Archive for the ‘Incumbent Scandals’ Category

Interesting Constitutional Hiccup

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

…about Hillary.

I’m sure in Obamaton World, which is the only world that counts for now, if I even read the article let alone offer anything more than a passing glance to any idea therein, I’m a big stupid doo-doo head and probably a racist and sexist on top of it. So I’ll excerpt nothing.

Hutchinson on the Birth Certificate

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Just for the record, I’m resolutely convinced — unless something pops up that compels me to believe otherwise — that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is eligible to be our next President.

Nevertheless, there are some key dates coming up in this little drama and the unfolding of those events is a fascinating window into the minds and souls of the Obamatons. This Hutchinson person, for example, does a remarkable job of interweaving a few true tidbits into his overall meme which is, in sum, a repackaging of L. Frank Baum’s “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” defense.

Good heavens. The requirement that the President be a natural born citizen is inked right in there, Article II, Section 1. It’s right freakin’ in there. It isn’t even an amendment. It’s been a written requirement going all the way back to the beginning. And the Obamatons are addressing the argument with a bunch of name-calling. Now just noodle on this for a moment or two: How much more ridiculous can the situation get? I’m not nearly as worried about this particular constitutional requirement, as I am about the requirements that might happen to fall into the way of Chosen One as He serves out His one or two terms. It’s all going to be addressed by calling his critics a bunch of gun-toting bible-thumping nose-picking rubes?

As I understand it, His Holiness the iPresident Man-God has produced an electronic copy of a Certificate of Live Birth from the state of Hawaii, but not a paper copy. And some folks say there are problems with the electronic copy — which may or may not be the case, I’m not really up on it. I find this rhetoric about dollar figures to be somewhat incriminating though. Getting ahold of a birth certificate you have on file, that’s about you, is a pretty inexpensive and painless affair compared to the other things you might try to do. It’s much easier than registering a car you brought in from out of state. Certainly doesn’t cost anything that approaches half a million dollars.

Unfortunately, Hawaii officials left just enough room for the Obama birth certificate hounders to wiggle through when they correctly noted that privacy laws forbade them from releasing original documents without the authorization of the individual for which the documents are requested; in this case that individual being Obama.

Obama at the time and since then has also correctly declined to give any more ammunition to the birth certificate hounders.

His campaign simply issued a statement that the document released by Hawaii officials is authentic. But that just emboldened the Obama hounders even more.

If Chosen One correctly declined to give any more ammunition to the hounders, HOW did they become “emboldened…even more”? This guy’s supposed to have written a book. It would appear he can’t even keep track of what he’s jotting down.

He was not black enough. He was too black. He was not patriotic enough. He was too liberal, too effete, too untested. He was a Muslim, terrorist fellow traveler, and a closet black radical. The shock of an Obama in the White House is simply too much for many to bear. Obama defies the stereotypical textbook look and definition of what an American president is supposed to look like, and be like; namely a wooden image middle-aged, or older, white male.

And…whoomp, there it is, folks. You just saw it for the first time, many more examples to follow. The iPresident is being held to a constitutional standard applied equally to all of His 42 predecessors throughout 220 years of our nation’s history. And anyone who dares to make an issue of it is a racist bastard. That’s how He will meet it. Not by actually meeting it, but by smearing the opposition.

Even if a justice or two had a stray thought about taking a peek at the issue, the memory of the fury over the court’s meddle in the 2000 election that ultimately tipped the White House to Bush is still too fresh in their and the public’s mind to butt in on such a wacky issue.

Uh huh.

You see the little rift? “Believe this, not because it’s true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game. Your affectionate uncle, SCREWTAPE

None of this is sufficient motivation for me to put up a post about any of this, though. I don’t think Chosen One has met the requirement, and I don’t know why He is working so hard not to, but it looks to be all smoke and no fire. Until something else emerges.

No, what motivates me to put up a post about it, is the way Hutchinson’s commenters handed him his ass cheeks on his very own blog. Heh. That made my day.

Hutchinson just did a far more impressive job of convincing me there’s something bollywonkers with this thing, than any Republican ever could’ve. Ever. I mean, in a million years. Future reference, Mr. Hutchinson: Don’t talk to the cop about the trunk, or dead bodies, at all. And it’s definitely over the line to say “Oh and by the way, officer, you’re a complete dolt if you think there’s a dead body in the trunk of my car” when the officer wasn’t even wondering about it.


Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The kollege kids at FARK are trying to come up with ways to make this more innocent than the hijinks and shenanigans of the Congressman’s predecessor, Mark Foley.

For the uninitiated, Mahoney is a democrat. Foley was a Republican. Mahoney won Foley’s seat after, and as a direct consequence of, Foley’s problems. In fact, Foley’s problems are consequential to the entire nation because they were central to the impetus for throwing the Republican bums out of Congress and entrusting our legislative branch to the democrat party.

Mahoney’s scandal is a heterosexual one. Foley’s scandal was homosexual. And yes, you’ll be surprised how many FARK kollege kids are bringing that up. Maybe.

Mahoney’s scandal seems to involve some hush money. Foley’s did not. It involved underage pages.

The FARK kollege kids needed to check the party affiliation of these two “gentlemen,” and then engage in a little bit of collaboration with each other, to figure out what their opinions would and should be. And they’ll *never* admit it. That’s where it gets fun to watch.

Ted Kennedy’s Stroke-Like Symptoms

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Uh oh. Time for a potential sympathy vote. This is a bad, bad thing…in the same way the California Supreme Court decision was a good thing, in that it reminded conservatives that democracy itself was being banished from our democratic republic for good. Thereby potentially inflating the conservative side of the vote as, on that side of the spectrum, rerun episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond might have sunk a few notches on the priority list.

This could have a similar effect on the other side. Liberals aren’t wild for issues to begin with…thinking about issues makes liberals look bad. They’re much wilder about personalities and human interest stories.

So I wish Massachusetts’ Senior Senator a speedy return to good health. And if that’s not possible, a debilitation just barely serious enough to put him out of the upper chamber for good. But an otherwise healthy, and long, life.

Outliving by a good stretch, any memory the everyday voter would have of his name. To watch his legacy vanish before his bloated baggy eyes.

And to think about what he did.

Update: Ace’s blog is not to be populated with distasteful comments about the Senator.

You know what? If you need to vent, go ahead and do it here. It’s not that I have any passionate hatred for Senator Ted…it’s more like I am tired, just to bits & pieces, of the double standard. And, in my world, deliberating cause and effect is always within the boundaries of good taste. Sen. Kennedy has been the cause of some very bad effects.

I don’t want to wish death on anybody, but his vision for the country is just-plain-bad for the country. If his career is reaching a closure, we’re all better off. Let the commemorations be quiet and brief.

Update 5/18/08: Looking good, but not out of the woods just yet. Healthy enough to turn on the TV and watch a Red Sox game. Condition not life-threatening, but serious.

The worst-case scenario, in my mind, would be for his condition to be sufficiently grave to merit the appointment of a successor, but for the wounded lion to limp onward out of respect to his “contributions,” “lifetime achievement” and “legacy.” That, in sum, would be handing Washington to the cloakroom-smokeroom types.

My sentiments are somewhere between those of commenter #25…

I disagree with him on almost every issue, but wish him a full recovery. Then I can disagree with him again. That is truly the greatest gift this country gives to the world.

…and 44…

Y’all are far too kind. Policy is one thing, but personal culpability for a young woman’s death another. As they said on another blog, may God have mercy on him. That’s all.

The one thing about Ted that everyone seems to forget, is that he could easily have gone home to catch a nap while a woman drowned in his car, and then gone on to fill out another forty years in our nation’s legislature just passing laws. That isn’t what Ted Kennedy did. He has been passing not only laws, but judgment on whether the rest of us are decent people or not.

Update 5/19/08: I don’t want to start another post about this man. I don’t have that much respect for him and I don’t think he is (or should be) that consequential. If he was just another Guy Smiley gift-of-gab no-talent guy like Bill Clinton, substituting silky bromides and platitudes in place of real achievement, I’d think more highly of him. But Clinton had some real talent. Kennedy was just born into his…whatever ya call it…”position.”

Anyway, had to link this. It’s a reasonable and powerful argument about why the Kopechne matter should have a much stronger bearing on things than most people think. Me, I don’t put quite so much emphasis on that single tragic event. It’s important, but mostly as a metaphor for how Ted Kennedy treats people before and after Mary Jo’s passing.

He just doesn’t think we’re worth very much. This is, in my mind, a reflection of what anti-war activism really is. It’s a ceiling to be placed on the level of effort energized for the purpose of defending us from harm. Somewhere beyond a couple of descents into five feet of water, when your clothes are already soaking wet anyway — but falling short of an actual cry for help, when you’re feelin’ all smashed & sleepy.

Memo For File LVI

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

This week President Bush said something interesting about the democrats who are resisting an extension to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“I suspect they see a financial gravy train,” Bush said, referring to lawyers pursuing class-action lawsuits against telephone companies who have turned over information to the government.

One indicator that he might be right about that, is that this isn’t the first time we’ve been arguing about this electronic surveillance. The most recent big ol’ melee occurred in early 2006 when former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez went up to the hill to testify about it, at which time the Old Gray Lady summarized things in that cool, clear-headed, balanced way she has

Spying on Ordinary Americans
Published: January 18, 2006

In times of extreme fear, American leaders have sometimes scrapped civil liberties in the name of civil protection. It’s only later that the country can see that the choice was a false one and that citizens’ rights were sacrificed to carry out extreme measures that were at best useless and at worst counterproductive. There are enough examples of this in American history – the Alien and Sedition Acts and the World War II internment camps both come to mind – that the lesson should be woven into the nation’s fabric. But it’s hard to think of a more graphic example than President Bush’s secret program of spying on Americans.

I like that headline the best.

Point is, I find it strange that the civil-protection battleground has been left untrampled in this issue until the second month of 2008. That just reeks of quid pro quo, doesn’t it? Okay Mister President, we’ll help you gut the “civil liberties” of “ordinary Americans” like a big bloated fish, just pay us back by opening a hunting season for our friends the trial lawyers.

Because you know what world we democrats live in, Mister President. You know litigation is the one industry we adore. You know these are the “corporations” that, in our world, aren’t “greedy.”

But maybe I’m reading something into it. Maybe there’s a good reason why, in 2006, spying on a cell phone conversation was just-plain-wrong, don’t-do-it, If We Let This Happen The Terrorists Have Already Won — and in 2008 it has nothing to do with principle, instead it’s all about tral lawyers collecting pelts. Maybe there’s a perfectly legitimate explanation.

Or maybe not

As Congress debates giving immunity to phone companies that assisted the government in tracking terrorist communications, trial lawyers prosecuting those phone companies have poured money into the coffers of Democratic senators, representatives and causes.

Court records and campaign contribution data reveal that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against these phone companies donated at least $1.5 million to Democrats, including 44 current Democratic senators.

All of the trial lawyers combined only contributed $4,250 to Republicans in comparison. Those contributions were made to: Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), Rep. Tom Davis (Va.), Sen. Lindsay Graham (S.C.), Sen. Mel Martinez, and Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.).

One maxed-out lawyer donor, Matthew Bergman of Vashon, Washington, has given more than $400,000 in his name to Democrats. In the 2008 cycle alone he donated $78,300 to various campaigns.

Bergman’s law firm’s website says he also specializes in “identifying viable asbestos defendants, locating evidence and developing legal theories to hold offending companies accountable.” In 2004, his firm split a $4.3 billion payout from Halliburton with seven other law firms. $30 million of that was delivered to their firm’s asbestos victim clients.

I think it’s high time we had a serious debating or reckoning about what exactly an “Ordinary American” is. If I’m born in Pakistan to a Jordanian father and a Palestinian mother, grow up in Saudi Arabia, get recruited by Al Qaeda, work my way up in the structure to the point where Osama bin Laden trusts me to do some plotting with other terrorist officers over a cell phone which, while I’m using it in Syria, sends some signals over a network where American telecommunications interests could reveal a record of my calls to the CIA — maybe not getting sued for it — um…does that make me an “Ordinary American” even though I’ve never personally been to America?

It sounds like that should be off-topic from what the squabbling is about. But I don’t see anyone stepping up and saying that.

It seems what they want me to think, is that my civil liberties are in peril. Because Sprint (my carrier) might clue someone in on my text messages and my phone calls. If this is done, I’m told, life will become dreary and gray just like in that 1984 commercial before the girl throws the hammer into the movie screen.

That argument has one glaring problem that is terminal to it. Like all other non-stupid people, I don’t see the cell phone that way. I see it as a public venue. When I send a text message, I see it as a wad of bytes meandering toward someone who is familiar by way of a gazillion and one complete strangers who are not.

Nobody with a reputation worth defending has told me a cell phone call or a text message is equivalent to a face-to-face sitdown in a soundproof, empty room. Not one single time. And so when my sweetie and I are both working our asses off and I need to schedule a “date” by a text message, I get coy. I hint at things. I imply. I wink. And if it’s the day after and the date went extremely well, I save it until I get home. I don’t do pillow talk by way of text message.

For these reasons, I’m resistant to the people who are legitimately concerned about Verizon or Cingular releasing their records to the CIA. Yes, I do think they have something to hide. And as far as the people who are just worked up into a lather about the Government spying on their “private” conversations, I don’t think they’re “ordinary” either.

I think they lack common sense.

Because a genuinely “private” conversation doesn’t belong there.

On the “I Can Believe It” Argument

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Two years ago, Doug Thompson fooled a bunch of fire-breathing lefties into thinking our next big national debate was going to be about whether the Constitution means anything. At all. He did this by peddling a charming chestnut about an outburst supposedly spewed by President Bush in a meeting.

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”

Those three people are supposedly public servants, but of course Doug Thompson could never ever reveal his sources. All right, fair enough — I can buy that officials will tell a reporter something “off the record.”

What I can’t buy, is a high ranking official of the executive branch closing his office door, whipping out his palm pilot or his Outlook contact list or his plain ol’ Rolodex or Yellow Pages, skimming past the Washington Post, and dialing up “Capitol Hill Blue” to spill the beans on what the boss just said. Because in the last month of ’05, there was substantial blog-buzz about “did he really say that?” Amid the dizzying hubbub of “well, I don’t need too much proof because that’s just part & parcel of how this administration works” (in which case…wherein lies the necessity of you saying that?), occasionally someone would show a little restraint and point out — hey, we’ve only heard this from one place, and that one place is Doug Thompson.

Sadly, that includes the first handful of commenters over at — of all places — DailyKOS.

Thompson wrote a follow-up piece called “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Ire.” It’s no longer there. But I found a copy of the first paragraph here.

The firestorm over Friday’s column quoting President George W. Bush’s obscene outburst over the Constitution continues to grow with our email box overflowing from outraged readers who think the President should be impeached along with pro-Bushites who want my head on a platter.

Let me see if I can construct the rest of it from memory. Thompson had a story about trying to follow up with his “three people present for the meeting that day.” For some reason, his leads had grown soft. And so he did the only sensible thing — he removed this follow-up piece after posting it, and left the original chestnut where you can find it today.

Are you following what I just described? He got hold of something second hand. He published it and became a legend on the innernets. A bazillion and one people knew the name “Capitol Hill Blue,” who had not heard it before. (If I remember right, I was one of those.) He said, hey, this actually has some legs — if I’ve been snookered on this thing, I’m really going to look like an ass. Better check it out. He documented his attempts to check it out. But he found nothing, or next to nothing. So he took down the chronicling of his attempt to check out the story…in it’s place is the message: This article has been removed from our database because the source could not be verified.

But the original story he could not check out is exactly where it’s always been. From the day it went up, all the way through to the very moment in which I type the sentence you’re reading now. The story that made Capitol Hill Blue famous…which nobody thinks really happened, once it comes time to bet some reputations on it. It is left whole, at it’s original address, undented and unscratched. Hey, no such thing as bad publicity, right?

I explore this story in order to point out something about human nature, and how we handle truth. This is a great example of circular reasoning. The leftist argument about why this story matters is, if I were to make up something about you calling the Constitution nuthin-but-a-g.d.-piece-o-paper, the sole source argument would do some damage because you probably don’t have a track record of disrespecting the Constitution. But when Doug Thompson did that with President Bush, we should all believe it, because that’s “how this administration operates” and “I don’t need much to convince me he said that.”

And President Bush’s disrespect of the Constitution needs no substantiation, of course. It is the stuff of legend. Just do a Google sometime and you’ll see how well-documented this disrespect is. Documented…with little tidbits…just like this one. Which, in turn, rest on Bush’s well-established disrespect of the Constitution.

See, the anecdote relies on the trend for what little credibility it has, and the trend relies on more anecdotes just like this one. A proves B and B proves A. In a universe in which this does anything to elucidate at all, you could sit in a big bucket and lift yourself by the handle.

Now if one is dissatisfied with simply exposing the threadbare composition of this assertion, and really wants to deal it a wallop, it turns out that is pretty easy too. President Bush’s disrespect of the Constitution is supposedly so thoroughly demonstrated, that a careless piece of gossip that would be that and nothing more if it were about anybody else, suddenly becomes believable, and even a piece of what might be called “news”, when it is about him. Alright. If that is the situation as it now exists, then, from where arises the necessity to discuss it at all? There’s really nothing to argue about then, is there? We all just “know” this thing about President Bush. Maybe he said it and maybe he didn’t — the fable that he said it, then, ends up being just butter masquerading as the toast.

JonesAnd therein lies my tie-in to the whole thing about Ms. Jones, former employee of Kellogg Brown Root.

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.

“Don’t plan on working back in Iraq. There won’t be a position here, and there won’t be a position in Houston,” Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.

“It felt like prison,” says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming “20/20” investigation. “I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened.”

Is she telling the truth? Maybe; maybe not. But it’s the same situation as President Bush calling the Constitution a goddamn piece of paper: There is no reason to show any skepticism toward it, until I start to take it seriously — at that point, there is an abundance of reasons. Let’s continue with the article first…

Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

“I said, ‘Dad, I’ve been raped. I don’t know what to do. I’m in this container, and I’m not able to leave,'” she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

“We contacted the State Department first,” Poe told, “and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen” — from her American employer.

Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones’ camp, where they rescued her from the container.

According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by “several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally.”

Jones told that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped “both vaginally and anally,” but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.

A spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security told he could not comment on the matter.

Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.

Legal experts say Jones’ alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

“It’s very troubling,” said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. “The way the law presently stands, I would say that they don’t have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity for justice.”

Congressman Poe says neither the departments of State nor Justice will give him answers on the status of the Jones investigation.

Asked what reasons the departments gave for the apparent slowness of the probes, Poe sounded frustrated.

“There are several, I think, their excuses, why the perpetrators haven’t been prosecuted,” Poe told ABC News. “But I think it is the responsibility of our government, the Justice Department and the State Department, when crimes occur against American citizens overseas in Iraq, contractors that are paid by the American public, that we pursue the criminal cases as best as we possibly can and that people are prosecuted.”

Since no criminal charges have been filed, the only other option, according to Hutson, is the civil system, which is the approach that Jones is trying now. But Jones’ former employer doesn’t want this case to see the inside of a civil courtroom.

KBR has moved for Jones’ claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.

In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones’ claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones’ case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.

In his interview with ABC News, Rep. Poe said he sided with Jones.

“Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom,” said Rep. Poe. “That’s why we have courts in the United States.”

In her lawsuit, Jones’ lawyer, Todd Kelly, says KBR and Halliburton created a “boys will be boys” atmosphere at the company barracks which put her and other female employees at great risk.

“I think that men who are there believe that they live without laws,” said Kelly. “The last thing she should have expected was for her own people to turn on her.”

Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, says it “is improperly named” in the suit.

In a statement, KBR said it was “instructed to cease” its own investigation by U.S. government authorities “because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations.”

“The safety and security of all employees remains KBR’s top priority,” it said in a statement. “Our commitment in this regard is unwavering.”

Since the attacks, Jones has started a nonprofit foundation called the Jamie Leigh Foundation, which is dedicated to helping victims who were raped or sexually assaulted overseas while working for government contractors or other corporations.

“I want other women to know that it’s not their fault,” said Jones. “They can go against corporations that have treated them this way.” Jones said that any proceeds from the civil suit will go to her foundation.

“There needs to be a voice out there that really pushed for change,” she said. “I’d like to be that voice.”

If I were inclined to believe this story, and not only that but to persuade others to believe it, as many people as I could possibly contact — and believe me, there are people who look at this story exactly that way — I would be very troubled by the contents. They seem almost carefully designed to back the listener into a corner, in which the only option available is to believe the alleged victim and Congressman Poe. KBR has nothing, because the Government is assuming sole responsibility for criminal investigations. Alrighty, then isn’t someone just getting into a whole bushel of trouble for allowing the sexual assault kit to be handed over to KBR security personnel, who then “lost” it?

That a KBR spokesman is commenting at all, is an indication to me that something took place. But the rest of the story gives indications that bread crumbs should have been dropped here & there. The State Department, in effect, “raided” contractor facilities. Two years later, all we have is the word of the victim, along with the Congressman who got things rolling. Here’s what we get about that: “A spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security told he could not comment on the matter.” Can’t we have some more? Is that just him, or the actual Department? If it is the actual Department, what is the stated reason? National security? A phone was used to call family and let ’em know something was going on. There should be a record of that. It’s been two years.

What does “I want other women to know that it’s not their fault” mean? The situation of an epidemic, in which something between a bare plurality and an overwhelming glut of female contractors are being vaginally and anally raped and then locked up in trailers, is not raised anywhere else in the article — stem to stern, it is treated as an isolated case involving Ms. Jones alone.

But probably the most damning thing of all against the story is that there are NO names. None at all. Even where there clearly should be some. Who’s running that outfit, with the big portable trailer outside the offices with the rape victim locked up in it? Gosh, he should be in a lot of trouble, huh. What, is his name classified? What about the person who threatened her job? Is his name classified too?

Is this the way whistle-blowing works? You bravely step forward against these cowardly, corrupt white males who engineered and covered-up your sexual assault…but, in the name of national security, make sure their names are kept out of the limelight? Well, maybe so. That is not how it worked with Abu Ghraib, in which case, by the time I heard about it the DoD was already conducting it’s own investigation. That didn’t matter. Once the story broke I knew names, dates, who was responsible for what. The public had a right to know, and all that.

In this case, only half the cat seems to have been let out of the bag. A strategically-selected portion of the cat. Just enough to convince me one person said something was a certain way, and I should just…believe it. One person. Not just any person, but the person who was drugged-up on God-knows-what when all the excitement was taking place.

But here’s what I find really unsettling about this — the circular reasoning part of it. The linkage of that name “Halliburton” may be improper; they divested themselves of the KBR subsidiary this last spring. And while at the moment Ms. Jones was supposedly still locked in a trailer, they were still the parent company, nevertheless any four-year-old should be able to see why the H-word is really being tossed around. This has nothing to do with re-encapsulation of facts as they occurred. It has to do with visibility. “Halliburton” is virtually a household name, “KBR” is not. This is a Kellogg Brown Root matter involving KBR personnel and officials, assuming it happened as stated at all.

The anecdote is proven by the trend — the Halliburton trend, not the KBR trend, which would be more relevant but possesses far less name-recognition — and the trend is proven by anecdotes like this one. On whether there is a vast litany of chronicles about sexual assaults and other shenanigans being conducted within the KBR sphere, I’m not in a position to say one way or the other. But if there is such a thing, and this story is to ultimately rely on the circular-reasoning “nature of the beast” argument, then at the very least I would say that is what should be under discussion, not the notoriety achieved by former parent company Halliburton. If KBR does have such a track record, and it’s opened to inspection and provides all the substance I demand here — then, rightfully, there ought not be much urgency in discussing Ms. Jones’ case, ought there? It either sets a new low for KBR or it doesn’t. Can’t have it both ways.

I’m left with something pretty disturbing. Something almost certainly happened, probably to Ms. Jones. It seems that she, Congressman Poe, and the reporters contacted have been frustrated trying to figure out where this government investigation is going, and decided to appeal to Vox Populi. Rabble-rousing was the only way to get some satisfaction here. I say, if that is the case then let’s give them what they want. We should, at the very least, have an understanding of who is in charge of such an investigation.

It’s mighty suspicious, in my eyes, that we don’t at least have that. Our government isn’t supposed to be that opaque. But if we’re going to storm the capitol with pitchforks and torches, I think we should keep in mind what it is we don’t know. This is a situation in which an investigation is not simply a formality — we really don’t know what happened, or for that matter if anything did.

Creationist Scandals

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Panda’s Thumb has an interesting theory for which support has been gleaned from the Larry Craig mess: that scandals disproportionately afflict creationists. Into the supporting data sets waltzes Sen. Craig, who in 1989

…co-sponsored a constitutional amendment, the “Community Life Amendment,” to authorize teaching “the creation of the earth as accepted in Judeo-Christian tradition.”

I think Panda’s Thumb’s theory might have been in better shape if Sen. Craig’s name had been left unmentioned. It’s not too extravagant to suppose the Senator is innocent of the charges. True, he did plead guilty to a lesser charge, and there are other problems with the supposition — who the hell picks up toilet paper on the floor of bathroom stalls, how can you take it so calmly when a cop calls you a liar, and so forth — but it’s a little strange that so much legal hot water can be churned up out of so little evidence. This is bothersome to quite a few folks, some of whom hate Sen. Craig’s guts and think he’s guilty as hell. A prostitution sting can’t work this way. A lot of other things can’t work this way. A cop can’t bust you for fidgeting, making gestures, gesturing in manners anecdotally associated with…ripping off a stereo system out of a jeep. Pressing chewing gum against a bus seat. Jaywalking. Tearing the tag off a mattress.

And then there’s the thing loyal gentlemen Craig-haters club members refuse to discuss: Do you want to take a crap in a stall next to a cop? A cop who can’t leave his own crapper until he busts someone? Are you in control of where your feet are going and how they’re moving? Really?

So to include Sen. Craig, strikes me as a little bit of a grasping-at-straws exercise. If we’re counting scandals, and measuring them on any sort of a scientific basis, the Craig thing hardly emerges as a creme de la creme specimen, does it? No, if the Craig mess is statistically representative of any phenomenon, it is a phenomenon of people talking about things, and officials being forced to resign over those things — but not of those things actually being done.

And in this respect, Panda is quite correct. Just not in the way Panda thinks.

At this point, we have to confess to an ugly truth about religion. It is more than a belief in one or several deities. It always has been much more than that. It is a system which empowers the few to dictate behavior to many, and avoid any intra-societal debate about whether such behavior would be beneficial or not, or whether there might be alternatives. This is the stigma the secularists continue to slap on religion, and they are quite correct about this. Religion is an ancient method of keeping the riff-raff in line. This is what has kept it around for so long, at least throughout the middle ages. It’s undeniable.

Saying so doesn’t make you a godless heathen. You can admit this truism and still have a healthy belief in and respect for God. This confession has to do with the affairs of men, which is an enclave altogether separate from the dominion of God.

The thing is, though, religion works best when people struggle away in substandard lifestyles. Actually, when people have no lifestyles. This is easy to substantiate. Here we are in 2007, we have an unprecedented surge of atheism…oh, look how popular it is! Can’t swing a dead cat around without hitting an atheist, haughtily lecturing at you that the cat evolved from a ladybug, now there is no cat, and you’re such a drooling idiot if you dare to question his wisdom. Atheist book after atheist book after atheist book hits the best-seller list — there are even “A for Atheism” tee shirts. It’s a big business, one that looks more and more, ironically enough, like evangelism.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on here. People, we see fairly easily once we really start to pay attention to them and how they do things, aren’t so ready, willing and able to soar above the level of an easily-led zombie as they prefer to believe they are. They like someone else telling them what to do. They might not like the idea of it, and sometimes they’re less welcoming of it than other times. But over the long haul, they certainly can’t be counted on to nurse a viscerally-independent rebellious acrimony toward arbitrary and excessive authority.

Over the long haul, they’ll always make a place for it. For the “natural-born leader” who steps in and starts slinging around commandments…benevolent commandments, malicious ones, duplicitous ones, or just-plain poorly-thought-out ones.

And you can take it to the bank that someone will always be willing to step up and do exactly that. Blame God or blame Darwin — somehow, we have been hard-wired to live in tribes. Tribes with hierarchical command structures. Leaders…followers…neither class with a monopoly on survival-related genetic attributes, since after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, both classes are still here. Goin’ STRONG. No end in sight. Anyone who seeks to assert leading-and-following is learned behavior, only has to hang around groups of people while they do the leading-and-following for awhile. Watch the group put someone in charge. See how much sense it makes. Repeat the experiment a few times…the “learned behavior” theory will be quietly withdrawn in sheepish disgrace. It isn’t learned behavior. It’s genetic coding.

The methodology of communication between these two classes, the “network topology,” if you will, by which the leaders tell the followers what to do — this is the only thing that changes. It changes with technology. In an agricultural society, religion just seems like a natural fit. Try living as a farmer for a year without praying. Try doing it when you have fifteen kids, fifteen kids you need in order to get enough help with the spring planting or the fall harvest. Try it when, at best, you might be able to hope for ten of those fifteen to live long enough to have kids of their own, and only five of the fifteen to live to bury you.

Just try not praying then.

Once you realize that, you realize how cowardly atheism is. There is the factual cowardice of it; it is “right,” because and only because God is an entity whose existence cannot be proven. This means atheism cannot be debunked, and since it cannot be debunked it insists on being awarded the status of “proven,” when all it has achieved is non-debunkery, and a logical assurance of everlasting non-debunkery. No further proof than that. “I must be right, for you cannot say that I am wrong,” is what it tells us.

But there is also the fair-weather cowardice. Atheism pops up to accept accolades and embraces from our society, when it can. Once the starvation and pestilence and Great Depressions and Nazis and under-electrified rural areas and racial oppression have been relegated to the dustbin of history, with the lid of the dustbin riveted and welded in place — up pops atheism! We can afford to be atheists now, although our grandparents could not have. Nevermind that, we can be atheists now, so let’s have at it.

In the end, Panda’s Thumb’s error is to associate the word “scandal” with some kind of honest and even-handed delivery of hard fact. This is why I think so little of Panda’s example, since the Craig Scandal is based on postulation and not fact.

The Thumb has accidentally proven something problematic to the theory it intends to promote; it has stuck a rake handle into it’s own bicycle spokes. Scandals, as we know them today, are not about guilt. They are about control. They are about telling the “little people” what to think and what to do…exactly the task religion was achieving for the powerful, hundreds of years ago.

This is a process that has been repeated countless times in human history, each time a new sovereign has displaced an old one through a revolution. The difference now is that the new emperor, and the former one, are harder to identify. Neither one wore a crown, neither one was an individual, but rather they were & are aggregates of individuals. But now, as in revolutions past, our new ruler has to sweep away the remnants of government wielded by the old one. This is an essential last-phase of any successful revolution — the parliament and the councils and the census-taking establishments of the displaced king, must be broken down, then rooted out, then swept away, and the residue sterilized.

That’s what the new ruler is doing now, and that’s what atheism is all about. Godless people are much easier to control. They don’t think they were put here by a Higher Power for any glorious purpose…of necessity, they must think the whole point to their existence is to eat and poop and inhale and exhale, plus whatever ancillary purpose some employer somewhere might see fit for them to do. An employer which, of further necessity, they must think of as some kind of fool, or a big meanie, or both.

This is why atheists don’t often have too many nice things to say about other people, unless those other people are also atheists. I can pretty much promise you if an atheist happens to trip across this post, he or she will prove this point nicely. Better than even odds the adjective “stupid” will be embedded somewhere in the response, and will compliment yours truly.

Anyway, that’s what scandals are now. Pretty much. They are drummed up artificially, tossed out to us like T-bone steaks to hungry tigers, at times deemed convenient to interested parties. This is not to say everyone afflicted with scandal is innocent. But we might as well admit that scandals are being used as devices, since they doubtlessly are. The scandal is a new Layer 2 network topology — it displaces religion exactly the same way Ethernet displaced Token-Ring. It is a new mechanism to keep the proles and plebes in line, now that the technology is available to sustain a communication medium that relies on rhythm, and there is a pressing need for such a medium that does what the old one did, while eschewing any notion of a deity. Demand…supply.

So I think Panda’s Thumb is right: Scandals disproportionately afflict those failing to demonstrate an inimicable attitude toward religion, failing to embrace secularism. Scandals will continue to be pointed in that direction, toward those targets. The theory is correct, just not for the reasons thought.

Thing I Know #85. As the standard of living improves, people slowly lose their need for a Supreme Being, while their need for a spiritual leader remains.

Thing I Know #175. Atheists are supposed to value their independence, and be determined to live out their lives to appeal to no one, and at the pleasure of no one. But when they’re around other atheists they don’t act like this.

Jewell Down

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Richard Jewell, who was falsely accused of being the Centennial Park bomber but later vindicated, has passed away.

I wonder if Ann Coulter is frustrated about that…she did a pretty comprehensive job reviewing the various episodes in the service of our nations last three Attorneys General. Jewell’s story wasn’t part of it. Deadline comes and goes on her weekly column, and almost in the minute she clicks “send” Jewell breathes his last.

Well you know what…you’ve got to conclude we’ve been sold a bill of goods when the most objective and even-handed review of Attorneys General over the last fourteen years comes from Ann Coulter. There’s just no getting around it.

On Aug. 19, 1991, rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death in Crown Heights by a black racist mob shouting “Kill the Jew!” as retaliation for another Hasidic man killing a black child in a car accident hours earlier.

In a far clearer case of jury nullification than the first Rodney King verdict, a jury composed of nine blacks and three Puerto Ricans acquitted Lemrick Nelson Jr. of the murder — despite the fact that the police found the bloody murder weapon in his pocket and Rosenbaum’s blood on his clothes, and that Rosenbaum, as he lay dying, had identified Nelson as his assailant.

The Hasidic community immediately appealed to the attorney general for a federal civil rights prosecution of Nelson. Reno responded with utter mystification at the idea that anyone’s civil rights had been violated.

Civil rights? Where do you get that?

Because they were chanting “Kill the Jew,” Rosenbaum is a Jew, and they killed him.

Huh. That’s a weird interpretation of “civil rights.” It sounds a little harebrained to me, but I guess I could have someone look into it. It took two years from Nelson’s acquittal to get Reno to bring a civil rights case against him.
Reno is the sort of wild-eyed zealot trampling on real civil rights that Hillary views as an ideal attorney general, unlike that brute Alberto Gonzales. At least Reno didn’t fire any U.S. attorneys!

Oh wait —

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Ashcroft: 0

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Gonzales: 8

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Reno: 93

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.

This Is Good XLII

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Wow, did Hillary Clinton ever get under this guy’s skin:

My opinion? A little dignity wouldn’t be a bad thing to add; nobody’s mind was ever changed by having someone call them a stupid idiot. But the message is a good one once the emotionalism is taken out of it. For example, you could seal this up in a time capsule to let people from the future know what kind of team-oriented politics we have going on right now. And yeah, in that statement I am criticizing Hillary’s fans, not the people who criticize Hillary or her fans. Team politics — they, and she, are what those are all about. My team’s great, the other team sucks, whatever my team wants is good, whatever the other team wants is bad…all I care about is points and touchdowns and the clock and what quarter we’re in, nothing else matters. That’s Team Hillary for ya.

The guy simply has a great point. Hillary criticizes the clemency order for Scooter Libby, and she’s hoping people will forget about what her husband did. She hopes for that — to someone with a working memory of inconvenient things, her comments have significant problems — and why shouldn’t she hope for it? Those people are out there. They’ve been mobilized by left-wing blogs and left-wing columnists and left-wing producers of “documentaries.” They think all you have to know about American politics is that Bush is Emperor Palpatine…and there simply isn’t anything worth knowing beyond that. Joe Wilson is caught in lie after lie after lie, real lies not phony ones — assholes in head scarves are trying to kill us, bake us to death in skyscrapers to make political statements — none of it matters. All for the team.

And she goes out there and manufactures all this anger and parades it in front of people. Anger and showmanship. Kind of like the guy narrating this movie himself, ironically…except with a much greater audience, a much greater conviction of self-entitlement to power, and a much greater prospect of directly impacting the lives of everyday people, whether they want her to or not. And unlike the narrator, missing even a cosmetic pretense for even-handedness in these matters. Just rah rah rah, hurray for our side, and down with the other guy.

In short, exactly what people are supposed to be sick and tired of. On the public wanting cooler heads to prevail in politics, my “news” will have no hesitation to clue me in…but I could grow very old waiting around for them to hang it around the neck of her Hillary-ness.

And what in the world is up with that nasal resonance of hers? It’s like she’s talking through the beak of a goose. A metal goose.

This is what scares me about Hillary: That is her appeal. The negativity. People who like Hillary, do not like Hillary because of her readiness, willingness or ability to improve people’s lives. They like Hillary because they expect her to injure certain targeted individuals and classes of people. They want her to hurt someone.

Her husband, crook that he was, and as bad for the country as he was, at least was seen by some of his fans as a medicinal balm. They supported him because they thought he would deliver a better life to people who desperately needed one. Hillary has only token residue of that kind of appeal, if she has it at all. She’s here to take some kind of dirty-rotten-bastards down a peg, and that is all she is here to do; that’s the kind of candidate she is.

Maybe to be a successful female candidate, that’s what you have to do and that’s what you have to be. Sort of a super-weapon candidate. There may be a kernel of truth to that. If there is, that’s unfair and we should change it. But I strongly doubt it’s an airtight thing. I think if you’re a positive person who is a woman, and you want to run for office and make our country stronger and improve the lives of people who live in it, and stand up for what you believe without being a total theatrical bitch like Hillary — I do think, if you’re sufficiently energetic and resourceful and creative, you’ll find a way to get it done.

And if I’m wrong, if that is absolutely impossible, that what I’ve just discussed is a luxury to be reserved for us dudes because it’s our world everybody’s living in and we’re too privileged to realize it — then until that’s fixed let’s just keep men in the White House. Having our first female President in this half of the century, just isn’t worth it. It’s not worth having someone, of either gender, waking up every morning in that mansion and saying to themselves “who am I going to hurt today?”

After the terrorists are dead, our nation could use some time for healing. From what I can see of Hillary, with her we get neither one of those things. With her in charge we get to continue arguing about matters ranging from all-important to comically trivial, and our enemies get to continue killing us.

Nifong’s Disbarment Unfair

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Mike Nifong says his treatment was unfair.

When former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong mailed in his law license last week, he also included a note bemoaning “the fundamental unfairness” of the North Carolina State Bar’s handling of his ethics case.

Nifong was disbarred for his handling of rape charges against three Duke University men’s lacrosse players. State prosecutors later dismissed the charges and declared the players innocent.

In the Aug. 7 letter, Nifong complained about a revision the State Bar issued to its written ruling, which had omitted one of the counts included in an oral ruling.

Robert Mosteller, a Duke law professor, noticed the missing count.

“Am I just missing this reference, is there an explanation, or just an apparent oversight?” he wrote in an e-mail to the State Bar.

The count was added in an amended order by F. Lane Williamson, a Charlotte lawyer who headed the disciplinary panel.

“Mr. Williamson’s e-mail assertion that the addition of a new conclusion of law based on the request of a Duke University law professor is merely a ‘clerical correction’ is preposterous beyond belief, and is further evidence of the fundamental unfairness with which this entire procedure has been conducted,” Nifong wrote.


I am not a big fan of this guy. The beef with him that culminated in his disbarment, had everything to do with “fundamental unfairness” so it speaks poorly of his mental acumen that he’d see fit to toss that phrase into his sniveling protest. Did he intend the irony, or is he completely unaware of it?

If I personally had a hand in punishing Nifong, and was nursing some doubts about whether I’d done the right thing for whatever reason, this latest event would purge those doubts straight-away. Nifong doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong. If that’s not the case, he is narcissistic beyond belief.

Not Going

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007


On the Man Code

Monday, April 30th, 2007

So in late January San Francisco was rocked by a scandal: The Mayor, Gavin Newsom, dorked his best friend’s wife. Here’s what piqued my interest. Name the issue: In San Francisco, things play differently than they do anywhere else. Name an issue that has something to do with men screwing women, or vice versa, or men screwing men or women screwing women. Something to do with fornicatin’. San Francisco becomes an even more different place.

And yet, every paragraph of this story, apart from city & person names, could have been applied to anywhere else. It comes down to this — the gals, single or married, say if the potholes are all filled what do I care about the Mayor’s personal life? It’s all good. And the guys say…wait, what?

Poked his buddy’s wife? That’s WRONG! It’s a betrayal of the man code!

But a funny thing happened after the headlines hit and the buzz began: Many women said they were ready to forgive and forget.

Not men, though. No way. Many said they would never trust Newsom again as long as they lived. Some were livid; many were incredulous. The difference? Apparently it is the Man Code, a set of rigid but unwritten boundaries over which no man may step. Break the Man Code, and you’re toast.

“It’s a huge betrayal,” sputtered Jason Mundstuk, 67, a business owner from Oakland who got upset just talking about it. “It’s big. It’s mythical.”

C’mon, you say, what is this, a TV beer commercial? Evidently not. These guys were dead serious. Make no mistake — having an affair with the wife of a trusted male colleague is an irrevocable Man Code violation.

“Hello?” wrote Mike Mulholland, 43, who grew up in the Bay Area before moving to San Diego County. “Newsom slept with his friend’s wife. What if he stole from a friend? Or tried to frame a friend? Would that also be nobody’s business?”

This clip makes pretty much the same point, offering the same evidence and drawing the same conclusions:

But this brings me to the meat of it. I was digesting all this information, and on a whim I did a Google on “Man Code.” There’s a lot of stupid crap out there with man codes. But I was surprised to see the longest “code,” was the one that made the most sense. Worth bookmarking. I’m a little wishy-washy on Nos. 7 and 14, and maybe No. 8 as well, but everything else on the list makes perfect sense. For the most part.

For those wondering, the subject of the beer commercial is covered in #12, and Mayor Newsom’s transgression is mostly addressed by…well, it’s not in there. Some things are just too hideous even for the Man Code.

Why We Have Blogs

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Regarding Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Syria: This is why we have blogs.

The print and electronic media, in both hard news and editorial, have entirely failed us in this area. They’ve had all week long to address this thing the Speaker did. Let me boil down how they addressed it: The hard news resources give us the events and the sound bites. If you’re trying to figure out how to vote in 2008 based on events like this, and you rely on hard news, you must rely on the sound bites from the White House and from the Democrats in Congress. That’s an example of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse if ever there was one. Both sides spin — and rest assured on this, if either side manages to sound more compelling than the other, it’s probably the least honorable side that prevails. So what we call “hard news” sucks, as a tool to address the problem at hand.

Editorials aren’t much better. Speaker Pelosi may have committed a felony here; conservative editorials will play that up, liberal ones will play that down. Occasionally, someone will step back and take a broader view that may be useful to us across a longer timeframe, like Fred Barnes when he wrote for the Weekly Standard:

Something gets into political leaders when they take over Congress. It makes them think they can run Washington and the government from Capitol Hill. So they overreach, but it never works. Republicans tried it in 1995 and were slapped down by President Clinton in the fight over the budget and a government shutdown. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is operating as if she rules much more than just the House of Representatives. This includes having her own foreign policy — a sure recipe for trouble.

Thus is Pelosi’s misstep explained according to her human failings, rather than simply by the corrupting influence of politics.

But such contributions are few and far between, and if the Barnes editorial gets any visibility, the citadel that is the print editorial “industry” will mobilize to get it slimed. Editorials don’t exist, after all, to show us our leaders are human; they exist to show us our leaders are corrupt if they have the letter “R” after their names, or had the best of intentions if they have the letter “D” after their names. And certainly, they aren’t supposed to depict the emperor’s nakedness when said emperor is the first emperess to hold the House gavel.

And even Barnes’ comments fail to address the underlying question: Just how far do we have to position our Democrats from official diplomatic offices, before they’ll stop flying around making promises to foreign heads-of-state that we don’t want them to make? Seems to me, that’s what the American electorate needs to know.

And it falls to the blogging community to answer that. I’ll tell you why. To answer that question, you have to have a certain level of healthy cynicism. There is such a thing, you know. Humans are cynical creatures. It’s a survival instinct. You take your family to a nice restaurant, part with more money than you expected, and get lousy service and lousy food. You give the place a second shot the next month, part with the same amount of money, get lousy service and lousy food. You give the place a third chance the next month, with the same results…you won’t be going back a fourth time. Ever. That’s cynicism. It’s a healthy thing.

And the fact of the matter is — as unprofessional as bloggers can be, and as helpful as “real” editorials can be sometimes — editorials aren’t supposed to be cynical. Good cynicism, bad cynicism, it’s all the same. The first rough draft passes from the pen of the author, and passes under the eyeball of the very first editor, the first casualty after the stuff Microsoft Word underlines as spelling and grammar mistakes, is cynicism. All kinds.

This is a problem. We live in an age where we need our cynicism to help us with our thinking.

And my cynicism tells me things. Things that are unprovable, but still things that are undisputed…or if they are disputed, they ought not be.

Let’s parse what what Speaker Pelosi herself had to say about the administration’s objections:

“Our message was President Bush’s message,” Pelosi told the Associated Press from Portugal. “The funny thing is, I think we may have even had a more powerful impact with our message because of the attention that was called to our trip. It became clear to President Assad that even though we have our differences in the United States, there is no division between the president and the Congress and the Democrats on the message we wanted him to receive.”

Speaker Pelosi’s position is based on two lies. First of all, to believe the things she has had to say about her trip, you have to believe that her office and the White House are in agreement about things. On the other hand, to believe the things the White House has had to say, you have to believe that the House Speaker and the President disagree. Well, guess what: They don’t agree. So to believe Speaker Pelosi, you have to accept that she’s in lock-step with President Bush about everything that needs to be told to Syria, even as those two fail to agree on everything from bacon-or-eggs to tastes-great-less-filling to black-or-cream-sugar.

Second lie: Her talking points are carefully calculated to shore up a constituency that is hopelessly divided. She says “our message was President Bush’s message,” and what she’s doing — you won’t read this in any editorial, but it’s the truth — is addressing two constituencies instead of one. Her job is to keep on doing this throughout Election Day ’08. Moderates who long for an end to partisan disputes and are ready to vote for anyone showing signs of bringing that end, hear these words and interpret them the way they want. Oh, Speaker Pelosi has respect for the President’s authority. She’s discharging that authority in a way President Bush himself cannot…perhaps because she’s more articulate. The results are sure to be positive. Why, think what would happen if we put someone from her party in the President’s chair…and come to think of it, it’s been awhile since they had the chance. Maybe we should give it to them again. After all, the policies won’t change much, but the execution will be better. Perhaps that’s what we need. Hmmm.

And then the MoveOnDotOrgsters, who want anything but an end to partisan divide — they hear the same words and think something else. Pelosi, they think, is pointing out Bush’s incompetence. Go Nan! Because, after all, according to the KOSsacks and MoveOn.Orgsters, there is no point to anyone making a public comment about anything, other than to make Bush look bad. Think about it. When’s the last time you heard a liberal Democrat say something in public that had any other purpose? Been a while, huh?

Pelosi’s comments united these two camps. At least tangentially. Now, you get representatives from these two groups, moderates and extreme leftists, in a room together and — look out. The likely result is flying furniture. But Pelosi has managed to deliver words that each side of the split, will pick out and interpret in the way they want.

Of course, when the words are sufficiently vague to bring about that false emulsification, they become meaningless. “Our message was President Bush’s message.” That really means nothing. But who cares?

Meanwhile, in a sane world, the value of Pelosi’s trip would be measured according to the yardstick of Jimmy Carter’s trip to North Korea thirteen years ago, and the disaster that followed. The House Speaker’s authority to negotiate with foreign governments, is pretty much the same as the authority of a failed former President. Or a football, or expired carton of milk. I do hope the eventual results are better. There is no reason for me to think so.

Time to drag out the dialog between McClane and Ellis from the first Die Hard movie. I wish it didn’t mesh with real events quite so often…

Ellis: It’s not what I want, it’s what I can give you. Look, let’s be straight, okay? It’s obvious you’re not some dumb thug up here to snatch a few purses, am I right?

Hans: You’re very perceptive.

Ellis: Hey, I read the papers, I watch 60 minutes, I say to myself, these guys are professionals, they’re motivated, they’re happening. They want something. Now, personally, I don’t care about your politics. Maybe you’re pissed at the Camel Jockeys, maybe it’s the Hebes, Northern Ireland, that’s none of my business. I figure, You’re here to negotiate, am I right?

Hans: You’re amazing. You figured this all out already?

Ellis: Hey, business is business. You use a gun, I use a fountain pen, what’s the difference? To put it in my terms, you’re here on a hostile takeover and you grab us for some greenmail but you didn’t expect a poison pill was gonna be running around the building. Hans, baby… I’m your white knight.

Hans: I must have missed 60 Minutes. What are you saying?

Ellis: The guy upstairs who’s fucking things up? I can give him to you.
Hans [on radio to McClane]: I have someone who wants to talk to you. A very special friend who was at the party with you tonight.

Ellis: Hello, John boy?

McClane: Ellis?

Ellis: John, they’re giving me a few minutes to try and talk some sense into you. I know you think you’re doing your job, and I can appreciate that, but you’re just dragging this thing out. None of us gets out of here until these people can negotiate with the LA police, and they’re just not gonna start doing that until you stop messing up the works.

McClane: Ellis, what have you told them?

Ellis: I told them we’re old friends and you were my guest at the party.

McClane: Ellis… you shouldn’t be doing this…

Ellis: Tell me about it.

Ellis: All right… John, listen to me… They want you to tell them where the detonators are. They know people are listening. They want the detonators of they’re going to kill me.

Ellis: John, didn’t you hear me?

McClane: Yeah, I hear you, you fucking moron!

Ellis: John, I think you could get with the program a little. The police are here now. It’s their problem. Tell these guys where the detonators are so no one else gets hurt. Hey, I’m putting my life on the line for you buddy…

McClane: Don’t you think I know that! Put Hans on! Hans, listen to me, that shithead doesn’t know what kind of scum you are, but I do –

Hans: Good. Then you’ll give us what we want and save your friend’s life. You’re not part of this equation. It’s time to realize that.

Ellis: What am I, a method actor? Hans, babe, put away the gun. This is

McClane: That asshole’s not my friend! I barely know him! I hate his fucking guts — Ellis, for Christ’s sake, tell him you don’t mean shit to me –

Ellis: John, how can you say that, after all these years–? John? John?

[Hans shoots Ellis]

Hans: Hear that? Talk to me, where are my detonators. Where are they or shall I shoot another one?

Fortunately, the gunshot was figurative and unlike the hapless Ellis, Speaker Pelosi is okay. But her strategy is just as kooky as his, and I’m afraid every bit as ill-fated.

Update 4-10-07: Welcome Pajamas Media readers.

Gonzales Must Go

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Boortz bookmarked Krauthammer this week, who in turn had the following comments on the phony Fired-Attorney-Gate scandal…

Alberto Gonzales has to go…the president might want to hang on to Gonzales at least through this crisis. That might be tactically wise. But in time, and the sooner the better, Gonzales must resign. It’s not a question of probity but of competence. Gonzales has allowed a scandal to be created where there was none. That is quite an achievement. He had a two-foot putt and he muffed it.

Had this been an argument for political appeasement — “just toss Gonzales overboard, and with full bellies the sharks will swim away and go wherever they go to take their afternoon after-meal naps” — he would have lost me. Such a thing has been tried before, many times. It never works.

But I have to say, if the Bush administration is going to be shaken up and whittled down, the idea of natural-selection toward a greater collective political competence, is appealing to me. The Bush administration has nowhere to go but up in that department. True, he still is the President; his successor has better-than-even odds of coming from his own party. His most recent significant loss, of both houses of Congress, was razor-thin. And if he’s been ineffectual in some areas, then that new Congress has been even moreso.

Politically, however, this White House gives incompetence a new name. The President’s misfortunes do mean something. And I don’t think the country can take much more of this. The lying. The stonewalling. The red herrings.

I’m not talking about what comes directly from the President and his people. I’m talking about the sharks. Every time they get in another feeding frenzy, it seems the first casualty is truth. And the way I see it, here is George W. Bush himself spooning chum into the water. Look at what we have going on now — the President’s defenders say, firing these attorneys is well within his authority. In a sane universe, that should be the end of the so-called “scandal”; those who seek to attack him, would be faced with the option of arguing this point, or else going away.

Well, they figure they don’t have to do either one of those. And who can blame them?

Someone at 1600 Pennsylvania has to be negligent in order to get us to this point. The President is saying he did nothing wrong; our democrats are saying — although I’m sure they’d bristle at the way I’m wording this, in spirit it does not deviate from what I’ve heard them say — they know he didn’t do anything wrong, but if they play their cards right they can create a scandal out of it anyway.

I’m not missing anything in my crude summary, am I?

Well, if that fits, you know what I think…these “vanishing civil liberties” about which we’ve been told so much over the last five years, I think they’re circling the drain right now. Think about it. The opposing party in Congress, and the media…but I repeat myself…can confess that the facts are on the President’s side. Openly. Right there in broad daylight, as the metaphor goes. And make a scandal anyway…outta nothing.

This is where our much-vaunted American “freedoms” go just before they die. In government. In situations where de jeure and de facto sprint away from each other, as fast as their little legs can carry ’em. The President has the right to do X according to law…but according to custom and precedent, being manufactured right here and now in Spring of 2007, he can’t do it.

If he’s a Republican. Get a donk back in the Oval Office, this new precendent is going to go sailing out the window. Nobody who gives the situation even a cursory review, will dare deny it.

And in the days where a babe born today is old enough to get his first driver’s license, trust me on this, we may be wondering why U.S. attorneys at the Department of Justice are so overwhelmingly left-wing, as we’ve often wondered this about the U.S. Supreme Court. Trust me on this too: Our donks are going to come out of the woodwork to haughtily and snottily lecture us that you have to be educated and broad-minded to be a U.S. attorney, and that correlates to being more liberal.

Set the freakin’ clock by it.

But if you have a long memory and you remember back to today, you’ll know different. It’s got to do with championing “what can we get away with doing” over-and-above what the truth really is…and that correlates to being more liberal.

Whatever happened to George Bush “killing soldiers in Iraq” and “alienating our allies” and destroying the earth bit-by-bit because he won’t see Al Gore’s movie? What happened to that? Because I have to believe, if the truth was on the side of the donks and our current President was really guilty of all that stuff — this wouldn’t be a very appealing or sincere way to take him down, would it? Something churned up from an action that all sides readily concede is squarely within his purview?

So I’m going to have to agree with Krauthammer here. I think the country depends on it. Our country’s future rises or sinks with our country’s fastening to truth, and even a lame duck President can save it. He can assemble all who report to him, and let them know in no uncertain terms: This administration is the administration that took down Saddam Hussein — but the administration’s job, here at home, is to be political. We can’t achieve anything without that. Our performance here is far below par. I am determined to do something about it. From here on, if you want to get yourself fired in a hurry, do something embarrassing.

I’m your boss. I have tried to champion reality over appearances, and I was sure reality would reward us for it. I must have forgotten what city we are in. From this day forward, we do a bang-up job at both. That’s the job. If you don’t feel you’re up to it, there’s the door.

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.

That’s An Expensive Date

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Yeah, that’ll make up for it.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who slept with the wife of his campaign manager and close friend Alex Tourk, has released the details of a financial agreement with the wronged husband. Tourk — of course — confronted the mayor when he found out about the affair. And, of course, told him to go fuck himself…which of course meant resigning.

But the Mayor will continue to pay Tourk’s salary until the former campaign manager finds another job.

“The overall picture is this – Alex Tourk has a 3-year-old son, a family and a mortgage. When he resigned, he requested to be paid his salary until he accepted another position. The mayor agreed with that request,” [spokesman Sam] Singer said.

Kelly Benander, a spokeswoman for Newsom’s re-election campaign, stressed that the agreement was a personal promise from the mayor and that no formal agreement has been reached.

“There was a commitment made to pay Alex the most generous separation agreement under the law. The lawyers are currently working out the details of that package. No formal agreement has been reached other than a personal commitment,” Benander said today.

Pretty magnanimous of the mayor if all he did was check the oil in the family garage. But it’s a pretty cheap way to take care of whatever support issues are involved if…well…so far as I know, the timelines involved in this whole mess do create some questions along those lines.

Is it a topic for public deliberation? Maybe not. Not…until…the Newsom campaign chose to release these details. To rehabilitate the mayor’s image among his constituents? Perhaps, perhaps not. Does it even matter. It isn’t even settled that such an arrangement could be legal. If the whole thing was a private matter, it isn’t anymore.

On Gavin

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

NewsomI really don’t know whether Gavin Newsom is going to survive this. The fitness of our high officials for public office, and how said fitness is damaged by personal indiscretions, is probably the one thing in our governmental process that is left more up to public whim than anything else. It all depends on the desire of the commoners to control each other.

The desire part, I think, is something that applies to all of us…but completely engulfs nobody. We all have a desire to uphold each other to some moral standard, and we all have a desire to be left alone. Most of us can noodle things through with sufficient cohesion, to understand some sort of compromise is necessary. Without it, we paint ourselves into the corner of insisting upon conduct and inspection we aren’t willing to accept in our own lives. And so, nearly all of us understand there’s a line somewhere.

The public whim part is a little trickier. It depends on some kind of personal “antenna” that allows certain individuals to understand what is going on with the prevailing viewpoint. I have less of this antenna than most people. I seem to be missing it entirely.

I am still shocked to this day that Bill Clinton “got away with it.” It’s fair to say in my lifetime, this is the one event in American politics that strayed furthest away from my predictions, at the moment it was oncoming and at any other moment. I never would have expected he or anyone else could waggle a finger at the camera and insist “I didn’t do it,” get tripped up with DNA evidence, and — finally — not only survive, but build up a sick cult following celebrating how cool it was that he dodged the bullet. I mean, what the FUCK.

I don’t get it. In the years since, many an exasperated soul has tried to explain it to me. Something to do with separating “performance in public office from his private life.” They think I’m failing to distinguish something important; I think they’re splitting hairs. Lying is lying, right?

And as if some omnipresent Kismet decided my point needed to be proven, along comes Mayor Gavin. The very people lecturing me about the distinction between public and private, are wondering how they can trust Newsom who was screwing his friend’s wife.

Nine years ago, conservatives were saying (before liberals shushed them up) “How can we trust Bill Clinton when we know he has been lying to Hillary?” Mmmmkay…no reasonable answer need be forthcoming to this, because the question is indecent. Alrighty. Now the same folks are scratching their heads over Gavin…who was routinely lying to some guy on his staff…some guy who was not Gavin’s wife.

Yes you can’t do this if you’re Gavin Newsom, unless you’re the kind of guy to whom lying comes fairly easily. Riiiiggghhhttt. That’s the point. Adulterers are liars, by definition. Try fornicating with the wife of someone you know. Try doing it when you’re married to another woman. Try doing this…without lying.

You will lie, and if you don’t like lying you’re going to stop. If you keep going because you get a thrill out of it, you get a thrill out of lying. End of story.

Judgmental? You’re goddamn right. Maybe even hypocritical. I don’t like my public officials lying to me.

But don’t blame me for anything. We already had a nationwide referendum on whether elected officials should keep hanging around after they’ve been busted for cheating and lying, and I said once they get caught they’re gone. All these Clinton-lovers who are so genuinely shell-shocked over Newsom’s shenanigans, I suppose they’re getting an education about why exactly this is.

Why The Hatred

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Not Going To Hell After AllPresident Bush is hated. I think it’s fair to say President Bush is the most hated persona to occupy that high office, probably since the office has been there. The time has come to ask why this is. In nearly four years following the invasion of Iraq, and six years after he took office, none of the explanations make any sense whatsoever. I have been repeatedly preached and scolded and counseled and upbraided and reproached, that I must do certain things and vote certain ways because this emotion exists. I think deep down, everyone agrees it’s unwise to do things because of emotions even when emotions are understood easily. The more I learn of this emotion, the more convinced I am that I don’t understand it, and I don’t think anyone else does either…even the people who advertise that they have it. A lot of people stand to gain an awful lot if they can get people like me to understand what’s going on here. And after all those years, no explanation has been forthcoming, satisfactory or otherwise.

Oh yeah, why I’m supposed to join the ranks of those who hate him — people tell me that. They have a catalog of reasons. They add to it whenever they think of something, and they seem to think there’s something wrong with reciting just a piece of it. The whole list must be rattled off. And replication must be instantaneous; if one Bush-hater thinks of something new, all the other haters must add it to their own catalogs. So I hear these items fairly often. But the thing I want, continues to be left out. It’s like an itch I can’t scratch. Why George W. Bush is a walking superlative in the history of hated-people…such a rich history that is…no one’s given any justification for this.

I’m going to try to do it here.

He got 3,000 American troops killed, they tell me. The notion that these deaths are really his fault, is subject to reasonable debate. The notion that, if he has some blame for these casualties, he’s going to have to share it with others — is something that can only be subject to unreasonable debate. A lot of people could have done a lot of different things, and those dead troops would be smiling and eating and laughing and joking and burping and farting like you and me. But allowing for all this anyway — we’ve had other Presidents who got many more troops killed. Many, many more troops. This is according to the same logic. They weren’t nearly as hated. So that’s not it.

He “waged an illegal and unjust war.” That’s a matter of opinion…but allowing for that, again, going by the same logic, we’ve had other Presidents wage illegal and unjust wars. In the minds of some, anyway. They weren’t so hated.

He’s pro-life. We’ve had other Presidents who were pro-life.

He’s from Texas. We’ve had other Presidents from Texas.

He is thought by some to have shirked his military duty. We’ve had other Presidents thought, by some, to have shirked their military duty.

He swaggers. We’ve had other Presidents who have swaggered. One of them was in a wheelchair.

He spies on people, in the process, alienating them from the rights to which they are guaranteed by the Constitution. That’s what I’m told. Is anybody going to advance the assertion that this is unprecedented? When President Bush is said to “wipe his ass with the Constitution,” this is a figure of speech…invariably, it is pronounced without a citation from the U.S. Constitution in mind that is being violated. Other Presidents BLATANTLY violated specific amendments and/or articles/sections. Unapologetically, and without precedent. That includes the wheelchair-guy by the way. They weren’t so hated.

The economy is lackluster. In America, the economy has been quite a few measurable notches below lackluster, and we’ve had sitting Presidents who were decidedly at fault for some terrible economies. We’ve had Presidents who actually wrecked the economy with their bad policies — economies that would certainly have done better if something different were done. We’ve had Presidents who were still in office when the chickens came home to roost and there was broad agreement about the link between the poor policies and the sputtering economies. President Bush is hated more than those Presidents were…so…we continue looking for the underlying reason. It’s clear we have not yet found it.

A lot of people say he’s a dimwit. That seems, at first blush, to be the answer; I rarely hear anyone confess their hatred of President Bush, without throwing in the apparently-essential scolding that he’s anti-intellectual and stupid. But there are problems with this. Throughout recorded history, if the human equation has shown one consistent sentiment toward simpletons wielding real power, that sentiment would be tolerance. Tolerance to a fault, actually. We can adapt to dimwit bosses, and as a species we have done so many times before America came along. Based on the information I’ve reviewed, if President Bush has managed to arouse bumptious demands for his removal from office based on his addle-mindedness, with all other motivations for the acrimony being decidedly subordinate, he’s made history. Human history. It’s really hard to make that kind of history. I don’t think that’s it.

He’s inarticulate. So was Lincoln, according to some contemporaries. Benjamin Harrison was characterized as speaking in an annoying, high-pitched squeaky voice. Grant was shy. Coolidge didn’t say much.

None of these Presidents were quite so hated.

I think, what it is, is he took a bad guy down. We’ve had Presidents do that before, too…but President Bush did it in the modern age, when good & evil are supposed to be matters open to individual interpretation. In an age where evil is supposed to be a subjective viewpoint…he targeted someone. He’s an unwelcome paradigm shift, and the shift is in an direction that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Once you go down the road of insisting there is no such thing as “absolute” evil, you can stay there as long as you choose to…until someone else comes along, defines evil as being really evil, and does something about it. This makes the nihilist/anarchist crowd look bad.

It hurts their P.R. You stand there “helplessly” watching a house burn, you look okay. Someone else grabs a hose while you sit there on your ass watching…now, you’re embarrassed. If the other guy didn’t happen along, the house would have burned to the ground. But you’d look good. Nothing else really counts, right?

It’s like the guy watching a woman being mugged and raped, making a calculated, brazen decision to allow the attack to commence uninterrupted because it’s “not my concern.” Inaction resulting from purely pacifist interests. He looks all right…until someone else gets involved. And then the pacifist looks bad. And silly. And cowardly. And impotent. And then the pacifist begins to harbor some decidedly un-pacifist feelings, toward the other fellow who made a decision to help out.

Come to think of it, the anger these leftists have toward President Bush, is not at all unlike the anger felt toward a masculine, self-assertive, virile interloper, from a cuckold, whose lonely and bored wife has finally been reminded what a real man can do. It’s not unlike that kind of anger at all.

One exception, though. In our society, we do not value the idea of strong, effective men stealing women from weaker men. We do not raise our sons to sleep with other mens’ wives. We do raise our boys to stand up for what’s right; to get involved, to lend assistance if evil is sure to triumph for lack of that assistance. That is what President Bush did. I’m glad it was done, and history will be glad for it too.

To those who insist on hating him and continuing to build that reasons-for-hate catalog, I say, go ahead. Hate him if you want; hate him all you want. I think it would be good for your own mental well-being to identify, in your own mind, WHY it is you hate him. If you come up with the reason, and are too ashamed to admit to anybody else what it really is, you’re still better off than the guy who hates President Bush but won’t put the effort in to figuring out why.

We’re All Such Independent Thinkers V

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

If you could bring John F. Kennedy back from the dead, what would he say about our current happenings? The author of this video would have you believe our only Catholic President would be horrified at the actions of the Bush administration, based on a speech he gave in the spring of 1961.

Seems like an open and shut case, right?

Not so fast. This summer, in response to the video above someone on LibertyForum named HolyKnight was able to find this complete transcript.

Some parts of it which I’ve highlighted in light blue made it into the YouTube clip. Some parts which I’ve highlighted in red, did not. That might be because where the font is red, John Fitzgerald Kennedy is talking an awful lot like John Fitzgerald Bush.


The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

But I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of our country’s peril. In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy. In time of “clear and present danger,” the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must yield to the public’s need for national security.

Today no war has been declared–and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired.

If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self- discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.

It requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions- -by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.

Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security–and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.

For the facts of the matter are that this nation’s foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or espionage; that details of this nation’s covert preparations to counter the enemy’s covert operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the location and the nature of our forces and weapons, and our plans and strategy for their use, have all been pinpointed in the press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any foreign power; and that, in at least in one case, the publication of details concerning a secret mechanism whereby satellites were followed required its alteration at the expense of considerable time and money.

The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning. Had we been engaged in open warfare, they undoubtedly would not have published such items. But in the absence of open warfare, they recognized only the tests of journalism and not the tests of national security. And my question tonight is whether additional tests should not now be adopted.

The question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will. But I would be failing in my duty to the nation, in considering all of the responsibilities that we now bear and all of the means at hand to meet those responsibilities, if I did not commend this problem to your attention, and urge its thoughtful consideration.

On many earlier occasions, I have said–and your newspapers have constantly said–that these are times that appeal to every citizen’s sense of sacrifice and self-discipline. They call out to every citizen to weigh his rights and comforts against his obligations to the common good. I cannot now believe that those citizens who serve in the newspaper business consider themselves exempt from that appeal.

I have no intention of establishing a new Office of War Information to govern the flow of news. I am not suggesting any new forms of censorship or any new types of security classifications. I have no easy answer to the dilemma that I have posed, and would not seek to impose it if I had one. But I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to reexamine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all.

Every newspaper now asks itself, with respect to every story: “Is it news?” All I suggest is that you add the question: “Is it in the interest of the national security?” And I hope that every group in America–unions and businessmen and public officials at every level– will ask the same question of their endeavors, and subject their actions to the same exacting tests.

And should the press of America consider and recommend the voluntary assumption of specific new steps or machinery, I can assure you that we will cooperate whole-heartedly with those recommendations.

Perhaps there will be no recommendations. Perhaps there is no answer to the dilemma faced by a free and open society in a cold and secret war. In times of peace, any discussion of this subject, and any action that results, are both painful and without precedent. But this is a time of peace and peril which knows no precedent in history.


It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation–an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people–to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well–the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.

No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.

I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers–I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

This means greater coverage and analysis of international news–for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security–and we intend to do it.


It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass, gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations first forged by the compass have made us all citizens of the world, the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all. In that one world’s efforts to live together, the evolution of gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible consequences of failure.

And so it is to the printing press–to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news–that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.

That’s your First Instinct Fallacy playing out in the YouTube clip above, right there. You have a first-instinct, and subsequently all evidence that becomes available to you is filtered according to whether it fits the instinct.

The fact is, Kennedy was walking a pretty thin line here. He had just botched the Bay of Pigs invasion and three of his officials had to resign over the failure. The best information we have today, is that his administration was planning the invasion to a depth of detail he was still dodging at the time of this speech, and at the same time he was tut-tutting the press for being too diligent in exploring the matter that was an embarrassment to him. But he also wanted to extoll the virtues of leaders in democratic societies welcoming criticism of their errors…and exploration of what those errors may be.

But genuinely welcoming such inspection? Really? History doesn’t support this.

And here it is 45 years later, the speech is hauled out and put on YouTube — just carefully cherry-picked pieces of it, though — to make the current presidency look bad. Yet in the final analysis, what JFK had to say about the communists, is fundamentally no different from what GWB has to say about the Islamo-fascists. It’s exactly the same argument. Our enemy is “monolithic” in all the ways that matter; our enemy is controlled, and therefore has a cosmetic advantage over our own society, which is free; we will ultimately prevail because our society works in greater harmony with the human spirit; but victory is only possible if we respect transparency and, at the same time, national security.

Neither President, when you parse the words all the way down, is supporting an idea that transparency should be absolute. The 35th and the 43rd have it in common that they’d like to keep some things under wraps.

And the secrecy carefully embraced by the Bay State President, as it relates to the matter he was addressing in his speech, was needed to protect his image and not to protect national security. Is the same true of our current President? Time will tell. Meanwhile, the clip is just so much bull. The words are correct. To suppose Kennedy would approve of the way it is shown, depends on how sincere, and intellectually honest, our former President would want to be. He had no standing to criticize our government as it operates today. Not as far as the secrecy-vs.-transparency issue.

What’s sad is people take this kind of thing at face value. There’s actually a frame in the movie that says “GOOGLE MUTHAFUCKA, DO YA USE IT??” And if you really do use it, before you find something that embarrasses the White House, you find other things that embarrass the video…so the author of the clip better hope the answer is “no.” But in most cases, that’s the correct answer. People see images, they presume the Government is out to get ’em with every little thing it does, they find a couple quotes by Thomas Paine telling them this is what they’re supposed to be thinking, and they then labor under the belief that they must have noodled this through with some good mind-sweat, spent some good mental elbow-grease on it. All they’ve done is watch a five-minute video and believed every word in it without question.

And then if/when a Democrat takes the White House, they’ll stop being suspicious. They won’t outwardly admit that’s the process…but they’ll drop the “Big Brother’s Out To Get Me” act for forty-eight to ninety-six months straight. You won’t hear a peep out of ’em about it.

And then they’ll watch a made-for-TV movie about the Kennedy family, watch a few scenes with touch-football, Jackie in her pillbox hat, Bobbie courageously mouthing off at J. Edgar, and they’ll think they’ve become authorities on “Camelot.” Oh, I do hope people are better informed than that…before receding again into the world of Starbuck’s and Blockbuster and Krispy Kreme. I hope so. I doubt it.