Thursday, November 29, 2007

And lucky me...

Through the good graces of Verizon FIOS Digital Broadband Super-Deluxe IPHDTVNET, I am one of the privileged 35% who actually will be receiving tonight's Cowboys game. In HD, no less.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This is the NFL

The majority of U.S. households will not have the ability to view tonight's showdown of the NFC's two 10-1 teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. Nor will such households have the ability to watch eight more prime time Thursday and Saturday NFL games through the remainder of the season. This is because these games will be shown on the NFL Network, the NFL's own proprietary all-football, all-the-time channel.

It is hard to overstate the prowess of the National Football League as a business entity. As I have mentioned previously in this space, the NFL gets what it wants. Almost without exception.

The one exception of which I am aware is the failure of Time Warner, Comcast, and other major cable systems to carry the NFL Network. The dispute among these entertainment industry heavyweights is entirely financial in nature. The NFL requires cable systems (including satellite and IPTV providers) to pay $.70 per month per subscriber for the privilege of carrying the channel.

Additionally, the NFL requires that cable systems carry the NFL Network on its basic (or digital basic) tier, as opposed to offering it as part of a premium package of sports channels where they can more easily pass the cost on to subscribers. And of course, these would be targeted subscribers (i.e., sports fans only instead of all cable subscribers) constituting a much smaller group, thus a smaller multiplier in the formula of: [number of subscribers] x 12 months x $.70 = annual revenue to NFL.

But the NFL's real endgame is much deeper.

First, through these machinations the NFL's intention is to create an extremely valuable asset. A television network with good carriage (i.e., wide cable and satellite distribution on basic tiers) is worth a lot of money. Billions, in fact. For example, the channel formerly known as "Fox Family", a very crappy channel with very good carriage, was purchased by Disney in 2001 for $3.2 billion dollars. (As it turns out, this purchase was a catastrophically bad decision by Michael Eisner -- for reasons that are too complicated to go into here (read the excellent James B. Stewart book Disney War for the details) -- but the deal still illustrates the market values of these types of assets.)

The fact is that if the NFL Network achieves a high level of carriage, then this, combined with an unparalleled brand name and content with a very high level of demand, could potentially be worth many many billions of dollars.

But furthermore, the NFL Network is potentially a near-perfect vehicle for the NFL to monetize its entertainment product. The NFL currently receives more than $3.7 billion per year from NBC, CBS, FOX, and ESPN for broadcast rights. If you assume that these networks are paying these vast sums only because they are using the rights to make substantial profits (a safe assumption), then once the NFL builds its own network platform (i.e., network carriage), it can broadcast a large portion of these games itself, thereby allocating to itself profits that formerly went to the other networks (otherwise known as cutting out the middle man, or in corporate-speak, "vertical integration").

But here's the beauty part: hese revenues (subscriber fees, broadcasting profits (from ad sales), or the asset value of the network (which could be sold outright for billions, or spun off and sold to the public in an IPO)) would not be considered part of the revenues which are split with the players' union as part of the collective bargaining agreement.

This bears repeating (and, as far as I can tell, is somewhat of a scoop for HipHopLawyer's little blog). Labor costs are -- by a huge margin -- the NFL's biggest operating expense. The players, as is well documented, are very highly paid (and compared to other sports, there are lots more of them). And player salaries in the NFL are determined by an NFL labor innovation known as the "salary cap". The salary cap can be understood as a revenue sharing arrangement in that it is calculated as a negotiated (collectively bargained) percentage of a league revenues. But not all league revenues (therein, the beauty). Only certain categories of league revenues are used in determining the amount to be paid out to NFL players as salaries, the largest category being licensing fees paid to the NFL by third party broadcasters for the right to broadcast NFL games.

Notice that this category does not include advertising revenue. Nor subscriber fees. Nor amounts earned through the sale of an asset like a phenomenally valuable television network, built on the value of its content (that is, its entertainment product (i.e., football games, played by NFL players)).

Of course, when games are shown on the NFL Network rather than on third party networks, the NFLPA would demand to be compensated for its share of the revenue which the NFL is foregoing by its election not to sell the rights to these games to third parties. But, as shown above, this is only a small fraction of the NFL Network's revenue and overall value to the league, the great bulk of which need not be shared with the players under the current labor agreement.

These kinds of things are largely within my professional area of expertise (as far as that goes, anyway) and part of the business I'm in (and plus it concerns football), so I could continue on in this vein for pages and pages. But that's enough for one sitting.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stupid Pundit Tricks

Glenn Greenwald has caught Joe Klein red-handed peddling pro- Police State bullshit in the pages of Time Magazine. Klein stated as fact that the new FISA bill being considered by the House would bestow the same rights upon foreign terrorists as are enjoyed by U.S. citizens.

As Greenwald easily and conclusively proved, this is an outright falsehood. Klein responded, sequentially, in posts on Time's website, by claiming (in Greenwald's words) "that his false assertions were: (a) true, (b) disputable, (c) too complex and time-consuming to figure out, and (d) just a minor, irrelevant detail."

With regard to (c), Klein stated that he has "neither the time nor the legal background to figure out who's right."

So here we have Joe Klein, establishment media darling (last seen falsely claiming he did not pen the Clinton campaign tell-all Primary Colors), opining in the pages of a mega-large circulation news magazine about subjects that he admittedly does not have the expertise or basic competence to understand. And oh-by-the-way, his original screed just happened to support the position benefiting his unnamed "intelligence sources" in the Bush Administration.

When stuff like this happens, you see bloggers excoriating asshats like Joe Klein by, among other things, referencing the "paymasters" who direct them (the asshats) to propagandize on their behalf. The problem with this kind of commentary (not that of the asshats, but that of the bloggers) is that it sounds very shrill to the ordinary average person, who is therefore inclined to view the outcry as nothing more than nuts promoting conspiracy theories.

But the thing is, terms like "paymasters" are (or should be used as) shorthand for more complex structures. For example. An asshat like Joe Klein is nothing without his (so-called) intelligence sources and "highly placed insider(s)", and "senior officials". Without such contacts, Joe Klein is, well, someone like me. Sitting in his home office, just in from a day's work doing something more or less commonplace to pay the bills, spouting opinions that few will read, having a level of influence approaching zero.

The Joe Kleins of the world have no special writing talent, no extraordinary insights. They have connections. They know people. They get phone calls and emails and invitations to parties, where they are whispered to in between glad-handing and pointless small-talk. Without this, Time Magazine barely bothers to send them rejection faxes. Certainly the mighty Time Warner Media empire will not issue them large paychecks, fly them first class, and put them up in swanky hotels. It will route their phone calls into voicemail and erase their messages without listening.

And then if Joe Klein fails to print what is whispered to him by his sources and contacts and connections, or, horror of horrors, does a bit of fact-checking and writes something that might contradict the whispers, then the emails and the phone calls and the whispers slow to a trickle. As do the party invitations.

And when the emails and the phone calls and the whispers and the party invitations slow down, so do the book advances and the payroll deposits and the first class tickets and the swanky hotels. And, before you know it, Joe Klein needs to find a real job.

And start a blog.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wherein I link some stuff I've randomly bookmarked and forgotten about

I used to have a short, well-organized list of bookmarks. Now it is messy and near-useless. Here is some stuff I found, some of interest, some definitely not:

1. An engine that generates custom tombstone images, for example: "R.I.P. American Rule of Law 1776 - 2001". Helpful for blogging, potentially.

2. Bruce Fein's "American Freedom Agenda". Started with a lot of promise, doesn't seem to have achieved much (or anything).

3. A thing on that tests the bandwidth of your internet connection. At one point, back when my ISP was Charter, I was having some bandwidth issues. Though I grew to hate Charter, I have to admit that when they weren't having technical problems, their broadband was blazing fast.

4. An Onion wannabe site called "Opinions You Should Have". Not updated much, but some of his articles are clever and funny.

5. A site with user-generated info on speed traps all over the country, arranged by municipality. This was actually very helpful when I moved. I researched my town and all the towns I drove through on my new commute.

6. This one is a service where, for a reasonable fee, they stop most of your junk mail. I get a ridiculous amount of junk mail. Extremely wasteful. One of my buddies has a more devious method of addressing junk mail (he wads it up and stuffs it into the reply envelopes and mails it back to them, thereby costing them money and gaining satisfaction at their resulting inconvenience). Me, I bought an industrial strength shredder. I've been meaning to sign up for this service, but I haven't yet found the time (though I suppose I could be doing it right now rather than blogging about it).

7. Here's one you really ought to click through. It is an unexplainable time waste. (on second thought, nevermind, the sound doesn't seem to be working and I don't think it is nearly as funny without it.)

8. This is something I bookmarked because some blogger or other nominated it as the "best blog post ever". That's probably a praise too high, but it is very funny. For the really funny part you have to click through to "Update I" and Update II" (but not the first "Update") links.

9. A transcript of George Washington's farewell address, wherein our first president warns us against practically every single thing our 43rd president has done.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Incredulity" doesn't cover it

"Several outside analysts and a key Democratic lawmaker expressed incredulity over Bush's comments..."

Those comments: Bush More Emphatic In Backing Musharraf
President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy."

Bush spoke nearly three weeks after Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked members of the Supreme Court and began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists.

Bush was asked in the interview if there is any line Musharraf should not cross. "He hasn't crossed the line. As a matter of fact, I don't think that he will cross any lines," Bush replied, according to an ABC transcript. ". . . We didn't necessarily agree with his decision to impose emergency rule, and . . . hopefully he'll get . . . rid of the rule.

"He's also advanced democracy in Pakistan," Bush said. "He has said he's going to take off his uniform. He's said there will be elections... and so far I've found him to be a man of his word."
At this point, I can believe that Musharraf is "a man of his word" a lot more than I can believe the same about our president, Mr. George W. Bush. The man has lost even the smallest shred of credibility.

How is it even possible, even for a man well-practiced in the arts of dissembling, to make such statements with a straight face?

Musharraf is a man who "truly" "believes in democracy" and has "advanced democracy in Pakistan." Yes. As a true believer in democracy, this person deposed a democratically elected leader in a military coup, and just recently "began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists", brutally beating them bloody and senseless in the public streets. These facts are undisputed. And we are now told that this is the way he goes about "advancing democracy".

Our president believes these actions haven't "crossed the line". Which line is that, Mr. Bush? The line established by famous democracy advancing regimes of the past, such as those of Mussolini, Stalin, and Pol Pot? If that is the line to which you are referring, Mr. Bush, I suppose we would have to admit that you are correct. And then we would also be obligated to add, that if this constitutes your standard for "democracy", then you, sir, are a deranged, odious, and thoroughly ill specimen of humanity, unfit to hold any elected office in our nation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lie down with dogs

...and most surely you will be fleabitten.

As Atrios says, Scott McClellan is "A Big Giant Tool of Corrupt Assholes."

He's writing what is being billed as a tattletale book, scheduled to be on shelves April '08. The blurb is interesting, I guess, because he appears to be complaining that the WH made him go out in front of America and tell lies.

(Hey, Scott? You're the Minister of Information for the George Bush White House. What on Shatner's green earth did you expect? Get a goddamn clue, then go fuck yourself.)

If he's pissed off enough, I guess he could probably say a lot of very damaging things.

But he won't.

Remember the former Bush WH staffer who called the WH a bunch of "Mayberry Machiavellis"? Remember how he went on and on in many separate interviews with Ron Suskind about how political considerations always trumped policy considerations in the Bush WH, and then went on to write Suskind a 2,700 word memo on the subject of how every single domestic policy initiative in the Bush WH originated with Karl Rove's staff and how said staff's "policy-making" consisted wholly of sitting around and spitballing political slogans and then sketching out "policies" that could be sold to the public through the use of those slogans? The money quote:
Mayberry Machiavellis--staff, senior and junior--who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible.
And, remember how, when Suskind's Esquire article came out, how that former WH staffer, John Dilulio, within mere hours, had issued the following statement: "My criticisms were groundless and baseless due to poorly chosen words and examples. I sincerely apologize and I am deeply remorseful."? Remember that?

The guy, a previously well-respected academic heavyweight, with a reputation for being one of the country's foremost intellectual thinkers on domestic policy issues, writes a 2,700 word memo which includes "poorly chosen words and examples"?

So yeah. I imagine that when April '08 rolls around, Scott McClellan will be firmly back in the GWBushCo fold, pimping up GW's legacy, his thumbs only showing just the slightest remaining evidence of impaction, and with a newly developed case of hydrophobia.

Monday, November 19, 2007


The New England Patriots are good. They are on pace to break the NFL record for most points in a season. By around 100 points (approaching 20%).

Their quarterback is on pace to break the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a season. By around 10 touchdowns (also approaching 20%).

Randy Moss is on pace to catch 25 touchdown passes for the year, which would break Jerry Rice's all time record of 22.

The Patriots are undefeated after ten games, and their remaining 6 games include only two in which the opposing team has even the slightest chance of stopping the juggernaut (Pittsburgh and New York, both at 7-3).

Last night the Patriots scored touchdowns on their first 7 possessions. They did not punt or otherwise fail to score a touchdown until 3:56 of the fourth quarter with their backup quarterback in the game. Moss caught 4 touchdown passes in the first half.

This team is unstoppable. This year the rest of the NFL is merely a sideshow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

[original title redacted]

To follow up on the point made in the post below: Abortion as an issue to be debated and discussed ad infinitum among candidates for public office is largely a load of bullshit.

Abortion itself is, clearly, a thing of importance to many people. Specifically, women who have become pregnant without intending to, and who very much do not wish to give birth for whatever reason. To a lesser extent, it is a thing of importance to identifiable male persons who have impregnated those women.

But a campaign issue? No. Here's why:

1. The U.S. Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, grants, with certain limited exceptions, the right of a woman to abort a pregnancy. Here follows a list of elected offices which have the power to change this:


[sound of crickets chirping]

2. Only the Supreme Court (a body of unelected persons) might change this. To do so, they would need to reverse a well-established precedent (something even very "activist" members of the judiciary are loathe to do).

3. While it is true that Presidents nominate persons for service on the Supreme Court, history has shown us that Presidents do not (and cannot, in realistic terms) nominate persons to the Supreme Court with a view to changing one specific part of the Constitution.

4. Even if you believe it is important to have a President who will do everything within his or her power to nominate persons who will either change or uphold this one specific part of the Constitution, then you, whichever side of this "issue" you are on, should read the post below very carefully and rank the abortion "issue" and the issue discussed below according to their actual relative importance. And if you need a further hint in this respect, here's one: if the President can arrest a citizen, without a warrant, and hold that citizen indefinitely, in secret, without charge and without access to the courts or to legal counsel, then the president can most certainly abrogate your right to abort a pregnancy (or, for all of you very young and tiny little children out there, with souls, abrogate your right not to be aborted. As the case may be.), along with any other rights you may have or think you have.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Litmus Test

HipHopLawyer (being, among other things, a lawyer) is a big supporter and understander of nuance. I've been known to use this space to damn simplistic positions because they lack the nuance required of a particular situation.

For example, when someone speaks of whether we are "winning" in Iraq, I've been known to point out that "winning" is a meaningless concept in a war in connection with which there is not any coherent objective, no identifiable enemy, etc. And then of course, these people are here held up to ridicule as either being too stupid (i.e., incapable of understanding the nuance) or cynical liars (capable of understanding it, but choosing to ignore it for purposes of partisan hackery as a means of convincing stupid people to support their positions).

That all being said, there are some matters which really are very simple, with respect to which all nuanced considerations may easily be discarded. These are basic, fundamental, non-complicated issues. For example, the practice wherein a government arrests a citizen, without a warrant, and holds that citizen indefinitely, in secret, without charge and without access to the courts or to legal counsel.

Which brings us to the upcoming presidential election. A lot has been said, and a lot more will be said, about the candidates and their positions on various issues. It is my firm belief that almost all of this is a worthless crock of shit. I refuse to pay it anything other than the most cursory kind of attention.

Because no one is asking about or talking about the things I consider most important. There's a lot of talk about health care, taxes, Iraq, Iran, immigration, and, of course, the Most Important Issue Evah: Abortion.

Any one of these things probably is "important" in that it affects the lives of ordinary Americans in a significant way. Fine. But what can (or will) a president do about any of them? For a variety of reasons, it is very rare that the policies supported by a candidate ever become the policies actually implemented by that candidate-as-president.

On the other hand, certain positions on certain issues can give great insight into how a candidate would govern, and react to unpredicted situations.

For this reason, I propose that we may narrow the field of candidates considerably by automatically and immediately eliminating any candidate who cannot answer "No" to the following question:
Do you believe it would ever be justified, under any circumstances, to arrest a citizen, without a warrant, and hold that citizen indefinitely, in secret, without charge and without access to the courts or to legal counsel?
Any answer other than "no" or "absolutely not" results in immediate disqualification. Answers that begin with "well, in most circumstances..." or "I think that normally..." or "I would need to..." result in immediate disqualification.

I think that there are probably three candidates who would answer this question properly. Unfortunately, none of them has more than the smallest, most unlikely chance to be elected.

Because we, the electorate, are more concerned with their views on government health care. Or how many more years we'll keep troops in Iraq. Or, of course, abortion.

Meet the new boss

... same as the old boss.

Democrats didn't stop Bush's latest authoritarian-loving AG from being confirmed, though they could've. (They had more than enough votes in the Senate to uphold a filibuster.)

As you may recall, AG Mukasey refuses to say whether controlled drowning of political prisoners is "torture", or indeed whether "torture" is something the Preznit is legally allowed to authorize, or indeed whether the Preznit is legally restrained in any manner whatsoever.

But here, in these the Aughts, such opinions are apparently not all that important when considering who should hold the post of the nation's chief "law enforcement" officer.

Glenn Greenwald hits the nail on the head:

The most amazing quote was from chief Mukasey supporter Chuck Schumer, who, before voting for him, said that Mukasey is "wrong on torture -- dead wrong." Marvel at that phrase: "wrong on torture." Six years ago, there wasn't even any such thing as being "wrong on torture," because "torture" wasn't something we debated. It would have been incoherent to have heard: "Well, he's dead wrong on torture, but . . . "

Now, "torture" is not only something we openly debate, but it's something we do. And the fact that someone is on the wrong side of the "torture debate" doesn't prevent them from becoming the Attorney General of the United States. It's just one issue, like any other issue -- the capital gains tax, employer mandates for health care, the water bill -- and just because someone is "dead wrong" on one little issue (torture) hardly disqualifies them from High Beltway Office.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to argue that the Democratic Party as a whole (with some individual exceptions here and there) is not just as bad as the Republican Party on the most important issues facing this country today. Indeed, from an ethical standpoint, you could (and I do) argue that they are, in fact, worse, because, unlike Republicans, they pretend to disagree with these abhorrent policies while continuously supporting them with their actions.

UPDATE: From the L.A. Times, torture supporter Diane Feinstein:

"Some people, I think, want to keep the issue [of torture] alive... I am not one of those people".

Yes, "some people" do indeed appear to believe that this "issue" should be "kept alive". Not really a very remarkable opinion for "some people" to have. What strikes me as remarkable is that the segment of people holding this opinion isn't 95%+ of the public, and that you, Ms. Feinstein, are not one of them. Shame on you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Arab Investors

I'll get to the stuff having to do with the post title down below. But first, I urge everyone to read this piece in the Washington Post about U.S. Pakistan policy: America's Bad Deal With Musharraf, Going Down in Flames.

I would have thought that with all the things that Bush/Cheney have done, a kind of acceptance would have set in with me. The kind where one hears or reads of the newest outrage, the newest insult to the Constitution or the rule of law, the newest repeal of fundamental liberties, and sort of grimly spits and says "what do you expect from people like these?" Kind of like Ivan Denisovich in the Gulag.

But for some reason, this Pakistan thing is really making me very angry. I'm having a hard time putting my finger on why exactly. Maybe it's just that it is a perfect confluence of the standard Bush/Cheney modus operandi (not necessarily in any particular order): (a) rank incompetence, (b) cronyism, (c) authoritarianism, (d) gotta-be-rightism, and (e) reality denial.

Here are a few of the facts presented by Mr. Rashid in the linked article:

1. Prior to 9/11, the Pakistan regime had been the "main patron" of the Taliban and, by extension, al qaeda.

2. "
Today, despite $10 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan since 2001... the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda's senior leadership has set up another haven inside Pakistan."

3. Musharraf has let "
his intelligence services help the Taliban claw their way back in Afghanistan."

"The Taliban and al-Qaeda are now deeply entrenched in the [Pakistani] tribal border belt adjacent to Afghanistan. These groups gained political legitimacy last year when Musharraf signed a series of dubious peace deals with the Pakistani Taliban. They are now coming down from the mountains to spread their radical ideology in towns and cities by burning down DVD and TV shops, insisting that young men grow beards, forcibly recruiting schoolboys for the jihad and terrifying girls so that they won't attend school. The military has refused to put a brake on their extremism."

5. "
Musharraf promised the international community that he would purge pro-Taliban elements from his security services and convinced the Bush administration that his philosophy of "enlightened moderation" was the only way to fend off Islamic extremism. But Pakistan today is the center of global Islamic terrorism, with Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mohammad Omar probably living here [in Pakistan]."

"[N]obody with serious Pakistan experience is working in the South Asia bureau of the State Department, on State's policy planning staff, [or] on the National Security Council staff." Simply astounding. Incomprehensible.

7. And despite the fact that "Pakistan policy is essentially being run from Cheney's office", he doesn't have any experts on Pakistan either.

8. Who, then, are the people making and implementing Pakistan policy? Well, the new ambassador to Pakistan is "an expert on Latin American 'drugs and thugs'". You know, because that whole Latin American War-On-Drugs is going so well.

9. A "former senior U.S. diplomat" is quoted as saying of the administration South Asia group: "They know nothing of Pakistan".

10. And Cheney? Well, insiders report that the vice president "is close to Musharraf and refuses to brook any U.S. criticism of him".

But what could there possibly be to criticize about a military dictator who declares the constitution suspended, black out the media, arrests the supreme court, shuts down parliament, rounds up political opponents, and orders his well-armed security forces to brutally attack lawyers in the streets?

All this, and the guy is not even on our side against the terrorists!

And, purely as a side note, because this is all plenty bad enough without attributing any nefarious motives to Bush/Cheney (I mean, even if you assume that they are purely looking out for the nation's best interests, and have no hidden agenda of any kind, it is still appalling, outrageous behavior), and while really I don't want to unnecessarily confuse the issue:

I think it is still worth noting that, according to the article, Musharraf's one and only supporting constituency within Pakistan (other than the army, which he controls, since he is, after all, a military dictator) is "the business community, which has experienced economic stability and rising investment from the Arab world during his regime.".

Investment from the Arab world.

Given all we know about the outrageous behavior noted above (inter alia, blindly supporting (and bankrolling) a brutal military dictator (who is, don't forget, armed with nuclear weapons) while receiving nothing in return and refusing to listen to any competing viewpoints regarding same, and putting people in charge of the said support-the-dictator policy who know nothing whatsoever about the country or the region as a whole), and what we can infer about the kind of person who would engage in such behavior, is it crazy to think that just maybe these "investment[s] from the Arab world" might have come from, say, the House of Saud or the many other friends "from the Arab world" that Dick and George have made (and continuously pandered to) throughout each of their lives and careers? And that it might just be conceivable that these folks might somehow receive some benefit from keeping Musharraf in power?

We prop up dictators

No, this post is not about Congress's ceaseless enabling of the Bush administration.

From Pakistan:
Angry protests by thousands of lawyers in Lahore and other cities on Monday demonstrated the first organized resistance to the emergency rule imposed by the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. But the abrupt arrests of many of them threatened to weaken their challenge.

The Musharraf government’s resolve to silence its fiercest opponents was evident in the strength of the crackdown by baton-wielding police officers who pummeled lawyers and then hauled them by the legs and arms into police wagons in Lahore.

At one point, lawyers and police officers clashed in a pitched battle, with lawyers standing on the roof of the High Court throwing stones at the police below, and the police hurling them back. Some of the lawyers were bleeding from the head, and some passed out in clouds of tear gas.

It was the second time this year that Pakistan’s lawyers emerged as the vanguard of resistance to the government. In the spring, the lawyers mounted big rallies in major cities when General Musharraf tried to dismiss the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who has now been fired.

The American response?
On Monday, President Bush urged General Musharraf to hold elections and give up his army post, though he gave little indication of any real change in American policy, which has bankrolled Pakistan’s military with $10 billion in aid since 2001.
So, we'll say some pretty words about "freedom" and "democracy", and continue to bankroll the jackbooted thugs pummeling lawyers in the streets. That seems about right.

But I guess we can't blame our government for its inaction in these circumstances. I mean, after all, who could have predicted this would happen? Pervez is, after all, our staunch ally in the War on Turrerer. And he's always been a pro democracy guy, he's the elected head of state, etc. Wait, what's that? You say he came to power in a military coup? One of his top deputies funneled money to Mohamed Atta? He's been steadfastly refusing to act against a resurgent Al Qaeda operating from within Pakistan? Oh, sorry, nevermind then.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Lawyers' Rebellion

Interesting take on Pakistan from an anarchist I like to read sometimes.

I think he may be talking about me (well, not me personally, but still) when he says "[Meanwhile, h]ere in the good ol' US of A, the ongoing imposition of martial law under the aegis of the Commander-in-Chief, an imaginery title bestowed on an inadequate man, meets a lot of forcefully-worded editorializing from... concerned lawyers".

Saturday, November 3, 2007

America under Giuliani: A preview

Bush's boy Musharraf imposes martial law "declares state of emergency".
The Pakistani leader... declared a state of emergency tonight... confronting Supreme Court justices who are deliberating on the recent vote to re-elect him.

...blacking out all independent news media...

...the justices were ordered to sign...

...police forces had surrounded the Supreme Court building, with justices still inside.

Cellphone transmissions were blocked...

...police also blocked access to the Parliament and to the homes of Supreme Court justices...

All television stations were blocked...

...a list had been prepared of prominent Pakistani journalists and opposition politicians who would be detained.

...1,000 additional police had been deployed in Islamabad, the capital.
And what was the reason given for all of this?
[G]overnment officials said Friday that emergency rule could be justified because of clashes in the past week between security forces and Islamic militants

Friday, November 2, 2007

Here's a good blog thread

Makes you think, and brings back the good ol' days.

The theme is "things people are or have been curmudgeonly about". You know, "these darn kids and their darn boomboxes..." or "I remember when you judged a band by its music, not by what their stoopid music video looks like".

I added a few of my own:

guns made (mostly) of plastic

airport security


Copernican solar system

non-black-and-white internet sites

stuff made of plastic