Monday, March 10, 2014

Giving the game away

The new Christian RW "blockbuster" film on the horizon is "Persecuted", and should prove just as successful as "Jesus Christ, Superstar" "Left Behind" and "The Passion of the Christ":  Bad direction, worse scripting, and horrible [over]acting make them even intolerable as fiction, but that's not what they are trying to be, you know <*wink-wink...*>

The premise of "Perscuted" is that the federal government is trying to push a "Faith and Fairness Act":
The film opens with Luther (James Remar, who played the father of a serial killer on the Showtime drama Dexter) refusing a last-ditch effort of Senate Majority Leader Donald Harrison (Bruce Davison, best known for his role as Sen. Robert Kelly in the X-Men movies) to convince him to endorse the Faith and Fairness Act, a bill that would give “equal time” to all religions. “I cannot water down the gospel to advance anyone’s political agenda,” Luther tells Harrison in one of many robotic pronouncements. 
Furious, the senator dispatches what later is revealed to be a Secret Service agent to drug Luther and frame him for the rape and murder of a 16 year-old girl. Emerging from his stupor the next morning on a rural roadside, Luther discovers a massive manhunt for him is underway. He spends the remainder of the film attempting to prove his innocence and evading the government’s efforts to assassinate him.
There's a booming market for Haldol in certain demographics that some entrepreneur ought to examine….

But back to the substance of this paranoia:

This is an allusion to that horrible "Fairness Doctrine" that so hobbled broadcast media decades ago, which Reagan scuppered in 1987 (which conservatives are still having nightmares about).  Talk about "persecution":  Having to hear a contrary voice (or worse yet, a debate) every once in a while.

This conservative tiny bugaboo has morphed into a new one where <*horrors!*> every religion will be required to be presented equally (by whom, I don't really know).  Talk about crippling broadcast or government:  Spend every day presenting all thousand or so religions?  You wouldn't even have time for sex in such a dystopia and think of the consequences.  Na ga happen.

That being said, what exactly is wrong with such an "equal time" provision?  Isn't government supposed to be neutral between religions?  And why would the Christians complain? unless …  ummm, ummmm, oh, yeah … maybe they're already getting the lion's share of coverage right now.  Isn't that a problem under the First Amendment?


Here's some further jaw-dropping stuff (from the Politico article):
One of the film’s many duff notes involves Fred Thompson, the former senator and presidential candidate, who plays Dr. Charles Luther, John Luther’s father, a Catholic priest. Thompson’s grimly earnest Luther advises his son that he’s “just a pawn in a bigger game” and that he must “stand up against a cabal of phony politicians” who “can’t silence the truth.” How the protagonist, named for the founder of the Protestant Reformation, is the son of a Catholic priest, is never explained in the film.
Not to mention, as Kristen points out, your standard Catholic priest is not supposed to have a lot of sons.  I can just see the cash registers clinking away….

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Oh what a tangled web we weave...."

We hate Terra-ists and wish them the worst. They ought to be tortured to find out what they know (or what they will admit to), summarily tried, and harshly punished and all that for their crimes against humanity.


... when the terrorist is our former CIA agent. Different rules apply. We won't try them for their terrorist acts (and to be sure, we can't, except as perhaps war crimes under international jurisdiction ... oh, waidamminnit; we don't recognise that). Sure, we'll put on a show of trying them for making false statements about their terrorist acts. But we'll acquit them on even that lesser crime. In our Article III courts, with a jury of civilians. Of course, for the Terra-ists that matter (that is to say, the ones not in our employ), special rules need to apply (see also here). This is because we need to have convictions and can't take any chances that these people might be found not guilty (because, of course, these are evil Terra-ists and if we let them go, they'll blow us up again, plus what kind of message does that send to any other aspiring Terra-ists?) So it's military commissions for them. But not for our terrorist Luis Posada Carilles....

Worse yet ... if there is such a thing: We can't even send this terrorist back to face justice for his crimes in the countries he committed them. Why, you ask? Why because we won't send people off to countries where they might [allegedly] be tortured, because that is really inhumane and illegal and they might not get a fair trial!!!:
On September 28, 2005 a U.S. immigration judge ruled that Posada cannot be deported, finding that he faces the threat of torture in Venezuela.[12] Likewise, the US government has refused to send Mr Posada Carriles to Cuba, saying he might face torture.[13]
So the Cuban government responds:
His trial for lying in a migration process and not for terrorism, is an insult to the people of Cuba and the families bereaved by the actions of Posada.

The shamelessness that occurred in El Paso is quite contrary to the professed anti-terrorism policy of the United States government and that has even caused military interventions in other countries and claimed thousands of lives.

The U.S. government knows well of the participation of Posada Carriles in the bombing of the Cubana aircraft over Barbados in 1976, the bombing campaign against Cuban tourist facilities in 1997, and plans to attack the life of our Commander in Chief in Panama in 2000, for which he was even convicted in that country.

The U.S. government is in possession of all the evidence of Posada's crimes, many of which were presented at the trial of El Paso.
Maybe this is what the U.S. government fears: That U.S. citizen jurors might find Khalid Sheihk Mohammed not guilty. Who knows. But never fear. U.S. citizens hate Terra-ists ... at least certain types.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Exhibit A for who should NEVER be allowed to write legislation

Tennessee seems to think that they got a raw deal back eighty six years ago or so. They're going to reclaim their lost reputation.

Most amasing of all from that article is this:
Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, said when she was in high school, “we gave up Aqua Net hair spray” because of fears “it was causing global warming.”

“Since then scientists have said that maybe we shouldn’t have given up that aerosol can because that aerosol can was actually absorbing the Earth’s rays and keeping us from global warming.”
First rule of public speaking: If you haven't the least idea of what you're talking about, you ought to STFU. It's hard to count everything that is just totally wrong in what she said. That was ozone, ozone depletion is still a problem, getting rid of fluorocarbons has helped, scientists still are worried about greenhouse gases (which aren't fluorocarbons) and climate warming and you shouldn't be emptying out your hair spray if you don't want to contribute to the problems....

So she's part of the claque writing legislation on what kind of folderol fundie and/or RW 'science' teachers can be permitted to foist off on the kiddies. She's the expert at what is allowable 'science'....

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Reading "Madison" in Washington, DC

The RW foamer contingent has been making big noises about reading the Constitution out loud to start off the 112th Congress. Some have characterised this as a "nod to the Tea Party movement that swept many of the 87 new GOP lawmakers into office" (as the link above puts it). Nice of them to be so accommodating to the incoming Tea Party representatives that would have a hard time actually reading it on their own.

But I have no doubt that it is an eminently justifiable exercise.

For instance, RW talk radio foamer Mark Levin, on his radio show today, started off on some disjointed harangue about the complaint of some liberals that the Republicans were reading a Bowdlerised version of the Constitution. Missing was the "three fifths compromise" which seems to embarrass Republicans that want to offer up the Constitution like some perfect object of veneration like a Holy Bible or such:
"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."
Levin went into some 'argument' about how it was the anti-slavery people that wanted slaves to be counted as less that a full person, and the pro-slavery folks that wanted them counted as full people ... for purposes of those pro-slavery people having more of their representatives in Congress (but not "representing" said slaves, much less giving them any rights or freedom)!!! I think that Levin's twisted brain here was trying to say that the eeeeeyyyvullll Northerners (which we know as abolitionist lib'ruls, you know) were the ones that didn't want to "count" slaves as a full person, so this "three fifths" stuff is all the lib'ruls' fault, and not a blot on the Constitution (which, being divinely written, was obviously the product of conservatives). Of course, "counting" slaves as such didn't help the slaves in any way. But it's all irrelevant!!! [even though the Northern states were in fact on the right side of justice despite Levin's rhetorical twisting] Because the plain fact of the matter is that the Constitution explicitly countenanced slavery [through the "three fifths" reckoning for slaves], and it allowed for the unfettered continuation of slavery until at least 1808. The question isn't who put the slavery provisions in there (and why) but rather whether they were in there. They were.

Then Levin got even stoopider, and said that at least the Constitution required the cessation of the importation of slaves, and thus was obviously anti-slavery. Simply not true. I think that "The Great One" Levin needs to read the freakin' Constitution himself: It does not require the end of slave importation, but rather prohibited the banning of such until at least the year 1808:
Section 9 - Limits on Congress

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
Then Levin went and said that the "Fourteenth Amendment wasn't necessary to abolish slavery." Well, duh. That was the Thirteeth Amendment that did that:
Amendment 13 - Slavery Abolished. Ratified 12/6/1865. History

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Yes, Mark Levin needs to have the Constitution read to him. Over and over. Strange thing for a supposed lawyer to need, but there you are. Sad part is that it may not help ... at least for the purposes of understanding. That seems to be a congenital defect in Levin, not amenable to remedy by intensive intervention. Levin's just -- simply put -- a compleat eedjit when it comes to Constitutional law (or even coherent thought).

* * * * *

The whole idea of reading the Constitution like revealed wisdom from on high that must be absorbed bodily before anyone can be truly 'saved' and do Good Works as a legislator reminds me of nothing so much as fundies (of whatever stripe) who read their Bibles (or Torahs or Qur'ans or whatever) over and over, every day, thinking that by rereading it enough, perhaps they will catch on to what its true meaning is. Why they don't understand it the first time is beyond me; there's not too many words in there that are difficult, and repetition wouldn't be expected to give too many new insights (more likely just somnolence and headaches). Methinks they'd be far better spending their time reading other works (you know, like other religions' holy books, or other countries' constitutions and laws, or even the vast corpus of legal analysis and case opinions concerning the Constitution we have, and studying things from wide perspectives and different angles). Surely there's a point in diminishing returns (if there ever was a "return" to begin with) in such ritual reading as they seem to be proposing. But I may be expecting too much of the RW foamer contingent.


More Tea Party Follies here:
And finally: Republicans proudly led a reading of the entire Constitution on the House floor yesterday — except not quite. “During the reading of the Constitution, because of an inadvertent double page turn, Section 4 of Article IV was skipped, as was a part of Article V. (It was entered into the record later.)”
You have to wonder how they manage to get out of bed in the morning. And this is the people entrusted to "change how government works"?!?!? The prospect should be appalling.

Update 2:

As usual, Jon Stewart and company really nail the naked eedjitcy of the Republicans.

And it becomes obvious why the Republicans need to have the Constitution read to them. To put it mildly, they're clueless about the freakin' rules!!!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

How can you tell the Republicans have no clue ... much less a plan for anything?

Jon Stewart on the top of his game.

The Daily Show should be required viewing for any third graders who still are unsure how politics works in the 21st century.

"Birthers Gone Wild!" Videos only $20K

"Queen of the Birthers" Orly Taitz is a compleat whackjob, and that got her sanctioned $20,000 by the judge that had to put up with her nonsense and disregard for law, reality, and the Newtonian equations of motion.

She won't take "F*ck you, now shaddup!" for an answer, though, and has appealed her case to the Supreme Court. Even Clarence Thomas told her to bug off as being too crazy to breathe (and that takes some doing):
Two of her cases in Columbus challenging Obama’s legitimacy to hold office were tossed out by U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land. Then her second client, Capt. Connie Rhodes, wrote a letter to the court in September 2009 claiming that Taitz exceeded her authority as an attorney and that she no longer wanted the California lawyer to represent her.

Taitz kept pushing the issue of Obama’s legitimacy with Land, who ultimately gave her a warning and then a time limit to explain why he shouldn’t levy a hefty fine against her. In October 2009, when Taitz did reply, though not to the judge’s specific command of why he shouldn’t sanction her, Land then issued $20,000 in sanctions against her.

Taitz appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and the appeals court upheld Land’s sanctions in May.

She then forwarded U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a brief for stay, in which she asked that the sanctions be reversed.

According to the Supreme Court’s website, that application was received July 8 and denied by Thomas on July 15.
Undeterred, she charges on, and is asking the entire Supreme Court to review her appeal.

But along the way, she does what a "Birther" does, and when frustrated, doubles down on the crazy:
On July 20, Taitz posted a motion requesting that she be allowed to verify that it is, in fact, Thomas’ signature on the denial of her application.
If she's not satisfied, I guess she'll request the long form of the denial. ;-)

If she thinks that's going to win any votes on the Supreme Court with this plan of attack, she needs medication.... Oh, but I repeat myself....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Joke: Q: How do you turn a Republican into a tree-hugging, baby-seal-cuddling, "Save the whales" simpering environmentalist?

The answer is not to kiss him.

A: Wait for one of the world's most massive oil spills to happen on the watch of a Democratic president.

But they will quickly return to form; no permanent damage done....

We dodged a bullet

"Sen." Jess Sessions has repeatedly shown himself to be one of the slimiest Republicans in the U.S. Senate. And we should be glad we dodged a bullet in refusing to give him a judgeship. But he's a legal eedjit as well:
Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) came closest to citing individual cases, though ultimately fell back on a generalization.

"Perhaps the most activist decision in history, or actually it wasn't a majority decision, was Brennan and Marshall dissenting in every death penalty case because they said the death penalty violated the constitution," Sessions claimed. "The only thing it violated was their idea of what good policy was. And they just dissented on every death penalty case. And said 'based on my view that it's cruel and unusual punishment.'"

By way of comparison, I asked him if yesterday's Supreme Court decision, throwing out a handgun ban in Chicago, amounted to judicial activism.

Sessions insisted it did not. "It violated the Constitution," Sessions said of the Chicago law.

How is that any different than Marshall dissenting in death penalty cases?

"Well, first you look at the Constitution as a whole....The Constitution says you can't inflict cruel and unusual punishment. Well, every state had the death penalty. It wasn't unusual. It has to be both."
So Sessions thinks that "unusual" punishment is allowed by the Constitution. And "cruel" punishment is also allowed. The only thing not allowed is punishment that is simultaneously "cruel and unusual".

It seems Sessions is saying, "you can be as cruel as you want, or the punishment can be as unusual as possible, and that's OK". Not exactly. Sentences that are very cruel are often "unusual" as well, and sentences that are unusual may well be "cruel".

And that's before we look at the line of capital cases, where the court has held that the death penalty is "unusual" (at present times) and this is why it was struck down (perhaps there's a sub-thread to such arguments that the death penalty is per se "cruel", but that's not obvious).

Then there's the hotly debated subject as to whether lethal injection is "cruel" (despite it's being the most common form of execution in the U.S. today).

In non-capital cases, the analysis also considers each factor. In Tropp v. Dulles. the court recognised that the death penalty is available to punish deserters, so stripping of citizenship is hardly "cruel" excess there (see page 99), and thus the distinction must lie in whether such punishment is "unusual" (the court found the punishment unconstitutional).

If anything, it is Sessions that's out of the mainstream here. And revealing his character.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Faux Snooze explains it all

Asking "Democratic pollster" Doug Schoen (on Greta Van Sustern's show), in the aftermath of the primaries today, he told them what they paid him to hear:

Specter defeated by Specter? It's the anti-incumbent, "we hate Washington" people speaking up (and of course a horrible loss for Obama). Nothing to do with the fact that people might want an actual Democrat running....

Rand Paul's victory in Kentucky? A sign of the strength of the Tea Partiers. Which is good for the Republican party because they're going to ride the TP to victory, even if Mitch McConnell was rooting for Grayson....

Bennett's loss in Utah? Ummm, uhhhhh.... Must be anti-incumbency, not radical RWers on the loose.

Critz beats Burns in PA-12? <*crickets chirping*>

WTF paid this RW flack Doug Schoen to poll for him?!?!?

Friday, April 30, 2010

When libertarians meet racists

You have to wonder what will happen when the fans of the least gummint possible face their xenophobia and racism.

Which will win: The demand for a weak federal gummint and for individual freedom (not to mention a congenital aversion to the requirements for such as carrying ID cards), or the demand that we lock down the borders and keep people (of a certain colour) from going where they want to go (and where these people don't want them to go).

Actually, no contest. Unfortunately, cognitive dissonance doesn't make these people's heads explode, and the racism and xenophobia win out, hands down.

What's truly absurd is the demand that Latinos show they're entitled to be in the good ol' Yoo Ess of Aye ... when they've been here far longer than the white Europeans, and no one demanded IDs of the whites as they came over and took all the land....

The "I know you are, but what am I?" school of politics

So in the wake of Arizona's "pass laws" legislation against anyone who the police have a reasonable suspicion of being Latino, Rush Limbaugh and the RW echo chamber are busy charging Obama with being racist for saying that he hopes the groups that supported him in 2008 will continue to support him.

And in the wake of Dubya's (mis)handling of Katrina, the RW fans of strong and effective federal gummint, that is to say, RW talk show hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, are criticising Obama's response to an oil rig blowout that is threatening vast areas of the Gulf Coast. Their complaint is that Obama isn't doing enough, soon enough ... when in fact the U.S. Coast Guard and various agencies have been doing their best to contain the spil, and the vaunted private industry -- British Petroleum and Halliburton -- have been unable to stop the leak or contain it, not to mention badly underestimating the size of the leak. Also, it was the Republicans that were pushing for more oil drilling off the coast and saying that it posed no hazard.

This is typical Republican policy: The "I know you are, but what am I?" taunt. They think the public has the long-term memory of nematodes, and the intellectual capacity and level of knowledge they themselves have ... that is to say, that of the elementary school students they act like. They know that they hate gummint, and think it can't be relied on to do anything properly, but this doesn't matter when they want to accuse Obama of what they did ... without even waiting for the facts to develop. They don't mind of their various attacks on Obama are mutually inconsistent; what matters is to attack Obama for their own failures. And strangely enough, it's working with their base; the base just laps it up.

"Drill, Baby, Drill!" continues unabated, though.

It's actually stomach-churning.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chickenhawkus americanus

Sometimes I'm glad I'm not confined to the confines of the Yoo Ess of Effin' Aye!!! Like now, when I have the respite of a Caribbean island 'holiday' (even if such consists mostly of patching up a boat).

We have this wonderful offering from Glenn Greenwald. Just go read it.

Glennzilla links to Brad, at SadlyNo!, also worth a read. Here's Brad's money line, talking about Howie Fineman's inanity:
I mean, come on, man, look at this. How can you not feel embarrassed to write this nonsense:
[Fineman]: I’m not a “declinist.” I have faith in our special destiny and re-generative powers.
Our “special destiny”???? What kind of “special destiny” is that? Who endowed us with this “special destiny” and what have we done to deserve it?

Look, man, the fact that your mom and your dad happened to conceive your pasty white ass on the hunk of soil known as the United States of America doesn’t make you Luke Skywalker. Grow up and get real.
Emphasis added emphatically.

Digby had it nailed as well (a long time ago), as Glenn pointed out. Over and out. Standing by on 16.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Or maybe we can just wait for Darwinism to be proved....

TalkingPointsMemo has this whomp-jawed moment today:
A Republican candidate for state office in South Carolina threw a "machine gun social" fundraiser Saturday where an AK-47 was given away with 10-minutes of weapons training "so you don't shoot a right-wing radical by mistake."
Not sure 10 minutes is going to do the trick....

Friday, September 11, 2009

From the "Problems With Reality" Department

Our conservative friends at think Obama's the best thing since diced bread:
Mr. President, you are the best thing that has happened to Republicans since President Carter caused the Reagan Revolution.
<*psssssst! hush!*> Don't anyone tell them differently.

More from this scintillating analysis:
It has caused Democrat Representatives to be the subject of yelling matches at Town Halls throughout the nation.
Yes, indeed. Rudeness (and screaming) has overcome dialogue. A brand new day for politics ... and polity. Throw in a few assault rifles, and you're set to go.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

From the "WTF?" files

We're trying to deal with everyone's health.

What do we do about this kind of stuff?:
As ThinkProgress has noted before, conservatives have frequently obscured the fact that Medicare is a government-run single-payer program. Constituents appearing at health care town halls have even demanded that their members of Congress keep their “government hands off of Medicare.” Now, a new Public Policy Polling poll finds that millions of Americans do not realize that the federal government runs Medicare:
One poll question indicative of how difficult it is to gain public understanding on a complicated issue asked if respondents thought the government should ‘stay out of Medicare,’ something inherently impossible. 39% said yes.
The poll also shows that an additional 15% of respondents were “not sure” if the government should be involved in Medicare. Only 46% of respondents disagreed with the proposition that the government should stay out of the government-run program.
We have to remember that half the people are stoopider than average. But how do we keep them from conspiring with the Rethuglicans (or enabling them) to rape us all for the further profits of the rich and amoral?



More here:
Last night, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll showing that “all the misinformation out there” about health care reform proposals in Congress is taking root with many Americans. For instance, 45 percent believe the false claim that legislation includes “death panels” while 55 percent believe the false claim that coverage will be extended to illegal immigrants. MSNBC’s First Read notes that self-identified viewers of Fox News are disproportionately misinformed:
Here’s another way to look at the misinformation: In our poll, 72% of self-identified FOX News viewers believe the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly. But it would be incorrect to suggest that this is ONLY coming from conservative viewers who tune in to FOX. In fact, 41% of CNN/MSNBC viewers believe the misinformation about illegal immigrants, 39% believe the government takeover stuff, 40% believe the abortion misperception, and 30% believe the stuff about pulling the plug on grandma. What’s more, a good chunk of folks who get their news from broadcast TV (NBC, ABC, CBS) believe these things, too. This is about credible messengers using the media to get some of this misinformation out there, not as much about the filter itself. These numbers should worry Democratic operatives, as well as the news media that have been covering this story.
Which is why we started that disastrous war on Iraq too. Only a $trillion or so, give or take a few, and over 4000 soldiers dead. A small price to pay for Rethuglican hegemony.

Update 2:

Excellect article on the subject from MediaMatters and Jamison Foser here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"I want my country back!!!"

Your Republican "grass roots" in action.

(h/t to TalkingPointsMemo)

She sounds like she's on the verge of tears....

There's a substantial portion of the population (and a majority of the Republican party) that is just nucking futz....

She "wants [her] country back". Sorry it got taken away through that insidious plot of democracy. Maybe if these people didn't have a screw loose, they'd stand a chance of recovering some lost political ground. Thank goodness, eh?

More such zaniness here:
[Pilgrim trots out a huge laundry list of evidence]

PILGRIM: Now, Alan Keyes, you've been patient letting me get through all that, but what more do you need to be convinced?



Thursday, July 16, 2009

When morons meet microphones....

From His Emanence Rush Limbaugh's Tuesday, July 14th show:
RUSH: And that's another thing. This precedent business, stare decisis, "Well, I'll go for precedent every time I can except when I won't. Precedent is not locked. Precedent doesn't mean you can never vary. If precedent meant that, we'd still have slavery.
Ummmm ... <*sotto voce*> Pssssst, Rush: The Thirteenth Amendment (a Constitutional amendment) needed to be passed to end slavery....

Product of a private school education? Just someone who didn't make use of what was given to him? Or both? You be the judge....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Who voted from Obama?

Read it and weep.

That isn't the first.

See here and here and here and here and here and here.

That's the final straw. F*ck "centrism".


This brilliant thought occurs to me:

If Clinton was the first black president, Obama is the second Clinton president.

He seems to be thinking of how he can get everyone to go along with him ("centrism" or "triangulation", and/or possibly the venal aspirations of re-election), rather than doing anything that is obviously right ... but which some loud-mouthed Rethiglicans might oppose. Clue: No matter what you do, they're going to kick and scream, so get used to it.

President Obama: It gains you nothing to sell your soul.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Watch the language....

Today, as we hear of the white supremacist (and Obama "birther") who shot and killed a guard at the National Holocaust museum, we have Sean InsHannity going with his usual language even after reporting the shooting, blissfully unaware of the nuances. Here's two "talking points" phrases that jump out at you:
"Conservative Underground"
Yes, this is an underground patriotic movement that is bravely defending All Things A'murkan from the present Socialist fascist occupation gummint ... and everyone knows that underground partisans are in armed (and illegal, by the terms of the nominal gummint) resistance against the Powers That Be.

"Conservatism in exile"
Methinks that's a misspelling of "conservatives in retreat". News-flash for InsHannity: You got voted out [small "d"] democratically. Pretending you got kicked out unjustly, illegally, or by dint of force, just stirs up the rabble. And we have today one more victim of this RW hysteria.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

So when do the trials begin?

Republican Senator and former military Judge Advocate Lindsey Graham:
GRAHAM: I am convinced, as an individual senator, as a military lawyer for 25 years, that waterboarding…does violate our war crimes statute and is clearly illegal under domestic and international law. … I don’t think you have to have a lot of knowledge about the law to understand this technique violates Geneva Convention Common Article Three, the War Crimes statutes, and many other statutes that are in place.
So let's get on with an investigation, and prosecutions for all who committed, ordered, or aided and abetted, these crimes. That would seem to be a no-brainer as well.

Uhhhh ... <*pssst*> ... Mr. Dionne....

E.J. Dionne makes an astute observation (for once):
If you doubt that there is a conservative inclination in the media, consider which arguments you hear regularly and which you don't. When Rush Limbaugh sneezes or Newt Gingrich tweets, their views ricochet from the Internet to cable television and into the traditional media. It is remarkable how successful they are in setting what passes for the news agenda.
That's because you folks in the SLCM ... Aren't. Doing. Your. Freakin'. Jobs!!!!

Props to Mr. Dionne for actually pointing this out, but that's just a tad bit like a doctor pointing to a large tumerous mass and saying, "You're gonna die!!!"

Now get to work! Hell, how long has it been since Stephen Colbert raked you over the coals?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pot callng the kettle black...

The Wall Street Journal opines that Barack Obama's been stealing the Underpants Gnomes' business plan:
Sometimes it takes "South Park" to explain life's deeper mysteries. Like the logic of the Obama administration's policy proposals.

Consider the 1998 "Gnomes" episode -- possibly surpassing Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" as the classic defense of capitalism -- in which the children of South Park, Colo., get a lesson in how not to run an enterprise from mysterious little men who go about stealing undergarments from the unsuspecting and collecting them in a huge underground storehouse.

What's the big idea? The gnomes explain:

"Phase One: Collect underpants.

"Phase Two: ?

"Phase Three: Profit."

Lest you think there's a step missing here, that's the whole point. ("What about Phase Two?" asks one of the kids. "Well," answers a gnome, "Phase Three is profits!") This more or less sums up Mr. Obama's speech last week on Guantanamo, in which the president explained how he intended to dispose of the remaining detainees after both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly against bringing them to the U.S.
They're hardly ones to talk: Republican political theory is largely build on this business model. See, e.g., the Iraq misadventure, "supply-side" economics and "reducing taxes gets more revenue", "just let the markets work", etc. Republican political theory is just surfeit in one-liners, "sound bites", and simplistic ideas that ignore potential complications and externalities (and realities) that might be problematic ... and that are remarkably short on substance (see, e.g., the Republican "budget").

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cows and barn doors....

In the N.Y. Times article linked in my last post, we have this interesting tidbit:
The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, said Wednesday that moving detainees to American prisons would bring with it risks including “the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States.”
Like wow.... You know, part of that sentence sounds vaguely familiar for some reason. Do we really have people that can utter this kind of stuff in high positions of gummint?

Certain words just jump right off the page at you....

Dan Froomkin's White House Watch column today has this little tidbit:
Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in the New York Times:
President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a "preventive detention" system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said....
[emphasis added]

And Obama's supposedly a Constitutional law expert. Count me in the "whomp-jawed" column.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The latest conservative star in the N.Y. Times firmament

Heeeeeerrrrreeeee's Ross Douthat!:
At the very least, a Cheney-Obama contest would have clarified conservatism’s present political predicament....
Perhaps. Let's see:
...In the wake of two straight drubbings at the polls, much of the American right has comforted itself with the idea that conservatives lost the country primarily because the Bush-era Republican Party spent too much money on social programs. And John McCain’s defeat has been taken as the vindication of this premise.
<*Shhhhhh!*> [sotto voce] Don't anyone tell them!...


Some more Douthat:
“Real conservatism,” in this narrative, means a particular strain of right-wingery: a conservatism of supply-side economics and stress positions, uninterested in social policy and dismissive of libertarian qualms about the national-security state. And Dick Cheney happens to be its diamond-hard distillation. The former vice-president kept his distance from the Bush administration’s attempts at domestic reform, and he had little time for the idealistic, religiously infused side of his boss’s policy agenda. He was for tax cuts at home and pre-emptive warfare overseas; anything else he seemed to disdain as sentimentalism.
OIC. Maybe what Douthat means by "conservative" is "RW authoritarian". In that case, maybe Ctheney's just the ticket....

Monday, April 27, 2009

Putting the horse before the cart

The "Dean" of Beltway Journalism, David Broder, explains:
But having vowed to end the practices [of torture], Obama should use all the influence of his office to stop the retroactive search for scapegoats.
Yes, indeed. Searches for scapegoats should always be proactive. How else to stop them before they can embarrass you? And if we're to stop such insidious attacks, we'll need the proper tool... -- ummm, <*Litella-esque*> nevermind.

More nonsense:
Suppose the investigators decide that the country does not want to see the former president and vice president in the dock. Then underlings pay the price while big shots go free. But at some point, if he is at all a man of honor, George W. Bush would feel bound to say: That was my policy. I was the president. If you want to indict anyone for it, indict me.

Is that where we want to go? I don't think so. Obama can prevent it by sticking to his guns.
Why deny Dubya the opportunity and "prevent" it??? Let's let Dubya show that he is a "man of honor". Let's let him step up and tell the world that he thought he did the right thing. And then let the jury decide.

What's truly embarrassing is that Broder is given a prominent forum in which to spew such nonsense. May I suggest eggs and rotten vegetables the next time he gives a public speech.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why does this need to be said?

Glenn Greenwald, in today's excellent (and devastating) post, makes this unremarkable statement:
People like John McCain argue that only "banana republics" prosecute former political leaders, but the reality is exactly the opposite.
Indeed. Why doesn't the so-called "liberal media" point this out? It is only in a country where the rule of law doesn't hold that "former political leaders" are given a pass ... by dint of being "former political leaders". There, politics is a consideration as to whether someone is "guilty". In a sane and legal state, politicians are treated the same as anyone else ... and if they committed crimes, they are punished.

Granted, a "banana republic" may also prosecute some former political leaders even if no crime was committed ... for political reasons as well (once again, because "politics is a consideration as to whether someone is 'guilty'"), but their failings there are hardly any expiation of the sins of unaccountability for those that escape prosecution because of political considerations. McCain's statement assumes implicitly that no "political leaders" ever commit crimes (except perhaps in "banana republics", but there he assumes that such leaders do get prosecuted). This assumption in not warranted.


Entirely in accord with Glenn's point, we have this from Michael Dorf:
Criminal charging decisions are indeed partly a matter of reading the applicable laws. But prosecutors, including the Attorney General, also have discretion, and it is hard to imagine that political considerations would not play some role in the determination whether to seek indictments arising out of the detainee abuse.
Yes, indeed, we have to look at this in "context". And who can deny the political implications? And why shouldn't they be considered?!?!? To deny that is to deny reality itself....

Later, Dorf says this:
There is, in addition, a principled basis for not prosecuting the architects of the Bush detainee abuse program: In the long run, to do so could be bad for our democracy.

In non-democratic regimes and fragile democracies, politics is an extremely high-stakes affair because those who win power often use that power to confiscate the property of, imprison, or even kill those who formerly held power. This is why transitions from one government to the next are so fraught outside of stable democracies.

Thus, one of the great, but often unnoticed, virtues of democracy is that it lowers the stakes of politics. Electoral losers know that they will be permitted to enter private life, or regroup and fight another political battle; conversely, winners know that they could lose the next election. Because electoral defeat is a setback but not a personal disaster, politicians across a broad swath of the ideological spectrum stay involved in the system, rather than literally attacking each other.

Prosecution of political opponents threatens to raise the stakes of politics and thus to undercut this important feature of democracy. Lengthy trials of Bush Administration officials for authorizing torture would inevitably be perceived as partisan, and would likely lead to a further cycle of recriminations....
"[R]ecriminations"?!?!? How so? Isn't this assuming that the prosecutions are baseless? If so, make that case first!!!

This is confooo-gabble of the highest order. "Banana republics" and "fragile democracies" suffer from the defect that purely political prosecutions are possible there, and tear at the fabric of their nascent (or non-existent) "democracy", thus, for them, a ban on political prosecution might be justified. But we have a strong democracy. We are thus able to withstand prosecution of political figures. But we shouldn't prosecute political figures because if we do, we risk looking like the "banana republics" that shouldn't be prosecuting political figures, and thus risk becoming such a "banana republic".

He continues:
... One need not think that the U.S. would actually slip into dictatorship to worry about these effects....
And if we're not at risk, what's the problem? That the Rethuglicans might get back in power and do a Lewinskygate "Starr Chamber" again? Hate to break the news, Michael, but they'll do that anyway....
... In this sense, if President Obama or Attorney General Holder makes the political judgment that there is no angle to be found in prosecutions, that decision could also be fairly characterized as a matter of principle.
Just those words need to be considered in their sublime essence.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Extra! Extra! Pot calls the china cup black!

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall is amased:
I must be mistaken. But I think Foxies Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are on TV whipping each other up into a sudsy lather over NBC's alleged lack of news credibility because of its corporate ownership by GE.
Two words: "Rupert Murdoch".

Josh still hasn't come to terms with the depths of the Rethuglican psychosis. The pathology is sufficient for an entire volume of the APA's Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Clarence Thomas opens up....

Cthulhu save us!

From the N.Y. Times:
“Sometimes, when I get a little down,” Justice Thomas said wearily, he goes online. “I look up wonderful speeches, like speeches by Douglas MacArthur, to hear him give without a note that speech at West Point — ‘duty, honor, country.’ How can you not hear those words and not feel strongly about what we have?”
OK, so now everyone's in the military, eh?....
He continued: “Or how can you not reminisce about a childhood where you began each day with the Pledge of Allegiance as little kids lined up in the schoolyard and then marched in two by two with a flag and a crucifix in each classroom?”
Gotta love that authoritarian bent.
A favorite movie can be a comfort, too.

“I have on many occasions or a number of occasions when things were becoming particularly routine gone down to my basement to watch ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ” he said. “I can’t tell you why that particular movie, except we have it and it’s about something important in our lives — World War II.”
Yeah, nothing like Hollywood to portray a fictionalized account of WWII bravery and sacrifice. Yanks your heartstrings that Thomas couldn't fight in Vietnam.... Oh well, better luck next time, Clarence....
The event, on March 31, was devoted to the Bill of Rights, but Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives.

‘Today there is much focus on our rights,” Justice Thomas said. “Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights.”

“I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances,” he said. “Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?”
Indeed. It is no doubt the gummint's duty to make sure we all do what we're told to do. That's it's job, nicht wahr?
He gave examples: “It seems that many have come to think that each of us is owed prosperity and a certain standard of living. They’re owed air conditioning, cars, telephones, televisions.”
And welfare queens are owed Cadillacs. Or so goes the fairy-tale....
Those are luxuries, Justice Thomas said.

“I have to admit,” he said, “that I’m one of those people that still thinks the dishwasher is a miracle. What a device! And I have to admit that because I think that way, I like to load it. I like to look in and see how that dishes were magically cleaned.”
Simple things for simple minds. Thomas missed his calling as a bus boy, I guess.
He was asked how his religious faith influenced his work on the court.

“I think that it really gives content to the oath that you took,” Justice Thomas said. “You say, ‘so help me God.’ ”
Except the Constitution says:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
“There are some cases that will drive you to your knees,” he added. “In those moments you ask for strength and wisdom to have the right answer and the courage to stand up for it. Beyond that, it would be illegitimate, I think, and a violation of my oath to incorporate my religious beliefs into the decision-making process.”
Well, except requiring the Pledge of Allegiance with "under God" in it ... and various other sundries....
The questions from students were read to Justice Thomas, and the first one seemed to throw him off. “Since the Civil War, what has changed the way Americans view the Constitution the most and why?” an unidentified student asked.

Justice Thomas gave a rambling response, touching on the Fourteenth Amendment, the rights of freed slaves, the application of parts of the Bill of Rights to the states and Justice John Marshall Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 Supreme Court decision that endorsed the doctrine of “separate but equal.”
"[R]ambling". Kind of like not knowing the rationale in the biggest case of the previous term, BSA v. Dale (a case he had signed on to the majority opinion on).
I’m sure there are other things that have happened,” he said, wrapping up his answer. “So I would have to say just off the top of my head the Fourteenth Amendment. And I bet you someone’s going to hear that and say, well, no, it’s the dormant commerce clause or something.”

That was a curious aside. Few Americans could name the the dormant commerce clause, and it has no obvious connection to how popular views of the Constitution changed after the Civil War. “This job is easy for people who’ve never done it,” Justice Thomas said later. “What I have found in this job is they know more about it than I do, especially if they have the title, law professor.”
Yes, they do. If you find it hard, Clarence, resign!!!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Deep thought....

Listening to Michele Bachmann (R-LuluLand) on Sean InsHannity's radio show today, the question occurred to me:
Why do all the Rethuglican Congresscritters sound just like John Birch Society members?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Birthday!!!

I got up this morning and I missed it. Not there in the paper. No note of this wonderful anniversary. I'd plumb forgot, and no one was going to remind me. But ThinkProgress was nice enough to mark the auspicious sixth birthday of our Iraq adventure ... as well as the deafening silence from the M$M ... that owes so much to this adventure, and who should be passing on their "best wishes" for this salutary day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Richard Cohen: Clueless to the Nth degree

Richard Cohen doesn't like Jon Stewart's legendary dumping on Jim Cramer.

In a Washington Post article, he writes:
What Jon Stewart needs is Jon Stewart. He could use a droll comedian to temper his ferocity and correct him when he's wrong, as he was about the financial media, particularly CNBC and its excitable analyst Jim Cramer. They didn't cover up the story of financial shenanigans. They didn't even know it existed.

For proof, I can offer some names. Let's start with Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, who was instrumental in building what is now probably the world's most reviled corporation, AIG. He resigned as chairman and CEO in 2005, but still it is logical to assume that few people knew more about the company than Greenberg. He kept much of his net worth in AIG stock. He's now lost much of that worth.

Or take Richard Fuld. He is the former chairman of Lehman Brothers, which, as we all know, is no more. He lost about $1 billion.

Or take Citigroup's former chairman, Sanford Weill. He lost about $500 million.

Or take all the good people at Bear Stearns, the company Cramer adored almost to the bitter end. They went down with their stock.

If these people kept their money in these companies -- financial and insurance giants they had built and knew from the inside -- how was even Jim Cramer to know these firms were essentially hollow?
What a pile of bunk(o).

ODM (for eedjits like Cohen, that's "owners, directors, and managers") are compelled to file prospective stock trades well in advance of the transaction date. They can't just bail when the thing's tanking (that's what we might suspect is "insider trading", with a real stiff ticket for violations).

Plus, their stock transactions must be publicly reported ... and when the ODMs are going to sell, you can rest assured that every one else will take notice. And if there's a massive sell by them, everyone else will probably run for the hills as well, so that the stock is assured of tanking. So of course, they wouldn't sell even if they could, if they think they can just keep up <*cough-cough*> "cinfidence" and keep the Ponzi scheme going a bit longer....

Plus, such a sell might well be seen as an admission of guilt. Which may be just as painful.

Cohen admits he's wrong:
Trouble was, Cramer almost instantly sank into a classic case of Stockholm syndrome, agreeing much of the time with his captor. He came with sleeves rolled up but with the droopy eyes of a chastised puppy.
No, not Stockholm syndrome. Cramer, unlike the AIG top dogs, does have a slight sense of shame. He admitted that Stewart was right.

Cohen finishes with:
Stewart plays a valuable role. He mocks authority, which is good, and he mocks those, such as the media, who take the word of authority as if, well, it's authoritative. But given the outsize reception to his cheap shot at business media, he ought to turn his wit inward: Mocker, mock thyself.
Uh-oh. Cohen hasn't learned a thing from this. Stewart didn't jump on Cramer initially; the initial tiff was with Rick Santelli. Then Cramer jumped into the fray ... and got pasted (even though Stewart, in fairness, allowed that his beef wasn't just with Cramer -- "this song isn't about you" -- but rather with CNBC and the rest of the snake oil salesmen as a whole). Now Cohen seems to be begging for Stewart's attention. Hmmmm...... Stay tuned. ;-)


Monday, March 09, 2009

Defending the indefencible

From a Christian Science Monitor article defending the misnamed USA-PATRIOT Act:
By Nathan A. Sales
ARLINGTON, VA. - Remember when the USA Patriot Act was seen as a common-sense counterterrorism tool? Congress enacted the law shortly after the 9/11 attacks by large bipartisan majorities. It wasn't even close.

And for good reason: The Patriot Act made relatively modest changes to the law as it stood on Sept. 11, 2001. The act simply let terrorist- and spy-hunters use some of the same tools regular cops have had in their arsenal for decades. And it updated existing laws to make them more effective against terrorist threats.
To the extent it allowed what was already done, it was superfluous.
As President Obama forges new security policies, let's hope he keeps the Patriot Act intact. The act works. According to the Justice Department, the Patriot Act helped take down Al Qaeda cells in Buffalo, N.Y. and Portland, Ore. Prosecutors used it to convict a Floridian who pled guilty to raising money for a terrorist group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And The act led to the conviction of a man who threatened to torch a Texas mosque.
The Department of Justice has lied and/or grossly overstated various "successes". There's nothing in these prosecutions that could not have been done with standard gum-shoe work.
Despite those successes, the act has become a civil libertarian bugaboo. We've all heard how the act poses a dire threat to liberty and privacy. Federal agents can search your house without ever telling you. The feds can force the phone company to reveal whom you've been calling, and they can rummage through library records to find out what books you've been reading....
They can do so without warrants. "National Security Letters", absent oversight of a judge, are allowed. What more pernicious is that there was no way to find out -- at any time -- how many of these were being used. The recipients could not disclose at all that they'd been served with such. And in the aftermath of the USA-PATRIOT Act, thousands of these issued, and these NSLs were being misused.
... They can even brand you a terrorist and throw you in jail if you get in an argument with a flight attendant.

The daily reality is much less dramatic – and much less frightening.

Let's start with the flight attendants. It's been illegal to interfere with airline crews since JFK was president. The Patriot Act made it a crime to attempt or conspire to do what the law already barred.
Then it wasn't necessary. And occasionally drunks and jerks have been snared in this web, to no good reason. While I agree that drunks and jerks ought to behave themselves, it shouldn't be a federal felony with massive fines and jail sentences to be such.
The basic idea behind the change is prevention. We shouldn't have to wait for a passenger to take a crew member's life before we throw the book at him. We should be able to prosecute the steps he takes along the way – ignoring an order to return to his seat, pulling a box cutter from his pocket, and so on.
Hate to say it, but massive penalties for being a jerk are not going to prevent something. If we're talking hijackers, they aren't really looking too much at how many years they'll serve should they be captured and convicted. If you want prevention, you should do stuff -- you know -- to actually prevent airplane hijackings, like maybe stronger cockpit doors (which had been recommended before 9/11) and sky marshals.

There's more such silly argumentation in the article along the same lines.
Nathan A. Sales is a law professor at George Mason University. He previously served at the Department of Justice (where he helped write the Patriot Act) and the Department of Homeland Security.

Let's be honest: The USA-PATRIOT Act was a poorly thought out, reflexive after-the-fact response , to pretend that we're doing something ... and an attempt to persuade people that, prior to 9/11, it was legal manacles that had prevented the gummint from doing its job properly, not the incompetence of those in the gummint.