Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ominous patterns

John Oliver in The Bugle on impoverished North Korea’s nuclear program: “it’s like putting the most expensive security system ever made on an empty house.”

Helpful Clarification of the Day, in a story in the Sunday Times (London) about the punishment in Saudi Arabia of a man convicted of killing an 11-year-old body and his father: “Crucifying a headless body in a public place is intended to set an example”.

Unnecessary Adjective of the Day, in a WaPo headline: “Darfuri Women Report Ominous Pattern of Rape.” I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that any pattern of rape is kind of ominous.

Actually, it’s even ominouser than the headline suggests, in that there’s actually more than one pattern of rape. It seems that half the rapes of women now in refugee camps in Chad were done, as might be expected, by the Janjaweed, but that half were purely opportunistic rapes by local Chadians. Aren’t people just lovely?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Assume the best

SCOTUSblog notes that the Obama admin has filed a brief before the Supreme Court arguing against allowing the 17 Chinese Uighurs to be released from Guantanamo into the United States. According to the government, they’re not really in custody any more, what they are experiencing at Gitmo is “harborage”: “They are no longer detained as enemy combatants, they are free to leave Guantanamo Bay to any country that is willing to accept them... [their] continued presence at Guantanamo Bay is not unlawful detention, but rather the consequence of their lawful exclusion from the United States”. So that’s okay, then.

George Bush gave a speech in Michigan. Asked what he wants his legacy to be, he said, “Well, I hope it is this: The man showed up with a set of principles, and he was unwilling to compromise his soul for the sake of popularity.” Hey, George has finally figured out that he’s not popular!

Yesterday, Obama had a press conference with Mahmoud Abbas.

I was hoping someone would ask Obama what he thought about the Israeli Knesset’s moves to make it illegal to advocate that Israel be anything but a “Jewish state.” They didn’t, but he did express himself on the importance of free speech in Palestine, that is, the importance of curtailing it: “And I also mentioned to President Abbas in a frank exchange that it was very important to continue to make progress in reducing the incitement and anti-Israel sentiments that are sometimes expressed in schools and mosques and in the public square, because all those things are impediments to peace.”

Asked how he’ll respond if Israel continues its settlement-building and refusal of the two-state solution, Obama announced that by god he had a plan: “We’ll, I think it’s important not to assume the worst, but to assume the best.”

Intrinsically evil

Former Pfc Steven Green, convicted for his part in the Mahmudiya Massacre, in which he and his buds killed an entire family in order to gang rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, Abeer al-Janabi, whose body they set on fire, escaped the death penalty, evidently because some on the jury thought his acts were attributable to “the stress of Green’s bloody combat tour, poor mental health treatment in Iraq and weak leadership in his unit.” I haven’t posted about this for a week, because I’m not entirely sure what to say about people who think that people react to “stress” with rape and mass murder.

Yesterday, at a victim impact hearing (!), Green said he was “truly sorry” and that he now realized that the Iraq war is “intrinsically evil, because killing is intrinsically evil.” See, it’s just like an after-school special, in which everyone comes to learn a valuable lesson.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


An Astute Reader, who may not wish to be identified, or asked why he was reading a New Scientist article about female ejaculation, sent in this nominee for Name of the Day: Florian Wimpissinger, an Austrian urologist at Rudolfstiftung Hospital in Vienna.

The article mentions another expert on female ejaculation, after whom the phenomenon should definitely be named: sexologist Beverly Whipple.

Or should it?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Marginal benefits

When Souter announced his retirement, I said I wanted a justice with criminal trial experience (I should have specified on the defense side). Because I’m tired of decisions like today’s in Montejo v. Louisiana, in which 5 justices pretended that eroding a suspect’s right not to be questioned without their attorney present, after they have invoked their right to that attorney, won’t lead to many people being falsely convicted on the basis of coerced confessions (WaPo: “The government...” that’s the Obama administration, folks “...said that suspects who don’t wish to talk to police don’t have to and that officers must respect that decision.” Of course they must. Indeed, Scalia referred to not having many people being falsely convicted on the basis of coerced confessions as only a “marginal benefit” of the previous (Jackson) rule.

When Thurgood Marshall retired, one of his old clerks recounted to NPR a story Marshall had told his clerks from his old NAACP days, when he had arrived in some Southern town only to be told that his client had been lynched the night before. Somehow I don’t think he’d have been too impressed by the “marginal benefits” claim.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ricci Rich

Evidently the right will be attacking Sotomayor on the Ricci case, in which the Second Circuit ruled that Christina Ricci should really be more selective in her choice of roles.

Though oddly, they can grow up to be the Hardy Boys

Sonia Sotomayor on why she became a lawyer: “I chose to be a lawyer, and ultimately a judge, because I find endless challenge in the complexities of the law.”

Barack Obama on why Sotomayor became a lawyer: “when she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of eight, she was informed that people with diabetes can’t grow up to be police officers or private investigators like Nancy Drew.”

Get your stories straight, people.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Contest: Name That Remaindered Book

Dick Cheney is trying to sell his memoirs. But what should it be called? “From Wyoming to an Undisclosed Location.” “The Last Throes.” “Wouldn’t You Like to Know What I Kept in My Man-Sized Safe?” “No, I Won’t Shut Up Already.” And of course, “Go Fuck Yourselves.”

Your suggestions?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Caption contest

Obama, at the US Naval Academy graduation in Annapolis, and friend.

Life is returning back to normal

George Bush also gave a speech yesterday, at a high school in New Mexico. While Obama and Cheney were speaking about national security, Bush talked about dog shit. Now that he’s just an ordinary guy, he has to walk his ordinary dog Barney around the ordinary streets of his ordinary Dallas neighborhood and pick up Barney’s ordinary poop. “And there I was, former President of the United States of America, with a plastic bag on my hand. Life is returning back to normal.”

Of course, George Bush being George Bush, he had the bag on the wrong hand.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cheney’s national security speech: Half-measures keep you half-exposed

Then it was Cheney’s turn to speak at the American Enterprise Institute, where he’d been chomping at the bit (quite possibly literally) for Obama to finish (they were watching Obama’s speech, which started late). So Cheney was just a little snotty: “It’s pretty clear the president served in the Senate and not in the House of Representatives, because, of course, in the House, we have the five-minute rule.” Take that, President Big Mouth!

(I’m limiting my commentary – I have a headache. Can’t imagine why.)

The speech was all 9/11, victory dance, and vendetta.

After a brief mention of secret surveillance, which focused on the NYT reporting of it (“It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country or the safety of our people.”), the speech was almost entirely about interrogation, 45 minutes on the virtues of torture, which was “legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do.”

He’s also not too thrilled with Obama for releasing those Justice Dept memos: “The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question.” No they weren’t. “Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interests of the United States.”

“Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called truth commission.” Which is so-called, the commission or the whole idea of truth?

“All the zeal that has been directed at the interrogations is utterly misplaced, and staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.”

“You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists.”

“[I]t takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.”

“we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.”

“I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about values.”

“And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people less safe.” And if there’s one thing Dick Cheney hates, it’s recklessness cloaked in righteousness that makes the American people less safe.

“The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the president is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half-exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States; you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States.”

He went on at some length about how the Obamaites are backing away from Bushian rhetoric, and that’s making us weak too: “Apparently using the term war where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated.”... “there are no more ‘enemy combatants’”... “back in the days of that scary war on terror”... “In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, abducted.”

“Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept terrorists here in the homeland, and it has even been suggested U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to support them.” Suggested by morons, and I’m pretty sure Holder never said any such thing.

EVERY TIME A EUROPEAN APPLAUDS, AN ANGEL DIES: “The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo”.

THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE JIHAD BUSINESS: “An estimated 14 percent of those released previously are believed to be back in the business of jihad.”

He lambasted the idea, which Obama had alluded to in his speech, that American torture is a recruitment tool for terrorists: “it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the left, We brought it on ourselves.” So why do terrorists really hate us? You’ll never guess. They hate us for our freedom.

“Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values, but no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things.”

“And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.” I’m pretty sure no nation’s value include welcoming being targeted by a terror network.

Debating Cheney’s interrogation policies is, of course, a grave threat to national security: “And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead, the terrorists see just what they were hoping for: our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.”

He claimed that “President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate” although “What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against and which ones not to worry about.”

Obama national security speech: The American people are not absolutist

Today Obama and Cheney have dueling speeches on national security (I’ll examine Cheney’s in a post later today). (Some of the pictures of Obama in this post are actually of the wax figure of Obama which arrived at the Wax Museum in San Francisco today. See if you can spot which ones.)

Obama repeatedly stressed the need to stick with our fundamental values*

*unless it is absolutely convenient not to. So there was a lot of stirring rhetoric interspersed with less stirring caveats.

He said that the Bush admin (which he never named) made after 9/11 “a series of hasty decisions” and “all too often... made decisions based on fear rather than foresight.” Oh, I’m pretty sure those are the same decisions they’d have made with the benefit of more time and less soiled underpants.

“Now, I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. ... That’s why we must leave these methods where they belong, in the past.” Er, they didn’t really belong there either. It’s not like waterboarding was ever a good idea.

“Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo, likely, created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.” So it’s like a Ponzi scheme....?

He said some prisoners will be tried by US courts for violating US laws, some will be tried by military tribunals for violating the laws of war, some will be released per previous court rulings, some transferred to other countries and... “Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.” Oh good, the legal category, so well known to the Constitution, of people who “cannot be tried and cannot be released.” “Examples of that threat include people who’ve received extensive explosives training at Al Qaida training camps or commanded Taliban troops in battle or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans.”

“Expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden.”

He explained that he released the Bush Justice Dept memos because “the existence of that approach to interrogation was already widely known. The Bush administration had acknowledged its existence. And I had already banned those methods.” Anyone else have the distinct impression that he would have covered them up if “the existence of that approach to interrogation” had not been “already widely known”?

“There was and is no debate as to what is reflected in those photos is wrong.” Obama doesn’t watch a lot of Fox News.

“I ran for president promising transparency. And I meant what I said. And that’s why, whenever possible, my administration will make all information available to the American people so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable.” You know, whenever possible. Of course it’s always possible; he means whenever it’s not inconvenient. When it is inconvenient, he’ll let the American people make uninformed judgments and hold the government unaccountable. Like his retention of the power to detain people indefinitely, this comes down to the same “trust us, we’re the good guys” approach as the Cheneyites.

Speaking of Cheney, he gave a little shout-out to his rebuttal speaker: “Some Americans are angry. Others want to re-fight debates that have been settled, in some cases, debates that they have lost.”

He opposes a truth commission. “I have opposed the creation of such a commission because I believe that our existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability.” Of course, the purpose of the truth commission would be to investigate things that our existing democratic institutions failed to prevent happening, so, you know, good luck with that.

“Already, we’ve seen how that kind of effort only leads those in Washington to different sides to laying blame.” Er, so?

IN OLDEN DAYS A GLIMPSE OF STOCKING: “on the one side of the spectrum, there those who make little allowance for the unique challenges posed by terrorism and would almost never put national security over transparency. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who embrace a view that can be summarized in two words -- anything goes.”

“Now, both sides may be sincere in their views, but neither side is right. The American people are not absolutist. They don’t elect us to impose a rigid ideology on our problems.” You know what the Constitution and Bill of Rights – which you’re literally standing right in front of – are, Barack? A rigid ideology.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An opportunity to have a colonoscopy

Sen. Inhofe on how great it is to be a prisoner in Guantanamo: “anyone, any detainee over 55 has an opportunity to have a colonoscopy.” Whether he wants it or not. Clearly, the Dems voted to keep Gitmo open as a sneaky move to bring in socialized medicine.

The ad which asks the burning question, If my dad married a man, who would be my mom?

Think of the children.

Oh, half a woman in thong, we hardly knew ye

In Britain, the scandal over MPs’ expenses is taking scalps. Speaker Michael Martin, who I always thought rather bad at presiding over Parliament, is out, as is Douglas Hogg (Indy headline: “Hogg Stands Down to Spend More Time Cleaning His Moat”). Many more MPs will stand down at the next election or be de-selected by their local parties.

Chinese authorities have stopped some... entrepreneur’s plans to open a sex theme park called Love Land, and sent in workers to tear it down. CAPTION CONTEST:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Heh, he said bottom

Budget Director Peter Orszag says the economy has “bottomed out.” Or does he mean the economy is a “bottom”?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama and Netanyahu: unfortunately, Bibi seems to have misplaced his address book

Today, Obama met with Binyamin Netanyahu, and then had a press conference. Obama said Bibi “has both youth and wisdom,” which in terms of misperception is right up there with Bush looking into Putin’s soul.

While they may have disagreed about a two-state solution, there was no disagreement about Israel’s proper identity as an ethno-sectarian state. Obama: “It is in U.S. national security interests to assure that Israel’s security as an independent Jewish state is maintained.” Netanyahu: “I think that the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state”. For what other state does the US recognize a principle of racial/ethnic/religious dominance as legitimate?

Bibi said “we don’t want to govern the Palestinians.” Not that he wants anybody else to do it either; anarchic chaos is just fine with him. “We want them to govern themselves, absent a handful of powers that could endanger the state of Israel.” You know, just a handful of powers.

Obama gently twitted Netanyahu on settlements (the Bib-stir authorized a new West Bank settlement just before leaving for Washington, an entirely new one as opposed to “expansion” of an existing settlement), saying that settlements are “a difficult issue. I recognize that, but it’s an important one and it has to be addressed.” Which, as Eli points out, is not a demand that settlement-building stop immediately. What else needs to be “addressed”? “I think the humanitarian situation in Gaza has to be addressed.” I believe the linguists call that the future nebulous tense.

What is it with New York Times columnists?

I mean, Paul Krugman has been stealing all his best ideas from me for years.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

But he had a banana

Eyewitness Statement of the Day: “If he had had a gun he would’ve shot me. But he had a banana.”

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nice little social safety net you got here, it’d be a shame if something was to happen to it

Schwarzenegger, trying to influence next Tuesday’s vote, suggests the budget cuts that will ensue if when his initiatives are voted down. For example, do we really need the third and seventh grades?

So Nancy Pelosi said that the CIA failed to tell her about waterboarding in secret briefings, the CIA says it did. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the secret briefings are for: so that both sides can claim whatever it’s convenient to claim about what took place in them. It’s a feature, not a bug.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pretty clear

Nancy Pelosi says the CIA lied to her, explicitly denying that there had been any waterboarding. John Boehner thinks he can prove that she is lying by this simple but deadly logic: “When you look at the number of briefings that the Speaker was in and other Democrat members of the House and Senate, it’s pretty clear that they were well aware of what these enhanced interrogation techniques were.” When you have eliminated the impossible – the CIA failing to tell the truth at multiple briefings – whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

“Whatever It Is, I’m Against It” is now Kindliscious

Do you own a Kindle? Me neither. But if you do, you can now pay $0.99 a month to subscribe to this free blog on Kindle. You’re welcome.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not particularly sensational

So let me get this straight. Obama has decided to fight the court-ordered release of torture pictures which, he claims, are “not particularly sensational” and “would not add any additional benefit to our understanding,” but would, if published, “further inflame anti-American opinion and... put our troops in greater danger.” So the pictures are unsensational but inflammatory. Or maybe he means unsensational to jaded Americans but inflammatory for excitable foreigners.

I’d guess that the real reason here, besides a lot of whining from the military, is that some of the pictures are of abuse that occurred in Obama’s favorite war, Afghanistan, where information about detainee abuse at Bagram – indeed, any information about detainees in Bagram – has been kept relatively quiet – no Lynddie Englands with digital cameras.

He focused on the fact that these abuses of prisoners – which at one point in his statement today he referred to as “alleged abuse” – occurred in the past. But not everyone shares his belief that the United States was born anew on January 20th. He inherited this country’s past along with its government, and while he attempts to sound like an objective outsider making judgments about what is or is not sensational, what will or will not aid the public understanding, he fails to realize that what he sounds like, because it’s what he is, is the head of a government covering up for employees of the government. He is not a disinterested bystander. Bush and Rumsfeld’s cover-up is now Obama’s cover-up.

What, according to Obama, are the dangers of releasing the photos? “I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse.” I puzzled over that for a while with no success, but I think Digby has successfully decoded it: “Apparently, the logic is that the military will refuse to investigate criminal behavior if there is any chance that pictures of such criminal behavior could be made public. So we simply won’t make pictures of it public anymore.” To put it another way, the military has other goals that it values more than stopping the abuse of detainees, and Obama is validating those priorities.

In the end, it’s all about protecting our troops: “I am concerned about how the release of these photos would be -- would impact on the safety of our troops.” So if you oppose this cover-up, you hate our troops.

Seems to me I’ve heard all this before.

Name that party!

So the RNC intends to rename the Democratic Party the “Democrat Socialist Party.” Ha ha, the Democrat Socialist Party. It’s funny because it’s true.

Clearly the GOP needs a new name too. Any suggestions?

No role in his life and in his personality

Name of the Day (although that day may be sometime in the nineteenth century): the commander of Walter Reed, Col. Coots. Col. Norvell V. Coots, in fact. The V. stands for Vandervall, but then it would, wouldn’t it?

Donald Trump has decided that Carrie Prejean may retain her Miss California title, noting that her views on same-sex marriage are the same as Barack Obama’s. To be fair, I wouldn’t really want him to be Miss California either.

The pope’s spokesmodel, Rev. Federico Lombardi (director of the Vatican Press Office), after first denying that Ratzi had been in the Hitler Youth – “never, never, never” – had to admit that well yes he had but “This fact of the Hitler Youth had no role in his life and in his personality.” The reverend is in the good-and-evil biz, so you’d think he wouldn’t be suggesting that Benny was completely unaffected by the Hitler Youth as if this should be considered a good thing rather than a sign of deep moral obtuseness.

Pope Benny failed to mention his youthful Hitlerian experiences while visiting Israel and giving a speech at the Holocaust Memorial, and he spoke about the Holocaust (he used the approved, Jews-only term Shoah) in the passive voice, that is, without mentioning that Germans had anything to do with it. So perhaps he didn’t learn anything in the Hitler Youth after all.

Cheney is outraged

Icky Quote of the Day, from Randall Terry about Obama’s visit to Notre Dame: “Our mission is to tar him with the blood of the babies so he can never shake it between now and 2012.”

Yesterday on Fox Business News, Neil Cavuto interviewed a man whose mouth always waters when he hears the phrase “blood of the babies,” Dick Cheney.

He accused the Obama admin of missing the big torture picture: “They did it in a way that sort of blocked so far any real discussion of the results of the program, and instead focused upon the techniques themselves.”

Because when you focus on techniques such as sleep deprivation, waterboarding, “walling” and the like, you miss the real outrage: “And they really began the debate then with the suggestions that perhaps people should be prosecuted for having participated in the program or the lawyers who gave us these opinions should be disbarred. I think it’s an outrage.” See, and you thought there was nothing so awful that could outrage Cheney.

A ROLLING CHENEY GATHERS NO MOSS: “I don’t think we should just roll over when the new administration says -- accuses of us committing torture, which we did not, or somehow violating the law, which we did not. I think you need to stand up and respond to that, and that’s what I’ve done.”

EXISTENTIALISM: Asked about the possibility of Israel bombing Iranian centrifuges: “I would find it that it would be a reflection of the fact that the Israelis believe this is an existential threat to the state of Israel. ... So, I would expect them to try to do something about it.”

Cavuto asked if Guantanamo prisoners should be released into the US and go on welfare. Cheney said no.

On Guantanamo, “I think if you didn’t have it, you’d have to invent it.”

He referred to the Uighur prisoners as “Chinese terrorists.”

He said Obama is using the economic situation as an “excuse... to significantly broaden the power and authority of the government over the private sector.” He has another solution, which is... wait for it... wait for it... tax cuts.

ON THE NEED FOR A FRESH NEW FACE FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: “I like Jeb. I think he’s a good man. ... I’d probably support him for president.” He didn’t say who Jeb should choose as running mate...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thought of the Day

Maybe we waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times because there were 83 ticking time-bombs.

How many Tories does it take to change a light bulb?

I’ve been enjoying the British scandal (by which I mean a lot of faux moral outrage about something fairly insignificant in the broader scheme of things) over MPs’ taxpayer-reimbursed expenses, which started with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith having to apologize for her husband’s porn pay-per-view habit, continued with David “Two Brains” Willetts (the Tory shadow secretary for innovation, universities and skills) hiring an electrician to change some light bulbs, and today reached Douglas Hogg, who was John Major’s agriculture minister, putting in claims for a mole man at his mansion (sadly, that’s a man who exterminates moles, not an actual mole-man) and of course for clearing the moat. Cleaning the moat. How many American politicians even own a moat?

Speaker of the House Michael Martin is outraged... that someone leaked the expense reports to the press. Says Times parliamentary sketchwriter Ann Treneman, “His attire didn’t help: at times, as the buffoon black robe ballooned away, he resembled an enraged parachute.”

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stand-up Obama

Obama, at the NerdProm: “In the next hundred days, our bipartisan outreach will be so successful that even John Boehner will consider becoming a Democrat. After all, we have a lot in common. He is a person of color. Although not a color that appears in the natural world.”

Read his entire gig here.

Or watch it. Part I

Part II

Sunday, May 10, 2009

If we had been about torture, we wouldn’t have wasted our time going to the Justice Department

Dick Cheney went on Face the Nation this morning, because nothing says Happy Mother’s Day like Dick Cheney defending torture.

He was just happy to be there: “It’s nice to know that you’re still loved and are invited out in public sometimes.”

He accused the Obama admin of selective release of documents, and if there’s one thing Dick Cheney hates, it’s the selective release of documents: “They don’t have any qualms at all about putting things out that can be used to be critical of the Bush administration policies. But when you’ve got memos out there that show precisely how much was achieved and how lives were saved as a result of these policies, they won’t release those.”

AN INTELLIGENT INTERROGATION PROGRAM: On shutting down torture, which he says saved “thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives”: “Well, then you’d have to say that, in effect, we’re prepared to sacrifice American lives rather than run an intelligent interrogation program that would provide us the information we need to protect America.”

OH, IT’S NEVER A WASTE OF TIME GOING TO THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: “If we had been about torture, we wouldn’t have wasted our time going to the Justice Department.” The logic is inescapable.

I’M NOT TAKING THE RAP FOR THIS ALONE: Asked if Bush knew about the torture: “I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe he knew -- he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.” He “basically” authorized it”?

Why Guantanamo is still needed: “The group that’s left, the 245 or so, these are the worst of the worst. This is the hard core. You’d have a recidivism rate out of this group of maybe 50 or 60 percent. ... I don’t know a single congressional district in this country that is going to say, gee, great, they’re sending us 20 Al Qaida terrorists.”

EVIDENTLY HE STILL HAS THAT MAN-SIZED SAFE: “I think there is room for moderates in the Republican Party.”

Rush and Colin Powell have been trying to expel each other from the Republican party. Where, oh where, does the Dickster stand?: “Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh, I think. I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.”

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A bridge over the valley of the Pennsylvania electorate

Follow-up: Arlen Specter’s fake cancer cure website, which I mentioned here yesterday, has now been altered, making it clear that funds raised will go to the Specter campaign and not cancer, unless of course you consider Arlen Specter to be a cancer on the body politic.


A survey (in Britain) has determined that cleaning the oven is the most disliked household chore.

Wait... you’re supposed to clean the oven?

There are people who want to create panic in the country and destroy it

Obama admin people are referring to prisoners “we cannot release and cannot try” as if that’s an actual legal category.

The Pakistani military is finally responding to American demands that they start killing Pakistanis (or, as the army spokesmodel called them, “miscreants”), using air strikes and mortars (what else you gonna do with miscreants?) and calling for residents of the Swat valley to flee so they can turn it into a free-fire zone. The army is air-dropping leaflets saying, “There are people who want to create panic in the country and destroy it. Do you want that?” That’s a trick question, right?

(Update: and the NYT quotes another government pamphlet which associates the Taliban with the worst miscreants of all: “They are the same as Jewish forces who are against the existence and security of the country and wanted to create disturbance in the region.”)

Friday, May 08, 2009

A bridge over the valley of death

Arlen Specter has launched “Specter for the Cure,” which he calls “a bold new initiative to reform our government’s medical research efforts, cut red tape and unstrangle the hope for accelerated cures.” His website proclaims, “Senator Arlen Specter intends to build a bridge over the valley of death.”

Or, to put it another way, Specter for the Cure is nothing more than a website at which you can donate money they want you to think is going to find a cure for cancer, but which actually goes to Specter’s re-election campaign.


(Update: in case Specter is shamed into taking this down, I’ve taken the liberty of taking a screen capture.)

Of learning goals, savage-ry, and the dreaded Tennis Balls of Doom

Bumper sticker seen yesterday: “I achieved my learning goals at Salvador Elementary.”

Thanks a lot, Britain, for making me have to side with Michael Savage in the interests of civil liberties. By the way, it may not have been clear in the news reports that when Britain released the list of people it was banning from entering the country because their opinions are too unpleasant for Brits to cope with, those people hadn’t actually applied to enter Britain. Indeed, some of them are Russian skin heads currently serving long prison terms. So it was just sort of a random list of People We Don’t Like. Of course the real point of the exercise is that Britain’s policy of excluding “radical imams” was beginning to look anti-Muslim, so, like Bush tacking non-Muslim North Korea onto his “axis of evil,” they decided to include Savage and the skinheads. But they couldn’t say that that was the reason they were releasing the list to the press, so it was presented as “naming and shaming” hate-mongers.

Important follow-up: the cat is still not warming to the tennis balls.

Where can I get me one of those hats?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A bridge too far

Things Sen. John Thune said about his opposition to a gay person being appointed to the Supreme Court that sound pretty darn homoerotic themselves:
“I know the administration is being pushed”

“but I think it would be a bridge too far right now”

“my hope is that he’ll play it a little more down the middle”

Of moving on from debates about the past and killer tennis balls from hell

John McCain and his aged catamite Lindsey Graham have an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, mostly about how “preventive detention” of enemy combatants should go on for as long as The War Against Terror (TWAT) continues (i.e., forever) and how America’s silly criminal courts aren’t up to the task of dealing with such prisoners. They also reiterate McCain’s position on the legal memos that it is time to “move on from debates about the past,” i.e., torture, which is interesting from John “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live” McCain.

I was in a dollar store today. The cat is currently staring dubiously at the tennis ball I bought her. It’s just sitting there, but she’s seen it roll, and that’s pretty suspicious in her book. Wait till she finds out there are two more tennis balls.

But the real question of the day is, who would buy a home pregnancy test at a dollar store?

Besides a member of the Palin family, I mean.

Obama’s personal connection to the Zionist idea

Joe (“I would not, could not, on a plane, I would not, could not, on a train”) Biden gave a speech at the AIPAC conference today. He has been widely reported as having been tough on Israel, in that he said there needs to a two-state solution and that Israel should stop with the settlements already (new ones, anyway). Of course most of the actual speech was a big wet kiss.

SHARED VALUES: “The bond between Israel and the United States was forged by a shared interest in peace and security; by shared values and to respect all faiths and for all faiths and for all people; by deep ties evidenced here today among our citizens, both Christian and Jew”. Muslims, not so much.

AS THEY SAY IN THE SENATE: “I want to congratulate my friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu -- and as they say in the Senate, he is my friend -- for his victory.”

FUNNY, HE DOESN’T LOOK...: “[Obama’s] support is rooted in his personal connection to the Zionist idea”.

AND IF I LIFT MY FOOT, YOU CAN SEE THAT RIGHTFUL PLACE: “We want Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations, politically and economically.”

He seemed to accept the current Likud claim that without outside agitators (i.e., Iran), there would be no problems in the Middle East: “Iran also has played a dangerous role in the region supporting terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and undermining many of our friends and those who claim to be our friends. Indeed, these proxies are the tools in my view, our view, that Iran uses to exploit conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- use it to their advantage.”

However, he didn’t entirely buy into the corollary of that theory, that Iran will have to be crushed before Israel even attempts any dialogue with the Palestinians. “In this way the continuation of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab -- Arab-Israeli conflicts, strengthen Iran’s strategic position.”

GREEN LIGHT: “We will continue to defend Israel’s right to defend itself and make its own judgments about what it needs to do to defend itself.”

“This administration sees and seeks a future of lasting peace and security in which Israeli children can leave behind the tyranny of rockets and terror; when Israeli mothers, as they send their children off to school, do not have to worry about whether or not they will come home; or Palestinian children have full opportunities to live out their dreams, and the entire Middle East does not have to live under the dread of a nuclear cloud.” You’ll notice that only Israeli children are the ones at risk of death from rockets and terror, while Palestinian children only seem to face socio-economic problems, not getting full opportunities to live out their dreams.

Speaking of living out their dreams, afterwards Biden and Obama went out for a burger at Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington. They went dutch. Obama looks like he’s never seen a hamburger before.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Of discernment, moldy Christian leaders of tomorrow, and lighting up crosses rather than blunts

A history teacher in Mission Viejo has been found guilty by a US District Court judge of violating the First Amendment by saying that Creationism is “religious, superstitious nonsense.” The judge wrote, “The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement”.

The California state Supreme Court let stand a ruling that California Lutheran High School (motto: “Molding the Christian Leaders of Tomorrow”) is not subject to civil rights law and was perfectly within its rights to expel two (supposedly) lesbian girls.

Billmon notes and/or links to some of the dickishness of Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, now top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, but leaves out one of the quotes that helped torpedo Sessions’s nomination by Reagan to district court, that he “used to think the Klan was all right until I learned they smoked marijuana.”

(Update: a WaPo article on Sessions mentions the comment, but for some reason only as “remarks Sessions made about the Ku Klux Klan.”)

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I didn’t have anything nice to say about Arlen Specter just because he left the Republican Party, and I have nothing nice to say about Jack Kemp just because he’s dead. That is all.


What I want as a replacement for David Souter: an actual, for God’s sake, criminal trial attorney. Someone who’s seen the inside of a court. Would be the first since Thurgood Marshall retired in 1991.