Sunday, May 31, 2009

Political Tevye

If I were a wingnut (ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum), I would ... be incensed that this Democrat could check into the Betty Ford Clinic without being identified as a Democrat. Whoops, he's a Republican.

If I were a wingnut (ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum), I would ... continue to deny that right-wing violence is a reality in America.

Update (6/2): For those who are in denial of ideological roots of the killing of George Tiller...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shopping for an AR-15

Boston cops want to pack the semiautomatic version of the M-16 into battle on the streets of Boston. Uh, no. What a stupid idea.

The dangers are not imaginary, but the police have to go to Mumbai to justify their desire for new toys. In Columbine, the police hesitated to establish a perimeter, or so they said.

The BPD wants a weapon with a range of a five hundred meters to shoot bad guys in the city. How many 500-meter fields of fire are there in Boston? How many should anyone send a high-velocity bullet tumbling down? How many would be empty enough to have a righteous shooting?

If I were one of the targeted bad guys, I might think about jacking a cop car to get the assault rifle out of the trunk.

Better body armor would be much safer for cops and civilians.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Program note: Leaving on a jet plane

Don't know when I'll be back again...

Even if I can't find a moment here or there to blog, I'll be back Monday or Tuesday.

All aboard

Hard to steer the bandwagon without jumping on...

Molinaro also said that by taking a seat at the table, Dow was able to get some satisfaction: The proposed new rules, while costly to the chemical industry as a whole, will also help companies create less waste and be more energy-efficient, he said, saving them money in the long run.

Gaming the system

This is hilarious:

Quite suddenly, being confronted with an unapologetically intellectual, hyper-articulate black dude who is self-assured to the brink of arrogance is no longer sure to create the kind of bewilderment and consternation that guaranteed me major laughs after college admissions and job interviews or "meet the parents" activities. In the salad days of being the only African-American male in Advanced Placement U.S. History, I could generate a palpable sense of awkwardness by stopping the lesson to quiz my instructor on the specifics of Cointelpro; my scholarly younger brother may never get to experience that perverse thrill. Where I got my kicks imagining that my flamboyant displays of subversive cerebral fortitude made the white establishment want my head on a stick, my brother's comparable acts will be met with a propensity to picture his on the dollar bill.
Best of all, no one imagines race-baiters like Rush Limbaugh on anything related to currency any more.


... and not enough change.

Tom Yesterday is right on.

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Identity politics

Since I'm outsourcing today to Atrios's outsources, here's something from TAPPED:

What people like Taylor find so offensive about Sotomayor's statement is that it properly exposes the perspective of white, Christian heterosexual men as specific to their experience, rather than the omniscient eye of G-d they're used to presenting it as. Does anyone seriously believe Dred Scott or Plessy v. Fergueson would have been upheld by any court that had the remotest idea of what it was like to be black or a slave? Or similarly that the court would have held in Minor v. Happersett that being a citizen didn't mean you had a right to vote if you were a woman? Do we really believe that judges in these cases were "simply upholding the law" in the absence of the cultural and social prejudices of their times?

Ends justify the means

... for the unprincipled Republicans.

Here's what's clear: The Republicans in the Senate believe they need only 51 votes to pass their program, while the Democrats need 60.

Not only is it time to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, it's time to seat Al Franken. Enough bowing to threats from the likes of John Cornyn.

(h/t Atrios)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tea leaves

There's a certain kind of journalism that calls itself analysis. Sometimes it's useful for setting the background and the imperatives the actors are acting from.

Then there's this kind of piece from Peter Canellos. It strings together a few slightly inside-politics tidbits with a few quotes such as this:

"If [Sotomayor's confirmation] takes a month, it does bump things up against the adjournment time," said Dartmouth College political scientist Linda Fowler. "The worry for Obama is less the loss of bipartisan spirit than the time constraints. An acrimonious nomination fight just eats up a lot of time."
There was an opportunity here put in perspective the previous two Supreme Court confirmations:
  • Samuel Alito - "Samuel Alito is gliding toward confirmation as a Supreme Court justice after a week of hearings..."
  • John Roberts - "The White House swearing-in ceremony took place three hours after the Senate voted 78 to 22 to confirm Roberts."
There are two possible explanations:
  • Republicans are much nastier and more focused in these fights.
  • Many journalists are eager or at least willing to adopt the Republican narrative.
Just for a moment, I'm going to hold in abeyance my natural suspicion of both Republicans and pundits.

I bet there were analyses just like Canellos's before Alito and Roberts, and those fights hardly amounted to anything. Now, there are sixty Democrats (or should be), and the Sotomayor confirmation will most likely take place with keening, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, but it will still happen quickly.

And the analyses will continue unabated and unabashed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Resting now from struggle

Far be it from me to speak ill of the war dead on their day of special remembrance or any other day, but it is still right for us to recall that what they did was not to act as superheroes but rather, as ordinary people, to rouse themselves to give something extraordinary. To my mind, that makes them all the more honorable.

Click image for attribution under CCA ShareAlike 1.0.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

No excuse

Click image for full Dan Wasserman/Boston Globe cartoon.

A good grilling

Can you make him stop talking?

Click image for full Jeff Darcy/Plain Dealer cartoon.

Obituary logic

I read obits, not all the time but often enough. Inside their formula, I often find nuggets of lives well lived - or of lives of suffering and woundedness, some of those wounds self-inflicted.

I've read enough to know that sometimes "heart failure" euphemizes suicide. I've read enough - and lived enough - to know that many a fierce battle with cancer ended with a final acquiescence and peace and farewell and sometimes acceleration that for some reason we seldom talk about.

When I started this reading habit maybe twenty years ago, I told myself that I was looking for the poignant or evocative final character sketch, a biography that I might imagine into a novel. I also told myself that I was trying to get a handle on mortality data, on what kills and when in a life death comes.

Those motives were real and not just rationalizations, but I soon noticed that I actually took comfort from the obits - they seldom marked the death of someone like me. I started to look in each obit for the reason that I could distance myself from the dead, the reason that I could rationalize why I still lived and the dead person did not.

Mostly, I was young, and the dead were old.

Most of the men my age who died were outrageously drunk and not wearing their seat belts. But I also read about so many women in their late forties dying of breast cancer that, despite my relative safety, I started to take their deaths personally on behalf of women in my life. AIDS also took many of my age cohort, and the obits of mostly gay men made their tragedy very real for me.

Nowadays, many more of my peers turn up dead of heart attacks, and that is damn sobering, which might explain my continuing elation at recently getting this year's much better cholesterol numbers - the measure of a middle-aged man.

This has all been preamble to an attempt to understand the sheer hatred and lack of human sympathy seen so often on newspaper comment threads and particularly today on the Washington Post's rare story on poor people as human beings, as distinct from the usual story on poor people as social burden and problem.

I understand seeking safety in differences from the victim. Rationalizing away the vulnerabilities we all have and feel is a human universal. Poverty, like dying, is for other people or so we hope, and if we can show the reasons, all the better.

Just as distance from dying helps, distance from poverty helps. I cherish my distance from those thin years when canned beans from my grandfather's burned down factory helped my parents make ends meet. But I don't try to blot that time out of memory.

I have a hard time understanding how strongly people want to blame both the sick and the poor. There's no doubt that many poor people make poor decisions, even from among their dearth of choices. There's a reflex among conservatives that these poor decisions are the whole picture and absolve us of any social responsibility to help. Never mind that lots of affluent people, including me, make lousy economic decisions - we can afford them to a degree that the poor cannot.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Political correctness run amok

Liberty [sic] University [sic] revokes the charter of their chapter of the College Democrats:

Maria Childress, the staff adviser to the club, told the paper the school — which opposes abortion rights and gay marriage — had issues with the Democratic Party platform.

Childress says she was told by Mark Hine, the vice president of student affairs, that "'You can't be a Democrat and be a Christian and be a university representative.'"

Never mind that admitting to being a Democrat at LU is like being a black Mormon or a gay Republican, this is the most intrusive kind of political correctness. It will be fun to hear all the usual decriers of PC condemn LU for this. As if.

The silence I expect from, say, David Horowitz, would prove once and for all that the problem the right has with political correctness is not the concept but whose political correctness gets enforced. If the academy would only enforce their political correctness, they'd be thrilled.

But back to LU: Democrats everywhere should take this charter revocation as a point of pride.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Perfect word for it

Evangelical Christians engaged in soul-searching over torture... Finding their souls? Not so much.

Instead, they're happy to cede their morality to the state:

Rev. Ronald Kuykendall, an evangelical pastor in Gainesville, Florida, says that the question is difficult to answer because everyone has a different of definition of torture. He says he would support the torture of a terrorist if "the techniques used are lawful, necessary" and the ultimate purpose is to save lives.
Torture? I don't even know what the word means, says Kuykendall. He's lying when he says that, of course. He has bought into the comforting evasion of moral responsibility of the Bushist torture policy.

Don't try it, you'll like it

Krugman nails the insurance fraud being done through deceptive attack ads:

“We can do a lot better than a government-run health care system,” says a voice-over in one of the ads. To which the obvious response is, if that’s true, why don’t you? Why deny Americans the chance to reject government insurance if it’s really that bad?
The market relies on competition, and corporatists in both parties (all the Republicans and a large number of Democrats) pay lip service to it, but American big business intentionally structures itself to avoid competition.

The motivation of business is obvious: Competition is often fatal to the losing enterprise.

To avoid it, businesses scale up by mergers and acquisitions until they're too big to fail - or so they hope. Look around and you'll see that national markets are usually dominated by a few large companies, not at all the environment that Adam Smith envisioned.

Businesses also strive to define a niche in which they can dominate for the same reason.

Like predators in the state of nature, businesses are not at all interested in starting any fight they might lose, even if the odds of losing are quite low. Wolves are happy eating rodents.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fighting the consequences of elections

Republicans oppose democracy:

NRSC Chairman John Cornyn has said Coleman's challenge could go through federal courts and take "years" to resolve. He also threatened "World War III" if Democrats try to seat Franken prematurely.
Yet there's no hue and cry from the big media, who continue to think bipartisanship is even possible with these anti-election extremists.

Go nuclear on Cornyn. He's asking for it. Do it in such a way as to preserve the traditional prerogatives of the minority - so long as they don't abuse it.

But let Cornyn not make the mistake of believing there's any comity left in the Senate.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dirty baker's dozen

Salon summarizes the case for some domestic high-value detainees. No, not a case for torturing them, only the case for detaining them.

Great and powerful Darth

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

P.T. Barnum wrong!?

Could it be that some of the so-called leadership of the Republican Party has finally achieved something P.T. Barnum said had never happened? Have they gone broke (electorally) by underestimating the intelligence of the American public? Middle school level politics didn't work, so they're devolving to second grade! Michael Steele's against the GOP resolution, so you know it'll probably pass.

Really, will they try "Democrat Retard Party" next? "Democrat Pansy Party"? "Democrat Mother Wears Army Boots Party"? "Democrat Mother Swims Out to Meet Troop Ships Party"?

Their behavior says that they believe their base is composed of lunatic, unreasoned, infantile, simplistic morons. Or maybe they're just lunatic, unreasoned, infantile, simplistic morons.

Monday, May 18, 2009


This is beautiful photography, capturing tragedy. I don't care about their church burning more than any other building, but this little girl and her sisters clearly do, and that tugs at my heartstrings. They will remember yesterday for the rest of their lives and not in a good way.

Click image for full George Rizer/Boston Globe photograph.

Practical consequences of torture

Suicide bombers. Jihadis. More terrorism.

Former VP Dick Cheney has requested the release of additional memos showing that torture and abuse saved American lives by preventing terrorist attacks. If the Obama Administration decides to release these memos, then I suggest they also release statistics from Iraq showing the number of foreign fighters that were recruited because of our policy of torture and abuse. It was tracked. I know because I saw the slides and because I heard captured foreign fighters state this day in and day out.
H/t Tom, and go read his piece, too:
There is much more to the history of English legal theories of torture, but the point of this lightning fast gloss is simply to reinforce what should be obvious: the opinions of the Bush “Justice” (sic) department were nothing more than words in the form of law whose sole purpose was to provide cover for what any competent lawyer would have had to recognize as crimes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rationalizing monstrosities

No lessons for American policies, of course. What could we learn from our scorn toward the excuses that other countries make? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Click image for full Jeff Danziger cartoon.

Keep your enemies closer

Who's going to play the role of the good ole boy in an airboat with a big-ass roll of duct tape and a Mick Dundee knife?

Click image for full David Horsey/Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoon.


Quang Tri Park.

Click image for full Pat Bagley/Salt Lake Tribune cartoon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Confirmation bias

Perhaps the most despicable use of torture, next to breaking a man for the sheer sadistic desire to do it, is to torture a prisoner until he gives the answer you're looking for.

Note: Distinct from this Bushist bullshit, Lawrence Wilkerson is willing to put his name and reputation behind his statements.

Play Cheney for me

Mitt Romney is so desperate to be President that he's willing to whore himself out as the handsome second coming of Darth Cheney.

The truth is that the Bushists pissily and irresponsibly dismissed the concern the Clinton administration had about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. (Note to wingnut trolls: Sure, Clinton could have succeeded against these enemies, and he didn't, but he at least identified the priority problem, where Mayberry Nero told his briefers that they had covered their asses.) The Bushists were focused instead on redeeming Bush I's PNAC-deplored failure to depose Saddam Hussein.

Romney's varmint-huntin' (see, really a country boy despite the $5000 suit!!!!!) is so lame he's going to need to shoot a friend to prove he's really the NRA's boy Cheney successor.

As a bonus, he's happy to defend the so-called free market's allocation of life-saving to those who can pay the most for it. Hey, works for him (and screw you).

Mitt Romney is the perfect expression of Republicanism - willing to say any bullshit, filled with rhetoric that misrepresents reality, a whore for the ruling class. He is the most obviously insincere politician since... Man, I'm having a hard time coming up with a politician who's more insincere than Mitt. Mostly, it's talk show hosts. Except John Boehner! Strom Thurmond, maybe - staunch racist shtupping the colored help but still making his black daughter come in through the back door.

I was slow to see the essential dishonesty of Romney, but I'm making up for lost time.

Source Vizzini


A former senior intelligence official said Thursday it is "inconceivable" that the CIA briefers would not have talked about interrogation methods that had already been used.

"I can't prove it," the official said, but added, "The whole point [of the briefings] was to make sure they [lawmakers] understood what we were doing." The official asked to comment anonymously so he could speak more candidly.

Some anonymous sources seem credible despite their anonymity. They are clearly in vulnerable positions, so their anonymity seems necessary.

This is not one of those sources. This "former senior intelligence official" seems like a Bushist spinner of bullshit.

The reporter, also anonymous, helpfully dittoed the former official's fig leaf that he needed to be anonymous to speak candidly. This is also bullshit. There's no candor in what he says, only self-interested speculation.

The use of these quotes is journalistic malpractice, in other words standard operating procedure for the insider Beltway press.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sick of sycophants

The media continues to be a handmaiden to, well, not power but past power. Nothing exposes better their bias to give Republicans a pass, despite the rankest and most obvious bullshit, than their continuing polite refusal to choose the word torture to label even waterboarding - check out the audio clip. Instead, they weasel back to "some call it torture." The GOP has (mostly) stuck to a Minitru vocabulary that dismisses Bushist crimes as merely harsh interrogation - and who could be against that, girlfriend?

The media heaves a sigh of relief and hews to their so-called professional goal of blind, unjudgemental he-said-she-said stories. The big media appetite for bullshit is a journalistic failing that cannot be laid anywhere but the feet of the vaunted big media conglomerates. Their reporters, editors, and publishers did this as a response to fifty years of wingnut whining (see "Accuracy" in Media) about bias. Atrios would and probably has sarcastically called for a blogger ethics panel.

The pretense that there's a controversy over the meaning of the word torture doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. It's a well-known word with well-known past applications that led to punishment when Americans were outraged by Nazis, Japanese, and communists doing the torture. (Yes, that's whose company we have joined. Sorry to tell you the unpleasant truth if you've been storing your unused head up your-- uh, somewhere warm, moist, and dark.)

There is no news balance whatsoever in being unable to use the right word for fear of offending those who advocate the results of torture. As adults (allegedly), we at least ought to have strong enough stomachs to ask the question whether the intelligence Darth Cheney claims might possibly outweigh the monstrous moral crimes that elicited it. We should have strong enough stomachs to look straight at what was done by the President and the Vice President in the name of all Americans.

It's a blight and stain on our honor. Was it worth it? Should the confessed torturers who ran the White House - and DOD, State, and the OLC - walk?

I, of course, don't think so. I still believe that the rule of law is possible, though it's obviously honored less in the observance than in the breach.

As a society that still believes or at least pretends that it can govern itself, we owe ourselves the truth, at least. Without the truth, voting is largely an exercise in American idols instead of American ideals.

We need to ask questions intelligently. The right question about the efficacy of torture is not whether it ever led to good intel. The right question is whether it did at a higher rate or faster than legal means of interrogation.

There's another crucial question: Did the practice of torture lead to the birth of even more terrorists and thus to even less safety?

We need a fearless investigation. We need an uncompromising investigation. We need the truth.

I hope the truth would lead to criminal prosecution. This would not be the criminalization of policy differences. This would be the prosecution of criminal policies.

The audacity of soap

"Not really an ideology here, just being a dick."

Now that's something to clean up.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First Amendment redundancy

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch's delicacy about signing a same sex marriage bill has nothing to do with legal reality. It's all about politics, about telling know-nothings that, no, of course, legalizing same sex marriage doesn't repeal the First Amendment and can't possibly force anyone's church to offer any service to anyone they don't want to.

I don't blame him a bit.

Update (5/15): I could have read Atrios and skipped saying this, but it was a busy day and I needed an easy target. Who knew someone had already hit it?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Limited hang-out

So far, the Bushists and their apologists in the pro-torture, anti-law wing of the conservative movement have tried numerous defenses against their culpability for illegal and unconscionable torture and prisoner abuse:

  • The Jackson 5 defense: "The abuses are the work of a few bad apples, and one bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl."
  • The patent bullshit defense: "The United States doesn't torture."
  • The Minitru defense: "We've redefined the word 'torture'. 'Torture' has never included anything less than total organ failure."
  • The necessity defense, Darth Cheney style: "There's a one percent chance that a time bomb is ticking somewhere in the world."
Now they're trying the Psycho defense: Nancy Pelosi didn't stop me before I [tortured] again.

It's all bullshit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Terrorism is truth

In the Orwellian world of Cheneyite wingnuts, revealing the undeniable photographic truth is "siding with terrorists."

Liz Cheney didn't fall far from the poison tree.

Open season

... on moderates.

Click image for Ann Telnaes/Washington Post animation.

Culture dish

Donald Trump, hair-architect blowhard legacy real estate deal-making multi-marriage reality TV celebrity who couldn't make money from a casino and would be white trash if he didn't have all that inherited money, will decide whether Carrie Prejean, Chrisjin anti-gay California blond Barbie beauty queen with godless torpedo implants and underage lingerie photos in the closet, gets to remain Miss California USA. Kit Seelye reports. In the New York Times!

It just doesn't get any more dismally perfect than this.

I really, really hope these aren't the end times. It would be awful to go out on a note like this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Anti-corporate, pro-capitalist

Given the Republican devotion to large corporate interests, this is not surprising:

During the Bush administration, the Justice Department did not file a single case against a dominant firm for violating the antimonopoly law.
Republicans have for years strongly preferred the interests of their corporate sponsors to actual competition. Lip service to competition? That's something both CEOs and GOPers can put the full weight of their rhetoric behind.

It's odd that Democrats understand the critical nature of competition in making markets more efficient, until you think about the fact that Republican Party is first and foremost about protecting those who are already wealthy from anything might change that. Even odder is that the GOP gets away with such a narrow electoral approach by pretending that they want everyone to have a shot at becoming wealthy, the sort of social mobility that requires countervailing power against the company store, the self-protecting monopoly, and the power that wealth has due to its ability to hire the best lawyers.

(h/t Atrios)

Republican evidence

Newt Gingrich (O truthsayer!) tells Fox that Nancy Pelosi has lied about her knowledge of torture at Guantánamo. Naturally, CNN follows along like a dog to heel.

The Republican evidence: Pelosi had a briefing after a classified memo was written in the Justice Department.

And we all know that the Bushists in the executive branch released all their classified memos to Pelosi.

Shorter CNN

Could the public please, please, please turn on Elizabeth Edwards? We in the media haven't had a juicy, gossip-filled PR dust-up in a least a couple of weeks, and we're getting the shakes without it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

Click image for full Signe Wilkinson cartoon.

Basket case

But you can always count on Mom.

Click image for full Mike Keefe/Denver Post cartoon.

Small enough to fail

Click image for full Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoon.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Barack the Magic Negro

The really funny aspect of Obama's steady, confident competence is that the Hollywood stereotype of the magic negro is coming true. He's calm. He's wise. He has a sense of humor. He's trying to save a whole mess o' white folks. If only he didn't speak so directly! Where are his cryptic, zen-like, unparsable aphorisms?

This is a nightmare for Rush Limbaugh. When he played "Barack the Magic Negro" during the election (and actually thought it would help conservatives), he didn't imagine that Obama could quarterback the country through the current blitz of problems. He thought Obama would be another Donovan McNabb, an excellent player who hasn't quite (yet) won the Super Bowl, and that Obama would fail at the incredible panoply of problems left by his predecessors. It was no lose for Rush, or so he thought - no one could fix all the problems, not even some corpulent white guy with money behind him, much less a skinny, black, multicultural outsider.

Once Obama fixes the country (please!), Rush's racist dittoheads will wail even louder than before that there's nothing reserved for them any more. As if any one of them had the wit and talent to do what Obama has already done.

Courage to say so

From a New York Times obit:

Col. Harold E. Fischer Jr., an American fighter pilot who was routinely tortured in a Chinese prison during and after the Korean War...

From April 1953 through May 1955, Colonel Fischer — then an Air Force captain — was held at a prison outside Mukden, Manchuria. For most of that time, he was kept in a dark, damp cell with no bed and no opening except a slot in the door through which a bowl of food could be pushed. Much of the time he was handcuffed. Hour after hour, a high-frequency whistle pierced the air.
At a distance of fifty years and when the victim was an American, it's easy to see that sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and even some extreme (added) psyops audio constitute torture.

Why is it so hard for big media to speak the obvious truth about Bushist policies of interrogation by torture? Long after telling the truth matters most, I'm sure they'll find their courage.

Times photo credit to USAF, therefore public domain.

Update (5/12): The Boston Globe cribs its obit from the Washington Post, and it is curiously expurgated of anything more than an oblique reference to torture ("an incredible and strange ordeal").

Get it straight first

Click image for full Joel Pett/Lexington Herald-Leader cartoon. You won't be sorry.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Flip the bird at your radio

That's what I do when Cokie Roberts comes out with her well-compensated pabulum on NPR or one of the TV talk shows. I'm glad other people notice, too:

If Roberts' vacuous segments seem phoned-in, it's probably because they are.


Roberts doesn't just voice the conventional wisdom; she is the conventional wisdom.
Roberts grew up in a powerful, famous political household. I even met her mother Lindy Boggs long ago after Lindy succeeded her lost husband Hale in the House of Representatives. There's a certain class of politicians who cultivate the ability to talk and talk and talk without ever saying anything. The Boggses were that sort of politician, and it served them well as conservative pseudo-populist Democrats from Louisiana, where you needed (and often still need) both racist votes and black votes to win.

But it doesn't serve well for a news analyst, quite the contrary in fact.

Not bloodthirsty, but...

In a war zone, this crime sounds a lot like justice to me. Probation and a fine, I have no problem with, maybe even a lesser fine.

The italicized stuff is bullshit to smooth over ugly reality:

[Federal public defender Michael] Nachmanoff said in court documents that Ayala had a visceral response to learning of Loyd's injuries and in a "perfect storm" of conditions abandoned his years of discipline and made the wrong choice.
Many a soldier in the field would do the same if someone ambushed his buddies the way Abdul Salam did Paula Loyd.

An infection of evil

... and everyone has at least a touch of it.

We have to find the truth. At that point, I hope we'll demand punishment of the perpetrators, whose identities are already obvious, at least in outline.

It's amazing that Bill Clinton lost his law license for a lie under oath in response to a contrived definition of sex, yet Jay Bybee, to name one, who wrote memos laying the bullshit groundwork for a considered policy of torture, is a federal judge.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right

Sharpton and Gingrich, together again.

Beating it out of them

This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.

Click image for full Pat Oliphant cartoon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Every time

Rush Limbaugh - divorced three times, allegedly former opiate pill addict (to the point of deafness), Viagra traveller, and obvious blowhard gasbag - is the public face of the Republican Party. His long history of race-baiting doesn't disqualify him.

Every time he attacks or shouts down or demands fealty from a prominent Republican - say Colin Powell - the world gets another view of the ugly underside of right-wing politics. Pretty soon, that may be all that's left.

Except for the obvious danger of such extreme polarization and the inchoate alienated rage of some members of his audience (see comments here), this is good news for the American polity.

Laughter is the best medicine, take 2

Democrats say the darndest things. Well, Joe Biden, anyway.

Click panel for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Damn socialist

This is a sea change in American elite politics:

[O]ne of the things that we all agree to is that the touchstone for economic policy is, does it allow the average American to find good employment and see their incomes rise; that we can’t just look at things in the aggregate, we do want to grow the pie, but we want to make sure that prosperity is spread across the spectrum of regions and occupations and genders and races; and that economic policy should focus on growing the pie, but it also has to make sure that everybody has got opportunity in that system.
Success within reach of everyone!? Every Republican knows that the important numbers are the stock market indexes. Those are the numbers that reflect the proper ideological, perfervid faith that "the rich will make wise, proper investments that will grow the economy," as one particularly indiscreet conservative commenter put it.

(Note to talk radio meme-mongerers: Obama did this entire interview without a teleprompter and without aides. It's remarkably devoid of the empty and disconnected sloganeering that Duhbya used to repeat until his interviewer gave up.)

(h/t Mom for pointing the interview out to me)

Rushing to please

Or pleasing to Rush.

The Republican leadership (oxymoron alert!) will do anything Rush tells them to do. He has them completely cowed, so they're stuck with Sarah Palin.

Rush terms Palin "articulate." Who ya gonna believe, him or your lyin' ears?

Let the market work

... and it will give us a deflationary spiral into real poverty and privation:

We’re suffering from the paradox of thrift: saving is a virtue, but when everyone tries to sharply increase saving at the same time, the effect is a depressed economy. We’re suffering from the paradox of deleveraging: reducing debt and cleaning up balance sheets is good, but when everyone tries to sell off assets and pay down debt at the same time, the result is a financial crisis.
This is what the Republicans don't understand or won't accept.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cause for hope

Occasionally, there's news site reader commentary that suggests people really are paying attention. Here are some comments from a CNN story about Republican saber-rattling about Obama's coming nomination to replace David Souter:

Judicial activism?

Let me see who of the 9 supreme court justices has always sided with businesses against the people? And who has actually looked at the constitution and ruled according to it?

hmmm. --Darth Vadik, CA (May 3rd, 2009 2:16 pm ET)

"judicial activist" n. - a term used by Republicans for any judge that exhibits one or more of the following:
- awareness that we're living in the 21st century, not the 18th
- actually considering the arguments of a case before making a decision rather than automatically handing down the most conservative opinion possible regardless of the facts of the case
- believing that the Founding Fathers intended for all people, even non-conservatives, to have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
- disagreeing with Rush Limbaugh on any issue

Considering that, I certainly hope that Obama chooses a "judicial activist" or the country's going to be in worse shape in the future than it is now. --An Independent (May 3rd, 2009 2:48 pm ET)

If Republicans feel "empathy and understanding" is liberal idealogy, what does that say about them? --Maggie from Virginia (May 3rd, 2009 2:48 pm ET)

…unlike Dubya's activist choices to the Scalia Court of the United States who are yanking the country back to it's antebellum period (as in pre-1860).

If Obama picks a true centrist, it will be a partisan choice as far as the far right is concerned. McConnell and Cornyn will find a friendly mic and video crew and wring their hands about the imminent death of the Republic. There will be promises of filibuster and forgotten will be Frist's chant of "up or down" sometimes spoken as "upordown"

What a bunch of hypocrites. --Tony in Maine (May 3rd, 2009 3:11 pm ET)

Of course, as always, there are a few representatives of an alternate universe in which the evidence of our senses is useless:
The Liberal members of the Supreme Court are so far left that moderate conservatives would have to be considered ultra conservative. --Mark, B'ham, AL (May 3rd, 2009 3:53 pm ET)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Stress positions

Why wouldn't all evangelicals immediately make the connection between the torturous martyrdom of Jesus and the torturing of Islamic jihadis? How many messiahs are they creating by favoring torture, even if they believe that all messiahs besides theirs are false messiahs?

The sad truth for many Christian evangelicals (of course not all): Their religion is part of their conservative and violence-ready culture and they choose only the parts of Christianity that fit that culture. The golden rule? An eye for an eye was good enough for their daddies. Moral constraints about anything other than sex? There hardly seem to be any.

These American Christians are faithful, not moral.

Click image for public domain claim on Wikimedia Commons.

Smart money

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Laughter is the best medicine, right?

Click image for full Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle cartoon.

Little piggy went to market

Click image for full Signe Wilkinson cartoon.


Click image for full Mike Keefe/Denver Post cartoon.

Who's hiring?

Sadly, no one.

Click image for full Ted Rall cartoon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fringe party former rep from Georgia

Does CNN offer Cynthia McKinney a platform for commentary? Are you kidding me?

Bob Barr? Of course.

I think we should hear from the fringes every now and then - as long as we hear from both fringes. Or I should say all fringes. Even though McKinney would most likely be as critical of the Democrats as Barr is of his old mates, the Republicans.

Antidote to hysteria

Famously, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Only the meat in a wish sandwich comes without someone paying somewhere.

In any public policy debate, global warming included, cost is important. Paul Krugman reports this no-bullshit assessment of cap and trade:

If emission permits were auctioned off — as they should be — the revenue thus raised could be used to give consumers rebates or reduce other taxes, partially offsetting the higher prices. But the offset wouldn’t be complete. Consumers would end up poorer than they would have been without a climate-change policy.

But how much poorer? Not much, say careful researchers, like those at the Environmental Protection Agency or the Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Even with stringent limits, says the M.I.T. group, Americans would consume only 2 percent less in 2050 than they would have in the absence of emission limits. That would still leave room for a large rise in the standard of living, shaving only one-twentieth of a percentage point off the average annual growth rate.
The fun part is Krugman's twitting of those who call themselves free marketeers, in particular Newt Gingrich:
But if you really believe in the magic of the marketplace, you should also believe that the economy can handle emission limits just fine.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gentle smack-down

President Barack Obama (love writing that) on Republican so-called bipartisanship (emphasis added):

"To my Republican friends, I want them to realize that me reaching out to them has been genuine," he said. "If I'm taking some of your ideas and giving you credit for good ideas, the fact that you didn't get 100 percent can't be a reason every single time to oppose my position. And if that is how bipartisanship is defined, a situation in which basically, wherever there are philosophical differences, I have to simply go along with ideas that have been rejected by the American people in a historic election, you know, we're probably not going to make progress."
Read the rest, too.

Art of the non sequitur

Newt's shooting off his mouth. That's what he does. Republicans just aren't used to being the target. One of the insulted RNC members offers this typical logic-challenged snipe in return:

“Forming circular firing squads only gives aid to the Democrats who are doing quite nicely in undercutting the public trust in our government,” [Tennessee GOP chairwoman Robin Smith] said.
She just tacks on that jibe against the Dems at the end as if it actually made any sense or conveyed any further logical thought. It doesn't.

Not to say that Smith's an idiot. She strongly grasps various rules of flackery:
  • Let's you and him fight.
  • Jam your message into the one line you'll get quoted, no matter how unrelated to the question.
  • Always say something bad about your adversary.
  • But do it in a passive-aggressive way that absolves you of responsibility.
Yep, she's been to Newt's message schooling. It's a wonder she didn't use the word 'pathetic', but maybe that hits too close to home these days.

Bush v. Souter

While David Souter could only be regarded as liberal in an age when the Washington consensus has been that the center lies somewhere far to the right of Richard Nixon, anyone who despises Bush v. Gore is a friend of mine:

"He was very aggrieved by December 12, 2000," said Ralph Neas, former director of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way. "He believed it was the ultimate politicization of the Supreme Court."