April 30, 2006

The Executive Branch

You know, the one that executes the laws made by the legislative branch:

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.

Seven pages. Check it out. Via Crooks and Liars.

Posted by binky at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Bad Gets Worse for Reformists in Egypt

Of course the attacks on what judicial independence exists were ugly. But this really puts the nail in the coffin of reform.

Egypt's parliament complied with a request from President Hosni Mubarak to extend the country's 25-year old emergency laws another two years, effectively ending a recent cycle of reform in which much more was promised than delivered.

Happy talk from Condi Rice or the Bush White House notwithstanding, the second largest recipient of US foreign aid dollars remains a closed, elitist, repressive regime.

Posted by armand at 06:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The NFL Draft, Day 2: Of Vicks and Buff Buffs

It's almost over, and still no one has taken Virginia Tech QB Marcus Vick. I can't say I'm surprised. As to where famed/controversial Colorado Buffalo, Olympian, and sometimes model, Jeremy Bloom wound up - the Philadephia Eagles took him in Round 5.

Posted by armand at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cartoon Reality

Bob Geiger picks up Ben Sargent's editorial cartoon about the "vote Republican, or else..." mentality.

It's funny, unless you live in West Virginia and you get to hear the political ads on local radio in which both John Raese and Hiram Lewis try to out conservative each other. One of the ads even says "I'm pro-life, against gay marriage and pro-gun."

Well, there you have it. So-called West Virginia values.

Posted by binky at 02:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thank You For Smoking

So yesterday some friends drove down the hill and dragged me off to see the late showing of young Jason Reitman's film adaptation of Christopher Buckley's satire. The film is far from deep, but it's highly amusing. If you ever have to deal with PR, marketing, legal, political or any other types that make their living through presenting persuasive arguments, well then I think you'll especially enjoy how it lands its punches. It's smart and funny - the best set pieces (I think) being the M.O.D. (Merchants of Death) Squad meetings and the hysterical trip to Los Angeles which features Rob Lowe and Adam Brody as ever-so wrong but ever-so right charicatures of Hollywood execs. Aaron Eckhart's performance cements the whole thing (he's great) and actually the prominent role played by his character's son (played by Cameron Bright) works surprisingly well. So if you just want to laugh for 90 minutes, this movie might be just what you are looking for.

And by the way, kudos to whoever designed the credits at the opening of the film. They are the best I've seen in a long time.

Posted by armand at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 29, 2006

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder(er)

It has been a busy six weeks or so. Thus the lack of blogging. In my absence I have not been bereft of ideas, merely bereft of time to post them. I continue, however, to be worked up over a few (at this point almost historical) points:

1. Seven Generals Asking Rumsfeld to Resign: Hey, it's a free country. Once one retires from any organization, one should be free to complain and/or criticize whatever one wants. Why are they doing it now? 'Cause they couldn't before. Military officers are in a chain of command that has (as a cardinal rule) civilian (read: Rumsfeld) control. Thus, just as uniformed military shouldn't appear at campaign rallies (giving the impression of the military endorsing a political party/person/position), the military shouldn't openly criticize the civilians in charge. That being said, someone should fire Rumsfeld.

2. Bush's approval ratings: 33%? Is that what is these days? He's toast. He's a lame duck with something like a thousand days to go. Gonna be a long, depressing ride.

3. (Related) Imaging how much worse a 33% approval rating would be if the opposition party had an actual coherent platform that addressed the mess the country is in and were talking about it. Imagine. Just imagine ('cause that's all you can do, since the Democrats couldn't find a clue with the resurrected brain of Sherlock Holmes leading them around).

4. Everyone is very excited by the prospects of the Democrats taking back either the House or the Senate or both. Uh, no. The Republicans still have a significant majority in both houses, incumbents win almost all the time, and the number of "open" seats isn't enough to make up the difference (even if the Democrats could win all or most of them, plus they haven't got a clue - see #3).

5. Iraq still sucks. Yay, they got a government. Wonderful. However, there are still lots of bombs going off, the Kurds are still holding out for something damn close to autonomy (which will piss the Turks off), the Sunnis are barely talking at all, and the Shiites don't really seem to care, so long as they get to run the crumbling remains. So, yes, progress. One step forward, two steps back, and only ten thousand to go until we see daylight.

6. Negroponte/Goss should stop dicking around with "exposing" leaks at the CIA/DIA/Pentagon/White House/Howard Johnsons/Arby's, and start, you know, finding some ways to fix the intelligence services. As best I can tell, we aren't any better equipped for "early warning" than we were five or ten years ago (arguably worse, since we've pissed off more Muslims who might have actually cooperated with us pre-9/11 - pre-Iraq).

8. Spanish National Anthem: It's what it says (the words, the meaning), not what language its in. Hell, translate the damn thing into Taugalog, Mandarin, Uzbek or even Klingon. Let people know what we are, and what we believe in. If this is unclear to you, cease voting immediately.

8-a. If you fly the Confederate Flag and believe that the National Anthem shouldn't ever be in a language other than english, cease voting immediately and bang your head with a musket until the concept of "consistency" is clear to you.

9. Why are there no movies out right now that I care to see?

That is all. You may now go about your business.

Posted by baltar at 06:26 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Contrary to popular opinion around here

I am not the only one.

Posted by binky at 05:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

President Bush Marching, Holding a Mexican Flag High

And in one of his own campaign commercials! Whatever will his rabid base think?

Posted by armand at 02:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Texans Take Mario Williams?!?

WTF? To me, this was as unlikely as a Rumsfeld resignation. I mean what do they want? A new (local) star quarterback with great marketing potential? Take Young. The consensus sure-to-be Hall of Famer? Take Bush. Someone who'll provide key help preventing their current quarterback from being repeatedly beaten to a pulp every week? Take Ferguson. I'm not saying Williams isn't a quality prospect - but #1? And #1 given the particular needs of the Texans? I don't get this at all.

But since I have no interest whatsoever in seeing the Texans prosper - color me thrilled.

Posted by armand at 11:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 28, 2006

President Bush is a Petty Bitch

The president of the United States does realize he is the president of the United States, right? If he does he should know perfectly well that you can't make an admitted "cheap shot" at a leading member of the national press and then say I take it back and expect the cheap shot to disappear, right? Once the president puts something out there, it's out there.

And speaking of needless pettiness - what's with all the opposition to singing a Spanish-language version of the national anthem? It's not like the Lord's Prayer is no longer the Lord's Prayer when it's said in Spanish. What exactly is there about Francis Scott Key's words that demand they be sung in English?

Posted by armand at 01:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2006


Please join me in a hearty - and heartfelt - round of applause for our brand spanking new Doctor Baltar.

Posted by binky at 10:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

So a Drunk Congressman Goes to a Frat Party ...

Could this be a problem for Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), who's facing a spirited challenge this year? Sure. But my first reaction to it (aside from amusment) is that Sweeney really needs to keep his deputy chief of staff away from the phones. If THAT is the best she can do for a cover story, she's a potentially debilitating liability - something he doesn't need when he's facing a tough, well-funded challenger.

Of course he might also want to hold off on going to more frat parties during the next six and a half months.

Posted by armand at 04:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


So I rented Shopgirl last night, and while I wish I could recommend it, I can only do so half-heartedly. It's directed by Anand Tucker (this is his second feature, his first was the superb Hilary and Jackie, and his next film will be an adaptation of the first of the His Dark Materials books), with a screenplay by Steve Martin (who stars in it, and wrote the novella on which the film is based). So, there's no shortage of talent involved here, and technically the film is a stunningly beautiful achievement. The music, photography, artistic/production design, costumes, shot selection - all of that is top-tier stuff that's great. When you turn off the words it all looks beautiful and flows together in a smooth, quiet, lovely way. And actually the story itself is one most of the audience will relate to very well. It's about a relationship that involves two people who have very different understandings of what the relationship is about. But while you might know the tale, and while it's a lovely film to surround yourself in, when it comes to really being moved by the story, that's a little hard - partially because most of us know it so well, and Martin's script doesn't give us much that's new or in any way surprising. Very little goes on on-screen, and it's so subtle that there's not that much to really grab you beyond the production design. It's an unusually real story for a film - but that doesn't necessarily make it watchable.

I certainly didn't dislike the film, and technically it's a very pretty gem. But beyond admiring the skill with which it was crafted, it didn't really move me or take me anywhere I hadn't been before. It's a perfectly nice movie - but not a remarkable story.

Posted by armand at 09:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

George Allen's Racist Past?

Apparently The New Republic is going to soon be running a profile of George Allen (R-VA), the senator many insiders see as the leading candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. The story will feature a review what many would describe as racist behavior committed by Allen when he was younger. Before that profile comes out, it might be useful to consider other research that's been done on this subject. Brendan Nyhan wrote two posts on it last spring. I have my doubts about whether this sort of thing would prevent him carrying the GOP banner in '08 (a Democrat facing these charges would be dead - but that's one difference between the parties). But it's an issue that merits further investigation.

UPDATE: Ezra's take on it is brutal - almost as brutal as Allen's "thuggish" past behavior. As he notes, the article chronicles a lot of cruel misdeeds beyond racism.

Posted by armand at 09:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Kevin Drum finds the Congressional recommendation on FEMA to be puzzling (emphasis mine):

This is truly remarkable. FEMA was a fine organization for eight years under Bill Clinton, widely recognized as one of the best run agencies in the federal government. But after a mere five years of George Bush's stewardship there's now a bipartisan consensus that it's so rundown that the only choice is to get rid of it and build a completely new agency in its place. Astonishing.

So the Bush team isn't just incompetent. They're destructive.

Posted by binky at 08:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 26, 2006

Planned Parenthood: Someone Else's (Recent) View

Regular readers might remember my essay about the good work done by Planned Parenthood, and how when I was young, married and without insurance, those nice ladies did a wonderful job caring for my health.

Azpazia has a guest post up about her recent decision to use Planned Parenthood for her primary reproductive health care provider. Different focus, but same quality treatment.

On a personal, bloggy note: grading hell continues. I don't know how Armand does it (posting while in the midst) but I bow to his superior abilities. I'll be more lively in a coupla days.

Posted by binky at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sheldon Whitehouse Secures the Right to Face Chafee

Not technically, but now it's only a matter of time. Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown has dropped out of the race for the Democratic party's nomination to face US Senator Linc Chafee (R-RI). This assures the nomination of former state AG Whitehouse. Whitehouse already had most of the state's Democratic establishment supporting his bid.

The political implications? Whitehouse won't be saddled with the intra-party bitterness that saddled Bob Weygand's campaign against Chafee in 2000 after a bruising primary fight, and that's a definite plus for Whitehouse's chances. But at the same time, this opens the door for people who'd been planning to vote in the Democratic primary to now vote in the Republican primary, which one would think would help Chafee secure his party's nomination for another term (he's being challenged from the Right). Whitehouse/Chafee should be a tight race and one of the key ones to watch on election night 2006.

Posted by armand at 06:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Face of Illegal Immigration

Do we really want to deport people like him?

Posted by binky at 11:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dating the Characters of Sex and the City

I've been watching Sex and the City for the last couple of months. I didn't watch it when it was on - but I've become hooked. It's fun, pretty, witty, and best of all gets a lot better as the series progresses. Some of the more tiresome traits of some of the characters fade, and the writing gets ever sharper. I'm now in season 5 which is, I think, better than any of the seasons that precede it.

And much like the "Who's Your Favorite Beatle?" question can tell you a fair bit about a person, I think which character on this show you'd want to date tells you a lot about what someone is looking for in a relationship. So I'll throw that question out there. Given their personalities, looks and behaviors, if you could date one character on this series (male or female) - who would it be?

Posted by armand at 10:11 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Help Direct Sen. Boxer's PAC Contributions

The senator from California wants your help in deciding who she should send campaign funds to. So, go vote.

Posted by armand at 09:30 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 25, 2006

Women Shouldn't Trust the Government

It prefers lying to you to support a political agenda over telling the truth about science.

Via Bitch PhD

Posted by binky at 09:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Arlen Specter (R-PA) Wants Cameras at the Supreme Court

For ... inane reasons he can't possibly be serious about. I mean, c'mon:

I agree that our constitutional system is best served by giving the Supreme Court the last word, but there is no doubt that congressional procedures and authority have been severely diminished by the court. And the public needs to be able to assess these issues by shining a televised light on the justices.

And how exactly is televising oral argument supposed to help people assess issues pertaining to the separation of powers? He does realize that the public isn't filled with lawyers who'll actually be able to follow the detailed legal discourse that dominates a lot of oral arguments, right? He just assumes the people know the text of section 14 of US code 195? Uh huh. Yeah. Right.

If the public understood the extent of the court's power, perhaps the electorate would insist that Congress do its job on a variety of issues -- including desegregation, Guantanamo Bay detainees, eminent domain and defendants' rights -- instead of punting to the court.

I don't think many American's lack an understanding of the Court's power. In fact in some cases I'd say they think the Court has more power than it does. And the whining about Congress not accomplishing anything because ... 1) the people don't know that the Court has power and 2) the Court is supposedly usurping authority in certain policy areas ... well, that's just plainly-embarrassing ass covering by a smart attorney who's been in the Senate for over 25 years. If he can't get his colleagues to actually deal with the issues of the day, that's unfortunate. But it has a lot more to do with him and his colleagues than it does with the presence or absence of cameras in a room across the street.

Posted by armand at 01:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paul Van Riper, Allan Bense and Charles Taylor (R-NC, not the Liberian)

The Carpetbagger has some good posts up today.

There's one on the latest retired general to call for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation (a guy who did such a good job playing Saddam in a war game that they actually started the game over after he'd sunk 16 US ships).

It seems that Allan Bense might challenge Katherine Harris in the GOP primary in Florida after all (fuck!). And Rep. Charles Taylor from Western North Carolina persists in his support for one of the most politically-suicidal policies one can imagine - blocking the United 93 memorial.

Posted by armand at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Polygraphs: Reliably Unreliable

We do we still use these things? Especially when matters as important as freedoms and livelihoods are on the line? I'm not saying you can't get any good information from them - but given the level of misses and mistakes and stakes involved succeeding at "rates well above chance" doesn't seem like much of a point in their favor.

Posted by armand at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Alan Mollohan Bought a Farm

There are still more questions than answers in the allegations being made about the congressman from WV-1, but the Wall Street Journal (and does anyone else find it interesting that so many of the stories about Mollohan are starting in that publication?) adds more today:

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, the West Virginia Democrat whose real-estate holdings and financial disclosures have drawn federal scrutiny, last year bought a 300-acre farm with the head of a small defense contractor that had won a $2.1 million contract from funds that the congressman added to a 2005 spending bill. The joint purchase of the farm, which sits on the Cheat River in West Virginia, is the most direct tie yet disclosed between Mollohan and a beneficiary of the federal spending he has steered toward his home state. It raises new questions about possible conflicts of interest by Mollohan and his use of such spending. House ethics guidelines warn lawmakers to avoid business deals with those who benefit from their official acts.
Posted by armand at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Latest Bin Laden Tape & The Clash of Civilizations

Marc Lynch has an excellent run-down on the latest incitement from Usama Bin Laden. It's not about Iraq, HAMAS, or Darfur - Bin Laden's focus is much wider. He still seeks to be a "constructivist" actor, fomenting opposition to a perceived Crusader-Zionist invasion.

Posted by armand at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2006

And speaking of depression...

...we have these statistics, from Dr. Violet Socks:

Here’s what middle-school kids think about rape, according to a survey of 11-14 year-olds:

  • 51% of boys and 41% of girls believe that a man has a right to force a woman to kiss him if he has “spent a lot of money on her.”
  • 32% of boys and 32% of girls say it’s not improper for a man to rape a woman who has had past sexual experiences.
  • 87% of boys and 79% of girls say rape is okay if a man and woman are married.
  • 47% of all those surveyed say it’s okay for a man to rape a woman he has been dating for more than 6 months.

Doesn’t sound too good, does it? By middle school, American children have already drunk deeply from the patriarchy: they know that men have the right to sexually possess women, that women can be bought, and that women who aren’t virgins are fair game for rape.

So perhaps it’s not so surprising what happens when they get to college:

  • 1 in 4 college women report being victims of rape or attempted rape.
  • 1 in 12 college men admit to committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape.
  • 35% of college men indicate some likelihood that they would commit rape if they could be assured of not getting caught.

And it doesn’t stop when they get married…

  • 10% of women are the victims of rape or attempted rape by a husband or intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 33-46% of husbands who beat their wives also rape them.

… or have children:

  • About 20% of all rapes are committed against children under the age of 18 by their own family members.
  • 20-40% of women and 10-20% of men report having been sexually victimized as children (this includes sexual abuse other than rape).

And then you go to the top and start all over again.

Posted by binky at 06:49 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Who Can Play Depression?

This recent post at Cinemarati on Friends With Money brought up an interesting theatrical topic - the difficulty an actor faces when playing depressed - and asked an interesting question - "Which actors can play depression well without depressing the audience unduly or dulling the liveliness of the film they’re in?"

Thinking about it, it really is rare to see people play depressed well (well, it's difficult for people not named Bill Murray), and it's even harder to do it well and not bring down the entire film. So I ask you gentle readers - Who can actually do this? Or, what films have you seen in which someone plays depressed well?

A few possibilities that come to mind for your consideration: Anouk Aimee in La Dolce Vita, Kim Basinger in The Door in the Floor, Laurence Harvey in Room at the Top, Bruce Greenwood in The Sweet Hereafter, Patty Clarkson in The Station Agent, Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Mysterious Skin (maybe his problems were much bigger than depression, but I'm sure that was mixed in with the rest), Diane Keaton in Manhattan. Thoughts on those? Other ideas?

Posted by armand at 02:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 23, 2006

Is this a sign of good drugs, or bad drugs?

Yes, I'm still grading. And yes, I think my mind is turning to mush.

Posted by binky at 11:03 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


Coming out my ears, that is.

I know that many would consider me to be a fuddy duddy for this, but I still think plagiarism is wrong.

Posted by binky at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Robert D. Kaplan, Obtuse and Misleading

Oy. What should we make of this column?

Borders may be eroding and stateless terrorist groups like al-Qaeda proliferating, but don't be fooled: The traditional state remains the most dangerous force on the international scene. Perhaps the greatest security threat we face today is from a paranoid and resentful state leader, armed with biological or nuclear weapons and willing to make strategic use of stateless terrorists.

Got that? If so - tell me what it is you got. "Traditional states remain the most dangerous force on the international scene" - fine, sure, ok. But PERHAPS what really matters most is WMD-armed individuals who want to act through stateless terrorists.

Duh-what? Those strike me as explicitly inconsistent statements. Am I missing something?

And of course much of the rest of the column is just plainly embarrassing. He doesn't like "pseudo-democratic legitimacy", by which he appears to mean that he doesn't like it when people he doesn't like get elected. But supposedly he doesn't like undemocratic systems that aren't responsive to the people will either. He writes derisively of systems where "the rulers can exploit the whole panoply of state power, without regard for the will of the people". And of course he sees states that don't like our economic policies as threats. Who knew?!?

Kaplan manages to make some decent points in all this - but on the whole this column's a Monet (fine when seen from a far, but when you look up close it's a big old mess). And as to why I keep borrowing terminology from Cher in Clueless - well, lately she just seems wiser than a lot of the pundits printed in the country's leading papers.

Posted by armand at 10:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Genius of George Catlett Marshall

Need some military history for your Sunday morning? Sara recently posted these two pieces on General Marshall and planning for post-war environments.

Posted by armand at 09:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good Night, and Good Luck.

So I finally saw this film that was nominated for 6 Oscars. And I'm glad I did. It's very good. Quick observations about it:

I've now seen 4 of the films nominated for Best Picture - and Crash remains the worst of those I've seen.

I've now seen 4 of the nominees for Best Actor at this year's Oscar fest - and Philip Seymour Hoffman remains my least favorite of those performances. I'm not seeing he was awful or anything. But I thought Ledger, Phoenix and now Strathairn were extremely good.

I'm puzzled at this being called a "McCarthyism" movie or a "Cold War" movie - because to me it's much more about the media than it is about politics. The two are closely related of course, but this is the story of the actions of CBS News, not a Senate subcommittee.

I'm really glad they included that little bit with Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson. Not just because I love those two stars - though I do - but because I think it perfectly portrayed how there was already so much built into the oppressive norms of the era (which sadly a lot of reactionary Republicans and a few hideous Democrats want to take us back to) that made McCarthy's wars against freedom, liberty and privacy so much easier - and so much deadlier.

Posted by armand at 09:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2006

VH1's 5 Favorite Lyrics List

As Cher (the cute, perky one) would say - as if. Yeah, the combo of optimism and nihilism is interesting but ... still - yuck.

The only one there that I think merits mention is the one by The Smiths, and really that's nowhere near the first Smiths lyric that would come into my head if I was trying to think of a best or favorite Smiths lyric. How about:

"I've come to wish you an unhappy birthday, 'cause you're evil and you lie, and if you should die, I may feel slightly sad, but I won't cry"

"The rain falls hard on a hum-drum town, this town has dragged you down."

"Won't you bicycle on a hillside desolate, will nature make a man of me yet?" - and practically every othe part of "This Charming Man".

"Behind the hatred there lies a murderous desire for love."

"And now I know how Joan of Arc felt, now I know how Joan of Arc felt, as the flames rose to her Roman nose and her walkman started to melt."

"And if a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die, and if a ten-ton truck kills the both of us, to die by your side, well the pleasure and the privilege is mine."

"Please please please, let me let me let me, let me get what I want this time."

I prefer all of those. Questions? Thoughts? Comments?

Posted by armand at 05:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Way Worse than Working on a "Coke Campus"

A short flash film on why Congressional steps toward eliminating net neutrality might result in serious restrictions on consumers' access to the internet. The upshot is, net neutrality means that providers can't privilege some content and/or block other content.

More at Save the Internet.

And no, I've never been a huge Pepsi fan, but after the "Coke campus" experience, I'll go out of my way to choose Pepsi. Spiteful bitch that I am, yes. And really, thank goodness I drink about 2 sodas every six months, because both of them do it.

Posted by binky at 05:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Persecuted Christians

Suffering apartheid? The Green Knight says no. With pictures.

Posted by binky at 05:07 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

New Orleans Votes: Round 1

Follow the action as it unfolds.

If Mitch Landrieu doesn't make the run-off I'm likely to be cranky tomorrow.

Posted by armand at 02:46 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Who DIDN'T Get Confirmed for Karzai's Government

Getting 80% of his nominees confirmed shows that the leader of Afghanistan has some strength in parliament and an ability to lead his country. But the nominees who were blocked show the power that extremely conservative religious leaders retain over Afghanistan's government.

Posted by armand at 01:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How Did Mary McCarthy Know?

Showing that the president seems to only approve of leaks when one of his close aides is doing it the president's own political advantage - leaks that are to the president's political advantage are apparently very bad things (whether or not they inform the public of vital information about what their government is doing in their name) - Mary McCarthy has been fired by the CIA. Neither that action nor egregious White House hypocrisy is surprising. But I am more than a little bit curious about how McCarthy learned what she leaked.

Posted by armand at 01:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 21, 2006

Update on Dr. Madhu

More messages have been coming in about the situation of the protesters arrested in Nepal. Because at least one of them, Madhu, is a friend of a friend, and has been a long standing friend to the U.S. through his work taking care of Peace Corps Volunteers, I'm going to put up a message I just received:

Friends and family,

Many of you have heard my stress recently regarding our Peace Corps Doctor in Nepal, Dr. Madhu Ghimire, having been arrested during the ongoing pro-democracy protests. He and 23 professional colleagues were arrested April 8th during a peaceful protest in Kathmandu. (I've attached photos to give you a picture of the situation on the ground). Over the course of the last 15 days, it is estimated that 120,000 Nepalese people have been arrested or detained by the Armed Police or the Royal Nepalese Army. I know 3 people personally, which makes this particularly scary for me.

A core group of 5 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served in Nepal and were treated by Dr. Madhu are working hard to gain access to him via Human Rights organizations (including Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, the UN, etc). Dr. Madhu's wife was able to visit him very briefly with a Nepalese Human Rights Agency escort and reports that his treatment is fair, but that he is sick and weak. Comparatively speaking, he is being treated very humanely. Estimates vary, but it is entirely possible that 100,000 people are being detained in horrendous conditions, with no access to toilets, water or food. The King today announced that he would be handing over some of his power, but did not give a timeline. (The King dismissed the Parliament and thus claimed all power over the government in February 2005).

In an effort to free Dr. Madhu, his comrades and eventually the 120,000+/- prisioners of conscience, I ask that you please sign the petition found by following this link to the Friends of Nepal site.


If you are interested in learning more about the situation, please follow these links:

United We Blog

Friends of Nepal

Amnesty International


Photos and international news sites:

BBC Asia

CNN World

The Global Nomads may be interested. BTW, there is a like-minded meeting/HH at the Banana Cafe (Eastern Market) tonight, if you are interested.

I'm sure that the Nepalese with whom you work are anxious about the situation at home. There is a similar petition being worked on at Amnesty International to release the other 120,000+/- prisoners, too. I'll send that link, too, when I receive word that it is complete.

Thanks call -- "Dhanyabaad"

Spread the word.

Posted by binky at 04:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Next Iraqi Prime Minister Will Be ...

The chief candidates of the UIA now seem to be Jawad al-Maliki, a long-time Dawa Party activist exiled for decades to Syria, and Ali al-Adib of the Dawa Party's Tehran branch. It is so amusing that the saviors of the Bush administration's political process in Iraq are beholden either to Syria or Iran-- Bush's chief targets for demonization-- for their political survival in the Saddam years.

I guess finding this situation amusing is better than finding it reassuring ...

Posted by armand at 11:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Why Report What Cardinal Martini Says ...

... as if it has anything to do with actual Church policy?

He's old, nearing a point where he could be called "long-retired", and has fewer and fewer allies in the Curia or among the cardinals (as most people with his views are retiring or dropping dead - John Paul II appointed officials far to his Right). And the last line of this report is just flat-out wrong. I followed it closely, and I haven't seen even ONE report saying he was a "close" runner-up in the 2005 papal election. Actually I haven't seen any report saying he was anywhere near being "close", unless one thought that John Anderson was a "close" runner-up in the 1980 race for president.

This report makes it look like the church is moderating its views on condom use (that letting couples in which one partner has AIDS to use a condom is banned shows just how far from moderate the Church is) - and there really isn't anything from the people who'd actually make that decision to suggest that's the case.

Posted by armand at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Balance of Power

New York Times today:

During his 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush described Beijing as a "strategic competitor" whose ambitions for global influence must be contained. Now he prefers to say America's relationship with the Chinese is "complicated," reflecting a conversion that he took a step further on Thursday to declare that "China and the United States share extensive common strategic interests."
Perhaps that should have been no surprise. Like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton before him, Mr. Bush came to office convinced that if he set tougher rules about engaging China, the Chinese would change their behavior. They quickly came to abandon that view.
"A number of presidents since Nixon have come to office with negative views of the Chinese," said Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to President Bush's father. "They always end up supporting the thrust of the policy established by President Nixon," one of engagement.

Why is this such a shock to everyone? As I've said before, I'm not a realist, but you can't dismiss "power politics" as a key characteristic of the international system made up of sovereign states. China has interests different from ours. China is also one of our largest and most important trading partners (just behind Canada and Mexico). Plus, they are capitalist, communist, repressive, rich, nuclear, and rebuilding their armed forces. Hey, guess what, that's going to create a complicated set of relationships!

I'm a very firm believer that China is a much greater policy issue than Iraq or Iran (of course, I also believe that Pakistan is bigger than those two states as well). Yet I can't also help feeling that our China policy is adrift, with no real strategic focus with respect to the interrelation of security, economic, diplomatic, energy, and human rights/democracy issues. Where's the debate?

Posted by baltar at 10:50 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Happy Together

I'm likely to continually get the title of this confused with Happy Endings, so if I wind up talking to any of you about the latest foreign film I watched, assume I really mean Happy Together.

And I really might end of up talking to some of you about it because most of it is truly excellent. This is 1997 film is the second work by Wong Kar Wai that I've seen (his 2046 was probably one of 2005's 5 best films - great work), and I decided to rent it after seeing it highly ranked on The Scene Stealer's Top 100 List. If you want comments on the plot, follow the link to his site. I'll just note one thing about it for now. What Wong does with his shots is breath-takingly beautiful. His command of movement and color and angles is as good as any director working today. The film is a sumptuous feast of design - but one done on a perfectly appropriate scale for the story, which is one of the difficulties of a poor, troubled couple who might be in love, but who make a terrible couple. The tumult, the closeness, the passion, the emptiness, the naturalness and the plain old dirt of it all are all captured beautifully. Flashes of color, and the uneven sands beneath our feet practially explode off the screen in moments of disorientation, while at the same time it accurately hits on the stillness and quiet of so many moments (in terms of how they hit us internally).

As was the case with 2046, I think it went on too long and the plot becomes too unfocused at the end. But the first two thirds of the film are well worth your time - hell, the whole thing is I guess, especially if you've suffered through a traditional relationship (you know, one filled with careful lies, limitless longing, an inability to get along, verbal abuse, financial entrapments, petty cruelty ... but love). Those few seconds when a sick Fai makes dinner ... pricelessly real.

Posted by armand at 09:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 20, 2006

Politicizing Science Again


"Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the F.D.A. making pronouncements that seem to be driven more by ideology than by science," said Dr. Jerry Avorn, a medical professor at Harvard Medical School.

Posted by binky at 11:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Free Madhu

For those who haven't been following the situation in Nepal, the government imposed a curfew designed to further restrict the freedoms of its opposition. The ongoing strife has been painted by the government as largely controlled by Maoist guerillas, however there is a substantial movement for peaceful change.

A group of civil society activists has been jailed, and the Friends of Nepal blog is publicizing the case for their release.

The 25 civil society activists, doctors and journalists who defied the curfew on 8 April at the Teaching Hospital and jump-started the current agitation and were arrested have been shifted to a detention centre in Duwakot. The group includes prominent human rights activists Padma Ratna Tuladhar, Kapil Shrestha and Malla K Sundar, constitutional expert Laxman Aryal, medical doctors Madhu Ghimire and Sundar Mani Dixit, as well as Himalmedia publisher Kanak Mani Dixit.

Additional information at the Chaubise blog, which is monitoring the situation, and has a statement from one of the detainees that has since been released. Further information at Friends of Nepal, which will no doubt post updates when they are available.

Nepal is out of my range of experience, but so far the reaction of the royals seems to be taken right out of the handbook on "How Not to Deal Well with a Pro-Democracy Movement and/or Simultaneously Inflame the Maoist Rebels and Help Them Reach Recruiting Targets."

Spread the word.

Posted by binky at 04:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Smear Campaign Against Juan Cole

Due to work-related inundation of tasks, I completely missed the latest splenetic ravings from the forces of academic censorship.

Glenn Greenwald hasn't, and comes out swinging:

One of the most annoying victim movements around is the petulant and growing group, led by the odious David Horowitz, which incessantly whines that pro-Bush students on college campuses are treated very, very unfairly because their views are not praised by all that many people and sometimes are even harshly criticized.

As I've written about many times before, the examples of supposed victimhood almost never entail any actual repression of, or institutional punishment for, the expression of unpopular conservative views, but rather, are composed only of disagreement by other students and faculty members which make the right-wing students feel uncomfortable and unloved. In that regard, this whiny movement is nothing more than the mirror image of the worst elements of the PC movement of the 1990s -- while deceitfully parading under the banner of free expression, its true aim is to render impermissible the expression of political views which the conservative students dislike.

A vivid example illustrating their true agenda can be found in the blossoming "controversy" over what appears to be the imminent offer of a tenured professorship by Yale University to liberal Professor of Mideast Studies (and well-read blogger) Juan Cole, to teach at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies and in the Yale History Department. Many Bush supporters are arguing that Professor Cole espouses political views which apparently ought to be off-limits on college campuses, and there is thus a burgeoning movement to induce Yale to reconsider its decision. These efforts, of course, are coming from many of the same circles of sermoniziers who hold themselves out as defenders of academic freedom when they decry the oh-so-terrible reception which greets right-wing views on some campuses.

A lengthy smear piece by two students -- one an undergraduate at Yale (who happens to be Powerline Big Trunk's daughter, whom he calls "Little Trunk") and the other at Harvard Law -- was published yesterday in the New York Sun. The article selects multiple half-sentence snippets of Cole's writing in order to "demonstrate" that he harbors a "deep and abiding hatred of Israel"; that "if it were up to Mr. Cole, the country wouldn't exist at all"; and that he is "best known for disparaging the participation of prominent American Jews in government."

The usual suspects -- some of whom themselves have decried the (largely non-existent) suppression of right-wing views on college campuses -- have jumped onto the bandwagon, urging that Cole not be hired. Sharing the same McCarthyite talking points, they each suggest -- with zero basis -- that Cole even shares the same views as the Taliban; hence: "Taliban Man at Yale may soon have congenial company" and "A Teacher for Taliban Man."


Anyone who has ever read anything written by Professor Cole -- and I have, and I have disagreed with much of it -- knows that the claim that he is anti-Semitic is a baseless and defamatory myth. It is a smear that is achieved only by the depressingly common attempt to equate hostility towards the political agenda of Likud with hostility towards Jews generally, a tactic that is nothing short of disgusting.

This false equivalence is intended to stifle all debate on any matters relating to the Middle East by positing an equivalence between anti-Semitism and a criticism of a specific, minority strain of political ideology. One either must refrain from criticisms of the actions of Israel, and refrain from commenting on the influence asserted by its government over American policy, or else one will be publicly branded an anti-Semite. One is perfectly free to criticize other countries, and even criticize the level of influence their governments exert on American policy (to name but a few, condemning the influence on American policy of China, or Mexico, or Saudi Arabia, is all the rage, including among many of these same people). But the same arguments applied to Israel makes one an untouchable anti-Semite.

The intellectual bankruptcy of the argument is self-evident. It is no different than accusing someone who opposes the French Socialist Party of hating the French, or accusing someone who opposes some South American right-wing party of hating Latinos. Or accusing someone of opposing President Bush of hating America and loving Al Qaeda. This tactic is an inane but destructive character smear that has been allowed to fester for way too long. But it festers because anyone who complains about it guarantees that they, too, will be similarly branded as an anti-Semite or terrorist-lover, and so most people prefer to avoid the issue.


We have seen this repressive tactic applied repeatedly to American political debates over the last five years, and this is merely a specific strain of that tactic which uses the lowly art of character smear in order to exclude opposing views from college campuses.

But many of these same true believers seek simultaneously to render any opposing views prohibited, off-limits at any mainstream institution or college campus. The list of prohibited ideas includes the view that Israel is the principal antagonist of conflict in the Middle East generally, that American interests are harmed when the U.S. defends Israel too reflexively or blindly, and that Israel bears principal culpability with regard to the Palestinian issue. As the reaction to Professor Cole conclusively demonstrates, they want anyone who advocates those views to be blacklisted (and again, I am simply assuming, but not accepting, that those descriptions accurately describe Professor Cole's views).

It does not matter what one thinks about any of those views. Particularly at academic institutions, those issues ought to be debated. And the debates ought not to be one-sided. As I said, I disagree with many of Professor Cole's views. But the very idea that the views he expresses not only places him outside of the mainstream, but outside of the realm of what can be tolerated by a decent society or college campus, is, on its face, completely frivolous. This is not about anything other than trying to impose one's own views as academic orthodoxy and to ensure that one's political views on highly controversial political matters enjoys the status of unquestionable piety.

He's right. This has nothing to do with academic freedom, and everything to do with an attempt to impose orthodoxy.

Posted by binky at 03:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Great Argument Against Fixed-Term Electoral Systems

Not that that's how Ezra's framing it, but ...

I think what scares me about Bush is that the guy has lost all sense of temporal accountability. In a very real sense, I wish his poll numbers were 20 points higher, because then he'd have something to lose. As it is, he's pegged his unpopularity to the Truman metaphor: that the real judgment will come 20 years hence, when we all gather round the campfires to tell stories of how George Bush and his mighty blue ox Babe rid the Middle East of villains and maniacs, and did it all above the churlish protests of short-sighted pissants like ourselves. So long as he's decided absolution will come decades hence, there's nothing holding him accountable now, and no reason not to go for broke. And that, quite honestly, scares the hell out of me.


And that's before you even get into the "I know best", arrogance angle which doesn't seem remotely democratic. But then maybe that's part of why he's so deeply unpopular.

But what do I know. I mean I don't think much of the Truman presidency either.

Posted by armand at 02:23 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Morrissey, Hopper, a Disinterested Public ...

... how can you not love this post?

Posted by armand at 01:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gay Iraqis Fear for Their Lives

Yeah, it's a dog-bites-man story. But it's a terrible one, and one that was a completely predictable outgrowth of our invasion. I mean when a Sistani website says - "Those who commit sodomy must be killed in the harshest way" - it's no great shock that we'd be opening up a situation in which a violent, terrifying, bloody end would await a lot of Iraqis.

Posted by armand at 01:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paul Cameron and the Junk Journal of Biosocial Science

What the hell is Campbridge University Press doing being associated with an editorial staff that would let this academic atrocity (Paul Cameron’s “Children of Homosexuals And Transsexuals More Apt To Be Homosexual”) get in print?

This story made it around a few blogs a few days ago and I was so appalled by what's literally the shoddiest piece of "science" I've ever actually seen put in a journal that while I thought I had to say something about it, I lacked the words to express my outrage and disbelief. And I still don't know what to say. Cameron is part of the problem of course. His skewed hypotheses and blatant inability to read data are deeply disturbing. But to me the much bigger crime against the readers of this journal and those who might see the article was perpetrated by the editors of this journal. How such a malicious, sloppy and inaccurately explained study could get published is beyond me.

Posted by armand at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2006

File Under: Big Fucking Surprise


Sex is more satisfying in countries where women and men are considered equal, according to an international study of people between the ages of 40 and 80 by researchers at the University of Chicago.

Via Pandagon.

Posted by binky at 08:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Anything Else

So I guess I could wonder if this is the worst Woody Allen movie ever? But if I did that, then I suppose I would have to remember the relative merits of Small Time Crooks and Alice. And honestly it's far too pretty a day to give any one of those three messes more than a few seconds worth of thought.

Posted by armand at 01:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sen. George Allen (R-VA): Way, Way Ahead

If finding charismatic candidates with both great personal stories and extremely strong defense credentials is one of their priorities (and it sure as hell is), Democrats ought to be working very had to elect Reagan-era Navy Secretary Jim Webb to the US Senate. And his campaign is getting a lot of support from people across the political spectrum (from Owen Pickett, Bob Kerrey and Generals Clark and Hoar to Jay Fisette and Leslie Byrne). But it's clear that it has a long way to go. He still has to beat Harris Miller to win the Democratic nomination, and even if he gets that, Sen. Allen is very well positioned to retain his Senate seat, President Bush's deep unpopularity in Virginia notwithstanding. Allen leads Webb 50-30 in the latest poll. And in the money race, the Allen campaign has $7.2 million in the bank. The Webb campaign only has $200,000. I still think this is a winnable race for Webb, but the odds are against him, and it'll take a lot of work.

Posted by armand at 09:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bush: I Won't Tax Your Assets After Death - I'll Just Seize Your Property

Secrecy, secrecy, secrecy.

The latest move in the president's cunning plan to remove every government action from public view is to seize papers from the estate of the late Jack Anderson (who of course made his career by uncovering bad business the government was up to).

Posted by armand at 09:05 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 18, 2006

Rob Portman, OMB Director

Yawn-inducing and hilarious at the same time. The president's remarkable inability to bring anyone he hasn't known for years into his circle of top advisors continues unabated.

How should we descibe it? A man with serious security issues? One who's wildly insulated? Or should we throw poll numbers into the discussion and start playing with terms like "deck chairs" and "Titanic"? Oh, and who will replace Portman? Why his Deputy of course!

On a different note, I've long thought Portman had a very bright future ahead of him. Given that - why would he take a job like this that could easily kill his future political career? I suppose it makes sense for a guy from Ohio to get out of the USTR job. But still, given the budget situation at the moment, this isn't a job you take to make fans and friends.

Posted by armand at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Freedom of the Seas

Just in time of the release of Poseidon (which I soooo hope will be playing in its cinema), Royal Carribean is about to start service on the world's biggest cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas. It's a little shorter than the Queen Mary II, but it's 15 meters wider. And hey, if sharing a ship with only 4,374 other passengers might make you feel lonely, don't worry. They are working on a class of vessels that will each accommodate 5,400 passengers.

Posted by armand at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Post Editorial on the General's Revolt

Do you ever wonder if Big Alcohol has secretly taken over the editorial section of The Washington Post? I've been wondering that for some time - there's nothing else I read that so often makes me think I need a drink.

Today's latest idiocy concerns their concerns over "The Revolt of the Generals". They say Rummy should have gone years ago and it's a big problem that Bush hasn't gotten rid of him (b/c while they are too often stupid and misleading they are nonetheless ... you know, concious). But they also stress that 1) he shouldn't go just because six retired generals want him to go (as that would threaten civilian control of the military), and 2) anyone who was mad about generals huffing and puffing against "gays in the military" in 1993 shouldn't be supporting the calls of these six generals because it's the same thing.

My head. My poor, poor head.

OK Post editors, I'll be quick: 1) NO ONE is saying Rummy should go ONLY because six general are advocating his resignation. What matters are the REASONS they are advocating his resignation. These reasons have been stated by others for a long time. But since the Post and other media outlets seem to often treat anyone who criticizes present policy as someone who's simply being partisan, well, apparently the idea that people serving in the military might also agree with those comments (but can't comment on them) didn't occur to a lot of the country's opinion makers before. That retired generals share these views is, apparently, news. But the problems they are discussing are not - as the Post itself says. 2) How slippery you are with your modifiers. The key word in this case is "retired". The word you use in trying to connect this to the Clinton case is "uniformed". The difference between the two words makes it clear that this event is not like the "don't ask, don't tell" contrversy. In that case you could clearly argue that the generals were being insubordinate because they were on active duty. That's NOT the case here. These are people with considerable expertise talking, but they are NOT active duty officers.

If you want to read something that's actually thoughtful that deals with this issue - go read Professor Bainbridge.

Posted by armand at 09:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 17, 2006

Oh the wonders of the internets

While googling some of our recent visitors, up popped a website called Concealed Position. One thing I have found while keeping track of "interesting" visits is that other people do too.

Anyway, from this find, more finds. Guess what? Corporate America is handing over your phone records to help with domestic spying. ATT cooperated with NSA, and a whistleblower has come forward to help with a lawsuit against the practice.

"Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA's spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise consistent with the NSA's charter or with FISA," Klein's wrote. "And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of internet communications of countless citizens."

Try on your tinfoil hats people. They're all the rage for spring fashion! (and not nearly so outlandish as they once might have been...)

Posted by binky at 11:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Haven't done this in awhile

However, it would be uncharitable and most decidedly un-Southern of me not to extend a warm welcome to the Army Information Systems Command, visitor number 22,934.

And a shout out to Northrop Grumman, TRW Space and Defense Sector, visitor number 22,943.

Welcome to all y'all!

And a p.s. hello to Mountain Home AFB! 366 CS/SCBB, visitor number 22,948!

What a busy day!

And a double p.s., if you're one of the people that I actually do know at Mountain Home, de-lurk and participate! We could use your comments around here.

Posted by binky at 04:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More evidence that the Bush administration hates gay people

No fucking for you. Ever.

In addition to being costly, inaccurate, and ineffective, the programs must now operate under a strict new definition of abstinence:

Abstinence curricula must have a clear definition of sexual abstinence which must be consistent with the following: �Abstinence means voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage. Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse.�

Later, the guidelines explicitly define marriage:

Throughout the entire curriculum, the term �marriage� must be defined as �only a legal union between one man and one woman as a husband and wife, and the word �spouse� refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.� (Consistent with Federal law)

In other words, if you�re gay, the Bush administration has decided that you should be taught to never, ever engage in �any type� of �sexual stimulation� � ever.

I wish we sex-crazed liberals had sex half as much as the amount of time spent thinking about it by the homo-obsessed conservatives.

How do they ever get any work done, what with all the fantasizing they do about deflowering virgins and anal intercourse?

Posted by binky at 01:40 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Baldfaced Liars

Yeah, I think that title is getting worn out, but what are you going to do when the adminstration and its cronies are a pack of mendacious weasels? (emphasis mine)

Frist and Hastert blamed Democrats for one of the most controversial ideas in the debate: the provision in the legislation the House of Representatives passed in December designating the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in America as felons. The Republican National Committee plans to run Spanish-language radio ads echoing that charge.

The proposal to designate illegal immigrants as criminals, more than anything else, has ignited the nationwide wave of protests against the House bill. To attribute the idea to Democrats, Frist, Hastert and the RNC have to join the story on the last page — and then misrepresent the evidence to boot. In fact, from the start of the recent debate, Republicans have driven the notion of imposing criminal penalties on illegal immigrants. Although President Bush has never acknowledged paternity, the idea's fathers include his administration.


There's a glitch in the law, though, that affects immigrants who initially arrive through valid visas rather than a dash across the desert. Remember: Unlawful presence is a civil, not criminal, violation. That means it is not a crime to stay in the U.S. after your visa expires. If people overstay their visa, all the government can do is send them home.


So as House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) prepared his border security bill last year, the Justice Department asked him to include a provision making unlawful presence in the U.S. a crime. Sensenbrenner, on the House floor in December, said the idea came from the Bush administration, and an administration official last week, speaking anonymously, confirmed his account.

Both parties agree the administration did not tell Sensenbrenner what sort of crime it believed unlawful presence should be. So Sensenbrenner proposed to make it a felony, subject to a year and a day in prison.

Contrary to the description from Hastert and Frist, Democrats and immigrant groups opposed this proposal from the start. In particular, they charged that the idea advanced a hidden agenda distinct from the argument about equalizing the penalties for overstaying a visa and sneaking across the border.

Hopefully someone is keeping track of this to remind the voters, come election time, of what Ol' Fristy and Co. were up to.

Posted by binky at 01:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

And don't let the door...

...hit you in the ass on the way out.

Signaling a possible shake-up among President Bush's senior advisers, the new White House chief of staff told top presidential aides Monday to expect changes that "refresh and re-energize the team." He invited anyone who is thinking of leaving before year's end to do so now.


"I never speculate about personnel measures," McClellan said, repeating his standard reply to questions about staff changes with a smile.


Posted by binky at 12:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I hate the MUB.

Hate, hate hate the MUB.

For spending the better half of a year tearing up the street and sidewalk in front of my house.

For letting a leak go unattended for years such that it undermined the retaining wall that I had to pay to have fixed, and which resulted in the cessation of civil conversation with the neighbors.

For attempting to make the leak into my problem by not-so-subtly relocating my water meter from inside my property line to the edge of it, given that any leak between the meter and the house is the homeowner's responsibility.

For lying through their teeth about attempting it when I caught them.

For then tearing, etc see above.

And last but not least, for having some sort of rule that keeps those damned walkie talkies on the trucks at full volume, both for the "call" button beeps and the squawky vocals, so that any attempts to think straight with a truck within a three block radius is nigh unto impossible.


Posted by binky at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Victims of Domestic Violence Punished by the State for Seeking Help

The state of Kentucky has been taking the children of women who flee abusive relationships, for no reason other than that they have sought refuge in domestic violence shelters. (emphasis mine)

Domestic violence shelter directors say the state is increasingly taking children away from women who have done nothing more than move to a shelter to escape a violent home.

In the past year, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services has removed the children of about 50 women served by the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, said Darlene Thomas, the program's director. The program covers Fayette and 16 surrounding counties.

Some Cabinet workers have been telling women that shelters aren't an appropriate atmosphere for children, said Kentucky Domestic Violence Association executive director Sherry Currens. Currens and other domestic violence victim advocates worry that the trend could dissuade victims from seeking help.

"You don't have to hurt the baby or neglect it; at this point, being an abused woman who shows up at a shelter is often enough grounds to take a child," Thomas said.

That's a shift from the past, when child-protection workers applauded mothers who fled abusive partners and took their children to shelters.


A recent child advocacy report suggested that officials could be removing more children of domestic violence victims as part of a broader push to increase adoptions from state foster care in order to get federal financial bonuses for the state.

The Cabinet disputes that.


Thomas said the domestic violence professionals on her staff agreed that the Cabinet removals were appropriate in only about five of the 50 cases, in which mothers had other problems, such as drug addiction, in addition to domestic violence.


Currens said officials at shelters statewide are concerned about the trend. She said Cabinet workers and courts are sending mixed messages to victims: They could lose custody if they don't leave an abuser; but they are viewed as unstable if they flee to a shelter.

Currens said some domestic violence workers are so concerned that they have provided information for a state inspector general's investigation into foster care adoptions.

David Richart, executive director of the Louisville-based National Institute on Children, Youth and Families Inc., said shelter employees have come to him with concerns that victims were losing their children -- especially infants and toddlers who looked like "Gerber babies."

"I'm very concerned about what appears to be a trend," Thomas said. "I don't know why it's happening. I can't pretend to have the big picture."

Let's play word association, shall we? Class, race, culture of life, paternalism, big government, daddy state, complete bullshit.

Via Feministing.

Posted by binky at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Same Old Same Old

Well, I'm back, but the tasks awaiting me bred like rabbits in the springtime. And I've got two - count 'em, two - awards cermonies to attend this evening.

At least it's pouring rain so I am not tempted by the garden.

Hell, who am I kidding? I'm still tempted by the garden. Awards ceremonies...bleah!

Posted by binky at 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2006

Don't tell him he's not the...


Posted by binky at 11:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Iraq: A US-Created "Free Fraud Zone"

American contractors swindled hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi funds, but so far there is no way for Iraq's government to recoup the money, according to US investigators and civil attorneys tracking fraud claims against contractors.

Courts in the United States are beginning to force contractors to repay reconstruction funds stolen from the American government. But legal roadblocks have prevented Iraq from recovering funds that were seized from the Iraqi government by the US-led coalition and then paid to contractors who failed to do the work.

A US law that allows citizens to recover money from dishonest contractors protects only the US government, not foreign governments.

In addition, an Iraqi law created by the Coalition Provisional Authority days before it ceded sovereignty to Iraq in June 2004 gives American contractors immunity from prosecution in Iraq.

More fine work from the administration that's (pardon me while I vomit) restored honor and dignity to the White House.

Posted by armand at 04:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Record Deficit

The Dark Wraith does it again, with charts and graphs and everything (oh my!):

If any hope can be found in this multi-year federal budget catastrophe, it is in the growing possibility that the scandals now engulfing the Bush Administration and its Republican allies in Congress will lead to a voter backlash at the polls in November of this year, at which time the Democrats could return to power in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Although the prospects for subsequent impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney are rather remote, the American electorate will have the opportunity in November of 2008 to remove from the White House the fiscally reckless Republicans and replace them with Democrats who can once again, as they did in the 1990s, rescue the nation from the consequences that are the consistent legacy of Republican Administrations.

The Dark Wraith will share with many other Americans the hope that our collective handbasket will not have reached its destination before that glad time arrives.

It's worth a read.

Posted by binky at 12:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Westly to Face the Governator?

The latest Field Poll is out. Two months ago Steve Westly was trailing Phil Angelides in the race for the Democratic gubenatorial nomination in California by 8 points. Now he's 11 points ahead. It should come as a surprise to no one that this turn follows a wildly expensive advertising buy. I don't know that I have a workable solution to this - but it continues to deeply trouble me that very rich individuals have that kind of advantage in key elections across our country.

The Democratic primary in California is in June.

Posted by armand at 10:18 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Recognize yourselves?

"an inability to initiate needed work. This plagued me in college, of course, and I didn't understand the mechanism, so berated myself for laziness and lack of discipline."

Via a link from a reposted thread on depression and love at BitchPhD.

Posted by binky at 09:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A Horse Belle and Sebastian Could Love

Given the peculiarities of Keeneland, I wouldn't think too hard about what the Bluegrass Stakes tells us about the relative merits of the Triple Crown hopefuls. But Sinister Minister's huge win is nothing to sneeze at. Any time your margin of victory is so big that it gets up compared to Arts and Letters and Alydar (the only two horses to post longer margins of victory in the 82 runnings of the Bluegrass), well, you've had a great day. Rick Bozich is comparing the win to Secretariat's win in the Belmont (which was arguably the most overwhelming victory in a graded stakes race in decades).

And in case you were wondering, the favorite - Bluegrass Cat - actually came in fourth in this year's running of the Toyota Blugrass Stakes.

Posted by armand at 09:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 15, 2006

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Or not.

Ahmadinejad represents Satan

Hmmm...there's a point at which rallying your base becomes counter-productive at the international level.

This I can buy, actually, though the "madman" bit isn't going to open too many doors:

History knew how to denounce madmen and those who wave their sword, and all those who acted this way ended their careers accordingly

Of course, history doesn't show that we did such a good job with madmen like Stalin and Hitler given that they killed millions of their countrymen, but hey, who's counting?

Of course, when you're dealing with a guy who doesn't believe in history - or pretends he doesn't to rally his base - then maybe it's not really the issue.

In October [Ahmadinejad] said that Israel "must be wiped off the map" and in December called the Holocaust a "myth."

Looks like summitry is out of the question.

Posted by binky at 08:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

In case you haven't scratched your domestic spying itch lately...

...Majikthise reminds us that there is still skulking going on:

If you thought CIFA was scary, wait until you here what's up next. MSNBC reports that the Pentagon is trying to merge merge CIFA and the DSS to create a single secret police force:

An informal panel of senior Pentagon officials has been holding a series of unannounced private meetings during the past several weeks about how to proceed with a possible merger between the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a post-9/11 Pentagon creation that has been accused of domestic spying, and the Defense Security Service (DSS), a well-established older agency responsible for inspecting the security arrangements of defense contractors. DSS also maintains millions of confidential files containing the results of background investigations on defense contractors’ employees.

As you may recall, CIFA was implicated in domestic spying and the Duke Cunningham bribery scandal. If the merger goes through, the scandal-plagued CIFA may also gain access to the DSS's vaults of secret files on Defense Department employees, information which is supposed to be off limits to CIFA.

And it looks like this grab is happening in all the right ways and for all the right reasons (emphasis mine):

An informal panel of senior Pentagon officials has been holding a series of unannounced private meetings during the past several weeks about how to proceed with a possible merger between the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a post-9/11 Pentagon creation that has been accused of domestic spying, and the Defense Security Service (DSS), a well-established older agency responsible for inspecting the security arrangements of defense contractors. DSS also maintains millions of confidential files containing the results of background investigations on defense contractors’ employees.

The merger was initially suggested by a government commission set up to recommend military base closures last year. The commission said that the Pentagon could achieve some savings by relocating both CIFA, now housed in a building near Washington’s Reagan National Airport and DSS, headquartered in nearby Alexandria, Va. The panel suggested moving the two agencies to the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., where FBI training and laboratory facilities are also based.

Keep asking questions, people. Combining this kind of stuff is something the government should do in order to save some rent money.

Posted by binky at 07:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Djerejian on the Current Revolt of the Generals

Greg Djerejian at Belgravia Dispatch has been putting up some good, concise, no-BS posts about the calls for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation from six retired generals. If you want a sober analysis of these events, their aftermath and their implications (that won't take much of your time) I suggest you check them out here, here and here. These are remarkable events that demand attention, and Greg's far from a ideologue or the kind of guy who's going to be taking partisan shots at a Republican administration. His basic analysis of the president's response to these events is scathing.

Another depressing low point for an increasingly discredited, out-of-touch Adminstration stumbling from blunder to blunder. These are underwhelming times. In John Kerry, we have a man who would hold a gun against the heads of the Iraqis--so that if they cannot form a government in the midst of unprecedented crises (ones stemming from a war he supported too, lest we forget)--not to mention the added pressure such an ultimatum creates, he would have us pull out by May 15th, leaving Iraq to a doubtless grim fate. And in Bush, we have a deep mediocrity incapable of seeing that the war effort has been prosecuted in bungled fashion by an arrogant and failed Secretary of Defense, who so urgently needs to be replaced.
Posted by armand at 06:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Discussion Point

Check out the picture at the top of this post about pharmacists refusing to supply prescriptions for anti-biotics and vitamins because they came from a health care center which also provides abortions.

It made me think of an excellent point of discussion for marshmallow peep-fevered brains.

Ready? Set?

If conservatives support the right of wingnut pharmacists to, on the grounds of personal belief, refuse to dispense prescriptions, shouldn't they also support the rights of Marxists to, on the grounds of personal belief, refuse to dispense capitalism in the college classroom?


Posted by binky at 02:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Been gone for a week, and still catching up. I'll be back around here in a day or so, hopefully.

Today I've been trying to get caught on the personal, professional, and blogereffional, and one question keeps occuring to me while reading threads like this: why isn't anyone asking about roofies?

Rohypnol is a brand name for flunitrazepam (a benzodiazepine), a very potent tranquilizer similar in nature to valium (diazepam), but many times stronger. The drug produces a sedative effect, amnesia, muscle relaxation, and a slowing of psychomotor responses. Sedation occurs 20-30 minutes after administration and lasts for several hours.

I am not a believer in the "court of public opinion" for criminal cases, which is why I have not been interested in commenting on this case. However, as I sat in my hotel room and watch the storm of news from Fox, to CNN, to MSNBC, not one, in the discussion of the security guard finding the alleged victim passed out in a car, considered the possibility that she had been under the influence of the date rape drug of choice. I know several young women who believe that they have been "roofied," and their description of the effect is very similar to being extremely drunk, even though they had only consumed part of one drink.

The drug has been added to punch and other drinks at fraternity parties and college social gatherings, where it is reportedly given to female party participants in hopes of lowered inhibitions and facilitating potential sexual conquest. Police departments in several parts of the country say that after ingestion of "Roofies" that several young women have reported waking up in frat houses with no clothes on, finding themselves in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people, or having actually been sexually assaulted while under the influence of the drug.

As insidious, disgusting and perilous as this may sound, the dangers don't stop there. Besides the worries of unprotected sex, Rohypnol, particularly when mixed with alcohol or other drugs may lead to respiratory depression, aspiration, and even death.

Again, speculation is useless, as only the evidence and trial will bring the situation to light. Even then, there may be events that never are explained. Therefore, interpret my comment as being about the commentary, not the case itself.

Posted by binky at 01:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Want a Job, Ladies? You'll Have to Buy Lipstick and Blush

Employers can set different dress codes and grooming standards for women than for men, as long as the rules aren't burdensome or based on sex stereotypes, a federal appeals court decided Friday in the case of a female casino bartender who was fired for refusing to wear makeup.

So sayeth the supposedly liberal 9th Circuit in an opinion penned by the Circuit's Chief Judge, Mary Schroeder (well, technically the Chronicle is saying that - summarizing Schroeder's opinion).

Hmmmm. Am I the only person who sees an inconsistency in those two phrases I italicized?

Posted by armand at 11:17 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

New Music for a New Season

So I was driving around this morning, loving how warm it was, listening to Junior Senior, and thinking that album was just the right choice for getting going on a beautiful day this time of year (I was in the "Shake Your Coconuts" and "Boy Meets Girl" section of the album - great songs). But of course there's a lot of day left in this pretty Saturday. So I'm sure I'll be listening to a lot of other songs I'm particularly drawn to of late. Examples? "This Heart's on Fire" by Wolf Parade, "Brand New Colony" and "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service (yes, it seems I never tire of those songs), "I Wish I Had an Evil Twin" by The Magnetic Fields (ladies and gentlemen, insert your Morris jokes here), "O Green World" by Gorillaz, "My Funny Valentine" as sung by Chet Baker, "Don't Do Me Like That" by Tom Petty (yep, I'm as surprised as you are that that's been in my rotation lately), "Popular Mechanics for Lovers" and "If We Can Land a Man on the Moon, Surely I Can Win You Heart" by Beaulah (yes, it seems I never tire of those songs either) .... but hey, that's what, not even an hour of music. So ... Binky and Baltar - can I raid a few things from your music library soon? It seems the time of year to fall for some new songs, what with the warm afternoons, tulips everywhere you look, and just the general sense of a new begining everywhere around us.

Posted by armand at 10:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Who Can (and Can't) Win a Pulitzer

OK, my cultural IQ is apparently not what I thought it was. I never knew that only Americans were eligible for the Pulitzer Prize. As Gabriel notes, one result of that rule might be a less than impressive winner of the '06 prize for drama.

Posted by armand at 09:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 14, 2006

The Blood Continues to Flow

I'm busy today, and of course Binky's still out of town so this week's light posting will continue for a bit longer. But it occurred to me that we hadn't had an Iraq post up just lately so ...

If the April death toll continues at the current rate (42 US soldiers killed in the first 14 days of the month), the US military death toll will hit 2400 by the end of the month. There are now 6 recently retired US generals calling for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to resign. And of course the more Iraqi-centered news from Iraq continues to be horrifying. Consider these two events briefly covered by The Washington Post (from a story that notes other horrors as well):

... approximately 90 officers from four stations in Najaf had just picked up new cars in Taji and were traveling south to get new weapons and ammunition when they found the main road blocked by U.S. troops. The Americans told the Iraqis that they had discovered a bomb on the road and told them to take a detour through the countryside. The Americans followed them part of the way before letting them go on alone, Shukor said.

A roadside bomb then exploded, and attackers hiding in the orchards and farmhouses flanking the road opened fire on the convoy with Kalashnikov assault rifles and RPK machine guns. Over the course of a two-hour firefight, all the police cars were destroyed, Shukor said, and survivors fled to a nearby military base on foot and by hitching rides. Shukor said that only five of the 22 men in his unit returned to Najaf alive ...

In Baqubah, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, three nearly simultaneous explosions destroyed the Sharif Ridha shrine, a spokesman for the Diyala province Joint Coordination Center said. The attack did not kill or injure anyone but left the Shiite shrine's dome in ruins. The attack was similar to the bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra in February, which also took no lives but touched off a sustained wave of sectarian violence in Iraq. Though the site in Baqubah was less prominent than the one in Samarra, it honored Sharif Ridha, the eighth of the 12 imams revered by Shiite Muslims.

Posted by armand at 01:52 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

April 13, 2006

Which Believers are Where (in the USA)


Ever wondered where in the US Jews are concentrated? Methodists? Muslims? Quakers? Take a look and learn that and more.

Posted by armand at 12:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2006


Tonight I realized, for the first time, that the likely "front-runners" for the respective party nominations for President in 2008 are Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Yes, there are others running, and 2008 is a long way away, but those people are clearly in the lead in name recognition, money and organization.

I wouldn't trust either of them to boil water correctly.

Two and half years before my vote is required, I'm already thinking about some form of "none of the above."

Posted by baltar at 09:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

United 93 is Screened

And Jeffrey Wells joins Time's Richard Corliss in calling it "unmissable". He raves (and that's putting it really mildly) about the 9/11 film directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, Bloody Sunday) here.

Posted by armand at 02:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The "Mobile WMD Labs" Timeline

Ugh - the Bush administration is SUCH a bunch of liars. The Armchair Generalist provides a concise, convenient timeline of their deceptions relating to the supposed "mobile wmd labs". I'm really getting surprised that even the administration's most ardent supporters believe anything this team says these days. The level of mendacity they've engaged in almost defies belief.

However, I'll rally to the defense of another national leader that The Armchair Generalist derides in a recent post. When Gen. Pace "defends" Secretary Rumsfeld by noting that he works hard - well, that's hardly any defense of his behavior at all, as the Generalist notes. In fact, Pace explicitly says you can question Rumsfeld's judgment. To me, that's the most telling comment about his "defense". All Pace is saying here is that Rumsfeld salutes the flag and shows up to work on time. And if that's the strongest "defense" the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs can muster for the Secretary of Defense, well, I hardly think that shows him to be a spineless Rumsfeld lackey.

Posted by armand at 01:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hillary as Hubert Humphrey

David Corn thinks the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 might end up looking a lot like the 1968 race.

Posted by armand at 01:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Dying Gaul

What a disappointment.

The people involved in this have exceedingly fine reputations, and for good reason. The three leads, Patricia Clarkson, Campbell Scott and Peter Sarsgaard, are some of the best and most interesting actors working today. The script is by Craig Lucas who wrote arguably the best of the AIDS movies (Longtime Companion) as well as the excellent The Secret Lives of Dentists, and this is Lucas's directorial film debut too. And, as one would expect given the talent, it starts out very, very well. And given the subject matter - betrayal, lies, cruelty - there's lots to work with and hold your interest. Lucas does an excellent job moving the film along, the pacing and shot selection are great, though I suppose some might find the music a touch heavy-handed and the colors a bit too bold.

Anyway, an hour into this I was liking it, and liking it a lot. Basically, it's about a Hollywood exec having an affair with a gay screenwriter who's rewriting a script for the exec (to make a gay love story a straight love story), the exec's wife finds out (in a chatroom the writer had mentioned) and ... events unfold. All the principals do a great job, the film really pulls you into itself, it's beautifully shot ... and then, near the end, the plot takes a turn that I for one just don't buy. At all.

So do I recomment this or not? I guess not, which is sort of a shame because it starts exceptionally well. Or maybe I do recommend it - but just be aware that the ending isn't likely to make you happy with the film.

Posted by armand at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 11, 2006

35.8 Million for a Turner Masterpiece

In Bad Taste posts it so I don't have to. Given my thing for the interplay of water and light, it's no surprise I'd like this dreamy Venice scene. But even if that sort of scene isn't your thing - wow. It's a magnificent painting.

Posted by armand at 01:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Unions Working Against Melissa Bean

And Matt Stoller is defending them.

There's being principled, and then there's being stupid - in this case Stoller and these unions are being the latter. If they actually think that electing a conservative Republican over a moderate Democrat - moving a seat from the D column to the R column, keeping Buck McKeon and Joe Barton as committee chairmen instead of putting George Miller and John Dingell in charge of the congressional agenda on their key issues - is the best way to protect their interests I think it's time to lock them up in a loony bin to protect them from themselves.

If you are sickened by Bean and don't want to support her - fine, don't. That's highly questionable from a strategic standpoint, but your call. To actively work against her in a swing district (she won by less than 10,000 votes in '04, a year in which Kerry beat Bush by 10% statewide) seems like playing Russian roulette.

Posted by armand at 09:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eyewitness Reports II

The Mall

Photo courtesy of M. Blood.

Posted by binky at 12:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2006


This post was originally titled "Packer and McMaster", but "Awesome" is much better. No one will understand either title of this post, but it just follow me here.

George Packer writes for the New Yorker. He is a journalist who is covering the ongoing war in Iraq. His book (The Assassins' Gate) is a brilliant look at the decision-making that went on behind the scenes in DC before the war. In addition, the book examines the "facts on the ground" in Iraq and discusses the difficulties of the American attempts to quell the insurgency there.

Packer's latest (The Lesson of Tal Afar in the New Yorker) is more of the same: the US is learning the necessary military, economic, and political lessons to more efficiently fight the war in Iraq - but very late in the game. Perhaps too late, but we shall see.

I absolutely love the following exchange that Packer (in the article) records:

Captain Jesse Sellars, a troop commander in the 3rd A.C.R. [see below - ed.], who fought in some of the most violent parts of western Iraq in 2003 and 2004, told me about a general who visited his unit and announced, “This is not an insurgency.” Sellars recalled thinking, “Well, if you could tell us what it is, that’d be awesome.”

"Awesome." Just imagine that scene. The Captain knows its an insurgency - he's in it every day. If the General doesn't know he's an idiot, and if he does know, he's lying. How are we supposed to "win" (whatever that means - it's still undefined, as far as I know) when even the higher elements of the military are either out of touch or deliberately lying to their own soldiers?

Packer, in the article above, interviews H.R. McMaster, presently the Colonel in charge of the 3rd ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment - an indepenent brigade of regular US Army soldiers, considered an elite unit as opposed to the Special Forces people who are elite soldiers individually). Interestingly, I've mentioned McMasters before. I liked McMaster's dissertation/book well enough that I assigned it to my class this semester. He is not only a professional military man (anyone commanding any of the ACRs - there are only a few AC Regiments in the entire US Army - is being groomed for a higher command), but someone who clearly thinks about his profession and the connection his profession has to politics (read his book). He is someone, when they talk about Iraq, that you must take seriously (even if you disagree with their strategy or tactics, though I don't).

Packer has a lot to say. I'll recommend highly you read the entire article. I'll suffice to quote a bit more from Paker talking to McMaster:

A proper strategy would have demanded the coördinated use of all the tools of American power in Iraq: political, economic, and military. “Militarily, you’ve got to call it an insurgency,” McMaster said, “because we have a counterinsurgency doctrine and theory that you want to access.” The classic doctrine, which was developed by the British in Malaya in the nineteen-forties and fifties, says that counterinsurgency warfare is twenty per cent military and eighty per cent political. The focus of operations is on the civilian population: isolating residents from insurgents, providing security, building a police force, and allowing political and economic development to take place so that the government commands the allegiance of its citizens. A counterinsurgency strategy involves both offensive and defensive operations, but there is an emphasis on using the minimum amount of force necessary. For all these reasons, such a strategy is extremely hard to carry out, especially for the American military, which focusses on combat operations. Counterinsurgency cuts deeply against the Army’s institutional instincts. The doctrine fell out of use after Vietnam, and the Army’s most recent field manual on the subject is two decades old.
The Pentagon’s strategy in 2003 and 2004 was to combat the insurgency simply by eliminating insurgents—an approach called “kill-capture.” Kalev Sepp, a retired Special Forces officer, who now teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California, said of the method, “It’s all about hunting people. I think it comes directly from the Secretary of Defense—‘I want heads on a plate.’ You’ll get some people that way, but the failure of that approach is evident: they get Hussein, they get his sons, they continue every week to kill more, capture more, they’ve got facilities full of thousands of detainees, yet there’s more insurgents than there were when they started.” In “Dereliction of Duty,” McMaster wrote that a strategy of attrition “was, in essence, the absence of a strategy.”
During the first year of the war, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez was the commander of military operations in Iraq. He never executed a campaign plan—as if, like Rumsfeld, he assumed that America was about to leave. As a result, there was no governing logic to the Army’s myriad operations. T. X. Hammes [he's written a book as well, though I didn't like it - too facile - ed.], a retired Marine colonel who served in Baghdad in early 2004, said, “Each division was operating so differently, right next to the other—absolutely hard-ass here, and hearts-and-minds here.” In the first year of the war, in Falluja and Ramadi, Major General Charles Swannack, of the 82nd Airborne Division, emphasized killing and capturing the enemy, and the war grew worse in those places; in northern Iraq, Major General David Petraeus, of the 101st Airborne Division, focussed on winning over the civilian population by encouraging economic reconstruction and local government, and had considerable success. “Why is the 82nd hard-ass and the 101st so different?” Hammes asked. “Because Swannack sees it differently than Petraeus. But that’s Sanchez’s job. That’s why you have a corps commander.” Lieutenant General Sanchez, who never received his fourth star, remains the only senior military official to have suffered professionally for the failures of the Iraq war. (He is now stationed in Germany.)

I want to be very careful in how I say what I'm going to say next: I don't think the US military has been well served by the generals/admirals who have led the services in the past years (since 9/11). This is not a criticism of the actual fighting soldiers (and mostly not a criticism of the officer ranks, up through Colonel), but a charge that the uniformed military leadership has not been sufficiently vocal about the problems and issues confronting the over-three-year-old conflict still raging in Iraq (yes, US casualties are declining; Iraqi civilian casualties are rising - there has been a change of tactics by the insurgency). As best I can tell, the US military has been sent out to accomplish a still-undefined mission of "winning" Iraq with fewer resources (we sent 500,000 soldiers to Vietnam in the late 1960s and Vietnam's civilian population was just under 20 million; today we have about 130,000 soldiers in Iraq, whose population is about 25 million - we didn't succeed in Vietnam, and you do the math). The military is constitutional and legal forbidden from becoming involved in domestic politics (beyond lobbying for weapons systems, but that's an open secret), but that prohibition should not work to prevent the upper eschelon of the military from at least informing the civilian leadership when they are asking too much of the military. That seems clearly the case here (either asking too much, or asking too much with too few resources; we can quibble about which of those it is).

If I could have an hour to talk to anyone about Iraq, it would be H.R. McMaster. I've read his book, and (from that) I think I have some idea about his point of view. I'd be very curious to hear his (uncensored) opinion about the military (not Rumsfeld) decision-making that has been a part of this war. Given his experience (both as an academic, and as someone high in the military command, and as a combat commander on the ground in Iraq), his experiences would be worth recounting.

Read Packer. Then someone can explain to me how (as of early spring 2006) we're going to win this, somehow.

Posted by baltar at 09:51 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Eyewitness Reports

Binky is away for the week, and I'm trying to think through the fog that is my brain after grading tests for 16 hours straight yesterday. Posting is light.

On the other hand, Binky (away) reported in that she saw the immigration rally in D.C. today. The crowd was quiet and well behaved, and the American flags being carried by the crowd far outnumbered the flags from other countries.

When I can think a more coherent thought beyond "food" and "sleep", I'll post something.

Posted by baltar at 06:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Gospel of Judas

"The most significant ancient, nonbiblical text to be found in the past 60 years."

Kevin thinks it makes perfect sense that Judas and Jesus conspired to bring about the death of Jesus and the salvation of his followers.

Posted by armand at 05:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A (Former) Illegal Alien in the Cabinet?

I'm not entirely sure exactly what The Rude Pundit is getting at in this post, but I suppose it is an observation that might interest some people. Myself, I'm not exactly stunned that illegal aliens can go on to be upstanding members of society. But then I don't see any disconnect between being in favor of tougher border security and opposing a guest worker program on the one hand, and on the other, working with immigrants who are already here to put them in a position to become assets to the country (and citizens).

Posted by armand at 05:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jill Dissects the Ugly, "Chivalrous" Heart of David Brooks

I don't read David Brooks columns any more. Jill reminds me why.

Oh, but I haven't read I Am Charlotte Simmons, so I can't take sides in that disagreement. But as to Brooks getting the Duke rape story so wrong you can barely believe the man's concious (or sane), on that I agree with her.

Posted by armand at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2006

Fred Hiatt - Not a Part of the Reality-Based Community

Mcjoan at Daily Kos has this link fest dealing with one of today's turns in the Bush-Libby-Wilson leak scandal - the moronic editorial in the Washington Post that ignores several stories written by that paper's own news division. Josh Marshall comments on this latest evidence of the Post's editorial page hackery here.

UPDATE: Publius nails this perfectly.

The Post really outdid itself on this one. The troubling issue here is that Bush declassified only those parts that helped him and continues to this day to conceal those parts that show that he either didn't read, or deliberately exaggerated, what the intelligence said about Saddam's nuclear efforts (either way, it's unacceptable). Relying on words like "part" and "some" indicates, to me, that the Post is well aware of this selective declassification but chose to ignore it. All in all, a terrible editorial from a terrible editorial board from a good paper with excellent reporters.

The truth is that the Post guessed wrong on the most important choice of our generation. Rather than acknowledging and coming to grips with its error, it continues to humiliate and discredit itself by issuing disingenuous editorials like these.

Posted by armand at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

American Federation of Teachers WV Endorsements

The AFT has endorsed state delegate Mark Hunt in the race to take on Congresswoman Capito. That should be a big boost for his campaign. The also made endorsements in the state senate races. As you will see, they apparently made no endorsement in our district where Mike Oliverio (technically a Democrat, but c'mon, really, get real) is running unopposed for reelection.

Posted by armand at 11:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 08, 2006

Is Our Congressman Corrupt?

Talk about a bolt out of the blue - the Wall Street Journal had a story out Friday morning saying that the feds are investigating the finances of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). This surprises me. But since I don't have a subscription to the Journal I can only read about the story, not read the story. If he's been acting illegally, he needs to pay the appropriate penalty. I does strike me though as a heck of a political coincidence that this is coming out when 1) for the first time in years Mollohan has more than a hapless GOP challenger and 2) at a time when the GOP is in need of every possible corrupt Democrat to provide at least a flimsy bit of cover from stories on DeLay, Abramoff, Enron, etc. And what better symbol to convey that the Democrats are corrupt too than finding bad behavior on the part of the top Democrat on the ethics committee (since the Bush White House/Republican Party response to so many charges against them isn't to exonerate themselves - it's merely to note that Democrats are bad people).

I don't know where this is headed, but it could get interesting.

Posted by armand at 11:02 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 07, 2006

This is getting ridiculous

From the Atlantic (emphasis mine):

In what's sure to be a frenzy of publicity, the cinematic version of Dan Brown's best-selling book The DaVinci Code opens today [May 17] at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie's plot, like the book's, centers on Opus Dei, the secretive Catholic organization that, in Brown's story, kills several people to maintain a 2,000-year-old Christian conspiracy. Anticipating controversy, Sony Pictures has provided religious leaders with a Web site to publish rebuttals.

Shit. No movie studio gave PZ Myers a website when the Passion came out.

Posted by binky at 09:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

SciFi, Fantasy and Opposition to Centralized Governments

Ilya Somin has this post on the fact that many science fiction and fantasy books, regardless of the personal ideological beliefs of their authors, feature a common opposition to centralized forms of government.

Posted by armand at 02:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 06, 2006

Don't Ever Assign Plan of Attack in Your Classes?

I've assigned Woodward's Bush at War as required reading a number of times. It's obviously very easy for students to get through, and it raises a host of questions that spark debates about the sources of foreign policy. But I've always had qualms about it given the less that systematic way Woodward writes, and this comparison of Plan of Attack and Philippe Sands' Lawless World raises qualms. Should I stop assigning Woodward's so-sayeth-the-establishment, breezy works that students will actually read, or should I assign much more detailed and analytical case studies? I guess I'll ponder this question more - but I know I'm not going to assign Plan of Attack (or not as a basic text to work from).

Posted by armand at 10:49 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

A "Cupcake Sweatshop"

In the middle of a stroll in Manhattan, trying to find the best cupcake on the island, StinyLulu made this classic observation about the staff at Magnolia Bakery:

What's sad is that the insanity shows on the faces of the staff. They stagger through the teensy tiny shop, visibly stunned -- hollow features, vacant eyes, nary a hint of a smile. StinkyLulu's first thought: "So this is what a cupcake sweatshop looks like."
Posted by armand at 10:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Censure (at Least) Anyone? Bush Approved Plame Leak

Josh Gerstein has a big story out this morning:

A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule. However, the new disclosure could be awkward for the president because it places him, for the first time, directly in a chain of events that led to a meeting where prosecutors contend the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was provided to a reporter.

Posted by armand at 09:00 AM | Comments (44) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

Chernow's Alexander Hamilton

Sunday night I finished reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, what I must presume is the finest biography of “the founder of American government” yet written. It’s a remarkable piece of historical writing and analysis, and if you are interested in learning more about the early years of our republic (and especially about the political maelstrom surrounding this most underappreciated founder) I recommend it very highly. It’s very thick, but you’ll learn much from reading it.

The general setting is of course an exciting one, a period filled with much more disorganization, violence, dissension and deeply nasty politics than we tend to remember today. In 1793 Vice President Adams felt so at risk that he had arms smuggled to his home. That same year a fever outbreak was so dire (Hamilton himself caught yellow fever) that Washington contemplated moving cabinet meetings to a fever-free location (shades of a future where bio-terror is feared?). Tax collecting wasn’t merely wildly cumbersome and inefficient by today’s standards, collectors’ lives were at risk (the Whiskey Rebellion is a depressing moment in our history that we should be embarrassed of - and I say that as someone who loathes taxes on alcohol). Foreign affairs were just as dangerous and aggressive, and the US was a new, weak state often set upon by European powers. In 1793, after Pitt decreed the Brits could intercept neutral vessels, the British fleet captured more than 250 American merchant ships, impounding more than half of them as war prizes and dragging off many sailors (claiming they were British). By the spring of 1797 the French had seized more than 300 US vessels.

Of course things weren’t only this scary and unstable on this side of the Atlantic during this time period. Many of the French who helped the US during its Revolution suffered terribly during their revolution. Lafayette suffered in solitary confinement, while his sister-in-law, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law were executed. Admiral d’Estaing was executed. The Comte de Rochambeau was imprisoned. And, of course, Louis XVI was executed.

But even amidst these horrors, these turbulent times fostered connections that might not otherwise have come to pass in this age of lengthy and relatively dangerous trans-Atlantic travel - connections that produced exchanges that might have never happened otherwise. Hamilton and Talleyrand became friendly when Talleyrand was in exile in the United States (Talleyrand was more impressed by Hamilton than by any of the other powerful and influential figures he knew). Hamilton also came to know the duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt during the same time period (and Rochefoucauld was also extremely impressed by Hamilton).

The early years of our country were in many ways more appalling than a lot of us think - and though many constantly laud the age, it's probably important to remember that in its early years our republic was often a mess, and our politics were extremely ugly (in a number of senses). The 1796 election produced a Federalist president and a Republican vice president. The election of 1800 is famously odd and unfortunate in certain senses. As David McCullough has noted Thomas Jefferson, the proponent of agrarian America, owed his election as president to New York. Well, that and the electoral votes representing slaves (or, more accurately the interests of slave owners). Without the slave states getting 3/5 of their slave population counted in their electoral vote, John Adams would have been reelected president (not that that was an especially appealing prospect). As Chernow writes, “The constitution did more than just tolerate slavery: it actively rewarded it.” (p.628) And in 1800 we saw that grotesque system lead to the beginning of the ascendancy of the slave-holding South in our national politics (and 24 straight years of rule by aristocratic, slave-owning Virginians).

And of course that’s only the start of the horrors and follies associated with that year’s election. The decidedly undemocratic system of electing a president that we are still saddled with – if no candidate gets a majority of the electoral votes, the presidential election goes to the US House where every state (no matter its size) gets 1 vote opened the door to all sorts of shenanigans in 1800. In that year the presidential election wasn’t decided until the House’s 36th ballot, and one congressman from Delaware was crucial in deciding the outcome (which is arguably worse than one Supreme Court justice from California doing it).

Amidst this instability, at a time when the country’s survival was not something to be taken for granted, Hamilton worked as diligently as anyone for its survival, and his energy, mind and powers of persuasion were key to many of its earliest successes. While his central role in establishing a strong base for the national economy is his best known work, he played an enormous role in other policies too, and of course was key in building and leading the first US military force. President Washington deferred to and supported him on many policy debates, and even had Hamilton write much of his famous farewell address (which of course wasn’t really an “address” in the modern sense as it was designed to be printed, not spoken). Through greatly shaping the views of Washington and other influential figures like Chief Justice John Marshall, Hamilton has probably had more of an effect on the course of our nation’s development than several presidents, even though he was never elected president himself.

His early death (it’s remarkable to remember that most of his greatest work was done in his thirties) at the hands of Vice President Burr (who had earlier been involved in a duel with Hamilton’s brother-in-law) meant that he did not have the chance to burnish his image and legacy. And his reputation has likely suffered because his great rivals lived decades more and had many opportunities to shape the historical record. But this excellent biography will hopefully go a long way toward redeeming his reputation. He wasn’t a perfect man or politician (though he seemed to have a much keener grasp of where the country was headed both economically and morally – he was a fervent abolitionist – than many of his contemporaries), and this isn’t a hagiography. But he was an extraordinarily impressive and influential individual, and this text does much to help us appreciate how he affected US history.

Posted by armand at 08:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Economist's Fun with April Fools

Blast - I was so hoping someone really had tried to make Real Goldfish. It's such a funny thought, the poor little fish, sinking under the weight of the gold - and the looks on the faces of the scientists as the fish sink. But alas no, it never happened. The Economist was just having some fun.

Posted by armand at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Judge Trott's Dissent in US v. Curtin

Howard Bashman provided this description of the a recent 9th Circuit ruling:

"With the walls of our homes breached by the Internet, our next best defense is the law." So writes Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen S. Trott, at the outset of his lengthy dissent today from a three-judge panel's ruling that a district court erred in admitting into evidence stories extracted from the defendant's PDA about a father's having sex with his young daughter and the daughter's enjoyment of the experience. The defendant-appellant was convicted of traveling across state lines with intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor and using an interstate facility to attempt to persuade a minor to engage in sex. Today's decision, by a 2-1 vote, necessitates a new trial of the case.

As someone who finds the nexus between tech/communication issues and criminal law interesting, I was intrigued and skimmed through the opinions. I'm obviously not an expert on these issues but it looks to me like the majority (J. Clifford Wallace and Pamela Ann Rymer) made the right call here. What kept me reading though is that Judge Trott so clearly despises the substantive implications of that result, and eventually comes around to loathing the precedent it's based on - seemingly because he's just so appalled at what it requires the courts to do. I've no problem with a judge being appalled by the details of a sex crime - but when it leads to a lot of thrashing about and more disgusted belllowing and cries of revulsion than carefully reasoned analysis, well, to me when that happens an appellate judge is falling down on the job.

Posted by armand at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I still love you

I'm just hammered at work, preparing to travel with a group of students, and then will be out of town all next week (the traveling part). Maybe then I'll get to the V review that Armand wants me to write. Until then, you're with the tender mercies of the other 2/3 of the group. Maybe Baltar will watch a craptaculicious movie or something.

Posted by binky at 10:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

David Broder Examines the DeLay Resignation

And yet again I'm left wondering why The Washington Post continues to print his stuff. He seems stuck in some politics/Washington that hasn't exitsed in a very long time, and seems to so often just land glancing blows at a story, not capture it on a deeper level. Take this for example:

With DeLay's departure, the Democrats lose their most convenient symbol of abuse of power by the Republican majority -- but they have not lost the issue. DeLay's successor as majority leader, John Boehner of Ohio, continues to manage the House on the same partisan basis, looking for votes almost exclusively on his own side of the aisle and declining to offer Democrats any incentives to cooperate.
Um, how does having to resign in the face of a very possible electoral defeat (and of course a possible indictment) cost the Democrats a symbol? If they run a big Culture of Corruption ad (as the should all fall) they can now stamp a big red "resigned" across a black and white shot of DeLay's face, right after they flash "convicted" over Duke Cunningham's face. And Broder seems to think that pastisanship is the key political issue here? Oh, Mr. Broder - as if. True, when you were just a young reporter and Washington still had lots of open segregationists strict partisanship in the House might not have been the norm - but it has been for a very long time. What makes DeLay a winning issue (and an appalling blight on the American political scene) is his shady dealings, the K Street Project, and the culture of corruption he's helped foster. Everyone expects Washington politicians to be partisan. No one cares about that (well, I guess you do - and that's so cute and nostalgic!). Fostering corruption was the story last week and it will be the story next month (as DeLay begins his journey to a new, lucrative lobbying career?).

Posted by armand at 09:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2006

Good Article on Iraqi Police

Via Greg at Belgravia Dispatch, a really good article describing the history and present state of the Iraqi police by US News & World Report. Not long, and worth a read.

Hard to argue there isn't a civil war at this point. It may not be as big and obvious as the US Civil War, but it's clearly happening.

Posted by baltar at 09:20 PM | TrackBack

The Mainstream Media

Yep, the Sunday news shows are still biased in favor of conservatives. That's not shocking, but it remains discouraging.

Posted by armand at 11:19 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Today's Tom DeLay Links

It seems that readers expect us to post on the decision by the ethically-challenged former House Majority Leader to resign. As much fun as it might be to write pithy comments on his cowardly resignation, I'm busy this morning - so go read those links at The Carpetbagger, and this one on the future of DeLay's district if you want to follow the story.

Posted by armand at 10:28 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 03, 2006

How 'bout them Gators?

Orange and Blue! 73 to 57! Yeah!

Posted by binky at 11:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Death of Traditional Foreign Policy As We Know It

Sometime over the last three years, Realism died.

Realism is the most-widely-accepted (which doesn't make it right, just accepted by more people) theory of international politics. It argues that states are self-interested actors (no matter what their position, power, religion, government, constitution, etc.), and will seek power in order to assure security and survival. All state policies are designed to gain, maintain or demonstrate their power to other states, in order to assure their security (thus, for example, the US "humanitarian" intervention into Somalia in 1992 can be explained by Realism as a demonstration of continued US power after the end of the Cold War, not actually a humanitarian gesture). States can make alliances with other states, but always with the recognition that the alliance can turn sour (remember, all states are fearful of their security, and any "friend" today can become an enemy tomorrow). Thus, state's foreign policies are always self-serving, always cautious and incremental, and always prudent.

Realism has never been accepted as "right" (in the sense of fully explaining all actions by all international states) by political scientists (the primary alternative theory is Liberalism, and a more recent alternative is Constructivism, and finally (to a significantly lesser degree Marxism). Realism has been, none the less, the dominant theory. Not only accepted by academic political scientists, it dominated the policy community.

Kissenger is the most-cited case, but a clear case can be made for Dulles (SecState under Eisenhower), Rusk (Kennedy/Johnson), Haig (Reagan), Schultz (Reagan), Baker (Bush I), Scowcroft (Nat. Security Advisor to Ford and Bush I), Brzezinski (NSA to Carter), and Powell (Chair of the Joint Chiefs under Bush I, Nat. Sec. Advisor to Reagan, Sec. State to Bush II). Again, not everyone is a Realist, but they dominate the foreign policy community - and especially dominate the right-wing foreign policy community. Or did.

Realists are often described as amoral - they are accused of ignorning human rights issues, humanitarian disasters, genocides, and authoritarian regimes. This is true, though not because they are "amoral". The Realists reply that they are concerned with the power of the US and defending the sovereignty (right to make our own decisions and do things our way) of the US. If the US were to take up arms to defend and protect every downtrodden set of citizens, the US would fast dissipate all it's power, and be vulnerable to other states - then we (ourselves) wouldn't be free, and would be in need of rescuing. Thus, while the rest of the world contains horrors unimaginable, the US has no duty to right those wrongs (and, in fact, actions to right those wrongs would only make the US more vulnerable by using our power). This isn't to say that Realists avoid the use of force (no; prudent use of force to "gain, maintain, or demonstrate power" is key to Realism), or that Realists can't be glad when a use of force that primarily sought to benefit the US can also achieve humanitarian ends (see: Panama, for example).

Whatever the faults of Realism (and they are many, both in the sense of Realism's failure to explain the historical record and in Realism's prescriptions for policy), it cannot be accused of a failure to husband our resouces and power. Realism is, inherently, a conservative policy: power is used sparingly, and only when the use of power will benefit the US directly. Any foreign policy that follows a Realist bent will accept genocides (preventing them costs the US power for no gain; see Cambodia - 1970s), alliances with brutal dicators (having them increases our power and security; see Phillipines under Marcos, Iraq under Hussein, Saudi Arabia under King Saud, etc.), and famines and floods (alleviating the suffering costs us power for no gain; see Somalia, 1993); however, accepting all of these awful events means that the inherent power of the US is retained, and our own interests, power, security, territory, and sovereignty are protected. Any President that follows such a policy cannot be faulted, though they might be criticized. Prudent Realism isn't pretty, but it is safe.

Bush, however, seems to have thrown all of this out the window. Invading Afghanistan was clearly Realist: a clear threat. Invading Iraq was debateably Realist: if we (honestly) invaded because we saw a clear threat from Saddam's WMD (that don't and didn't exist) that fits with Realism; however, there is more and more evidence (this is brutal on the NeoCons) that the primary purpose of the invasion was to "fix" the Middle East through the application of democracy by external force. If that were the actual US policy, that isn't a Realist one. This isn't to say that we shouldn't laud the (morally correct) attempt to free 25 million people. However, a Realist would ask: "Is it worth the cost to US reputation and, more importantly, US power?" Again, not everyone is a Realist, and many would agree or disagree with the US invasion on a wide variety of reasons. Realism, however, is the core of US foreign policy for decades, and the Iraqi invasion deviated from years of prudence.

Which brings us to the US-Indian Nuclear Power Agreement. However one views Iraq (prudent use of force to remove a threat versus inappropriate use of force to accomplish moral ends), the US agreement to accept India as a nuclear power and to (essentially) furnish India with nuclear fuel that will be used to create Indian nuclear weapons is clearly not a Realist agreement.

Read the WaPo article. It makes clear that traditional concerns of nuclear proliferation (which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and the technology to make them in order to - among other things - keep that power reserved to the US and it's allies) were tossed out the window. The authors of the new policy (Rice and Zelikow; an advisor to Rice at times) couch the new policy in terms of Realism: using a rising India to balance a rising China (leaving the US, friendly with India, on top still):

The paper promoted geostrategic cooperation between the two countries rooted strongly in U.S. defense and military sales to India as a way to counter China's influence. "If the United States is serious about advancing its geopolitical objectives in Asia, it would almost by definition help New Delhi develop strategic capabilities such that India's nuclear weaponry and associated delivery systems could deter against the growing and utterly more capable nuclear forces Beijing is likely to possess by 2025," Tellis wrote.

Making an alliance to enhance ones power doesn't violate Realism. However, a Realist would argue that those alliances are fragile, and are only based on limited-mutual-need; alliances allow states to band together to protect themselves against larger threats. Self-interested states will end the alliances after the threat has disappeard (and, thus, the reasons for the alliance have vanished). Notice, however, that the US-India deal isn't an alliance of equals - it commits India to do nothing (we get no help against China), while India gets everything (tacit acceptance of their nuclear weapons program and actual help in terms of technology and fuels for more weapons). Thus, America finds itself in the position of significantly increasing the power of another (potentially hostile?, asks a Realist) state while getting no assurances that the hand extended in friendship is likely to be reciprocated (present Indian claims notwithstanding; that and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee). Were Kissenger dead, one assumes he'd be turning over in his grave.

How does the US justify this significant violation of years of US policy?

Bush had reached the conclusion that the nuclear concerns carried less weight than the enormous benefits that a broad partnership with a large and friendly democracy could bring.

This, then, is the death of Realism. Bush decides that India can become a trusted friend because India is a "friendly democracy" (this, of course, ignores the fact that democracies don't have to be friendly, that India's gain in power will significantly piss of the Pakistanis, that increased Indian nuclear power will destabilize the Indian-Pakistani relationship, and that India has it's own share of fundamentalism - Hindu, not Muslim - and may not always be a democracy). Realist don't give a proverbial rat's ass whether another state is a democracy or not; power is power, security is security. Depending on another state to help us out because they are a democracy is not "prudent"; Indian interests are not American interests today, and Lord knows what divergence in policy is likely in the future. (Recognize, again, that Realism has it's flaws; Realism cannot hope to explain why the US and Britain have become friendly for almost 200 years when, by power considerations, we should have been adversaries.) Nonetheless, Bush/Rice have thrown prudence out the window in order to sign up India on our side (again, I'm not sure why they are on our "side" when they don't have to actually do anything to help us and they gain US nuclear technology) because they are a "friendly democracy". Last I checked, Pakistan was a "friendly democracy", and I don't think their association with nuclear technology has turned out well.

The US-Indian nuclear deal is bad on many levels (Realist, Liberal, and Institutionalist off the top of my head), but it is particularly bad for the reasons outlined here: many decades of prudent and cautious US policy have now been officially tossed out the window. Moreover, what policy has replaced Realism? What ideals and goals now govern US policy? (If it is Neoconservatism we really have to talk).

I have never been a committed Realist; it's explantory failures in the historical record are too numerous for me to overlook. However, one can't ignore the self-interest of states, and the actions that derive from them, that also exist in the historical record. One of Realisms greatest strengths (as a policy) is it's inherent conservatism: following a Realist set of policies may allow for greater evil (dictators, genocide, etc.) in the world, but won't make the US worse off. Realism has been the underlying theory behind US policy for decades; I'm nervous about just discarding it without any significant debate, discussion or notice. In a more concrete sense, I'm decidedly nervous about expanding India's power.

This is a brave, new world the US embarks on. Hold on tight, it could get bumpy.

Posted by baltar at 11:24 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

John McCain: Unprincipled, Intolerant Weasel

Just when I think my deep loathing of John McCain can't get more intense ...

You've probably already read that yesterday on national television John McCain was directly asked if he thought Jerry Falwell (whose university McCain will soon be speaking at) was intolerant. McCain's response - no. Funny, that's not what McCain used to say. And as the quotations linked to on this post at Raising Kaine point point - Falwell most certainly is intolerant. There's no question about it. And if his is the kind of politics McCain's now chosen to embrace, awe're all the worse off for having a widely-respected national leader embrace a "demagogic clown".

Posted by armand at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

One of the 20 Reasons Why Florida Will Win

From ESPN:

16. Mascot superiority
Albert the Alligator is a more impressive sideline figure than that teddy bear UCLA trots out.

Did I ever tell you all the story about how I got punched by the opposing mascot at a Gator basketball game?

Hat tip EDSBS.

Posted by binky at 12:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New York Times Follows CNN

Both sites now uglier, harder to navigate!

Posted by binky at 12:01 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 02, 2006

The UK: A Target of Terrorism Because of Their War on Terrorism

On Juan Cole's site I found these two links. It's entirely predictable that this would happen. But that doesn't make it any less troubling.

Posted by armand at 01:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

West Virginia Wins (at Aqueduct)

Presumably yesterday's most notable winner in the world of horse racing was either Barbaro (who won the Florida Derby, which means he'll be running in the Kentucky Derby with a perfect record) or Bandini (a 4-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus who won the Skip Away Handicap, one of the other big races yesterday at Gulfstream Park).

But I think I speak for many Moutaineers (even Barbaro fans) when I say that yesterday's win by West Virginia - a 5-year-old who beat the famed Funny Cide (among others) to win the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap - brought a smile to my face.

Posted by armand at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Next at the DOD: Warner? Coats? Armitage?

Could Rumsfeld actually be pushed out of office once Josh Bolten takes over as White House Chief of Staff? I'll believe it when I see it, but it strikes me as considerably more likely now than at any time in the last year or two. If he does go, Warner and Armitage would seem surprisingly competent relplacements. Neither one would likely raise much of a fight on the Hill, and both would likely lift morale in the department. However, given Armitage's ties to Secretary Powell and Warner's age (he's older than Rumsfeld) I wouldn't bet on either being selected. Still if Warner did get the nod, John McCain would become chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee - and how that would or wouldn't affect the 2008 race could be worth watching.

Posted by armand at 11:11 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 01, 2006

Politicians Whose Defeat I Will Celebrate

Armand has blogged about West Virginia politics recently (here and here most recently). Curious about why the Red Burqua campaign listed West Virginia on its list of the most reactionary (my word) states, I did a little searching.

As I've blogged before, I know lawmakers in West Virginia have proposed some terribly stupid legislation. And I know that out of state extremists have targeted West Virginia's most vulnerable as playthings in their battle to take us back to a barefoot and pregnant dystopia. I've even written letters to my representatives in the state legislature about it.

And, I might add for the record, Representatives/Senators Marshall, Fritch, Houston, Beach, Prezioso and Oliverio apparently could care less about my vote - which I might also add for the record, they won't be getting ever again. I hear back from Byrd's office and Rockefeller's office. Rockefeller has some good staffers, it seems. They write decent letters, and do explain his reasoning (or some semblance of it). The state people? Zilch.

Anyway, I did a little check to see what kind of anti-reproductive freedom activity our state legislators have been up to, and suprise surprise surprise, it's worse than I thought. Much worse.

Below the fold is a list of the legislation, for which I will hold my representatives (hah! I think the only one who ever represented me was Barbara Evans Fleischauer) accountable. And the list of politicians whose defeat I will celebrate? Well, all of them on that list. The ones I will actively work against and whose opponents I will likely support (provided they aren't worse) are:

Prezioso, who introduced legislation equating contraception with abortion, and to expand parental notification to parental consent while eliminating waivers.

Houston, who introduced bills that would deny health care to women by placing a higher value on a woman's provider's values than the woman's own, and for introducing TRAP legislation creating burdensome restrictions targeted at abortion providers.

Frich, who introduced TRAP legislation, which restricts women's access to reproductive health care, and who co-sponsored the parental consent bill.

Oliverio, who co-sponsored the parental consent bill.

Anti-Choice Legislation

Abortion Ban

Bill Number: WV  H  4376
Summary: Bans safe, medically appropriate abortion procedure without exception to protect women's health.
Sponsor: Border (R)
Introduced: 02/03/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Abortion Bans After 12 Weeks

Bill Number: WV  H  2923
Summary: Bans safe, medically appropriate abortions, without exception. Provides no clear definition of what stage in pregnancy the ban applies.
Sponsor: Lane (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Affiliation Ban

Bill Number: WV  S  677
Summary: Prohibits public funding of any entity associated with another entity that provides, counsels, or refers for abortion.
Sponsor: Guills (R)
Introduced: 02/20/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Anti-Choice Clinics

Bill Number: WV  H  4507
Summary: Relates to establishing "Choose Life" license plates; allocates funding for anti-choice clinics barred from discussing reproductive options.
Sponsor: Stephens (D)
Introduced: 02/13/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Anti-Choice License Plates

Bill Number: WV  H  4507
Summary: Relates to establishing "Choose Life" license plates; allocates funding for anti-choice clinics barred from discussing reproductive options.
Sponsor: Stephens (D)
Introduced: 02/13/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Attacks on Contraception

Bill Number: WV  H  4411
Summary: Broadens definition of abortion so that it also includes contraception.
Sponsor: Pino (D)
Introduced: 02/06/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  519
Summary: Introduced version of bill broadens definition of abortion so that it includes contraception. Subsequent substitutes of bill removed the language that would broaden the definition of abortion to include contraception and added provisions that amend existing parental notice law to place additional restrictions on young women seeking abortion.
Sponsor: Prezioso (D)
Introduced: 02/07/2006
Last Action: Amended
Last Action Date: 03/01/2006

Biased Counseling

Bill Number: WV  H  4476
Summary: Requires women receive state-mandated lecture which may include medically inaccurate information prior to obtaining abortion services.
Sponsor: Ellem (R)
Introduced: 02/09/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Biased Counseling and Mandatory Delay

Bill Number: WV  H  4117
Summary: Modifies existing biased counseling and mandatory delay laws by increasing the penalty for non-compliance.
Sponsor: Wakim (R)
Introduced: 01/25/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4671
Summary: Modifies existing biased counseling and mandatory delay law by requiring that women receive state-mandated lecture that life begins at conception; prohibits abortion unless women wait an additional 24 hours after receiving lecture.
Sponsor: Miley (D)
Introduced: 02/20/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Counseling Ban/Gag Rule

Bill Number: WV  H  2143
Summary: Prohibits use of public funds, employees, or facilities for abortion services. Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Sponsor: Sobonya (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2199
Summary: Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Sponsor: Walters (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2200
Summary: Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Sponsor: Walters (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2922
Summary: Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Sponsor: Lane (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  3123
Summary: Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services. Prohibits use of public funds, employees, or facilities for abortion services.
Sponsor: Porter (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  595
Summary: Prohibits employees or representatives of family planning centers receiving state funding from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Sponsor: Harrison (R)
Introduced: 02/16/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  68
Summary: Prohibits use of public funds, employees, or facilities for abortion services. Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Sponsor: Dempsey (D)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Insurance Prohibition for Abortion

Bill Number: WV  H  4346
Summary: Prohibits insurance coverage of RU-486 for government employees.
Sponsor: Louisos (D)
Introduced: 02/01/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4561
Summary: Prohibits insurance coverage of abortion for government employees.
Sponsor: Perry (D)
Introduced: 02/14/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Public Facilities and Employees Restriction

Bill Number: WV  H  2052
Summary: Prohibits use of public facilities for abortion services.
Sponsor: Blair (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2143
Summary: Prohibits use of public funds, employees, or facilities for abortion services. Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Sponsor: Sobonya (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2553
Summary: Prohibits public employees from instructing students on how to perform abortion procedures. Mandates exclusion of instruction on abortion care for students at public institutions of higher education.
Sponsor: Walters (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2767
Summary: Prohibits use of some public facilities for abortion services.
Sponsor: Schoen (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  3123
Summary: Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services. Prohibits use of public funds, employees, or facilities for abortion services.
Sponsor: Porter (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  678
Summary: Prohibits use of public facilities for abortion services.
Sponsor: Guills (R)
Introduced: 02/20/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  68
Summary: Prohibits use of public funds, employees, or facilities for abortion services. Prohibits organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Sponsor: Dempsey (D)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Refusal to Provide Medical Services

Bill Number: WV  H  2042
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide or dispense abortion-related medication in all or most circumstances.
Sponsor: Schoen (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  3030
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform any medical services in all or most circumstances. Also allows insurance companies to refuse to provide coverage of any service that conflicts with its conscience.
Sponsor: Houston (D)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  3200
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform abortion services in all or most circumstances.
Sponsor: Boggs (D)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4315
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform abortion services in all or most circumstances.
Sponsor: Trump (R)
Introduced: 02/01/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4449
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform abortion services in all or most circumstances. Also allows insurance companies to refuse to provide coverage of abortion services.
Sponsor: Houston (D)
Introduced: 02/07/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4644
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide or dispense contraceptives in all or most circumstances.
Sponsor: Kiss (D)
Introduced: 02/20/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  29
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide or dispense abortion-related medications in all or most circumstances.
Sponsor: Weeks (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  41
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform any medical services in all or most circumstances. Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide or dispense contraceptives in all or most circumstances. Allows insurance companies to refuse to provide coverage of any service that conflicts with its conscience.
Sponsor: Barnes (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  447
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform abortion services in all or most circumstances. Also allows insurance companies to refuse to provide coverage of abortion services.
Sponsor: Sprouse (R)
Introduced: 02/01/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  599
Summary: Allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform abortion services in all or most circumstances.
Sponsor: Harrison (R)
Introduced: 02/16/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Restrictions on Low-Income Women's Access to Abortion

Bill Number: WV  HJR  112
Summary: Proposes a constitutional amendment to restrict low-income women's access to abortion.
Sponsor: Sumner (R)
Introduced: 02/07/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  SJR  3
Summary: Proposes a constitutional amendment to restrict low-income women's access to abortion.
Sponsor: Caruth (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Bill Number: WV  H  2112
Summary: Modifies existing law by mandating parental consent prior to a young woman obtaining an abortion.
Sponsor: Blair (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  3006
Summary: Amends existing parental notice law to place additional restrictions on young women seeking abortion. The bill also removes a section from the existing law that states that the law does not apply to contraception.
Sponsor: Pino (D)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4367
Summary: Modifies a law that mandates parental notice prior to a young woman obtaining an abortion.
Sponsor: Border (R)
Introduced: 02/02/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4411
Summary: Broadens definition of abortion so that it also includes contraception.
Sponsor: Pino (D)
Introduced: 02/06/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4575
Summary: Modifies existing parental notice law to place additional restrictions on young women seeking abortion.
Sponsor: Susman (D)
Introduced: 02/15/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  120
Summary: Amends existing parental notice law to place additional restrictions on young women seeking abortion. The bill also removes a section from the existing law that states that the law does not apply to contraception.
Sponsor: Prezioso (D)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  189
Summary: Amends existing parental notice law to place additional restrictions on young women seeking abortion.
Sponsor: Love (D)
Introduced: 01/17/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  28
Summary: Modifies existing law by mandating parental consent prior to a young woman obtaining an abortion.
Sponsor: Weeks (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  519
Summary: Introduced version of bill broadens definition of abortion so that it includes contraception. Subsequent substitutes of bill removed the language that would broaden the definition of abortion to include contraception and added provisions that amend existing parental notice law to place additional restrictions on young women seeking abortion.
Sponsor: Prezioso (D)
Introduced: 02/07/2006
Last Action: Amended
Last Action Date: 03/01/2006

Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Family Planning

Bill Number: WV  H  3006
Summary: Amends existing parental notice law to place additional restrictions on young women seeking abortion. The bill also removes a section from the existing law that states that the law does not apply to contraception.
Sponsor: Pino (D)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  120
Summary: Amends existing parental notice law to place additional restrictions on young women seeking abortion. The bill also removes a section from the existing law that states that the law does not apply to contraception.
Sponsor: Prezioso (D)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Separate Legal Status for Embryos and Fetuses

Bill Number: WV  H  2422
Summary: Amends portion of criminal code to allow an "unborn child" to be a victim of crime separate and apart from the pregnant woman.
Sponsor: Sumner (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  3011
Summary: Amends definition of "human being" in homicide law to include an "unborn child."
Sponsor: Rowan (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced

State Children's Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) - Anti-Choice

Bill Number: WV  H  2559
Summary: Provides insurance coverage for embryos and fetuses, rather than pregnant women, in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Sponsor: Ashley (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  S  440
Summary: Provides insurance coverage for embryos and fetuses, rather than pregnant women, in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Sponsor: McKenzie (R)
Introduced: 01/31/2006
Last Action: Introduced

State Constitutional Protection - Elimination or Reduction

Bill Number: WV  HJR  13
Summary: Attempts to reduce or eliminate state constitutional protection for a woman's right to choose.
Sponsor: Armstead (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP)-Anti-Choice

Bill Number: WV  H  2125
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Azinger (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2152
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Hamilton (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2532
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Carmichael (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2896
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Tansill (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2913
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Stevens (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2915
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Roberts (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2921
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Tansill (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2927
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Roberts (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2952
Summary: Restricts the performance of some abortions to hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers, imposing costly, burdensome, and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion providers.
Sponsor: Frich (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  2953
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Azinger (R)
Introduced: 01/11/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4335
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Evans (R)
Introduced: 02/01/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4365
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Evans (R)
Introduced: 02/02/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4375
Summary: Restricts the performance of some abortions to hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers, imposing costly, burdensome, and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion providers. Additionally, subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Eldridge (D)
Introduced: 02/03/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4450
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Houston (D)
Introduced: 02/07/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4495
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Hamilton (R)
Introduced: 02/10/2006
Last Action: Introduced
Bill Number: WV  H  4523
Summary: Restricts the performance of all abortions to hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers, imposing costly, burdensome, and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion providers. Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: White L (R)
Introduced: 02/13/2006
Last Action: Introduced

Posted by binky at 06:56 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Maybe the Higher Power is Capricious and Cruel

John Cole raises a reasonable point in his complaint about Gov. Manchin's remarks dealing with the recovery of Randal McCloy:

Governor Manchin, who I normally like a great deal, irritated me a little bit when he claimed the recovery was ‘proof of a higher power’ (which made me wonder why the higher power killed the other 12), but this extraordinary and a good day for McCloy and his family.
Posted by armand at 06:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Bill Napolis of Hostage Criticism

Rarely do I take an interest in blog-versus-blog throwdowns, especially when it involves calling out intolerant gasbags on their stupidity. Especially when I'm busy.

However, reading Steve Gilliard's post criticizing some of the wingnutosphere's response to Jill Carroll's release reminded me of Bill Napoli's definition about what constitutes an acceptable rape, when the woman has achieved a sufficient level of suffering to satisfy him that she qualifies for mercy.


Because to the wingnuts, Jill Carroll doesn't qualify for mercy. Even though she did what our soldiers are trained to do (in the words of one of Gilliard's commenters: "Give up your mom, praise their strength, praise their cats, whatever. Survive.") in the SERE programs. Even though these cowards criticizing her probably would have offered to marry their grandmothers to Osama to get away from the kidnappers with machine guns, they have the gall to say things like this:

"I've been watching this traitor bitch fawn all over her captors this morning. "Nice furniture, safe, nice clothes, they NEVER threatened me". I'm very glad you were so comforatble while working to undermine our efforts in Iraq. Now, wipe that muslim DNA from your face and confess to pre-planning this?"

"She's probably coming home with a suitcase full of cash (her kickback) and a dose of the clap."

and... from the Imus show:

MCGUIRK: She strikes me as the kind of woman who would wear one of those suicide vests. You know, walk into the — try and sneak into the Green Zone.

IMUS: Oh, no. No, no, no, no.

MCCORD: Just because she always appears in traditional Arab garb and wearing a burka.

MCGUIRK: Yeah, what’s with the head gear? Take it off. Let’s see.

MCCORD: Exactly. She cooked with them, lived with them.

IMUS: This is not helping.

MCGUIRK: She may be carrying Habib’s baby at this point.

Utterly despicable.

Posted by binky at 06:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Animals as pawns in abusive relationships

The New York Times has a story about a new law that includes a family's animals in protection from abuse orders.

"It's the dynamic of preying on the love and affection that women often have for the animals in their lives, who may be their only source of solace, their only source of unconditional love."

I'm pleasantly surprised that the connection between using animals for manipulation and abusive relationships (in addition to the connection between animal abuse and human abuse) is being recognized. From personal experience, and from talking to others who have also had their animals been threatened as a proxy - or had someone threaten to or actually "petnap" one's furry companions - this is probably more common than we realize.

Posted by binky at 05:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The 15 Greatest Skylines?

I found a link to this list over on Kos. So what do you think? I think any list of the world's greatest skylines must include New York, Chicago, Sydney and Hong Kong. Definite top 10 choices. Thoughts on the rest? Any things you'd add or subtract (personally I don't think Dallas even has the best skyline in Texas - that would be Houston, even if arguably its best skyscraper is far from downtown). Personally, I like the mention of Pittsburgh. Does anyone disagree?

Posted by armand at 05:53 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Still busy, so a link for you today...

Food for thought from A White Bear, who is minding the store over at Bitch PhD.

Anytime any women get together to have a conversation about women's problems, there's always a man there to say, "That happens to men, too!" or "You just want to take away what we have!" or "You have no idea how your feminism makes me feel!" Men who say these things are not feminists. Why do we still listen to them? Why do we bother letting them catch us up in stupid arguments about whether it's worse to be forced to have babies or to be forced to go to war? No one's drawing any comparisons, sweetheart. We're just dealing with these women's issues right now, you see, and if you'd like to help us solve these problems, please do. If you want to go solve the problems of the dominant culture, you're welcome to do so any time of any day. Most men have had the luxury of dealing with their own goddamned problems for, oh, at least 5,000 years.

When feminists get together online or in person to talk about our problems, the focus is on us. If we decide to deal with a different or more specific group's problems, you can bet straight white men's problems are not on the emergency to-do list. We might talk about men of color or gay men or impoverished men, but for some reason, straight white bourgeois men rarely take up a lot of our activist time. Some of us feminists happen to be straight white women who are involved sexually with straight white men. In my love life, I do care for a straight white man and we treat each other with complete respect. In my work, I deal all the time with straight white men, and I treat them all with exactly the respect with which I treat everyone else. But in my activist life, when dealing in abstracts, I don't think, "You know who desperately needs my help today? Straight white dudes."

When men derail a conversation about feminism, they are not interrupting a conversation in which privileged little girls are sitting around bitching to hear our own voices or even to solve our own problems, necessarily. They are often interrupting a conversation in which we are concerned with the least fortunate among us, the ones who have to struggle to get through a day because of who they are. When we talk about abortion rights, it's not because each of us desperately wants to have an abortion. It's because we know that the people who suffer most from abortion bans are almost always poor women of color who don't have anything like reasonable representation in government.

A White Bear does hit the target with this question: "You know who desperately needs my help today?" I'm not sure it's quite so easy, or altruistic, mostly because I readily admit - at least for myself - to spend a fair amount of time thinking about things that affect me (and not necessarily others' situations about which I know, hmm, not much) and those who have similar interests. Ultimately, deciding that someone needs my help today might not be what that "someone" really wants or needs. That's another discussion for another day, when there isn't a pile of grading.

Posted by binky at 03:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

More Statist Insanity

I didn't title this post "More Republican Insanity" mostly out of respect for the few (very few) moderate Republicans who continue to believe in the Constitution, checks and balances, and responsible government. I figure there have to be a few of them out there, somewhere. I can't find any (except me, and possibly John Cole), but there might be a few more.

The Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearing yesterday into Feingold's censure resolution. This was reported today in the New York Times. The Republicans called for the hearings, mostly in order to rally their base and showcase how their President is under attack by the evil Democrats (so evil that a massive four, yes four, Senators have signed onto Feingold's censure resolution).

I'm not in favor of censure. I think the proper role for Congress with respect to the wireless NSA spying is to actually investigate (with subpoenas) exactly what the NSA did, when they did it, who ordered it, and who knew about it. This needs to be accompanied by an actual debate in the Senate over whether the NSA program does violate the FISA law (my opinion: absolutely yes). Then the Congress can recommend charges for those individuals who violated the law, up to the President, if necessary.

Feingold, on the other hand, is skipping all those investigatory steps, and just jumping to censure Bush. This may be too much (if he isn't guilty of anything) or too little (he may be guilty of sufficient law-breaking to warrant something stronger, up to impeachment).

That being said, check out this passage from the NYT article, including a quote from Senator Cornyn:

Republicans argued that censure would undermine the president's efforts to fight terrorism.
"This hearing, I think, is beyond the pale," said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.
Mr. Cornyn argued that the censure proposal could send a "perverse and false message" of presidential weakness to terrorists around the world and thus "make the jobs of our soldiers and diplomats harder and place them at greater risk."

Yes, that's right: we can't even have hearings to discuss whether the President has done anything wrong because it would weaken the President's fight against terrorism (note: not "America's fight aginst terrorism" or "civilization's fight against terrorism" or "our armed forces fight against terrorism"; no, the fight is personal between Bush and the terrorists - he's the only one protecting us, and we can't weaken him, else we'll loose. Orwell?). Exactly when did it happen that anything, anything, that challenges the executive branch "weakens the President"? A partial list of actions that challenge the President's policies (and, thus, "weaken" the fight against terrorism, and should be avoided) would include: Congressional hearings, Congressional debate that questions the policies, Congressional laws that suggest/order alternative policies, judicial court cases that challenge the President's decisions, court cases that challenge the President's asserted facts, public protests, public discussion that includes a challenge to the President's policies, letters to the editor that challenge the policies, public opinion polls that show a lack of support for the President (thus, having an opinion that the President's policies are wrong, since you might get polled, is also wrong, as it "weakens" the President), media reports that indicate a lack of support for the President, media reports that question the successes of the "War on Terror", media reports that mention setbacks in Iraq, media reports that mention setbacks in Afghanistan, media reports of any terrorist/insurgent successes in any part of the world, blogging about the sheer idiocy of the policies against terrorism practiced by this President (oops, guilty!), and (as best I can tell) any discussion of the inherent checks and balances in the Constitution and the inherent limitations on the Executive (hey, any originalists out there? How does all this fit into your mental paradigms?). Note the inherent legality of any of these actions.

This is only a partial list. I suppose it might be much simpler to make a list of all the things Americans (Congressional, media, bloggers, general public, etc.) can do that won't undermine the Presidents (heroic, lonely) war on terror: twiddle thumbs, shop, and watch "American Idol." It's a much smaller list. In fact, as best I can tell, any political activity that disagrees with the President (on any subject, not just national security) will weaken the President (any disagreement would show weakness, and embolden the terrorists - even if he can't get his choice for Supreme Court, that would cause more terrorism!).

How did it come to this? What has happened the idea that, in a democracy, debate over policies (even in times of crisis) are not only important but critical (it's a crisis: shouldn't you make sure that the policy you follow is the best? Doesn't that require debate?). Isn't a national dialog healthy but also critical in generating a "national will" to carry through difficult policy implementation in times of crisis (think: World War II)? (NOTE: this assumes that we're in a crisis, which I don't believe, but I'm willing to accept for the point of arguing.)

As best I can tell, it shows a party utterly bereft of ideas, morality, courage, and intellectual integrity to be reduced to arguing the same line (again and again) to any political challenge to it's leadership: Don't argue, you'll weaken the President.

I don't see how the leadership of the Republican party, in any branch, can look at themselves in the mirror in the morning.

Posted by baltar at 12:10 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Bill Number: WV  H  4579
Summary: Subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions.
Sponsor: Susman (D)
Introduced: 02/15/2006
Last Action: Introduced