Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Study: Alcohol, Tobacco more dangerous than illegal drugs

A recent study asserts that some legal drugs are more harmful to society than some illegal drugs (...duh?). It argues for the implementation of a less arbitrary and more scientific classification system to be used in criminal drug statutory schemes. (legislators to study: "make our drug laws less arbitrary? are you fucking high?")

The street drug known as "Ecstasy" was ranked near the bottom of all drugs in terms of harmfulness.

A guy I knew in college had what I would call a single-issue-platform when he was on one of his frequent benders. That is, he would continually and vociferously return to the subject of how Ecstasy should be mass produced by the government and handed out in pez dispensers to people across the world as a way of promoting peace and harmony among planetary humans of all religious, political, and socio-economic backgrounds. Weird dude.

I should probably have my blogging privileges revoked

for linking to this, but I just do not have the willpower to resist. In my defense, I am desperately looking for material unrelated to U.S. Attorneys and/or Mr. Alberto R. "Al" "Judge" Gonzales.

Enjoy (or not). Make sure to read the paragraph after the quote.

Google image search kicks ass.

As proof, here is another pic of a Mysterious Robot Dog that might or might not be suitable for use as a mail bomb.

Probably it would be unbecoming for me to point out that they seem to have misplaced the "joy stick" on this diagram.

If you're looking for motives...

As to why some or all of those 8 U.S. Attorneys were fired, here is something to consider. The Boston Globe is on the case, and has so far determined that at least 3 of them bucked the A.G.'s mandate to seek the death penalty.

As has been pointed out on Liberal Lean, very many decisions in criminal matters come under the heading of prosecutorial discretion. I think an appropriate question here is whether it is a legitimate exercise of prosecutorial discretion to seek the death penalty in a situation where your case is so weak that you ultimately cannot even get a conviction. (such were the facts of "The Mysterious Case of the Exploding Robot Dog Mail Bomb". No, you will not find this title in your Sir Arthur Conan Doyle collection.)

Is this discretion even less legitimately exercised when it is pursuant to a mandate from higher-ups 3,000 miles away who do not even know the facts of the case? I am certainly not what you'd call an anti-death-penalty zealot, but in my view at least one prerequisite should be that you are absolutely sure that the accused did in fact commit the crime, and merely thinking that maybe you can convince a jury that he or she did it does not satisfy this prerequisite.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Constitutional rights are important, damnit!

Last week I mentioned how White House Counsel Fred Fielding's offer to provide WH staffers for private, off-the-record "interviews" in lieu of public, sworn testimony was the White House version of "lawyering up." Well, today we have an example of actual lawyering up by an administration official.

A senior Justice Department official named Monica Goodling, currently on what is described as a "leave of absence", has informed members of congress that she will not testify before the judiciary committee as scheduled Thursday in the ongoing U.S. Attorney firings probe. She is asserting her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

This is the first real indication that anything illegal may have happened here. Since the Bush administration believes that "laws" generally have no application to themselves or their actions, it would not be surprising to learn that some laws may have been "broken" from time to time by the "loyal Bushies".

But in this particular situation, it is difficult to imagine what possible crime could have occurred. At a guess, it is probably one of those ancillary crimes that politicos often seem to fall victim to, such as obstruction of justice or perjury or somesuch. Document shredding, perhaps?

Anyhow. The point of this post is not to further rail on the WH, or even on its evil minion Alberto R. "Judge" Gonzales, but to celebrate the news that our government, and the executive branch in particular, is in fact aware of the existence of a centuries-old document known as "the Constitution", and do indeed recognize and value the rights granted to citizens thereunder.

Unbelievable, but true. When asked about Justice Department official Monica Goodling's decision to assert her Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination, White House spokesperson Dana Perino acknowledged the existence of the Constitution and stated unequivocally: "We must respect the constitutional rights of the people involved and the decision of those individuals and their counsel to protect those rights."

Friday, March 23, 2007

New defense secretary tried shut down Gitmo prison

Robert Gates, an Aggie, argued vehemently that the prison at Guantanamo Bay be shut down and the prisoners moved back to the U.S. to be tried here. Secretary of State Rice joined him in this effort. Their chief opponent? You guessed it. One Mr. Alberto "Judge" Gonzales, the embattled "People's Attorney" of the U.S.

Story is exclusive to NYTimes, but you can also read a cribbed version here on Reuters. A quote:
Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said. As Mr. Gates was making his case, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined him in urging that the detention facility be shut down.
Is the matter settled? Not according to one high ranking administration official: "'Let’s see what happens to Gonzales,' that official said, referring to speculation that Mr. Gonzales will be forced to step down, or at least is significantly weakened, because of the political uproar over the dismissal of United States attorneys. 'I suspect this one isn’t over yet.'"

It is amazing to me that there's anyone left who thinks that Gonzales should continue in his job. The guy is a hack who's next job should be in NYC, prosecuting people for using their iPods in crosswalks.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Laura Miller has a lot of nerve

Laura "Madam No" Miller is a carpetbagger who is currently mayor of the City of Dallas, Texas. She rose to prominence as a Dallas city council member by agitating against the city providing partial funding for construction of the American Airlines Center (where the Mavericks and Stars play). She was unsuccessful in this campaign, the arena was built, and is by most accounts a success.

But a few years later, after being elected mayor, she was successful in torpedoing the construction of a new football stadium in Dallas for the Cowboys. Jerry Jones, of the Cowboys, promptly took his toys and went over to Arlington, a city which has had previous success with a publicly funded baseball stadium.

The City of Arlington's taxpayers then voted to fund approximately 1/3 of the 1.1 Billion dollar project. When built, it will be the biggest, bestest, most expensive football stadium ever built. Probably the premier sports facility in the entire history of the world, ever. If you detect a note of irony here, you are correct, but I kid you not when I tell you that this thing is mind-bogglingly awesome in every conceivable sense of the word. I encourage you to check out the presentation here. You will be amazed.

Anyway. So Laura Miller and the City of Dallas passed on the opportunity to host this facility, and to share in its costs. There are good arguments on both sides of the publicly funded professional sports venue issue, and I will not recount them here. Suffice to say, my view is that most of these teams can probably afford to build their own venues, and do not need public money, but local governments and their citizens do reap certain benefits from having the teams and their venues, and therefore if a particular stadium funding plan is deemed beneficial by taxpayers, then so be it. (In the case of the DFW suburbaplex, there are many municipalities that will enter into this process, negotiate with teams, etc., so it is almost like a free market, open bidding type of situation, with the taxpayers deciding whether to pull the trigger.)

So you can argue whether Laura Miller and the City of Dallas (in this case, without consulting the taxpayers) made a good decision. But now, Jerry Jones has put together a Super Bowl Committee, the purpose of which is to bid on the 2011 Super Bowl in the hopes of hosting it at their new 1.1 Billion dollar football palace. Roger Staubach, local real estate magnate, has been put in charge.

Apparently Roger thought it would be a good idea to seek input from, and possibly enlist the support of, the City of Dallas in this effort. While that sounds perfectly reasonable given that the City of Dallas would benefit greatly from having the Super Bowl in the area, involving the City of Dallas in something like this appears to have been a grievous error.

Laura Miller and the Dallas City Council consider themselves the "800 lb gorilla" in the situation, claim that without their participation "there is no bid", and threaten to withhold such participation unless the Cowboys, the Super Bowl Committee, and the NFL meet their list of "non-negotiable" demands.

This, after refusing to make any contribution to building the new stadium without which there would be no Super Bowl Committee, no Super Bowl talk, and no Super Bowl, period.

Laura Miller and the Dallas City Council, let me explain something to you: while you may be very good at padding your expense accounts, twisting the arms of recalcitrant furniture vendors, and browbeating waiters in local dining establishments, you will get absolutely nowhere with presenting the NFL (the fucking NFL!!!) with a list of non-negotiable demands. The NFL is the most powerful organization this side of the U.S. Marines, and it CAN and WILL squash you like a bug if you so much as look at it the wrong way. If the NFL wants to come to your residence, ransack your living room, sell your furniture on eBay, raze your house to the ground, and have a pre-Super Bowl party on your barren homestead lot, it will do so, without so much as a please-and-thank-you.

If the NFL wants to have a Super Bowl in a neighboring city, and forbid every single football fan in the country from setting foot in your city during Super Bowl week, then that is exactly what it will do. If the NFL decides to never, ever, have a Super Bowl within 1,000 miles of your city during your life and the lives of your grandkids plus 75 years, then that is precisely what will happen.


The other day I saw a funny bit from The Colbert Report where Colbert was making fun of Wikipedia. He has this segment called The Word where half the screen is like a space for ironic textual comments that refer to what he is talking about on the other half of the screen.

He was talking about a concept called "wiki-lobbying", where you use non-wiki resources (media, hired "consultants", etc) to get an entry in wikipedia modified in some way. Colbert claimed to have previously used his Comedy Central platform to lobby for the "Elephant" entry to include the sentence "Thanks to the works of Stephen Colbert, the elephant population has tripled in the last ten years."

He then mentions this story, wherein Microsoft apparently "offer[ed] to pay a blogger to 'correct'" Microsoft's wikipedia entry.

Colbert goes on to say that wikipedia democratizes information, thus making truth and "reality" conform to whatever the majority says it is. This is an interesting idea, but one that I'm not sure I agree with. Yes, wikipedia does in a sense "democratize" information, and there is an undeniable element of majority-rule involved. But it is a much more metaphysical proposition to say that this has some effect on "truth" or "reality".

And after all, wikipedia is not simply majority rule. It also has significant elements of editorial control, which according to my limited research is informed more by academic concerns (such as requiring citations and the like) than by individual viewpoints or political concerns. In any event, all well-developed articles on the site are replete with links to many other sources for further research. This keeps people honest (in an intellectual sense), promotes neutrality, and ensures that entries won't be determined by truthiness alone (e.g., "I don't like what this says about [blank]," or "I feel as if this is just wrong").

The punchline of the bit was at the end where, following up on the theme of Microsoft paying people to "correct" their entry, and the possibility of their competitors paying people to "correct" it in the opposite way, Colbert says:
When money determines wikipedia entries, then reality has become a commodity. And I'll pay 5 bucks to the first person who changes the wikipedia defintion of 'reality' to that..." and points at the text portion which says "Reality has become a commodity."
Overall, a funny bit with the added element of making you think. My kind of comedy.

Fed Judiciary...

isn't entirely devoid of judges who can think for themselves.

Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr., in particular, still believes that the First Amendment is more important than a misguided crusade to make every nook and cranny of our world "safe" for The Children. Judge Lowell has ruled key provisions of Child Online Protection Act unconstitutional.

Parents, please pay attention to your kids. Maybe talk to them now and then, find out what is important to them, try to use logic and reason to get them to share your same values. And try to understand that if your kid happens to see a picture of a naked person on the internet, it really and truly isn't the end of the world. Thank you.

By the way, this dumb law was signed by Clinton, which should remind us that neither he nor the Democrats were a heck of a lot better about defending our freedoms than the current administration.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This is the White House version of "lawyering up"

In response to formal requests that certain White House staffers appear before congressional committees to testify under oath regarding the U.S. Attorney firing controversy, White House Counsel Fred Fielding has responded with a letter to congressional leaders.

Amid much patronizing civilities and legalese, Mr. Fielding states that certain White House staffers will indeed be made available to congress, but that "[s]uch interviews would be private and conducted without the need for an oath, transcript, subsequent testimony, or the subsequent issuance of subpoenas. A representative of the Office of the Counsel to the President would attend these interviews and personal counsel to the invited officials may be present at their election."

No oath, no transcript, no media coverage. Why? Well, possibly because if you don't testify under oath, and if there's no record of what you've said, you can't be subjected to one of those pesky "perjury trials".

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hey wait, here's another neat bit of polling data:

Almost missed this in regards to the previously mentioned BBC Iraq poll:
"Looking to the future, 43 per cent said democracy provided the best hope of good government but there was a sharp rise to 34 per cent in those favouring the return of a strongman to wield power."
34% favor a tyrannical despot??? That is un-freaking-believable... until you consider that our president's approval ratings seem to indicate that a similar percentage of Americans feel the same way about this country!

Iraqi public opinion a tad schizophrenic?

According to a BBC opinion poll (as reported in the telegraph.co.uk here), a majority of Iraqis (51%) support politically motivated attacks on British and U.S. forces.

Ok... but then also, only 35% want the British and U.S. to withdraw their forces, while a solid 63% want the forces to remain until "security [is] restored." But, then again, 69% said the U.S. presence makes the violence worse.

What are we to make out of all of this? Either Iraqis have extremely mixed feelings about these issues, to the point of directly contradicting themselves, or the people conducting this poll had a difficult time explaining the questions properly. My money is on the former, and I think their mixed feelings are shared to a large degree by the American public and our elected representatives.

Quite simply, this is a classic example of a quagmire, with no good resolution anywhere within sight.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Today's obligatory Al "Judge" Gonzales post:

Short one today, but here's a brilliant op-ed piece from Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. A must-read for any Judge Gonzo non-fan. If you're short on time, just read the last third (beginning with "I've got to admit..."). My sentiments exactly.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Token non-political post of the week:

I was sorting/cleaning out my firefox bookmarks the other day and found a few that might be of interest. Not that the links are necessarily of interest (though some may be), but the fact that I bookmarked them might be somewhat amusing.

1. Probably shouldn't post this, because it looks like the height of copyright infringement, but I believe this site contains the full text of Strunk's Elements of Style. Come to think of it, since this is Strunk's (from 1918), and not Strunk and White's, it's probably public domain.

2. This is a compendium of explanations of the otherwise undecipherable items that appear in the "Processes" tab of your Windows Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del). Very useful if you're dorky enough to know that the Task Manager exists, but not dorky enough to know what it means. I think I was using this to try to identify spyware on my PC.

3. This one is a fun time waste. It is a very long list of quizzes, where they show you a bunch of screen caps from movies, but with the people invisible (but not their clothes or the scenery) and you have to guess what movie each picture is from (example pictured above).

4. This is the Atlasphere, which is essentially MySpace for Ayn Rand aficionados (11,000+ members, 5900 dating profiles(!)). I think back when I bookmarked it it was more like just a big Ayn Rand fansite. Now it requires registration. Bleah.

5. No idea why I have this, but it's a big listing of quotes from the absolute greatness that is the movie Wall Street. (by the way, when imdb.com goes registration-only, i will quit the internet.) A sampling:
Bud Fox: "I'm tapped out Marv. American Express has got a hit man lookin' for me."

Gekko: "The public's out there throwing darts at a board, Sport. I don't throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things. Read Sun-tzu, The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is ever fought."

And here's one the site has inexplicably left off:

Gekko: "I've been in this business since '69. Most of these Harvard MBA-types don't add up to dogshit. Give me guys that are poor, smart, and hungry -- and no feelings. You win some, you lose some, but you keep on fighting. And if you need a friend: get a dog."

Gonzales on his way out?

Apparently Hip Hop Lawyer's campaign to rid our government of the scourge known as Mr. Alberto "Judge" Gonzales is having an effect.

Ok, well, maybe this blog doesn't have a whole lot to do with it given that its current readership can be optimistically estimated at, um, 4, said (lack of) readership probably being at least partially attributable to the many long and boring posts on the topic of Mr. Alberto "Judge" Gonzales. But in any event, the scuttlebutt is that his shameful tenure is rapidly nearing its end. (If you click that link (from washingtonpost.com), scroll down to the "death watch" heading.)

The current Google News main link on this story returns 2,648 news articles. That, my friends, is a lot of press coverage. The only negative I can find in this situation is that his ouster comes more as a result of the U.S. Attorney firings (political cronyism in the Bush administration? ho-fucking-hum) than because of his reprehensible conduct in the realm of civil and human rights. But, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say.

There's a lot of very astute reporting and comment on this issue, but I recommend Andrew Cohen's five part series in the Washington Post. This scathing rebuke of our exalted A.G. doesn't spend a lot of time on the U.S. Attorney debacle, but focuses a lot more on the many, many other things he has done to harm this country.

There's also an absolutely searing portrayal of Gonzales' time as Texas A.G. from Salon during the run-up to his confirmation. Apparently, the "Judge" (he calls himself this, and demands that his underlings use this honorific, because he was once a Bush appointee to the Texas Supreme Court) was in charge of reviewing death row clemency petitions and recommending (um, or not) which ones should be granted by Bush. The "Judge" performed this function in 57 cases, and out of those 57, a grand total of zero were granted clemency. According to the author, "Gonzales' execution summaries repeatedly failed to mention the most salient claims of defendants", and were "so shabby they seemed intended solely to make it easy for Bush to send prisoners to their deaths."

What a guy, huh? Hopefully he will be disbarred soon after he's fired.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

State Rep. Borris Miles: Art Thief (and Terrorist?)

I'll let the A.P. tell you the story:

AUSTIN — State Rep. Borris Miles personally removed two pieces of art on display at the Capitol that he found objectionable.

The artworks — a painting of a black man hanging from a rope and an illustration of a man tied to an electric chair with the inscription "Doing God's Work" — were part of an exhibit placed by the Texas Moratorium Network, which seeks a two-year moratorium on the death penalty in Texas.

In e-mail to House colleagues Monday, Miles wrote: "I was greeted with these images as I walked through the halls of the (Capitol) Extension this morning with my two children, ages five and eight. I consider them to be extremely inappropriate and highly objectionable.

"Capitol exhibits are supposed to serve a public purpose or be informational in nature. These pictures were hung with no accompanying text or explanation," wrote Miles, D-Houston.

Mr. Miles was further quoted as saying: "We should not prevent the display of art, but there have to be limits."

So this dumbass is dragging his kids around the state capitol (while on the state dime, natch), and sees some art he doesn't like. Instead of explaining his (probably crackpot) view of things to his kids (in the very unlikely event that they even noticed, or had the slightest idea of the philosophical, ethical, or religious connotations), and properly registering a complaint, he takes it upon himself to grab the artwork off the walls and take it with him.

First, this is blatant censorship, a clear First Amendment violation.

Second, is this guy really so dense that he needs "accompanying text" to provide him with an "explanation"? Not having seen the artwork myself, the provided description seems to make the point pretty damn self-evident.

Third, doesn't this constitute theft?

Fourth, as broadly as we are definining terrorism these days, doesn't this act constitute a crime against the state, possibly justifying his detention in some no-laws-apply Carribean gulag?

But in all seriousness, this person clearly doesn't understand the very essence of freedom of expression as practiced in this country for the last 200+ years. You simply DO NOT have the right to travel through this land unoffended, free of any sight that might be "inappropriate" or "objectionable" according to your own narrowly defined standards. And you most certainly do not have the right to take it upon yourself to make sure that no one else views these kinds of messages.

And yes, Mr. Miles, there are limits. These limits have been carefully defined by the Supreme Court of this country over many many years, in cases fought tooth and nail by some of the most talented advocates in the history of human thought, and decided by some of the foremost legal minds in the history of jurisprudence. And yet you, Mr. Miles, have appointed yourself the sole decider of what messages may be conveyed in the state house? A place where debate, reason, and ideas must be allowed the freest of reigns?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So, to sum up

...the post below, which, though it contains much useful information, appears to be rather disorganized and lacking a coherent point:

There is a "hydrocarbon law" pending before the Iraqi parliament.

This law would give western oil companies unprecedented access to Iraq's oil reserves.

The Bush administration, along with the U.S. military, is exerting tremendous pressure on the Iraqi Parliament to pass the law.

And, while this law may well turn out to be a good thing, overall, for Iraq...

Given the Bush administration's many intimate ties with Big Oil...

The whole thing is what you might call a bit fishy...

Especially in light of the fact that none of the many previous justifications for the invasion of Iraq have turned out to hold any water whatsoever.

The emperor wears no clothes: Part II

There is a "hydrocarbon law" pending before the Iraqi parliament. As reported several weeks ago here, this law would open up Iraqi oil production to private oil companies, giving them unprecedented access to the world's third largest oil reserves.

As outlined here, the contracts awarded to oil companies under the law are so-called "production sharing agreements", which are "roundly rejected by all the top oil producing countries in the Middle East because they grant long-term contracts (20 to 35 years in the case of Iraq’s draft law) and greater control, ownership and profits to the companies than other models."

I personally feel that this structure may be very beneficial to Iraq's economy (and in turn, the well-being of its citizenry), at least in the short term. At present, Iraq has a very poor oil production infrastructure and very little of its own expertise in maximizing profits from its oil resources. So, this may be a good idea.

But, what I can't seem to wrap my head around is how the facts surrounding this law are not receiving far more play in the media. A Google News search turns up very few articles, most from what appear to be "alternative" sources (e.g., Green Party U.S., Earthtimes, The Progress Report, and (of course) Al Jazeera (caution: clicking on the Al Jazeera link will probably put you on one of Mr. Alberto Gonzales' many lists of citizens in need of re-education)).

Despite this, the Iraq hydrocarbon law is not terrorist-loving liberal hippie propaganda. In fact, it is a "key linchpin" (according to Tony Snow, as quoted in Oilweek magazine) in the Bush administration's Iraq plan. Apparently, without anyone noticing, the passage of this law has been made one of the administration's "benchmarks" set for withdrawal of U.S. military forces.

According to someone on the NYT editorial page, "the Bush administration has been aggressive in shepherding the oil law toward passage", and the Iraqi parliament is under "tremendous external pressure being exercised by the Bush administration, the oil corporations — and the presence of 140,000 members of the American military."

The NYT??? Yes, they have an editorial on this, apparently written by a crackpot terrorist lover: "Antonia Juhasz, an analyst with Oil Change International, a watchdog group, is the author of “The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.”". But not a single news article that I can find.

Very odd. I'm wondering if the MST (yes, I'm using a stupid blog-speak acronym. Kill me.) is reluctant to approach this, because then they will inevitably be forced into the "Oh, wait, so that's why we invaded Iraq" angle, and they just really, really hope in their hearts that that angle is not the correct one.

Or maybe it just isn't a big thing.

Hopefully more to come.

Monday, March 12, 2007

"The Failed Attorney General"

While I can't put into words my chagrin in sharing an opinion with the reprehensible monstrosity known as Mr. Senator Charles E. "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY), he and a significant number of other congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have joined me in calling for the head of our exalted attorney general. (Metaphorically calling for the head, of course.)

Additionally, the NYT has joined the voices of reason in advocating the unceremonious dismissal of this asshat. According to their Sunday editorial, Mr. Gonzales "does not have a clue", "has never stopped being consigliere to Mr. Bush’s imperial presidency", is a "public champion of the absurd notion" that the rule of law does not apply to this presidential administration, has "repudiated the Geneva Conventions", has "sanctioned the use of kidnapping, secret detentions, abuse and torture", has "been central to the administration’s assault on the courts", has "abandoned [his] duties as guardian of election integrity and voting rights." They say Mr. Gonzales' "weak resume" at the time of his confirmation to the post essentially consisted of "producing legal briefs for Mr. Bush that assured him that the law said what he wanted it to say." And finally, Mr. Gonzales "symbolizes Mr. Bush’s disdain for the separation of powers, civil liberties and the rule of law."

I think that about sums it up.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Because I often criticize persons and institutions that I feel are destroying America from within, some people have characterized me as Anti-American. Clearly, I feel this is silly and not deserving of a rebuttal. Nevertheless, I was recently reminded of something I read years ago that made me want to go and find the nearest American flag and run down the street, waving it.

The quote below is from an essay by P.J. O'Rourke, entitled "Among the Euro-Weenies", from his excellent collection "Holidays in Hell". Some of the material is a bit dated by now, but still a great read, certainly worth $2 at Half Priced Books.
Back in London, I was having dinner in the Groucho Club -- this week's in-spot for what's left of Britain's lit glitz and noveau rock riche -- when one more person started in on the Stars and Stripes. Eventually he got, as the Europeans always do, to the part about "Your country's never been invaded." (This fellow had been two during the Blitz, you see.) "You don't know the horror, the suffering. You think war is..."

I snapped.

"A John Wayne movie," I said. "That's what you were going to say, wasn't it? We think war is a John Wayne movie. We think life is a John Wayne movie -- with good guys and bad guys, as simple as that. Well, you know something, Mister Limey Poofter? You're right. And let me tell you who those bad guys are. They're us. WE BE BAD.

"We're the baddest-assed sons of bitches that ever jogged in Reeboks. We're three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother's side. You take your Germany, France, and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn't give us room to park our cars. We're the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d'Antibes. And we've got an American Express card limit higher than your piss-ant metric numbers go.

"You say our country's never been invaded? You're right, little buddy. Because I'd like to see the needle-dicked foreigners who'd have the guts to try. We drink napalm to get our hearts started in the morning. A rape and a mugging is our way of saying "Cheerio". Hell can't hold our sock-hops. We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of. I'd rather be a junkie in a New York City jail than king, queen, and jack of all you Europeans. We eat little countries like this for breakfast and shit them out before lunch."

Of course, the guy should have punched me. But this was Europe. He just smiled his shabby, superior European smile. (God, don't these people have dentists?)


Boy, I let out a huge yelp of disbelief when I saw this headline: "FBI abused power to get private records: report".

I'm being facetious, obviously, but it actually is really surprising that the headlined "report" wasn't done by the hysterical, America-hating hippie lawyers at the ACLU, or the terrorism-loving liberal whiners at Human Rights Watch, but was promulgated by the Justice Department's own inspector general. Clearly the I.G.'s office did not clear this with our esteemed and brilliantly exalted Attorney General. Maybe some of the checks and balances in this government still work?

Monday, March 5, 2007

For those who want to know more...

about Alberto "The People's Attorney" Gonzales, here's a Salon article that was published shortly after his nomination. It is called "The Torturer General".

And here's one called "Our Soviet Attorney General", posted by those crazy libertarians on LewRockwell.com (always interesting stuff on there).

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Treason doth never prosper:

What's the reason?

For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

And on a completely unrelated note (bugmenot.com)...

This country's celebrated and exalted attorney general, a Mr. Alberto R. Gonzales, testified before congress that the U.S. Constitution does not grant the right of habeas corpus. His actual quote was: "there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away."

This person, Mr. Gonzales, went before congress to argue that the captives held at Guantanamo Bay were not entitled to due process under the law. You may snicker at this quote, as I did, simply by virtue of the fact that he appears to be using a very clumsy (i mean, uh, clever) lawyer trick to deny something that is plainly evident.

Which is true. But to stop at this easy comedic aspect hides a more important truth, which is that the Constitution really does not grant, or purport to grant, habeas corpus. Mr. Gonzales, in fact, correctly interprets Article One, Section 9, which states: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."

Why does it not? Because habeas corpus is a privilege that pre-dates any government and exists independent of any law. You might say it is "endowed by the creator". The Framers did not have the arrogance to "bestow" this right on "citizens", because whether or not a person is a citizen of any particular nation is irrelevant: no person, in any country, should be deprived of his or her liberty without due process of law.

And, of course, the Supreme Court has also, many times, confirmed the idea that the Constitution simply assumes the existence of habeas corpus, rather than purporting to grant it, in much the same way that it assumes "people" are "alive" without purporting to grant them life. For example, you might think it odd if the Supreme Court ruled that the freedom of speech could be taken away because the Constitution does not grant the right to free speech, but merely states that "congress shall pass no law... abridging the freedom of speech."

I have seen the thoughts of Mr. Gonzales echoed on this subject by blog commenters (yes, they were of the Wise County retrograde variety, but still. A sample (and I quote): "Old rules don't handle this newest situation."). They say -- and I paraphrase -- that the Constitution must be interpreted in light of modern day threats, and that the Founders never envisioned the type of enemies we face today. Etc.

I think us Freedomists will probably win this debate, in part because I feel like you have really reached the bottom of the barrel in terms of arguments when you must claim that the Founders were naive, short-sighted, or lacked vision.

And who will be charged with this reinterpretation of the Constitution? Why, the noted visionary George W. Bush and his die-hard band of cronies, sycophants, and yes-men. Uh... I mean, his White House Counsel, Attorney General, and Supreme Court appointees.

The following takes place between....

...two points in your life where you are actually doing something productive or worthwhile.

Light posting on this blog lately.

I blame it on a lethal combination of too much work and an insidious bout of addiction with audiovisual crack, otherwise known as "24".

I recently made the mistake of Blockbuster-Total-Accessing the first disc of Season Three. Which, of course, meant that I was forced to access discs two, three, four, five, and six in rapid succession. So rapid, in fact, that my BBTA account could not keep up with my 24 abuse.

What I mean is, you know how they mail the discs to you, and when you finish watching them, you can take them to an Actual Blockbuster Retail Outlet and trade them in, right then, for a free disc rental? But then they also immediately credit the disc as being mailed back and mail you the next disc in your queue right away without waiting to receive it from you in the mail? Well, that's how it works, and but despite this addict-friendly, state-of-the-art 24 delivery mechanism, I ended up Actually Renting 3 of the discs (i.e., actually paying to rent the damn things, which amounts to about $15, or an entire month's worth of BBTA fees) because I watched them so fast.

But the upshot is: boy, that Jack Bauer sure is one bad-ass mofo. ** Spoiler Alert ** In the episode where Jack tells Ryan Chappelle to get on his knees, because he, Jack Bauer, needs to kill him to stave off certain planetary destruction for yet another hour, and Ryan Chappelle goes into his "Ok, Jack, you're sure this is the only way out of this... there aren't any other options, right?" speech, I actually expected him to say "Jack, just use your superpowers! It's ok, I won't tell!"