Thursday, May 24, 2007

If we don't fight them there . . .

I hate Bush's idiot argument that if we don't fight them there, they'll follow us home. It's bullshit, and today, Fred Kaplan knocks it out of the park:

  • First, the vast majority of the insurgents have nothing to do with al-Qaida or its ideology. They're combatants in a sectarian conflict for power in Iraq, and they have neither the means nor the desire to threaten North America.
  • Second, to the extent that the true global terrorists could attack us at home, they could do so whether or not U.S. troops stay or win in Iraq. The one issue has nothing to do with the other.
  • Third, what kind of thing is this to say in front of the allies? If our main goal in bombing, strafing, and stomping through Iraq is to make sure we don't have to do so on our own territory, will any needy nation ever again seek our aid and cover? Or will they seek out a less blatantly selfish protector?

The second point is the best. The argument presupposes that Iraq is the only place where there are people who want to kill americans. Ridiculous. Exactly how many of the 9/11 terrorists came from Iraq? Zero. Where do we know there are al Qaida minions? Pakistan. Saudi. Probably Yemen. And a host of other places.

Yet the uncritical mainstream media never calls him on his bullshit.

God isn't listening

Some anonymous commentor made a comment in response to this post:

Osiris seems to get blamed for a whole lot of things that He's not responsible for. He's not responsible for sickness and disease but he does offer solutions to people are looking for them. Osiris is not one to force himself on anyone, but anyone who genuinely looks for Him will always find Him. It is unfortunate that the people who have previously posted comments don't know Osiris because if they new Him they wouldn't slander Him the way they do. He's not the subject of a circular debate, He's not some crutch to retreat to, nor is He the result of religious poisoning, He is the author of all the potential good and creative things that he has placed in every human being. Its not that Osiris is not watching, it is that we are not listening.

Only, of course, the commentor said "God" instead of "Osiris." The one is, in the minds of mad Christians, perfectly true and reasonable, the other is utterly false. In the mind of an ancient Egyptian, the converse would be true.

And out of all of the gods that have ever been dreamed up, how can this person be so incredibly sure that this God is the One?

But, subject this to any sort of proof analysis, and it fails completely. "Anyone who looks for him will find him." Well, yes--because they'll convince themselves of his existence. As a child, I was utterly convinced of the existence of Santa Clause. That didn't make him real. I had an imaginary friend that I believed really existed. Same point.

"He is the author of all the potential good and creative things that he has placed in every human being." Is then the converse not true? If he is the author of all good, then what about all bad? He's not responsible for disease and sickness but is responsible for all good? Huh?

And please: give me some actual proof. Dawkins made a great point when asked "What would make you believe in God." His one word answer: "Evidence."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Monica Goodling is an idiot

Recall that Goodling--a minion responsible for White House/DOJ liaison--pleaded the Fifth regarding her role in the US Attorney scandal. Well, in her testimony today, she explained she took it because she was worried that others had misled her.


Monica needs to bone up on her Fifth Amendment law. How is it that criminal liability would attach to her for the fact that someone else had said something untrue? I can't really even conceive how she'd be in jeopardy for that.

But then, I imagine that at Regent Law School, that paragon of academic achievement, there's a little less emphasis on the rule of law and a lot on the Word of God.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Saving Civilization

I'm sure that everyone by now knows that during the recent Repulican debate, 9 out of the 10 fell over themselves trying to prove how gung-ho-macho they are and how they would do anything--i.e. torture--to save Western civilization. Only McCain made the point that no, torture doesn't work.

[Side note: People, particularly Presidential candidates, need to stop getting their policy from Hollywood. Just how often will the "ticking time bomb" scenario actually take place? It's not 24, it's the real world, and just how many of the people we have tortured have been in that scenario? Exactly zero.]

Rosa Brooks makes the following point, in response to that idiot Tancredo brushing off theoretical objections to torture (i.e. it doesn't get information, and hurts American standing):

Western civilization isn't about speaking English, or flags, or football or borders. If Western ivilization is about anything at all, it's about the arduous, centuries-long struggle to nurture an idea of human dignity that's not dependent on nationality or power. As Petraeus put it, there are some "values and standards that make us who we are."

Tancredo's right about one thing though. If we embrace the use of torture, we won't need to worry that extremist Islamic terrorists might destroy Western civilization. We'll have killed it off ourselves.

Now, forgive this little corner from saying "we told you so," but we have consistently taken the position that by rushing to embrace restrictions on our freedom, and agreeing that yes, torture is good and habeas is bad and giving people rights is bad--that all this is a far greater threat to western values than anything any terrorist could do. Bombing a building isn't going to destroy the rule of law--far from it--but saying that we don't have to follow the law certainly will.

And now, whenever we complain about the illegal actions of a foreign government, we should remember Samuel Johnson's comment re the American Revolution, "How is it that we always hear the loudest yelps for liberty amongst the drivers of negroes?"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Republicans Sucking Falwell's Dick

For one, I am absolutely overjoyed that Falwell is dead. Americablog has a good list of Falwell's sins, for example, blaming 9/11 on the gays, god doesn't hear the prayers of Jews (which I have to accept as true, given my nonbelief in god), AIDS is the wrath of God, the antiChrist will be a Jew, and, oh, that Tinky Winky is gay. Huffingtonpost has some great stuff he's said here too.

If I believed in God, Hell, the afterlife, demons, and unicorns, I'd be also quite thrilled that Jerry's probably down in hell getting sodomized with a barbed acid dripping serrated dildo by a bunch of pot smoking leather-clad contraception-providing demons wearing leather attire.

But, aside. The best part is that the GOP is now falling over itself to talk about what a good man he was. For example, John "Flip Flop" McCain, who once called him an agent of intolerance, is now happily sayign that Falwell was "a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country."

Screw that. This is a man who used his pulpit to the unimaginable detriment of millions of people, happily and pompously passing judgment and whipping the masses into a frenzy. Timothy Noah's response to McCain: "Nonsense. He was a bigot, a reactionary, a liar, and a fool." Exactly.

But the Republican kowtowing shows what the GOP is beholden to. If one person had stood up recently from the GOP and said that Falwell was a bad man, I would applaud that person.

Instead, they fall over themselves to say how good a man he was. Which means that, in the GOP, it's okay to hate the gays, the blacks, and the Jews.

Paris "too traumatized" to testify in court

Apparently Paris Hilton is so traumatized by the fact she has to spend 45 days in the big house that she can't testify in a case against her.

Bullshit. All the more reason for her to go.

Let's see: A prissy little heiress, who's never done a day of actual labour in her life, whose entire existence has been one of privilege, luxury, and ease, now has to spend 45 days in prison, and that's so traumatic that she can't testify? Hogwash.

My first job out of law school was as a law clerk for a judge who had criminal cases, only. You want to talk about trauma in life? How about:
  • The 23 year old kid whose dad was in jail, who dropped out of school when he was 11, had been dealing drugs since he was 12, and whose 10 siblings were in jail?
  • The 45 year old woman, meth addict, clearly HIV positive, had had 5 children taken away from her (men using her for sex, not using protection, giving her drugs in exchange), begging and pleading to be allowed to keep her sixth baby?
  • The legions of poor, inner city kids with no education, no role models, living in poverty, before us on petty charges, caught up in circumstances beyond their control?

What chances did they ever have, Paris? Did they have everything put onto a platter? No. Did they live their lives without the slightest worry? No. Do you think they all might have wanted better, might have wanted greater chances in their lives? Hell yeah. But what bloody chance did they ever have? Yet we had to send them to jail--mandatory minimums--for a hell of a lot longer than you.

So don't turn around and wail that you're so upset you can't function and that you're horrified of the idea of jail. You were warned three times that you were in violation of your probation. Guess what, honey? Actions have consequences, and sometimes you have to take responsibility for what you do (not in the Bush way, of course).

All the kids that get thrown into jail who never had a chance, never had a role model, never had money--we make them take responsibility for their actions.

You deserve no less.

"One of the most able public servants I've ever known"

So, no surprise, the White House thinks Wolfowitz should stay. After all, it's merely an ethics violation.

On NPR they reported that Cheney said (on Fox, surprise surprise) that Wolfie was "one of the most able public servants I've ever know." Well, duh. That's probably not a tough bar, if you think about the current figures in government or who've just left, say, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Brown, Meiers, Gonzo, on, and the latest, McNulty. More on Wolfie's mismanagement here.

So, helping your girlfriend get a job isn't a firing offence. Well, what the hell is with this administration? A bungled war? An incompetent attorney general? A lost major city and a destroyed coast (I promise my big post on that is coming)? The list is so long of sins and so short on actual accountability (yes yes, the Republicans always line up and say "I apologize, I take responsibility, yada yada." Big deal--intoning the words of remorse and responsibility is meaningless without action.)

Has this administration fired a single person for incompetence? Not at all. In any normal government, so much of the cabinet would have been sacked for less (one need think only of Rhona Ambrose as an example.)

When the story of this administration is written, it will go down as the most inept, incompetent, and corrupt administration in the last century.

And no doubt Andrew Sullivan and Republican moderates will say they'd always said that was the case and if the administration had just acted a little more like Reagan we'd all be in paradise. Cf. Artur Seyss-Inquart at Nuremberg: "I can not today cry 'crucify him' where yesterday I cried 'Hosanna.'"

Monday, May 14, 2007

What was that . . .

about wildly popular viceroys? She really is awesome. Her speech to the troops in New Brunswick here. Notice, no swipes at an opposing party. No "stay the course" rhetoric. No politics. Simply her fulfilling her role as Commander in Chief of Canada. As she says in her speech, "I am here to listen to you, and I will share your concerns and hopes with the entire country."


To the guy who hit my car

It's a really dumb idea to hit someone and then take off, when a) the car is parked in a lot with valet; b) the valet guys are there to, say, get your license plate and a description of who's inside; and c) there's a nice cafe owner watching who snaps a picture of you and your truck.

Really not a good idea.

Friday, May 04, 2007

What're your kids doing?

"My grandson is going to fight in Iraq. What are your kids doing for the war?"

(By the way, apologies for lack of posts. I just got back from a week in Mississippi doing legal work to help Katrina survivors. A big update on that soon.)