Archive for the ‘Overlawyered’ Category

Best Sentence LXVII

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Ann Coulter, once again, snags the Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award. She could make a clean sweep of these things in her sleep. Writing on the now-famous Ricci v. De Stefano case, which was decided in favor of the plaintiffs by a 5-4 vote on Monday, she concludes

[Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg and the other dissenters made a big point of pretending there was some flaw in this particular test. None adopted [nominee Sonia] Sotomayor’s position that unequal test results alone prove discrimination.

This suggests that a wise Jewess, due to the richness of her life experiences, might come to a better judgment than a Latina judge would.

There are other such gems in there, including one ongoing theme that has long been one of my favorites: How hyper-liberal legal professionals, such as ham-and-egger lawyers, ambulance chasers, county superior court judges, appellate judges, legal pundits, et al…out of some supposed sense of inner decency…continue to saddle other professions with bizarre rules, regulations, codes and taboos that dare not come within a hundred and fifty yards of their own mahogany doorways.

They’re vultures. Which means you can’t really blame them. It’s contrary to a vulture’s nature to scrape a bone only halfway clean. Them getting away with it — that’s our fault.

Don’t Get Sued

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

You did have all your guests sign this, or something like it, right?

Guest acknowledges and understands that no warranty, either expressed or implied, is made by Host as to the nutritional content of the meal. This document is offered in order to duly warn Guest that dangerous conditions, risks, and hazards may lurk in the turkey, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce, fixings, drinks, desserts, appetizers, and any or all other comestibles that may be served.

H/T: Stop The ACLU.

Can’t-Do Society

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

From an article I pegged yesterday:

Although going aggressive can put a company in a better position to survive a slowdown, few firms can resist becoming risk-averse. Thus, mid-level leaders find themselves pulling back and focusing entirely on how to meet short-term financial goals. Not only can this strategy set a company back competitively, it also can demoralize top performers.

Victor Davis Hanson notices the same thing about society as a whole, and credits Shakespeare for pointing it out:

Shakespeare warned us about the dangers of “thinking too precisely.” His poor Danish prince lost “the name of action,” as he dithered and sighed that “conscience does make cowards of us all.”

With gas over $4 a gallon, the public is finally waking up to the fact that for decades the United States has not been developing known petroleum reserves in Alaska, in our coastal waters or off the continental shelf. Jittery Hamlets apparently forgot that gas comes from oil — and that before you can fill your tank, you must take risks to fill a tanker.

Building things is a good indication of the relative confidence of a society. But the last American gasoline refinery was built almost three decades ago. As “cowards of our conscious,” we’ve come up with countless mitigating reasons not to build a new one. Our inaction has meant that our nation’s gasoline facilities have grown old, out of date and dangerous.

Zing!

But…at that point, VDH is just shifting into second gear. Once he has the momentum built up, see what kind of a turn things take:

We are nearing the seventh anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center. Its replacement — the Freedom Tower — should have been a sign of our determination and grit right after September 11.

But it is only now reaching street level. Owners, renters, builders and government have all fought endlessly over the design, the cost and the liability.

In contrast, in the midst of the Great Depression, our far poorer grandparents built the Empire State Building in 410 days — not a perfect design, but one good enough to withstand a fuel-laden World War II-era bomber that once crashed into it.

But even then, the can of whoopass has yet to be opened.

Smackdown —

Finally, high technology and the good life have turned us into utopians, fussy perfectionists who demand heaven on earth. Anytime a sound proposal seems short of perfect, we consider it not good, rather than good enough.

Hamlet asked, “To be, or not to be: that is the question.” In our growing shortages of infrastructure, food, fuel and water, we’ve already answered that: “Not to be!”

Don’t worry. It’s a good hurt; this is something we needed to be told about ourselves.

Most of what’s wrong with us, would be cured instantly if we got rid of this “Lots of tumblers have to fall into place to make something go but the lowliest mail clerk can pull a cord and make everything stop” stuff.

Getting It Good and Hard

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

George F. Will opines some more, this time about gas prices. And the villain he finds, is a rather interesting one. He’s mediocre some of the time, good much more of the time, and excellent occasionally. This one’s excellent.

“Democracy,” said H.L. Mencken, “is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” The common people of New York want [Charles] Schumer to be their senator, so they should pipe down about gasoline prices, which are a predictable consequence of their political choice.
:
Also disqualified from complaining are all voters who sent to Washington senators and representatives who have voted to keep ANWR’s oil in the ground, and who voted to put 85 percent of America’s offshore territory off-limits to drilling. The U.S. Minerals Management Service says that restricted area contains perhaps 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — 10 times the oil and 20 times the natural gas Americans use in a year.

Drilling is under way 60 miles off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are.

ANWR is larger than the combined areas of five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware) and drilling along its coastal plain would be confined to a space one-sixth the size of Washington’s Dulles Airport. Offshore? Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs without causing a large spill. There has not been a significant spill from an offshore U.S. well since 1969. Of the more than 7 billion barrels of oil pumped offshore in the past 25 years, 0.001 percent — that is one-thousandth of 1 percent — has been spilled. Louisiana has more than 3,200 rigs offshore — and a thriving commercial fishing industry.
:
America says to foreign producers: We prefer not to pump our oil, so please pump more of yours, thereby lowering its value, for our benefit. Let it not be said that America has no energy policy.

On an only slightly related topic, birds are building nests on the side of my apartment building. They’re up to somewhere around six nests, going bollywonkers over all the humans that are “invading” these nests…simply by opening doors and walking out of them. I bring this up because there are federal and state laws saying we can’t do anything about it. What we can do is sit around with our thumbs up our butts waiting for them to build a few more nests.

That, and George Will’s comments, inspire me to utter my doleful refrain one more time: When does anyone in any position of authority, ever tell the environmental activist to stick it? Can someone name three examples? I can’t think of one.

It would appear a given environment-related situation can disintegrate into ever-descending depths of dysfunctional mess, and it still won’t happen. I’m glad our standard of living is so sky-high we can afford to be held captive by this. That just tells me a fruit is most ripe right before it starts to rot.

Thanks to the environmentalists, I think we’re just about there.

H/T to Boortz for the Will find.

Justice of Peace Sued Over Paddlin’s

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Spankings work through embarrassment and humiliation.

Waitaminnit, waitaminnit, I think a lot of us who should know better, still don’t get that. So I’ll say it again. Spankings work through embarrassment and humiliation.

Oh wait, I think there are still some folks who don’t get that, so I’ll…oh…well, after awhile, there’s really nothing more you can do. Is there? I mean some folks really, really, don’t get it.

A Los Fresnos family is going to court to try to prevent a Cameron County justice of the peace from ordering spankings in his courtroom.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that Justice of the Peace Gustavo “Gus” Garza told a 14-year-old girl’s stepfather that she would be found guilty of a criminal offense and fined $500 for truancy unless the stepfather spanked her in the courtroom.

The lawsuit filed by Mary Vasquez and her husband, Daniel Zurita, described the paddle provided by Garza as large and heavy and fashioned from a thick piece of lumber.

“The word ‘club’ could be fairly used as a substitute for the word ‘paddle’ here as it appears to be something which may have been cut from a (two-by-four) piece of lumber,” attorney Mark Sossi wrote in the family’s petition. “The paddles provided by the judge are of such heft and weight that an individual striking an animal with one might be reasonably reported for cruelty to an animal.”

In a story for Thursday’s editions of The Brownsville Herald, Garza declined to comment on whether he has people spanked in his courtroom. He also said he had not seen the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks a state district court to stop the spankings and remove Garza from office.

The family alleges in the lawsuit that Garza told Zurita to strike his stepdaughter repeatedly on the buttocks in open court.

Zurita said he didn’t feel as if he had a choice but to follow the order. When he was through, the judge told him he had not struck the girl hard enough, Zurita said in an affidavit.

Vasquez said she had seen the judge order other public spankings.

“It is unconscionable that a Texas judge would order a parent, much less a step parent, be required to strike a child with such a thing in a Texas courtroom,” the family’s attorney wrote in a footnote on the petition. “It is equally unconscionable that an argument could be made that such an order would fall within the lawful authority of any Texas judge.”

Hey here’s an idea: Don’t skip school. Then you won’t be spanked.

Aw, you see the cultural split here? I’m thinking in terms of cause and effect: IF you skip school, THEN you might get spanked. IF we spank kids who skip school, THEN maybe they’ll stop.

Other people think purely in terms of European style “I think this is deplorable and can I get an amen here?” No cause and effect at all. Oh, except with regard to the Justice of the Peace who’s trying to uphold law and order — IF we sue him THEN we can get him thrown outta office. So I guess they believe in cause and effect too.

But not with regard to bringing reform to the people who need it.

Some would say I should withhold my opinion until I have a chance to get to know the JP a little bit better. Maybe he really is off his rocker. I acknowledge that is a possibility. But going by that logic — why am I supposed to agree that this is “unconscionable” when I haven’t had a chance to meet this girl? Maybe she’s a brat. I know two things about her: 1) She’s a truant; and 2) a Justice of the Peace thought it fitting that she be given a smack-down in his courtroom, for being a truant.

Sounds like a brat to me.

Like I said recently: Where is the shame? We have something very similar to it nowadays, and we’re drowning in what’s similar to it: A fear of being sued over having offended someone else’s sense of decency. That is a similar, close-cousin synthetic blend. But it’s not identical, and it turns out to be a poor substitute — especially when we’re up to our armpits in that fear-of-getting-sued stuff, and completely bone-dry fresh-outta good old fashioned shame.

Shame, as in: Oh my dear f*cking God, I’m in court because this bratty stepchild of mine keeps cutting school, everyone thinks I don’t have what it takes to discipline her and it looks like they’re right.

If I were given dictator-for-a-day powers, and only had a limited amount of time to fix a very few things, that would rank very high on my list. We don’t put too much energy anymore into standing up for what we know is right. We’re too concerned with what we think the other fellow thinks is right. We’re over-Kerryized. We see shades of gray where right & wrong are concerned — that is a good thing when there really are shades of gray involved. But real life very rarely plies us with the gray stuff — most of these dilemmas are simple, are indeed black-and-white.

And our post-modern sense of moral relativism seems, to me, to be serving us very poorly in those far-more-common situations. This isn’t that complicated. Kid’s a brat. Needs a whack. Dish it out, hope for the best, and move on.

(Insert sound of my imaginary tobacco wad hitting the spittoon here.)

Teacher Sues Website

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

She wants six million. Via My Pet Jawa

A 60-year-old former teacher at Norfolk Elementary School, Loretta DiAnne Cruse, has filed a civil lawsuit against a blog in Baxter County Circuit Court, alleging defamation.

Cruse seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

The lawsuit alleges that the web site known as Teacher Smackdown published malicious false statements that damaged her reputation while profiting financially.

It seems to center around one or several allegedly false statements, made in anonymity. To allow anonymous comments is malicious.

There’s a culture war taking place here, one that is much bigger than this particular lawsuit, that is seldom discussed. It’s a war against reputations, both good and bad. Although this particular suit might fail, there will be others…and through them, we’re slowly losing our God-given right to confer with one another about the character and performance of third parties.

To “gossip,” if you will…productively. As in, when we’re called upon to bet our fortunes and our livelihoods on whether an agent is excellent, or merely adequate — and we don’t know it for sure. Gathering what information we can.

Back in the olden days, people had a slang term called “No-Account.” It was roughly synonymous with “Ne’er Do Well” and “Good For Not.” It meant –

1. The person was not accountable to the things he was obliged, and/or had pledged, to do;
2. It was difficult or impossible to get an “account” of this person’s character — to get someone to vouch for him;
3. He exists, among us, only when it suits him to so exist — he dances the tune but doesn’t pay the piper.

There is evidence around, like this, that we’re slowly descending into a world in which we are all “No Accounts.” A world in which, what was once dirty slang, is now normalcy. You think of hiring a person, you call a former employer for a reference, and all you can get is confirmation that he worked here between this date and that one. That’s what you get if the person was an excellent performer…an adequate performer…a sub-standard performer. Letters of reference are not written, they are not sought, and if they do exist then nobody bothers to collect them or pass them along.

If anyone does bother to type one up — they worry about being sued. A website exists for the purpose of finding out the dirt on special ed teachers — and it is sued.

I have to wonder about something here. I have noticed, throughout my lifetime, that a lot of these things that apply to “all” industrial occupations often do not apply to lawyers. Is this another example? What happens when these lawyers, who file lawsuits to intimidate us from sharing information about this-or-that person’s performance, get together for lunch and talk about other lawyers? Do they say to each other “As you well know, being a fellow lawyer, I cannot say anything about that lawyer other than to confirm that he worked for our firm between X and Y”? Is that what they say?

I mean, it must be so. If it’s somehow possible for the rest of the world to function, flying completely freakin’ blind on the question of who’s a good-egg and who isn’t…why, the legal community must be able to hum along just fine as well in the same condition. So I’m sure that’s what they do.

Heh.

Allergic to Wi-Fi

Monday, May 26th, 2008

We were at the drive-in last night with a good hour to spare before the start of the show, and my head was chock full of The Adventures of Shush Man because his help was so desperately needed. Some dickhead was up a row or two with that heavy bass booming along rattling everything. Headache inducing.

Shush Man is one of my other personas. I know I’m getting old, because if you offered me only one sampling out of a whole smorgasbord of super powers that included flight, super-speed, telekinesis, magic lasso that makes people tell the truth all the time…the one power I would have over anything else is to wave at persons and things and make them shut the hell up. Shush Man isn’t really about the power itself…it is about the desire to have it. You start out wanting to be Superman, when you get a little bit older you think the super power fantasy is a little juvenile, and Batman has a certain appeal for you. Then you hit a certain age and your ideal hero is Shush Man. Shush Man is your last one. Once you like Shush Man, you never go back. And I’m there.

Wow, I really could’ve used his help last night. Boom Boom Boom Katchoom Boom Boom…

I tried lots of Shush Man substitutes. I tried calling the administration office by cell phone; they did not pick up. I cranked up my own volume to 40 and put in Beethoven’s Ninth. The next step was to make a long journey up to the concession stand and report him…being a man, of course, I wasn’t going to do that so I marched out to right the wrongs myself. And I did. I implemented Shush Man’s super powers in a purely-manual mode. Intimidated the hell out of the poor guy. He promised to turn it down right away.

Once back to the car, we realized I had busted the wrong car. Oh, dear. That ain’t him……and I wasn’t going to find the right one, either. You know how that ultra-low ultra-bass thing is. It sinks into the ground and bubbles up out of it again. Goes around corners. It looks & sounds like an easy proposition to home in on it. Well, it isn’t.

I began to dream up new superpowers for Shush Man. Shush Man would obviously have to have some powers to hunt perpetrators down, powers that I don’t have. Bionic hearing or something. Explosive hydraulic foam was another idea…once Shush Man zooms in on that sonofabitch, he could conjure up bubbly pink foam out of the ground with such force that the car would flip over and be consumed by it. Or by an orange goo.

But in real life, Shush Man doesn’t exist. And I’d already collared an innocent man, did I want to go reprimanding another? Boom…boom…katchoom…boom…boom. So between the two options left to us — go on a witch hunt, or wait it out for the remaining ten minutes — I was persuaded to choose the more passive option. Fortunately, we had only another five before security made their regular rounds, and my lady flagged ‘em down and alerted them to the problem.

It became clear their younger ears could seek out things that my older ones could not. It did take a few seconds or so…but the photon torpedoes did find the two-meter exhaust port, and the deed was done. Glorious silence followed. We applauded. We were not the only ones.

I bring this up because…well…once again, I just think it’s interesting. We don’t have any blood-sucking lawyers calling me up to find out if I’m “allergic” to Boom Boom Katchoom Boom Katchoom ultra-low frequency ultra-high bass rap music. And it really does induce painful headaches…

…but lookee what we have here

A group in Santa Fe says the city is discriminating against them because they say that they’re allergic to the wireless Internet signal. And now they want Wi-Fi banned from public buildings.

Arthur Firstenberg says he is highly sensitive to certain types of electric fields, including wireless Internet and cell phones.

“I get chest pain and it doesn’t go away right away,” he said.

Firstenberg and dozens of other electro-sensitive people in Santa Fe claim that putting up Wi-Fi in public places is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Arthur Firstenberg, your lawyer is obviously hungry. Maybe he’s my Shush Man; he and I can help each other out. Have him give me a call.

Otherwise, I think I have another case of “discrimination” I’d like to report.

Look at what you’ve got going on here. We’re giving our poor, poor “disabled” people “chest pains” when we use WiFi. To…complete some term papers. Find something in an electronic almanac. Look at porn? Mmmm…I’m inclined to think that’s what a home broadband connection is for. WiFi is…to find out if the movie we just pulled in to watch is any good. Or? …look up the phone number of the administration office of a drive-in to report some boom boom katchoom dickhead in Lot 5. Generally, to expand our knowledge base — our minds. Lawyers are mobilizing to get us to stop.

What does the boom boom katchoom itself do? The opposite. Turns your brain to mush. Give people headaches. WiFi may or may not be about exchanging information, learning things from your fellow man, offering him something in return. It might not be, but it might. So it stops. Boom boom katchoom has nothing whatsoever to do with the exchange of information. And, better-than-even odds it will everlastingly interfere with your brain’s ability to process information that is passed to you in the future…

Where’s the battalion of lawyers mobilized to put the kibosh on that?

Suspiciously, MIA. And this is what I find fascinating — more than a little. With apologies to Arsenio, it’s well into the territory of Things That Make You Go Hmmm. Make yourself better stronger smarter, there’s a lawyer to stop you. Your freedoms must be curtailed, so that the “rights” of others float onward unscathed. Make yourself into a drooling idiot, and suddenly that is what freedom is all about — all those around you just need to learn to deal.

MOST interesting.

H/T: Anti-Strib.

I Made a New Word XV

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

bo∙lus∙te∙mo∙lo∙gy (n.)

A portmanteau of e·pis·te·mol·o·gy:

…a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. The term was introduced into English by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier (1808-1864).


…and bo∙lus

A soft, roundish mass or lump, esp. of chewed food.

Bolustemology, therefore, describes a system of intelligences and beliefs that cannot be justified or proven by any means intrinsic to the consciousness that maintains such things, because they have been pre-chewed and/or pre-digested by someone else. Bolustemology is soft and squishy intellectual matter, warm, wet, smelling of halitosis, more than likely infected with something. When you offer it to someone, you may be offering to put forth the effort they themselves cannot sustain, so that they can be nourished. But it’s far more likely that you’re engaging in an exercise to make them feel fed, without doing the necessary chewing…because you don’t want them to.

Very few among us will ‘fess up to consuming bolustemology, so infatuated are we with the fantasy of thinking for ourselves about everything. But at the same time very few among us can speak to the issue because most of us have not bothered to become bolus-aware. This is demonstrated easily. Last month, for example, Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama was forced by the inflammatory words of his bigoted pastor and spiritual mentor, to speak to the issue of racial disharmony. And so, swaggering to the podium as if it was his idea to do this, he droned on in that Bill-Clinton-like crowd-pleasing way of his for a few minutes, after which we were offered prime tidbits of bolus such as

Obama speech opens up race dialogue
Will it stand alongside the great speeches in US history?

:
Several students of political rhetoric suggest Senator Obama’s moving speech in Philadelphia Tuesday could stand with some of the great speeches in American history.

True, say some, the Democratic presidential candidate was forced into giving a speech that would explain his relationship to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., the outspoken minister of Obama’s church, known for some antiwhite and anti-American sermons.

While argument continues over whether Obama’s explanation was sufficient, his speech did seem to achieve this: It has sparked a conversation about race relations, one of the frankest Americans have had since the civil rights era.

And

The Obama speech was also a topic of discussion on Wednesday at the Washington office of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy and social welfare group. Hispanics can be white, black or of mixed race. “The cynics are going to say this was an effort only to deal with the Reverend Wright issue and move on,” said Janet Murguia, president of La Raza, referring to the political fallout over remarks by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., which prompted Mr. Obama to deliver the speech.

But Ms. Murguia said she hoped that Mr. Obama’s speech would help “create a safe space to talk about this, where people aren’t threatened or pigeonholed” and “can talk more openly and honestly about the tensions, both overt and as an undercurrent, that exist around race and racial politics.”

If there are any facts to back up this conclusion that the Obama speech stands alongside the great speeches of U.S. history…that it opens up a “race dialog”…that it creates a safe space to talk about this, where people aren’t threatened or pigeonholed…or where they can talk more openly and honestly about the tensions that exist around racial politics…such factual foundation is missing from the stories I’ve linked, altogether, and it’s missing from every single other item of discussion about this speech. The facts simply don’t back up any of this. Nor can they, because this is all a bunch of stuff that would be judged by each person hearing the speech. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. And the ivory-tower types writing about it in such sugary tones know nothing about this, nor can they.

No, the factual foundation says the “cynics” are quite correct. Obama’s speech “was an effort only to deal with the Reverend Wright issue and move on.” In fact, you don’t need any cynicism to conclude that. All you need to have is a decent and functional short-term memory.

But our High Priests of journalism, rushing to the press with their editorials built to be printed up in the wrong sections of the respective papers, weren’t interested in factual foundations, logical conclusions, et al. Nope, that’s all out of scope. They were all about bolustemology. About pre-chewing the food for others. About bludgeoning and cudgeling. About giving total strangers instructions about what to believe.

Obama may very well have given his speech in service of purely altruistic and idealistic motives. In doing so, he may very well have accomplished his stated goal of “opening up a national dialog” or some such…created a sounding board of safety for those who otherwise would have felt threatened participating in such an exchange. All those things could, in theory, be true. But all who desire to think independently for themselves, or at least to be thought of by others as capable of doing this, should be offended at the manner in which these cognitions were being handed to them. Valid cognitions have no need for pre-chewing. Each thinking recipient can figure it out for himself or herself. Yet, here, the pre-chewing was rampant.

I have some less subtle examples of the same thing in mind, in case the race-dialog item fails to illustrate the point properly. Michael Ronayne, about whom we learn via Gerard, distills the latest eco-bullying episode for us quite elegantly:

For the background, you can turn to JunkScience, which has a decent write-up including the e-mail exchange between a BBC reporter and a climate-change activist, reproduced in entirety here:

I have been emailed the following correspondence, purportedly between an activist, Jo Abbess, and BBC Environment reporter Roger Harrabin. It would appear that the result of the email exchange between the activist and the reporter was that the BBC changed its story. In particular instead of reporting the story as received from the World Meteorological Organisation, the BBC modified the story as demanded by the activist who was concerned that in its original form it supported ‘the skeptics’ correct observation that there has been no warming since 1998.

From Jo, April 4, 2008

Climate Changers,

Remember to challenge any piece of media that seems like it’s been subject to spin or scepticism.

Here’s my go for today. The BBC actually changed an article I requested a correction for, but I’m not really sure if the result is that much better.

Judge for yourselves…

from Jo Abbess
to Roger Harrabin
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 10:12 AM
subject Correction Demanded : “Global temperatures ‘to decrease’”

Dear Roger,

Please can you correct your piece published today entitled “Global
temperatures ‘to decrease’” :-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7329799.stm

1. “A minority of scientists question whether this means global
warming has peaked”
This is incorrect. Several networks exist that question whether global
warming has peaked, but they contain very few actual scientists, and
the scientists that they do contain are not climate scientists so have
no expertise in this area.

2. “Global temperatures this year will be lower than in 2007″
You should not mislead people into thinking that the sum total of the
Earth system is going to be cooler in 2008 than 2007. For example, the
ocean systems of temperature do not change in yearly timescales, and
are massive heat sinks that have shown gradual and continual warming.
It is only near-surface air temperatures that will be affected by La
Nina, plus a bit of the lower atmosphere.

Thank you for applying your attention to all the facts and figures available,

jo.

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

from Roger Harrabin
to Jo Abbess ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 10:23 AM
subject RE: Correction Demanded : “Global temperatures ‘to decrease’”

Dear Jo

No correction is needed

If the secy-gen of the WMO tells me that global temperatures will
decrease, that’s what we will report

There are scientists who question whether warming will continue as
projected by IPCC

Best wishes
RH

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

from Jo Abbess
to Roger Harrabin ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 10:37 AM
subject Re: Correction Demanded : “Global temperatures ‘to decrease’”

Hi Roger,

I will forward your comments (unless you object) to some people who
may wish to add to your knowledge.

Would you be willing to publish information that expands on your
original position, and which would give a better, clearer picture of
what is going on ?

Personally, I think it is highly irresponsible to play into the hands
of the sceptics/skeptics who continually promote the idea that “global
warming finished in 1998″, when that is so patently not true.

I have to spend a lot of my time countering their various myths and
non-arguments, saying, no, go look at the Hadley Centre data. Global
Warming is not over. There have been what look like troughs and
plateaus/x before. It didn’t stop then. It’s not stopping now.

It is true that people are debating Climate Sensitivity, how much
exactly the Earth will respond to radiative forcing, but nobody is
seriously refuting that increasing Greenhouse Gases cause increased
global temperatures.

I think it’s counterproductive to even hint that the Earth is cooling
down again, when the sum total of the data tells you the opposite.
Glaringly.

As time goes by, the infant science of climatology improves. The Earth
has never experienced the kind of chemical adjustment in the
atmosphere we see now, so it is hard to tell exactly what will happen
based on historical science.

However, the broad sweep is : added GHG means added warming.

Please do not do a disservice to your readership by leaving the door
open to doubt about that.

jo.

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

from Roger Harrabin
to Jo Abbess ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 10:57 AM
subject RE: Correction Demanded : “Global temperatures ‘to decrease’”

The article makes all these points quite clear

We can’t ignore the fact that sceptics have jumped on the lack of
increase since 1998. It is appearing reguarly now in general media

Best to tackle this – and explain it, which is what we have done

Or people feel like debate is being censored which makes them v
suspicious

Roger

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

from Jo Abbess
to Roger Harrabin ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 11:12 AM
subject Re: Correction Demanded : “Global temperatures ‘to decrease’”

Hi Roger,

When you are on the Tube in London, I expect that occasionally you
glance a headline as sometime turns the page, and you thinkg “Really
?” or “Wow !”

You don’t read the whole article, you just get the headline.

A lot of people will read the first few paragraphs of what you say,
and not read the rest, and (a) Dismiss your writing as it seems you
have been manipulated by the sceptics or (b) Jump on it with glee and
e-mail their mates and say “See ! Global Warming has stopped !”

They only got the headline, which is why it is so utterly essentialy
to give the full picture, or as full as you can in the first few
paragraphs.

The near-Earth surface temperatures may be cooler in 2008 that they
were in 2007, but there is no way that Global Warming has stopped, or
has even gone into reverse. The oceans have been warming consistently,
for example, and we’re not seeing temperatures go into reverse, in
general, anywhere.

Your word “debate”. This is not an issue of “debate”. This is an issue
of emerging truth. I don’t think you should worry about whether people
feel they are countering some kind of conspiracy, or suspicious that
the full extent of the truth is being withheld from them.

Every day more information is added to the stack showing the desperate
plight of the planet.

It would be better if you did not quote the sceptics. Their voice is
heard everywhere, on every channel. They are deliberately obstructing
the emergence of the truth.

I would ask : please reserve the main BBC Online channel for emerging truth.

Otherwise, I would have to conclude that you are insufficiently
educated to be able to know when you have been psychologically
manipulated. And that would make you an unreliable reporter.

I am about to send your comments to others for their contribution,
unless you request I do not. They are likely to want to post your
comments on forums/fora, so please indicate if you do not want this to
happen. You may appear in an unfavourable light because it could be
said that you have had your head turned by the sceptics.

Respectfully,

jo.

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

from Roger Harrabin
to Jo Abbess ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 11:28 AM
subject RE: Correction Demanded : “Global temperatures ‘to decrease’”

Have a look in 10 minutes and tell me you are happier

We have changed headline and more

Remember: Challenge any skepticism.

Now look at that graphic up there carefully: Blue is the old stuff, green is the post-capitulation, post-bend-over, post-take-it-up-the-chute-from-Ms.-Abbess stuff. And then read the nagging again…carefully. Jo Abbess doesn’t take issue with the facts presented, for she can’t — they’re facts. Facts iz facts. She objects to the conclusions people may draw from them, and nags this guy until he changes the presentation to her liking, so people will draw a conclusion more in line with what she expects. She’s trying to sell something here. Challenge any skepticism.

There are other examples around, if you simply take the effort to become bolus-aware and look around. There is, for example, the sad tale of Richard Warman. His Wikipedia page contains four major categories as of this writing: Legal activism; Canadian human rights tribunal; Political activism; References. Who is he? The wonderful glittering text in the main article informs us…

He is best known for initiating complaints against white supremacists and neo-Nazis for Canadian Human Rights Act violations related to Internet content. In June 2007, Warman received the Saul Hayes Human Rights Award from the Canadian Jewish Congress for “distinguished service to the cause of human rights”. He holds a BA (Hons.) in Drama from Queen’s University, an LLB from the University of Windsor, and an LLM from McGill University.

He’s a Nazi hunter! Wow, what a great guy! And he’s got letters after his name and everything.

But a quick visit to the “Talk” page reveals some intriguing conflict:

You removed what I believe were valid entries in support of the of criticism of Richard Warman.

You claim that the entries are not “encyclopedic”. Please explain what you mean, provide an example, and a Wikipedia reference in support of your position. Note also that one of the references was to another article in Wikipedia.

I am going to assume for the moment that you are acting in good faith, and will not censor valid criticism. Then there should not be too much difficulty in finding criticism of which you approve, since Richard Warman’s complaints before the CHRC are currently one of the most widely discussed topics on Canadian blogs. I provided just two references, whereas there are hundreds of others.

The entries you removed are:

Critics have charged that Warman abuses the intent of the Canadian Human Rights Act by personally appearing as the plaintiff in the majority of CHRA section 13 “hate speech” cases which have been brought before the Commission, a former employer of Warman. – - Critics further charge that many CHRC “hate speech” complaints such as Warman’s have had a chilling effect on the human right to freedom of expression.

I look forward to your prompt, reasoned response. Thank you.

Another piqued Wiki contributor writes in with an inflammatory sub-headline:

Bias in article maintenance and corrupt admins

This article is being maintained by politically motivated individuals trying to protect the information from being changed at all costs by removing any reference to well-sourced articles that don’t shed good light on this individual. These same individuals and admins have engaged in slander in other articles

What are these unflattering tidbits about Mr. Warman? Well, it seems lately he is in conflict with Ezra Levant, having served papers on the publisher. Levant paints a different picture of the former Human Rights Commission lawyer:

Today I was sued by Richard Warman, Canada’s most prolific – and profitable – user of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. As readers of this site know, Warman isn’t just a happy customer of section 13 and its 100% conviction rate, he’s a former CHRC employee, an investigator of section 13 thought crimes himself. In fact, he was often both a customer and an investigator at the same time.
:
It’s impossible to criticize section 13 without criticizing Warman, because without Warman, section 13 would have been defunct years ago – almost no-one else in this country of 33 million people uses it. I’d call it “Warman’s Law”, but I’ve already given that title to another law enacted because of Warman. Warman’s Law is a law brought in by the B.C. government specifically to protect libraries from Warman’s nuisance defamation suits. (We should find some way to set up a Warman’s law to protect universities from Warman, too.)
:
The more I learn about Warman, the more I write about him. And, like the CHRC, he hates public exposure. Earlier this year, Warman’s lawyer served me with a lengthy Libel Notice, which I posted to my website here, with my commentary on it here.

Again — you may read all of the above and end up still a big, slobbering fan of Richard Warman. You may decide to dismiss all of the reservations people like Levant have against him…which might be fair, since Levant is a defendant and Warman is a petitioner. You should expect that inviting Levant and Warman to dinner on the same night and seating them next to each other, would be a plan deserving of a re-think or two.

But…wouldn’t you want to know some of the less flattering things about Mr. Warman? Especially if you’re sufficiently interested in him to go look up the Wikipedia entry about him? Well, it turns out at least some of the Wikipedia admins don’t seem to think so. They think you should only know the flowery parts. Or at least, they’ve so far come up with some wonderful excuses for excising anything else from the article.

Hell, I’d sure want to know about this:

* Complaints filed to CHRC: 26
* Former employee and investigator at the Canadian Human Rights Commission
* In December 2006, the Law Society shows he works for the Department of National Defence
* Education: degree in Drama from Queens University
* Member: Law Society of Upper Canada and EGALE Canada
* Gave a Keynote speech to the Violent Anti-Racist Action
* Warman is a frequent poster on “Neo-Nazi” Stormfront website
* Warman is a frequent poster on “Neo-Nazi” VNN website.
* Pretends to be a woman named “Lucie”
* Has signed his posts with “88” (according to Warman means: Heil Hitler)
* Has called Senator Anne Cools a “nigger” and a “c*nt” on the internet

And I’d want to know what Mark Steyn had to say yesterday:

He has been the plaintiff on half the Section 13 cases in its entire history and on all the Section 13 cases since 2002. There are 30 million Canadians yet only one of them uses this law, over and over and over again, which tells you how otherwise irrelevant it is to keeping the Queen’s peace. Section 13 is, in effect, Warman’s Law and the CHRC is Warman’s personal inquisition and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is Warman’s very own kangaroo court. Whether or not the motivations were pure and pristine when this racket got started, at some point his pals at the CHRC and the “judges” of the CHRT should have realized that the Warmanization of Section 13 doesn’t pass the smell test: Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done, and when you see what’s done at the CHRC you understand it’s a cosy and self-perpetuating romance between a corrupt bureaucracy and its favoured son.

But the over-zealous Wiki editor(s) says no. They’re taking the Soup Nazi approach with these nuggets of unflattering information about Mr. Warman. Not-a For You!

Lying by omission — that’s a perfectly good example of bolustemology.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Matthew LaClure. He’s just like Richard Warman, it seems…standing for our rights, in his satin tights, and the old red white and blue-hoo-hoo-hoo…

Matthew LaClair, of Kearny, NJ, stood up for religious freedom and the separation of church and state in the face of ridicule and opposition. During his junior year in high school, Matthew had a history teacher who promoted creationism and other personal religious beliefs in the classroom. When Matthew confronted the teacher and asked the school officials to address this, he became the target of harassment and even a death threat from fellow students. Despite this opposition, Matthew worked with the ACLU of New Jersey to make sure that the First Amendment is respected and upheld at his high school. Matthew won the battle at his school and thanks in large part to his advocacy, the Student Education Assembly on Religious Freedom was created at his high school so that all members of the school community will understand their rights and responsibilities.

There follows an essay from the young LaClair about what he did, what happened to him as a result, and how it changed him. I suppose it might be encouraging to some who share his and the ACLU’s values, such as they are…but regardless, you have to notice the phrase “civil liberties” is peppered throughout, with negligible definition about what exactly this two-word cliche is supposed to mean.

I hope that what I did encourages others to stand up for civil liberties. I want to take what I have learned from this situation and apply it to other situations I will experience in my life. I now have a greater chance of making a bigger difference in the world, and I think that the experience will serve to expand my abilities further.

To figure out what “civil liberties” he’s droning on about, you have to consider what exactly it was that he did. And what he did was…start mouthing off at teachers when he was asked to stand for the pledge of allegiance. So the civil liberties in question would be…uh…the civil liberty to sit there while everybody else stands. Well, gosh, it turns out to the extent kids have that civil liberty post-LaClair, they had it before he ever came along. How about the civil liberty of doing that without some strutting martinet getting in their faces about it? Well, no change there either.

In the final analysis, the ACLU is making their apotheosis because Master LaClair mouthed off like a little brat. Any fantasy involving any more nobility than that, is bolustemology and nothing more.

But what’s he done for us lately, you might be asking? Glad you asked. Matthew LaClair, who has no axe to grind here, nosiree, has again impressed certain segments of the halfway-grown-up community by making a big ol’ racket about…exactly the same kind of stuff as last time.

Talk about a civics lesson: A high-school senior has raised questions about political bias in a popular textbook on U.S. government, and legal scholars and top scientists say the teen’s criticism is well-founded.

They say “American Government” by conservatives James Wilson and John Dilulio presents a skewed view of topics from global warming to separation of church and state. The publisher now says it will review the book, as will the College Board, which oversees college-level Advanced Placement courses used in high schools.

Matthew LaClair of Kearny, N.J., recently brought his concerns to the attention of the Center for Inquiry, an Amherst, N.Y., think tank that promotes science and which has issued a scathing report about the textbook.

“I just realized from my own knowledge that some of this stuff in the book is just plain wrong,” said LaClair, who is using the book as part of an AP government class at Kearny High School.

Yyyyyyeah. Uh huh. Just kind of blundered into that one, huh? Kinda like Murder She Wrote…have to wonder what dead body you’re going to find next week.

Just plain wrong. How interesting. Especially when one takes the trouble to actually read the report from the Center for Inquiry.

Unlike Matt LaClair, I’ll encourage you to do so. But just in the interest of saving time, the report boldly confronts six distinct areas of “just plain wrong” ness: global warming; school prayer; same sex marriage; constitutional government and “original sin”; the meaning of the Establishment Clause; and the significance of the Supreme Court’s denial of a writ of certiorari.

Of those six, the fourth and last are the two items that represent, in my mind, what you might call “a real stretch.” The CFI takes issue, there, with small snippets of the textbook in question, and reads meaning into them so that the whistle can be blown. For their criticisms to stand, a certain interpretation has to be applied to these snippets. The fifth objection is probably the most durable because it’s clear to me it is the best-researched. But here, too, the phrase “last minute” has to be given a literal interpretation (in the context of the time frame in which the First Amendment was ratified in the late eighteenth century) — so it can be properly debunked. So with all of the final three of the subjects, the authors of the textbook under review could respond to the CFI solidly and plausibly by simply saying “that isn’t what we meant.”

But it’s with the first item that my interest was really aroused:

The textbook‘s discussion of the science of global warming is devastatingly inaccurate. As explained below, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence establishes that global climate change caused by global warming is already underway and requires immediate attention. The international scientific community is united in recognizing the extremely high probability that human generated greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide as the major offender, are the primary cause of global warming and that this global warming will produce harmful climate change.

And much later…

In brief, debate within the scientific community over the existence and cause of global warming has closed. The most respected scientific bodies have stated unequivocally that global warming is occurring and that human generated greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide as the major offender, are the primary cause of well documented global warming and climate change today. These conclusions are detailed in the landmark 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international scientific body organized to evaluate the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change.

Have you got any red flags raised when you read hackneyed phrases like “overwhelming weight”? If so, maybe you’re on the road to becoming bolus-aware. If not, then maybe you aren’t. Perhaps all six of the objections are legitimate, meritorious, and productive. But it’s easy to see the CFI report seeks — not to inform, but — to bully. To intimidate. To coerce. To get the whole world running the way certain people want it to…and since Matt LaClair is one of ‘em, naturally he thinks they’re wonderful and vice-versa. None of this changes the fact that this is all pre-chewed pablum.

Notice — none of these observations have to do with truth. They have to do with who is recognizing it…and the subservient role others are invited to fill, as they are beckoned to slavishly follow along. The only other important thing to remember about this is that once one person is caught up in the undertow, he’ll piss rusty nickels to get everyone else sucked down with him. People who suck down bolus, don’t want to see anyone else do any chewing.

Oh, but I do have one thing to point out that deals directly with truth: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is not a scientific body, it is a political one.

The common perception of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is one of an impartial organisation that thoroughly reviews the state of climate science and produces reports which are clear, accurate, comprehensive, well substantiated and without bias.

One only needs examine some of its procedural documents, its reports and its dealings with reviewers of the report drafts to discover how wrong this impression is.

The IPCC is not and never has been an organisation that examines all aspects of climate change in a neutral and impartial manner. Its internal procedures reinforce that bias; it makes no attempts to clarify its misleading and ambiguous statements. It is very selective about the material included in its reports; its fundamental claims lack evidence. And most importantly, its actions have skewed the entire field of climate science.

As the saying goes, I’m much more concerned about the intellectual climate. Happy reading.

Class dismissed.

Update 4/11/08: You know, it occurs to me that even with all the examples above of strangers figuring things out for us and telling us what to think, not even handing us the glimmer of factual foundation so we could at least go through the motions of coming to the conclusions they want from us on our own…and with all the other examples we continue to be handed on a daily basis — Iraq is a quagmire, Boy Scouts is a hate group, etc. etc. — for some among us, the point still might not yet be pounded home. When you aren’t bolus-aware, you are very easily convinced of some things, but it’s an endless chore to bring your attention to certain other things.

It further occurs to me that it doesn’t need to be this complicated. Not even close.

We have three clear front-runners for the President of the United States in ’08, one Republican and two donks. Can there possibly be any example of our societal gullibility, than what follows. The one Republican is, by far, the most liberal left-wing Republican in the entire Senate. The two donks are, against all odds, the most liberal left-wing donks in the entire Senate.

If what I have used all those paragraphs to describe, above, is not an epidemic covering all the mass between the great oceans, lately reaching “I Am Legend” proportions and intensity…you would be forced to conclude that that is just a cohweenkadeenk. The odds? My calculator says one in 124,950.

Since You Cost Us 900 Large…

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

…here’s a day in your honor.

The San Diego City Council voted 5-2 to honor the American Civil Liberties Union with a special day of recognition, even after the organization sued the city and collected $900,000 in taxpayer funds.

The plan was offered by council member Toni Atkins, who said she stood “by the resolution” and commended “the ACLU for the work they do.”

Even before the vote, a spokeswoman for the ACLU expressed gratitude for the formal honor.

“Thank you for recognizing the ACLU,” said Rebecca Roberts.

Nothing sneaky going on here, it’s perfectly natural to celebrate someone suing you into the poorhouse because you aren’t doing everything exactly the way they think you should. Hmmm…they could call it “NOT Freedom Day” or something.

Via Jay, via the Rottweiler.

“You and I can rule the galaxy…make things the way we want them to be!” — Anakin Skywalker, after turning to the Dark Side

Salvage’s Frosting Diet

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Salvage is Canadian, but I’d like to make it clear at this time that there are other Canadians who are not like him. He’s been hanging around Rick’s blog ever since Zossima dropped out of it…which is interesting…giving us an almost-daily education about sarcasm. How it is open to abuse. How pure sarcasm, can be used to prop up just about any silly statement. Convincingly. Somewhat convincingly when coming from salvage…perhaps more convincingly when manipulated by someone more capable.

It’s worth keeping in mind, I think. Some folks are known to use sarcasm to decide anything and everything. They are strangers to genuine exchanges of ideas. They are the “Daily Show” generation — those who were brought up under the belief that when they were watching certain entertainment programs, they were watching “news.” Who is to blame them for thinking any idea worth pondering, should fit onto a bumper sticker or within a single lungful of air?

Sarcasm has its place. But in my view, that place is as a garnish. Or cake frosting. We got a lot of young people walking around, I see, who substitute that frosting in place of the cake, the sherbet, the Hors D’Oeuvres, the vegetables, and the entree.

Their “diet” is as far away from healthy as you can get. And at Brutally Honest, we get a reminder of this every time we watch salvage do his “dining.”

Well, yesterday salvage took a break from the bucket o’ frosting and compromised with his mommy to chow down on a hunk of muffin…or sugar cookie…or something…with lots of sarcastic frosting spread all over it, of course. Can’t take a break from it, you know — in no other context, can his absurd ideas enjoy even the appearance of legitimacy. At issue was the case of Ezra Levant’s case before the Human Rights Commission.

A complaint has been filed with Canada’s HRC, which has lately become notorious. The point of the complaint is a selection of those horribly offensive cartoons about the prophet Muhammed, of which Levant is the publisher.

Van der Leun put up the YouTube clips from Levant, and then Rick linked to Van der Leun. Rick wondered aloud how it could be justified that this story is ignored, by the very same folks who “want to trumpet the loss of civil rights at the hands of Bushitler and his co-chimp Cheney and other ‘neocons’.”

…and salvage jumped in to provide an answer to that.

Yes, the elimination of habeas corpus and the indefinite detention certainly compares to the undemocratic hell that is a Human Rights Commission hearing and there is no doubt that Ezra Levant will be sentenced to life in the Maple Syrup mines.

Actually the Human Rights Commission is just following their mandate, someone made a complaint and now they’re investigating it. Sometimes people make stupid complaints but they still have to be followed up.

And yes, this is a stupid one you can tell because it’s gotten you wingnuts all worked up which is always fun to watch.

So keep it up, and when the Commission finds there isn’t any grounds and it ends? I’m sure you and your wingnut buddies will talk about that with equal enthusiasm.

Nah, just kidding, you’ll just find another molehill to shriek your fear and loathing at.

It’s clear to me that salvage didn’t watch the clips — that, or if he did, the point went whistling at Mach 1 right over what passes for his noggin.

See, when the argument is made about President Bush’s “elimination of habeas corpus and the indefinite detention,” this actually resonates with fair-minded moderate folks such as myself, even if it doesn’t completely convince us, because that says what we have is a decision we are accustomed to having made in the public spotlight, with transparency, publicity, and oversight, suddenly made in what might be thought of as a “black box.” We find the argument compelling, even if we don’t find it altogether convincing for a number of reasons. Some of the problems have to do with the nature of military operations. We have “detainees” captured on the field of battle…should the detainees be released to our court system? Can it not be said that the rights of the detainees have been violated, if this does not come to pass?

The argument isn’t dismissed lightly. Folks like salvage, gorging themselves on the frosting of sarcasm, think it is — because it does not triumph. The grownups, who understand things like roughage and protein and vitamins, and therefore do not dine on frosting alone, have other things to consider…

…like, for example, what laws have these “detainees” broken? The most-liberal guy where I work came up with an interesting point: He’s opposed to releasing detainees into the legal system, because regardless of his feelings about pre-emptive military strikes, he certainly doesn’t want America to be empowered to go around the world arresting people. On that, he and I agree. And then there’s the matter of what a legal system does with prisoners, who are found to have not violated any laws (or, more to the point, cannot be proven to have violated any laws).

Those prisoners have to be released, right?

It just doesn’t seem to fit the situation. It would appear we have found the reason why some things are treated as legal issues, and other things aren’t. The legal process is all about “rights,” whereas in thousands of years of war, nobody with a respected viewpoint on the matter ever declared the day-to-day business of war to have much to do with rights.

Saying so, doesn’t make you a right-winger or a Bush-bot. It makes you a grownup. But as salvage helps to remind us, lot of the folks talking about this stuff now aren’t really grownups.

But getting back to the back-room nature of how the Bush administration has been dealing with the detainees. I think we can all agree, at the grownup dining table at least, that the detainees do have some rights — and that whatever these rights are, they ought to fall short of the rights needed to run wild & free and make trouble. And so even though we don’t bow to the wisdom of the frosting-kids, as reasonable adults we are bothered by the idea that people in authority are deciding things and their decisions are not open ones.

Salvage and the rest of the frosting-kids, fresh off of making that argument, and festering in their disappointment that this one argument didn’t determine the outcome…then indulge in the unbelievable, which I’m pretty sure is the point Rick was making. They look upon the closed-door proceedings of the HRC — not the hearings we are able to browse on YouTube, thanks to the uploading by the defendant himself, but the process by which these decisions are handed down — they understand the rubber is going to meet the road in whatever way it’s gonna. And this raises no red flags with them.

To state it a little more succinctly. It is in the nature of a military tribunal that oversight is limited — that’s supposed to be an awful thing. Oversight seems to be missing altogether from what the HRC does…it’s not immediately obvious how the HRC finds it necessary to function without it, but it’s missing anyway…and that’s perfectly alright?

It should be noted the care involved in choosing the word “limited.” It does not mean “non-existent.” Far from it. At least, that is the case where the military tribunals are concerned.

President George W. Bush has ordered that certain detainees imprisoned at the Naval base at Guantanamo Bay were to be tried by military commissions. This decision sparked controversy and litigation. On June 29, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the power of the Bush administration to conduct military tribunals to suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay.

In December of 2006, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was passed and authorized the establishment of military commissions subject to certain requirements and with a designated system of appealing those decisions. A military commission system addressing objections identified by the U.S. Supreme Court was then established by the Department of Defense. Litigation concerning the establishment of this system is ongoing. As of June 13, 2007, the appellate body in this military commission system had not yet been constituted.

Three cases had been commenced in the new system, as of June 13, 2007. One detainee, David Matthew Hicks plea bargained and was sent to Australia to serve a nine month sentence. Two case were dismissed without prejudice because the tribunal believed that the men charged had not been properly determined to be persons within the commission’s jurisdiction on June 4, 2007, and the military prosecutors asked the commission to reconsider that decision on June 8, 2007. One of the dismissed cases involved Omar Ahmed Khadr, who was captured at age 15 in Afghanistan after having killed a U.S. soldier with a grenade. The other dismissed case involved Salim Ahmed Hamdan who is alleged to have been Osama bin Laden’s driver and is the lead plaintiff in a key series of cases challenging the military commission system. The system is in limbo until the jurisdictional issues addressed in the early cases are resolved.

This has always bothered me about the “eliminating habeas corpus” argument. I remember all the crowing and champagne-glass-clinking when the Supreme Court decision was handed down. Oooh, we’re so wonderful and Bush sucks so much, because the Supreme Court showed him what-for. And then the process is reformed to accommodate the decision…and then is challenged anew…and heard in court some more.

That’s oversight. It’s there, or it isn’t. If you’re victorious in getting it installed, or using it, or exploiting it, and you want to shout from the highest hilltops that you had your victory against the Imperial Galactic Bush Administration and bask in your wonderful-ness — seems to me, the option to grumble about lack of that openness and oversight at some later time, has been jettisoned. You can’t have it both ways.

Okay now if the issue is comparing the military tribunal situation to the Human Rights Commission hearings…and it seems to be, because if I’m reading it right, Rick laid down a challenge and then cupcake-frosting-boy went and picked it up…it’s fair to ask: Does the HRC have as much transparency and oversight as this military tribunal process — which I’m told has none, but clearly does have plenty?

We’re not off to a good start here. I would cite as Exhibit A, Levant’s seventh clip, “What Was Your Intent?”

LEVANT: Why is that a relevant question?

MCGOVERN: Under section 31a, it talks about the intention…purpose…we like to get some background, as well.

LEVANT: Is it, you’d like to get some background? Or does this determine anything? We publish what we publish. The words speak for themselves. Are you saying that one answer is wrong and one answer is right? Is a certain answer contrary to law?

MCGOVERN: No.

LEVANT: So if I were to say — hypothetically — that the purpose was to instill hatred, incite hatred, and to cause offense, are you saying that’s an acceptable answer?

MCGOVERN: I have to look at it in the context of all the information, and determine if it was indeed.

You have to admire the way Levant is handling this. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say he is Henry Rearden sprung to life, leaping straight out of the pages of Atlas Shrugged:

“I do not recognise this court’s right to try me.”

“What?”

“I do not recognise this court’s right to try me.”

“But, Mr. Rearden, this is the legally appointed court to try this particular category of crime.”

“I do not recognise my action as a crime.”

“But you have admitted that you have broken our regulations controlling the sale of your Metal.”

“I do not recognise your right to control the sale of my Metal.”

“Is it necessary for me to point out that your recognition was not required?”

“No. I am fully aware of it and I am acting accordingly.”

He noted the stillness of the room. By the rules of the complicated pretence which all those people played for one another’s benefit, they should have considered his stand as incomprehensible folly; there should have been rustles of astonishment and derision; there were none; they sat still; they understood.

“Do you mean that you are refusing to obey the law?” asked the judge.

“No. I am complying with the law – to the letter. Your law holds that my life, my work and my property may be disposed of without my consent. Very well, you may now dispose of me without my participation in the matter. I will not play the part of defending myself, where no defence is possible, and I will not simulate the illusion of dealing with a tribunal of justice.”

“But, Mr. Rearden, the law provides specifically that you are to be given an opportunity to present your side of the case and to defend yourself.”

“A prisoner brought to trial can defend himself only if there is an objective principle of justice recognised by his judges, a principle upholding his rights, which they may not violate and which he can invoke. The law, by which you are trying me, holds that there are no principles, that I have no rights and that you may do with me whatever you please. Very well. Do it.”

“Mr. Rearden, the law which you are denouncing is based on the highest principle – the principle of the public good.”

“Who is the public? What does it hold as its good? There was a time when men believed that ‘the good’ was a concept to be defined by a code of moral values and that no man had the right to seek his good through the violation of the rights of another. If it is now believed that my fellow men may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they deem to e their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it – well, so does any burglar. There is only this difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act.”

A group of seats at the side of the courtroom was reserved for the prominent visitors who had come from New York to witness the trial. Dagny sat motionless and her face showed nothing but a solemn attention, the attention of listening with the knowledge that the flow of his words would determine the course of her life. Eddie Willers sat beside her. James Taggart had not come. Paul Larkin sat hunched forward, his face thrust out, pointed like an animal’s muzzle, sharpened by a look of fear now turning into malicious hatred. Mr. Mowen, who sat beside him, was a man of greater innocence and smaller understanding; his fear was of a simpler nature; he listened in bewildered indignation and he whispered to Larkin, “Good God, now he’s done it! Now he’ll convince the whole country that all businessmen are enemies of the public good!”

“Are we to understand,” asked the judge, “that you hold your own interests above the interests of the public?”

“I hold that such a question can never arise except in a society of cannibals.”

“What … do you mean?”

“I hold that there is no clash of interests among men who do not demand the unearned and do not practice human sacrifices.”

“Are we to understand that if the public deems it necessary to curtail your profits, you do not recognise its right to do so?”

“Why, yes, I do. The public may curtail my profits any time it wishes – by refusing to buy my product.”

“We are speaking of … other methods.”

“Any other method of curtailing profits is the method of looters – and I recognise it as such.”

“Mr. Rearden, this is hardly the way to defend yourself.”

“I said that I would not defend myself.”

“But this is unheard of! Do you realise the gravity of the charge against you?”

“I do not care to consider it.”

“Do you realise the possible consequences of your stand?”

“Fully.”

“It is the opinion of this court that the facts presented by the prosecution seem to warrant no leniency. The penalty which this court has the power to impose on you is extremely severe.”

“Go ahead.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Impose it.”

The three judges looked at one another. Then their spokesman turned back to Rearden. “This is unprecedented,” he said.

“It is completely irregular,” said the second judge. “The law requires you submit to a plea in your own defence. Your only alternative is to state for the record that you throw yourself upon the mercy of the court.”

“I do not.”

“But you have to.”

“Do you mean that what you expect from me is some sort of voluntary action?”

“Yes.”

“I volunteer nothing.”

“But the law demands that the defendant’s side be represented on the record.”

“Do you mean that you need my help to make this procedure legal?”

“Well, no … yes … that is, to complete the form.”

“I will not help you.”

The third and youngest judge, who had acted as prosecutor snapped impatiently, “This is ridiculous and unfair! Do you want to let it look as if a man of your prominence had been railroaded without a –” He cut himself off short. Somebody at the back of the courtroom emitted a long whistle.

“I want,” said Rearden gravely, “to let the nature of this procedure appear exactly for what it is. If you need my help to disguise it – I will not help you.”

“But we are giving you a chance to defend yourself – and it is you who are rejecting it.”

“I will not help you to pretend that I have a chance. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of righteousness where rights are not recognised. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of rationality by entering a debate in which a gun is the final argument. I will not help you to pretend that you are administering justice.”

“But the law compels you to volunteer a defence!”

There was laughter at the back of the courtroom.

“That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen,” said Rearden gravely, “and I will not help you out of it. If you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition – which you cannot force – that makes you possible. I choose to be consistent and I will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, I will do it at the point of a gun. If you sentence me to jail, you will have to send armed men to carry me there – I will not volunteer to move. If you fine me, you will have to seize my property to collect the fine – I will not volunteer to pay it. If you believe that you have the right to force me – use your guns openly. I will not help you to disguise the nature of your action.”

I did a quick check at the Fallaci award nominee page to see if Levine was nominated, as I was. Negatori. He should’ve been, at least next year if not this one. I’ll make a point to see what I can do about that next cycle.

It seems to me, at the very least, what we have here is a “black box” process for producing an outcome. I think even McGovern would agree with that — and with that, what we have is a breakdown in the ability to ensure consistency across the cases that come up before the Human Rights Commission.

McGovern is being deliberately evasive on the matter of how intent factors into the decision. She’s being asked about this directly. She has no answer. This is as valid a delineation as any other, in my mind at least, between free and un-free societies. The authorities are going to meet in a back room someplace and decide what’s what. Will they do that with any kind of consistency? With “equal protection,” as we call it down here?

Who knows? Who cares?

With nothing to hold the authorities to consistency and the provision of equal protection, they can show whatever favoritism they want to. What is to stop them? What oversight? Nevermind oversight…what opportunity to inspect, to criticize?

But of course this is not Guantanamo. These are full-fledged citizens of the country within whose government the HRC functions — not unlawful combatants.

Rick has issued the challenge, and frosting-boy salvage has failed in trying to accept it. He has no answer. His competence in following the facts and forming reasoned opinions about them, has been called into question. That has failed, or else his impartiality has failed. Maybe both.

Let’s pause for a minute or two to ponder how many people just like this are walking around — as free as you & me — spouting their nonsense, with “undecideds” listening to them, taking them seriously. It’s not a pretty picture. We have a multi-national conglomerate of folks who worry, ostentatiously, about things that are supposed to be described by words like “liberty” and “freedom.” But they have no understanding, or very little, about what those words really mean. And so when freedom is subject to genuine abuse, it can take place right in front of their eyes. And they can’t see it.

The frosting that is sarcasm is simply a poor diet. It makes for an imbalanced diet. To consume it, and nothing else, remains a bad idea, even if a lot of other folks are doing it. And if your diet of thinking is imbalanced, you can’t think straight…which is a problem for real lovers of freedom, because freedom is maintained only by means of rigorous, healthy, balanced, critical thinking. Here endeth the lesson.

Pearl Harbor and the Death Penalty

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Yamamoto

“In my view…the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty.”

– Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, commenting on the Atkins v. Virginia case

We got an awful lot of self-righteous people, usually with no small amount of condescension and just plain-ol’-snottiness, telling us the death penalty is inconsistent with “evolving standards of decency” or some such rot. More often than not, those snots live in well-to-do ivory tower enclaves and are unlikely to suffer personally from the vagaries of people who have no respect for the sanctity of human life but run free anyway.

One of Associate Justice Scalia’s colleagues does a dandy job of representing these goo-gooders — who are just barely enough in-touch with what passes for a moral compass, to avoid dispensing justice, even when it’s their designated occupation and sworn duty to so dispense.

I’ve already lost this link once, and now that I’ve found it again I wanted to save it onto this page so I’d never lose it again. It’s a great article, because it cites exactly what I’d cite, and highlights exactly what I’d highlight.

Lawprof and legal journalist Jeff Rosen had a very interesting New York Times article about Justice Stevens a week ago. The whole thing is much worth reading; but here I wanted to comment just on one part:

[Justice Stevens] won a bronze star for his [World War II] service as a cryptographer, after he helped break the code that informed American officials that Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the Japanese Navy and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, was about to travel to the front. Based on the code-breaking of Stevens and others, U.S. pilots, on Roosevelt’s orders, shot down Yamamoto’s plane in April 1943.

Stevens told me he was troubled by the fact that Yamamoto, a highly intelligent officer who had lived in the United States and become friends with American officers, was shot down with so little apparent deliberation or humanitarian consideration. The experience, he said, raised questions in his mind about the fairness of the death penalty. “I was on the desk, on watch, when I got word that they had shot down Yamamoto in the Solomon Islands, and I remember thinking: This is a particular individual they went out to intercept,” he said. “There is a very different notion when you’re thinking about killing an individual, as opposed to killing a soldier in the line of fire.” Stevens said that, partly as a result of his World War II experience, he has tried on the court to narrow the category of offenders who are eligible for the death penalty and to ensure that it is imposed fairly and accurately. He has been the most outspoken critic of the death penalty on the current court.

I recognize that much can get lost in such pieces, even when they are written by experienced, thoughtful, and sympathetic interviewers such as Rosen. Perhaps Stevens gave some further explanations that were omitted, or perhaps Rosen’s paraphrases are not quite right. But what I see in the article strikes me as a perplexing chain of reasoning.

There follow three bullet points which, if you’re a right-thinking rational individual like me, will line up hand-in-glove with the explosions of “Whisky Tango Foxtrot” percolating between your ears as you read through Justice Stevens’ hackneyed preponderances.

Justice John Paul Stevens has, at the very least, achieved the first milestone of insanity and probably the second as well. He’s in some wonderful company there. But more seriously than those, he’s failing to uphold his sworn duty. He is what Scalia was talking about in the quote above.

Tortured Debate

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Alberto Gonzales has resigned from his post as U.S. Attorney General, as Charles Krauthammer and I thought he should’ve a long time ago.

This makes me think about something:

I was on a thread somewhere and I got into a bit of a dust-up with some rabid left-wingers on the torture thing. I was pointing out something no different from what I had pointed out in other places, before: I’m not completely sold on the idea that this is “wrong,” and I find it deceptive to lump “humiliation” together with the stuff that comes to mind when you use the T-word. Namely, bodily mutilations, fire and steel. I don’t see these as the same thing and I don’t think there are very many people, at all, who see them as the same thing. To pretend these are on the same footing, in any way, is fundamentally dishonest.

And in my assessment of the argument, the “Torture Is Wrong” doctrine depends completely on those two things being the same. Once you acknowledge they’re different, you realize something: This really is all about de-fanging the United States. It’s about making sure we can’t do anything to win the war, besides getting shot at. Just because a lot of “Torture Is Wrong” people aren’t after that, doesn’t mean there’s some other motive behind it. There isn’t. It’s about emboldening one side of this war, by putting the other side — us — on a short leash, and letting them do whatever they want.

Now, this argument doesn’t have much currency. In the dust-up in which I lowered myself to participating, the left-wingers expressed their horror at my different ideas so all the other left-wingers could see them doing it, and that was the end of it…in short, they argued from personal incredulity…

…but my argument doesn’t have currency outside of left-winger-land, either. People, to their credit, are generally very keen on the idea that governments are corrupt and it’s up to the people represented by those governments, to straighten them out and keep them straightened out. This is a noble goal. Of course, the immature mind is selective about this; he is more receptive to this when the party opposed to his, is the one in power. In other words, the dullard falls prey to the “My guy is okay, the other guy is messed up” mindset.

That’s where our left-wingers are coming from right now. The other guy is in power…so now, the government can do bad things. Alert Mode On. Once a “good guy” is in the White House, we can get back to worrying about confiscating guns, images of Moses in courthouses, price-gouging in the kids’ cereal market, not enough blacks on cable TV sitcoms, and are the taxpayers paying enough that Grandma can buy medicine and dog food for her dinner. And naturally, if any of these problems go unsolved — and trust me, all of them will remain essentially unchanged, no matter how much time is spent solving them — it won’t reflect poorly on that “good guy” in charge. He’ll be “trying.” It’ll be like the nineties all over again.

But for those of us who want the United States to win the war, one issue remains. I’m not sure what you can do to get information out of a “detainee,” if 1) Torture is wrong, and 2) Torture includes everything less-than-comfortable. What then? You’d have to just sit around waiting for him to feel talkative, wouldn’t you? I mean, what else is there?

Well, it turns out this was prophetic. Now that a successor will have to be nominated for Gonzo, we’re about to be dragged through the torture debate. The newspapers and the cable television and the alphabet-soup-network commentators have their own ideas — make that “idea” — about the angle on this story. As usual, the bloggers have a more interesting, enlightening, and multi-point perspective on the issue. Simply put, we have a few more questions about it.

I wish to contribute my own questions to the discussion. The question I thought of since the dust-up was:

What if we were to abolish torture, and not tell anybody?

You see, over the years I’ve noticed something about people. When they say “you shouldn’t do X” and the only answer they can provide as to why, is “because X is wrong” — they typically don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not X continues to be done or not. What they really want, is to be seen intoning to someone that X ought not be done because X is wrong. They’re performing. Style over substance. So my question is…what if we were to do exactly what they want, but only on the layer that deals with substance?

What if the world were to continue to believe we were torturing people, and meanwhile, behind the scenes, we didn’t do it? What if someone were to be completely deserving of the credit of making us stop torturing people…but not get any of the credit for stopping us? That would be like going to the golf course alone and getting a hole-in-one with nobody around to see. But if it’s about right-and-wrong, that’d be okay wouldn’t it?

Granted, this would violate the Living With Morgan Rule #1, in which, deploring false accusations, once I’m accused of something I want to be guilty of doing it. But leaving that aside. Suppose the world community is left to conclude we’re waterboarding these guys and subjecting them to the batteries-in-a-pillowcase debriefing sessions. But meanwhile, behind the scenes all we do is wait hand and foot on Ahmed and Muammar like waiters in some five-star restaurant…all day long, and then the next day we do it again. If they want to talk, we listen. If not, we serve up another banana-nut muffin and make sure there’s a good selection between grape jelly and orange marmalade.

Now, would that be okay? I mean, we wouldn’t be doing anything “wrong”; just, a lot of folks would be laboring under the misconception that we are.

I would have to expect, realistically, my plan wouldn’t get a lot of takers. It would, however, have a unifying effect on those who place more importance on reality itself, than the popular perception of that reality. Those on the “right wing” would rightfully conclude I’d be throwing in the towel on the prospect of getting any information out of these guys. They’d say, as a direct result of this, people will die. I don’t have any information that would contradict this; I don’t think anyone else does either. And those on the “left wing” who ought to be celebrating at our government somehow becoming “ethical,” would doubtless find something else that isn’t up to snuff, and start complaining about that.

Of course, for those who are concerned about image, by design the situtation would remain unchanged. I expect they’d go on and on about polls, and disapproval, and international-community this and we are seen that.

I would expect something else, though.

A lot of substance-over-image left-wingers, would hop the turnstyle. They’d start to worry more about image of what’s going on, than about what’s actually going on. I mean, that’s the part of it that would still suck…so they’d simply change what they find important.

At this point, let’s end the mental exercise. It has achieved what it was tossed out to accomplish. The torture debate has nothing to do with what is actually happening; it has to do with the public image of what is happening. It’s all about perceptions. Let me repeat: The debate is ALL about perceptions. It has butkus to do with reality.

When people say “we should not torture because it is wrong,” what they really mean is “we should not torture because it can be presented as being wrong” or “we should not torture because I can get lots of people agitated over the idea that it is wrong.”

Torture really being wrong, has nothing to do with it. That’s why nobody’s going to stick their neck out and sign on to the idea that “if we stop torturing people we will become noble.” Nobody’s saying that, and nobody will say that.

But they’ll sure as hell say the opposite. They’ll say “people despise us because we torture,” even though they’ll never say “people will start liking us if we don’t torture.”

So their argument is lacking in substance, because it isn’t about substance. It isn’t supposed to be. This is why my “solution” wouldn’t be any solution at all. It fixes the substance while leaving the image unchanged…in what is essentially a public-relations issue.

But the P.R. guys don’t have a solution either. Before we started arguing all over the world about torture, we were arguing all over the world about the invasion of Iraq. How many people do you know who have negative feelings toward the United States over this torture issue, who didn’t have negative feelings against the United States about going into Iraq before we started arguing about the torture issue? I mean, count everybody — people you know, public figures, celebrities…can you think of anyone? I can’t think of a single person.

It’s not exactly a hot news item when liberals and democrats rally around an issue that is phony. This one has captured the mainstream, what you might call the “heartland.” It’s easy to understand why, because who wants to be strapped to a waterboard? It doesn’t seem very appealing. But when you dissect this issue, it turns out, surprisingly, to be more phony than most others. The substance-angle is nonexistent, and the style-angle is ineffectual and goes nowhere. It’s just a talking point in circulation among America’s enemies — those who fight us overtly, and those who insist they’re “patriotic” but never seem to have a kind word to say about the country.

Of course it is an effective talking-point, and it is around, posing problems for us, because of our actions. But since bringing a stop to those actions — in style, as well as in substance — wouldn’t make anything any better, I’d like our senators to do a good job explaining to us why they’ll be debating it, before they do so debate it. I’d like to see them do an excellent job justifying this. I have strong doubts they’ll even perform an adequate one.

Exclusive Club

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Health club only admits women.

Guy comes along with a ten-day free pass, wants to be admitted in to the club.

Health club says no. Guy acts like a dick. Files formal complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of British Columbia.

Tribunal denies claim, then fines the guy $3000 for acting like a dick. That’s like, in USD, seven or eight bucks. Ha ha! Couldn’t resist that last one.

Human rights complainant ordered to pay $3,000

A B.C. man who filed a human rights complaint against Just Ladies Fitness in Burnaby more than two years ago has now been ordered to pay the gym $3,000 because of the way he behaved.

Gordon Stopps made a formal complaint after being told he couldn’t use a 10-day free pass to work out at the women-only gym. But the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal rejected his complaint of gender discrimination.

Read the whole thing

Here’s what I think is especially amusing. And kind of ominous.

[The HRT] also said the $3,000 award should not discourage people from filing human rights complaints.

First of all, while the gentlemen who want to work out at a womens’-only club are few and far between, and a lot of ladies don’t feel comfortable being stared-down while they’re working out, this is a little silly. Women are inherently weak — or, if they are not, they don’t need any special considerations. Certainly they don’t need to have womens’-only clubs, while gentlemen’s-clubs remain consigned to the dustbin of history. My preference? Keep the ladies strong — let them have their own place — bring the gentlemen’s clubs back.

Second, what a wonderful fantasy it would be to have fulfilled. Someone acts like a dick, you can slap a fine on them and they have to pay it. We’ve all had a wish for that kind of authority at some time or another. And I can’t help but think, we demonstrate our strongest and most helpful characteristics when we find alternatives to this…offer to buy the gentleman a drink, work out the conflict, resolve to associate with people less likely to be surrounded by such problems, etc. Therefore, to continue to pursue such a fantasy is a sign of weakness, as much a temptation as it may be. Interesting commentary on the human condition; our canucks don’t seem to be treating it as a weakness. Folks inclined to wave that kind of authority around, they put in charge of things.

Third, I see I don’t have long to wait nowadays before someone complains about “freedom” being “eroded.” Everyone claims to be able to spot the signs that it’s slipping away, and at the same time, so many of the most outspoken seem to be radiating uncertainty about what the signs really are. Based on what little I know about countries where people are not free, it seems one of the most obvious signs would be that individual desires and inclinations and behaviors, become trivial. They are subordinated to what “important” officials tell you to do…to say…to think…to believe. It would seem our neighbors to the North — not exactly silent on the subject of Yankee “vanishing civil liberties,” it must be said — have crossed the line, or are soon to cross it. A fine is being assessed. The blue-bloods say don’t let it discourage you. What the hell is the point? What’s a fine supposed to do, if it isn’t supposed to discourage anyone?

Trackposted at Bullwinkle Blog

Steyn Nails the Libby Trial

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Nails it, I say. Whack-a-mole, right between the eyes.

Perverse Libby trial was revealing
:
The prosecutor knew from the beginning that (a) leaking Valerie Plame’s name was not a crime and (b) the guy who did it was Richard Armitage. In other words, he was aware that the public and media perception of this ”case” was entirely wrong: There was no conspiracy by Bush ideologues to damage a whistleblower, only an anti-war official making an offhand remark to an anti-war reporter. Even the usual appeals to prosecutorial discretion (Libby was a peripheral figure with only he said/she said evidence in an investigation with no underlying crime) don’t convey the scale of Fitzgerald’s perversity: He knew, in fact, that there was no cloud, that under all the dark scudding about Rove and Cheney there was only sunny Richard Armitage blabbing away accidentally. Yet he chose to let the entirely false impression of his ”case” sit out there month in, month out, year after year, glowering over the White House, doing great damage to the presidency on the critical issue of the day.

So much of the current degraded discourse on the war — ”Bush lied” — comes from the false perceptions of the Joe Wilson Niger story. Britain’s MI-6, the French, the Italians and most other functioning intelligence services believe Saddam was trying to procure uranium from Africa. Lord Butler’s special investigation supports it. So does the Senate Intelligence Committee. So Wilson’s original charge is if not false then at the very least unproven, and the conspiracy arising therefrom entirely nonexistent. But the damage inflicted by the cloud is real and lasting.

As for Scooter Libby, he faces up to 25 years in jail for the crime of failing to remember when he first heard the name of Valerie Plame — whether by accident or intent no one can ever say for sure. But we also know that Joe Wilson failed to remember that his original briefing to the CIA after getting back from Niger was significantly different from the way he characterized it in his op-ed in the New York Times. We do know that the contemptible Armitage failed to come forward and clear the air as his colleagues were smeared for months on end. We do know that his boss Colin Powell sat by as the very character of the administration was corroded. [emphasis mine]

I put those parts in bold because I happen to know a lot of people missed those points. They know something I don’t; or else — assuming the press has a responsibility to “inform the public” — a huge chunk of the mission remains unachieved.

But that’s a big assumption. If the press’ mission, alternatively, is to slime and slander Republican administrations, then such tidbits are off-topic, which would explain why we’ve heard so little about them.

Meanwhile…Toensing and Sanford conducted an analysis two years ago, as to whether a crime was even committed here with regard to the “outing.” So far as I know, none of the salient details have changed since then.

As two people who drafted and negotiated the scope of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, we can tell you: The Novak column and the surrounding facts do not support evidence of criminal conduct.

When the act was passed, Congress had no intention of prosecuting a reporter who wanted to expose wrongdoing and, in the process, once or twice published the name of a covert agent. Novak is safe from indictment. But Congress also did not intend for government employees to be vulnerable to prosecution for an unintentional or careless spilling of the beans about an undercover identity. A dauntingly high standard was therefore required for the prosecutor to charge the leaker.

At the threshold, the agent must truly be covert. Her status as undercover must be classified, and she must have been assigned to duty outside the United States currently or in the past five years. This requirement does not mean jetting to Berlin or Taipei for a week’s work. It means permanent assignment in a foreign country. Since Plame had been living in Washington for some time when the July 2003 column was published, and was working at a desk job in Langley (a no-no for a person with a need for cover), there is a serious legal question as to whether she qualifies as “covert.”

Pardon Me?

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Via Right Coast, we learn about the latest Krauthammer column…in which an interesting point is raised…

Everyone agrees that Fitzgerald’s perjury case against Libby hung on the testimony of NBC’s Tim Russert. Libby said that he heard about Plame from Russert. Russert said he had never discussed it. The jury members who have spoken said they believed Russert.

And why should they not? Russert is a perfectly honest man who would not lie. He was undoubtedly giving his best recollection.

But he is not the pope. Given that so many journalists and administration figures were shown to have extremely fallible memories, is it possible that Russert’s memory could have been faulty?

I have no idea. But we do know that Russert once denied calling up a Buffalo News reporter to complain about a story. Russert later apologized for the error when he was shown the evidence of a call he had genuinely and completely forgotten.

There is a second instance of Russert innocently misremembering. He stated under oath that he did not know that one may not be accompanied by a lawyer to a grand jury hearing. This fact, in and of itself, is irrelevant to the case, except that, as former prosecutor Victoria Toensing points out, the defense had tapes showing Russert saying on television three times that lawyers are barred from grand jury proceedings.

This demonstration of Russert’s fallibility was never shown to the jury. The judge did not allow it. He was upset with the defense because it would not put Libby on the stand — his perfect Fifth Amendment right — after hinting in the opening statement that it might. He therefore denied the defense a straightforward demonstration of the fallibility of the witness whose testimony was most decisive.

The Right Coast entry raises yet another interesting point.

I haven’t followed the Libby trial that closely, but one aspect of the verdict did occur to me: How is it that Scooter Libby is facing jail time and Sandy Berger got off with a slap of the wrist. At least part of the answer is that Libby was investigated by a special prosecutor, while Berger was not. My guess is that there is more to the story of Berger as well (incompetence at Justice?)

Um…come to think of it, I heard an awful lot of pious pontificating and hand-wringing from our liberals, both famous and otherwise, about “national security” with the “outing of a foreign op” and so forth. I wonder what they think about national security when the subject shifts to Sandy Pants. Maybe not much…and perhaps this is due to a combination of factors, dealing with their desire to “win” one for America Liberalism, and just plain ignorance — can’t call it anything else — about the facts of the Berger-Pants scandal.

The more we learn about Sandy Berger’s brilliant career as a document thief, the clearer it becomes that there is plenty we still don’t know and may never learn. On Tuesday, the House Government Reform Committee released its report on Mr. Berger’s pilfering of classified documents from the National Archives.

The committee’s 60-page report makes it clear that Mr. Berger knew exactly what he was doing and knew that what he was doing was wrong. According to interviews with National Archives staff, Mr. Berger repeatedly arranged to be left alone with highly classified documents by feigning the need to make personal phone calls, and he used those moments alone with the files to stuff them in his pockets and briefcase.

One incident is particularly suggestive. By his fourth and final visit to review documents and prepare for testimony before the 9/11 Commission, the Archives staff had grown suspicious of how Mr. Berger was handling the documents, so they numbered each one he was given in pencil on the back of the document. When one of them–No. 217–was apparently removed from the files by Mr. Berger, the staff reprinted a copy and replaced it for his review. According to the report, Mr. Berger then proceeded to slip the second copy “under his portfolio also.” In other words, he stole the same document twice.

National security huh? We’re just really, really super-concerned about it, and nobody’s above the law?

I’m not the first one to group these two incidents together, and swivel my head quizzically toward the liberals with a cocked eyebrow to see how they handle the juxtaposition. In fact, I’ve watched it happen often enough to glean a pattern out of the liberals’ reaction. It’s a bubbling stewpot of subject-changing, theatrical indignation, name-calling and sarcasm. Not much else.

Certainly no rational explanation as to why Scooter’s looking at years of laundry-folding, and Sandy Pants is as free as you and me.

Spanking Bill Stuck In Corner

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Take a look at this.

Spanking bill is introduced, which is exactly like what it sounds like…the nanny-state wants to stick it’s big fat nose into how you raise your kid in California. Bill is introduced, it’s little itty-bitty news. Gotta be in the right place at the right time to find out about it. Bill gets dropped, and it is heap-big news. You hear about it over and over again. At least that was my experience with it.

Kind of funny in a sad way. Everyone wants to be oh so vigilant against “government taking away our constitutional rights,” chomping at the bit to find out what kind of potential abuse is about to take place, so we can hit the road with our pitchforks and torches. Yeah. Right.

We think of ourselves that way, but we don’t act like it. Government was about to tell us how to raise our kids. And they’re going to try again, count on it. We were instructed to start paying attention when the bill died, and not a minute before; the threat to our “civil liberties” arose when the bill first came up.

Update: It would seem they did try for it again, the very same day.

When it comes to disciplining California children, an open hand is in but belts and switches are out, according to a bill introduced Thursday by Democratic San Jose area Assemblywoman Sally Lieber.

Assembly bill 755, designed specifically to protect children from overzealous discipline methods, rules out some traditional forms of discipline like the use of a switch or a belt.

“The vast majority of child abuse victims and fatalities are young children,” Lieber said. “Too often the abuse begins as some form of discipline. Existing law is clearly not doing enough to protect the youngest, smallest, most vulnerable members of our society.”

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, of Irvine, had expressed concern for early drafts of the bill and said he intends to keep a close eye on the new bill.

“I’m going to remain a skeptical observer and watch it very carefully,” DeVore said.

The Republican assemblyman said his concerns stem from what he said were parents’ rights to privacy and whether this new law would actually protect children or put otherwise good parents in trouble with the law.

I see there’s apparently some kind of rule in place with this new bill, which allows the spanking with the open hand. The rule is that when you list the things that the new bill would still penalize, you have to mention these two present-tense verbs: “burning” and “kicking.” Those two are particularly potent in inspiring the desired response.

But that isn’t the real issue. Shoot down this new bill, and then go home and burn your kid or kick your kid. Tell the cops about it. You think nothing will happen, just because this new law didn’t pass? Those are already against the law; they are just big fat red herrings. The real issue is where the line is being drawn. And the line is being drawn with the wooden spoon.

This is such a slick hoodwinking job. The situation is unchanged — some hippie flower-child doesn’t approve of parents disciplining their kids, and she’s gone through all the motions of “listening” and “revising” when all that’s really happened, is she’s watered down her nanny-state law to the point it has an excellent chance of passage.

Sure it allows spanking by open hand. That’s this year. Sure, there’s no conflict at all between the things I did to discipline my kid, and what this law addresses. My kid never got spanked with a “foreign” object, not once. So the new bill doesn’t prohibit anything I actually used. Not this year. But it’s the camel’s nose in the tent. Like I said, we enjoy running around saying we’ll be on-guard against surrendering our freedoms to the government — but we don’t follow through on that.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… VIII

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Gloria AllredGloria Allred, who seems to be steadfastly opposed to doing anything with her law degree that would make some sort of sense, volunteered her comments about how Michael Richards can keep from being sued. She didn’t use her law expertise to make any assurances that her advice from keeping the comedian from getting sued. All she really did, was act like a European narcissistic control-freak and start dishing out a whole lot of must, ought, should, gotta gotta must must must.

Frank McBride and Kyle Doss said they were part of a group of about 20 people who had gathered at West Hollywood’s Laugh Factory to celebrate a friend’s birthday. According to their attorney, Gloria Allred, they were ordering drinks when Richards berated them for interrupting his act.

When one of their group replied that he wasn’t funny, Richards launched into a string of obscenities and repeatedly used the n-word. A video cell phone captured the outburst.

Richards, who played Jerry Seinfeld’s wacky neighbor Kramer on the TV sitcom “Seinfeld,” made a nationally televised apology on the “Late Show with David Letterman” earlier this week. He has since apologized to the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both civil rights leaders.

But Doss, 26, said Friday he wanted a “face-to-face apology.”
:
Allred, speaking by phone from Colorado, said Richards should meet McBride and Doss in front of a retired judge to “acknowledge his behavior and to apologize to them” and allow the judge to decide on monetary compensation.

“It’s not enough to say ‘I’m sorry’ on ‘David Letterman,’” she said.

She did not mention a specific figure, but pitched the idea as a way for the comic to avoid a lawsuit.

“Our clients were vulnerable,” Allred said. “He went after them. He singled them out and he taunted them, and he did it in a closed room where they were captive.”

Richards may deserve to have his career ended for his one known offense against decency. For her pattern of such offenses, Allred deserves the same without question. What a spectacle. Here she is, “pitch[ing] the idea as a way for [Richards] to avoid a lawsuit” — the illusion that she’s engaged in something besides blackmail, apparently, is no longer worth keeping up.

I’m still hearing the phrase “common good” thrown around a lot. Tax the rich to promote the common good, put the government in charge of the common good, businesses are too selfish to contribute to the common good…blah, blah, blah. Common good this, common good that. Question: Why are attorneys so seldom placed under any pressure to contribute to the common good?

Is there any other profession in which consideration for the “common good” would make more sense? Is there any profession in which a contribution toward, or an injury against, the common good would be more measurable?

And if you accept that it is measurably possible for an attorney to take a case that is beneficial to the common good, or is deleterious to it — how does it come to pass that there are attorneys like Allred, who seem to work against it with such remarkable consistency? Would we really be damaging our Constitution by taking the effort to notice what they’re doing?

If a man is convicted of killing a little girl and chopping her up, and he writes an autobiography and stands to make a killing from it — an injunction against any profits going to him personally, I think we would all agree, would be helpful to the “common good.” Whether that phrase is helpful, or whether such a thing is constitutional, is another question altogether. But by virtue of the intentions involved if by nothing else…such an action might reflect well on our society. Allred would not be the one filing it. Never. Now, something harmful to whatever passes for the “common good”…let’s say, a burglar breaking into a home, injuring himself in the process, bringing suit against the homeowner’s insurance company. We can argue about whether that is within the burglar’s rights, but I would hope anyone who accepts such a thing as common good, would agree such a suit would be harmful to it. Would Allred take that one? Not only yeah, but hell yeah. So it’s easy to see what this woman is all about.

She is such a sleazy and repulsive bottom-feeder. Every time I see her name in print, I am more and more impressed by the consistency of her actions. It’s like she’s working around the clock to make America just like Rome, at the overripe stage when the lions and Christians were running low. It seems there is no exception to it. Not even a token one.

Evil people do some good stuff once in awhile. Sometimes you’ll catch a conservative doing liberal things, and vice-versa. Every now and then, a churchgoer may decide to skip services. But Gloria Allred — she’s like a force of nature. Like gravity always going down. Like the sun always rising. Count on her.

In fact, the best use to which she could be put, I’m thinking, is as a unit of measurement. As a yardstick. That’s it, Gloria Allred is my “common good” yardstick. Anyone demanding this business or that national government or that homeowner be coerced into destroying itself or himself “for the common good,” I don’t wanna hear another word about it until I hear how Gloria Allred is going to promote that common good. Anyone arguing for our country’s richest to be taxed at a higher rate just because they’re rich, and for no other reason…I want Gloria Allred to be the first one paying it. In fact, every time she takes a civil case solely for the purpose of extorting someone — a case where there is no benefit for soceity-as-a-whole, and nobody can quite muster up the energy to assert such a potential benefit even exists, Allred herself included — I want her income tax rate to go up by one percent.

“Allow the judge to decide on monetary compensation.” I think I’m gonna barf.

Update 11/25/06: Tom Green’s comments make a surprising amount of sense, considering the source.

The star writes on his blog, “Unlike Mel Gibson, who probably does hold racist attitudes, I don’t think Michael Richards doesn’t like black people. I think he was just trying to say the craziest and most vile thing in that room he could possibly muster. And I think he dug deep, into the darkest corners of his mind, to say those evil things to those men.

“But he did it in a small room, in an exchange, during a performance, and it wasn’t meant for us. It was just meant for that room. So why don’t we just let them settle it? Let’s leave Michael Richards alone.”

Update 11/25/06: The real-life Kramer agrees.