Friday, May 20, 2005


If you haven’t yet, read the whole NYT story about the torture and murder of prisoners in Afghanistan; it’s the details that count.
• The mentally disturbed prisoner they called “Timmy,” after the South Park character, and taught to “screech” like him, in between beatings.
• The fact that several members of the Third Platoon were “devout bodybuilders,” by which the reporter means, but does not say, they were taking steroids.
• Specialist Damien “Monster” Corsetti, who held his penis against a prisoner’s face during interrogation and threatened to rape him, by which the reporter means, but does not say, that Corsetti’s penis was erect because he gets off on this sort of thing.
• The prisoner whose autopsy showed legs so badly beaten (“pulpified”) that they looked like he’d been run over by a bus.
And on Abu Ghraib, Seymour Hersh notes a few of the questions unanswered since he first wrote about events there, including What did Bush do when he was told about them?

News International (yes, that’s Rupert Murdoch) is demanding £20,000 per photo of Saddam in his undies. Something to keep in mind if you see them on the front page of your morning paper tomorrow. Although since they were taken by members of the military and illegally leaked/sold to News International, I don’t see that NI has any property rights in the photos that anyone else needs to respect.

Ellen Goodman writes about the “rainbow coalition of monochromatic minds,” the Republicans’ strategy of using a woman (Priscilla Owen) (read Joe Conason on Owen’s ethics), and a black woman (Janice Rogers Brown), as the poster children for the poor filibustered judicial nominees (Brown’s the daughter of an Alabama sharecropper, you know). I’ve been meaning to write about the repugnant sexist assumption that the D’s will look like big meanies if they pick on a girl. Mark my words, the next nominee Frist brings up will sport spectacles, because “You wouldn’t filibuster a guy with glasses, would you?”

“Authority” is an interestingly ambiguous word. An NYT story today was headlined “Uzbek Government Restores Authority in Area of Revolt.” I was going to accuse the paper of regimeist bias, a term I just made up meaning an assumption that any government, simply by reason of being a government, is more or less legitimate. Looking up the word, I find that the bias is in the language itself, since authority is defined as “the power or right to give orders and enforce obedience.” Power and right are two very different things, and while Karimov may have the power to rule in Karasu, and Uzbekistan more generally, right and legitimacy he does not have. (You know, the indirect object/object/verb structure I just used would have looked perfectly fine any other week; this week it’s suspect because everybody keeps writing like Yoda. Everybody: stop writing like Yoda.)

Simon Hoggart of the Guardian quotes Donald Wise of the Daily Mirror as saying something that also applies to bloggers: “being a foreign correspondent was like peeing off the Grand Canyon - you assumed something had reached the bottom but couldn’t be sure.”

The Times has a cute movie story, about a scream, recorded in 1951 and used in dozens of movies since then, including every Star Wars movie and two Lord of the Rings’s (with a link to the scream).

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