Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

-C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

General Pace

General Pace always struck me as a good guy, an honorable man trying to do his best by his soldiers. This story of his contradicting his torture-advocating SoD does nothing to shake that perception.

Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked what orders the troops have to handle such incidents. He responded: "It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it."

He said soldiers who hear of but don't see an incident should deal with it through superiors of the offending Iraqis.

That's when Rumsfeld stepped to the microphone and said, "I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it. It's to report it."

Pace then repeated to Rumsfeld that intervening when witnessing abuse is the order the troops must follow, not just reporting it.
Talk about supporting the troops. What a complete asshole Rumsfeld is. It's really disheartening to see so many of these career military men trying their best to actually win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people while the U.S. civilian leadership does its best to completely undermine that effort.

Health Care

I'm not making the claim that French medicine is any better than ours (nor would I refute such a claim), but seeing as French doctors, in France, just performed the world's first face transplant (!), what's clear to me is that innovation is still part of the gameplan. Anti-GHCFAA* advocates are constantly rolling out that old "innovation will suffer" canard, insisting that socialized medicine will result in a catastrophic slowdown in the pace of research and invention. Well, if that's true, why didn't we perform the first ever face transplant? Why weren't we, Land Of Innovation, surfing down the front end of that learning curve? I know! Because we'd have had to cut off Terry Schiavo's face!

The facial tissues, muscles, arteries and blood veins needed for the transplant were taken on Sunday from a donor in the northern city of Lille, who was in a brain-dead condition, according to Le Point.
Jiminy Crickets! Could you imagine this occurring in the U.S.A??? Could you even imagine the signs they would come up with? "Hail Mary full of grace, let that lady keep her face!"

*Guaranteed Health Care For All Americans

Cisco Systems Commercial

Has anyone else seen the television commercial for Cisco Systems where the "Boss" walks into the data center and demands to know where their security is? It's shot in the same style as are many business oriented commercials, with self-consciously wandering clarinet solos, rapid fire dialogue in which everyone just repeats what the previous speaker said, and comic simplicity masquerading as Today's Business Environment. I think this style started with the ridiculous shipping industry commercials where no one does any work or worries about anything because doggoneit, FedEx allows you to track your packages. Anyway, this Cisco commercial is more of the same, only this one has something I've never seen before - a toothy, cartoonish Indian (as in Gandhi, not Geronimo) dude grinning like Chief Wahoo on meth. Is this the new racist achetype for the 21st century? Am I to believe now, surely as I think "Boss" when the besuited Old White Guy strolls in (thanks to Cisco for repotting that plant), that short, brown, eager dude is Mr. Computer? The old "good" stereotype like "good with money" or "can really sing and dance?" People (I can think of a few) may think I'm making a meltdown from a misprint, but this crap is exactly the kind of stuff our kids will look at in 40 years, nod to each other in a properly bemused outrage, and wonder why their parents' society was so racist.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Stars and Bars

"What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs. Then this becomes a different town," Grover Norquist, 1995 (hat tip: Josh Marshall.)

Could good ol' Grover have meant...this town?


Blogs And The News

Jane Hamsher has an interesting post on the nature of blogging. She talks about how it's a "two-way street" and allows the people to organically determine what they consider to be important. To me, the most important achievement of the blogosphere is the dawning of reader control of content. For as long as there's been print media for sale, there have been these curious animals called editors who try to decide what they think you want to hear about. They may get pretty close to nailing it from time to time, but sooner or later you're going to get a front page story about some cat stuck in a tree while the really important stuff is buried on page 9. With the Internet, there's no guessing process. No market research. No decisions about what goes on the front page. No one has to guess what you, the interested reader, wants to hear about. We rate up stories in Yahoo news. We recommend diaries on Kos. We flood Technorati with links to certain articles, topics, keywords, stories. We decide what's important. If you want to release that bit of bad news on Friday afternoon and hope that it goes away, go right ahead, but the truth is it will go away only when WE decide it does.


Abortion has always been a complicated issue, one that people have struggled with in one form or another for as long as there have been people. But I predict that science will put an entirely different spin on the debate in the next twenty to thirty years. As viability approaches zero weeks, the idea of a fetus as something other than a living organism will gradually lose traction. Many supporters of abortion rights argue that freedom is the central issue when it comes to terminating a pregnancy. An important term for the abortion rights supporters is “choice,” a word that by its very nature implies freedom. The woman’s right to choose has to do with whether or not she allows a baby to develop within her own body, not whether or not she has any direct control over the fetus’s body. If destroying the baby is not essential to carrying out her wishes, the abortion debate will be completely changed. While it has been relatively effective to argue for freedom, it will be hard to convince anyone of the right to kill a fetus that could possibly continue to live even after the woman is free of the responsibility of incubating it.

For all of human history up continuing to the present day, choosing to terminate a pregnancy and killing the fetus have been inextricably connected. There will be a day not far in the future when this will cease to be true. When this day comes, I believe four things will happen. First, a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy in the second or third trimester will be strengthened because no one will be able to say that she is killing a fetus. Second, public support for first trimester abortions will plummet because of pressure to wait for the current “viability date” so that the baby will be saved (especially as viability approaches 8-10 weeks). Third, it will be considered a crime to destroy a viable fetus if the technology exists to support the child out of the womb. Fourth, there will be huge “orphanages” where fetuses are allowed to develop in artificial, womb-like environments.

Monday, November 28, 2005


  1. Daniel: So I guess you know about the tournament.
    Ali: Who doesn't?

  2. Lucille: Palm trees, Damn! You know what this means?
    Daniel: Yeah, watch out for falling coconuts.

  3. Kreese: But if you don't show, it's open season on him...and you.

  4. Bobby: Put him in a bodybag, yeeeeaaaahhh!

  5. Daniel: Hey, where did these old cars come from?
    Miyagi: Detroit.
R.I.P. Pat Morita


The country music synopsis of the weekend's football action set to "I Like It, I Love It, I Want Some More Of It" could be the most flawless musical turd ever sqeeezed out of America's collective cultural ass. It's so terrible, so painful, so laughably bad that there's nothing left but to admire it, like a perfectly formed, gently floating shitlog of a rich and even hue. Thankfully continuing the metaphor, each week's iteration of the "Nashville Update" spirals away into oblivion as each week of football news becomes old and stale. That is, at least you don't have to hear it more than once. There are probably people who actually enjoy listening to some session vocalist belt out this crap, but then again, some people like the Cleveland Steamer too.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Rape And Shame

Here's a great article about what I believe to be the single most important aspect of the fight against rape. After a physical sexual assualt, a survivor is then the victim of a second rape, a spiritual and emotional assault as society attempts to force upon them shame for the crime. If we are ever to completely stamp out the "it wasn't her fault, but..." baggage that nearly always accompanies sex crimes, survivors of sexual assault are asked to be courageous enough to pass one more test of their will. They must catagorically and unapologetically refuse to feel any shame. This refusal requires tremendous strength and may be too much for some emotionally exhausted survivors, but every woman and man who is able to speak openly and honestly about sexual assualt speeds the corrosion of the existing cultural mechanisms that protect rapists from reprisals. Any progress at all on this front must be enthusiastically supported.

Hat Tip: TheaLogie

Sopranos 'N Tha 'Hood

Looks like the Gottis might have been the ones that shot 50 Cent back in 2000. I half expect smoke to start coming out of the ears of all the racists out there who like to put black gangsta thugs in the "evil incarnate" box and white mafia killers in the "dangerously cool" box. Admiring the ass-kicking goomba-ness of the Sopranos while simultaneously recoiling in disgust at the behaviour of "violent rappers" is about as racist as it gets.

UPDATE: Picture of Irv Gotti is below. Clearly not Italian. I, however, am clearly a dork. My point is still valid though.

UPDATE 2: Having picture problems...


If posting's been a little light over here at Shape Of The Universe, it's because lately most of my mental energy has been going into commenting on this post on Echidne of the Snakes, fellow LC member and one of my all time favorite blogs.

Check it out.

Sunday Random 12

  1. Strangelove (Depeche Mode, Music For The Masses)

  2. Plateau (Nirvana, Unplugged In New York)

  3. Bukowski (Modest Mouse, Good News For People Who Like Bad News)

  4. Breadcrumb Trail (Slint, Spiderland)

  5. Message In A Bottle (The Police, Regatta De Blanc)

  6. Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell (The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots)

  7. Prototype (OutKast, The Love Below)

  8. Subway Train (New York Dolls, New York Dolls)

  9. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses (U2, Achtung Baby)

  10. Rose Rouge (St. Germain, Tourist)

  11. Time For Livin' (The Beastie Boys, Check Your Head)

  12. I Can't Quit You Baby (Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin)

A lot of solid records on this twelve.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

War On TV

The armor-piercing Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake posts about a whole new level of wartime journalism. What's that, you say? Well, instead of the journalists taking pictures of bombs falling all around them, they get to take pictures of bombs streaking directly towards them!!! What fun!

Al-Qaida supposedly hates all freedom. Good thing our president limits his hatred to freedom of the press. Perhaps that's a bit over the top, but seriously here. If we take the president at his word and, his inability to execute said word into action notwithstanding, buy into the idea that we are "democratizing" not just Iraq, but indeed the ENTIRE MIDDLE EAST, don't you think that, at the very least, tolerating institutions like al-Jazeera would be towards the top of the to-do list? Even if they are an organization that mainly produces propaganda, doesn't this still apply? In a free and democratic country, one is free to produce propaganda, right? How else to explain Fox News? One might go so far as to say that to stay true to the democratization program, we would be committed even to defending al-Jazeera from attack. Perhaps even host some of their reporters in our battalions. Then, if they did anything stupid like give away troop positions, we could have them arrested. That way, we could weed out all the agenda-driven reporters, if any. Why didn't we think of this earlier?!?!

But no, easier to just fire a missle and shut them up. Just more evidence that however simple Bush tries to make this, his policies toward Iraq are incoherent.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Vatican

Pope Benedict, sporting a 1982 San Diego Padres jersey to symbolize his "throw-back" policy on gays, has made public his approval of a policy banning "practising homosexuals" from the priesthood. Excuse me here, but what the heck is a practising homosexual? Is that like when you accidentally walk into the wrong hotel room and there are people actually practising homosexuality right there on the queen size bed spread? Would those guys be the practising homosexuals they're talking about? And couldn't you say the same thing about heterosexuals? "Ahem, yes, an announcement please. Tap, tap, is this thing on? OK. Carrying on now, if you are actually having sex with a woman at the very moment you apply to the seminary, we will be unable to consider you for acceptance. Thank you." Maybe there was a reason behind this document other than needlessly alienating a group of people who already shoulder more than their fair share of scorn, but if there was, I'm not picking up on it.

The Vatican’s directions on homosexuality do not affect those who are already ordained.
Oh really? Why don't we ask them, just to make sure. You can't play all nice with people, tell them what kindhearted people they are, broadcast to everyone that you have gay friends too, and then turn around and sign on with those who say that homosexuality is a defective condition just south of graverobbing on the morality scale. Lying under oath is a mortal sin too, in case anyone remembered. You don't see any documents being circulated stating that anyone who is a practising liar under oather Need Not Apply. It's time the Vatican get it through their thick skulls that the priest abuse scandal happened not because of "gayness in the ranks," but because cowardly, selfish, conceited men allowed it to continue for literally decades. I'd like to see the flipping document on that.


Isn't every ring an "O"? And when I say every ring, I mean every ring that has ever existed.


  1. Con Air

  2. Dumb And Dumber

  3. Army Of Darkness

  4. The Three Amigos

  5. Notting Hill


  1. Titanic

  2. Seabicuit

  3. Gangs Of New York

  4. The Godfather Part III

  5. Sleepless In Seattle

And no movie hate list would be complete without mentioning how much I loathe Matthew McConaughey.


Alone in mourning, sorry for myself
Tender, calculated words are presented to me
Like smooth flat stones on a beach
Nice, harmless
I feel no anger towards a rehearsed speech
I rehearsed one myself this morning as I put on my black bow tie
Short, definite, with a period at the end
I will utter it today and other days no doubt
People will walk by me and be sorry
As I am
I will have to say something
As will they
What else can one expect?
What else is one supposed to say?
There’s nothing except the words
When you want and don’t want the exact same thing
Stow it away until you can be sure?
The smooth flat stones
I remember stepping on them
When I walked in wet bare feet around the beach house
Built on ancient wooden stilts driven into the dunes
I must have
They covered the beach
We never could skip them because the water was too rocky
It was a laugh we had
Too sharp and rocky for smooth stones
But there they were
A waste, I suppose

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Don't Mess With The Bull, You'll Get The Horns

This started as a comment, but then it grew into a post. Aren't you lucky.

I know some of my readers find it pleasing to feel superior, but many of them couldn't have more completely misunderstood what I said. And by the way, Caca, rolling out tired "communist" BS is about as far from cracking skulls as a My Little Pony movie. I didn't mean "pass out ice cream" to be some Medicare/Welfare program on steroids. If you read what I wrote, you'll find that I was speaking of the HOW, not the WHAT. I didn't mean to actually hand out ice cream. Or hand out anything for that matter. The idea was to make your policy proposal, ANY policy proposal (even a cut!), feel like the greatest thing in the world to voters. The GOP used this exact technique to bamboozle everyone into Iraq. You know, greeted as liberators, oil pays for everything, cakewalk, all that crap. They made it seem like to oppose their idea was akin to opposing a Fourth of July parade. They believed it, they talked it up, they sold it, and you bought it. This is precisely what Democrats never do. And it's also precisely what Democrats must start to do. "Passing out ice cream cones" is the outlook that Democrats must have on their own ideas to make anything happen. No matter what policy is, they have to be resolute in thinking a) it's the greatest policy of all time and b) anyone who opposes it is an idiot. This kind of thinking is basically how the GOP wins elections. I'm just trying to photocopy their playbook. Some liberal policies might make you cringe, like Guaranteed Health Care For All Americans (even though I'm still not sure why that one does), and some others might not, like election reform and immigration reform. But my point is, no matter what position the Dems take, they have got to stop apologizing for taking it. Instead of acting like a guilty mother trying to get her unwilling child to take his medicine, Dems have got to believe that they're behind the wheel of the neighborhood ice cream truck.

And pleeeeeaaase cut it out with the crap about liberalism being somehow anti-capitalist. I am as capitalist as they come. Where there is a functioning market (that part is important by the way), that market should be allowed to function. Correct me if I'm wrong, but most competition squelching subsidies have found their genesis on the right side of the aisle. From where I sit, the chump change that gets handed out via welfare (to guvmint-hating Red State folks mostly) pales in comparison to the billions in handouts given to industry each year. And what's so capitalist about our propping up the freeloading American sugar industry? Has it ever occurred to you guys that competition is a consumer oriented phenomenon? Don't you realize that when businesses are allowed to draft their own laws, like the oil companies did Cheney's energy bill, that this is inescapably and by its very nature anti-competition? But then again, why should you? "Penny wise and pound foolish" has been the mark of the right wing for about 25 years now.

Monday, November 21, 2005


The noises you hear are rivets popping out of the corrupt Republican machine. And yes, I can barely conceal my glee.

Ice Cream

Kid Oakland is right on here. Democrats have to remember that even with much of the bad stuff that's still plaguing Bush today, the guy won the presidency in 2004 with close to record turnout and solid gains in virtually every county in the U.S. Not that there's been a swelling chorus of "Bush stole the vote" in the recent weeks, but it's helpful to banish from our minds even the sneaking suspicion that this is what occurred. All Democrats should repeat it to themselves: In 2004, President Bush, with sub 50% approval numbers, BEAT US FAIR AND SQUARE.

Because, to paraphrase Carlyle, talk that does not end in some kind of action is better suppressed altogether, what do we do about it? Well, Democrats have to adopt what I like to call the ice cream cone theory of politics. What's that? It's framing your policy proposals so that it seems the political equivalent of giving each and every citizen of this country a perfectly scooped ice cream cone of their very favorite flavor. And, while we stretch out our hands to present these wonderful gifts to our constituents, what do we say our opponents are doing? They are trying to take that ice cream cone away.

When it comes to explaining policies or campaigning for office or holding a press conference or speaking directly to voters, we're not compromising or trading votes or if/then-ing or defending our positions or trying to justify ourselves or even trying to convince anyone. We're passing out ice cream cones. The most important thing, though, is that we believe it to be ice cream. Because if we truly believe, the ice cream cones will require no explanation. There is no debate about whether an ice cream cone is good. If someone asks us if we're sure it's a good idea to be passing out all this ice cream, we simply laugh, shake our heads, and KEEP PASSING OUT ICE CREAM.

Monday Random 12

  1. The Nearness Of You (Norah Jones, Come Away With Me)

  2. Mine's Not A High Horse (The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow)

  3. What's The Matter Here? (10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe)

  4. Conduit For Sale! (Pavement, Slanted And Enchanted)

  5. Saturday Sun (Nick Drake, Five Leaves Left)

  6. Grade 9 (Barenaked Ladies, Gordon)

  7. In A Future Age (WILCO, SUMMERTEETH)

  8. I Could Never Take The Place Of You (Prince, Sign O' The Times)

  9. High 5 (Rock The Catskills) (Beck, Odelay)

  10. Outdone (Uncle Tupelo, No Depression)

  11. Thru The Eyes Of Ruby (Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness)

  12. Blasphemous Rumours (Depeche Mode, Some Great Reward)

In general, I'd like to see more punctuation in song titles.


Just set a personal best of 59 seconds at the Intermediate level. I was very impressed with myself until I looked on-line and saw that the world record is under 30 seconds. Locating all 40 bombs in such a short amount of time is just absolutely ridiculous. What's your best time?

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Honor" Killing

I'll never understand how anyone could consider sex, any sex, more dishonorable than violence. Put simply, a culture that condones this is an inferior culture.

Heshu returned safely to her London school that autumn but told friends that her father had put a gun to her head and demanded to know whether she had a boyfriend, and then forced her to have a gynecological exam to prove her virginity.
Unfortunately, the nightmare wasn't over for Heshu.
Heshu Yones, a West London teen, fought off her father for a frantic 15 minutes. She ran from room to room in her family home one Saturday afternoon until he cornered her in a dingy bathroom, held her over the tub and slit her throat.

Remember Heshu.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Let's Just Leave Iraq And See What Happens

I really think we should just pack up and leave Iraq. What'll happen? Beats me, but I think we should do it anyway. Seems a bit reckless maybe, but wasn't that sort of our thought process when it came to invading the place?

In all seriousness, if it's true that the overwhelming majority of insurgents in Iraq are indeed Iraqis, then that's about as good a reason to leave the place tomorrow as any I've heard. If the insurgents are largely or even just somewhat foreign, then I can see it being a problem if we leave. All these guys with guns, here they are, might as well pick something to shoot at. But if they really are 95% Iraqi, than most likely if we disappear, so will their reason to shoot at us. They'll just go back to being regular old run-of-the-mill violent assholes just like you'd see anywhere else you'd go in this world. The violence wouldn't stop immediately, of course. There might even be 4 murders per 100,000 people each year and even more violent crime, just like there is right now in the U.S. No, the insurgency wouldn't come to grinding halt. I'm sure some wackos would still want to attack their government in hopes that it would fail. But I bet it'd hurt recruiting. And if it doesn't, well, we had a civil war, too, and look at us. We're the better for it. It happens to the best of nations.

Selling The Product

What's so discouraging about the current administration is not just that they allow oil industry executives to lie, Rafael Palmeiro style, directly to Congress's face, it's that they so clearly couldn't care less about it. Lautenberg asks if they met with Cheney to discuss the energy bill and they lie and say no. Of course they were at the meeting. Of course the oil companies wrote the energy bill. We all "knew" that already, and now we actually know it. Cheney is the President of the Senate. You'd think he'd care if someone were telling a bald face lie to the body he heads. But he doesn't.

Here's what I can't understand. Why can't these guys just sell an idea on its merits? Just say to the American people, "We think it's a good idea to let oil companies write the laws and award themselves billions of dollars in subsidies." At least that point could be argued. If someone honestly wanted to make a case for why this was the way to do things, I'd at least listen to him. But that's not the way these guys do things. Meeting? What meeting? Did our consultants write the bill? Not a chance! Didn't I just say we weren't at any meeting? Riiiight. Same thing with huge tax cuts for the wealthy. Don't say, "well, they're no really huge tax cuts for the wealthy, they're this other thing." Instead, talk about how great tax cuts for the wealthy are for a) the economy and b) the wealthy. I'd actually listen to the guy saying that. After all, he may have a point.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bush Losing It

Everyone else is weighing in on the Washington Times article about Bush's shrinking inner circle, so I guess I will too.

To me, the scary thing about it is not just that the President of the United States has limited himself to contact with only four people, but that three of those people are Condi Rice, Karen Hughes, and Barbara Bush!!! Aside from Laura Bush, who always has struck me as an reasonable woman who would have been roughly 100 times the president her husband has been, you've got a wannabe lover, a cheerleading flatterer, and Texas' answer to Marie Antoinette.

Much of this story has a supermarket aisle feel to it, so I won't be surprised if it turns out to be a bunch of baloney. But oh my goodness if this is really what's going on...God bless America. Please. We're really gonna need it.


  1. Roxette*

  2. Boy Meets World

  3. Funyuns

  4. The Tasmanian Devil

  5. Finishing next to last

Party of Ideas

Having no ideas of their own, the GOP, who control the White House and both chambers of Congress, looked to Senate Democrats for an Iraq withdrawal plan. The following paragraph was thoughtfully placed at the very end of this article from the Washington Post.

Republicans largely adopted the Democratic proposal as their own, but they omitted one paragraph calling for the president to offer a plan for a phased withdrawal of the roughly 160,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq. The administration has refused to set a timetable for withdrawal, saying insurgents simply would wait to strike until after U.S. forces departed.
My only question is this: "strike what?"

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's not a War, It's a Crime

I think the main source of conflict regarding the possible suspension of habeas corpus for, among others, Guantanamo detainees is the term "enemy combatants." I'm pretty sure the point of the habeas corpus is to prevent a government from indefinitely detaining a person at will. Since every person has the right to know their own legal standing, what you are charged with, etc., it would be difficult for the authorities to jail someone for reasons outside the scope of democratically created (we hope) laws. But hold on here, if habeas corpus says a prisoner has a right to know what crime the state claims they have committed, how does that apply to a POW? Enemy soldiers are, when captured, taken into custody by their captors. They are placed in facilities designed to house POWs, and their captivity is presumably in accordance with the standing law, the Geneva Conventions. But there's one thing that never happens to a POW. He is never charged with a crime! Wouldn't that make the concept of habeas corpus, in the case of a POW, irrelevant? This seems to be what Sen. Graham is getting at with his recent amendment. On November 10, the day of the vote, Graham had this to say:

I firmly believe that 9/11 was an act of war and not a crime. The detainees at GTMO are not American citizens facing criminal trial, rather, they are terrorists who have taken up arms against the United States.

There has never been a time in our military history where an enemy combatant or prisoner of war has been allowed access to federal court to bring lawsuits against the people they are fighting. Habeas corpus rights have never been given to an enemy combatant and the Senate today reaffirmed that principal.
Regardless of how I may have wanted to vote on the plan, and that many detainees at GIMTO are in fact NOT terrorists notwithstanding, this strikes me as an eminently reasonable statement. Sen. Graham is correct. Enemy soldiers have not and should not have access to the U.S. criminal justice system for the simple reason that what they have done is not criminal. Capturing a enemy soldier and presenting someone with a warrant for their arrest are completely different operations.

Since no one is advocating for a full scale suspension of habeas corpus, and no one believes that POWs, by dint of their combat status, have broken any "laws," then what is the central issue here? It seems to me that the most important thing to be discussed is how the government identifies someone as an "enemy combatant," a wartime enemy, someone who has not broken laws per se, but has actively and with hostile intent opposed them in battle. The suspension of habeas corpus is almost incidental to the central question of who is empowered to make this identification. To the 42nd Tennessee at Manassas, it was a pretty safe bet that the guys wearing dark blue and carrying the flint-locks were the enemy. In Ypres in 1914, it was pretty clear who the combatants were. You looked across the mud to a guy wearing a funny looking hat and if he put his hands up, you sent him behind the lines. But the War On Terror is not fought on battlefields. They do not wear uniforms.

So how is one to determine who opposes you in battle in a war without battlefields? As a terrorist organization, al-Qaida fight mainly on a mental level. Where conventional armies battle to expand borders and territory, the terrorist army desires to expand fear and chaos. One need not be at any certain place, or doing any one certain thing, to accomplish this goal. And apparently, one need not have even meant it. The many-initialled Mark A. R. Kleiman points us to this enlightening article from last December describing a hearing in which government lawyers "asserted...the U.S. military can hold foreigners indefinitely as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, even if they aided terrorists unintentionally and never fought the United States." Sen. Graham's amendment provides the framework for making just that type of determination. And even if the amendment is meant to apply only to NON-CITIZEN COMBATANTS (Sen. Graham's own caps), that's pretty scary power to grant a government. I'm not sure if the process to identify a person as an "enemy combatant" has ever been codified before. After all, there's no guarantee that some well meaning Senator years from now tries to establish the steps by which the government strips citizenship itself. This is where Graham's straddles the line between trying to address a legitimate concern, wartime enemies' access to U.S. courts, and establishing a Kafka-esque world in which one's fate is at the mercy of the unassailable whim of a group of just three persons.

So what to do? Clearly there are some who believe themselves to be at war with us. Shouldn't they be, if captured, detained as POWs? Since there would be no country with which to sign a treaty at the end of this conflict, where would we return such a person? Is the solution to hold al-Qaida members indefinitely? The more I look at this issue, the more I'm convinced that the mistake that Graham and so many others make is to insist that we are indeed at War. To be sure, we are undeniably deeply embroiled in a deadly conflict that pits two worldview one against the other, but is it useful to call it a War? Where does that get us other than debating the benefits and dangers or military tribunals to determine the fate of unintentional "enemies?" I believe it is much more useful to think of the current terrorist situation as a law enforcement issue. Each country should prosecute terrorists who act within its borders according to its own laws. Last I checked, blowing up a bus is still a crime in most places in the world. At the very least, we'll know who really wants to cooperate with us. If a terrorist act is committed, then arrests and trials and convictions are to follow. This is something that the U.S. should absolutely insist upon. And what a perfect way to respond to terror and chaos, with law and democracy and order. But to Graham, this remains a War. Like he said, he "firmly believes" it. I don't think Sen. Graham is an evil man. I do think he is trying his best to respond to a tricky situation. But the truth is that his fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of this conflict may have severe consequences.

Tom Daschle and WMDs

Check out this gem from January, 2003, by Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard. The little "get this" dig in the subtitle line is just precious, isn't it? They were really a bunch of guys who had it all figured out. "We'll be greeted as liberators!" "Cakewalk!" "Did I mention that the invasion will pay for itself in 3 months?!?!"

Here's the blurb from Daschle that Hayes just couldn't wrap his head around:

After a press conference this afternoon Daschle took questions from reporters. He continued his criticism of President Bush on Iraq, saying, "I don't think the administration has presented adequate, convincing evidence to say that [Iraq] can produce weapons to share with terrorist," he said.

Confused, I [Stephen Hayes] asked Daschle to clarify.

"You don't think Saddam disarmed unilaterally, do you?"

"We don't have any concrete evidence that he has not," Daschle replied. "And that's the issue."
This quote ends the article. He doesn't even bother to comment on it, or opine on the relative likelihood of its being true. I'm not saying that Hayes was wrong to disagree with Daschle. After all, sensible people can disagree. But Hayes doesn't just disagree, he dismisses Daschle wholesale, as you'd dismiss the rantings of a Flat-Earther. And yet, (whaddya know!) Daschle was right!

I'm glad the GOP was so shortsighted in 2004 that they didn't understand the benefit of having a truly nice guy like Daschle as the opposition leader. I'm glad that now in Daschle's place, we've got Harry Reid, a guy who's about as bare knuckles as they come. John Thune (his star has dimmed considerably, eh?) might have won Daschle's Senate seat without the concerted national effort, but the truth is that the GOP put more capital into that race than any other. Again, you may wonder why the GOP went to such lengths to unseat an ineffective adversary, seeing as you never know if his replacement will take your sorry ass to the mat, like Reid has. It's ridiculous articles like this one by Hayes, however, which demonstrate that their thought process never rose above simple hubris, petty vindictiveness, and the confidence of a foolish gambler who has miscalulated his odds.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


One more thing on the run-up to war: The standard line out of Bush apologists these days is something like "we went to war with the intelligence we had," to coin a phrase. In essence, the CIA made us do it. Of course, what BushCo expects us to conveniently forget is the fact that for months before the invasion, all we were hearing was how the CIA was "downplaying the threat from Iraq," how they "had their heads in the sand." After all, this is the whole reason Cheney started up his whole Office of Special Plans. Because they weren't hearing what they wanted to hear from the US intelligence community, they decided that known charlatan Ahmed Chalabi was more to be trusted than their own countrymen. Liars.

WMD Sham

Stephen Hadley says Bush didn't mislead America regarding Iraq. "We were wrong," he says. Well, anyone with a brain capable of recollecting only the most basic details about the run-up to the war knows that this statement is a smokescreen. The fact that many people (including Clinton, as we are repeatedly reminded) may have thought that WMDs existed inside Iraq is entirely beside the point. So the CW said there were weapons. Hell, we all thought there were weapons. That's why we sent Hans Blix and the rest of the inspectors back into Iraq. Because we all thought that at the very least there was the possibility of Saddam possessing nukes. Because if we're going to go to war because of weapons, you'd like to make sure they're actually there. But when word came down from the crack team that nothing was there to be found, Bush promptly discredited their mission and sent in the troops anyway. See, the whole weapons sham was just the cover page on the "Let's Go To War" marketing brochure that the White House was passing around. Nothing more. It didn't matter one bit whether they were there or not there. The WMD issue conveniently and perfectly bridged the gap between scary and plausible. It wasn't so much that he manipulated intelligence, even though he did, but that the intelligence, true or false, had practically no bearing on Bush's decision to invade. The WMDs were a selling point for the war, but it wasn't the reason. Saddam was going down, weapons or no weapons, and no one's report of Iraq as a nuclear-free zone was going to stop it. Truth is, we'll never know exactly why we went to war. Probably all the different players had their own reasons, whether selfish or selfless or somewhere in between.

Sunday Random 12

  1. Pull Up The People (M.I.A., Arular)

  2. I'm Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman (The White Stripes, White Blood Cells)

  3. Thank You (Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II)

  4. The Handshake (Bad Religion, Stranger Than Fiction)

  5. The House Song (The Beta Band, The Three E.P.'s)

  6. I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me (Fall Out Boy, From Under The Cork Tree)

  7. Delirious (Prince, 1999)

  8. Stand Together (The Beastie Boys, Check Your Head)

  9. War (OutKast, Speakerboxxx)

  10. Parsec (Stereolab, Dots And Loops)

  11. To The End (My Chemical Romance, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge)

  12. Land Of Sunshine (Faith No More, Angel Dust)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Evolution, Liberal Copyright Law and...

This is an interesting article about the latest salvo in the battle over science curricula in Kansas. Turns out the textbook people want to deny Kansas the right to use their copyrights, which would lead to no textbooks, which would make it kind of hard to teach science class. It's a nice helping of schadenfreude to watch the Kansans scramble in search of a counter to this move, but I must admit I agree with the author when she says that it's hypocritical for liberals to denounce control-based copyright action as contrary to the spirit of the law, all while smirking contentedly at this latest episode (something which I'm finding it hard to keep from doing at the moment).

One other thing, too. As a rational human being who happens to be a Catholic, I sort of resent the way some people paint the whole evolution vs. ID battle. I'm sorry, but yes I can believe that God created the entire universe yet agree that the entirely compatible theory of random genetic mutation was indeed what drove the evolution of life on this planet. Just because I think God has no place in a science class (or a calculus class either, he made that up too, didn't he?), doesn't make me an atheist. As usual, black and white arguments, i.e. you're either with God or with the Evolutionists, are stupid and simplistic, whether it's Pat "GOP consultant" Robertson saying it or some gleefully non-religious liberal.

Friday, November 11, 2005


  1. Magneto*

  2. Wolverine

  3. Professor X

  4. Rogue

  5. Iceman

Shorter Bush

"Our mission has never been more clear. Complete the mission until it is completed."

Pat Robertson: GOP Consultant

Pat "if I squint my eyes, God doesn't have to use his hearing aid" Robertson is at it again.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club."
What an absolute lunatic.

Once again, as much as Republicans would love you to believe that Pat Robertson is just some old coot, let's not forget that he, giant army of catatonic dunderheads in tow, is in regular contact with the White House. He may as well be on the staff.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sen. Schumer At Sea

I just don't understand statements like this one from Sen. Schumer (D-NY).

"This portends really well for the future," said Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. "Unless George Bush reverses his policies and reaches to the middle you're going to see many more victories like this."
What on earth is he talking about? It's almost like he's secretly disappointed that the Dems won.

The basic implication he's making is that the natural order is a country busily electing Republicans under the wise leadership of their center-leaning Republican president. Some of my readers will certainly claim this to be the plain truth, and I suppose it may very well be, but why the heck would a Democratic Senator publicly agree? Even if Charles here doesn't realize it, the goal is to create an environment in which people vote for Democrats not because the Republican president's political balance is off, but because they want things like Guaranteed Healthcare For All Americans, actual economic expansion, real steps toward energy independence, a more thoughtful approach to drug policy, etc.

Schumer should have something like "the results of these elections prove that people want more from their leaders than they're getting right now. They're ready for a change and they showed it. They're turning away from the politics of division and moving towards vision of the future. Blah, blah, blah..." Dems should speak of the recent victories in terms of a "sea change" in the political landscape. Even if that's not actually what happened, they should still talk about it.

"People are dismissing the politics of fear and are embracing the strength of our country, which is its people. They see Democrats as providing leadership on energy and healthcare and they're beginning to realize that the Democratic vision is about making what makes America great even greater." See, Chuck? See how much better that sounds than "Don't worry GOP, if the preznit stops being such an ass they'll start electing Republicans again."

I once imagined myself as a speechwriter, but then I flipped a burger patty into my eye and it pretty much ended my little daydream.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I guess Bush's trip to Virgina to stump for his boy Kilgore didn't turn out so well. Kaine wins the governorship. Bush really is the worst president of all time. How stupid are the people of South Carolina that they voted for this chump over John McCain in the 2000 primary. If you answered "astonishingly stupid," give yourself a pat on the back.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Monday Random 12

  1. Waiting In Vain (Bob Marley And The Wailers, Exodus)

  2. Flower (Liz Phair, Exile In Guyville)

  3. What Will You Say (Jeff Buckley, Mystery White Boy (Live))

  4. It's Too Late (Carole King, Tapestry)

  5. Cameltosis (Korn, Follow The Leader)

  6. Liferaft (Bedhead, What Fun Life Was)

  7. Pickin' It Up (Hot Hot Heat, Elevator)

  8. Cecilia (Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water)

  9. Truth Doesn't Make A Noise (The White Stripes, De Stijl)

  10. Nowhere Man (The Beatles, Rubber Soul)

  11. Crucify (Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes)

  12. Wake Up Exhausted (Tegan And Sara, So Jealous)

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Time will tell if the reports that the CIA has established network of "shadow prisons" are indeed the truth. If they do exist, I think it's important to remember that these prisons were established with the full support of the Bush Administration.

Let's be clear here. The America I love does not torture. Period. But, but, Qaida, but rape rooms, but heads chopped off, but bodies burned in Fallujah. My response to that: so flippin what? There once was a guy called Vlad the Impaler who shoved stakes up people's asses. People have done a lot of bad, bad stuff in this world, and they'll continue to do it, as the behavior of certain knife-wielding Muslim fanatics unfortunately attests. But guess what? America does not belong in this group. America doesn't pull out people's toenails. America's POWs don't die while in captivity. America doesn't behead people with lawnmower blades.

In caps so the slow among us will understand: WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Unbelieveable! There's a picture up on Drudge right now from the Rosa Parks funeral, and it looks like Bill Clinton was putting the moves on Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York! What a Cassanova. Looks like he's still got that ol' magic touch.


What a loser. Hey "some-of-the-people-all-of-the-time" crowd! What's Bush selling that you're still buying?

Turning the Tide

I agree with Kos on the prospect of a Dem filibuster of Alito. The tide seems to be turning in the Democrats’ favor. Dare the GOP to go nuclear and make a simple majority sufficient to decide. It won’t be long before we’re passing national health care legislation (that everyone will end up loving, by the way) with 51 votes.

Glenn Reynolds says that Dems in 2005 (Libby indictment, closed Senate meeting, Alito filibuster) are turning into Repubs of 1998. As if this were a bad thing for the Democrats. Yeah, things really collapsed for the GOP after 1998. That was their high water mark for sure. Is Prof. Reynolds nuts? Don’t answer that…

A & F

Some wonderful T-Shirts over at Abercrombie & Fitch. Example: “Who needs brains when you have these?” “These” are apparently intended to indicate the prominent breasts that the words will be stretched over. Anyone with an ounce of decency and a working sense of humor (i.e. one that actually senses humor and distinguishes it from offensive swill) can see that the message sent by this shirt completely degrades women. And so what? Lots of offensive stuff out there, what’s one more t-shirt? Maybe so, but my problem with this is that A&F specifically markets this stuff to girls in junior high. Girls who are truly, actually wondering which of these mysterious developing organs, the brains or the boobs, will do her the most good. And along comes Abercrombie to tell them definitively what the answer is. Some will argue that the t-shirts target audience “doesn’t have a problem with it.” Well, I’d counter that statement by saying that the target audience is about 13 and doesn’t know up from down. All they know is that the cool people at A&F say this is how we’re supposed to think so it must be OK. I didn’t shop there before, but I sure as hell won’t be shopping there now.

Two words for all those whose cursors are hovering over the comments icon right now, just itching to tell me that liberals have no sense of humor: The Onion.

This blog is based on a true story.