because it's been *years*. Explain to me why this troop surge is supposed to make a difference, and explain to me why any Iraqi, anywhere, should ever trust an American to do anything but try and kill them.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"Brief History of Disbelief" getting buried

Are PBS Stations Burying "A Brief History of Disbelief?"

Odd, this complete lack of shock I'm feeling.

CBS shuts down online comments to Obama stories


CBS.com has to shut comments down on Obama stories
.

Too many racist comments, huh? And CBS doesn't want to look as if they're effectively condoning them, by hosting them on a CBS web board. Hm. Hm, twice.

If you joke about how oppressed you feel about not being able to freely slur minorities (or women or gays) for entertainment’s sake without any impact, you can go ahead and do so to show how you’re sticking it to the PC Man. Look — Don Imus thinks that’s why he was hired — to stoke the fires of bigotry by pushing the race and misogyny envelope — otherwise he wouldn’t be suing CBS for $40 million. His attorney said that in Imus’s contract with CBS, the network specifically implored Imus to cover “extraordinary,” “irreverent” and, most important, “controversial” topics on his syndicated radio show, which was simulcast daily on MSNBC.

. . . .

If you are a New Plausible Deniability Racist and happen to foment racism, misogyny or homophobia among the sheeple in the process, that’s just a side bonus — and you can deny that you really meant what you said, or now say “that’s what I’m paid to do” as a defense.


David Niewart (Orcinus) gets it right, calling it the "new racism", involving,

staking out positions that, if not overtly racist, at least seek to resurrect some of the hoary mythology of the era of white supremacy. As with most of right-wing race rhetoric of the past twenty years, it's all done with a certain level of plausible deniability, couched in "jokes" or abstrations that let the speakers feign indignation when the racism is pointed out; the current trend is only slightly more overt in its racism, but the underlying sentiments aren't hard to read.


It's all about plausible deniability. It's all about the opposite of accountability.

People (trans. right-wing blowhards) like to bitch about "where America went wrong". I'll tell you where: the day any American isn't accountable -- isn't held accountable or doesn't hold themselves accountable -- for their words and deeds. That's where America "went wrong". But it's not past tense, friends and neighbors. Every day, every denial, is America going wrong, right now.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

On the Front Lines of Climate Change

On the Front Lines of Climate Change

He doesn't know the term climate change, but he knows what he sees.

Even without television and newspapers, Shahidul can sense that something just isn't right about the weather. "It gets warmer every year, there are more storms and the monsoon doesn't come on time," he says. The water level in front of his house also rises a little every year. "When I moved here, we still had three fields in front of the house. Now there are only two," Shahidul goes on. "I'm afraid the water will take another piece away from me this year." As a precautionary measure, he had the platform for his little barn built half a meter higher. "You never know what will happen."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Tier 4" Law Schools and Regent University

It's annoying on a certain level to watch clips (d/l'd from CrooksandLiars.com) of Bill Maher slamming tier-4 law schools when talking about Regent University, and Jon Stewart talking about Regent University and "Jiffy Law" (that was a damn funny clip, though), because I attend a tier-4 law school. Maher, in particular, recently painted with a broad, and entirely unfair, brush.

Do I approve of an administration that values loyalty over skill, talent, or diligent service? No. (Does this mean every grad of Regent is a bad lawyer, b/c 150 of them are employed by the Bush Administration? Well, I don't actually *know* that, do I?)

There are nearly 200 law schools split up into these pesky 'tiers'. Tier 1&2 comprise the 'top 100' ABA-accredited schools in nation. (Do I know what the criteria are for a tier? No. This whole thing started thanks to Consumer Reports, or US News and World Report, or some other competitive idiot, however many years ago.) That's not counting the non-ABA-accredited law schools in the country.

That's not counting the rest of the law schools in the country.

Looking at the list, which I don't deign to link to, I see that I was offered a seat at a tier-2 law school, and multiple tier-3 and tier-4 law schools. I chose my school for various reasons, being completely oblivious to this tier business, thankfully. (I was more or less ready to leave California, I liked the strong commitment to public service of this school, the mix of interest areas -- international law and environmental law -- available here, and they offered me a full-tuition scholarship, as opposed to the rest, which only offered me half-tuition scholarships.)

I firmly believe that I attend one of the best law schools in the nation. Any of you reading this who've attended a big university -- you already know the difference between the researcher stuck teaching a class b/c he has to teach one class a year or some such, and doesn't give a damn about you, and the "real teachers". Just about every member of the faculty at my school is the real thing. They come to *teach*. These people are *dedicated*.

I can learn anything, anytime, anywhere. What matters isn't if you're -- and now it's my turn to paint with a broad brush -- a legacy student at Harvard or Yale, what matters is what you do with your education after you walk out the door.

So, Maher was not terribly amusing[*], essentially saying that all tier-4 schools suck. They don't. Pat Robertson founding what seems to be a Dominionist university, with a law school, and those graduates possibly getting preferential treatment b/c of their religion, and presumed perceptions regarding their loyalty to Bush, and worse, if those preconceptions are actually accurate? Very, very, bad. But not the same thing.

[*] Stewart kept it much more on RU.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pandemic of Lies

I had visited several times and there was something nagging at me. I could not work out what left me uniquely unsettled about the place. It was not the depressing environment; few prisons are inspirational. It was not the occasional intimidation. Eventually it came to me: I could not remember being lied to so often and so consistently. In Guantánamo, lying was a disease that had reached pandemic prpportions.


No Fairytales Allowed, by Clive Stafford Smith, attorney to 36 GTMO inmates.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lines of Questioning for Gonzales

Over at Crooks and Liars, everyone should read the Five Lines of Questioning for Alberto Gonzales. Including Senators.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Here's a Ponderable

I read a particularly interesting comment made to Chris Clarke's "How Not To Be An Asshole: A Guide For Men" post at Pandagon, to wit,

It’s like those who are in a position of oppression, but do not understand it, have something missing inside. It is the sense of an organic, subjective relation to other human beings. Instead of this inside, the oppressor has the conditioned tendency to treat other people (considered to be below him) as mere objects to be used and abused....[read it all]


This combined with the shooting at Virginia Tech today to prompt a question on my part:

Is sociopathy the ultimate manifestation of patriarchy? Its apotheosis, or platonic ideal, so to speak?

A related question to ask might be: why are so many serial killers white men?

[Note, I am not suggesting that the Asian man who committed these murders at Va. Tech is a serial killer. Merely the pondering of violent crime, the hypervigilance so many women have to live under thanks to the patriarchy, and these events at Va. Tech, led to this question.]

Sudan Agrees to Darfur Peacekeepers

Sudan Agrees to Darfur Peacekeepers.

The four-year Darfur conflict between rebels and pro-government Arab militia has seen more than 200,000 deaths and at least 2.4 million displaced.


Does this mean we get to stop with the genocide, now?

Newsflash: Abstinence-Only Ed Doesn't Work

I know we're all overwhelmed with a sense of obviousness here, but note that, once again, the Bush Administration has decided to let us know this little factoid in the Friday Night News Dump, as usual for anything it doesn't really like.

I swear, if aliens contacted the earth and said "we'll give you everything you want or need to clean up this planet, achieve lasting peace, and colonize the solar system, but you have to fire that Bush guy," the Bush Administration would release the news on a Friday.

Anyway. Hey kids, guess what?! Abstinence-only education doesn't work! And we've got the report to prove it -- Impacts for Title V. Section 510, Abstinence Education Programs: Final Report, from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Now, can we ship condoms that work to Africa, please? And actually support women's reproductive health in developing countries? Or do we still need to keep pretending that grownups don't have sex?

Monday, April 09, 2007

I think I ruptured something laughing

Centrifugal Force, over at the xkcd webcomic.

It begins "How do you like my centrifuge, Mister Bond?..."

It ends the only way it can.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fascinating Footnote

In a legal journal article I'm editing, to quote

Anthony C. Thompson, Navigating the Hidden Obstacles to Ex-Offender Reentry, 45 Boston College Law Review 255, 285 (2004):

[I]n communities of color, women offenders tend to be stigmatized by their community. Although men who commit crimes are not necessarily seen as good members of the community, they are rarely ostracized. Women who engage in crime are often seen as defying gender roles, which is perceived by communities as deviance of a higher order.


Is it because women are supposed to be pure, good, and morally superior to men, or because we're not supposed to engage in self-help (i.e., turning to crime if that's what it takes to survive)?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tentatively checking out Twitter

Very tentatively. This just seems like a great way to distract myself every few minutes, and I don't really need that. We'll see. Me at twitter.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Would You Like Fries With That?

[Apropos of Dr. B. linking to Acephelous and my browsing there for as long as my eyes could bear the color scheme -- too short a time, alas.]

So, here's one way of viewing what bugs me about people treating an education as a product, and themselves as "consumers" rather than students.[*]

Is an education -- a degree -- something outside you? That can be treated as a commodity? Bought, sold, devised, transferred, placed in trust, bequeathed, inherited? Is it a thing? And what does that say about the student, who sees learning not as something they do, and that changes them, but something that they buy?

How can an education exist as a thing outside of the self getting the education? It implies that there is "me" *here* and there is "a degree" over *here*, and me "with" degree is simply moving them into closer proximity.

I cannot fathom this concept.

[*] This is a perspective that I was initially exposed to as an undergrad at UC Irvine, but not in great depth, no doubt because I can be quite dense about people, but to which I am now, courtesy of law school, quite, quite sick of.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Just so you know

We Alaskans do some pretty cool shit, now and then. Like running diptheria serum 1000 miles across the wilderness, via dog team, to save lives in Nome.

And today? Today we commemorate that event by risking life and limb recreating it. Because Alaska is a big beautiful merciless place, and all you can do in the face of that magnitude of stillness, that great a land, is strive for greatness yourself. To test ourselves, and emerge from the scouring of elements changed, but for the better.

Mackey's spectacular tale won't reach ears of Outside sports fans

[On the unprecedented Yukon Quest and Iditarod back-to-back wins:] Had they been running in the Lower 48, they'd have run coast to coast.


Congratulations to Lance and his stellar dog team. Well done.