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July 31, 2005

A New Category....

We may need a new category: Transcendant Asshattery.

For those statements of blithering idiocy that transcend the normal realm of Asshattery we've come to know and love:

When you’re married with kids it is easy to forget how spontaneous life can be. Everything becomes a mosaic of scheduling, a desperate scramble for babysitters, the intricate and treacherous art of coordinating playdates (“What do you mean you don’t want to see her? Last week she was your best friend!”).

When you’re divorced each parent has to consciously parent, consciously throw themselves into worrying about the welfare of their children. The workaholic dad can’t say the mom raises the kids, I write the check. Or, more rarely, the Pilates-addicted mother cannot leave parenting to Mr. Mom. Nobody wants to be the one the kids incessantly whine about to their shrink.

The other thing that makes us divorceniks such great parents is that we get a break every once in a while. We’re not anchored to our kids 24/7 so when they’re over at the other’s house we get to stay out late, sleep in, or spontaneously decide to catch The Aristocrats at the mall. By the end of the weekend we miss the little ones so much that when we see them again our hearts swell as if we were back in high school and the captain of the girls’ gymnastics team just gave us the biggest smile.

Ignore the evidence, folks.

Divorce: the best thing that ever happened to child-rearing.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:13 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Transparent Asshattery Alert

Oh hell...why worry about terrorism and racial profiling anyway? We're all dead already:

Death can be viewed as a total illusion because you are dead already. When you think of who you are in terms of I, me, and mine, you are referring to your past, a time that is dead and gone. Its memories are relics of time passed by. The ego keeps itself intact by repeating what it already knows. Yet life is actually unknown, as it has to be if you are ever to conceive of new thoughts, desires, and experiences. By choosing to repeat the past, you are keeping life from renewing itself.

Why wait? You can be as alive as you want to be through a process known as surrender. This is the next step in conquering death. So far the line between life and death has become so blurry that it has almost disappeared. Surrender is the act of erasing the line entirely. When you can see yourself as the total cycle of death within life and the life within death, you have surrendered – the mystic’s most powerful tool against materialism. At the threshold of the one reality, the mystic gives up all need for boundaries and plunges directly into existence. The circle closes, and the mystic experiences himself as the one reality.


SURRENDER IS …

Full attention
Appreciation of life’s richness

The Huffington Post continues its precipitous slide into complete irrelevance.

That's right Deepak... why struggle?

Surrender to Death.

Perhaps the real question isn't, "Why do they hate us so much?"

It's, "Why are we such morons?".

Posted by Cassandra at 10:07 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

"Racial" Profiling - Another View

In a thoughtful editorial, TUNKU VARADARAJAN talks about "racial" profiling:

After the terrorist bombings in London, and the revelations that many of the perpetrators were of Pakistani origin, I find that I am--for the first time in my life--part of a "group" that is under broad but emphatic visual suspicion. In other words, I fit a visual "profile," and the fit is most disconcerting.

One might, therefore, expect him (like Colbert King, who lives in an agony of fear that his black sons will be unfairly "victimized") to be against the practice. Strangely, however, he is not:

Terrorism has had many effects on society, and the foremost among them are philosophical, or spiritual. We are now called upon to adjust the way we live and think, and to do so we must also adjust the bandwidth of our tolerance. By this I don't mean that we must be less tolerant of others but that some among us must learn to tolerate--or put up with--hardships, inconvenience or a new set of presumptions, given the all-consuming nature of the threat we face, in which "the profiled" and "the profilers" alike are targets. In evaluating the moral fitness of "profiling," I should stress that we are identifying people for scrutiny, not punishment. Recall the fate of Cinna the poet, in the Bard's "Julius Caesar," who is killed by a mob that believes him, because of his name, to be Cinna the conspirator. When scrutiny becomes stigma, and stigma leads to victimization, a clear jump to evil has occurred. This has not happened in America, and must not.

But what of "profiling" as a forensic tool? Here, one must be satisfied either that profiling ought to be done or at least--per Bentham--that it isn't something that "ought not to be done." I am satisfied on the second count. The practice cannot be rejected with the old moral clarity. The profiling process is not precisely racial but broadly physical according to "Muslim type." (Does that make it worse or better?) The process under way now does not constitute racial profiling in the classic sense--Muslims, after all, come in flavors other than Pakistani, including white Chechens and black Somalis.

But there is no getting around profiling, surely, because of the life-or-death, instant decisions involved. So we have to ask one section of society to bear up under heightened scrutiny, asking them also to work extra hard--visibly so--to expunge the threat. Meanwhile, and just as important, we must ask the rest of society not to stigmatize those who conform to the broad physical category while also not allowing feelings of racial and moral guilt to slow our society's response to danger.

Imagine that. This man has far more reason than Colbert King to fear the ill effects of profiling. Yet he seems to understand that there are other dangers out there. That perhaps law enforcement and a Republican administration are not the greatest threats to Western civilization. That it just might be the suicide bomber that has brought us to this pass.

Ironically, I can understand a certain amount of paranoia in light of some of our legal provisions regarding permanent detention of terrorism suspects.

It is strange to me that Mr. King never makes this argument. It is even more strange to me that flaws in the Patriot Act continue to be conflated with George Bush and John Ashcroft rather than with Congress, which drafted the Act and voted for its approval overwhelmingly before promptly turning tail and criticizing it as thought it had been foisted on them by Nazi Germany.

George Bush did not draft the Patriot Act. The administration merely called on our elected representatives to act. John Kerry himself authored many of the provisions of the Patriot Act, voting for it before he discovered (on the campaign trail) grave reservations that caused him to come out firmly foregainst it:

""We are a nation of laws and liberties, not of a knock in the night. So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time." (New Hampshire Union Leader quote of John Kerry speaking on 12-1-03)

Mr. Kerry appeared to be listening to foreign leaders; like our Supreme Court, he favors a multilateral, inclusive approach to governing the United States. This was seen by many in his party as a welcome change from the arrogant, unilateral policies of the Bush administration:

Bin Laden: "And he moved the tyranny and suppression of freedom to his own country, and they called it the Patriot Act, under the disguise of fighting terrorism."

There is entirely too much sloppy thinking regarding our national security debate. As this author points out, definitions matter. Scrutiny is not punishment, momentary inconvenience is not detention or oppression. Hysteria does not help either. When law enforcement is faced with monitoring literally hundreds of thousands of possible terrorism targets on a daily basis, requiring them to jump through tortuous legalistic hoops is hardly the way to guarantee public safety.

The truth is an unpalatable one. We lack the national will to secure our environment. We can spend all the money in the world, but so long as we are so afraid of lawsuits that we dare not enforce our own immigration laws, so traumatized by race that we ignore evidence that the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by young Muslim men, we are fighting terrorism with both hands tied behind our backs.

Seeing that this is so, why are leaders like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton screeching that we are not doing enough to secure ourselves against attack?

Bombs and planes don't kill innocent citizens.

People do.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 30, 2005

Everything Is Not Race

Both my children died today, because of racism.

With them died 393 innocent travelers on the DC Metro. If you've ever ridden the DC Metro, you'll know they weren't all white, anglo-saxon Protestants. No, they came in all flavors. Whites, Asians from Indonesia, Japan, Korea, China; Hispanics, blacks, Muslims, Jews, atheists, lesbians, gays, Christians, and undoubtedly a few Wiccas. Funny: in the instant before they were incinerated, their religion, sexual orientation, national origin and skin color ceased to matter.

They are all grey now.

Ashes. And the few traces of blood left behind, splattered on the subway walls, were uniformly red.

My youngest son was a passenger. He was just along for the ride, traveling to work as he does every morning. I doubt he even had time to notice what was going on before he died. I hope so.

My oldest son is a cop. He was on duty that morning. He could have stopped the whole thing from happening.

Except for racism. And because of racism, 393 good people lost their lives.

You see, my son doesn't normally work the Metro. But local police have been detailed to support the Metro Police in the wake of the London Bombings. And that morning he was following a young man whose apartment complex had been under surveillance. The man was acting suspiciously as he headed toward the Metro. And he was carrying a rucksack (which many Metro travelers do). As he entered the station, my son couldn't help noticing how he shied away from any position where there were police officers. Every sense my son had cried out to stop this guy - to search him - that something was very wrong.

But he couldn't stop him. He could only follow, and watch. Departmental policy.

Why? The man was an Arab. And Muslim. And a young male. The Untouchable Trio - stop him, question him, do anything at all to him without an ironclad reason and you'd be accused of racial profiling.

As the young man darted onto the waiting train, my son imagined calling out to him: "Stop!" A brief chase. A struggle. Maybe some help from the Metro Police, if they could be found. He shook his head and stepped onto the train.

Blackness.

Colbert King thinks racial profiling is the worst thing in the world. He thinks it "makes a mockery of the rights to which people in this country are entitled".

As is customary for this type of shameless column, the bloody flag of racism is waved early, and waved often. The police (many of whom these days are black and hispanic) are all racist pigs without the merest shred of common sense or decency. No doubt they have hangin' trees already set up behind the local station for those moments in which other forms of entertainment pall:

Krauthammer blasted the random-bag-checks program adopted in the New York subway in response to the London bombings, calling it absurd and a waste of effort and resources. His answer: Security officials should concentrate on "young Muslim men of North African, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin." Krauthammer doesn't say how authorities should go about identifying "Muslim men" or how to distinguish non-Muslim men from Muslim men entering a subway station. Probably just a small detail easily overlooked.

In case you're not clued in to the agenda, Mr. Colbert will tell you later that he's afraid his sons, who are black, will by some idiotic mistake be taken for Muslims and shot to death for no apparent reason. Police, in Mr. King's estimation, are Not Too Bright. I find this incredibly amusing, if not insulting for two reasons. First of all, my oldest son is a college graduate who had top-notch test scores and very good grades. He could have done anything he wanted to after college. Some people considered police work 'beneath' him. Apparently Mr. King is one of those.

The other thing I find amusing is that my husband, a white, anglo-Saxon Protestant military officer with almost-black hair, very dark brown eyes, and Mediterranean features, who generally has a five-o-clock shadow by 3 pm, looks far more like a Muslim than any black man I have ever seen. His father, a career Naval officer and two-time Vietnam vet who is dead now, was a dashingly handsome man with black hair, olive skin, aquiline features and a rather hooked nose. He really looked as though he might have some Arab blood in him somewhere, though we used to make fun of him and call it "French". But I'll return to this thought later.

First we are treated to Mr. King's rather entertaining view of police work. Apparently all knowledge of a criminal suspect should be disregarded. In the politically-correct world of Mr. Colbert King, your 2 year-old toddler or the doddering octagenarian next door are just as capable of being a serial rapist as that shifty white, male loner with no fixed address. Everyone is equally suspect.

By his reckoning, the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all should be limited to a select group. Krauthammer argued that authorities should work backward and "eliminate classes of people who are obviously not suspects." In the category of the innocent, Krauthammer would place children younger than 13, people older than 60 and "whole ethnic populations" starting with "Hispanics, Scandinavians and East Asians . . . and women," except "perhaps the most fidgety, sweaty, suspicious-looking, overcoat-wearing, knapsack-bearing young women."

Let's count the number of non-Arab female suicide bombers under 13 or over 60, shall we Mr. King? After all, if the goal of security measures is TO KEEP PEOPLE SECURE FROM THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO MURDER THEM, then arguably the police might be forgiven for trying to find the people who are doing the dastardly deed. And generally when you detail a group of people to find something, the first question they ask is, "What does it look like? Describe it." But to Colbert, that little question is out of bounds. Police must search blindfolded.

Of course, by eliminating Scandinavians from his list of obvious terror suspects, Krauthammer would have authorities give a pass to all white people, since subway cops don't check passengers' passports for country of origin.

Lovely. Because you know white people all look alike. I'm just contemplating the delicious shrieking, had Mr. Krauthammer said that about blacks.

As for sweaty, fidgety, knapsack-bearing, overcoat-wearing young women who happen to be black, brown or yellow? Tough nuggies, in Krauthammer's book.

Actually Mr. King, Krauthammer eliminated all women.

The age-60 cutoff is meaningless, too, since subway cops aren't especially noted for accuracy in pinning down stages of life. In Krauthammer's worldview, it's all quite simple: Ignore him and his son; suspect me and mine.

Again we see the perpetual whine of the liberal. The perfect is always the enemy of the good. If you can't precisely cut everything off right at 60, the criterion is totally worthless. Mr. Krauthammer was throwing out some alternative suggestions. Certainly they make more sense than the current situation. But here we get to the nub of the matter, for all of this isn't really about Arabs. It's about (it's always about) being black:

Sperry also has his own proxy for suspicious characters. He warned security and subway commuters to be on the lookout for "young men praying to Allah and smelling of flower water." Keep your eyes open, he said, for "a shaved head or short haircut" or a recently shaved beard or moustache. Men who look like that, in his book, are "the most suspicious train passengers."

It appears to matter not to Sperry that his description also includes huge numbers of men of color, including my younger son, a brown-skinned occasional New York subway rider who shaves his head and moustache. He also happens to be a former federal prosecutor and until a few years ago was a homeland security official in Washington. Sperry's profile also ensnares my older brown-skinned son, who wears a very short haircut, may wear cologne at times, and has the complexion of many men I have seen in Africa and the Middle East. He happens to be a television executive. But what the hell, according to Sperry, "young Muslim men of Arab or South Asian origin" fit the terrorist profile. How, just by looking, can security personnel identify a Muslim male of Arab or South Asian origin goes unexplained.

Well Mr. King, perhaps you can explain to me why my husband, a senior Marine officer traveling on official orders, for several years in a terrorism capacity, has been openly harassed, searched, pulled out of line time and time again for special scrutiny when traveling? He is white. And he, unlike either of your sons, has been serving this country for twenty-five years. Explain to me how the general welfare is served by having a Marine officer selected, time and time again, for special scrutiny?

And young black men, for the most part, do not have Arab facial features. You ask "how can law enforcement tell the difference?". Most children can tell the difference, by and large. Despite your incredulity, there are differences in the way people of differing ethnicities dress, groom, comport themselves. In the texture of their hair. In their bone structure: in general, Asians, Arabs, Africans, northern Europeans, in addition to having a variety of skin colors, have characteristic facial features as well. Any plastic surgeon or police reconstruction artist will tell you that.

But Mr. King isn't finished. He can't wait to break out the lynching rumors:

Reportedly, after Sept. 11, 2001, some good citizens of California took out after members of the Sikh community, mistaking them for Arabs. Oh, well, what's a little political incorrectness in the name of national security. Bang, bang -- oops, he was Brazilian. Two young black guys were London bombers: one Jamaican, the other Somalian. Muslim, too. Ergo: Watch your back when around black men -- they could be, ta-dum, Muslims.

First of all, "the good citizens of California" aren't cops. Cops are trained. And regarding the young Brazilian, yes, that was a tragic mistake. And all that young man had to do to stop it was to obey the officer's request to stop for questioning. But he chose not to obey a lawful order, just days after a bombing attempt. What was he thinking? Why did he run? We will never know. Just like the officer who shot him could never have known whether he had a bomb in that rucksack.

According to Colbert King, he should have been allowed to keep running. Because in the end, it was more important not to make a mistake with one person who (it appears) was in the country illegally and so chose to run when asked to stop for questioning, than to save the lives of a trainload of innocent passengers.

One wonders how Mr. King would feel, what kind of "editorial" he would write, if his son were on that train, and it blew up.

No doubt racism would find its way into that sad, sad tale too. But it's not all about race.

Being detained for questioning, as long as the questioning is done in a fair and lawful manner, is not the worst thing that can happen to an individual or a society. Being singled out to be searched, as my husband has been repeatedly, unfairly, disproportionately, RIDICULOUSLY, given that he was a Marine officer traveling on anti-terrorism business, is not the worst thing that can happen. No doubt that is why my husband has never complained - not one single time - even though he is not supposed to be searched when traveling on official orders. Because he knows, despite the inconvenience, WHICH IS ALL IT AMOUNTS TO, IN THE END, that TSA official are just trying to do a difficult job.

I'll tell you what's the worst thing that can happen. We'll see it when we have another 9/11. When another three thousand people lie dead because people like Colbert King insist on injecting race into every conceivable conversation. When they imply that the police just can't wait to string up another Negro on no evidence. When they lace their editorials with the implication that blacks are the true targets when they know better. Take a look at the officers manning your local Metro and TSA stations. A large part of the faces you see are black and brown, Mr. King. The last time I passed through Dulles International Airport, among officials who checked me through security were a Muslim female, an Indian male, and an Indonesian. And yes, I can tell the difference. I've lived in Washington - a polyglot city - for years. It doesn't take a brain surgeon. There are your "racists".

Reasonable searches and questioning are not internment camps. Profiling of criminal suspects, when based on reasonable statistical inference, is NOT racism. It is common sense that protects innocent citizens of ALL races.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:29 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

"Artillery adds dignity, to what would otherwise be an ugly brawl"

That's always been one of my favorites. And there's lots more artillery lore in this wonderful post by Sgt. B to complement the first helping of wisdom combined with gun porn I gave you uncultured heathens yesterday. Don't miss it.

Don't know if I'll have time to write today until later - have been on the go since early this morning, back and forth helping another one of my offspring move. This is much better anyway.

Trust a Marine to do it up right. Not that I'm partial or anything...

Posted by Cassandra at 02:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2005

Revenge Is Mine...

...sayeth The Armorer. I've been tagged with another lousy meme.

Sigh...and I have a big nightstand too: one of those round tables with a long damask skirt on it. And I hadn't picked up my room yet because it's Friday. OK, here goes:

Pottery oil lamp
2 candles
digital alarm
covered ponytail hairband
Tony Hillerman's 'The Sinister Pig'
Louis Menaud's 'The Metaphysical Club'
Several Catalogues:

Williams-Sonoma
ColdwaterCreek, Spirit
SoftSurroundings

back issue of Weekly Standard
Photos: our wedding, the McBall year before last, the Unit and I outside a temple in Japan
A watercolor from Montmartre in France.
A silver cuff bracelet
A cherry lamp with parchment shade.
An indeterminate lingerie item (lace).

Who will I tag with this crappy meme? Oh... this is *bad*:

Grim (well, there should be some good books on his nightstand)

Pooke (when she gets back)

Jimmie (I picked on Robbie last time, so I'll share the hate)

Janette

and.... [drum roll]

let see if Dan has gone too Hollywood to play with us :)

Posted by Cassandra at 05:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The John-Roberts Omnibus Post

toad.jpg I hate to say "I toad you so"... but the Roberts nomination seems to be the comedy gift that just keeps on giving.

Is there a single elected official who has failed to make an ass of himself in what is coming to be the feel-good hit of Washington's silly season?

Senate Democrats and Judiciary Committee minority staffers are miffed that conservative bloggers appear to have more information about Bush Supreme Court nominee John Roberts than they do.

That would be because we can read.

"They've got material out there that we don't know about," whined complained Sen. Edward Kennedy, who's leading an effort to force the White House to turn over any documents it has on Roberts.

While you're at it, why don't you have the Junior Senator from Massachusetts serve a subpoena on the Blogosphere?

Other Democrats said that they believe the White House is providing supportive bloggers with information that paints Roberts only in a positive light. Kennedy, speaking to reporters last Friday, said that he was unaware of the prolific GOP blogging on behalf of Roberts until his wife pointed it out.

So... it's perfectly kosher for your wife to give you career advice, but *not* OK for Miz Roberts to have her own opinions? Got it.

First there was the pitiful shrieking because The Shrub had failed to nominate a Persun of Estrogen to replace the now-beatified Sandra Day O'Connor, a single strand of whose silvery hair is now enshrined in imperishable crystal at the ACLU as a silent witness to the power of enlightened progressyve conservatism, whatever that is. Miracles have been said to occur at the mere touch of the sacred relic. We'll keep ya posted.

There seems no end to the vile and shocking revelations about this extremist candidate:

As soon as the nomination was announced, alert SCOTUS clerks revealed that the dread Pirate Roberts was actually the head of the super-secret Constitution-in-Exile movement and accused him of waving the bloody shirt of Lochnerism. Thus was the Republic saved for another day.

Then the various sartorial excesses of the Roberts progeny and their paterfamilias were mined for deeper psycho-sexual meaning: BoogieGate, EasterEggGate, and PlaidGate followed in dizzying succession, much to the WaPo's delight.

Then the Accidental Candidate's Specie-ist tendencies were revealed in all their hideous majesty.

There was ToadGate....

BatGate...

Even the lowly French Fry suddenly seemed sinister and shadowy when connected with this out-of-the-mainstream, extremist nominee:

french_fry.jpg

You'd have thought the DNC MemeWagon would have begun to run out of gas at this point. But you'd have been wrong. Traveshamockery piled upon traveshamockery. His personal beliefs were highly suspect:

Roberts was found to be a follower of a secretive, non-mainstream cult, a clear violation of Article VI of the US Constitution.

And inquiring minds wanted to know: was he, or was he not a member of the Federalist Society - that haven of conservative thought? The thought I'd like answered at the confirmation hearings: if there's no bias in academia, why does on earth does conservative thought need a haven? Only Roberts' hairdresser knows for sure. Hopefully he can also answer a few questions about those plaid pants.

And then the Final Agony... we found the Pill That Just Could Not Be Swallowed:

...while a member of the White House Counsel office, and still in his 20’s, Roberts misspelled the word "Havana." And not once, but three times! He spelled it "Havanna" in each case, and if the Times had not looked through thousands of files in the Reagan Presidential Library, Roberts might have gotten away with it.

Even worse: when writing about the rights of Cuban refugees from the Mariel boatlift of 1980, he misspelled Marielitos. The poor fool actually wrote "Marielitoes," and what’s more, notes the Times, he did so "repeatedly."

What would happen if such a man were actually permitted to join our highest court. I mean, today we have Honduran refugees! The mind reels at what this dolt would do to "Tegucigalpa."

Oh, and by the way did we mention he really, really hates black people? (via Rick Hasen). Just thought I'd throw that one into the mix. Fisking it will have to wait until my customary blood-alcohol level (or my sense of humor) has been restored.

Posted by Cassandra at 02:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

NY TimesWatch®: We've Met The Enema And They Is Us

With the departure of MoDope and The BarbEhrian from the editorial pages of the NY Times, there has been little opportunity for sport of late. The Elephant Gun (long the favored weapon of choice for the HVES when it goes on early-morning forays into the Wild) lies propped in a dusty corner and we find ourselves consumed with ennui.

Fortunately David Kennedy has come along to entertain the staff with his observations about the military:

THE United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits - a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify.

We barely had time to load a round into the chamber before our long-suffering staff of itinerant Eskimo typists could be heard tittering in the background. This is normally a Very Bad Sign, as they are Not Too Bright.

One paragraph into his broadside and Mr. Kennedy has displayed both a stunning ignorance of basic military terminology and a casual disregard for the facts. As Grim observes in this thorough treatment of Mr. Kennedy's highly dismissable essay, both soldiers and mercenaries are paid. Show me a soldier who fights for free and I'll show you a slave. One expects more from a professor at Stanford University, but then as I observed in the comments section of Grim's post, you don't have to be a horse's ass to write for the Times... but it helps:

"Mercenary," in fact, is a term of art in the Geneva conventions, which defines lawful and unlawful combatants. The terms are in Article 47 of the "Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts," for those of you who wish to go over them in detail. The point for our purposes is this: under the terms, even "security contractors" from firms like Blackwater are not mercenaries, because they are citizens of one of the parties to the conflict.

Soldiers very plainly are not "mercenaries," and conflating the two terms is not a mere matter of words. It implies specific results on the battlefield -- namely, that our fighters are not entitled to the protections due to prisoners of war.

As to his ludicrous "as current recruiting difficulties show", I dealt with that dishonest meme quite thoroughly here. Unfortunately, Mr. Kennedy failed to realize he was out of his depth. The torture goes on: he is "troubled" by our military.

One troubling aspect is obvious. By some reckonings,[notably, Mr. Kennedy fails to tell us which] the Pentagon's budget is greater than the military expenditures of all other nations combined. It buys an arsenal of precision weapons for highly trained troops who can lay down a coercive footprint in the world larger and more intimidating than anything history has known.

How interesting. Let's take a look at that, shall we?

Which country has the most powerful armed forces in the world?

By number of troops:

China
United States
India
Korea, North
Russia
Korea, South
Pakistan
Israel
Turkey
Iran

By combat power, defined as quantity/quality of weapons and equipment, logistical support (ability to transport men and supplies quickly), maintenance, leadership, training, and military tradition:

United States
China
Israel
India
Russia
Korea, South
Korea, North
United Kingdom
Turkey
Pakistan

What is the first thing you notice about both lists? I'll bet it's not any of these: most of those nations are not stable democracies. And many of them are not our friends. And where, oh where is Western Civilization on the military map? But Mr. Kennedy is not worried about the fact that other western democracies are not bearing their share of the burden of world defense.

No. He is troubled by OUR armed forces. We are the threat.

But the modern military's disjunction from American society is even more disturbing. Since the time of the ancient Greeks through the American Revolutionary War and well into the 20th century, the obligation to bear arms and the privileges of citizenship have been intimately linked. It was for the sake of that link between service and a full place in society that the founders were so invested in militias and so worried about standing armies, which Samuel Adams warned were "always dangerous to the liberties of the people."

Yes. Remind me again how the next time we're threatened, we can just summon up a horde of citizen-soldiers to run the high-tech, precision-guided weaponry and jets of the 21st Century. Just-in-time inventory: I like it. Only, didn't George Washington find out that didn't work too well?

To place any dependance upon Militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender Scenes of domestick life; unaccustomed to the din of Arms; totally unacquainted with every kind of Military skill, which being followed by a want of confidence in themselves, when opposed to Troops regulary train'd, disciplined, and appointed, superior in knowledge, and superior in Arms, makes them timid, and ready to fly from their own shadows. Besides, the sudden change in their manner of living, (particularly in the lodging) brings on sickness in many; impatience in all, and such an unconquerable desire of returning to their respective homes that it not only produces shameful, and scandalous Desertions among themselves, but infuses the like spirit in others.... The Jealousies of a standing Army, and the Evils to be apprehended from one, are remote; and in my judgment, situated and circumstanced as we are, not at all to be dreaded; but the consequence of wanting one, according to my Ideas, formed from the present view of things, is certain, and inevitable Ruin; for if I was called upon to declare upon Oath, whether the Militia have been most serviceable or hurtful upon the whole; I should subscribe to the latter.

Read the rest of Grim's thorough treatment, if you can stand the sight of blood.

...thanks to something that policymakers and academic experts grandly call the "revolution in military affairs," which has wedded the newest electronic and information technologies to the destructive purposes of the second-oldest profession, [Nice touch that: we all know what the Oldest Profession is, don't we?] we now have an active-duty military establishment that is, proportionate to population, about 4 percent of the size of the force that won World War II. And today's military budget is about 4 percent of gross domestic product, as opposed to nearly 40 percent during World War II.

Yes, and if you take 40 and subtract 4, then you will get the number 36. Divide that by 2 (what I take from the content of this essay to be a rough estimate of your IQ), add the number 1 for reckless unilateral military action, and you end up with the number 19: the average age of the black man in Vietnam. This is no accident - just ask Charles Rangel.

The implications are deeply unsettling: history's most potent military force can now be put into the field by a society that scarcely breaks a sweat when it does so. We can now wage war while putting at risk very few of our sons and daughters, none of whom is obliged to serve. Modern warfare lays no significant burdens on the larger body of citizens in whose name war is being waged.

Ah... the bitter tyranny of freedom. Sweet mystery of life at last I find thee. I don't understand thee, but let it go.

Some will find it offensive to call today's armed forces a "mercenary army," but our troops are emphatically not the kind of citizen-soldiers that we fielded two generations ago - drawn from all ranks of society without respect to background or privilege or education, and mobilized on such a scale that civilian society's deep and durable consent to the resort to arms was absolutely necessary.

How's that again? Mr. Kennedy is upset that we no longer compel military service? Perhaps that we longer separate the races? That we don't discriminate "with respect to background or privilege or education"? That we admit women? That we have the best educated and trained force in US history? He longs for the good old days. Eric over at Grim's Hall does a nice job of taking him down - I leave this one in his capable hands. I'll only note my certainty that, favoring a more universal participating in the military as he does, Mr. Kennedy has been a forceful proponent for enforcement of The Solomon Amendment at Stanford University:

Stanford Law School does not allow the military to recruit on campus because of its practice of barring openly gay people from serving, which contradicts Stanford's policy of nondiscrimination
Leaving questions of equity aside, it cannot be wise for a democracy to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability. It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking military solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy.

Perhaps Mr. Kennedy can explain to all of us, at what point the Constitution's civilian control of the military has EVER been reversed? Or, perhaps, how "the vexatious business of diplomacy" would ever have removed Saddam from power (that was official US policy dating from THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION). Perhaps the man who put 400,000 of his own people, many of them women and children, into mass graves and fed Iraqis feet-first into plastic shredders should have been asked nicely, would he please consider leaving?

The life of a robust democratic society should be strenuous; it should make demands on its citizens when they are asked to engage with issues of life and death. The "revolution in military affairs" has made obsolete the kind of huge army that fought World War II, but a universal duty to service - perhaps in the form of a lottery, or of compulsory national service with military duty as one option among several - would at least ensure that the civilian and military sectors do not become dangerously separate spheres. War is too important to be left either to the generals or the politicians. It must be the people's business.

The illogic of the "draft" argument never ceases to amaze me.

58,157 dead in Vietnam. For nothing.

We lost 33,629 lives in Korea.

We sacrificed 405,399 of our own in WWII.

The reason we have an all-volunteer force now is because the MILITARY demanded this. They wanted it NEVER AGAIN to be too easy for Congress to engage in another ill-defined war with a steady stream of American lives on tap. What an all-volunteer force does, you cretinous twit, is ensure that when the national will to wage war is no longer there, there will be no more soldiers.

Chew on that for a moment, big guy. And next time, don't come back unless you've got game.


Posted by Cassandra at 08:49 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Armorer!

103967.jpg Because today is a very special day, I would like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to that Man Among Men (and he ain't no metrosexual neither), a true occifer and gennilmun, The Donovan. If you don't know John, you should make the effort. He and I go back to when I was just a brand new blogger, still occasionally flogging my posts to other bloggers because I'd read somewhere that you were supposed to do this if you ever wanted to amount to anything. Well, I still have not amounted to anything, but that's not for lack of trying on John's part.

Although he long since ascended to Mortal Human status, John has a heart bigger than the state of Kansas. He remains unstintingly generous to tiny blogs like VC, linking to them daily. Like VC, Castle Argghhh!!! is a family of sorts: the Castle Denizens scamper about its dusty hallways, pursued by (and pursuing) scruples, playing pranks on one another, and generally getting into all sorts of mischief.

Since the Armorer is (like the Unit) a Redleg, there could be no finer way to celebrate his natal day than to mock him mercilessly wallow in gun porn, but also while we're at it to learn a bit of artillery lore as well. So with no further ado, let the festivities commence.

I'll wager you didn't know that the artillery community has its own patron saint. The field artillery are steeped in tradition and history: their proud legacy stretches back through time. Some have said the artillery is outmoded - that planes can take their place.

As John would say, "Feh". And "Double feh...". Try sending up jets when sand fills the air during a desert windstorm. Only the artillery can put steel on target, 24/7 in all kinds of weather with deadly accuracy. When it absolutely, positively must be destroyed overnight, there is nothing like the big guns of the cannon cocker. Just ask him...

For some bizarre reason, the number 82 seems to be hovering at the back end of my mind.

[shaking her head and trying to regain her concentration]

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I am the United States Field Artillery. I fly the skies with my light forces, sail the sea with my Marines and pound the ground with my heavy forces. I see with satellites, touch with my terrible thunder and taste the sweet glory of victory. I am everywhere-mobile, agile and lethal. I Deal in Steel.

I was born of necessity in 1775 when the British fired upon our militia at Lexington and Concord. My six-pounder cannons were captured field pieces, drawn by oxen from battlefield to battlefield. I crossed the Delaware River with Washington on Durham boats and wintered at Valley Forge. At the moment of victory at Yorktown, it was I who fired the decisive rounds. I am Firepower for Freedom.

I was called to defeat the British again in 1812. I fired for the charge at Chippewa, out-dueling the Royal Artillery and carrying the day. I was there at the Battle of New Orleans with my lethal lanyards pulling devastation down on our enemy. Then in 1846, I stood fast against the superior forces of Santa Anna. The Mexicans came close enough to smell the smoke of my cannons and feel the deadly sting of my "grape" as my Flying Artillery bombarded the battlefield. I Rule with Thundering Steel.

And then in 1861, with my muzzle-loaded guns and my observers positioned by my side, I saw us torn apart by the War Between the States. I was there on both sides with the Blue and the Gray. My fires decided victory at Malvern Hill, Antietam, Shiloh, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. I am Mind-Numbing, Bone-Shattering Savagery.

images2.jpgI was part of the American Expeditionary Force that, under General Black Jack Pershing, helped defeat the Kaiser and the German Army in 1918. I had larger cannons, but my main arm was the French 75-mm gun drawn into battle position by horses. As World War II approached and the forces I fired for became more mobile, I moved by trucks and became armored Field Artillery. With my Priest 105-mm self-propelled howitzer and my observers forward with the tankers and infantrymen, I adjusted my ferocious fires for our forces. I massed fires by battery, battalion, Div Arty and even dealt my death by corps artillery. I am the Greatest Killer on the Battlefield.

I was there in the mountains of Korea and jungles of Vietnam. From Pusan and Inchon north to the Yalu, the pounding of my 155-mm towed guns helped bring about the Peace Accord at Panmunjom in 1953. In fire bases in Vietnam and with my airmobile firepower, it was I who brought howitzer hell to the enemy for our maneuver forces, using my multiple field pieces-105, 155, 175 and 203. I am Death on Call.

I was there for the Cold War as America stood her ground for international democracy. I gave her my Lance and then the mighty Pershing missile, which forced our opponents to the negotiating table. Though I never fired a missile in anger, my Pershing Peacemaker was strategic. I am Persuasive Power for Peace.

155GunFiring5_sm.jpg And I'll be there when you need me. I am ubiquitous on the battlefield. I can focus my firepower like a flashlight beam, raining death and destruction down upon our foe. My "rockets red glare" is now white-hot from six-packs of steel-rapid, far-reaching and awesome. The autonomous actions of my howitzers can shell out hell to bring our enemy to his knees. And when I'm done, he'll bow before me because -- I am and always will be The King of Battle.

Indeed, the other MOS's would be sorely lost and bewildered, were it not for the comforting presence of the King of Battle. Should you doubt this, just ask an Artilleryman - he will quote you chapter and verse:

1. In the beginning there was chaos and the chaos was the Infantry, for the Infantry was alone.

2. And fear was with the Infantry and they cried unto the Lord saying, "Lord, save us for we are afraid."

3. And the Lord heard their grunts and set some of the Infantry on beasts of burden and these he called Cavalry, and the Cavalry became Armour.

4. And when the Lord had seen what he had done he laughed saying, "Well, you can't win them all."

5. The Infantry and the Armour again cried out to the Lord saying, "Lord, save us for we are afraid." And the Lord heard their pitiful cries and decided to end their sniveling.

6. And the Lord said unto them, "Lo and behold, I send you a race of men noble in heart and spirit." And the Lord created the Gunners.

7. And the Lord said unto the Infantry and Armour, "When it is dark, the Gunners shall light your way."

8. And when you need smoke, there shall be smoke, and when you need HE, WP, H & I and counter-battery fire, all this ye shall have."

9. And the Lord gave the Gunners big guns and field guns, and the Infantry and Armour were jealous for they had naught.

10. And the Infantry cried out saying, "Lord, thou hast created the Infantry as Queen of Battles, but now thou hast made the Gunners King of Battles and well knowest thou what the King does to the Queen."

11. And the Lord replied, "Right on!"

12. And the Lord gave unto the Artillery rockets and missiles and, best of all, nukes. And when the Infantry and Armour saw this they fell to their knees in wonder saying, "Surely God is on the side of the greatest - THE GUNNERS."

13. And the Lord sayeth, "You got that right."

Now abideth Infantry, Armour, and Artillery; but the greatest of these is..."Artillery".

bma.gif There is no way conclude this artillery odessey, but at the ending. For when the life of an artilleryman comes to a close, there is a special place reserved for him where he can stretch his crimson legs, knock back a cold one with comrades long since departed, and rest at long, last knowing his nation is secure:

THE LEGEND OF FIDDLER'S GREEN

Imagine, if you will, a starry night in southwestern Oklahoma just after the Civil War. Nestled in the shadows of the Wichita Mountains is a battery of smoothbore cannon camped for the night. As the campfires dim and the flasks of rum and lemon empty, the conversation turns to life in the hereafter. A rugged, old chief of section is surprised to learn that all present have not heard of the special destiny of Redlegs. As the young cannoneers listen intently, he shares with them the legend of Fiddler's Green.

The chief of section explains that the souls of the departed eventually end up in heaven or hell. Heaven lies about six miles down the dusty road to eternity, and Redlegs get there by turning left at the first crossroad. From this same junction, hell is about eight or nine miles straight ahead. The road's easy to identify: it's the one paved with good intentions. A little way down the road to hell, there is a sign pointing to a trail that runs off to the right of the main road. It reads "Fiddler's Green--Artillerymen Only."

He then teaches them the following poem:

Half way down the trail to hell,
In a shady meadow green,
Are the souls of many departed Redlegs
Camped near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddler's Green

Though other must go down the trail
To seek a warmer scene,
No Redleg ever goes to hell,
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so returns to drink again,
With friends at Fiddler's Green.

The campfires die out, and the Redlegs doze off to sleep, knowing Fiddler's Green awaits them and all their cannoncocking brethren in the life hereafter.

No doubt as he closes his eyes and drifts off in peaceful slumber, the last thing he will hear is the voice of his heavenly Father whispering:

"Job well done. Rest now, my good and faithful son."

And so may it ever be.

Happy Birthday.

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Posted by Cassandra at 06:52 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

July 28, 2005

Rehnquist: Time To Go, Old Bean

I couldn't have said it better. This has been a big topic of conversation around Villa Cassandranita, drawing more than the usual sardonic raised eyebrow from the Spousal Unit.

We had to update the Homeland Political Alert Status to Withering Scorn:

Hugo Black once told his clerks that justices who stay in office longer than they should ''impose terrible burdens" on their colleagues. But he didn't take his own advice, refusing to resign even when a stroke had wrecked his memory and ability to concentrate. A stroke debilitated William O. Douglas's mental abilities, too. In his last years on the bench, he addressed people by the wrong names, spoke in non sequiturs, and dozed during oral arguments. Even after finally retiring, he continued to show up at the court, insisting in his dementia that he was still a sitting justice.

Age sometimes brings wisdom, but too often it brings weakness, fatigue, and mental incapacity. Americans would be aghast at an airline that permitted 80-year-old pilots to fly its jets or a hospital whose surgeons were feeble and confused. Shouldn't we at least be concerned about superannuated Supreme Court judges?

Posted by Cassandra at 10:14 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Stalking The Republican Feminist

I feel a rant coming on, and some of what I have to say may be disturbing. Having had one Major Sense of Humor Failure this weekend and another over at poor KJ's place recently (I suspect the two phenomena were related), the topic of conservative feminism has been roiling around in the back of that untidy dustbin I call my mind all week. So it's time to 'get my cats out' as my Dad likes to say, though not in the context he usually means it.

You may be surprised to hear me broach the topic at all. On any given day I am more likely to mock the transparent asshatteries of Rad-Fem activism than to praise them. But despite my cynical take on modern feminism - on any movement that is collective in nature, in fact - I have far more sympathy for true feminist aims than one might suspect. In fact, in my heart of hearts, I consider myself something of a feminist. My own kind of feminist.

Charlotte Allen notes what I have long deplored: the Rad-Fems have hijacked the feminist movement, transforming what ought to be a message of self-empowerment into a derivative and demeaning ripoff of the civil rights movement. I reject their passive-aggressive demands for preferences and perks based on a dubious protected class status I find insulting and ultimately counterproductive. Women can do better. We need to do better.

Years ago I had an argument with my liberal law professor, an ardent feminist whom I greatly liked and respected, on this topic. "Don't you see the need?", she said to me as I dashed across a crowded Baltimore crosswalk in front of the art museum, stepping out in front of an oncoming taxi that wasn't slowing down quickly enough to suit me and staring down the driver until he stomped on the brakes. I stood astride the painted stripes like Wonder Woman, sans golden lasso, as she shook her head in helpless laughter.

Of course I see the need. Do I make fun of some of the loonier excesses of the Rad-Fems? Some of the man-hating rhetoric? Sure I do.

But that doesn't mean I don't see some of the problems they are attacking. And it doesn't mean that, as a woman, I'm not every bit as angry at times as they are. I just disagree, as most conservatives do, about the solution.

Confession time here. I get angry as hell sometimes at modern culture.

I think it's sick. I think it has become twisted and warped. Sometimes I am glad I don't have a daughter: honestly, I don't know what I'd tell a young girl growing up in today's world. It pisses me off (yes, that's a very strong word, but you should hear what is in my mind) when I'm sitting in the doctor's office reading Cosmo Grrrrl, for God's sake, and I spy an article saying that women should all go in and get about 1/3 of their intimate tresses removed because most men are so used to watching porn that they have become "accustomed" to seeing a nicely-trimmed mons Venus. Oh, and honey: most men surveyed said don't have it all removed because that just totally creeps them out.

Well excuse the hell out of me. Because I would sure hate to confound your "expectations" by showing up in the boudoir in a state of Natural Grace.

Now don't get me wrong - I have nothing against ALASE. In fact, I'm a satisfied customer. But a woman ought to be doing that sort of thing for her own satisfaction/convenience and not so she'll be 'good enough' to appear in your mental burlesque show after taking your kids to soccer, bringing home a paycheck and cooking your supper. When was the last time the man of the house checked in for a little intimate depilitation? Eyebrow tweezing? Surgery? Bikini wax? Maybe a Wonder Jock?

Yeah. I thought so. That's because although we don't mind looking at you, we love you for your other qualities. What a concept.

I get madder than hell when I read about a very young and lovely girl going in to have her breasts surgically enhanced so she will "look better" for her boyfriend. This girl is already model-pretty. Her breasts are already larger than mine (reference, nicely shaped and perky but hardly eye-popping 36Bs, not that this matters). WHY THE HELL DOES SHE NEED SURGERY AT HER AGE? I got angry when Halle Berry had her breasts made larger. The woman is heartbreakingly lovely and can act up a storm.

Her career took off when she had her boobs made bigger. What are we telling our daughters about our values when we vote with our pocketbooks?

Again, I don't think I'm a prude. I like men. Very much in fact. And I like sex even more. But the original purpose of sex was procreation, and any society that doesn't "get" priorities will not long survive. Families and procreation are necessary for survival of the species. As enlightened as our culture is, I truly believe it can be very demeaning to women.

Any time large numbers of women (and now young girls) cut themselves into pieces and insert foreign objects into their bodies to satisfy an unreal (and not always attainable) ideal of beauty, there is something tragically, dangerously wrong with our picture of what one-half of humanity should aim for in life. With what we want them to aspire to. With what we value. We make fun of the Muslim world for its treatment of women, and there is much to deride there. But I often think we miss the beam in our own eye.

The Left gets mad at "unfairness" and wants to get government involved. They want to redress pay and hiring inequities by forcing remedies on employers through intrusive legislation. They want to ban porn (or at least some feminists do) where I just want to keep it out of the hands of children and known sex offenders. And God help me, I have the temerity to think the federal government should be allowed to regulate porn enough so that child porn, sexual slavery, snuff films, and the like will be a thing of the past. I realize that makes me some kind of snake-handling whacko bent on harshing your mellow.

So what's the solution? I believe it is, and can only be something that seems to have gone out of style: moral suasion. This used to be the province of women, and with the advent of the two-career couple and the working Mom, it is a role many women are abdicating, to society's detriment.

As a conservative feminist, I think the only way the plight of women will ever improve is exactly the way it has improved in my lifetime. We must represent ourselves out in the world, in the workplace firmly, with grace, competently, in such a manner that eventually it becomes the accepted wisdom that we can do the job. We must argue, not compel, for a more principled look at pornography. One that takes into account the effect on our daughters. And on our sons.

Do I like to look at porn? Sure - I get the same squishy feelings everyone else does. But feelings are not what was meant to control us in life. And there are degrees of porn like everything else. All activities in the modern world are subject to some regulation. I think there is a principled argument to be made by women of character: to protect our children, to protect marriages. I think the conservative message here is the right one: with freedom comes responsibility - to monitor and hold the innocent safe from harm. Not necessarily to ban, but not to be so goddamned open-minded that we allow the innocent to be victimized either. Intelligent, honest, rational scrutiny, and persuasion rather than force.

And women must take responsiblity for our own actions.

If we mean to be treated equally, we cannot run and hide under the skirts of authority every time we are challenged or treated unfairly.

If we consent to mutilate ourselves so we look like a Victoria's Secret ad, we should not be surprised when, like that library assistant at the Ivy league school, we are not taken seriously and passed over for promotion at work. We cannot send mixed messages.

If we choose not to work 80-hour weeks so we can have families, we should be adult enough to realize we have substituted freedom for salary and quit whining. Unless of course one of our male co-workers is taking a similar amount of time off for other leisure activities without a similar penalty. And I've seen that happen. But that's a fight that, like our male counterparts, we need to be willing to make on our own. We have equal access to the courts.

Charlotte notes that, just as the Left loves to claim there are no black or female conservatives (or none with Immortal Souls), there is no such thing as a Republican Feminist. We know this because the Epitome of Female Blogdom, Wonkette, hath pronounced it:

You know how all the moonbats are all het up about how Roberts' wife was a leader of "Feminists for Life"? Well, we understand how a staunch pro-choice lefty might recoil w/r/t the "for life" part. But, uhm, let's think about the other part. She calls herself a feminist.

Quick, name three other high profile Republican women who call themselves feminists....

We're waiting.

No, really.

Go ahead.

This, mind you, from a woman famous for blogging about the size of John Kerry's schlong and the many-splendored joys of anal sex.

I normally forgo being catty about Wonkette. It has *so* been done.

I must say that as a female blogger and one who writes, quite prolifically and I hope substantively about the WOT, SCOTUS and legal issues, the economy, politics, the election, it annoys the living hell out of me to see Wonkette touted on print and TV 24/7 as the Eponymous Female Blogger, as though there were no other women writers of substance out there. Pick someone else - anyone - not me; I blog pseudonomously, but for God's sake there are plenty of intelligent female writers out there. Visit The Cotillion for God's sake. Go to IWF.

Charlotte does a pretty good job of debunking Wonkette, but then Charlotte's more than a match for just about anyone even on her worst day. But I could have told you the same thing. There are plenty of conservative feminists, but we don't organize, we don't march, we don't wear our feminism on our sleeves.

We're just out there every day, walking the walk. Let others talk.

Actions speak louder than words - that's one lesson I've learned from men, and it's a keeper.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:38 AM | Comments (57) | TrackBack

Cotillion Blogging

guitar_woman.jpg Well this is my third try at a Cotillion Post in as many days. I seem to be doomed by technical problems. I always knew Beth at MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy was just a Honky-Tonk Woman, but she proves it beyond all doubt this week with a Jaggar-laced post that will rock your socks off. The Anchoress has a great piece on "wasting" an education on stay-at-home Moms - don't miss it.

Sadie of Fistful of Fortnights unleashes a pack of Femmes Fatales. Annika accuses Ann Coulter of some KKKarl Rovian strategery - who says blondes are empty-headed fluffballs anyway???

Over at Denita's of Who Tends the Fires, there's always something going on. This week it's a Ballroom Blitz. Darleen rips Robin Givhan a new one... heh.

CowboyHeels.jpg And speaking of dancing, e-Claire's got her dancing shoes on... and I *do* love a pair of pretty shoes... And Little Miss Attila is engaging in my favorite activity: booby-counting. Snarky little wench.

And be sure to check out The Cotillion's new digs at mu.nu - please update your links and blogrolls (and you can always blogroll us if you haven't already done so *cough* *cough*).

Posted by Cassandra at 05:56 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 27, 2005

I Recuse Myself From Having To Tell The Truth...

Curioser and curioser....

Remember the other day when it seemed Jonathan Turley was making John Roberts' Catholicism a litmus test for the bench?

Well now it seems there is some doubt about what Roberts even said during the conversation in question. The NYT embroidered on the "recusal" aspect, artlessly wandering into the 'Blatently Making Sh*t Up' School of Journalism:

Professor Turley cited unnamed sources saying that Judge Roberts had told Mr. Durbin he would recuse himself from cases involving abortion, the death penalty or other subjects where Catholic teaching and civil law can clash.

As Betsy Newmark so aptly notes, the entire question "just smacks of some sort of religious test for public office which the Constitution specifically forbids". But the plot thickens... according to several sources who were there, Turley got it all wrong:

"Jonathan Turley's column is not accurate," Durbin press secretary Joe Shoemaker said, adding that his boss never asked that question and Judge Roberts never said he would recuse himself in such a case.

"Judge Roberts said repeatedly that he would follow the rule of law," Mr. Shoemaker said.

Well I'll be a monkey's uncle aunt.

This is starting to sound like that abortion quote. You know... the one all the papers and abortion activists keep omitting? The one where Roberts said there was nothing in his personal beliefs that would keep him from applying Roe as precedent?

Yeah. That one.

It's hard to know who to trust here. Durbin is about as sleazy as they come, especially when you come to find out that he was the source for Turley's column. But that still doesn't mean Turley didn't misquote him...

Or maybe it was all just an unfortunate editing error.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Song Of Solomon

Set me as a seal upon your heart

Soldier Embrace.jpg


As a seal upon your arm;


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For love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.



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If one offered for love all the wealth of one's house, it would be utterly scorned.


Thanks to CKC, keeper of my faith.



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Yes, I'm about as subtle as a freight train. Get over it.

Update: Thanks to a very special lady, Michelle Malkin. The Marine Corps could have no greater friend.

I am speechless.

If you'd like to give, but would like to choose another venue, Blackfive and Joe Katz at Winds of Change have compiled extensive lists of ways to support the troops. But I'll be very happy if you'll consider supporting the Semper Fi fund.

Something you may not know: the Marines make up only 11% of our armed forces, yet they have suffered 30% of the combat fatalities in the GWOT. Despite this, they continue to exceed recruiting goals.

Everyone fights hard in this war, but I won't pretend the Marine Corps is not especially dear to my heart.

Thank you.

Update II: I love the Internet. I just got the nicest email from an Army SSG who wanted to correct any misimpression I may have given with my post (and he's absolutely right - I wasn't thinking):

... just thought I'd mention that of the pictures you have over the Injured Marine fund, at least 2 if not all three are Army. Now true, those guys from the 11th ACR in the first picture are working for the 155th Armored BDE (my old unit) and they are working for the MEF [Ed. note: Marine Expeditionary Force], but they are Army even though news reports keep referring to them as Marines.

We exchanged emails, I explained that I really didn't mean to mislead anyone (my post didn't refer to the warriors as Marines, but my insertion of the Semper Fi link might lead a reasonable person to believe they were). This didn't really occur to me because I assumed the patches on the sleeves of two of the men would be a giveaway. What I didn't think about was that not everyone is clued into small details about uniforms. He responded that though he has since been transferred to another unit, he tracks news related to the 155th and has noticed how often they are referred to as "Marines".

I can sympathize with this because Marines get called Army all the time and it chafes them, too.

Anyway, just wanted to thank the SSG for writing and setting the record straight - I had no intention of misleading anyone. My feeling was that the first two were Army and I had no idea what the third young man was - he looks just like a young Marine Corporal I once knew and to be honest my eyes welled up with tears when I saw that photo and I thought no more of it than that.

The branch of service was not something that really signified to me at the time, and the SSG was not complaining about it. But I don't want to take anything away from the Army. That would not be right.

We are all so blessed in our Armed Forces. Where do we get such men and women?

Posted by Cassandra at 08:43 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Gender Nazis: Oooh! We Feel Threatened!

Once again it becomes clear the Gender Feminists are just mad about Free Speech and Sensitivity: so long as it's clearly understood that only their feelings are legitimate and they get to have the last word. Poor Jihad Daniel. He obviously didn't get the memo. Though had he received it, it's doubtful he'd have had the wherewithal to understand it given his limited world-view, a product of years of brainwashing from the patriarchal ruling class:

On March 7, Arlene Holpp Scala, chair of the Women's Studies Department, sent Daniel an unsolicited e-mail announcement of an upcoming film event: "'Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House,' a lesbian relationship story." Scala advised those who wished to respond, "Please do not hit reply, click here," thus directing messages to her university e-mail address.

Now of course we all know how any right-minded student should have responded.

Sadly, Mr. Daniel did not mark his calendar for the upcoming event. A helpless victim of his own testosterone levels, he refused to open his mind to the holistic joys of alternate lifestyles and forsake a lifetime of primitive, narrow-minded superstition clung to by a pitiful enclave of hate-filled atavists who refuse to live in the 21st Century.

No doubt contemplating the hideous shrieking, had he used campus email to invite fellow students to a Christian film, Jihad Daniel reacted like a typical neo-con:

On March 8, Daniel clicked to privately reply, "Do not send me any mail about 'Connie and Sally' and 'Adam and Steve.' These are perversions. The absence of God in higher education brings on confusion. That is why in these classes the Creator of the heavens and the earth is never mentioned." [His message is quoted in full. No other communication with Scala ensued.]

The response was swift.

On March 10, Scala filed a complaint with the university claiming Daniel's message sounded "threatening."

"I don't want to feel threatened at my place of work," she explained.

On June 15, university President Arnold Speert issued a letter of reprimand, to be placed in Daniel's permanent employment file.

Jihad Daniel is both a student and an employee of the university. Ms. Scala is a full professor who, apparently, feels "threatened" when a mere student asks her to remove his name from her unsolicited email list.

How did Ms. Scala even get his email address in the first place? That's something I'd like to know. Do students not have any privacy? Is it not "harassment" to be subjected to unwanted and unsolicited emails from persons unknown to you?

Let's break Ms. Scala's claim down here:

Discrimination. Here we see the Gender Feminist in her natural habitat. Like Nancy Hopkins, the Rad-Fem claims that women are exactly equal to men. There are no innate gender differences: we are NOT - repeat, NOT to be discriminated against.

So what happened here? Professor Scala sent out a mass email (otherwise known as SPAM) to a large number of people on a subject she surely knew ahead of time would be controversial.

In her email, she requested feedback. She may have asked that responses go to a specified email address. It's not clear to me whether Mr. Daniel complied with this request, however that is immaterial. A request is just that: voluntary in nature. It may be accepted or declined. By invading Mr. Daniel's privacy with her unsolicited email, by inviting commentary, Ms. Scala crossed a line. It was she, not he, who initiated the dialogue.

And so, having placed herself firmly on center stage, Ms. Scala now shrinks from the limelight she herself created. "Ooooh! I feel threatened!", she cries, as she runs to hide beneath the skirts of the university administration. Incapable of defending herself in a simple battle of wits, a full professor at a university brings the big guns of the university administration to bear on a student and fellow employee.

And worse, a woman who purports to want "equal treatment" in the workplace proves unable to riposte to a simple request to remove a name from an email list. If she found the student's rejection of lesbianism "troubling" or "threatening", she was unable to summon a single principled argument in defense of her position. In the marketplace of ideas, Ms. Scala declares intellectual bankruptcy at the first sign of trouble.

If Ms. Scala (I hesitate to call her "Professor", because she truly behaved as a woman and not as a professional) truly believes in feminism, how hard would it have been to engage Mr. Daniel in a stirring defense of the ideals of academic freedom, or of feminism?

Yet that was not her response. Does Ms. Scala have no ideas worth defending?

Like Nancy Hopkins, we imagine her running out of the room, trying not to black out or throw up. "Women are just as good as men, so stop discriminating against us! We are! WE ARE! [sob!] How dare you say we're not! You've...you've hurt our, our... feelings.... YOU BIG BULLY!"

And so it goes. The ostensibly smart, strong, capable women of academia crumple into so much fluffy pink aloe-enhanced Puffs bathroom tissue as soon as they are challenged. Charlotte Allen was right: thinking about feminism has shrunk the minds of modern feminist academicians.

Instead of national treasures like Ruth Wisse, we have national train wrecks like Andrea Dworkin, jealous of achievements they can't hope to rival, imagining slights in every interaction:

As she approached the drug store, she'd pause to glare at the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk - the same vile animal who had brutally raped her in BROAD DAYLIGHT only two weeks earlier by holding open the door and saying "Good Morning, Ma'am". Hundreds of passers-by witnessed the violent act, heard her screams of "RAPE! RAPE! RAPE!", yet not a single one tried to stop him. Even the police protected their own and refused to do anything about it, actually threatening to arrest her for kneeing the bum in the groin and crushing a cigarette out on his neck. One pig actually made a move for the wooden phallus hanging from his belt, but it just made her laugh. She wasn't afraid of them. She had done time before - most recently for beating senseless a hot dog vendor who thrust a bratwurst at her. Once the pigs knew they couldn't intimidate her, they sent her on her way.

Yes, men are such pigs. They rape and oppress and threaten and brutalize by their very existence every day of their miserable, freaking lives... and we are exactly like them in every conceivable way: according to Nancy Hopkins there are no physiological or mental differences between men and women.

And when they threaten and oppress us Womyn and hurt our feelings, we have the right to demand that they defend Us from Them.

Ummm...yeah. Right.

Whatever.

As Charles Boyer Maurice Chevalier*** once said, "Thank heaven for little girls!".

*** &^%# patriarchal hegemonist oppressors again, always marginalizing the Eternal Feminine and treating it as Other. "Facts" are merely an artificial construct of the dominant male substrate, meant to confine and constrict the free expression of the broader gynotropic worldview... but have it your way.

I see how you are, camojack.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:32 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

July 26, 2005

I'm Gonna Pay For This... Caption Contest

This week's caption contest is a double- err... header. The theme is general manliness.

Of a sort.

shuttle.jpg

Have at it... Heh.


grill.jpg

Posted by Cassandra at 05:33 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

Stupidity Alert

A few for the pot:

...the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted against docking the USS Iowa in the city as a floating museum because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward homosexuality.

The San Francisco congressional delegation secured $3 million to move the Iowa, which was present at the signing of the treaty between Japan and the Allies ending World War II, from Rhode Island to San Francisco. A study said the ship would attract some 500,000 visitors in its first year.

Supervisors voted against a resolution in support of the move, saying they did so as a statement against the war in Iraq and to protest the military's dehumanizing treatment of gays.

It's. A. Museum. There are no sailors on board.

Oh forget it...

Failure is not an option:

A RETIRED primary school teacher has called for the word “failure” to be banned from the classroom and replaced with “deferred success”. Liz Beattie, who taught for 37 years, said that children’s aspirations to learn are crushed as soon as they are deemed failures and that they should be praised instead.

Mrs Beattie, who lives in Ipswich and is the Suffolk Federation Secretary of the association, said that children responded better to encouragement than to being told they had passed or failed.

She said: “I think we all need to succeed at something. You need encouragement rather than being told you haven’t done very well.

As in... well no, darlin', I wouldn't say you totally (*&%^$! wrecked Mommy's car. You just haven't quite mastered collision avoidance yet...

...But I'm *so proud* of you. I'm sure you'll experience deferred success tomorrow with Dad's car.

How conservative is he again?

"NPR's Nina Totenberg, who last week tagged Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as 'very, very conservative' and 'very, very, very conservative,' on 'Inside Washington' over the weekend described him as merely 'very conservative,' " the Media Research Center's Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org. "But she couldn't resist adding a modifier every time she applied the conservative label, also dubbing him 'a really conservative guy,' 'a hard-line conservative' and 'a clear conservative.' Plus, she emphasized how he's 'a conservative Catholic.'"

Dang. D'ya think he's conservative?

Posted by Cassandra at 06:59 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

'Tis Worse Than We E'er Imagined...

mccarthy.jpg My fellow Americans, I bring you grave news.

Not only is John Roberts an oppressor of hapless arroyo toads ** and a vile, scum-sucking, Specie-ist of the worst order...

[drum roll]

...But it now appears the ever-vigilant WaPo (*my hometown paper*... oh, be still my beating heart!) hath brought to light yet another dangerous treason lurking in our midst:

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has repeatedly said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory.

Having served only two years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a long career as a government and private-sector lawyer, Roberts has not amassed much of a public paper record that would show his judicial philosophy. Working with the Federalist Society would provide some clue of his sympathies. The organization keeps its membership rolls secret, but many key policymakers in the Bush administration are acknowledged current or former members.

Dear God in Heaven is there no end to the Perfidy of the Right? I think we can expect rigorous scrutiny of this alarming breach of professional and personal ethics.

And after all the fuss and bother over A Womyn's Right to Chuse, we now learn the upcoming Auto da Fe will center, not around abortion (as expected), but around an even more emotionally-fraught topic:

Toads and the Commerce Clause

I won't say it. OK, I will... "I toad you so".

Your federal tax dollars at work. And I'm sure we can expect Congressional lackwits deep thinkers like Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, and Joe Biden to probe this juicy quote for hidden meaning in light of the Dread Pirate Roberts' sinister past membership on the honorary steering committee of the FedSoc:

The panel's approach in this case leads to the result that regulating the taking of a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California constitutes regulating "Commerce ... among the several States."

And should our attention-deficit-disordered brethren from across the aisle manage to plow through Judge Roberts' lengthy five-paragraph dissent without nodding off or misquoting him, they might just notice that, far from condemning the hapless toad to a grim fate bereft of the Overarching Toadstool of federal EPA regulation, his dissent was actually quite restrained.

Not only did he forebear to slap the hapless amphibian upside the head with a construction spade. Roberts neatly observed the DC court's majority opinion both conflicted with the 5th Circuit's ruling, and provided ample rationale for a possible en banc review in which EPA regs could be invoked without conflicting with SC precedent. He even helpfully quoted Judge Garland's criteria, (I cannot believe I looked this up) as if in silent sympathy with Toadkind:

... The court found that application of the ESA fell within the third Lopez category, concluding that the regulated activity "substantially affects" interstate commerce. In so holding, the majority agreed upon two rationales: (1) "the loss of biodiversity itself has a substantial effect on our ecosystem and likewise on interstate commerce"; and (2) "the Department's protection of the flies regulates and substantial- ly affects commercial development activity which is plainly interstate."

Is this the same man who issues stern French Fry justice?

Oh... but even in that case, it would seem Roberts ruled minimally. Presented with a fundamentally cretinous law and the absence of any compelling reason for invoking the 14th Amendment, he applied what seems a reasonable standard for examining it (rational basis review) which states only that "the law or act must be reasonably related to a legitimate governmental interest". Roberts then ruled that the law, though undoubtedly foolish, was constitutional.

This was hardly surprising, as it is difficult to get a law examined under rational basis scrutiny ruled un-constitutional. Again, this seems a restrained ruling - as I understand it, it is not his job to make law, but to rule as to whether the law was constitutional or not.

Heaven preserve us from these activist judges.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:35 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 25, 2005

This Sucks

How come I never get invited to any of the really good lynching parties?

Posted by Cassandra at 01:10 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Faith - Or Is It Morality? - As Litmus Test

At last. The Left finally comes out and baldly states what I have long suspected: belief in God - in and of itself - is a disqualifier for service on the Supreme Court.

Now before I go into my tirade, let me issue the obligatory disclaimers:

1. I don't attend church.

2. I don't even pray on any regular basis.

3. I am, both by religious affiliation and the due application of Holy Rites, an Episcopalian, which I admit makes me religiously and morally suspect. The Anglican Church is, as I like to joke in my snarkier moments, a sort of Catholic Lite: all of the ritual, none of the guilt. Less spiritually fulfilling, but on the other hand we Piskies tend to keep our girlish figures.

It must, however, be admitted that I have a sneaking suspicion that there is an Almighty and that He will rudely continue to exist throughout the Ages, regardless of my desires or opinions on the matter. My favorite adage is the one Carl Jung is reputed to have had wryly inscribed over the door of his dwelling in Switzerland:

Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit

I have asked that it be inscribed on my gravestone. So much for my chances of ever becoming a Supreme Court justice [dusting off hands].

In the LA Times, Jonathan Turley, a law professor, has made a shocking discovery:

Judge John G. Roberts Jr. has been called the stealth nominee for the Supreme Court — a nominee specifically selected because he has few public positions on controversial issues such as abortion. However, in a meeting last week, Roberts briefly lifted the carefully maintained curtain over his personal views. In so doing, he raised a question that could not only undermine the White House strategy for confirmation but could raise a question of his fitness to serve as the 109th Supreme Court justice.

Indeed. Whatever could this be? Has he killed someone? Perhaps he has a drinking problem? We await this judiciary indiscretion with baited breath...

The exchange occurred during one of Roberts' informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person's faith and public duties).

Apparently Professor Turley hasn't read this statement:

In his defense, Roberts told senators during his 2003 confirmation hearing that he would be guided by legal precedent. "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."

He may also have missed Christ's advice to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's", but Judge Roberts, being a "devout Catholic" is presumably better-versed in the New Testament than Professor Turley.

But the truly interesting questions here are these: why did Judge Roberts appear nonplussed? And why on earth would anyone not recuse himself from a case in which he truly found himself forced to do something he found morally reprehensible?

As to the first interrogative, I think I can answer that one.

It was rather a stupid question, on the face of it. Judge Roberts has been practicing law for many years now. He is hardly the first Catholic in history to do so. There are few new issues to come before the Court. What strange and tortuous moral issues does Mr. Turley imagine will arise to confuse and perplex Justice Roberts, that have not similarly faced Tony Scalia? Or other jurists of faith? Was the questioner impugning their piety? Or perhaps Judge Roberts' honor? I believe I would have been similarly confused when faced with a question of such stunning idiocy.

Or perhaps it was just the blatant malice that perplexed John Roberts.

But more importantly, does the questioner imagine that only men (and women) of faith have scruples? That only Roman Catholics might find themselves facing questions of conscience? I think most atheists, not to mention Protestants, might find that premise highly insulting.

How is it that we have come to equate Catholicism with unfitness for public office? Or is it perhaps really "strongly-held beliefs" that those with a "flexible urban viewpoint" find make one uniquely unfit to ascend to a higher position?

Are we now willing only to confirm those who affirm nothing? Who have no "settled judicial philosophy"?

Who will rid us of these inconvenient principles?


Posted by Cassandra at 08:50 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

July 24, 2005

Scoring Political Points On The Dead

I have been thinking on this story for a long time. Trying to fathom what kind of solace this ghoul can possibly have thought she was bringing to the bereaved:

The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying "our government" is against the war.

The Lieutenant Governor found the celebration of Holy Eucharist a good time to hand out her business card and score political points on the Bush administration. Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich was in no position to rebut any of her talking points, being unfortunately incapable of dialogue at the time.

0712goodrich-b.jpg Like so many Marines, Joseph Goodrich was a Pennsylvanian. A Marine Reservist, he didn't have to be in Iraq. But then none of the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, contrary to the overheated rhetoric so common on Capitol Hill, "have" to be there. They are neither idiots nor automatons nor the helpless victims of a duplicitous administration. They are leaders of men: our own greatest generation in the making.

Staff Sgt. Goodrich was a second-generation Marine. In a letter home shortly before a mortar round took his life, he wrote of his feelings for his country. A seemingly-outmoded notion of giving something back:

"...Looking at all the headstones with flags in front of them, I started thinking about who they were, how they lived, how they died and what they did for me," Goodrich wrote in the letter his wife received Friday.

"I swore to myself that I would not let them down. They sacrificed and gave to me something that I could never repay, freedom."

It was to be the last letter Amy would ever receive from her husband. Something to be laid away, eventually, with the medals, the faded photographs, the things he used every day, personal items that still bear his scent, however faintly. Precious things.

I cannot imagine what Amy is feeling right now. Or in a way I suppose I can begin to, for I have lived through it in my imagination a million times, as every military wife has. I've watched my mother-in-law struggle through it. The loss. The numbness. But the reality must be so much worse than any imagining.

What comfort did the Lt. Governor think to offer Amy?

Even if you assume - and it takes an almost willful suspension of disbelief to do so - that she genuinely thought the family might share her anti-war sentiments, what possible comfort could it be to the Goodrich family to hear that the State of Pennsylvania disapproved of the cause for which her native son had just given his life?

"Yes Amy...this was all so unnecessary. Such a waste. War never solves anything and anyway what we're doing over there is morally wrong. You do realize that our government doesn't support the war - I really don't know what your husband was thinking, bashing off half-way around the world. Vote Democrat next time and hopefully this sort of travesty can be avoided. Here's my card, dear."

rotc.jpg People like the Lt. Governor just don't understand the military. They don't understand the concept of duty, or love of country. Of seeing yourself as part of a larger continuum: a part of history. We live with history - we live with the reminders of past battles, the sacrifices of past generations. And they are a constant reminder to us that we have a duty to give something back. That is something I think much of America has forgotten, or just doesn't like to think about anymore.

John Donovan has a lovely post (if I may apply such an unmasculine term, but John is a hardened veteran of assault by flouncing petticoat) about Army towns. The Lt. Governor might want to read it and get a clue. His ROTC photo reminded me of a somewhat painful and funny growing-up story about the clash between military and civilian values. It involves my two then-teenaged sons.

A few years back, we rented a lovely home in the high desert in California. It was quite luxurious by military standards. It was in a tony neighborhood, it had a wonderfully-landscaped yard and a pool. Off our bedroom there was a pergola with Palm Springs-style misters to cool you off on a hot desert night. We even had willow trees and a patch of grass (what luxury in the desert!). My two sons went to a civilian high school. For once, we didn't have to live in utilitarian military housing - I had wallpaper and real wood cabinets and Spanish tile floors and had planted bougainvillea vines everywhere. We had wonderful parties and for once I thought, "Wow. This is what it must be like to be a civilian."

My sons were still in Boy Scouts, but they were getting a bit old for it. They were now the troop leaders, so they were in charge of planning activities for the younger boys. They still enjoyed camping out, but some of the other activities - and the responsibilities - were wearing thin. Veterans Day rolled around, and the town had planned a huge parade. The troop leader decided the Scouts would lead the parade and provide the Color guard. As sons of a Marine it was presumed the boys would do a professional job.

My sons rebelled. The problem? They would have to march in front of their entire high school in their Scout uniforms. Now it hadn't particularly bothered them to go out camping in the desert and light stuff on fire and light off chain saws and do other manly things when no one knew they were Scouts. But they were new, and it was embarrassing for the girls (and guys) to see them in their Scout uniforms. Their high school was not the preppy kind. No one went to college. My kids were already too clean-cut as it was. And they were to be the color guard, marching in front of the War Veterans.

My husband and I really felt for them. Sixteen and thirteen are tough ages. Kids get beaten up and their school had a real problem with that. Shortly after we'd moved in a group of kids had beaten the stuffing out of a boy and left him in a drainage ditch. On the other hand, I'm kind of a tough Mom in one sense. I've always said you have to be yourself. People take you at your own valuation: if you can't stick up for who you are, no one will ever accept you. So I put my foot down: I told them the Veterans and the troop were counting on them to do their job. Even though it was embarrassing, they needed to complete the march with their heads held high.

And if they wanted to quit Scouts the next day, I wouldn't stand in their way. But as troop leaders, they should not be ashamed to march with their flag, nor to honor Veterans who had risked their lives to defend this nation. And if anyone gave them grief, that's what they should say. And if anyone gave them a hard time about being in Scouting, maybe they should point out that camping is a lot of fun and people who are so afraid of being mocked that they won't do something fun are really pretty lame.

Strangely enough, one or two guys kidded them, but it was pretty mild. And when my sons didn't get upset, they just melted away. Even more strangely, several guys actually came up to them and said they wished they had the guts to join - that it sounded like a lot of fun. And both of them ended up having plenty of friends (and my older son started dating his future bride) within a few months.

It's strange how often we run away from our history. We think it's boring or old-fashioned. We don't have time for it. As a young Marine wife in Quantico, and later when stationed at Annapolis, I used to like to include the retired Marine wives in our monthly wives functions. I found them far more fun than the younger wives - less stuffy, less inhibited once you got past surface manners, and full of life and intelligence and information. I'm not all that extroverted, but I loved to sit and listen to their tales of being newly-married: sharing apartments, struggling to make it on the tiny stipends young officers had back then. Dealing with unbearably-long separations during Vietnam and even World War II. After a talk with them, I always felt my burdens were light in comparison to what they were asked to shoulder. One of my dearest friends years ago was a general's wife I used to visit. Her husband had died long ago, but her mind and her spirit were undimmed by the years. She has remained an inspiration to me throughout our time in the Marine Corps.

I don't think people like Catherine Baker Knoll can begin to understand the feeling of commitment, nor the sense of history the lives in the hearts of military folks.

I hope for the sake of this country that it never dies out.

* Should you wish to opine on the subject of Lt. Gov. Baker Knoll's behavior, the ever-thoughtful Blackfive has provided the means.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:11 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

This Is The Last Straw...

She said we rolled that Camaro like a cowboy cigarette
Out on the highway in a puddle of beer
That's just about how close to death you're gonna get
Till the only thing standing is fear

Singing, oh darling, faces were changed
The names of the innocent, the story at five
Oh darling, faces get strange
But only the song survives

She said, now don't you remember they put a patch on your eye
Like Dread Pirate Roberts, you looked so unplanned
They cut off my wedding ring and you started to cry
A one-eyed Niagara Falls man..

Singing, oh darling, faces were changed
The names of the innocent, the story at five
Oh darling, faces get strange
But only the song survives

Posted by Cassandra at 11:34 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Is This The Worst?

In the NY Times, John Burns paints a gloomy picture of an Iraq headed for civil war:

From the moment American troops crossed the border 28 months ago, the specter hanging over the American enterprise here has been that Iraq, freed from Mr. Hussein's tyranny, might prove to be so fractured - by politics and religion, by culture and geography, and by the suspicion and enmity sown by Mr. Hussein's years of repression - that it would spiral inexorably into civil war.
Now, events are pointing more than ever to the possibility that the nightmare could come true. Recent weeks have seen the insurgency reach new heights of sustained brutality. The violence is ever more centered on sectarian killings, with Sunni insurgents targeting hundreds of Shiite and Kurdish civilians in suicide bombings. There are reports of Shiite death squads, some with links to the interior ministry, retaliating by abducting and killing Sunni clerics and community leaders.

The past 10 days have seen such a quickening of these killings, particularly by the insurgents, that many Iraqis are saying that the civil war has already begun.

Put aside for a moment that 10 days are not much to base a trend upon and accept Burns' assessment. Posit that Iraq is, in fact, headed for civil war. This is what the critics have long feared - or hoped for - depending on how cynical your outlook.

Is this - truly - the worst that could happen?

I wonder.

"Iraq is poised at the crossroads between two starkly different visions," he said. "The foreign terrorists and hardline Baathist insurgents want Iraq to fall into a civil war."

The new ambassador struck a positive chord, to be sure, saying "Iraqis of all communities and sects, like people everywhere, want to establish peace and create prosperity."

Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. While no one wants to see Iraq plunged into more chaos and bloodshed, one wonders at what point the people of Iraq will lose patience with the obstructionists standing in the way of a free and democratic Iraq?

The facts are simple: the people of Iraq came out - overwhelmingly - and voted for representative government in January.

Since that time, the provisional government has made great strides toward forming a Constitution.

And since that time, a small but determined minority has used violence and bloodshed to harrass and intimidate the majority - trying to deter an entire nation from becoming free for the first time. Against such violence, what recourse is there, in the end? If the Sunnis persist in refusing to participate in the democratic process, that is one thing.

If they persist in preventing others from participating in it through violence and murder, that is entirely unacceptible. Would it then be such a shocking outcome if the new Iraqi forces decided they'd had enough of this civil disorder?

Would this be a "miserable failure"? Or would it truly be the first time the Iraqis have taken their future into their own hands. And would we "allow" them to do so, in their own country?

It is an interesting question. I have a feeling our media, with their reluctance to draw moral lines, will side with the Sunnis no matter what.

And I think they would be wrong to do so. At some point, law-abiding people have a right to go about their business without being subjected to suicide bombs and IEDs and mortar fire. This is not too much to ask.

If the Sunnis wish to have a voice in Iraq's future, let them do it at the ballot box, not at the point of a gun. Iraq's Sunni population have an important choice to make. Not all will side with the rebels, but if they care about Iraq's futre, the time to choose is now, before the fledgling nation is torn asunder by religious and sectarian strife. There is such as thing as the tyranny of the minority as well as the majority.

Posted by Cassandra at 09:34 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 23, 2005

KerryWatch®: Reporting For Duty

salute2.jpg This has not been a good summer for John Kerry.

The good Senator's military campaigns have not exactly covered him in glory. The voting public was allowed only carefully-groomed glimpses of his abbreviated 4-month Vietnam tour, largely through approved hagiographers Michael Kranish at the Boston Globe and Douglas Brinkley. Anyone who was actually there - read the Swift Vets and Stolen Honor (prisoners of war) - was tarred with the brush of partisan politics and teams of DNC lawyers were dispatched to threaten TV stations who aired any non-approved views of Kerry's military exploits.

Sadly, Kerry's more recent adventures haven't gone much better. First the Intrepid One pledged to charge onto the Senate Floor in a manner reminiscent of Genghis Khan, not resting until the Downing Street Memo shook the Corridors of Power to their very foundations. Err...whatever.

Then it was Count Every Vote... he was just sure there had been fraud in Ohio. Until the DNC's own report came back with the conclusion that there had not. Oopsie.

Then it was L'Affair Plame - he wouldn't rest until he had Karl Rove's head on a pike.

But defeat has not daunted the good Senator for an instant. Now he's after the Dread Pirate Roberts and that gay son of his. Yes, though Mr. Kerry is not even a member of the committee charged with such matters, the man who refused to release his own career military records for years (after voluntarily making his military record the cornerstone of his run for the Presidency) or even his own college transcripts (after making several snide remarks about being smarter than President Bush) is demanding that all records pertaining to John Roberts be released immediately.

Apparently time is of the essence. There is not a second to lose:

Democratic Sen. John Kerry urged the White House on Friday to release "in their entirety" all documents and memos from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' tenure in two Republican administrations.

In a statement that should have won the Academy Award for Unintentional Irony in a Perpetual Presidential Candidate, Kerry said:

"We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record," said the Massachusetts senator who was his party's presidential candidate last year.

And this year, if he has his way, and next year...

Opening what is expected to be a broader attempt by Democrats to pry loose documents, Kerry issued his statement as Roberts made the latest in a series of courtesy calls on senators in advance of confirmation hearings.

Democratic officials also said Friday they want access to all material regarding Roberts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Roberts served in the White House counsel's office from 1982-1986. He was principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, declined to confirm the disclosure. She said that in general, Democrats intend to seek material relating to Roberts' career.

Kerry is not a member of the committee. But he nonetheless injected himself into the debate at the end of a week in which Bush appeared to catch Democrats off guard by picking a court candidate with conservative credentials, yet one with little judicial experience, and thus, little public paper trail.

It is good to know that in addition to running for the Presidency in 2008 and representing the good citizens of Massachusetts, Senator Kerry also finds time to supervise Congressional committees, of which he is not even a member. Such energy and initiative is refreshing. But as the half-vast editorial staff has noted before, there doesn't seem to be a Democratic meme-wagon the Senator won't attach himself to.

If only it resulted in tangible results more often. His record this summer has been less-than-inspiring.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:13 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Light Posting

Sorry for the light/no blogging yesterday.

I had a family emergency to tend to. Everyone is OK. I will resume posting as soon as I can but right now I just don't feel much like writing.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:05 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

July 21, 2005

Hoist By Their Own Petard

Via my man Brit Hume:

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances," and "requests for sexual favors." But the California Supreme Court has now ruled unanimously that a worker can be a victim of sexual harassment even if the boss never touched her or even spoke to her.

The court ruled in favor of female prison employees who complained that their boss unfairly rewarded women with whom he was having consensual affairs. In overturning earlier rulings, California Chief Justice Ronald George wrote, "even in the absence of coercive behavior, certain conduct creates a work atmosphere so demeaning to women that it constitutes an actionable hostile work environment."

This is without a doubt the most cretinous statement I have ever heard, notwithstanding the fact that this is sexual harassment law (which means that by definition the bar was set about as low as one can imagine).

But the truly interesting thing about this ruling is this: it may not be nearly as idiotic as it first appears. I always say that liberals and feminists should be careful what they wish for - this case is a perfect example. The implications are startling. Look at the court's reasoning:

Widespread favoritism based upon consensual sexual affairs may imbue the workplace with an atmosphere that is demeaning to women because a message is conveyed that managers view women as 'sexual playthings,' " Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote for the court.

All right, this *is* unbearably stupid. But bear with me.

In such a situation, other employees may believe "that the way required to secure advancement is to engage in sexual conduct with managers," he added.

It is a very strong opinion in favor of protecting women who are not directly harassed but indeed are disadvantaged by the fact there is favoritism in the office," said William C. Quackenbush, an employment law expert.

He said situations involving sexual favoritism arise frequently in the workplace, particularly in large companies.

The ruling is the result of a sexual harassment lawsuit, which has not yet been tried, against the state's Department of Corrections. Edna Miller and Frances Mackey charged that a prison warden, Lewis Kuykendall, who was married, had sexual affairs with three other employees and gave them preferential job treatment. The two women said they suffered retaliation when they complained.


The affairs occurred from 1991 to 1998, when Kuykendall was the chief deputy warden of the Central California Women's Facility and later the warden of the Valley State Prison for Women, both in Chowchilla. The court said the affairs were concurrent.

Mackey, who has since died, and Miller presented evidence that Kuykendall's favoritism to his girlfriends impeded their job advancement. They also said his behavior opened them to harassment by one of the girlfriends. Employees often had to endure jealous and emotional squabbling among the girlfriends over Kuykendall, the court said.

Two of the girlfriends bragged to others about their power over Kuykendall, and he displayed "indiscreet behavior" at a number of work-related gatherings, the court said.

In one incident, Miller competed with Cagie Brown, one of the girlfriends, for a promotion, the court said. Brown told Miller that Kuykendall would have to give her the job or she would "take him down" by naming "every scar on his body," the court said.

Brown received the promotion even though Miller had a higher rank, superior education and more experience, according to the court.

Miller also said she ran into problems with a female deputy warden who she believed was engaged in a relationship with Brown "that was more than platonic," the court said. The deputy warden, Vicky Yamamoto, and Brown frequently countermanded Miller's orders, undermined her authority, imposed additional duties and threatened reprisals if she reported problems, the court said.

Behavior like this is precisely what the military's strict anti-fraternization rules are meant to prevent. "Why", they ask, "can't people date each other at work?". And with women in the military that is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. But that's not all. Activists have been pressing, not only for relaxation of fraternization rules, but for allowing women in combat and for abolition of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

But the logical consequence of both those policies is simply this: during wartime, when human beings are under extreme stress, when the need for discipline is strongest and indelible bonds between soldiers are forged, we are now going to throw people together who are sexually attracted (whether male and female or same-sex couples who are homosexual)? And somehow, miraculously, against all prior experience with human nature, we expect this to have no impact on 'good order and discipline'?

It's very interesting to me that as women take a more assertive stance in the workplace, we're starting to see decisions like this come out of activist demands that actually reinforce old-fashioned standards of behavior. Well you can't have it both ways. You can't have women in the workplace and demand the right to date co-workers and bosses, then demand your 'sexual freedom' and yet preserve the right to be secure against discrimination when your co-workers sleep their way to the top.

Sometimes life isn't fair. Get over it - men have been dealing with this kind of crap for years. Sexual favoritism is hardly the only kind of favoritism out there - if it weren't that, it would be something else. You can't sue over every little hardship that comes your way in the workplace. Sometimes the solution is to leave and find a boss who isn't a complete jerk.

American society is becoming far too whiny and litigious. How about a little self-help here? The courts can't solve everything - this is like killing a gnat with a sledgehammer.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:40 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Dominance And Submission

OK... maybe one of you brain surgeons out there can tell me what this little gem is supposed to mean:

A University of Michigan study suggests that women, but not men, automatically associate sex with submission and that connection reduces the quality of their sexual experience.

Key findings show that women implicitly associate sex with submission and that this leads to a submissive sexual role, which in turn leads to lower arousal and difficulty becoming aroused. This association appears to lower their arousal by reducing their sexual autonomy.

Uh-huh. Every time I read one of these studies (wasn't the last time when one of these geniuses unveiled dramatic new evidence that shows there is a difference between fake and real orgasms... (and furthermore, that women really LIKE having real ones...gee... how much federal grant money did we spend testing THAT HYPOTHESIS, big guy?) I just end up shaking my head. I think I need a new category in the sidebar called: "I want that job".

Back to the methodology:

Researchers tested subjects by showing target words associated with submission on a computer screen, preceded by subliminal primes (words with a specific connotation, in this case sex primes and neutral primes. For instance, sex and oven).

You lost me here. Was "oven" supposed to be neutral? Or associated with submission? Either way, showing a woman the word "oven" is about as big a turn-off as I can possibly imagine. Not the sort of thing your Sensitive New Age bachelor tempts a hot date with: "Hey babe... c'mon upstairs for a little nightcap and I'll show you my Jenn-Air CONVECTION OVEN. Maybe you can whip up some elderberry scones for me while we listen to some Duke Ellington on my new stereo." Yeah, that'll get the old sexual juices flowing.

But it gets better:

Women's responses were on average faster when submissive words were preceded by a sex prime than by a neutral prime. This faster response indicates the two concepts are related in women's minds, said Kiefer, a recent doctoral graduate in the psychology department.

Now wait just a cotton-picking minute. This doesn't seem like a very good test to me. If you wanted to test whether submission and sex were related in women's minds, wouldn't you test with pairs of sex/submissive words and sex/aggressive words to see which ones made women respond faster? If you only pair the submissive words with sex, you have nothing to compare your results to. They may have responded faster because the only thing varied was whether or not they were exposed to a sexually-related word.

But now we go on to draw a whole host of bizarre conclusions:

"The more women reported engaging in submissive behaviors, the less arousal they reported experiencing from a range of sexual activities. The problem with submissive behavior seems to be that women don't experience these behaviors as authentic expressions of their selves. Submission to their partner's desires appears to undermine their ability to assert themselves within the sexual context," Kiefer said. "I would say it's really important to recognize the fact that women associate their personal submission with sex, and this association seems to be detrimental to their sexual health."

Well, I might buy off on this in general. It's probably not all that healthy to be a passive-aggressive person who can't come out and ask for what you want, and most women enjoy sex more when they get a bit older and more confident. But then what does this little bit of psychology say about women? Sexual submissiveness isn't always a sign of low self-esteem - sometimes it's exactly the reverse. With more women working in high-powered jobs these days, I'd say this study sounds like old-fashioned stereotyping. Are they trying to imply that women don't have a strong enough sense of self to lose?

It's the ultimate break from thoroughly modern stresses on the self.

You've got a respectably high-powered job. Maybe it's even visible one. You are regularly making difficult decisions that affect the lives of others, perhaps many others. You need to maintain a highly polished self-image. You like to feel in personal control. You're constantly advancing your independence, your responsibility, your success.

So how do you take a break? If you're like an unknown number of others, perhaps you've already signed up for a spanking.

"Masochists seem to be drawn largely from the privileged classes," Baumeister finds. They are above average in education and income. "Society's real victims do not seek out masochistic sex. Rather it is often the rich, powerful, and successful, the people with the heaviest burdens of selfhood, who need the escape of masochism."

Of course, masochists are not really out to ditch their selves. Nor do they want to be sex slaves in reality. They want the fantasy of shedding their own identity, with its autonomy and responsibility, and submitting entirely to the will of another.

Fantasies of sexual submission turn out to be particularly common among women, more so than among men, even though men engage in more masochistic practices than women. (Then again, men engage more in most forms of unusual sexual behavior.)

gone_with_the_wind.jpg Too funny. I get the impression a lot of these "studies" are driven by a feminist agenda. People behave the way they do for complex reasons, but they are often driven by simple biology as well and for all our technological and social advances, we still have not gotten beyond some rather primitive hard-wiring that seems to me to be based on our physiology.

Is there something wrong with that?

Even with all its annoyances, personally I rather enjoy being female at times.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:05 AM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

Creative Writing On The Job

Good Lord - this is hilarious. From the police blotter in the San Francisco PD Northern Community Newsletter:

He had not run for very long before he realized the two cops were only pacing him. They could see something he could not. With each frantic step a sense of dread nagged at him. The more calm and calculating they were, the further behind he left his common sense, and his panic ratcheted up. As he ran, the black and white radio car glided silently along behind like a predatory whale.
...Now the officer who had been running to keep pace with him closed in, and fear of capture charged the fleeing man like a cattle prod. He had just enough time to squeeze in front of the officer and run up a set of stairs, but it would be close. He could plainly hear the officer’s boots hit the pavement behind him. “Stop, police!” If he just concentrated on running, maybe that stolid mask of determination behind him would fade away. He took two stairs at a time. The suspect thought the officer had been just out of reach, below and behind him, when he felt a blunt hard object smack into his lower leg above his right ankle, just as he was about to take a step. The missing support dropped him like a stone. The officer was shouting in his ear now, “Stop! Police!”

But he’d given up thinking when he decided to run. The man barely registered the pain. He was down but he had just reached the top step and could see his escape route now, down Cleary Court through the apartment complex. The man tried pushing himself up to continue. This time he could see it. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a black blur as the officer’s baton connected with his right elbow and he collapsed again. “You got me!” He had said it before he realized the words were on his lips. His reflexes were still trying to save him. The officer’s hand was on his back, pushing him to the sidewalk before the idea that he was in custody sank in. “I won’t fight anymore,” he said. He would just as soon that baton be still. That last strike was painful, and he had some thinking to do. With his baton cocked loosely to one side, Officer Hutchings leaned on the man’s prostrate form while he waited for his partner. Then Inocencio arrived and in one flowing movement the man was in handcuffs, on his feet. He took one last glance at his escape route, the one he hadn’t planned for, before the officers walked him back down to their car. One officer had a hold of each arm as they negotiated the stairs. It was odd.

They had just used a police baton to stop him, but they were both holding him so carefully. Even so, he couldn’t make himself look into their eyes. He felt like a child. He felt old. The two officers booked their suspect at Northern Station, and gave him a probation hold in addition to his charges of auto burglary and delaying arrest.

When bored, a note of sarcasm tends to creep into my internal reports and technical documentation and I've been known to spice up the odd explanation of a particularly boring technical issue to people I know well (which means they're used to my offbeat sense of humor by now) with references to Dr. Who episodes and violations of the space-time continuum or the Prime Directive. I've even written explanations up as cheesy parodies of pulp thrillers or film noir.

I wish I could share some of them with you - some are pretty funny - but that's really not a line I want to cross. But I love it when people are creative at work. As long as it stays internal and it's appropriate, I always enjoy it when someone can see the humorous side of the work day.

One of my coworkers overseas, with whom I've had a rather contentious relationship at times, has a fantastic sense of humor. We get along because although he is rather brash, he's also quite fanciful. A few years back when I was quite new, he got on my nerves and for some reason I decided to stand up to him (which no one ever does). He sent his usual list of demands and ultimatums, an event which often results in bad feeling on both sides, and I shot back an email telling him the United States refuses to negotiate with terrorists (this was right after 9/11). To my utter delight, he shot back a witty riposte and thus began a very funny exchange whereby he usually comes up with some literary convention to frame his questions or I, my replies.

Many of them have been worth saving and re-reading when I need a good laugh. At various times silly jokes or tortured puns based on A.A. Milne, Homer, Star Trek, Mickey Spillane, or Shakespeare have enlivened many a boring argument about regression analysis or Monte Carlo simulation. Humor is a great way of defusing tension on the job as well as livening up what can be a very dull work day.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:38 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

July 20, 2005

Shrub Fails To Nominate Person Of Estrogen...

I'm sorry but I couldn't resist that one.

Let the merciless mocking begin.

Update: I think I have a slogan: "Roberts: waiving waving*** the bloody shirt of Lochnerism since 1978".

It has a nice ring to it, doncha think? But I'm not sure it will resonate with Joe SixPack. I believe I'll give old Harry Reid a call and see what he thinks.

***bloody smart-a**ed local knavery...

Posted by Cassandra at 01:50 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

This Just In...

fruitbat.jpg As I was exploring the masticatatory wonders of my leftover KungPao Chicken Delight, I happened to turn on the telly and learned to my horror that Judge Roberts, in addition to oppressing the Endangered Southwestern Toad, may also have been responsible for the tragic decline of another noble species of American fauna:

You've probably all seen pictures of these delinquent young bats on TV, hanging from the ceilings of deserted bullpens all over America. In their bleary ganga-reddened eyes and Cheeto-dusted little mouths, you can see the desperation of these once-proud denizens of the night.

You may have glimpsed the "gang-sign" they use to mark their territory - a territory that is rapidly vanishing due to the irresponsible human-centric platform and disastrous economic policies of the Bush administration. Without your help, future generations may have to go to a museum to see a MidWestern Corked bat.

But you can make a difference. For a small donation of $180 - just 50 cents a day - you can change the life of a young MidWestern Corked Bat. We'll even send you a picture of your sponsored Bat that you can post on your refrigerator to remind you of money well spent.

We don't all get to make a difference in this world. You've probably considered contributing before, but it's easy to make excuses like, 'I'm too busy', or "I'm just one Frenchman - there is no "we" - there is only "I". What is the point of even trying in an Existentialist universe without a Supreme Being? Where are my cigarettes?"

That's why I'm asking you to call today - 1-800-BAT-RSCU - Again, that's 1-800-BAT-RSCU.

You owe it to your children to preserve this fine specimen of nature's glory. Remember the BatsRUs slogan:

"A small donation today will help ensure that the Corked Bat will produce mildly hallucinogenic guano for generations to come."

I ask you, fellow Americans: who will stand with me against this monster?

Posted by Cassandra at 01:18 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

John Roberts Revealed As Nefarious Head Of Constitution In Exile Movement [Shudder]

Of course, those looking for a worse reason to suspect Judge Roberts of all sorts of villainy need look no farther than this post. Apparently I have led you all astray with my Thomasian conspiracy-flogging:

Thomas. Mein Gott Im Himmel!, who would have guessed it! That pudgy, avuncular-looking little man, suddenly rising up in his black robes like the Lord of the Nazgul. Stooping to pick at the flesh of a Woman's Right To Choose and grabbing welfare dollars from the hands of baby-Daddies all over this great nation! Sure, he may look like a teddy bear, but he's [[[shudder]]] worse than Scalia!

Yes, I admit I thought Clarence was the dread Lord of the Constitution-in-Exile movement, but it doth well appear that the true arch nemesis of all left-thinking jurists may be none other than John Roberts:

I have been skeptical as to whether there’s anything to the so-called “Constitution in Exile” movement, which sounds too much like revival of the Knights Templar to be plausible. Maybe too skeptical. Almost as if reading the DaVinci Code, I was a bit startled to come across this in one of John Roberts’ earlier writings:
"The contract clause provides an ideal vehicle to begin carrying disaffection with excessively deferential review into the area of social and economic legislation.”

Good nightshirt. Is there no end to the dirt that continues to emerge on this completely unsuitable extremist nominee? But there was worse to follow:

“An argument for stricter scrutiny in contract clause cases than in economic due process cases can be made, based on the specific mention in the Constitution and on the notion that contract, as a means of ordering personal affairs, deserves special protection from unwarranted state interference in a polity founded on personal autonomy and self-governance. On the other hand, most social and economic legislation can be expected to have some impact on existing contractual relations, so a revived contract clause with higher scrutiny may effectively carry this scrutiny over into the economic due process area.Even if the Court extends this mode of scrutiny to review social and economic enactments generally, it does not seem necessary to wave the bloody shirt of Lochnerism. The Court is simply requiring articulation of the state interest involved, so that it can justify the often severe harm inflicted in pursuit of it. …Excessive deference and speculation as to state purpose have led to some dubious results in the post-Lochner period, results which could be avoided by more careful judicial inquiry but without returning to the excesses of the Lochner era.” Contract Clause – Legislative Alteration of Private Pension Agreements, 92 Harvard Law Review 86, 97-98 (1978).

Of course we all know what 'scrutiny' is a code word for... except when it's not.

Bloody shirt indeed... that young fool.

Heh...of course the really heinous thing about him is that the man simply loathes toads.

Can't have that.

CWCID to Blogometer for the Clerks links

Posted by Cassandra at 10:29 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

I greatly feared this yesterday whilst reading up on Judge Roberts. I had an uneasy feeling he would be the nominee, if only to ensure abortion activists would go high and to the right (for no reason, not that they ever need one). And that seems to be the case today. Adam at Southern Appeal comments:

Drudge is running a huge headline across the page, in red, quoting Roberts as saying "We continue to believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

That is quoted from a brief to which his name was attached while he served in the Bush Administration. The brief was written on behalf of the administration, not on his own behalf. That brief was filed in Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991). This was hardly a statement of Judge Roberts's personal position. Judge Roberts was not even the top name on the brief..

Now unless Judge Roberts has recently been annointed by the Finger of the Almighty and adopted the use of the Royal "we", one could perhaps be charitable and assume he was, as has been the custom with paid advocates for Lo! these many years, vigorously arguing the government's position? Juan non-Volokh was inclined to see it this way as well:

Attorneys have an ethical obligation to zealously advocate the position of their clients. An attorney in Roberts position had an express duty to advance his client’s – the federal government's – policy position as effectively as possible. If this meant attacking Roe head on (after all, Roberts did win the case, even if Roe was not overturned), Roberts would have been derelict in his duty had he softened the claim.

The WaPo Sunday attributed the statement to Roberts - this alone made my black Celtic heart certain he would be the nominee. I looked it up and noted, as Adam did the almost-unbearable tendency to link it to Roberts:

In the original version of this post, I suggested that "he wrote" the brief. Of course, that was itself a misstatement; I have no clue which person or persons wrote that brief; all I know is that his name was attached. (Look at me -- now even I'm tying him too tightly to that brief.)

The WaPo Sunday was dismissive, also attributing the quote exclusively to Roberts. The NY Times was more fair, actually managing to capture the distinction between one's personal views and the requirement to do one's job. Full marks:

Abortion rights groups fault him for arguing, as deputy solicitor general for the first Bush administration in 1990, in favor of a government regulation banning abortion-related counseling in federally financed family planning programs.

He also helped write a brief then that restated the administration's opposition to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established the constitutional right to abortion, contending, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

But when pressed in his 2003 confirmation hearings for his own views, he said: "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land," and added, "There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."

Such comments have made Judge Roberts somewhat suspect in the eyes of some social conservatives. But he arouses nothing like the opposition that conservatives leveled at another potential nominee, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose views on abortion are more uncertain.

If only that sort of nuanced view were to take hold in Congress.

We can only hope. Meanwhile, for those who want the inside scoop on Judge Roberts, KJ has what I consider to be the definitive legal analysis of his conservative credentials. Most impressive.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:17 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Walter Williams Owes Me A New Monitor

If there's one thing I cannot stand, it's an uppity black man.

Especially when he's funnier than hell.

Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon Granted to All Persons of European Descent

Whereas, Europeans kept my forebears in bondage some three centuries toiling without pay,

Whereas, Europeans ignored the human rights pledges of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution,

Whereas, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments meant little more than empty words,

Therefore, Americans of European ancestry are guilty of great crimes against my ancestors and their progeny.

But, in the recognition Europeans themselves have been victims of various and sundry human rights violations to wit: the Norman Conquest, the Irish Potato Famine, Decline of the Hapsburg Dynasty, Napoleonic and Czarist adventurism, and gratuitous insults and speculations about the intelligence of Europeans of Polish descent,

I, Walter E. Williams, do declare full and general amnesty and pardon to all persons of European ancestry, for both their own grievances, and those of their forebears, against my people.

Therefore, from this day forward Americans of European ancestry can stand straight and proud knowing they are without guilt and thus obliged not to act like damn fools in their relationships with Americans of African ancestry.

Walter E. Williams, Gracious and Generous Grantor

Posted by Cassandra at 07:56 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

War Of The Worlds

war.jpg

Hear the voices in my head,
I swear to god it sounds like they're snoring
But if you're bored, then you're boring
The agony and the irony, they're killing me

Sunday's WaPo Book Review took on three looks at militant Islam and, not surprisingly given the reviewer's background, managed to paint the authors as paranoid racists. While I found the reviews less disturbing than did Charlotte Allen, there was still asininity enough to get me pounding away at the keyboard.

Slaughter's special bete noir (one she treats with haughty disdain when not heavy-handedly equating it with racism) seems to be the term "foreign policy realism". This is even more amusing when one glances ahead to see that she is dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Yes, by all means - let us eschew at all costs Le Realisme. Such a dangerous commodity in foreign affairs - it is not to be thought of in polite society, n'est pas?

One suspects that in all three cases, the author's true problem with realism is that it is synonymous with activism as opposed to passivism, the time-honored recipe for foreign policy. Do nothing and hope that one's foreign policy problems will somehow dissipate like a foul miasma in the beneficent light of sweet reason. No doubt this explains why the Bush administration's pre-emptive and alarmingly unilateral attempts to spread democracy have been greeted with dismay by foreign policy experts of all stripes. Had he spread say, child prostitution, passively and by consensus it would have been preferable to spreading democracy by such energetic and vulgar means.

Regarding her first target, I may actually agree with Slaughter. In Sands of Empire, Robert W. Merry seems to be arguing that democracy is fundamentally incompatible with Islam and that we should accept that as long as radical Islam exists, democracy will never come to the Middle East. Pragmatists, therefore will restrict immigration and ally themselves with other enemies of Islam, even autocratic and repressive regimes. In other words, realpolitik. But worse, a contractionist return to the policies of the past where America leads by force of arms but no longer wields them for any other reason than her own interest, becoming exactly what the world has accused us of for decades. The death of our ideals: I can't say I'm in favor of it.

On George Weigel's The Cube and the Cathedral, Slaughter waxes scornful:

Weigel sees Christianity as the moral foundation of Europe's traditions of democracy, human rights and freedom. He is certainly right that Christian morality played a role in the European Enlightenment and the development of the concept of human dignity. But Christian morality also played a role in the Inquisition and the Thirty Years War, in which fighting between Catholics and Protestants killed a far larger percentage of the European population than did the world wars. And to argue that secularism is responsible for the Holocaust is breathtaking on its face; the European church, whether Catholic or Protestant, did precious little to protect Europe's Jews or to stand up for the human dignity of any of Hitler's victims.

Mon Dieu. The wonders of the learned mind. Who else can reveal for the great unwashed masses the hidden duality inherent in institutions like religion! Who knew there was both good and bad?

It is paragraphs like this which lead me to wonder whether the Bush administration needs a No Academician Left Behind program. What has happened to the critical thinking skills of American professors? All that education and no common sense - they still cannot distinguish between mainstream religious doctrine and fringe fanaticism, nor understand that people at the point of a gun are hardly in a position to "stand up" for the dignity of anyone. Had Ms. Slaughter bothered to crack a history book or two, she might have learned that Catholics were also targeted by Hitler's regime. But that would have required effort - and a willingness to go against atheistic liberal doctrine.

And it was here that Slaughter really lost me:

What unites Merry and Weigel most fundamentally is their insistence on seeing the world through a civilizational lens, one that assumes a predisposition to a particular kind of politics. Yet at what point does this "civilizationism" become racism? In America's contemporary culture wars, even to raise the "r" word is to invite countercharges of political correctness and an unwillingness or inability simply to face reality. Arguments about the inevitable clash of civilizations, however, have an ugly essentialist quality, running directly counter to the American creed that liberty, democracy and human dignity are universal values. Our founders, after all, held it "self-evident" that all human beings, regardless of religion, are created equal and are equally entitled to self-government.

This seems to be a disease peculiar to academicians: the predisposition to confuse culture with race. Of course we see the world through a civilizational lens. It is utterly ridiculous to suggest we should do otherwise.

What does Ms. Slaughter think allows Americans of all colors, ethnicities, religions, backgrounds and to live and work together - not only in peace and harmony, but with a degree of happiness and productivity that is unparalleled in the world, if not the values of American civilization? It is our law and traditions that make this possible - it is the ideas, the culture that make us all equal, not our 'essential American-ness'. If we lose the culture, we lose America.

The author is quick to cite the Founders - something I inevitably find ironic. In an increasingly democratic society in which the Constitution, the foundation of law, is open for interpretation under "international law" (which in many cases grants less and not more freedom to its citizens), can she not see that if the demographics of this nation undergo a radical shift, if our Constitution (which guarantees certain basic rights to each citizen) is no longer inviolate, that there is no guarantee that in 50 or 75 years, America will still BE America?

This is not American idealism, as Merry would charge; it is the cornerstone of American identity. To argue, as Weigel does, that Europe cannot be Europe if it is full of Muslims, or, as Huntington does in his most recent book, Who Are We? , that America cannot be America if it is full of Hispanics, betrays the deepest values of the Enlightenment and the tolerance and individualism that are the West's greatest strengths.

Again, the author equates race with culture. It is one thing to assimilate an influx of immigrants into American culture, asking only that they accommodate themselves to our way of life if they wish to live here. It is another to strain the bounds of tolerance by allowing one's country to be overrun by a horde of people who have vastly different values and no intention of abiding by your laws. It is not race which causes the problem. America has succesfully welcomed immigrants of different races for all of its 200-year history and will continue to do so. But when a nation becomes ashamed of the very values that allow different races to live together in harmony, when it refuses to stand up for its own culture, there is something tragically wrong.

Over the weekend I found myself defending the idea of American exceptionalism yet again in a dinner conversation. The fly in the ointment was, of course, Iraq. When were we going to learn that we couldn't just bash off spreading democracy all over the globe? Interestingly, my husband made the case on pragmatic and economic grounds, and that was a good argument.

Typically, I drew the line on idealistic grounds: nature (and foreign policy) abhor a vacuum. For several decades, the US has been the only nation willing to step up to the plate to champion the idea of democracy. The result, in the 20th and 21st centuries, has been mixed. Several world wars, but also the spread of democratic governance and prosperity on a level that is unprecedented in world history.

If we withdraw from the world stage now, if we no longer believe our ideals are worth the candle, someone will step into the vacuum.

I leave you to decide whether that will be a positive or negative development. We are indeed in a war of the worlds, but the clash is not one of races but one of cultures and ideas. And we'd better get our heads right about whether we intend to win, because our opponents are not suffering from any self-doubt on that score.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 19, 2005

NY TimesWatch®: Still pLaming The Victims

The NY Times continues spinning the truth in L'Affaire Plame.

Yes. By all means, let's do talk about some of those issues.

Protection for sources:

...the hard truth is that no reporter can choose the circumstances for upholding a principle. It doesn't matter whether we think a source is a good person or has good motivations. A reporter promises confidentiality, and the paper backs up the journalist because otherwise the public will not learn what it needs to know. It's up to the reporter and editor to determine whether information given under a promise of confidentiality is reliable. But reporters cannot apply ideology when protecting their sources, any more than civil liberties lawyers can defend the First Amendment rights of only the people they agree with.

Wrong. Your reporter created the circumstance when she made a promise that never should have been made. And though she cannot reverse the choice she made then, it is never too late to do the right thing.

The Times continues to allege that a crime has been committed here. If that is so, then your reporter is presented with a choice. She must choose the lesser of two evils: will she break a promise to protect a criminal, or break the law by obstructing the grand jury charged with bringing this criminal to justice?

The inescapable fact here is this: if your readership accepts your version of events, Plame was under cover and it was a crime to disclose her identity. If one accepts this premise, then the leaker committed a crime and your reporter is preventing the criminal from being brought to justice.

There is a name for this: aiding and abetting. An illegal promise does not deserve to be kept. Yes, it is wrong to break one's word. But it is a greater wrong to obstruct justice. It's really quite simple when one looks at things squarely, isn't it?

The waivers:

The prosecutor produced what he claimed were waivers of confidentiality signed by White House officials, and his supporters have asked how Ms. Miller or any other journalists could remain silent if the presumed sources say they are free to talk. In fact, these documents were extracted by coercion, so they are meaningless. Employees who are told they are required to sign waivers to keep their jobs are not sincerely freeing reporters from promises to keep their identities secret. Mr. Cooper said he had gotten a "specific waiver" of confidentiality from Mr. Rove. Ms. Miller says she has not received any such thing from her sources.

Has she asked? You are assuming facts not in evidence. If Rove gave a specific waiver to Cooper, what reasonable basis is there for assuming he would withold one from Ms. Miller?

Joseph Wilson's report:

He said he had found no evidence to support the claim of a uranium purchase, or even a serious attempt to negotiate one, and that he had reported this to Washington. That is entirely accurate.

This is a bald-faced lie. There is no other way to put it.

[Wilson's] intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999,(REDACTED) businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales.

Moreover, the SSCI report concluded that Wilson had lied about who recommended him for the trip and that far from casting doubt on the yellowcake story, his report had actually bolstered the case for most analysts. Furthermore, regarding Wilson's now-famous allegation about forged documents (constantly repeated by the press despite having been debunked for well over a year), the Senate concluded:

Mr. Wilson's assertions on this point made no sense, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which said in its report: "Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the 'dates were wrong and the names were wrong' when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports." Mr. Wilson lamely replied that he may have "misspoken" to the reporter for The Post when he said that the documents were forged. He also said "he may have become confused about his own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct and may have thought he had seen the names himself." The committee also found that, contrary to Mr. Wilson's repeated denials, Mrs. Plame had suggested him for the Niger mission. So much for the notion that Mr. Wilson is some vaunted whistleblower that the Bush administration was seeking to smear because of his vaunted insistence on telling the "truth."
What really bothered Mr. Rove was Mr. Wilson's view that the administration had deliberately twisted the intelligence on Iraq and that Mr. Bush had misled Americans about the need for war.

What really bothers careful and informed readers like myself is dishonest and biased reporting that deliberately omits material facts to serve a twisted agenda. The NY Times is well aware that the famed 16 words in the SOTU speech were not based on Wilson's report, but on British intelligence that was investigated and found to be well-grounded in the Butler Report. But even had it been based on Wilson's report (see above) there would have been some basis for the claim. That is the true irony of this story. This only shows how dishonest the Times (and Wilson) are.

We don't know whether top officials heard about Mr. Wilson's findings and ignored them, or whether the findings never reached the upper levels - at the time, dissenting views on Iraq were not getting much of an airing in the administration. There's a lot we don't know about this case.

Actually, we do know. The administration has said over and over again that they did not use Wilson's report. You simply refuse to report that fact. And your readers will never know it - or the very important fact that Wilson has been thoroughly discredited by their own government - because you refuse to report it.

But these things are clear:

Actually, very little has been clear in this case; primarily due to the media's obfuscation and insistence on misstating the issues and omitting material facts that would clarify the story considerably, if the public only knew them.

Journalists should not tailor their principles to their politics. In fact, readers should not even know their politics. That the Times wears its politics on its sleeve is yet another indication of its failure to serve its readership. Maybe next time the Times indulges in a bout of navel-gazing, they could benefit from a little California-style journalistic ethics:

On fairness:

A fair-minded reader of Times news coverage should not be able to discern the private opinions of those who contributed to that coverage, or to infer that the newspaper is promoting any agenda. A crucial goal of our news and feature reporting – apart from editorials, columns, criticism and other content that is expressly opinionated – is to be nonideological. This is a tall order. It requires us to recognize our own biases and stand apart from them. It also requires us to examine the ideological environment in which we work, for the biases of our sources, our colleagues and our communities can distort our sense of objectivity...

Huh...

In rare instances, sources may insist that the paper and the reporter resist subpoenas and judicial orders, if necessary, to protect their anonymity. Reporters should consult a masthead editor before entering into any such agreement. Even in the absence of such an agreement, the possibility exists that a prosecutor, grand jury or judge will demand to know a source’s identity, forcing the reporter to choose between unmasking the source and going to jail for contempt of court. Such situations are rare, and they should not deter us from investigating sensitive or contentious matters.

Promises to a source must be kept except under the most extraordinary circumstances. If a source, acting in bad faith, were to succeed in using the newspaper to spread misinformation, we would consider our promise of anonymity no longer binding. That said, we do not “burn” sources.

Well I'll be...

Staff members may not engage in political advocacy – as members of a campaign or an organization specifically concerned with political change. Nor may they contribute money to a partisan campaign or candidate. No staff member may run for or accept appointment to any public office.

Staff members should avoid public expressions or demonstrations of their political views – bumper stickers, lawn signs and the like.

Wow... that's like, way harsh. Almost like they're... professional military officers or something. Imagine a world in which the media voluntarily took on the burden of staying neutral.

In such a world, readers might stand a fair chance of learning the truth.

Posted by Cassandra at 09:05 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Comment Denial

If you've had a comment or trackback denied lately I apologize.

Every now and then, spammers trick me into banning some nonsense string. I get so much spam that when I delete large blocks of it (such as this weekend when I got back) sometimes I don't notice every single URL in the list.

This time it was "...". So any comment or trackback with that string in it was automatically denied. It was nothing personal - the script was just scanning for that text string and banning anything containing that string.

I have removed it from the list.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:39 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Broder, Wikitorialized

I miss California.

Oh, it's wonderful at times to be back in the DC area. This is home to me. But there are so many wonderful things I miss about living in California: having a golden tan year-round, the balmy weather, my crazy garden bursting with flowers of every color, size and description, the un-stuffy, laid-back wackiness of the people you meet. Not like here, where everyone is on a mission 24/7, tooling around the Beltway in their BMW's at 70 mph, cellphones heremetically sealed to their ears as they frantically multitask their way to an impeccibly-DayTimed backbeat. Sometimes I feel like I'm in prison: in my head I can still hear the wind chimes on the ocean breeze and my inner Dharma is screaming to get out.

The LA Times' failed Wikitorial was prototypically Californian - only in California would people be naive enough to try a stunt like that. So when I saw this David Broder column, instead of getting angry I thought, "Dude ... you look so uptight...what you need is a good Wiki."

So here it is: the column David Broder should have written:

Many of us here in Readerland are upset that the media seem largely indifferent to the truth regarding the jailing of one reporter and a prosecutor's pursuit of several others in the leak of the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame.

But readers should be smart enough to be able to figure out why the anger and alarm this development has caused in our ranks are apparently not shared by those in the news business.

The relationship between reporters, informants, and the readership is built on mutual trust -- the reader's belief that news reporters will be honest and unbiased, even while disclaiming personal responsibility for information gathered from their informants, and the source's belief that the reporter will honor her or his commitment to protect the identity of the informant.

The reader does not always expect to know the identity of a source. But a problem arises when reporters deliberately withold other information - facts that have a direct bearing on the news story - from readers, simply to satisfy a political agenda. When this happens, each member of the audience is told implicitly by the reporter, "I won't share something important with you that I know -- namely, material facts about this story -- because in my judgement you don't need to know them."

Who knows what the rationale for this deliberate withholding of information is? What can justify the damage done each time the public is asked to accept an incomplete and misleading account of the facts, simply because in the judgement of the reporter, the public might "come to the wrong conclusion". Shouldn't the reader have all the facts and be allowed to draw his own conclusion?

Any reader can understand that promises must be kept. This is not as complicated as journalists like to make out. But any reader can also understand that certain promises should not be made in the first place, and when a promise is made wrongly, or illegally, sometimes the lesser of two evils is to break the wrongly-made promise rather than breaking the law and obstructing a grand jury investigation. This is hardly rocket science. It is simply facing up to (and making good on) a bad mistake - the sort of thing I taught my children when they were in the fifth grade. Any professional ought to be able to handle it.

The first publication of Plame's name came in a column by Robert Novak, who said he had been given her identity and occupation by two Bush administration officials. The media (including you, Mr. Broder) say the obvious intent of the leak -- and of the column, which ran in The Post and other newspapers -- was to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had just published an op-ed article in the New York Times challenging a presidential claim that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase nuclear material in Niger.

This makes very little sense when you consider that George Tenet issued a statement that very night discrediting Wilson. There was no need to discredit him - that task was already in hand with or without Novak's column.

You say "Wilson had been sent to Niger to see if that had been attempted. He concluded that it had not -- knocking one more hole in the administration case that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. By exposing his wife's supposed role in sending Wilson on that mission, the White House was trying to link his finding to a well-publicized bureaucratic war in which elements of the CIA were doing all they could to undercut the case for going to war with Iraq."

How can you, in good conscience, keep bringing this up without mentioning that the SSCI later completely discredited Wilson, concluding that he had lied about several aspects of his own report? This is dishonesty of the worst sort. It is inexcusable - tantamount to professional malpractice. The SSCI concluded that Wilson's trip, far from "knocking a hole in the administration's case", bolstered it.

How is it that you - a journalist - insist on covering up the truth?

Wilson's] intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999,(REDACTED) businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."
...Niger only exports four commodities: livestock, cowpeas, onions, and uranium. It doesn't take a genius to deduce that Saddam would have little interest in opening back-channel, secret negotiations to buy cowpeas and onions.

You say that Novak, who has a well-earned reputation for carrying water for his favorite conservatives, has not been prosecuted for publishing Plame's name and has refused to discuss his role in the case or his dealings, if any, with the grand jury investigating the leak. Your colleagues in the media have been carrying water for Joseph Wilson for two years now, refusing to mention that he was discredited by both the SSCI and the British Butler Report. How do you explain this? Mr. Novak has promised to explain everything once the grand jury investigation is complete.

The liberal media demanded a special prosecutor, and they got one. They demanded that Robert Novak reveal his sources, and he may well have done so. Mr. Fitzgerald has not spoken on the matter, as is entirely proper during an ongoing investigation. He has also investigated other possible leaks, as is also proper. Here, strangely, the media are all of a sudden concerned about the confidentiality of sources. Where they demanded Novak reveal HIS source, they do an about-face and demand the right for their liberal colleagues to conceal THEIR sources.

The media cite state shield laws, which are worthless in federal court. They mislead their readers by casting the leaker as a whistleblower when, if their theories are correct, he is actually a criminal: not in the class of sources protected by shield laws at all. They assert a higher right of confidentiality than doctors, lawyers, even priests - all of whom must report criminal activity in certain instances. They demand the right to be above the law.

They "forget" to mention that Miller has had a signed waiver from her source for well over a year.

Now, thanks to another reporter, Matt Cooper of Time magazine, we know that one White House official who was spreading the word about Plame and Wilson (but apparently describing their relationship without giving her name) was Bush's political adviser Karl Rove. Despite earlier White House denials that he had anything to do with the case and despite a promise from the president to fire any leaker, Rove remains on the job as this is written.

The only lesson readers can draw is that they ought to be damned careful about the information they read in the Washington Post. For every Howard Kurtz who provides clear, well-balanced articles, there are multiple David Broders and Richard Cohens writing Op-Eds full of omissions and misstatements of fact to satisfy a political agenda. For one thing appears certain: it has long ceased to be relevant whether any crime was committed in this matter.

It has long ceased to be relevant to the media that the two "leakers" in this story: Karl Rove and Lewis Libby learned Plame's identity from the media. It has long ceased to be relevant that both Rove and Libby were passive players in this drama: Rove only responding to Cooper's probing to correct erroneous information Cooper was about to publish (not that this stopped him), and Libby only confirming what Cooper fed him.

What business did the media have, knowing the identity of a "covert" CIA operative? It's an interesting question. And one I would like an answer to. I'll bet a lot of your readers - the few who are paying attention, anyway - feel the same way.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2005

Reach Out And Touch Someone...

Robert gave me the most Llama-esque idea for this week. It all started with a line of adultery greeting cards. Adultery is such a harsh word, isn't it? All too often nowadays our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which are barriers rather than aids to understanding - words which carry emotional or value judgments.

So, in an attempt to soften the jagged little edges of this nasty, neo-con world we live in, I thought we could have a little contest to see who can come up with the best niche-market greeting cards. The examples are romantic ones, but they could also be get well cards, promotion cards, or cards for any other occasion that inspires you.

A few of Robert's that I loved:

- Pedophiles ("Boy, do I miss you.....")

- Islamofascists ("Being apart while killing infidels is killing me....")

- Sheep-dippers ("I want you baaaaaaad')

- Polygamists ("If this is Tuesday, it must be your turn")

- Rove-Bashers ("Don't Plame Me for Loving You!")

I even found a picture in honor of the occasion:

STORYL.jpg

...and I just explode.

Alternatively,

"Whenever I see your face ... I just fall to pieces"

I'm being very good - several others occurred to me, but I'll let you have at it in the comments section.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:08 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Girl, don't go away mad...

...just go away.

oprah.jpg Come a little closer, girlfriend.

No, no... a little closer...

That's right.

I have a little secret to tell you.

This didn't happen because of your skin color.

This happened because

THE STORE WAS CLOSED.

Because you see, even having all the money in the world doesn't give you the right to be an overbearing, pushy prima donna.

Even if other people get away with it from time to time. And they do. As you obviously have in the past, or you wouldn't have tried it this time.

So run along home and count your blessings. Because life has gotten pretty damn good when the worst thing you can find to bitch about is that while you were out shopping in Paris, Hermes wouldn't unlock their doors after closing time to sell you an overpriced watch for another wealthy black woman you hardly know.

And playing the race card has gotten way too easy when the worst example you can dredge up is that the French (who are world-famous for being snotty to just about everyone - but especially to Americans), didn't interrupt a prior engagement to kiss your sorry derriere when you dropped by unannounced after business hours.

I'm trying to imagine what your great-grandmother would say, if she could see you now.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:49 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

"Krugman Lied, The Deficit Died"

00050.jpg It's been a while since I put on my high-heeled Manolo Blahniks and titillated the menfolk with a naughty romp through the Annual Report to the Council of Economic Advisors...

I do apologize... I know how much you all love that sort of thing. But I hope today's news will make up for it.

taxcuts.gif

The federal budget deficit will slip to $333 billion this fiscal year, from $412 billion in 2004, as a surge of unanticipated tax receipts pushes the red ink significantly below levels projected just five months ago, White House officials said yesterday.

The midyear budget forecast also shows that President Bush is on track to reach his goal of halving the deficit a year before his deadline of 2009. By 2008, the White House forecasts that the deficit will fall to $162 billion, or 1.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). A slight rise projected for 2010 reflects the initial cost of Bush's proposal to add private investment accounts to Social Security.

Michael Barone comments:

So the deficit—the federal budget deficit—is declining sharply, more sharply than just about anyone in mainstream media anticipated. According to figures from the Office of Management and Budget, the deficit is projected to decline from $412 billion in 2004 to $333 billion in 2005, a 19 percent decline. OMB further projects, obviously with less certitude, that it will decline to $162 billion in 2008.

If so, that will mean that George W. Bush will have more than kept his promise to cut the deficit in half in his second term. Back in February, OMB projected a 2005 deficit of $427 billion.

"The change from February's projection," writes Jonathan Weisman in the July 14 Washington Post, "is dramatic."

Why has the deficit declined so rapidly this year? The simple answer is that outlays seem to be increasing by about 7 percent but receipts seem to be increasing by about 15 percent. The Bush tax cuts, like the Reagan and Kennedy tax cuts, seem to be resulting in much more buoyant increases in receipts than the Clinton tax increases did: Just look at the numbers. The scoring system used by Congress and OMB in projecting revenues is static; that is, it assumes that tax increases and tax cuts have no impact on economic activity. But obviously they do: Tax increases reduce economic activity and tax cuts increase it. Conservatives have been calling for dynamic scoring—scoring that takes into account these effects—for years, in vain. They have been frustrated by the one intellectually serious argument against it, that no one knows exactly how much tax increases and tax cuts influence economic activity. Maybe that's a good argument. But observers, journalistic and otherwise, should not be so surprised when tax cuts result in a gusher of receipts, even if the economists can't tell us with certainty how big that gusher will be. And our recent history of deficits and surpluses should leave us unsurprised when a deficit level that everyone says will be eternal proves to be evanescent. Just use a little common sense.

Oh dear... haven't I been saying this for a year and a half now? Now a note of caution is due. There are increases in federal spending on the long-term horizon that could cut the projected gains considerably. But the bottom line remains: we are where the White House said we'd be, the tax cuts have produced the projected gains in revenue, and the deficit has been cut. Even the WaPo can't find a way to spin this negatively. Not that they didn't try.

I suppose it would be tacky at this point to rub Paul Krugman's nose in some of his earlier predictions?

Krugman ridicules Bush plan to cut deficit in half, highlights "potential for catastophe" from "Bush administration's proposed spending cuts in election year--which focus only on powerless" -- that are "both cruel and trivial".
Heh...
LATER this week the White House budget director plans to put on an aviator costume, march up to a microphone and declare Mission Accomplished in the war on deficits.
Seriously, the administration is poised to do the same thing on the budget that it has done again and again in Iraq: claim that a modest, probably temporary lull in the flow of bad news shows that victory is around the corner and that its policies have been vindicated.

So let me do some pre-emptive de-spinning and debunking.

Ouch.

But perhaps my favorite was this Don Luskin piece, where Krugman is forced to lie about what he, himself has said in the past in order to say that Bush lied about the deficit:

Krugman not only accused Bush of lying about the deficit — he claimed, as he has done in many previous columns, that the deficit is leading toward a fiscal catastrophe. He wrote, "Right now the U.S. government is running deficits bigger, as a share of G.D.P., than those that plunged Argentina into crisis."

New Krugman Truth Squad member James Clarke pointed out on his Right On Everything blog that Argentina's financial crisis was not caused by its deficits, but by the effect of its rigid currency-exchange-rate mechanism on its central bank's ability to regulate its money supply: its "peg to the US dollar may have been faulty."

Incredibly, Krugman — whose claim to fame as an economist is in the area of international trade — has agreed with this position. Both in an article posted on his personal website and in his column in the Times covering the Argentine crisis, he blamed the exchange-rate mechanism and never even mentioned deficits once. Yet now, it's deficits that "plunged Argentina into crisis."

The essential brilliance of this tactic, of course, is the Krugman was hardly going to come forward and accuse himself of lying.

On the other hand, he failed to account for the fiendish delight Krugmaniacs take in twisting his tail. Speaking of which, Steve Conover does that nicely this week with this little graphic:

TAXINT.gif

As the Death of Rats has all too often pointed out, his prediction record is "not that good". In fact, it's lousy.

His "28% of GDP" is not only historically unprecedented, but coming out of an economic downturn (and wasn't Krugman crying 'doomsday' just recently?) it would be ruinous. What exactly would that mean to Joe SixPack? Jim Glass comments:

Let's put this in some perspective:

Total federal income taxes in 2004 were 8.5% of GDP, so Krugman is saying we should have a 129% income tax increase -- for individuals, businesses, everyone -- or the equivalent. Today, for starters.

But the deficit today is only 3.5% of GDP -- so a tax increase of 11% of GDP would produce a surplus of 7.5% of GDP.

Looking at Steve's chart, what historical evidence is there the business climate and consumer spending could withstand such a steep increase?

I sometimes wonder if Krugman doesn't just make this stuff up.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:54 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Equal Protection, My Ass

This "reasoning" just infuriates me. It is precisely this type of thing which keeps me out of law school:

The simplest tool for evaluating sex offenders is the Rapid Risk Assessment for Sex Offense Recidivism. The RRASOR (pronounced "razor") includes just four items. A sex offender gets one point for being under the age of 25 at the time of his release from prison, another if any of his victims were male, and a third if he wasn't related to his victims. He gets up to three more points depending on how many sex crimes he's been charged with.

The most dangerous offenders, then, are young adults who have committed multiple sex crimes against boys they've never met before. According to the RRASOR's table of probabilities, these six-point cases have more than a 73 percent chance of committing another crime within 10 years. . . .

So what can we reasonably infer from this (assuming, of course, that the research was conducted in a valid manner)?

That the worst recidivists are men who commit sex crimes against young boys who they don't know.

And the burning (forgive the sick joke here, but at this point my mind said, "ouch!") question this piece of sick knowledge aroused in the legal mind?

Let's say that the RRASOR test seems like an accurate predictor, and in particular sex criminals (overwhelmingly male ones) who attacked a boy are found to be substantially likelier to reoffend than those who attacked a girl. May parole boards and sentencing judges take the test's result into account? (1) Would this be sex discrimination, on the theory that it discriminates based on the sex of the victim, though not of the offender? (2) Would it therefore violate the Equal Protection Clause? (Note that the Equal Protection Clause has been interpreted as presumptively barring discrimination based on sex, though generally not discrimination based on sexual orientation.)

While I fully understand that in this case the Equal Protection Clause is concerned only with the prisoner's rights, I refer the half-vast readership to the title of this post.

Let's take this slowly. If the Equal Protection Clause is invoked here, this says that persons with a 73% or greater probability of raping one or more boys within the next ten years (that is, after all what we are talking about here) will very likely be released, when we have an empirically-based method to reduce or perhas even entirely prevent such future rapes from happening.

When will we stop making laws based on the fiction that there are no behavioural differences between men and women? "Equal protection", in this case, is a legal fiction when applied to small boys, who apparently can expect no protection from the law.

As a mother who raised two boys, I am appalled.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:24 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

The Spin Could Stop Here...Or Not

At times I wonder whether "journalistic ethics" isn't the biggest oxymoron of them all. In a fatuously-titled piece, Joe Klein urges the President to "Stop Trying to Spin the Iraq War". The subtitle adds: "The Bush administration needs to stop fighting its critics and figure out how to fight the war."

You'd like that, wouldn't you?

As far as the military (you know, the folks fighting and dying over there in Iraq and Afghanistan?) are concerned, the White House doesn't spend nearly enough time fighting its critics. But we do understand. Perhaps running the country is more important to Mr. Bush than responding to the horde of ankle-biters who perpetually gnaw at his shinbones.

But that's really not the point here. You're a journalist. Your job is to inform. To get the facts right and present them to the public. Yet your article - in which you exhort the President to stop spinning the war - is filled with distortions and spin:

You go to jail to protect your source, if necessary.

If you're implying that Judith Miller is in jail to protect her source, let's set that one straight right now. The privilege of confidentiality belongs to the source, not the reporter. Ms. Miller has a signed waiver. Cooper's notes have been released. There is nothing to protect, except perhaps a guilty conscience.

...is a bedrock principle of the freest and fairest press in the world.

No, it is not. Shield laws protect whistleblowers who expose crimes, not criminals who commit them. The grand jury must decide whether a crime was committed when Plame's name was disclosed, and to do that, they have a right to a full and fair disclosure of all information pertaining to this case. Ms. Miller's obstruction is preventing them from doing their job - a job the media insisted be completed by impartial investigation. It's that simple.

In this case the White House was trying to "knock down" a former ambassador, Joseph Wilson, who had disputed the claim--made by President Bush in his State of the Union address--that Iraq attempted to buy uranium in Niger. Eventually, the White House was forced to retract the Niger claim. There had been no uranium deal.

Actually the White House was not "forced" to retract the claim, (though it did issue a retraction, strangely - perhaps it followed your reasoning here and decided this issue just wasn't worth fighting over?) Nor was their claim based on Wilson's trip.

Interesting that you never mention the Butler report, which pronounced the British intelligence (upon which the White House's claim was made) "well-founded". Funny, also, how you never mention the fact that Wilson revealed to be a serial liar by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee investigation. Rather substantial omissions of fact for a professional journalist, wouldn't you say?

In fact, Valerie Plame had worked undercover--and it is a crime to knowingly reveal the name of a covert officer.

This is particularly misleading, since Wilson himself admits his wife was not undercover:

** Update: apparently Wilson is now saying he didn't mean his wife wasn't a covert agent on the day Novak's article came out. What he REALLY meant was, though Wilson "can't comment" on whether she was or not, she "lost her ability to be a covert agent once Novak outed her. Or arguably, after 5 years of driving into Langley on a daily basis and having told various people she worked for the CIA.

Thanks for clearing that up...

BLITZER: But the other argument that's been made against you is that you've sought to capitalize on this extravaganza, having that photo shoot with your wife, who was a clandestine officer of the CIA, and that you've tried to enrich yourself writing this book and all of that.

What do you make of those accusations, which are serious accusations, as you know, that have been leveled against you?

WILSON: My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.

BLITZER: But she hadn't been a clandestine officer for some time before that?

WILSON: That's not anything that I can talk about. And, indeed, I'll go back to what I said earlier, the CIA believed that a possible crime had been committed, and that's why they referred it to the Justice Department.


Moreover, not only had she not been posted out of the country in the last five years (as required under the statute for her to be a covert agent) but her neighbors knew she was a CIA agent:

A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee. "She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.

Mr. Klein says the time for spinning is past. On this, at least, we agree. I say, let's start with the press.

It strikes me as completely disingenuous to pretend that there is no connection between public support for the war and press coverage of our progress in Iraq and Afghanistan. When two-thirds of the media coverage of the White House is negative, that's got to have an effect. Any time 71% of on-air comments regarding our policies in Iraq are negative in tone, that will affect the voting public's perception of how we're doing.

When the media broaden the reach of terrorists by granting them free publicity, there is something seriously wrong with their moral gyroscopes, not to mention their critical thinking skills.

When media pundits continuously redefine the goalposts, making "success" an ever-shifting and impossible endpoint; when they produce an endless array of increasingly silly demands, it's time to wonder who is really doing the spinning:

So is a more active diplomatic effort to ensure Sunni--and secular Shi'ite--participation in Iraq's governing coalition (perhaps even reaching out to former Baathists involved in the insurgency).

Since when did perfect, instant democracy become the only viable goal? Did the US achieve that? Of course not - it took us over 200 years and we're still not there yet.

Why not let the Iraqis decide on their own model of democracy? Why all this focus on the Sunnis? They are a minority - and one that has notably refused to take part in the democratic process. If they change their minds, they will be welcomed. If not, their loss. And reach out to the Baathists? Who next? Al Qaeda? Why not reach out and touch the terrorists freedom fighters while we're at it? Under Mr. Klein's No Jihadi Left Behind campaign, success will never be achieved until every terrorist has gone to his virtual Happy Place with 72 virgins, a government stipend, a bag of Doritos, and a fully-loaded Kalishnakov. And even then he'll find something to blame on the Bush administration - probably that his cave doesn't have cable access.

A more focused intelligence effort is needed to root out the insurgency both within Iraq and among its supporters in neighboring countries--including "allies" like Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It is long past time for the White House to stop fighting the press and the Democrats and figure out how to fight the war.

Here's a major hint for you, Mr. Klein. We're at war here. People are dying. And it takes two sides to fight a war, whether foreign or domestic, whether fought with bullets or with words. Or with lies, as in your dishonest column.

The White House is in charge of fighting the enemy - you know, the ones who are killing our military men and women?

The Democrats and the media are attacking the White House. Does that tell you anything?

It should. Lay down your poison pens. And then perhaps we can all concentrate on winning this war.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:21 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Comments and Trackbacks

Unfortunately I've had to turn Typekey comment registration on for a few days.

I know you all hate it, and I'm sorry. I'm just too busy to delete hundreds of comment spams a day - I don't have the time. I'll take it off as soon as I have a new script installed, but I won't have time for a few days.

You know the drill - if you sign in and don't see the comment fields, refresh the screen.

- The half-vast editorial staff

PS: Trackbacks may also not be working for the next few days, so if they don't take, it's nothing personal. Email me, and I'll get it fixed as soon as I have time.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Still Think There Are No Ties Between Iraq And Al Qaeda?

In the flogging of dead equine flesh department, I'd been meaning to take a few more whacks at this one but several people did a far better job than I could have. I've documented some of this before, but some of it is new and it's nice to see it gathered all in one place. I'll just give you a little teaser and then let you go read both their excellent posts.

John Hawkins has a very comprehensive post debunking 8 anti-war myths. The relevent sections, however, are numbers 5, 6, and 7. From #6 and 7:

Saddam provided "safe haven" for terrorists with "global reach." Among them were terrormaster Abu Nidal, Abdul Rahman Yassin, one of the conspirators in the 1993 WTC bombing, "Khala Khadr al-Salahat, the man who reputedly made the bomb for the Libyans that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over...Scotland,"Abu Abbas, mastermind of the October 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and murder of Leon Klinghoffer," & "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, formerly the director of an al Qaeda training base in Afghanistan" who is now believed to be leading Al-Qaeda's forces in Iraq.
"Evan Bayh, Democrat from Indiana, has described the Iraq-al Qaeda connection as a relationship of "mutual exploitation." Joe Lieberman said, "There are extensive contacts between Saddam Hussein's government and al Qaeda." George Tenet, too, has spoken of those contacts and goes further, claiming Iraqi "training" of al Qaeda terrorists on WMDs and provision of "safe haven" for al Qaeda in Baghdad. Richard Clarke once said the U.S. government was "sure" Iraq had provided a chemical-weapons precursor to an al Qaeda-linked pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. Even Hillary Clinton cited the Iraq-al Qaeda connection as one reason she voted for the Iraq War."

Over at Heigh Ho, spd rdr lays out an intriguing story about intelligence gleaned from a Gitmo detainee (yes, I know no useful information has ever been gathered from any detainee at Guantanamo Bay, but bear with me). His post mentions a plot to blow up the US and British embassies. You'll note we've read nothing about this in the lamestream media. From the article he links to:

We have been told by Hudayfa Azzam, the son of bin Laden's longtime mentor Abdullah Azzam, that Saddam Hussein welcomed young al Qaeda members "with open arms" before the war, that they "entered Iraq in large numbers, setting up an organization to confront the occupation," and that the regime "strictly and directly" controlled their activities. We have been told by Jordan's King Abdullah that his government knew Abu Musab al Zarqawi was in Iraq before the war and requested that the former Iraqi regime deport him. We have been told by Time magazine that confidential documents from Zarqawi's group, recovered in recent raids, indicate other jihadists had joined him in Baghdad before the Hussein regime fell. We have been told by one of those jihadists that he was with Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war. We have been told by Ayad Allawi, former Iraqi prime minister and a longtime CIA source, that other Iraqi Intelligence documents indicate bin Laden's top deputy was in Iraq for a jihadist conference in September 1999.

All of this is new--information obtained since the fall of the Hussein regime. And yet critics of the Iraq war and many in the media refuse to see it. Just two weeks ago, President Bush gave a prime-time speech on Iraq. Among his key points: Iraq is a central front in the global war on terror that began on September 11. Bush spoke in very general terms. He did not mention any of this new information on Iraqi support for terrorism to make his case. That didn't matter to many journalists and critics of the war.

CNN anchor Carol Costello claimed "there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was connected in any way to al Qaeda." The charitable explanation is ignorance. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who serves as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, knows better. Before the war he pointed to Zarqawi's presence in Iraq as a "substantial connection between Iraq and al Qaeda." And yet he, too, now insists that Saddam Hussein's regime "had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, it had nothing to do with al Qaeda."

I've have pointed out Senator Rockafeller's dishonesty previously here. Go check out spd's post - lots of good information there.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Richard Cohen, Stop Lying

No, Mr. Cohen, the real outrage is that you insist on spreading lies.

I am so tired of this. When is it going to end? Are you illiterate? Can you not read? Journalism is your business.

I am a former housewife, for God's sake. If I can Google a source, why can't you summon the basic competence to get the facts right?

It was Plame, administration sources told columnist Robert D. Novak and others, who chose her husband to go to Africa to see if Saddam Hussein's Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Niger. He went and later said that he found nothing, but George W. Bush said otherwise in his 2003 State of the Union address.

Since you apparently can't do your freaking job, Mr. Cohen, let an unpaid amateur help you. From the Senate Select Intelligence Committee Report:

Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report. The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

As a matter of fact, those 16 words were based on British intelligence - intelligence they investigated and pronounced well-founded in the Butler Report:

We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that: The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa was well-founded.

Furthermore, the bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee Report concluded that:

The Intelligence Community did not accurately or adequately explain to policymakers the uncertainties behind the judgments in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.

In the cases in the NTE where the IC did express uncertainty about its assessments concerning Iraq's WMD capabilities, those explanations suggested, in some cases, that Iraq's capabilities were even greater than the NIE judged. For example, the key judgments of the NIE said "we judge that we are seeing only a portion of Iraq's WMD efforts, owing to Baghdad's vigorous denial and deception efforts. Revelations after the Gulf War starkly demonstrate the extensive efforts undertaken by Iraq to deny information.

In other words, Mr. Cohen, our own CIA overplayed reports of Saddam's WMD capabilities. And in the absence of good intelligence, that seems probably not entirely a bad decision, given that 3000 people had just died.

Wilson was both armed and dangerous. He claimed the truth.

No, Mr. Cohen, he did NOT. He lied.

He lied about who recommended him for the job.

He lied about several particulars of his own report, according to the United States Senate. And now, you are lying about the official record. And here's another lie:

[Washington] once extravagantly inflated a sex act into the impeachment of a president,

Bill Clinton was not impeached for having sex. He was impeached for lying, under oath, in a court of law. This is an offense for which he was later disbarred from the Supreme Court.

It is an offense, for which he was later disbarred from practicing his license to practice law was suspended*** by the State of Arkansas, and for which he paid a $25,000 fine.

I can assure you that those two bodies took his offense quite seriously, even if the DNC and the United States Congress did not.

Your transparent attempts to redefine the issue notwithstanding, there are one or two people in this country who can still read and still think critically.

Thank God, because they will never learn the truth from reading your column.

*** Thanks to Mike M., who e-mailed to correct my careless error. I failed to note that although the Supreme Court of Arkansas did indeed move to disbarr former President Clinton, in the end his license was merely suspended for five years and he had to pay the fine noted.

The half-vast editorial staff regrets the error :)

Posted by Cassandra at 01:45 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Sometimes Even Good Men Go Away

As PFC Eric Woods drove through the absolute blackness of the desert in his Humvee his thoughts drifted back to another time, half a world away in Omaha Nebraska...

He slides out of the driveway,
points his headlights toward the highway
still tryin’ hard not to make that sound.

It was so hard to leave Jamie and little Eric... so hard. Would they be all right without him? Was he doing the right thing? Jamie had looked so pretty, standing there, bravely struggling to hold back the tears as she kissed him goodbye at the front door.

Got two in bed and one at the door,
pretty soon there’ll be one more.
They’re all cryin’, askin’ him to stay.

The Humvee barreled on through the night. He'd gotten a letter from her just yesterday. Little Eric was 3 now. He was changing so fast - would he even recognize his Daddy when he got home? Maybe the pictures he sent would help... and the phone calls... That's all you could do. Jamie was a good Mom - she'd help him to understand. Eric just hoped she understood why he'd had to go.

God, he missed her so.

“Oh, no, my pretty ones.
There’s a need for men and guns,
and it ain’t enough to sit and pray.
Sometimes even good men go away.”

As the driver slowed the vehicle, PFC Woods saw the bodies lying by the side of the road. He grabbed his gun and Medkit and leapt over the side of the vehicle before it had even stopped rolling.

Yeah, Daddy’s gone a soldier,
got an Eagle on his shoulder,
flag on his arm and he’s gonna make ‘em pay.

Sweeping the area with his eyes, he thought, "This is why I'm here. This is what makes it all worthwhile - helping people. I just hope some of these guys are still alive."

Back home they’re scared of fightin’
sayin’ “You don’t have to die, son”.
The kids say “Daddy, are you comin’ home today?”

The first two were beyond hope, bled out, torn bodies lying in a hopeless tangle. "Bastards", he thought. Funny how you never get used to seeing people die.

He says “Oh, no, my pretty ones.
There’s a need for men and guns,
there’s just too much at stake.
There’s some things in life you gotta face.”

It wasn't until he got to the third Guardsman, who was still breathing, and started to go to work that he saw the wires...

And then everything went black.

Well there’s a letter in a locker,
when she gets it, it’ll drop her.
It’s sittin’ underneath some baby boots she made.

Just after dawn the doorbell rang in a little house in Omaha, Nebraska:

...the nightmare became real, she realized that she had grown into the role of Army spouse. Two soldiers knocked at her door in Omaha and told her the news that every military family dreads - her husband had been killed by an improvised explosive device early Saturday while trying to save another soldier near Tal Afar, Iraq.

Jamie closed the door and went inside to wake her 3 year old son.

It says “Oh, no, my pretty ones,
I guess this means my time is done.
Like gypsies who never stay,
Daddies only come to go away.”

Oh yes, Sometimes Even Good Men Go Away...

Back home, highly nuanced men argue over why we went to war, who should have done what, who knew what when, or whether decisions were made when they should have been. They dither over whether Saddam financed, harbored, and trained enough terrorists before the war to justify military intervention.

Our own media hasten to cry defeat:

Iraq's Rush To Failure (New York Times)...J Alexander Thier ...Despite President Bush's no-retreat-no-surrender rhetoric, the military and political truth about Iraq is growing clear: the American military will not defeat this insurgency. The rebels can be defeated only by political reconciliation among Iraqi leaders, and the constitutional process is the essential step.

Data Shows Faster-Rising Death Toll Among Iraqi Civilians (New York Times)...Sabrina Tavernise
Iraqi civilians and police officers died at a rate of more than 800 a month between August and May, according to figures released in June by the Interior Ministry. In response to questions from The New York Times, the ministry said that 8,175 Iraqis were killed by insurgents in the 10 months that ended May 31

The White House spin cycle (MSNBC ...David Shuster)
I don't know if things are getting better or worse in Iraq. But I do know, from a close friend who works at the White House, that the Bush administration is now panicked over the erosion of public support for the occupation.

Afghans, not the U.S., deposed the Taliban (LA Times -Letters)
In the July 11 editorial, "Still a land of danger," you write: "In the months after 9/11, U.S. troops quickly ousted Afghanistan's Taliban rulers." But U.S. troops did no such thing. Before the fall of Kabul to the Afghan Northern Alliance in November 2001, there were no U.S. regular combat formations in Afghanistan.

Yes, sometimes even good men go away. And sometimes they come home again:

Capt. Jeremy Fresques, 26, Florida
Maj. William Downs, 40, of Winchester, Va.
Capt. Derek Argel, 28, of Lompoc, Calif.
Staff Sgt. Casey Crate, 26, of Spanaway, Wash
Pfc. Eric Paul Woods, 26, Omaha, Nebraska

It has been argued that military men are mindless automatons, because for them these matters don't seem so complex. They see all these things too. They ask questions. But when their country needs them, they understand there is a job to be done. And they put their heads down, and they do their duty.

Some things are not so complicated, after all.

Thanks to Greyhawk for the lyrics and song link. This is an imagined account of PFC Woods' last moments. I have no knowledge of what transpired that night.

God rest his soul.

God bless all of these good men.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:45 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

NY TimesWatch®: Don't Mention It

For today's NY Times Watch, the half-vast editorial staff puts aside the light-hearted tone we adopt during our usual forays into the wilds of journalistic moonbattery. For this time, we are angry. Yesterday's editorial, A Few Thoughts on Karl Rove, lays the Times' non-existent journalistic principles bare for all the world to see. It begins, predictably, with the usual disarming admission:

Far be it for us to denounce leaks. Newspapers have relied on countless government officials to divulge vital information that their bosses want to be kept secret. There is even value in the sanctioned leak, such as when the White House, say, lets out information that it wants known but does not want to announce.

Put aside, for a moment, the errant thought that in many cases these leaks are wrong. That government employees violate the conditions of their employment (and in many cases, the law) by leaking information to the Times. That, in soliciting leaks, NY Times reporters are knowingly soliciting the commission of a crime.

This is Journalism - such trivial considerations as legality, subpoenas, and grand jury testimony are for the Little People. The Times obeys a Higher Law.

The Editorial Staff then lays a stunner on us:

But it is something else entirely when officials peddle disinformation for propaganda purposes or to harm a political adversary.

Ma fois! La perfide! What kind of monster would participate in such vindictive political brawling? Well, apparently the NY Times, on July 6th, 2003, when it allowed Joseph Wilson to fire off a political and, as it turned out, unsubstantiated broadside at the Bush administration.

The Times could perhaps be forgiven for not knowing, then, that Wilson was lying.

Lying about the fact that Dick Cheney's office had sent him on that mission. Lying about the fact that he had conducted a thorough investigation.

But the Times learned, later, from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee investigation, the Wilson had lied about a great many things:

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

So how to explain the Times' strange failure to mention both the SSCI report and the British Butler Report, which concluded:

...on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that: The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa was well-founded.

No, the editorial staff of the New York Times does not consider these facts to be fit for the ears of its readership. How then, does it sum up the Joseph Wilson story?

Mr. Wilson had published an Op-Ed article in The Times about being assigned to investigate allegations that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Niger - a claim that was popular among the White House and Pentagon officials eager to make the case for war with Iraq. Mr. Wilson said the allegation was unsupported by evidence, and it was later withdrawn, to Mr. Bush's embarrassment.

That's right - no mention of the fact that the 16 words hyped in Mr. Wilson's book were not, in fact, based on anything Wilson said, but on British intelligence later ruled to be well-founded. No mention of the fact that the SSCI found that Wilson had misled them about several particulars of his own report, to include who recommended him, the dates of the memos, and the conclusions regarding Saddam's pursuit of yellowcake uranium.

No mention (interestingly) of the fact that it was Matthew Cooper who contacted Karl Rove that day, and not the other way around. Hardly a case of Rove urgently trying to "get the word out" on Plame. On the contrary - Cooper was soliciting information from Rove.

No mention of the fact that George Tenet released a public statement that very day contesting Wilson's statement - in fact, discrediting Wilson.

No mention of the fact that in the opinion of the experts who wrote the statute used in this case, Plame was not a covert agent:

Even the drafters of the law, former Senate committee attorneys Victoria Toensing and Bruce Sanford, say the IIPA does not apply to this case. In a Washington Post editorial last January, they argued that Plame had been assigned to a desk job at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., well before Novak's disclosure, indicating she was far from deep cover. Further digging by other news organizations leads to the conclusion that neither Plame nor her employer took pains to conceal her identity.

And the CIA's own lag in taking action — weeks passed before the agency expressed any displeasure over Plame's outing — may indicate that her identity was at best loosely tied to national security, they added.

And perhaps most egregiously, for all their faux outrage at Bob Novak for having "blown" the cover of a "covert CIA agent" who wasn't covert at all, no mention of the fact that the NY Times has shown no compunction in the past about blowing the cover of real CIA agents in the field... if, in so doing it can embarrass a Republican administration.

And no mention of the fact that their heroine Judith Miller didn't scruple to tip off an Islamic group the FBI suspected of being a front for Palestinian terrorists.

The Times' arrogance is simply stunning. To hear them tell it, journalists should be above the law. In the interests of "the public's right to know", they should be allowed to solicit leaks from government employees (even when those leaks violate the law).

Their reporters should then be allowed to shield the lawbreaker by defying court orders and grand jury subpoenas, even when their sources have granted them a blanket waiver to testify.

And above all, the public should simply "trust them" - trust that they will always do the right thing.

For the journalistic community, there is to be no oversight, no accountability, no reckoning. Somehow, they are immune to the failings, the weaknesses, the venalities of human nature they expose in everyone else.

If you believe that, there's a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

KerryWatch®: pLame and pLamer

kerry-bike.gif Poor John Kerry.

Is there any doubt that we've entered the doldrums of Washington's annual silly season? If so, a visit to the Senator's web site will soon dispel it.

Having recently failed to re-take Capitol Hill in a manner reminiscent of Genghis Khan, the junior legislator from Massachusetts is reduced to circulating petitions on the Internet. But thank God for small favors... intrepid KerryWatchers® should be grateful he's not flogging those horrid canary yellow bike outfits he wears on the Home Shopping Network.

Gunga-John (D, VietNam), having lost the Presidency, bids fair to become the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, leaping half-way onto every DNC meme-wagon that careens his way.

First it was Count Every Vote! Then the DNC's own report came out, concluding there was no fraud in Ohio:

The statistical study of precinct-level data does not suggest the occurrence of widespread fraud that systematically misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush.

• The tendency to vote for Kerry in 2004 was the same as the tendency to vote for the Democratic candidate for governor in 2002 (Hagan). That the pattern of voting for Kerry is so similar to the pattern of voting for the Democratic candidate for governor in 2002 is, in the opinion of the team’s political science experts, strong evidence against the claim that widespread fraud systematically misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush.

• Kerry’s support across precincts also increased with the support for Eric Fingerhut, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, and decreased with the support for Issue 1 (ballot initiative opposing same-sex marriage) and increased with the proportion of African American votes. Again this is the pattern that would be expected and is not consistent with claims of widespread fraud that misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush.

Oops...

Then it was the Downing Street Memo. Kerry led that charge all the way onto the Senate floor... not!

Now it's the hue-and-cry to Fire KKKarl Rove Now!!! Get a load of Mr. Kerry's compelling reasoning:

Karl Rove, your most senior advisor, is embroiled in another controversy – this time for leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent.

Pssst...Senator: it's only a controversy because the Democrats are making it one. Let's look at the facts:

FACT: The special prosecutor has stated that Rove is not a target of the investigation.

Could that possibly be any clearer?

I suppose this petition shouldn't surprise me, coming from a man who just demanded yet another investigation into the allegations in the DSM. Allegations which have already been investigated by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and the Butler Inquiry. I realize you've been busy lately, but do try to focus?

FACT: The authors of the relevant statute say the law has not been violated:

"We made it exceedingly difficult to violate," Victoria Toensing, who was chief counsel to the Senate intelligence committee when the law was enacted, said of the law.

The e-mail message from Mr. Cooper to his bureau chief describing a brief conversation with Mr. Rove, first reported in Newsweek, does not by itself establish that Mr. Rove knew Ms. Wilson's covert status or that the government was taking measures to protect her.

Based on the e-mail message, Mr. Rove's disclosures are not criminal, said Bruce S. Sanford, a Washington lawyer who helped write the law and submitted a brief on behalf of several news organizations concerning it to the appeals court hearing the case of Mr. Cooper and Judith Miller, an investigative reporter for The New York Times.

"It is clear that Karl Rove's conversation with Matt Cooper does not fall into that category" of criminal conduct, Mr. Sanford said. "That's not 'knowing.' It doesn't even come close."

There has been some dispute, moreover, about just how secret a secret agent Ms. Wilson was.

"She had a desk job in Langley," said Ms. Toensing, who also signed the supporting brief in the appeals court, referring to the C.I.A.'s headquarters. "When you want someone in deep cover, they don't go back and forth to Langley."

Insofar as "leaking her secret identity", Joseph Wilson had his wife's maiden name (which critics maintain was "vitally associated with her cover") posted on his official bio on the Internet.

Louis Libby has testified that it was the media who told him Plame was a CIA agent.

Walter Pincus of the WaPo said in 2004 that he believes his White House source committed no crime in discussing the case with him.

And then there's this enticing little tidbit. In addition to the revelation today that Robert Novak has cooperated with prosecutors (could this be why he, unlike Judith Miller, is not in jail?), we learn:

...a U.S. government official questioned by investigators said Novak specifically asked him whether Plame had some covert status with the CIA. The official told investigators that Novak appeared uncertain whether she was undercover or not. That account, on one hand, might lend credence to the claims by Rove and other Bush administration officials that they did not know Plame was a covert CIA officer. Conversely, however, the fact that Novak asked the question in the first place appeared to indicate that he might have indeed been told Plame was a covert operative, and was seeking confirmation of that fact.

The most interesting (and little-mentioned) fact in all of this is the fact that the NY Times knows who the source is and it is not implausible to think it might be Judith Miller:

Miller also had done extensive reporting on WMD based on secret CIA sources, and Plame worked on WMD for the CIA — it's likely that she knew who Plame was. Kincaid told me that this theory was based on his own analysis of the case, but he also drew my attention to this Washington Post article:
Sources close to the investigation say there is evidence in some instances that some reporters may have told government officials — not the other way around — that Wilson was married to Plame, a CIA employee.

Is Miller refusing to testify because she herself outed Plame? Who knows? One thing is for sure: the press wants to have it both ways — attacking Scott McClellan today for not answering questions about Rove's involvement, but reserving a place of honor for Miller, who has done more to obstruct the investigation of this incident than McClellan has. McClellan deserved the grilling he got today, but journalists deserve an equal grilling when they refuse to divulge information that the public has a right to know.

As I pointed out previously, Miller has a history of leaking sensitive information in federal investigations. Her phone calls to a Muslim group under investigation for terrorist activities tipped them off just in time for them to destroy critical documents just before an impending FBI raid. But Mr. Kerry prefers obscure conspiracy theories:

His clear aim was to discredit that agent’s husband who had dared to challenge the administration in the buildup to the war.

This is ridiculous, for two reasons. First, Rove didn't have to discredit Wilson. That very day, George Tenet was releasing a statement that would do that very thing,. That statement would have been released whether or not Cooper ever talked to Rove. Rove knew Wilson was about to get his comeuppance - there was no need to discredit him.

Secondly, it was Cooper who contacted Rove:

...Cooper originally called Rove — not the other way around — and said he was working on a story on welfare reform. After some conversation about that issue, Luskin said, Cooper changed the subject to the weapons of mass destruction issue, and that was when the two had the brief talk that became the subject of so much legal wrangling. According to Luskin, the fact that Rove did not call Cooper; that the original purpose of the call, as Cooper told Rove, was welfare reform; that only after Cooper brought the WMD issue up did Rove discuss Wilson — all are "indications that this was not a calculated effort by the White House to get this story out."

"Look at the Cooper e-mail," Luskin continues. "Karl speaks to him on double super secret background...I don't think that you can read that e-mail and conclude that what Karl was trying to do was to get Cooper to publish the name of Wilson's wife."

Cooper approached him off the record and Rove, OFF THE RECORD, warned him not to go overboard with hyping Wilson's false yellowcake story:

... on the evening of July 11, 2003, just hours after the Rove-Cooper conversation, then-CIA Director George Tenet released a statement that undermined some of Wilson's public assertions about his report. "Karl knew that that [Tenet] statement was in gestation," says Luskin. "I think a fair reading of the e-mail was that he was trying to warn Cooper off from going out on a limb on [Wilson's] allegations."

The fact that the media buried Wilson's humiliation and the revelation that he had been lying all along was something Rove could hardly have foreseen.

You have a choice to make: Spend the months ahead focused on protecting Karl Rove’s job security or spend them focused on protecting America’s national security.

No Senator, YOU have a choice to make. If you really care about our national security, why don't you keep the promise you made after your defeat in November and bury the hatchet somewhere other than in George Bush's back?

Decency—and the interests of the American people--demand an end to Karl Rove’s days in the White House.

No sir. Decency—and the interests of the American people--demand an end to your destructive and wasteful partisan politics. In case you haven't noticed, there's a war going on.

Related: Sissy Willis sticks it to the MSM.

Update: Heh...:

Where were John Kerry and his liberal cohorts when Sandy Berger, a former high ranking Clinton White House official stole documents from the National Archives by stuffing documents down his pants? Of course, they were no where to be found... For Kerry to come out against Rove now is evidence of nothing more than the bitterness John Kerry retains for his overwhelming defeat at the ballot box.

Got bitterness?

Posted by Cassandra at 04:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Overdue Caption Contest Results

Finally, some long-overdue results from past VC caption contests:

reid_and_howie.jpg Stick "Em Up Caption Contest:

Praise Jesus and Pass the Donation Envelope! afe

Lawsy, lawsy, lawsy! We needs dem Jesus-folk be comin' back to de Democratic Party! Hallelujah!

Party Faithful: KJ

"That right wing book that said Democrats just sit around masturbating is a lie. See my hands! How 'bout you Howard. Howard?"

Gimme That Old-Time Religion: Brother Pile On

My God, what is this guy doing now? I swear, this guy can be such a public relations liability.

Friday Caption Contest: there were so many hilarious entries in this contest that the rankings are somewhat arbitrary. There were also several very good ones that would have won in any other contest. Congratulations to everyone who played - great job!

Prom Queen: Eric

Oh, God... MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

C'mere, Cupcake: Masked Menace©

Let's see... Whips... Dead animal flesh used as clothing... Female (allegedly) showing some skin... Brazen flaunting of sexuality... Shoes with built in weapons... Oh my God, it's a walking Gulag!

My Pretty Pony: lawhawk

Oh for the love of god, why is Zarqawi still allowed to roam free? Wait. Wrong thread.

Lyndie England showcases her latest fashion sense. Gitmo chic. Complete with whips, chains, and a dip.



Honorable Mentions: (I'm sensing some hostility issues here...)

Robbie

Senator Clinton leads the Democrats into battle over Supreme Court nominations.

Frodo

Senator Hillary Clinton (Dominatrix NY) opens up her 2008 presidential campaign by promising to whip George Bush's successor.

Will Franklin

Hillary took that whole "reaching out to the GLBT community" thing a little too seriously.


nakedpeta003tn.jpg Tasty Animals:

1st Place: spd rdr

Brenda made sure that her mother couldn't see that she had gotten the nipple rings anyway.

2nd Place: Rodney Dill

Jessica Cutler found it harder and harder to get gigs that would take her seriously

3rd Place: Masked Menace

...but women who paint themselves like wild animals do.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:21 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

To The Last Man

The body of the last man from Recon Team 3 has been found:

The fourth SEAL, who survived, evaded superior numbers until he escaped. Sixteen more Special Operations soldiers died in an attempt to reinforce the recon team when their MH-47 was shot down. The US response to the loss of the recon team was not to run but insert hundreds of troops into the area to find the missing men and possibly to complete the unfinished mission. The Al Qaeda might ask themselves what manner of men these are, who fight to the death rather than surrender, and who though injured evade over high and cold mountains until they have outdistanced their unwounded pursuers. It's not an idle question.

One of Osama Bin Laden's strategic assumptions when he wrote contemptuously of the US in his 1996 fatwa was that he was facing cowards.

Where could bin Laden have gotten this idea? Perhaps the 9/11 Commission report might shed some light?

In 1996, as an organizational experiment undertaken with seed money, the CTC created a special “Issue Station” devoted exclusively to Bin Ladin. Bin Ladin was then still in Sudan and was considered by the CIA to be a terrorist financier. The original name of the station was “TFL,” for terrorist financial links. The Bin Ladin (UBL) Station was not a response to new intelligence, but reflected interest in and concern about Bin Ladin’s connections.

The CIA believed that Bin Ladin’s move to Afghanistan in May 1996 might be a fortunate development. The CIA knew the ground in Afghanistan, as its officers had worked with indigenous tribal forces during the war against the Soviet Union. The CIA definitely had a lucky break when a former associate of Bin Ladin walked into a U.S. embassy abroad and provided an abundance of information about the organization. These revelations were corroborated by other intelligence. By early 1997, the UBL Station knew that Bin Ladin was not just a financier but an organizer of terrorist activity. It knew that al Qaeda had a military committee planning operations against U.S. interests worldwide and was actively trying to obtain nuclear material. Although this information was disseminated in many reports, the unit’s sense of alarm about Bin Ladin was not widely shared or understood within the intelligence and policy communities. Employees in the unit told us they felt their zeal attracted ridicule from their peers.

In 1997 CIA headquarters authorized U.S. officials to begin developing a network of agents to gather intelligence inside Afghanistan about Bin Ladin and his organization and prepare a plan to capture him. By 1998 DCI Tenet was giving considerable personal attention to the UBL threat.

The CIA’s Afghan assets reported on about half a dozen occasions before 9/11 that they had considered attacking Bin Ladin, usually as he traveled in his convoy along the rough Afghan roads. Each time, the operation was reportedly aborted. Several times the Afghans said that Bin Ladin had taken a different route than expected. On one occasion security was said to be too tight to capture him. Another time they heard women and children’s voices from inside the convoy and abandoned the assault for fear of killing innocents, in accordance with CIA guidelines.

As time passed, morale in the UBL unit sagged. The former deputy chief told the Joint Inquiry that they felt like they were “buying time,” trying to stop UBL and “disrupting al Qaeda members until military force could be used.” In June 1999 National Security Adviser Berger reported to President Clinton that covert action efforts against Bin Ladin had not been fruitful.

Many CIA officers, including Deputy Director for Operations Pavitt, have criticized policymakers for not giving the CIA authorities to conduct effective operations against Bin Ladin. This issue manifests itself in a debate about the scope of the covert actions in Afghanistan authorized by President Clinton. NSC staff and CIA officials differ starkly here.

Senior NSC staff members told us they believed the president’s intent was clear: he wanted Bin Ladin dead. On successive occasions, President Clinton issued authorities instructing the CIA to use its proxies to capture or assault Bin Ladin and his lieutenants in operations in which they might be killed. The instructions, except in one defined contingency, were to capture Bin Ladin if possible.

Senior legal advisers in the Clinton administration agreed that, under the law of armed conflict, killing a person who posed an imminent threat to the United States was an act of self-defense, not an assassination. As former National Security Adviser Berger explained, if we wanted to kill Bin Ladin with cruise missiles, why would we not want to kill him with covert action? Clarke’s recollection is the same.

But if the policymakers believed their intent was clear, every CIA official interviewed on this topic by the Commission, from DCI Tenet to the official who actually briefed the agents in the field, told us they heard a different message. What the United States would let the military do is quite different, Tenet said, from the rules that govern covert action by the CIA. CIA senior managers, operators, and lawyers uniformly said that they read the relevant authorities signed by President Clinton as instructing them to try to capture Bin Ladin, except in the defined contingency. They believed that the only acceptable context for killing Bin Ladin was a credible capture operation.

“We always talked about how much easier it would have been to kill him,” a former chief of the UBL Station said. Working-level CIA officers said they were frustrated by what they saw as the policy restraints of having to instruct their assets to mount a capture operation. When Northern Alliance leader Massoud was briefed on the carefully worded instructions for him, the briefer recalls that Massoud laughed and said, “You Americans are crazy. You guys never change.”

1993... NYC, the World Trade Center is attacked...unanswered by Washington.
Somalia... American pilot dragged through the streets of Mogadishu...unanswered by Washington.
October, 2000: The USS Cole... unanswered by Washington.

What lesson did al Qaeda draw from our response?

...your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal.

You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu.

September 11th, 2001. World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 attacked. Nearly 3000 Americans of all races, religions, and creeds...dead.

Answered by Washington.

But George W. Bush is a reckless, warmongering imperialist who is provoking an otherwise-peaceful adversary (we must avoid the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments)who would undoubtedly leave us alone if we'd just mind our own business.

I am sorry. At this point I am no doubt expected to go off on one of my legendary rants.

Sometimes there are no words. Even for me.

CWCID to the ruthless CardinalPark for the Wretchard link.

Posted by Cassandra at 02:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Darth Moyers Speaks

darthMoyers.jpg I find your lack of faith in Public Broadcasting disturbing, Little One...








We *are* unbiased.









SEARCH your feelings.... You *know* it to be true.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

PBS Investigates, Absolves Self Of Bias

In this week's Irony Alert, the half-vast editorial staff is relieved to learn (via the perenially even-handed WaPo) that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting conducted an impartial investigation and announces, in an unreleased report critics denounce as "seriously flawed", that its programming is completely free of bias against conservatives:****

Is public broadcasting a nest of left-wing biases? Ken Tomlinson of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds public television and radio, was so concerned about the alleged leftward drift of programs on National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service that the CPB chairman persuaded his agency to hire not one but two ombudsmen to review and critique NPR and PBS news segments.

So what kind of slanted reporting have Ken Bode and William Schulz uncovered since they began work three months ago?

As it turns out, not much. Actually, as it turns out, none at all.

Instead, Bode and Schulz have been positively glowing in their assessments of the journalism heard on NPR and seen on news shows distributed by PBS. So glowing, in fact, that Schulz and Bode's reports, which are posted on CPB's Web site could easily be excerpted in the shorthand style of a movie ad quoting favorable reviews. To wit:
"First-rate. . . . Insightful interviews. . . . In all, two excellent reports." -- Schulz on NPR's reporting from Mosul, Iraq, in late April.

"Excellent. . . . Informative. . . . These two reports gave a nuanced and balanced view of the situation. . . . Kudos to the producers, reporters and editors." -- Bode, on the same stories.

**** buried at the bottom of page two:

Said Schulz: "It's far too early for me, at least, to come to a conclusion about overall balance, or in individual programs. That will become more apparent as we listen more and watch more."

Posted by Cassandra at 09:47 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Judith Miller Subjected To Sexual Torture, Bombshell Memo Reveals

rovester.gif L'Affaire Plame has rapidly become the sizzling story of Washington's long, hot summer, keeping the Capitol Hill elite abuzz with rumors, innuendo, and the kind of talk that makes Caged Heat look like last week's episode of the Teletubbies.

Tuesday morning brought yet another indictment of an administration increasingly viewed as under siege. A shocking document - the now infamous 14th Street Memo - surfaced thanks to the ground-breaking investigative work of Matt Cooper, one of two reporters threatened with jail in the Plame affair. And there were more revelations to come:

In an attempt to learn the identity of her source, jailed NY Times reporter Judith Miller testified that federal prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald had tried to break her by subjecting her to unspeakable sexual tortures. Ironically, a sympathetic jailer smuggled her desperate plea for help to the outside world in a desecrated copy of the New York Times. This incident is now under separate investigation.

The release of Miller's cri-de-coeur prompted a secret Bush administration source to call Cooper and offer him the 14th Street Memo: a retyped copy of a copy of a destroyed original memo of a top-secret administration meeting.

According to the memo, "D" talked to "E" (another unnamed source), who sort of remembers talking to "F" (yet another unnamed source) at a DC-area barbecue over Mai Tais. They were joshing around about how funny it would be if a certain pudgy administration mastermind dressed up in drag and broke into a women's prison. According to "E", "F" thought "W" would be "down with the whole plan - he 'would love it'". And so, in the words that will come to haunt the Bush administration because we will keep them on Page One for at least six weeks, "plans were made around their policy".

Ostensibly, the administration's hatchet-man was none other than Karl Rove., because just a few weeks later a tearful Miller said a scantily-clad Rove appeared in her cell just before midnight, rubbing himself up against her while shaking his groove thing to a torrid Latino-influenced backbeat. Rumors were circulating that it was a Christina Aguilera CD, but even some hardened critics of the administration were reluctant to believe DOJ would go that far.

Wearing only a bustier, thong underwear, and silk stockings, Rove pouted sexily at Miller, pulled down one strap of the bustier, exposing a creamy shoulder, ran his fingers through the few hairs on his shiny pate, then sat on Miller's lap, whispering in her shell-like ear that he'd always wanted to "improve relations with the media".

Ms. Miller appeared extremely traumatized by the incident. Psychologists say the attack on Ms. Miller could cause lasting damage to her psyche, as most reporters consider social contact with Republicans to be taboo. Congressional leaders appeared outraged by the report, calling for an immediate investigation and the resignation of the embattled Presidential advisor. Brandishing the memo on national TV, Senator Dick Durbin was close to tears:

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case.

My fellow Americans, this is a sad, sad day. It would appear that Cameron Diaz was right.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:59 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

The Gloves Come Off

GLPOST.jpg When first I joined that elite company of ConservaBabes known as The Cotillion, I confess I was did not know quite what to expect. But one thing was certain: the Villainous Oink Cadre (otherwise known as the local knavery) would soon have the snark cannon primed and at the ready.

A lady's only recourse at such times is to take refuge in her unique brand of gentle but bracing wit, her unimpeachable dignity, and that intellect which fears not to contest with the ruder elements of human society. So in answer to the question, "Does this mean white-glove blogging from now on?", I fear the answer must be:

"Gentlemen, prepare yourselves. The gloves are off."

This week, hostesses Janette of Common Sense Runs Wild, Christina of Feisty Repartee and Sissy of Sisu join with me in serving up a saucy mix of opinions on topics ranging from the terrorist attack in London, the G8 summit, political correctness and racial profiling, Live 8, family, and the proper expression of patriotism. There's something for every taste from fiery to icily satirical to sweetly sentimental. And so it is with great pleasure that we invite you to join us over at The Cotillion for the week's festivities.

With delicately arched eyebrow and poison pen, Ilyka Damen deftly skewers the loathsome "I could not criticize Amerikkka so harshly, did I not love her more" meme :

Beloved, know you not how my heart aches for you? Whence this distrust and uneasiness on your part?

HEDY.gif Indeed, have I ever in the course of our love--a course which has seldom run smooth, alas -- given you reason to doubt my intentions?

For perhaps what grieves me most is to see your beautiful eyes cloud over with wariness, fear, and doubt.

My fairest angel! I cannot bear to see you in such distress and to sense--nay, to know--that you suspect me of causing it!

Just A Girl poses a question that's as American as apple-pie. In today's world, can two kids have fun with their family in the middle of Nowhere?

Away from their friends. No computers. No video games. Very limited access to television.

Can they actually have a good time…TOGETHER… when they aren’t at home trying to be cool around all of their buddies??

A picture's worth a thousand words.

Rita1.gif If sassy's more your style, try Knowledge is Power. Tired of those sappy Precious Moments posters and their saccharine sentiments? Sick of Doing unto Others? SondraK has the perfect antidote

Little Miss Attila offers some perspective on the London bombing:

It was a failure. The terrorists brought a knife to a gun fight. We know that their ability to pull these things off depends upon their resources: they will always go for the biggest target, the greatest symbolism, and the highest body count. It was a tiny bloodbath, not even in the same league with 3/11 in Madrid.

The 9/11 attack was supposed to kill tens or hundreds of thousands, not several thousand. And the U.S. government was supposed to be decapitated, with both the Capitol building and the White House in ruins.

These guys are far from defeated, but they grow weaker every year. It will take many more years, but we are winning.

We are.

Monroe1.gif But MaxedOut Mama warns against being too complacent:

Appeasement of Hitler only made the eventual and inevitable confrontation far more costly, while leaving us with the eternal stain of guilt for not preventing the massacres of the political and social opponents of the Nazis, the Gypsies, the disabled, the Jews and the Poles.... Because we did not act decisively and quickly, millions died. We can't undo that. Because we did not act decisively and quickly, when we finally began to fight we faced a much stronger enemy. We can't undo that.

We can avoid repeating that particular error, which was rooted either in the failure to read what the Nazis had written or to believe it.

Merri Musings wonders whose side the ACLU is taking in the war on terror?

Who said the fairer sex are bad with numbers? Sadie at Fistful of Fortnights can’t forget the roll call of the dead – she’s keeping a dead accurate tally. When we think of terrorism, we remember bodies in silent free-fall from the World Trade Center.

But this stopped being just our fight a long, long time ago.

SUSANH.jpgThey Also Serve: don’t miss this beautiful and inspiring photo essay from Florida Cracker. You’ll never guess who was guarding you the day London was attacked. I’m still smiling.

The recent terrorist attack on London aroused a variety of reactions. Beth at MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy wonders what it will take for people to get serious about the war on terror? And she’s asking some hard questions:

All over the news, people are saying “they knew” some terrorist attack would happen in London sooner or later. (Need I link? Just look around.) Why is it, then, that so many British so bitterly oppose the war on terror? Will they look at it differently now, or will the people try to “understand” the terrorists and place the blame elsewhere? When will stupid political correctness take a back seat to security–meaning YES, profiling.

SIGOUR.gif I’m not suspicious of all of them, but the fact is that I’m suspicious of those I don’t know. In fact, my daughter had an Afghani babysitter when we lived in Northern Virginia, and this was AFTER 9/11. I trusted her and her family, more than some of my other neighbors.

Extremely politically incorrect, with a language warning (as usual)...Beth's tired of the language of "tolerance," which to her is just another code for IGNORANCE.

The savagery of the attacks has a Girl on the Right questioning the value of diversity and political correctness during wartime. Is it time for some straight talk?

But for another blogger, the attack brought a testimony to the healing power of words. Christina at Feisty Repartee asked her readers to send prayers and good wishes to a London blogger whose best friend was in the ICU after the blast. She got a lovely note back - just one more way blogging is changing the way we communicate.

And a few ladies keep an eye on world events during the silly season. e-Claire takes a snarky look at the G8 summit:

The G8 leaders pledged their solidarity with the United Kingdom and resolved to improve rail and subway safety by strip searching each and every Norwegian grandmother attempting to ride mass transit.

While Stacy at Not A Desperate Housewife is fed up with wealthy celebrities telling us to dig deep to help Africa:

GRACE.jpg

Africa has a multitude of problems, it is not limited to what the performers of Live 8 claim it to be. My sister has spent time there on humanitarian missions to help orphaned children. AIDS and hepatitis are rampant and the children will most likely not make it to adulthood. Where she has been the only people living were the very old, and the very young. If you are between these ages, you cannot find work, you cannot receive health care, you cannot attempt to live any sort of a normal existence. It is assumed by the elderly that you're infected and will be dying shortly.

What is causing the problem?

Her answer may surprise you.

Written by Cassandra

Cross-posted at The Cotillion


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

Get A Clue, Ladies' Man...

Every now and then I run across one of these articles written by guys in which some self-appointed "expert" purports to tell perfectly normal, attractive men how they can "make it" with women. Invariably I'm just floored by the idiocy.

The first thing that always pops into my mind is, "Hmmm.... apparently he's had a LOT of experience with rejection"...(in which case, why should anyone listen to him?). Or... are we supposed to take him at his word and assume he's a real "pro" with the ladies? Wherever does he find the time to write articles on demystifying rejection? And how would he know?

Does it ever occur to any of these geniuses to ... gee, I dunno... ask a woman?

This guy wants to tell you why the woman you approached just rejected you. I can't begin to speak for all women, but he seemed way off-base to me. Here's one (admittedly older) woman's reaction to his advice. Feel free to add your own in the comments section:

1- She's a bitch Contemporary society is awash in rude, self-centered, man-hating Sex and the City clones who care only about themselves and have absolutely no conscience about men's feelings (or the feelings of other women, for that matter). Their attitude is: I have a million-dollar sexual price tag and any man is going to have to bow and scrape and pay dearly to gain access to it. These are the women who will try to emasculate you when you ask them out (if you don't have something they can sex-ploit), who get off on making men squirm, and who flagrantly abuse their sexual power.

Survey says.... XXXXXX. Number one answer: you made her feel like a cheap piece of beef on display at the local Piggly Wiggly.

This is ridiculous. I used to hate going to bars because I didn't like turning down even the most obnoxious guys - no one likes trying to come up with nice ways to say, "I'm not interested". Most women don't enjoy hurting other people's feelings, but when a guy makes it obvious he has no interest in her other than a one-night stand, any compunction she might have about embarrassing him falls by the wayside pretty quickly. After all, he's just insulted her by treating her with a complete lack of respect. If you're not interested in getting to know her as a person before you jump into the sack with her, perhaps you shouldn't be surprised if she writes you off. Fair's fair - you weren't wasting any time. Why should she?

2- You don't have the goods Since money is the No. 1 consideration a woman weighs when choosing which men to date, if you don't have it or don't look like you have it, then you're just not going to be on the top of her list. Until we refuse to pay for female attention, women are going to keep getting away with this kind of sex-tortion.

Wow. Got bitterness? When I was dating I always offered to share expenses. And I can't remember even considering money when I got married, let alone when I was dating. My idea of a perfect date was walking along the beach on a summer night, or just going somewhere and listening to music and talking. It didn't have to be expensive. Women like attention: little things like noticing her perfume, her hair, or that new dress she bought just for you. Consideration goes a long, long way with most ladies.

3- She's taken

Entirely possible, but as the man points out that should be obvious from the get-go.

4- She's a player In other words, she's a serial flirter. A lot of married women or women with low self-esteem fall into this category -- they constantly need to be assured that they're still attractive to men, and so will ooze up to any guy who comes close just to get his reaction. They have no interest in dating you -- just in getting you turned on and then walking away. This is another flagrant abuse of female sexual power over men.

Ummm...what were you doing flirting with a married woman? Unless of course she wasn't wearing a wedding ring...

5- She's a psycho A lot of women out there have chosen "bad boys" or have, for psychological reasons, been involved in disastrous relationships and now blame men for all the problems of their own making. Some of them have dropped out of the dating pool altogether or have been repeatedly abandoned by men because of their chaotic behavior. They will reject you just because you're one of "them."

There are a few women like this, but far fewer than men like to make out. Most women like this are dumb enough to keep dating the wrong men over and over. If she's so dumb that she's going to turn down a nice guy and keep dating bums, good riddance. You should be glad she turned you down - that's a train wreck waiting to happen.

6- You've got the wrong moves If you "Hey, baby" her while snaking an unctuous arm around her shoulders, leer at her or keep calling her when she's clearly not interested, then you're just a creepy pest, and you'll have about as much chance of sleeping with her as a eunuch does.

Yep.

7- Bad timing If a woman turns you down, you may have run head-on into some bizarre phase of her monthly cycle in which all men are bad, or she's feeling unattractive, or any of a thousand other hormone-based reactions to the dating world. You could run into her a couple of days from now and get a complete green light.

Wrong. This is what she tells you when she's not interested and she's trying to let you down easy.

8- She's been hurt Any time you hear, "I'm taking a break from dating," or, "I need some time to get my life together," when you ask a woman out, it usually means that she's just come out of a bad relationship and is not yet interested in jumping into a new one. With this sort of damaged woman, it's best to aim for friendship or wait a while for her to straighten herself out before trying again.

Amazing - sometimes people mean what they say.

9- You're a geek In other words, you have no sexual confidence whatsoever and you melt like ice cream in July whenever she gets within 10 feet of you. You don't have to be James Bond, but if you can't even get a sentence out around her without stammering, then there's no way she's going to accept a date with you. You will be instantly relegated to "friend" status, if that.

Oh for Pete's sake - this is a total male myth. "Sexual confidence" is overrated as far as women are concerned. I'll tell you a secret: you're bigger and stronger than we are. We find that sexy. And what most women want, most is a relationship.

And sometimes, having a guy melt like an ice cream cone in July is the hottest thing a woman can imagine - she can't ask for a more sincere tribute. So don't slink away - have the guts to stick around for a moment and see if she responds. She might be embarrassed or confused for a second (she's human too, you know). And she might surprise you.

If she likes you as a person and finds you reasonably attractive, she can and will teach you anything she wants you to know in the boudoir. So if you're not feeling "confident", get to know her really well and let nature take its course. The confidence thing will work itself out.

10- She's just not attracted to you Simple as that. It happens and there's nothing you can do about it. It's best to just pick up the pieces and move on.

Absolutely. And it may have nothing to do with you, or your attractiveness. We all have little ideals in our heads, and just because you don't match up with her fantasy man doesn't mean you aren't someone else's. Move one - somewhere there's a woman who's dreaming of someone just like you.

Posted by Cassandra at 09:49 AM | Comments (52) | TrackBack

The Myth Of Conservative Judicial Activism

Yesterday I got an email from my Dad. The subject line read, "Michael Kinsley stumbles onto the truth...".

I had to laugh. Tacked up behind my monitor was another of his editorials in which he'd had an Epic Encounter with Reality. Mr. Kinsley was dutifully flailing away at the liberal Boogeyman Du Jour: conservative judicial activism. Reading his piece several weeks ago, I'd had exactly the same thought - "One of these days the man is going to hurt himself".

Conservative judicial activism - this one never fails to mystify me. By what definition is it "dangerously radical" to interpret the Constitution as originally written? How is it activist to resist reading things into a document which clearly are not there, or to wish the Supreme Court would stay within the bounds set for it by the Constitution? That would seem more passivism than activism, at least to my way of thinking.

Typically, Kinsley manages to twist the definition of "activism" around until he has it exactly backwards. After a series of rhetorical twists and turns that leave the reader dizzy and confused, he heaves an enormous sigh of relief:

...the danger of conservative judicial activism has been averted for another year. Stay tuned.

Yes, those working-class folks may have lost their homes, but I'm sure they feel comforted by the thought that those horrid activist judges have been forcibly restrained from narrowly defining the Public Use Clause. But though Kinsley got almost everything else wrong, the truth he stumbled onto was a stunner. Or it would have been, had he only realized it:

Of course, conservatives always claim to be against judicial activism. Liberals have long suspected that this was a decoy and that once conservatives had control of the federal courts they would twist their mustaches, laugh contemptuously and reveal the various policies they planned to impose by judicial fiat. Conservatives and liberals alike have been waiting for this moment for a third of a century. Each Supreme Court appointment by a Republican president seems to be "it." And yet "it" hasn't happened. Roe v. Wade -- the high-water mark of liberal judicial activism -- still stands. And on Thursday the court said a surprising "no thanks" to judicial activism, Republican style.

Kinsley's unwitting admission was even more remarkable when you consider that 7 of the 9 sitting Justices were appointed by Republicans. Did it never occur to him that perhaps all the Democratic hysteria might be misplaced? After all, he admits that though the court has been controlled by conservative appointees for quite some time, the nightmare of conservative judicial activism has not come to pass. Nor is it likely to - for good reason. For unlike Nancy Pelosi, who greets the prospect of a Divine SCOTUS as the beginning of an Age of Marvels, conservatives most definitely do not feel that the Court's pronouncements are "almost as if God has spoken". Why is it that the party that complains about disenfranchisement and the importance of representative goverment seems so eager to cede power from the legislative to the judicial branch?

This has long puzzled me. I have never understood why Democrats resist Federalism. Likewise, it has always mystified me how otherwise intelligent people define originalism as "radical" when it is such a minimal approach. The answer, I have come to believe, lies in whether one believes the end justifies the means. Whether one believes in rule- or process-based government, or that it is more important to achieve a given end quickly, with a minimum of fuss; even if in so doing one stretches established law and procedures to the breaking point.

The former approach implies a fundamental mistrust of human nature and a reliance on the accumulated wisdom of prior generations. It assumes rules generally exist for a reason (i.e., in the past, something bad probably happened, causing someone to learn from experience and create procedures to handle future occurrences). The latter approach assumes that somehow human nature is perfectible: past mistakes will not be repeated and people will always behave responsibly, regardless of incentives or disincentives. This is an assumption history has not borne out.

Nowhere was the tension between these two philosophies more clearly evident than in the often-conflicting rulings of recently retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Conservatives often struggled to understand why she ruled one way on this case and another on that. Charles Krauthammer pins it down neatly. Unlike Antonin Scalia or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, philosophical opposites united by the use of a strong and consistent judicial philosophy, Justice O'Connor seemed more interested in achieving social ends than in carrying out her appointed role as an interpreter of the Constitution:

Perhaps the most telling moment of Sandra Day O'Connor's nearly quarter-century career on the Supreme Court came on her last day. In her opinion on the Kentucky Ten Commandments case, O'Connor wrote that, given religious strife raging around the world and America's success in resolving religious differences, why would we "renegotiate the boundaries between church and state. . . . Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?"

This is O'Connorism in its purest essence. She had not so much a judicial philosophy as a social philosophy. Unlike a principled conservative such as Antonin Scalia, or a principled liberal such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, O'Connor had no stable ideas about constitutional interpretation. Her idea of jurisprudence was to decide whether legislation produced social "systems" that either worked or did not.

Liberals applaud O'Connor as a pragmatist and a moderate, but in reality her judicial philosophy was anything but moderate: it was not only radical but inherently destabilizing:

The problem with ad hoc pragmatism, however, is that it turns the Supreme Court not only into a super-legislature but also into a continuously sitting one. Does anyone have any idea exactly how many reindeer are required to make a town's Christmas creche display constitutionally kosher? Or exactly how much weight you are allowed to give racial preference in hiring? The only way to know is to sue and go back once again to the Supreme Court.

It was also fundamentally undemocratic, resulting in a Supreme Court that has begun slaying gnats with a rolled-up Constitution. Can anything be sillier than the recent split Ten Commandments decisions? It is hard to believe the Founding Fathers intended SCOTUS to weigh how many cubic feet of fresh air suffice to diffuse the oppressive miasma of the Decalogue.

But erasing both our history and every vestige of the religion which has formed such a large part of American life seems to be a vital goal for the liberal left. The reason for this becomes obvious when one considers their goal, like that of Justice O'Connor, is defined as 'social stability': the maintenance of recent, post-FDR social engineering largely enacted through an increasingly activist (and increasingly liberal) Supreme Court.

Robert Bork comments on the changes time and activism have wrought:

What do the nomination of a replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor, constitutional law, and moral chaos have to do with one another? A good deal more than you may think.

In Federalist No. 2, John Jay wrote of America that "providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs." Such a people enjoy the same moral assumptions, the cement that forms a society rather than a cluster of groups. Though Jay's conditions have long been obsolete, until recently Americans did possess a large body of common moral assumptions rooted in our original Anglo-Protestant culture, and expressed in law. Now, however, a variety of disintegrating influences are undermining that unanimity, not least among them is the capture of constitutional law by an extreme liberationist philosophy. America is becoming a cacophony of voices proclaiming different, or no, truths.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed that "if each undertook himself to form all his opinions and to pursue the truth in isolation down paths cleared by him alone, it is not probable that a great number of men would ever unite in any common belief. . . . Without common ideas there is no common action, and without common action men still exist, but a social body does not."

Contrast Tocqueville with Justices Harry Blackmun and Anthony Kennedy. Justice Blackmun wanted to create a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy because of the asserted " 'moral fact' that a person belongs to himself and not others nor to society as a whole." Justice Kennedy, writing for six justices, did invent that right, declaring that "at the heart of [constitutional] liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Neither of these vaporings has the remotest basis in the actual Constitution, and neither has any definable meaning other than that a common morality may not be sustained by law if a majority of justices prefer that each individual follow his own desires.

There is a great tension in America between our inherent desire for freedom of individual action, between what we as free beings see as our natural rights, and the respect for law and our civic duties. To someone born and raised in a military family part of this seems quite strange. The notion of duty seems as natural to me as breathing in and out. I cannot avoid it, nor would I want to. To me, freedom and duty go hand in hand: I enjoy freedom precisely because I belong to a greater entity:

The polis: a Greek city-state; broadly : a state or society especially when characterized by a sense of community.

As an individual, I am suspicious of government and generally annoyed by nosy officials and intrusive rules. On the other hand, as an adult I have learned that without rules and police and consequences, people invariably behave badly. Without rules, without police, we have anarchy: the rule of the strong over the weak or the tyranny of the many over the few. Thus we put up with the inconvenience of government - because it guarantees our freedoms.

But government is becoming so large, so remote and unwieldy that it no longer responds to the ordinary citizen. And this is largely a consequence of the encroachment of the federal government on areas that were once solely the province of state and local government. And this has happened because we have been seduced by the siren song of individual freedom: instead of working through our state and local governments to ensure they represent us fairly, we have taken the quick and easy path. Impatient of the often-lengthy democratic process, we increasingly resort to the federal courts to achieve quick results. The result has been an end run around our federal, state, and local legislatures. But more importantly, we have enlarged the role of the judicial branch at the expense of the legislative and executive branches. Worse, each successive decision has broadened the precedent for SCOTUS to liberally interpret the Constitution and further undermined the original structure and meaning of that document.

We have, in essence, created a monster. As Justice Scalia memorably quipped, this is not the way it was supposed to be:

The virtue of a democratic system with a First Amendment is that it readily enables the people, over time, to be persuaded that what they took for granted is not so, and to change their laws accordingly. That system is destroyed if the smug assurances of each age are removed from the democratic process and written into the Constitution. So to counterbalance the Court's criticism of our ancestors, let me say a word in their praise: they left us free to change. The same cannot be said of this most illiberal Court, which has embarked on a course of inscribing one after another of the current preferences of the society (and in some cases only the counter majoritarian preferences of the society's law trained elite) into our Basic Law.

More recently, Justice Thomas lamented the death of Federalism in Gonzalez v. Raich:

“One searches the Court’s opinion in vain for any hint of what aspect of American life is reserved to the States.”

He was right: how is the ordinary citizen to effect change in a legal landscape where state law has become federal law and the role of Congress is increasingly being usurped by the Courts?

I read something which stunned me yesterday morning. Unfortunately it is subscription-only, so I will have to sum it up. The article argued that the precursor to Roe v. Wade, a decision called Griswold v. CT, was wrongly decided. As someone who does not want the federal (or state, for that matter) government peering through my bedroom window, I immediately bristled: "What nonsense! Of course married people have a right to buy contraceptives!".

But then I started to think, before I even read the rest of the piece, and I began to realize there was a point to be made for this argument, and it tied in with something I had been thinking for a long time. I had fallen into the same trap I accuse others of: I went for the quick and easy solution.

Because that right did not arise in the Constitution. Now arguably, there is a right not to have my house unreasonably searched, nor my contraceptives seized, that arises in the Constitution. So perhaps there is an enforcement protection I can assert against the State when they come after me. But how many times do we, in trying to engineer ends to suit some predetermined outcome, do an end run around the system? And in so doing, do violence to the law?

This was a case that never, arguably, should have ended up in federal court. There was no federal question. And had there been no ruling in Griswold, there would have been no penumbral "right to privacy', and many a slippery slope would have been avoided.

But, you say, what about "the right outcome"?

We live in a democratic Republic. This case was tried in the 1960's, public opinion was changing rapidly. There should have been a public outcry, there ought to have been public debate. There are a million things that should have happened, here. But instead the matter was lifted out of the public arena and decided by the courts. And there was clearly NOTHING in the Constitution that said there was a federal right to privacy. The result was that a powerful precedent was created in which many matters have been removed from the hands of state and local legislatures and decided by a tiny number of non-elected people who are not accountable to the general populace.

If this is not activism, I don't know what is. And the truly interesting thing about all of this is that it requires a truly stunning refusal to confront our own history and legal traditions to pretend otherwise. For one cannot substitute the most recent fifty years of social progress for our entire 200+ year history without losing something irreplacible in the process: a priceless sense of perspective.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:19 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

July 10, 2005

A New Penumbral Right?

Since this seems to be the Silly Season at SCOTUS, can anyone doubt this portends the discovery of a heretofore-unsuspected Penumbral Right:

A man arrested when police showed up to break up a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house has filed a lawsuit, arguing he had a constitutional right to get drunk on private property as long as he didn't cause a public disturbance.

Eric Laverriere, 25, of Portland, Maine, was taken into protective custody by Waltham police and locked in a cell for nine hours until the effects of the alcohol wore off.

Legal experts said his lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Boston, is the first to challenge a state law allowing police to lock up drunk people against their will for their own protection.

I am speechless.

Meanwhile, the coveted Stuffed Marmosett will be awarded to the Lucky Reader who can discover the link (the HVES is quite certain one exists) between the preceding story and these:

Man charged with exposing his breasts

...and quite possibly this little gem:

Doctor discovers Orgasmatron (thank you, Friend of USA)

Posted by Cassandra at 12:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The WaPo Looks Out For Our Furry Friends...

I can't wait to give my son a hard time about this:

DIE, DAMN YOU...

Arlington County police are investigating the manner in which an officer killed a deer last month. The injured deer was suffering, so the officer, who has not been named, shot it in the head. When it didn't die, he ran over it with a police cruiser and then suffocated the animal.

How much do you want to bet this poor guy ends up in some sort of mandatory Sensitivity Training?

I'll bet they never covered this sort of thing at police academy:

ORCHARD STREET , 10700 block, June 24. A woman observed a 1-month-old goat tied to a neighbor's tree during a large cookout. Fearing that it was intended to be part of the meal, she attempted to persuade the neighbor to give her the animal. An argument ensued, and the police were called. After a discussion, the neighbor allowed the woman to take the goat to an animal sanctuary.

Posted by Cassandra at 09:16 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 09, 2005

We're Still Not Ready

Today I found my self agreeing with Colbert King. It is not an experience I'm used to. He writes:

Within hours of learning about the bombs in London, a Metro spokeswoman stepped forward to tell us that our mass transit system, on which the entire Washington area depends, is vulnerable to attack, that it lacks funds for decontamination equipment, needs equipment to detect weapons of mass destruction, must expand its intruder inspection system and lacks a backup operations center.

My youngest son rides the Metro to work every day. He rides it home from work every evening. My oldest son is a police officer - he patrols the streets of Arlington, Virginia, right near where that plane hit the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. And so Mr. King's words arose that little frisson of fear in the back of my subconscious. It never quite leaves me.

Because I happen to agree with him: we're still not ready, even after all the commissions and the studies and the millions of dollars we've poured into homeland security.

Why? Because we refuse to face a few unpleasant facts. Facts like this:

The House of Representatives foolishly voted 238 to 187 on June 15 to scuttle the Patriot Act's so-called "library provision." Even though seven of the 19 Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers used public libraries for Internet access and to purchase tickets on one of the doomed flights, the House seemed more worried that some overzealous FBI agent might try to learn who checked out "The Joy of Sex." If, equipped with court orders, the FBI can unravel Islamic terrorists' Internet communications via public library computers, hindering these investigators could hasten the day when American commuters suffer the fate of their British counterparts.

Even when we see clear, unequivocal connections in these attacks, we refuse to take action. We are so afraid of racial profiling that we meticulously search United States military officers traveling on official orders. We stop little old ladies but let Arabs pass unmolested through checkpoints at our airports. We know almost half of the highjackers used a library internet connection to kill 3000 innocent Americans, yet we won't allow law enforcement to monitor their communications in a public library. Americans have allowed the exact same anti-crime provisions outlined in the Patriot Act to be used against gangsters for years without a whimper of protest. But they are outraged when law enforcement tries to use them against the terrorists who took 3000 American lives in 2001.

We don't even begin to know where the real danger lies.

After watching the savage beheadings of women, the burning of corpses, and innumerable attacks on innocent non-combatants in Iraq, all of which violate all known laws of war, we fixate on mishandling of copies of the Koran we provided to detainees at Gitmo. We still stubbornly refuse to admit the nature of the enemy we're facing:

Moments after yesterday’s attacks my telephone was buzzing with requests for interviews with one recurring question: but what do they want? That reminded me of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker, who was shot by an Islamist assassin on his way to work in Amsterdam last November. According to witnesses, Van Gogh begged for mercy and tried to reason with his assailant. “Surely we can discuss this,” he kept saying as the shots kept coming. “Let us talk it over.”

Van Gogh, who had angered Islamists with his documentary about the mistreatment of women in Islam, was reacting like BBC reporters did yesterday, assuming that the man who was killing him may have some reasonable demands which could be discussed in a calm, democratic atmosphere.

But sorry, old chaps, you are dealing with an enemy that does not want anything specific, and cannot be talked back into reason through anger management or round-table discussions. Or, rather, this enemy does want something specific: to take full control of your lives, dictate every single move you make round the clock and, if you dare resist, he will feel it his divine duty to kill you.

The ideological soil in which alQaeda, and the many groups using its brand name, grow was described by one of its original masterminds, the Pakistani Abul-Ala al-Maudoodi more than 40 years ago. It goes something like this: when God created mankind He made all their bodily needs and movements subject to inescapable biological rules but decided to leave their spiritual, social and political needs and movements largely subject to their will. Soon, however, it became clear that Man cannot run his affairs the way God wants. So God started sending prophets to warn man and try to goad him on to the right path. A total of 128,000 prophets were sent, including Moses and Jesus. They all failed. Finally, God sent Muhammad as the last of His prophets and the bearer of His ultimate message, Islam. With the advent of Islam all previous religions were “abrogated” (mansukh), and their followers regarded as “infidel” (kuffar). The aim of all good Muslims, therefore, is to convert humanity to Islam, which regulates Man’s spiritual, economic, political and social moves to the last detail.

But what if non-Muslims refuse to take the right path? Here answers diverge.

Some believe that the answer is dialogue and argument until followers of the “abrogated faiths” recognise their error and agree to be saved by converting to Islam. This is the view of most of the imams preaching in the mosques in the West. But others, including Osama bin Laden, a disciple of al-Maudoodi, believe that the Western-dominated world is too mired in corruption to hear any argument, and must be shocked into conversion through spectacular ghazavat (raids) of the kind we saw in New York and Washington in 2001, in Madrid last year, and now in London.

That yesterday’s attack was intended as a ghazava was confirmed in a statement by the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe, an Islamist group that claimed responsibility for yesterday’s atrocity.

We do not need to become the enemy we are facing, but we will never prevail if we cannot summon the courage to look him in the eye, nor to admit the nature of the threat we are facing.

We are still not ready.

And we have no one but ourselves to blame.

And in unquiet moments, I often wonder which one of my sons will pay for that fatal blindness?

Posted by Cassandra at 09:34 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

July 08, 2005

Friday Caption Contest

Gentlemen, your moment of zen...

arghmyeyes.jpg

You knew you'd have to pay for that last photo, didn't you?

Brazenly ripped off from Vinnie

Posted by Cassandra at 11:23 AM | Comments (34) | TrackBack

A Bad Day At The Office...

Oh my dear Lord.... TigerHawk was right. This is the funniest thing I've read in a long time.

INT. MONEYPENNY'S OFFICE -- DAY

Bond exits the office, still blinking from his odd briefing with M. But the sight of Moneypenny puts him in a different frame of mind. She's reading an article in Vanity Fair by Gore Vidal titled, "We Just Plain Suck."

BOND
Why Miss Moneypenny... how do we keep meeting like this?

MONEYPENNY
(under breath)
Bloody neocon Zionist fascist...

BOND
What?

MONEYPENNY
Nothing. I'm afraid I've got a bit of a cough. M wants you to see Q. He has some... interesting equipment for you.

BOND
As luck would have it, I'm already carrying some... special equipmen--

MONEYPENNY
Save it, mercenary. Don't violate me with your crude penis-oriented double-entendres.

BOND
I-- oh, never mind. I'll just pop down to see Q, then.

MONEYPENNY
(under breath)
And take your white Christian patriarchal hegemonic wars with you.

Go.... now. This post will self-destruct in five seconds.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Am I Psychic Or What?

Yesterday I posted:

After September 11th, we heard, "We are all Americans, today." And for today, for just one, blessed day, the hearts of all the world are with London.

Because sympathy is easy. Words are easy. They require little of us. They make us feel so good.

But what of tomorrow?

How long will it be before the bickering starts? Before the backbiting, the retreating, the hedging begin? We've seen it all before.

Four o'clock in the fricking morning is too early for this nonsense:

Amid all the optimism surrounding Blair, Bono & Geldolf doing Live 8 and G 8, and the award of that most wonderful and pacific of international institutions and global brotherhood -- the Olympics -- what a grim thing to have happened.

Wait for it... the moral equivalence rap is coming up:

Violence rarely gets us anywhere; the PLO, the IRA, the SLA, among others have achieved so little with their terrorism. If the London bombings are the work of an Al Qaeda offshoot, then you have to fairly say, in the same way we condemn other's terror, this is in part the result of Bush's War on Iraq.

But then there's always this:

It is time for the peace movement and congressional allies to show solidarity with the British people by getting to the bottom of the Downing Street Memorandums scandal which the smug American media continues to downplay.

Yes, by all means, let's do. I'm sure the Brits are extremely worried about the DSM at this very moment. How better to help them than my fighting amongst ourselves?

It is time for dialogue with the 82 Iraqi parliamentarians - one-third of the American-sponsored regime - who are calling for a timetable for American withdrawal.

Oh yes... lovely. Let's bolster the concept of representative government by overthrowing the will of the majority and imposing the will of 1/3 of the legislative body.

When governments, through their march to folly, fail to protect their own citizens, it is time for those citizens to push their governments aside and become the peacemakers.

Oooh... even better. If you lose the election, the minority should just push the majority's choice aside and "become the peacemakers". I like it... peace through violent action. I'm sensing a theme here... the overthrow of the will of the democratically-elected majority by a disaffected minority who don't feel constrained by the law. Interesting concept.

Fortunately some people still have a sense of humor, even if it's dark:

37 innocent people suffered death without dignity in London today, and hundreds more were injured in a barbaric yet understandable attack by Michael Moore's Minute Men - retribution for Britain's complicity in Bush's illegal and immoral war on terror. But now is not the time for pointing fingers. In the wake of 9/11, progressives waited a good three minutes before blaming Bush, America, and Western Civilization in general, and we should be every bit as reverent now. Let the people of Great Britain mourn their fallen bretheren in peace. There will be plenty of time to exploit their grief for political gain in the weeks ahead. I'm just as anxious to hear who the 7/7 Widows will endorse for New York Senator as you are, but let's practice a little bit of decorum, shall we? For once, let's rise above political rancor and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends across the pond in their hour of need, just as we did when Bush killed Princess Diana.
Where the hell was the Shrub today, anyway? Reading a book about a girl and her haggis to a bunch of Scottish schoolkids while London burned? Why hasn't he called this G-8 farce off? Why isn't he back in the states, answering for his crimes? No doubt he's heading over to Ground Zero UK with a bullhorn and a camera crew as we speak. This should make some great footage for his 2008 campaign commercials.

Exactly. And isn't that the silver lining in all of this? Out of tragedy, at last we see who the real enemy is.

If I couldn't laugh, I'd cry.

Posted by Cassandra at 04:46 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

NY TimesWatch®: It's Miller Time

The half-vast editorial staff confesses itself quite pleased with the TimesWatch®. Following the exploits of the venerable Grey Lady has proven a never ending source of amusement. Yesterday's editorial was no exception: the Times' staff were in High Dudgeon. After much consideration, we awarded it the coveted Two-Hanky Rating:

This is a proud but awful moment for The New York Times and its employees. One of our reporters, Judith Miller, has decided to accept a jail sentence rather than testify before a grand jury about one of her confidential sources. Ms. Miller has taken a path that will be lonely and painful for her and her family and friends. We wish she did not have to choose it, but we are certain she did the right thing.

She is surrendering her liberty in defense of a greater liberty, granted to a free press by the founding fathers so journalists can work on behalf of the public without fear of regulation or retaliation from any branch of government.

Leaving no metaphor unstrained, we waited for the Times to point out that, like the young Nathan Hale, Ms. Miller regrets that she has only one life to lay down for her country.

The Times goes on to give us a lecture on the law. First of all, they admit Ms. Miller is on the wrong side of it. They then put forth the rather quixotic argument that she is not a public servant. We are, apparently, to infer from this that private citizens, having sworn no oath to uphold the law, have no duty to obey it. Ms. Miller, the Times proudly asserts, can best serve the Constitution by defying the courts and shielding informants who violate the law:

Critics point out that even presidents must bow to the Supreme Court. But presidents are agents of the government, sworn to enforce the law. Journalists are private citizens, and Ms. Miller's actions are faithful to the Constitution. She is defending the right of Americans to get vital information from news organizations that need not fear government retaliation - an imperative defended by the 49 states that recognize a reporter's right to protect sources.

Disregard for a moment the inconvenient fact that Ms. Miller appears in federal court (which recognizes no shield law). The right of news organizations to collect information from anonymous sources does not include the "right" to cover up criminal activity. Doctors, lawyers, and even some clergy do not enjoy an absolute privilege of confidentiality. They must bow to exceptions where criminal activity is known or suspected. Health care professionals are mandated reporters, lawyers acknowledge the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege. Only journalists, sez the Times, must brook no limits in the course of their quest for the Truth.

Unfortunately, the Times never explains the subtleties that make it right for reporters to cover up evidence of a possible crime. For that is what we're talking about here - Ms. Miller's source, they openly admit - disclosed the name of a "covert agent":

It is for these reasons that most states have shield laws that protect reporters' rights to conceal their sources. Those laws need to be reviewed and strengthened, even as members of Congress continue to work to pass a federal shield law. But at this moment, there is no statute that protects Judith Miller when she defies a federal trial judge's order to reveal who told her what about Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as an undercover C.I.A. operative.

The Times argument, as I take it, is that it is just fine for reporters to aggressively solicit informants for information, the disclosure of which is against the law. By extension, it must then be even better for reporters to obstruct grand juries by withholding evidence. Not only is this acceptable, it is a noble thing: the reporter is keeping a promise and upholding the Constitution by doing so.

The Founding Fathers (and Nathan Hale) would be proud.

What the Times and so many others fail to consider is that in this tell-all society there are still some things which should not be disclosed...such as the names of covert agents. No one asks the right question here: who is Ms. Miller trying to shield? Not a whistleblower - the intended beneficiary of the shield laws the Times so repetitiously references, but someone who ostensibly tried to retaliate against a "whistleblower" (Joseph Wilson) by disclosing the identity of his wife (Valerie Plame).

This is information that should not have been disclosed. By law, Ms. Miller was not entitled to it, and by law, the government was entitled to take action if Ms. Plame's identity was wrongly disclosed. This is what the grand jury was trying to discover, and this is what Ms. Miller's obstruction is preventing them from finding out. But the Times cleverly restates the issue:

The point of this struggle is to make sure that people with critical information can feel confident that if they speak to a reporter on the condition of anonymity, their identities will be protected. No journalist's promise will be worth much if the employer that stands behind him or her is prepared to undercut such a vow of secrecy.

The Times is shocked to think a journalist might be forced to break a promise that never should have been made, or that an informant might [shudder] lose his job for leaking classified information. What right, after all, does the government have to protect the identity of CIA agents? And how important is any of this next to the sanctity of the reporter's (and the public's) right to know...about matters that are classified?

Of course, the farcical aspect of this case must be admitted. For though it was the howling of the press corps that brought us to this juncture, the elements of a crime are almost certainly not present. But grand juries and special prosecutors cannot simply throw their hands up and decide not to investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

And the Times cannot have it both ways. If Plame was truly a covert agent and outing her was a crime as they allege, Miller should never have tried to learn her identity. That information was classified and the disclosing of it a crime not subject to privileged communication.

On the other hand, if Plame's identity was known and she was not a covert agent, Miller's source need fear no retaliation from the government, because he has committed no crime. He only discussed what many others knew to be the case. And if there was no crime, why have the media (including the Times) been demanding an investigation? The Post has stated that it may have been reporters who leaked Plame's identity to government officials.

The Times is in the ridiculous position of arguing that Miller is protecting a discredited whistleblower (Wilson) when she is actually protecting someone who (according to their theories, at least) may have tried to retaliate against the whistleblower. The media made the accusation, and inconsistent as it may seem, once launched, investigations must be carried out regardless of where they lead. Unfortunately for the Times, their hypocrisy in demanding Bob Novak give up his sources rebounded on them in spades.

Given that the identity of her source may well be known, several Plame-watchers have wondered why the federal prosecutor has pursued Ms. Miller so vigorously. Josh Marshall provides an interesting clue:

This isn't the first time Plame prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has tangled with Judy Miller while investigating a leak out of the Bush White House.

A little more than a year ago, I reported on TPM how Fitzgerald had quite aggressively investigated another Bush White House leak in late 2001 and early 2002. Fitzgerald had been investigating three Islamic charities accused of supporting terrorism -- the Holy Land Foundation, the Global Relief Foundation, and the Benevolence International Foundation. But just before his investigators could swoop in with warrants, two of the charities in question got wind of what was coming and, apparently, were able to destroy a good deal of evidence.

What tipped them off were calls from two reporters at the New York Times who'd been leaked information about the investigation by folks at the White House.

One of those two reporters was Judy Miller.

From the WaPo account:

On Dec. 3, 2001, Times reporter Judith Miller telephoned officials with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Texas-based charity accused of being a front for Palestinian terrorists, and asked for a comment about what she said was the government's probable crackdown on the group.

U.S. officials said this conversation and Miller's article on the subject in the Times on Dec. 4 increased the likelihood that the foundation destroyed or hid records before a hastily organized raid by agents that day.

Well, that's one federal raid blown by a Times reporter.

On Dec. 13, Times reporter Philip Shenon called the Illinois-based Global Relief Foundation and asked for comment about the government's intention to freeze its assets because of allegations it had ties to terrorists. "FBI personnel learned that some of the targets [of the investigation] may be destroying documents," and agents "hastily assembled" a raid on the charity on Dec. 14, according to a report by the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

And now we have an investigation compromised and law enforcement officials forced to throw together a last-minute raid because their intentions were revealed by another Times reporter.

Does anyone see a pattern here? Apparently the staff of the NY Times feels their "right to get the story" outweighs national security considerations, and they don't mind blowing a terrorism investigation if that's what it takes to get the scoop.

But that's not all. Ms. Miller's high-handedness goes even farther back, to a stint as an embedded reporter in Iraq. Ms. Miller drew fire from military officials for her role in the Army unit's search for Iraqi weapons and the debriefing of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law:

...the officer said of Miller, "this woman came in with a plan. She was leading them. . . . She ended up almost hijacking the mission."

Said a senior staff officer of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, of which MET Alpha is a part: "It's impossible to exaggerate the impact she had on the mission of this unit, and not for the better." Three weapons specialists were reassigned as the unit changed its approach, according to officers with the task force.

One military officer, who says that Miller sometimes "intimidated" Army soldiers by invoking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or Undersecretary Douglas Feith, was sharply critical of the note. "Essentially, she threatened them," the officer said, describing the threat as that "she would publish a negative story."

An Army officer, who regarded Miller's presence as "detrimental," said: "Judith was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat," this person said, and MET Alpha "was allowed to bend the rules."

Ms. Miller would seem to be a fascinating character. She is simultaneously reviled as a traitor by the Left for her reporting on WMDs and hailed as a saint for going to jail to protect (ostensibly) a Bush administration official who leaked the name of a "covert agent" to get back at discredited "whistleblower" Joseph Wilson.

Unless she has another source still undisclosed, she has chosen martyrdom rather than "reveal" the name of a source already known to federal prosecutors - a source who, if you buy the Times' reasoning (and I don't, but that is beside the point at the grand jury stage), committed a federal crime in disclosing Plame's identity.

Furthermore, Ms. Miller has a history of exploiting illegal leaks from administration officials in her capacity as a Times reporter and using them to interfere with federal investigations.

The more I find out about The Most Asinine Case of the Century, the less sympathy I have for any of the players.

CWCID: Ed Lasky of The American Thinkerfor the Josh Marshall tip.

And in the I Can't Make This Stuff Up Department, Ed reports that Judy had some creative sentencing suggestions for the court:

New York Times reporter Judith Miller has apparently made the astonishing proposal that she be deprived of cell phone and email communication in lieu of incarceration...

The Federal prosecutor riposted:

Speaking of Miller, Fitzgerald wrote, "Certainly one who can handle the desert in wartime, is far better equipped than the average person jailed in a federal facility." Miller, of course, covered (some say, mis-covered) the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq following the U.S. invasion.
Miller "could avoid even a minute of separation from her husband," he wrote in another section, "if she would do no more than just follow the law like every other citizen in America is required to do."

There's more where that came from.

Update: David Ignatius weighs in with a very well-stated argument (well of course it is - he made most of the same points I did... :)

Posted by Cassandra at 02:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

The Choice

girl.jpg

These terrorists attacked without warning on 11 September 2001. They have attacked in Madrid, in Jakarta, in Morocco.

This is a worldwide war against ideals. There is no separate peace to be made with terrorism.

They are after our way of life and we have to deal with them. There is no other way other than with strength.

- Condoleezza Rice

This is the face of terror.

This is what we've been fighting, all along. Fanatics. They never went away.

Somebody please tell me that this, finally, is what it will take to wake people up to what we're facing.

After September 11th, we heard, "We are all Americans, today." And for today, for just one, blessed day, the hearts of all the world are with London.

Because sympathy is easy. Words are easy. They require little of us. They make us feel so good.

But what of tomorrow?

How long will it be before the bickering starts? Before the backbiting, the retreating, the hedging begin? We've seen it all before.

Listen to their words -- listen to what the animals who carried out this cowardly attack have ordered us to do:

"The heroic mujahedeen carried out a blessed attack in London, and now Britain is burning with fear and terror, from north to south, east to west,"

"We warned the British government repeated. We have carried out our promise and carried out a military attack in Britain after great efforts by the heroic mujahedeen over a long period to ensure its success."

"We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all crusader governments that they will receive the same punishment if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan,"

Pay close attention. Because we have a choice. As you listen to your leaders in the days and months ahead, think very carefully about whom they serve. Whose will they are carrying out, when they say we should pull out of Iraq. When they say Congress was "misled" into war.

I'm just curious: what will our response be? Because I don't want to see that face here at home. We can cave. Or we can follow the example of the British, who are facing what we do not have to face, today. The "heroic mujahadeen" don't seem to have left Great Britain "burning with fear and terror":

So, what's this "bang" on the tube all about then? Anyone got any clearer idea than "either a bomb or a big crash"? And does this count as Sod's Law, coming the day after the Olympics announcement?

10:24 - Scotland Yard confirm bus explosion on Tavistock Place nr Russell Square, and "multiple" explosions across London. Bus system shut down as well now. This is major.

11:49 - just popped out for a fag. Busses are still running where I am after all. Rather them than me... Two bombs on my route home, so I guess I'm stuck here for a while.

13:01 - God, us Brits are great. Hardly any panic - more just getting pissed off that it's going to be a bugger getting home. I love this country sometimes.

Right. I'd say they're just paralyzed with fear. Christ... they've got poor Tim Worstall blubbering like a baby:

We’ll not be having that.

No grand demonstrations, few warlike chants, a desire for revenge, of course, but the reaction of the average man and woman in the street? Yes, you’ve tried it now bugger off. We’re not scared, no, you won’t change us. Even if we are scared, you can still bugger off.

So the question remains: what are we made of? Or perhaps more importantly, what are we willing to fight for?

Our way of life? Our freedom? Our ideals? Do these things mean nothing to us anymore? I can't speak for anyone else, but I know my answer.

90 dead. 350 wounded. And help on the way.

Goddamnit, not again. Not ever again.

Posted by Cassandra at 04:33 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Terrorists Attack London

attack.jpg Multiple explosions shook London on Thursday morning, as a series of seven or eight blasts were reported on the city's subways and buses.

At least two people were killed and nine injured in the nearly simultaneous blasts, and officials shut down the entire underground transport network. Media reports said the number of casualties was about 90 people.

Timeline of explosions from the London Times

Eyewitness reports from the BBC:

BELINDA SEABROOK, RUSSELL SQUARE I was on the bus in front and heard an incredible bang, I turned round and half the double decker bus was in the air.

It was a massive explosion and there were papers and half a bus flying through the air, I think it was the number 205.

There must be a lot of people dead as all the buses were packed, they had been turning people away from the tube stops.

We were about 20 metres away, that was all.

ARASH KAZEROUNI There was a loud bang and the train ground to a halt. People started panicking, screaming and crying as smoke came into the carriage.

A man told everyone to be calm and we were led to safety along the track.

Everyone was terrified when it happened.

When they led us to safety, I went past the carriage where I think the explosion was. It was the second one from the front.

The metal was all blown outwards and there were people inside being helped by paramedics.

One guy was being tended outside on the track. His clothes were torn off and he seemed pretty badly burned.

BBC photos

Interesting: in contrast to what I'm hearing on American TV, British reporters show a considerably stiffer upper lip, describing a situation that is chaotic and horrible, but one in which both the Prime Minister and Britains are beginning to take control:

Guto Hari: BBC Television Centre: 1210 BST

Tony Blair has talked on many occasions about what keeps him awake at night. And it seems that his worst nightmare is now happening. In his statement he was very calm and determined, saying he was going to return to London. He wants to speak to the people who have suffered, and actually try and get to grips with the situation.

There are well established procedures in place. Which is why we're seeing all these emergency procedures being put in place, such as transport being shut down. They have been preparing for this.

Update: Terror expert says attack "mirrors Madrid bombings"

The explosions in London look like an attempt to recreate the Madrid bombings and would have been planned for months, a leading terrorism expert said today as the capital began to come to terms with an apparently coordinated attack.

Michael Clarke, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College London, said six bombs would mean at least 24 people involved in planting them in a targeted operation. The fact that London had been hit when the resources of the security forces were focused on the G8 summit at Gleneagles indicated some clever thinking by terrorists.

"It will have been quite a big plot and months in the planning," said Prof Clarke, who declined to speculate who was behind the attacks at this stage.

The danger of further explosions during the day could not be ruled out, he added. "The way to really bring a city to a halt is to explode some more bombs when the rescue services are running around."

Update II:

1210 The BBC's Security Correspondent Frank Gardner says BBC monitoring services have located a website linked to al-Qaeda with a 200-word statement saying it carried out the bombings

From MSNBC:

A Web site posting said the blasts were the work of a group calling itself the "Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe."

No such group had previously been reported and the claim could not be verified. The claim did not appear on any of the Web sites normally used by al-Qaida.

Update III: Text of message claiming responsibility:

"Rejoice, Islamic nation. Rejoice, Arab world. The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan," said the statement, which was translated by The Associated Press in Cairo.

The authenticity of the message could not be immediately confirmed.

"The heroic mujahedeen carried out a blessed attack in London, and now Britain is burning with fear and terror, from north to south, east to west," the statement said.

"We warned the British government repeated. We have carried out our promise and carried out a military attack in Britain after great efforts by the heroic mujahedeen over a long period to ensure its success."

"We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all crusader governments that they will receive the same punishment if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan," the statement went on.

It was signed: "The Secret Organization of Al Qaeda in Europe."

Posted by Cassandra at 07:10 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

July 06, 2005

Zut Alors! Le Worm Journalistique, She Has Turned!

Schadenfreude alert: those with weak bladders may wish to take suitable precautions before reading any further.

The Most Asinine Case Of The Century has now completely jumped the shark. It begins to appear that cynical bloggers, who greeted news that it was none other than KKKarl Rove who leaked the oh-so-secret identity of Uberspy and two-time Vanity Fair covergirl Valerie Plame with much eye-rolling, may have been right:

Sources close to the investigation say there is evidence in some instances that some reporters may have told government officials -- not the other way around -- that Wilson was married to Plame, a CIA employee.

The half-vast editorial staff believes it may have uttered words to this effect... a little of ze...je ne sais quois, eh??? Un peu de ... "why don't we wait for the facts to arrive, mes amis? ...perhaps they will surprise us, non?"

And now, she is all over but the melodrama:

A special prosecutor demanded yesterday that Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper answer questions about his confidential sources and again urged a federal judge to jail him and New York Times reporter Judith Miller if they continue to refuse to comply.

In a court filing yesterday, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald said that Cooper still must agree to cooperate with prosecutors to avoid jail, even though Time last week turned over notes and e-mails that identify his sources for an article on the disclosure of an undercover CIA operative's identity.

Cooper and Time declined to comment yesterday on Cooper's intentions, but colleagues said he is still struggling with his decision. For practical purposes, he cannot protect his sources because his publication has already turned over notes that identify them. But if Cooper cooperates, friends say, he fears his journalistic reputation will be tarnished. Time editors have told him they will respect whatever decision he makes, they said.

Miller and the New York Times declined to comment yesterday, but she has steadfastly maintained she will go to jail rather than discuss her sources before a grand jury.

Let me get this straight:

1. These two nitwits will go to jail to show they have the "right" to obstruct a grand jury investigation...

...into a "crime" the media themselves have been demanding be investigated for over a year?

A "crime", the elements of which most legal experts believe aren't satisfied by the facts in this case?

2. Didn't the media immediately call on Novak, a conservative journalist, to disclose his confidential source to government investigators about a year ago?

It looks like he did exactly as they asked. Why don't his colleagues follow his example? If it was the right thing for Novak, why not for them? What changed since then?

Journalistic ethics certainly are confusing - seems to be a case of "Do as we say, not as we do".

3. Why would Miller and Cooper go to jail to "protect" the identity of sources WHOSE IDENTITY IS ALREADY KNOWN TO THE PROSECUTOR? .... Why should journalists have a greater exemption than doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses or health workers, many of whom are mandated reporters when there is cause to believe a crime has been committed?

What makes journalists exempt from the same laws other professionals have to obey?

Or is it the "right to receive disclosures of information that violate federal law" that they wish to protect? Inquiring minds want to know. Unfortunately, the "absolute" privilege these reporters are asserting - a privilege that no one else in this country enjoys - precludes any and all questions anyone can ask them, now doesn't it?

Meanwhile they can go around smearing Karl Rove and anyone else they don't like to their heart's content, secure in the knowledge that the facts won't come out for several months due to their continued grandstanding.

How convenient.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:31 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

The Cost

Interesting item via Reason's Hit and Run - a map showing the distribution of US servicemembers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can get varying levels of detail - clicking on points on the actual map will open a new window with the name, age and other information about each soldier from a given town.

deathmap.jpg

Something we should not forget.

Posted by Cassandra at 09:15 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

NY TimesWatch®: It's A Crying Plame...

Can the Times get any sillier? In yet another ridiculously self-parodying piece, the Times plumbs the depths of Journalistic Dishonesty under the pathetically pathos-laden headline:

Private Spy and Public Spouse Live at Center of Leak Case

Good God... who comes up with these lines...Oprah?

Loyal Times' readers would never know that Wilson's claims were investigated and discredited by both the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and the Butler Commission. The Times certainly won't let on: to hear them tell it, poor Joe Wilson is just another hapless victim of nefarious partisan scheming. Wife Valerie is portrayed as Secret Squirrel-cum-Bored-Hausfrau, stoicly maintaining a low profile in the face of unprovoked attacks from right-wing whack jobs intent on outing her Secret Identity.

It can't be easy maintaining that noble silence, can it?

For nearly two years, the investigation into the leak of a covert C.I.A. officer's name has unfolded clamorously in the nation's capital, with partisan brawling on talk shows, prosecutors interviewing President Bush and top White House officials [Oooh...the Times vows to follow the trail of corruption all the way to the top, folks...], and the imminent prospect that reporters could go to jail for contempt of court [Not an usual fate for people who refuse to comply with court orders].
But the woman at the center of it all, Valerie E. Wilson, has kept her silence, showing the discipline and discretion that colleagues say made her a good spy. As her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, has become a highly visible critic of the administration and promoted his memoirs, Ms. Wilson has ferried their 5-year-old twins to doctors' appointments, looked after their hilltop house in the upscale Palisades neighborhood of Washington and counseled women with postpartum depression.

The Times informs us that Saint Valerie has led a dreary life, unable to even defend herself:

Meanwhile, Ms. Wilson, 42, whose husband said she has used her married name both at work and in her personal life since their 1998 marriage, declined to speak for this article. She has guarded her privacy, with rare exceptions. She posed with her husband for a Vanity Fair photographer, wearing sunglasses and with a scarf over her blond hair. She drafted an op-ed article to correct what she felt were distortions of her and her husband's actions, but the C.I.A. would not authorize its publication, saying it would "affect the agency's ability to perform its mission."

plame.jpg With poor Ms. Plame living a life of virtual seclusion and the CIA "guarding her privacy" so rigorously, how then do we explain this little item?

According to Vanity Fair, the photo was taken at the magazine's annual dinner for the Tribeca Film Festival, and Plame's and Wilson's fellow guests included Robert deNiro, Nicole Kidman, Barry Diller, Willem Dafoe, John McEnroe, and many others. Plame's and Wilson's photo appears below a shot of David Bowie and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. The Times also cites friends who say the privacy-protecting Plame and ambassador Wilson "have had a low-key social life."

According to the Times:

...Mr. Wilson said they had attended only one "A-list Washington party," given by Ben Bradlee, the retired Washington Post editor.

The horror! One cannot begin to imagine their pain. But lest they feel too alone, the Wilsons can rest assured they have many friends in the journalistic community. Friends willing, for instance, to put the most positive spin on the conclusions of the Senate Select Intelligence Commission, which concluded that Wilson had not told the truth:

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly.
The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.
The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong."

Strangely, no reference to the Senate's conclusions appears in the Times account. Instead, as during the past presidential election, the Times devotes most of their print space to Wilson's denials of culpability:

Mr. Wilson has laid out his own account in interviews and in his memoir, "The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's C.I.A. Identity." The 514-page book, which features on the back cover photographs of Mr. Wilson with the first President Bush, President Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein, has sold 60,000 copies in hardcover, according to the publisher, Carroll & Graf. The just-published paperback includes an 11,000-word essay by Russ Hoyle, an investigative reporter recruited by Carroll & Graf to examine factual disputes raised by the case.

Folks, this little number is just flying off the shelves! At 514 pages, you know it must be true -- every word of it! Operators are standing by right now to take your call - order your copy at 1-800-PLAMEGATE!!!

Mr. Wilson said that though his wife wrote a memorandum describing his expertise at the request of a C.I.A. superior, she did not propose him for the Niger trip. He scoffs at the notion that a trip to one of the poorest countries on earth, for which he was paid only his expenses, was some kind of prize.

He has acknowledged he may have misspoken about a few details, like the date he became aware of forged documents purporting to show a uranium sale. [Ed note: or the fact that his wife recommended him...or the fact that he only drank tea with a few old cronies and didn't really investigate anything] But conservatives' attacks on his credibility, he said, are merely an effort to distract Americans from a far graver fact: that the United States went to war on the basis of flimsy, distorted evidence.

"I'm deeply saddened that the debate before the war did not adequately take into consideration issues that a number of us had raised," Mr. Wilson said.

The Times is apparently not deeply saddened by its own inexplicable failure to mention that the Butler Inquiry investigated the claim Wilson was sent to check out and pronounced it well-founded:

We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that: The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa was well-founded.

Apparently, the Grey Lady's long sink to the bottom is fated to continue unabated:

A Swiss consultancy asked 1,000 respondents in 50 countries what newspaper they thought was the world’s best, and the Times ranked a dismal sixth — down from first place just two years ago.

“The results show that the New York Times is suffering because of past scandals,” said the pollsters, Internationale Medienhilfe, in a statement.

Complete top-ten list after the jump.

1. Financial Times (U.K.) 19.4% (20.7% in 2003% in 2003)

2. The Wall Street Journal (U.S.) 17.0% (7.5% in 2003)

3. Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany) 16.2% (10.9% in 2003)

4. Le Monde (France) 12.5% (2.1% in 2003)

5. Neue Zuercher Zeitung (Switzerland) 12.1% (15.0% in 2003)

6. The New York Times (U.S.) 8.1% (21.3% in 2003)

7. International Herald Tribune (France) 5.2% (11.3% in 2003)

8. Asahi Shimbun (Japan) 2.6% (0.4% in 2003)

9. El Pais (Spain) 1.9% (4.8% in 2003)

10. Corriere della Sera (Italy) 1.3% (0.7% in 2003)

Just think how things would be different if only the Times had some way to prove that its reporters are ethical.

And so it goes...

Posted by Cassandra at 07:29 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

July 05, 2005

Even More Transparent Asshattery - Literally

w.jpg I didn't think anything could make me break my vow not to talk about baseball anymore but this is just so freaking asshatted stupid that I just can not believe it.

Now that even a few pretty smart fellas are starting to take the Nats seriously, things are starting to get ugly in the Tonier-than-Thou regions of Our Fair State. That innocuous symbol of springtime - the baseball cap - is being turned into a symbol of partisan loyalty:

That can be good: "My immediate reaction was, 'W! Perfect!,' " said Dan Mintz, 57, of Bethesda. "Not only do I get to root for Washington, but I get to root for George."

_41009981_baseball_300.jpg Or it can be bad: "I just couldn't get myself to wear the red hat with the 'W' on it," said Jerry Stewart, 41, of Sterling, who bought a replica of the cap the Nationals wear for away games. Those hats are Democrat blue; the home caps are Republican red.

Among the thousands of nonpartisan Nationals hats bobbing around the city, there are some whose owners intend for them to have political meaning. It's not unlike the difference between people who call the airport by the Potomac "National" and those who refer to it as "Reagan."

"It's a little bit of a thing," said Paul Strauss (D), one of the District's shadow senators in Congress. He bought one of the Nationals' alternate caps, which features "DC" instead of the W.

Oh for crap's sake... how petty can you get?

Take the damn hat off, buy yourself a beer, and enjoy the freaking game. Or stay home.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:59 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Transparent Asshattery Alert

Via MensNewsDaily, Man grabs 14 year-old's arm after she walks out in front of his car, almost causing him to hit her. Now he is a registered sex offender:

A man who grabbed a 14-year-old girl's arm to chastise her after she walked in front of his car, causing him to swerve to avoid hitting her, must register as a "sex offender," the Appellate Court of Illinois has ruled.
The trial jury accepted Barnaby's version of the story, but found him guilty of unlawful restraint of a minor – a sex offense under Illinois law.

Has the Illinois legislature gone mad? What on God's green earth are they thinking?

As a convicted sex offender, Barnaby is required to be listed on the state's sex offender registry and must keep authorities informed of his place of residency. He also isn't allowed to live near schools or parks. The Illinois Sex Offender Information website, operated by the Illinois State Police, lists those in the registry, along with their photographs and home addresses.
"This is the most stupid ruling the appellate court has rendered in years," Frederick Cohn, Barnaby's attorney, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "If you see a 15-year-old beating up your 8-year-old and you grab that kid's hand and are found guilty of unlawful restraint, do you now have to register as a sex offender?"

Listen to the tortured "judicial reasoning" used to back up this Traveshamockery:

The appellate court agreed it was "unfair for [Barnaby] to suffer the stigmatization of being labeled a sex offender when his crime was not sexually motivated," however it sided with the state's attorney who argued it is "the proclivity of offenders who restrain children to also commit sex acts or other crimes against them."

It is also a known proclivity of perverts to give candy to little children. Should we make possession of Tootsie Pops a felony on the premise that reaching that chewy center obviously leads to deviant sex acts?

Cretins...

"It is [Barnaby's] actions which have caused him to be stigmatized, not the courts," reads the decision.

Wrong. It is moronic zero tolerance laws that allow no leeway for human judgement that have caused this problem.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Tasty Animals Caption Contest

I will almost certainly regret this, but it's just too funny to pass up:

nakedpeta003tn.jpg

Posted by Cassandra at 09:35 AM | Comments (65) | TrackBack

No Self-Evident Truths: A Nation Adrift

I had hoped to write this yesterday but was far too busy with family and holiday preparations to think my way through it. Robbie posed a question last week that I've been meaning to respond to: is morality relative? Is it subjective? Shaped by culture, experiences, religious beliefs, even perhaps by interaction with our environment (in the utilitarian sense in which 'sin' is often defined as 'that which brings harm to others'). Or are there universal moral truths that transcend these considerations? Robbie comments:

What I'm trying to show is that there is no universal moral code. Morality is shaped by religious doctrine, familial upbringing, personal experiences, state/providential laws, etc. Our view on "what is right" is based on all of these different influences. Through common bonds, a people come to the "moral norms" for that society. We are shaped by our surroundings.It is how the Islamic world can look at Western civilization's materialistic focus as morally corrupt, while Westerners can't see what the issue is. It is how a layman can view trial lawyers as morally bankrupt, while trial lawyers believe the are doing the work of the people.

Robbie poses a number of specific cases such as single-sex marriage, abuse at Gitmo, and treatment of women under Muslim law as examples of ways in which cultures view morality differently. I am interested in the question from a broader perspective: in an age when we as a nation are moving away from God and formalized expressions of religion, when we have allowed the Establishment Clause to empower organizations like the ACLU to erase the mention of God from public life, what effect does this have on our conception of morality? Has the transition from a religious view of morality to a humanistic approach damaged our respect for law and tradition?

I put forth the contention (for discussion) that it is extremely difficult to maintain the notion that there are, indeed, "self-evident", imperishable, or eternal truths, as put forward in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, absent a Creator. The reason for this is simple: without the notion that there is a God, one man's word becomes just as good as another's.

And if one man's word is as good as another's, it is not long until one culture's values are as good as another's. And thus in an affluent and complacent culture, the question becomes, how important are our values? Are we willing to fight for them? Why fight and die over mere ideas? Why bleed, when morality is relative - when one system is no better than another? When, as John Kerry once so fatuously observed, people "cannot tell the difference between Communism and democracy"?

This nation's laws were founded on a single document which sets forth the structure and organization of our government. This document also enumerates certain basic rights which are not to be abridged. Increasingly, even plain and simple language in that document is being construed in ever more bizarre fashions, with little justification given other than "evolving societal norms". It would be one thing if the 'evolving norms' quoted were definitively our own, but increasingly it has been asserted that it is somehow "arrogant" for us to consider only our own cultural norms in determining the laws under which we wish to live.

The underlying rationale behind decisions like Kelo seems to be there there are, indeed, no "truths which are self-evident" and therefore, "inalienable". Everything, it would seem, is open to judicial interpretation and negotiation outside the democratic process outlined for amendment of the Constitution.

Back in November we discussed whether society could legislate morality. I very much wonder whether the question of the future will not be: on what basis will society legislate anything at all?

Will we cease to be a Constitutional Republic and become (as the Democrats seem to want us to be) a true Democracy, governed by the capricious whims of the electorate and 'evolving societal norms'? Or are we headed in the other direction: towards increasing federal control in which even the will of Congress can be set aside by a small unelected body of jurists who increasingly do not feel bound to honor the original text of the Constitution?

What do you think?

Posted by Cassandra at 08:35 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

The Song Remains The Shame

stipe.jpg Fine. I admit it.

I didn't watch Live8. But then I can never stand to watch train wrecks either.

What is it about tony causes like World Poverty that shuts off the critical thinking skills of grown men? That makes them regress to the mental age of small boys? Suddenly everyone thinks they're Peter Pan - "Ooooh... if we all just Make A Wish, we'll suddenly sprout wings and bash off to that magical place called NeverNever land (the blue mask is optional) where we'll Never Be Hungry Again..."

Here we are again, at another enormous, Mega-Concert full of glittering rock stars who leap onstage full of chemically- or herbally-induced energy and and earnestly promise to eradicate World Poverty the way LiveAid wiped out hunger. Err... yeah. Right.

End World Poverty? Wake me up when we've kicked its ass.

What is wrong with these people? Simon Jenkins sums up the low-carb filler that passes for thought at Live8. Don't think, act! If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. The problem is, no one tries to understand the problem, so their knee-jerk reactions are an exercise in vapid and ultimately counterproductive do-goodererism:

Geldof is to fast politics what McDonald’s is to fast food. He is simply good at it. How can you do nothing, he screams, “watching people live on TV, dying on our screens!”. Fill up on McCartney and Madonna and you will feel much better.

Thus in the 1960s did students donate their virginity to Oxfam. Thus in 1969 did John Lennon and Yoko Ono stage a week-long “bed-in for peace”. Critics were dismissed as “for war”. Now they are for dead babies. Nothing changes.

I'm already imagining the slogans: Hump To End World Hunger...doh!...no, no that can't be right.

Live 8 is clearly an echo of Live Aid, Geldof’s money-raising spectacular for Ethiopian famine in 1985. Live Aid was a spontaneous response to what television presented as a crisis. Its outcome has been hotly debated, most recently by David Rieff in this month’s Prospect magazine. Showering money, trucks and food on Mengistu’s Ethiopia entrenched a vicious regime and aided one of the most cruel forced migrations in history. Ethiopia was never short of food.

Live 8 seems to acknowledge this critique. The £20m it raises will go not on poverty but on itself. Not a penny will go to Africa.

velvet.jpg This has got to be the Ultimate PoMo Charity: a fundraiser in which not one thin dime is going directly to the intended recipients. So what are these Derring Do-gooders raising? Lay it on me, baby:

Indeed a potential fundraising opportunity, which might at least have bought a planeload of anti-Aids drugs, has become an exhibition of high-tech media co-ordination and a celebrity fiesta. Geldof has given up on money. He rephrases Lennon’s “All you need is love” as “All you need is awareness”.

Wow. For 30 years or more, the industrialized world has been bombarded with guilt about the poor and starving throngs on the Dark Continent. We don't need more awareness. I wonder if it ever occurred to Geldof and Co. to try transporting some of this "awareness" to Africa... say, to some of those corrupt despots who keep circumventing outside attempts to help struggling nations?

If Geldof seems unaware where the problem lies, Mark Steyn hits the nail squarely on the head:

Africa is a hard place to help. I had a letter from a reader the other day who works with a small Canadian charity in West Africa. They bought a 14-year-old SUV for 1,500 Canadian dollars to ferry food and supplies to the school they run in a rural village. Customs officials are demanding a payment of $8,000 before they'll release it.
There are thousands of incidents like that all over Africa every day of the week. Yet, throughout the weekend's events, Dave Gilmour and Co were too busy Rocking Against Bush to spare a few moments to Boogie Against Bureaucracy or Caterwaul Against Corruption or Ululate Against Usurpation. Instead, Madonna urged the people to "start a revolution". Like Africa hasn't had enough of those these past 40 years?

But like the UN, folks like Geldof, Bono, and Madonna would rather rail on at safe targets like George Bush and Tony Blair. It's so much easier to bite the hand that feeds you than one that might just bite back.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:07 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 04, 2005

Happy Fourth Of July!

First of all, Happy Fourth of July! As part of my duties with the Cotillion, I am happy to be part of our July 4th Salute to the Milbloggers. Luckily for you, I scored an interview with one of my absolute favorite milbloggers, Grim of Grim's Hall. This was not as easy a task as it might appear: not only can the Male Milblogger be extremely wily, but he also is notoriously unfond of spotlights and can be difficult to corner.

To his credit, Grim thought I should have focused on someone closer to the action. But I chose Grim because I think he's one of the more interesting people in the blogosphere: someone I thought you would enjoy finding out more about. I thought he would make an interesting interview. When pressed, he was (as always) a gentleman and agreed to the interview:

I would have stood aside in favor of one of our fighting men who are out on the field; they're the ones who deserve the attention and the praise. But, for the reasons mentioned, I can understand why they'd want a break from the limelight. Still, whatever glory MilBlogs have is properly theirs, not mine, and I'm embarrassed to be taking a place of honor that really ought to go to someone who has done and sacrificed more.

One more thing: I must acknowledge lifting the interview questions wholesale from Normblog. Since I joined the Cotillion so late, I only found out about this at the last minute and so did not have time to prepare. And so, with no more ado, I give you the Grim Interview.

Q: Why do you blog?

Grim: I started blogging for different reasons than those that keep me going. After 9/11, I started trying to find ways that I could contribute to the Republic. I tried a number of things, but one thing that worked was doing open source intelligence work for the government.

You may remember that improving intelligence was one of the things that had everyone's attention on it just after 9/11, until people realized how hard it was and decided to think about other things instead. OSINT is one of the things that people thought might provide a patch until the HUMINT problem could be addressed -- a proposition that requires years. I had a friend 'in the community' who asked questions from time to time, sometimes small ones and sometimes big projects. By early 2003, I found I was used to doing OSINT research and writing, and so I began blogging -- the Iraq war was starting up at that time, and it seemed like it would be a public service to provide an OSINT-based reading of it.

I eventually ended up going back to work for the military, as a contractor in the field, so much of my blogging has since become cultural or otherwise: most of my OSINT projects are now done for the government's consumption. I do blog on security/defense issues at Bill Roggio's "The 4th Rail," and I do discuss such issues in the comments sections of some blogs I frequent. However, those items are not based on the writings I do for the government, which I'm obviously not free to talk about.

Anyway, that's how I got started blogging. The reason I blog now is much simpler: I've met a lot of interesting and intelligent people doing it, and talking to them improves my thinking. Whether I'm being asked pointed questions so that I have to justify my positions, or I'm reading and responding to their own reasoned defense of positions I don't hold, the interaction of blogging is a serious benefit to my work and my understanding of the world. Also, many of the commenters and fellow bloggers I've come to know I would almost consider friends, though we've never met. I would miss them if I stopped blogging.

Q: What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger?

Grim: Read The Mudville Gazette. Whether you're for or against his positions, Greyhawk's blog is one of the most informative around -- and he does more than many to highlight new blogs and offer opportunities for publicity.

Q: What are your favourite blogs?

Grim: I've mentioned Mudville and 4th Rail already. My other favorites are these, in no particular order: Doc Russia's "Bloodletting," BlackFive, Lizard Queen's "The Blue Bus" -- she rarely blogs on any topic I agree with, but the comments section is one of the best for engaging liberal/progressive thinkers in a respectful and even friendly forum -- Southern Appeal, your own site of course, and The Belmont Club. I should also mention Kim du Toit, a swaggering yet grumpy fellow of the sort I myself will probably become in a few years.

Q: Who are your intellectual heroes?

Grim: They are all listed at or close to the top of the site: Aristotle, Sir Walter Scott, G. K. Chesterton, Tolkien, and Thomas Jefferson.

Q: What are you reading at the moment?

Grim: I tend to work my way through several books at a time. I've just about finished Col. McLemore's _Bowie and Big Knife Fighting_, Hayes-McCoy's _Irish Battles: A Military History of Ireland_, and have recently finished Utley's _Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers_. That's one martial arts text, and two military histories, but I do read fiction as well: favorites include H. R. Higgard, Louis L'Amour, R.E. Howard, Tolkien and Scott of course, and Fritz Leiber. Of course I also read blogs, and newspapers -- more than a dozen of those, mostly in the PACOM region. That occupies a lot of my time.

Q: Who are your cultural heroes?

Grim: I just blogged about one of them: James Jackson, an early American hero of the Revolution who ought to be better known than he is. He was a great man. Also I would say Teddy Roosevelt (who singlehandedly rescued my hope for Yankees). Good old Zell Miller, who is as close to James Jackson as you'll find in today's culture. It's a shame we don't have more like him.

Q: What is your favourite poem?.

Grim: _The Ballad of the White Horse_ by G. K. Chesterton. I am also very fond of the _Beowulf_ and the Fitzgerald translation of the _Iliad_. I wish I could read the original, but my ancient Greek is very limited -- I know only snatches and key phrases, such as I studied while completing my Master of Arts.

Q: What is your favourite song?

Grim: Hard to say. Most of the songs I sing are either old Irish folk songs (due to the fact that they are easy to learn, as any Irish pub will have singers in regularly to play them), or old cowboy/bluegrass numbers I learned growing up in Georgia. These are my favorites collectively, but I'm not sure which one I'd pick above all the others.

Q: Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind?

Grim: Yes. Before 9/11, I was an isolationist. I have come to understand that the liberals were right all along: we do need to be engaged in the struggle against tyranny beyond our shores. Unfortunately, of course, many of the old Bosnia-era interventionists have changed their minds in exactly the opposite fashion, for reasons that aren't entirely clear.

Q: What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate?

A: That a free man must give more attention to his duty than his rights; and that the most important duty, and the most important right, is to uphold the common peace. We must unlearn the notion that enforcing the law is the goverment's job, or that it is first and foremost "police work." The opposite is true, and has always been true in the West: it is the duty of the free citizen. The police are hired to assist us by being easy to call to our aid, and by patrolling to keep an eye on areas not often traveled by honest citizens. But it is our duty first.

The law is actually quite clear on this point: the police have what is called a "general" duty to provide protection for the community, but are never liable for a failure to render aid to a citizen in a specific case. There was a USSC case about that this week, which simply reasserted the old principle. The individual, however, certainly can be brought before the court if he simply ignored a crime or tragedy in progress. The case could be civil, or it could be criminal under several statutes: failure to render aid is an offense in cases of traffic accidents, for example; one could be charged as an accessory after the fact in some cases, and there are other ways in which you are liable as well.

The more citizens who take seriously the notion of being part of the law, themselves, the smaller the area in which criminals can operate. The more of us who become engaged in the performance of that duty, the more capable we will be of restraining the goverment's liberty-threatening expansion, which is always at its most dangerous when it claims to be protecting us. If we would be free men, we must protect ourselves.

By coincidence, this is also a national security issue. I've been talking a lot about 4th Generation Warfare at 4th Rail and elsewhere. One of the key problems of 4gen war is that the enemy blurs the line between civilian and military to the point that it can even vanish -- as in Iraq, where the citizens are now the primary target of the enemy, and must therefore become capable of recognizing and responding to the enemy because they will be the only force in readiness available to protect the common peace. This was true on 9/11, too, when the citizens on the one airplane realized that they alone could rise up to smite the terrorists. Because terrorists choose to strike when police and soldiers are not around, all of us must be ready to do our duty to the common peace at a moment's notice, to the best of our ability. The more we are able to do so, the stronger our nation will be against 4gen threats of any kind -- and the less we'll need Patriot! Acts, intrusive counterintelligence agencies, FBI spies in our own society, and the like.

Q: What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat?

Grim: Obviously, the converse: the notion that only government officials should be armed or trained in arms. A common argument against that is that this road has so often led to genocide or democide, and that is true. But even in cases when it does not, it leads to an unfree citizenry -- either because they end up surrendering their privacy to the point of surrendering liberty (see Mark Steyn's recent article on Britain considering a ban on the wearing of hoods or hats in public, because it interferes with government cameras ability to spy out criminals), or because they become incapable of defending their liberty even when they would.

If decent people can and will stand up and fight, each and every one, neither criminal organizations nor terrorists nor enemy armies pose any threat to our liberty -- and our government poses much less of one. If we can't, or won't, all of these threats magnify out of measure.


Q: Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world?

Grim: Yes, several. But here is a special one: Albert Lord's _The Singer of Tales_, which was a groundbreaking work on epic poetry. Depending on who you are, that either will or won't sound interesting -- but I suspect that the people who most think it sounds uninteresting would be most taken by it.

Q: Who are your political heroes?

Grim: The last good politician was Zell Miller. I'm not aware of another currently practicing who can be trusted. Perhaps another will arise soon; perhaps not.

Q: What is your favourite piece of political wisdom?

Grim: The Gettysburg Address, which captured what should always and forever be the American creed in times of darkness. Our sacrifices must always serve as fuel to relight the lamp of liberty: or, as a contemporary of Lincoln's had it, "as He died to make us holy, let us die to make men free." Someone once said that the path of heroism leads only to the grave, and that is true. But show me the road that leads anywhere else.

Q: If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be?

Grim: The courts would begin to enforce the Second Amendment, according to original intent.

Q: What would you do with the UN?

Grim: Withdraw from it entirely, pay for its relocation from New York so that it could be cast adrift in Europe or preferably in Africa, and sink under its own weight.

Q: What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world?

Grim: Changing technology. Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm all in favor of technology. Nevertheless, it is dangerous in this way: it is taking us out of all known forms and methods for organizing a society. In a way that simply hasn't been true in ten thousand years, we are feeling our way along. We must be extremely mindful to preserve human liberty as we grow in our ability to control the human body; we must be mindful to preserve order as we grow in our ability to develop and control powerful forces, such as nuclear power; and even that will not be enough. There are no clear answers to a lot of the questions raised by technology. I hope, of course, for a bright future made possible by those very technologies -- if we can answer the moral and ethical questions, I think it will come to us. But because old models don't always give us insight, there is no guarantee that we will choose wisely from among the options.&nb! sp; This is something about which we should all spend a lot of time thinking.

Q: What would be your most important piece of advice about life?

Grim: Fear nothing. If you find that you're afraid of something, figure out why, and learn either to accept it if you can't control it, or to control it if you can't accept it. There is no reason to be afraid of anything that doesn't lie in your own heart: and your heart is one thing you can always change.

Q: Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own?

Grim: Only if polygamy becomes legal. Otherwise, I'm already married to a woman who agrees with me fairly well on most points, and I do not mean to be separated from her but by the grave.

However -- I think the spirit of the question was otherwise, so let me say, yes. I don't mind disagreement, even on the fundamentals. In fact, almost all of my close and true friends are people who differ radically from me on politics in one way or another. I seek out people like that, the ones who will accept and return respect, because they are often the ones who can teach you the most. I've found some very good people that way, and I'm the better for it.

Q: What do you consider the most important personal quality?

Grim: Forgiveness. It is what makes love possible between men and women, fathers and sons, sons and fathers, and all of mankind. And love, as we have been told, is the greatest thing of all.

Q: What personal fault do you most dislike?

Grim: I cannot abide cruelty. There is no excuse for it, and it merits no tolerance.

Q: In what circumstances would you be willing to lie?

Grim: A just war. In such cases, it must sometimes be done.

Q: Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge?

Grim: I believe I already mentioned the Yankees. Actually, I embrace a wide range of prejudices: in favor of the life of the wild and the rural instead of that of the city; in favor of the strenuous life, as TR said, instead of the life of urbane comfort; in favor of the life that engages creation with an eager assertion of both body and mind, instead of one or the other -- or neither.

Q: What is your favourite proverb?

Grim: 12:10. I've always held that you can judge the quality of a man best by meeting his dog.

Q: What is your most treasured possession?

Grim: My grandfather's John B. Stetson hat, which I inherited after he passed on. I wear it most days, as it is a fine hat for winter or summer, spring or fall. Some days I wear other hats, but it is by far my favorite, and the best thing I own.

Q: What talent would you most like to have?

Grim: The talent for convincing people to give me a chance to try things. Time and again in my life, people have made up their minds about me based on first impressions. I've missed out on many jobs I know I'd have done well and enjoyed, simply because they had a notion of what 'the right kind of person to do X' was like, and I'm not very much like anybody. As a result, I've missed out on a lot of opportunities.

Q: Who is your favourite comedian or humorist?

Grim: Mark Steyn, who is also a serious writer. Nevertheless, he's one of a very few people who can turn a phrase that will make me laugh aloud.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:25 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

More July 4th Milblogs

Balloon Juice looks at a WaPo piece in which they revisit changes to the Pledge of Allegiance over the years and asked 19 people to write their own versions. Good reading.

The Daily Blogster asks:

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

A Warrior's Voice has the story of a Swede who fights back against Islamo-fascism. Heh...

Posted by Cassandra at 05:16 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 03, 2005

Patience, Folks

As you can see, I am still having server problems. Some things are posting from early this morning while others still haven't caught up. This will cause some odd stuff to happen for a while now, and there's nothing I can do about it until the problem is resolved.

I appreciate your patience!

Posted by Cassandra at 07:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

KerryWatch®: Department Of Having It Both Ways

All right, I lied. The preceding post was not a segue into this post, but into the next post. I got distracted.

Previously I pointed out that Democrats like Jay Rockafeller who criticize the President for invoking September 11th and the supposedly non-existent connections between 9/11, Iraq, and Al Qaeda are both rewriting history and ignoring the fact that Congress' resolution to use force invoked precisely those connections. Which would seem to make their objections pretty dishonest.

Now James Taranto reveals a development that I am fairly certain will shock ordinary Americans to the very marrow of their voting souls: M. Jean-Fraude Kerrie, je suis tres désolé de vous dire, has once again performed Le Grande Flippe-Floppe. Yes, it would seem that though today he sees no connection between Saddam, the sad events of that tragic day in 2001, and our decision to go to war, such was not the case back in 2002:

The administration missed an opportunity 2 years ago [sic; two years before this speech, Bill Clinton was still president] and particularly a year ago after September 11. They regrettably, and even clumsily, complicated their own case. The events of September 11 created new understanding of the terrorist threat and the degree to which every nation is vulnerable. That understanding enabled the administration to form a broad and impressive coalition against terrorism. Had the administration tried then to capitalize on this unity of spirit to build a coalition to disarm Iraq, we would not be here in the pressing days before an election, late in this year, debating this now. The administration's decision to engage on this issue now, rather than a year ago or earlier, and the manner in which it has engaged, has politicized and complicated the national debate and raised questions about the credibility of their case.

In other words, WE SHOULD NOT HAVE WAITED TO GO TO WAR, BECAUSE WE HAD AN IMPRESSIVE COALITION BEHIND US... NOT A "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted." AS MR. KERRY LATER CALLED THE COALITION DURING THE ELECTION.

No stranger to Xtreme Speechifying, Taranto goes on to mention that like Senator Rockafeller (who managed to wave the bloody shirt four times during two paragraphs in his 2002 floor speech) Kerry also out-Bushed the Shrub:

In fact, Kerry mentioned Sept. 11--the subject liberals now want to render taboo--six times during his Iraq floor speech.

These 'patriots' now castigate the President for mentioning 9/11 three or four times during one half-hour speech.

And as for Kerry's ridiculous claims that somehow the President hasn't been leveling with the nation, well... that is simply more historical revisionism from the same man who wants us to forget what he did (or didn't do) in Vietnam. We need look no further back than the night of September 11th, 2001 to find a clear, concise statement of where we were going and what the President intended:

The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

The Saturday after the attack:

Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them. We are planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism. And we are determined to see this conflict through. Americans of every faith and background are committed to this goal.

September 20th, 2001 before Congress:

The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.

This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat. Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

And to those who say the President never presented all the information I have been patiently laying out before you recently, I say that you are wrong. October 2, 2002:

First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States.

And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein's links to international terrorist groups. Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.

We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.

Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem.

These are all arguments I have made recently and I have heard in response from liberals, "Well, why hasn't the administration made these arguments?"

Well, they have. I remembered that they had and didn't have time during the work week to look it up.

Moreover, the leaders of your party have made many of these arguments too, yet now that it is to their political advantage to deny this, they are lying about it.

It is my considered opinion that thoughtful Americans should be asking some tough questions of men like John Kerry and Jay Rockafeller.

What changed? How can you say Mr. Bush lied when you said exactly the same thing back then, based on exactly the same information, most of which, with the exception of the WMD information, HAS NOT CHANGED?

How can you pretend, looking back on the Congressional resolution to authorize the use of force, that WMDs were the only rationale for going to war?

It is inexcusable. And dishonest.

Senators, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Self-Evident Truths? Puh-leeze

This was meant to be an update to the preceding post but the ongoing server problems have made that impossible. Via Dale Franks, imagine what it would have been like if Thomas Jefferson had had to put up with real-time snarking from the Pajamahadeen?

This post is so unbelievably amateurish it makes my eyes water just looking at it. First of all, when you state that “Men” have been endowed by “their Creator”, are you saying there’s one Creator for all men, or that each man has his own Creator? And do women have a different Creator and the rules are different for them? Maybe I’m splitting hairs but it seems to me the devil is in the details and the British will be on our asses in a split-second if we don’t get this right. Second, you state that this aforementioned, vaguely-described Creator has endowed us with “certain unalienable rights” and that “among these” are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Wow, where to begin... to start with, could you be a little more namby-pamby? Among these rights? Talk about leaving yourself some wiggle room. And what about this “pursuit of Happiness” business? It’s a loophole big enough to drive a four-wheeled stagecoach through. What if my “pursuit of Happiness” involves depriving people of their Life and Liberty? Not so “self-evident” now, is it you slackjaw. -Frederalist at July 4, 1776
“Self-evident” truths? This is typical Democratic-Republican bullshittery, Tom. If I’m hearing you correctly, what you’re saying is simply because you believe it, it’s true. Okay, well, I’m saying you suck -- seems fairly “self-evident” to me. - whig4ever at July 4, 1776

Sadly, I think my favorite (and the one that best reflects the modern day state of affairs is):

When you refer to a “long train of abuses and usurpations”, are you saying what I think you’re saying? Heh heh.

Posted by: milf at July 4, 1776

As so often happens (completely serendipitously), this provides the perfect segue into my next post.


Posted by Cassandra at 09:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Commonwealth Avenue Memos

This is brilliant...

Philadelphia, the American Colonies, July 4, 1776 — Leaders of the self-described “American patriots” movement gathered in this Pennsylvania city today to sign an official declaration of their political intentions, despite widespread criticism of a failing war policy and complaints that their military action was launched under false pretenses.

“Here it is, July of 1776, and George W. and his lackeys are just now getting around to declaring what this war is supposedly all about?” complained Loyalist playwright Michael LeMoore. “Washington and his neo-congressionalists rushed us into war at Lexington and Concord, before anyone had ‘declared’ a single word about independence. Face it: George lied, and people died.”

LeMoore was referring to what patriots call “The shot heard 'round the world,” when colonial forces fired on British soldiers in violation of accepted international rules of military engagement.

Supporters of George Washington and the so-called “war for independence” dispute claims from the antiwar movement that their actions are unlawful, and they point to their formal “Declaration of Independence” as proof.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” reads the Declaration in part, “that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The document was reportedly written by Thomas Jefferson, a white, southern slave-owner, and one of the architects of the “patriot” movement.

Critics quickly noted the hypocrisy of Jefferson's reference to “unalienable rights” of liberty and the author's own record of slave-ownership.

“If they really believed in spreading ‘freedom,’ they would free their own slaves instead of killing the British and shelling innocent civilian Loyalist women and children in Boston and New York,” said Howard Deanne, head of the Loyalist National Committee. “And what of the recently uncovered Commonwealth Avenue memos, which would seem to indicate that those closest to Washington were planning for war after the Boston Tea Party back in '73? I'm telling you, the colonists of America have been misled into war!”

Update: Via Dale Franks, imagine what it would have been like if Thomas Jefferson had had to put up with real-time snarking from the Pajamahadeen?

This post is so unbelievably amateurish it makes my eyes water just looking at it. First of all, when you state that “Men” have been endowed by “their Creator”, are you saying there’s one Creator for all men, or that each man has his own Creator? And do women have a different Creator and the rules are different for them? Maybe I’m splitting hairs but it seems to me the devil is in the details and the British will be on our asses in a split-second if we don’t get this right. Second, you state that this aforementioned, vaguely-described Creator has endowed us with “certain unalienable rights” and that “among these” are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Wow, where to begin... to start with, could you be a little more namby-pamby? Among these rights? Talk about leaving yourself some wiggle room. And what about this “pursuit of Happiness” business? It’s a loophole big enough to drive a four-wheeled stagecoach through. What if my “pursuit of Happiness” involves depriving people of their Life and Liberty? Not so “self-evident” now, is it you slackjaw. -Frederalist at July 4, 1776
“Self-evident” truths? This is typical Democratic-Republican bullshittery, Tom. If I’m hearing you correctly, what you’re saying is simply because you believe it, it’s true. Okay, well, I’m saying you suck -- seems fairly “self-evident” to me. - whig4ever at July 4, 1776

Sadly, I think my favorite (and the one that best reflects the modern day state of affairs is):

When you refer to a “long train of abuses and usurpations”, are you saying what I think you’re saying? Heh heh.

Posted by: milf at July 4, 1776

As so often happens (completely serendipitously), this provides the perfect segue into my next post.


Posted by Cassandra at 07:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 02, 2005

Server Problems

If you're having trouble commenting, I think MT is having server problems today. Please just copy your comments to Word or Notepad before hitting Post.

I think they are getting registered and will show up eventually but you may want to back them up anyway.

Thanks for your patience.

The HVES.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:36 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Is Constitution Right Goal For Iraq?

Charles Krauthammer argues that a Constitution is perhaps not the right goal for Iraq:

...there is one major flaw in the agenda for this new political world: writing a constitution. Americans love constitutions. And they are generally a good idea. Ours has worked well. But we had practice and lots of time. The Iraqis do not.

The deadline is Aug. 15. That leaves six weeks. It took three months just to form a government after the elections, and over a month to find a formula for including Sunnis on the drafting committee for the constitution.

It will be impossible to write it in the next six weeks, particularly because, as the price for joining the drafting process, the Sunni delegates demanded that all decisions be made by consensus, not by vote. Nor is the answer the six-month extension permitted by the interim constitution.

Now if Krauthammer's argument is that the Iraqis risk too much by placing all their eggs in one Constitutional basket, I might buy off on the premise. It is a bit of a risk. Why is he so pessimistic?

Iraq is too fractured along sectarian lines, too socially ruined by 30 years of totalitarianism, too new to the habits of democracy to be able to record in stone the kind of great cosmic compromises that are the essence of constitutions.

Even America, which had a century of self-government before independence, needed 13 years before it could draft a workable and durable constitution. And even that one ultimately floundered (albeit, threescore and 11 years later) over the then-insoluble problem of slavery.

All of this is true, but on the other hand the Iraqis also have the impetus of the insurgency pushing on them from the outside. That is a powerful force, arguing for them to establish a symbol of permananence, stability, and national unity. I think he may be selling them short. So far they have surprised everyone; holding elections in January when everyone thought that was impossible, turning out in record numbers when the conventional wisdom was that they would stay home in droves.

Even the recalcitrant Sunnis are beginning to return to the fold.

I agree that even a partial Constitution would be better than none at all, but while it is still too soon to tell, I also think it is vitally important that the Iraqis establish tangible results from the months of talks following the January elections.

The Iraqi people need to see that the insurgency cannot stop the inexorable progress of democracy. And deadlines, even if somewhat unrealistic, are reassuring. In the midst of car bombings and mortar attacks, they give people a feeling of normalcy and progress: the sense that stubborn bureaucracy and the business of ordinary life proceed serenely onward despite an unruly minority hell-bent on visiting chaos and destruction on a long-troubled land.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 01, 2005

NIGHT OF THE LIVING CONSTITUTION....

It's been a while since we've done anything creative and we have a long holiday weekend coming up. The HVES finds itself inspired by The Year of Horrors in SCOTUS as well as one of its favorite Tony Scalia quotes from Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches School District:

"Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening the little children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District."

We take as our model the following post from sometime last year:

High Concept for a Horror movie: The Constitution really *is* a living document. Key scenes:

Night. CONSTITUTION escapes from display case in Library of Congress. Seen lurking in alleyway off of Mass Ave. Shadows. Attacks and eats Cato Institute INTERN.

Day. The NATIONAL GUARD attempt to capture the Constitution on the Mall. Suddenly, ARTICLE III is invoked in a novel way. The GUARDSMEN find themselves guilty of treason and are forced to arrest themselves.

Morning. Quiet alley. Constitution hides in a dumpster. We hear it interpreting itself in a high-pitched chatter. BABY AMENDMENTS push up the dumpster lid and escape into the city.

A home office. A MAN sits at a computer. The Constitution moves stealthily behind him, past a banner on the wall reading 'Proud to be a Resident Scholar at the AEI.' He hears a noise behind him, turns and brandishes a gun. The Constitution quickly reinterprets the SECOND AMENDMENT and the gun disappears. The Man looks at his hand in horror, and then up at the advancing AMENDMENT. Fade Out.

Day. Golf Course. The EIGHTH AMENDMENT appears from the heavy rough and devours Justice SCALIA from the legs up. Vice President CHENEY putts to save par, makes some adjustments to Scalia's scorecard, and smiles quietly to himself.

The HVES proposes a new story in the grand tradition of Brett Barboursville and the Case of the Hairy Egyptian and The RatherGate Conspiracy.

Now in case you're not familiar with how these things work, the concept is simple. I start the story off. It continues in the comments section, each reader adding a sentence or a small section at a time. Generally things get out of control fairly quickly, the plot twisting and turning unpredictably. Readers get confused and start arguing over the plot. There are unannounced commercial interruptions. Characters change their names, their sexuality, or their hair color without warning, are killed off and come back to life unexpectedly. Hilarity often ensues.

The Concept for this story is thus:

What if the liberals are right??? The year is 2020, the Constitution is revealed to be a Living, Breathing Document. It bursts free from its case in the Library of Congress and devours an unsuspecting intern before going on a mad rampage through both the Halls of the Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights, killing off various Justices in grizzly fashion and reinterpreting our basic rights in light of more modern sensibilities. Without resort to the People, it starts calling itself Esther, spontaneously Amending itself to include FDR's Second Bill of Rights.

Can the Republic be saved? Only the Shadow knows.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:14 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Who's Listening? Good Question

Yesterday the Spousal Unit was holding forth about Gwen Ifill again. For those of you who don't know, this is typical post-prandial conversational fare around Villa Cassandra. The slightest glimpse of her visage on the Lidless Eye that dominates our living room sends him into paroxysms of vituperative loathing - especially when he is already well-primed with a pre-dinner cocktail.

The source of his mighty wrath last night was a segment heard over NPR on the way home. Apparently the Detestable One had been interviewing Steven Hadley, Joe Biden, and possibly some other nameless twit (the exact details escape me) about the situation in Iraq. The subject of Sunni representation came up and someone (I forget who - possibly The Hateful One or it may have been the equally moronic Biden) leapt in with both feet and opined that "Bush had better do more to made sure that the Sunnis AREN'T KEPT OUT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS".

At this point the Unit almost ran off the road. Thank God he wasn't driving the RX8.

Mizzzz Ifill (being the impartial professional journalist she is) declined to point out that the Sunnis had jolly well chosen to keep themselves out of the Democratic process, despite everyone and their Uncle Habib having begged them to participate.

Long live the meme.

Why do I bring this up? This seems to be a recurring theme amongst our liberal brethren: people declining to participate in the political process and then blaming Bush. I remain unsure how Mr. Bush was supposed to ensure the Sunnis went to the polls on election day in Iraq. Perhaps The Shrub should have gone around madly bashing on the doors of the Sunni populace, Jimmy-Carter-style, to get out the vote?

During the 2008 election, some blacks thought the lines at the polls were "too long" and went home. Later, the DNC claimed they were 'disenfranchised'. Tell that to the Iraqis who braved gunfire and IEDs to get to the polls.

Today in an editorial to cretinous to bother excerpting, EJ Dionne picks up the same tired meme.

Let me sum it up for you:

Democrats say they oppose the war.

They demand justification of why we're there and when we're coming home from the White House.

The President went on national TV to speak to the nation about the war.

Only 23% of the audience for the President's speech were Democrats.

Mr. Dionne notes that "many Democrats don't want to listen" to the President" during wartime. He feels that this is A Bad Thing.

The half-vast editorial staff is inclined to agree. But could it possibly have anything to do with the statements of DNC party leaders like Harry Reid, who recently dubbed the President of the United States a "loser" and a "liar"?

Or DNC Chair Howard Dean, who recently said he "hates Republicans and everything they stand for", referred to politics as as "struggle between good and evil...and we're the good", said, "The republicans are all about suppressing votes...", and assured his fellow Dems that many Republicans "...have never made an honest living in their lives."

I hear over and over from my Democratic friends how the President has failed to talk to the American people. And then I mention this speech or that speech, and almost inevitably they mumble..."Well, I didn't listen to that one."

Oh really? How convenient.

Maybe, just maybe Mr. Dionne, that is part of the problem in this country. The adminsistration is talking. But a good half of this country is out shopping at PayLess or barbecuing or watching ElimiDate. As Mr. Dionne so eloquently put it, they have better things to do.

They're not paying attention. Now who's fault is that?

Posted by Cassandra at 08:05 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Liberals Rewriting History, Part II

And the relentless flogging of the Big Lie continues:

Richard Cohen:

The 9/11 commission said in plain English that there was no connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

WRONG...

Senator Jay Rockafeller, (D, West Va.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee:

Iraq... "had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, it had nothing to do with al-Qaida, it had nothing to do with September 11, which he managed to mention three or four times and infer three or four more times." [Ed. note: Err... I believe the word you want is, 'imply', Senator. Don't mention it.]

"It's sort of amazing that a president could stand up before hundreds of millions of Americans and say that and come back to 9/11--somehow figuring that it clicks a button, that everybody grows more patriotic and more patient. Well, maybe that's good p.r. work, which it isn't, but it's not the way that a commander in chief executes a war. And that's his responsibility in this case."

Well Senator, folks do like to poke fun at West by-God Virginia, don't they? And after listening to you and old Sheets Byrd for a while, its not too hard to understand why. But the half-vast editorial staff is of the opinion that your constituents are a whole lot smarter than some of their elected representatives. Smart enough, for instance, to visit your website for a little stroll down memory lane:

As the attacks of September 11 demonstrated, the immense destructiveness of modern technology means we can no longer afford to wait around for a smoking gun. September 11 demonstrated that the fact that an attack on our homeland has not yet occurred cannot give us any false sense of security that one will not occur in the future. We no longer have that luxury.

September 11 changed America. It made us realize we must deal differently with the very real threat of terrorism, whether it comes from shadowy groups operating in the mountains of Afghanistan or in 70 other countries around the world, including our own.

There has been some debate over how "imminent" a threat Iraq poses. I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated.

Great Caesar's Ghost! I've always wondered how memes get started. For two years we've been hearing a lot of soundbytes from all those smart people in Congress about how the White House promised Iraq would be a cakewalk.

Funny...that quote turned out to be NOT from anyone in the Bush cabinet, but from a former REAGAN-era official who was just sounding off in a WaPo editorial! Now un-so-phis-ticated folks who don't know any better might call a charge like that just plain dishonest.

And several folks in Congress are still blaming poor George Bush for saying Iraq was an imminent threat. Except he said exactly the opposite in his State of the Union address. And here we find the original quote came from a Democrat: YOU!

You guys are really just way too good - I gotta hand it to you. Rove's got nothin'. By the way, nice use of 'September 11th'. The Shrub only managed to work it in 3-4 times in a 30-minute speech. You managed the same feat in two paragraphs.

Now the funny thing is, to this day Senator Rockafeller admits that Saddam Hussein sponsored known terrorists like Abu Nidal. But a week before he gave that floor speech in 2002, he wasn't ruling out the possibility that Hussein would collaborate with al Qaeda either. In an interview with the Charleston Gazette, he speculated:

"If you go pre-emptive, do you cause Hussein to strike where he might not have? He is not a martyr, not a Wahabbi, not a Muslim radical. He does not seek martyrdom. But he is getting older," Rockefeller told the paper. "Maybe he is seeking a legacy by attacking Israel or using al-Qaeda cells around the world."

Senator Rockafeller, like another Democratic Senator we know and love, has been known to flip-flop on the issue of links between Iraq and al Qaeda. But let us be generous and admit what the Democrats will not: the intelligence was uncertain, and given that neither the President, nor members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee were likely to go haring off on their lunch hours to personally verify the intelligence they were given by the CIA, they were forced to work with the information as presented.

Perhaps that explains this baffling statement:

...asked about an Iraq-al Qaeda relationship by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on February 5, 2003, Rockefeller agreed with Republican Senator Pat Roberts that Abu Musab al Zarqawi's presence in Iraq before the war and his links to a poison camp in northern Iraq were troubling. Rockefeller continued: "The fact that Zarqawi certainly is related to the death of the U.S. aid officer and that he is very close to bin Laden puts at rest, in fairly dramatic terms, that there is at least a substantial connection between Saddam and al Qaeda."

Stephen Hayes comments:

Is this really the same person who now says Iraq "had nothing to do with al Qaeda" and who finds it somehow improper to mention the Iraq war and 9/11 in the same speech?

It's worth noting, however, that the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told his colleagues that "there is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years." And: "Saddam's existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America, now." And: "We cannot know for certain that Saddam will use the weapons of mass destruction he currently possesses, or that he will use them against us. But we do know Saddam has the capability."

Unmistakable evidence. Existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities. We do know Saddam has the capability. Remember these things the next time you hear Rockefeller and his colleagues accuse the Bush Administration of exaggerating or fabricating the threat from Iraq.

Remember also, that the Congressional resolution to authorize force in Iraq mentions Iraq, September 11th, and al Qaeda numerous times and in conjunction with one another.

Facts are stubborn things. Small wonder then that the Democrats so studiously avoid them when they are demagoguing about the war.


Posted by Cassandra at 05:56 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack