Monday, October 10, 2005

the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court

Has unfortunately brought back some law school memories for me. Harriet graduated from law school 6 years before I did. But both of us went to southern law schools and the intervening 6 years changed little other than the numbers of women attending same. When I went approximately 27% of my class were women.

Women in my law school were accused of taking the rightful place of a man who had a family to support. Told at graduate dormitory dinners, by the (male) speaker that he was surprised to learn that you had to go to law school to be a legal secretary. Accused of being secret lesbians.

However, the worst story of what happened to women in my law school at the time concerns a law school criminal law professor. He was renowned for being an outlaw to begin with--rumored to have been disbarred for lapses in behavior, yet here he was a tenured faculty member. The day's criminal law lecture concerned rape. And the prof was concerned about the need for penetration to cement the crime. He called on a hapless first year female student:

"Miss X, I was wondering if you could tell me how much penetration is sufficient to constitute rape. Is this much enough [pointing to the upraised seond finger on his left hand]? Is this much enough [pointing to his left wrist as the hand is fully extended]? Is THIS MUCH ENOUGH [now extending his left arm and pointing from the elbow on up]. No, Miss X, THIS, THIS IS ECSTASY!!!"

And that's what it was like to go to law school female. Miers was one of 2 women in her class. I would fully expect that she suffered abuse like this or worse while she was there. The question is whether she has fully blocked it away or whether it will have some influence on how she sees the issues. To be very honest, I don't think we will ever know because given how the right wings is starting to behave like reavers, she will withdraw her nomination to protect her boss, "the most brilliant man" she's ever met. That's certainly a poke in the eye of all Dallas males at the very least. They should be raving too.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Christine Gregoire, no backbone on 912

The governor of the state of Washington is spending this week trying to drum up business in Asia, the biggest creditor of the US. But regardless, it is incredible, that given all the suffering caused in the past two weeks by Katrina in New Orleans, not a peep has emerged from her administration concerning Intiative 912. I912 would repeal the tax on gasoline imposed by the state legislature this past spring. Its purpose is to fund critical transportation construction in this state. Such projects as replacing the 520 bridge and redoing or redirecting the Alaskan Way viaduct would be addressed by this tax on gasoline. However, the Mugwumps of Washington politics are attempting to remove this tax via initiative.

And what has the good gov done about this?

Absolutely nothing. No word to inspire those who think govt is responsible for the safety of its citizens and this tax is essential to maintaining our safety. No word to support I912 either.

Update 9/20/05: the Survey USA governors' rankings have come out and our Ms. Gregoire has dropped in her approval rating to 45%. She ranks 38th out of 50. I predict the trend to continue if she does not get a backbone.

It is time for the woman to shit or get off the pot. I sure as hell hope that with this wiffly a record, she gives up running again. Or the Repugs will eat her lunch next time around. Perhaps that is what is stalling her: fear of them. Let me give her a bit of advice--you never govern from fear and you NEVER let them know you are afraid.

What a wuss.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Karl Rove to head up Reconstruction in New Orleans

God, I hate to say I told you so, but as I mentioned in the prior post, we have continued our downward slide and reached the point that the idiots truly are in charge, where it's harder and harder to keep a lid on it. At least for a couple of days.

However, I am noting with dismay that, the blog read by more politicos than the top 8 conservative blogs in the blogosphere, seems to be missing a key point in the continuing tragedy of the drowning of New Orleans. That is the fact that Karl Rove has been put in charge of the Reconstruction effort.

To say that this is like the fox being in charge of the henhouse, is understating the degree of the problem rather like saying the sun is sorta hot. Karl fucking Rove??? The master of political spin and schmooze. Jesus on a popsicle stick, this is the biggest financial undertaking by the US government since the South was rebuilt after the Civil War. It is estimated to cost more than the Iraq war. And Bush is going to do it w/o raising taxes. The implications are staggering.

First, this means we will be even more in debt to the Chinese. They already hold so many of our IOUs that they can call our tune as to how they direct their economic efforts. They get to do capitalism their way--which means more and more opression for their workers. More and more pollution of their air and water (anyone been to Beijing recently? seen the sun or just a grey cloud?). And we will be required to be complicit in whatever they want to do, because they hold us by the short ones. And don't you forget it.

Then, Karl Rove is going to be throwing out all this money, these billion dollar potloads of money, just to make the political problems go away for his boss. Forget true planning and recreating a vibrant city by involving New Orleans citizens from all walks of life. The contracts are going to Halliburton and the wages got slashed by executive order. That's how Karl Rove is going to do things. The rich will continue to get richer. And the rest of us will rot.

We really need a Democratic opposition that is unified, on point and FUCKING LOUD. I don't care if Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid takes their clothes off during a press conference as long as it draws attention to the major, major embezzling operation that is taking place in broad daylight under the sanctimonious cover of reconstructing New Orleans. Unless something is done, it will impoverish all of us.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Is it just me?

Or have we descended another rung closer to sheer idiocy running the country?

Word from Capitol Blue's Doug Thompson is that GWB is prone to severe mood swings, abuses his staff and swears like a drunken sailor. Oops, make that a dry drunken sailor.

Then Bill Frist has gone out on a limb and declared that we should be teaching Intelligent Design alongside science in elementary school. As Edward noted in Obsidian Wings, I hope Harvard rescinds his medical degree retroactively. Why Mr. Frist thinks he has a snowball's chance in hell of capturing the Repub nomination for Preznit in 08, I'll never know. It's not his charm that will capture the voting public.

The killings in Iraq continue unabated. Cindy Sheehan, who is a decent woman with an unanswered question, is being 'swift boated' by the right wing scum bags such as Rush Limbaugh, who accused her of faking her son's death. I am NOT kidding about that. Yet, even though we lack an exit strategy the Army today said it would maintain its 100,000+ troop force in Iraq for at least another 4 years? Anyone want to hazard a guess as to our ultimate numbers of dead soldiers will be? At this rate, we will be there longer than we were in Vietnam. I'm just waiting for the 6 o'clock news to restart broadcasting body counts of dead rag heads. Now that would make all of us feel so much better....

When are all those who left their brains at the door and voted for Bush in '00 and '04 going to realize that the guy is 6 slices short of a loaf of bread? He's passed Reagan in sheer numbers of days taken on vacation while in office, and he still has 3 years to go on his second term. Knock, Knock, is anyone home? I know George isn't. He's biking and swimming and socializing with all the right folks. Not that trailer trash at Camp Casey. Why those are just parents of suckers. You know, those dumb enough to join the military, go to Iraq and get themselves killed.

And if that isn't enough, just watch the red tide flow out as we spend $200 billion a month on the debacle in Iraq. All for the cause of $2.75/gallon and climbing gasoline. I sold my tech stock last month and bought shares in an international oil firm. I might as well profit from all this stupidity.



Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Further Evidence that Norm Coleman is a douchebag

My excuses to atrios, but this was too rich not to quote.

Uff da!

Norman Coleman -- not quite a genius, from the Guardian.

The Democratic Staff Report on the UN Oil for Food Program.

...the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together.

"The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions," the report said. "On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales."

Just in time for a certain guest, George Galloway.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day 2005

I'm a bit on edge this mother's day. Frankly I think it's a bit of a made up holiday. One that forces folks to invent pasts where their mothers were a bit nicer and cared a bit more about them than was real.

The major reason for my skepticism is that my mother suffers from narcicisstic personality disorder. It took me almost 40 years to identify it and another 5 to try to do something about it. There is no cure, and those who try to erect healthy boundaries to protect themselves usually find it exacts severe punishment. As a result, I won't be calling to her house today and haven't sent a card. So of course today puts me more out of sorts than most days. But I'll get over it. There's no other way out.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Does Focus on the Family promote hatred of gays?

I'm having a debate w/ a fellow who is generally a nice guy, but sometimes I think that he is too nice for his and other's own good. I posited that Focus on the Family, James Dobson's born again outfit, promotes hatred of homosexuality. He doesn't think Focus on the Family promotes hatred of homosexuality because they don't advocate killing gays.

Frankly I think there are different ways of promoting hatred of homosexuality and not all involve urging that gays be killed.

He thinks this is just way too sensitive.

So does anyone have any better info on what the real agenda is for Focus on the Family and homosexuality? Am I, rational person that I think I am, being too sensitive?

I DON"T THINK SO. But, please let me be the first to offer you a platform to sound off on this issue.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Schiavo and the Pope, some points of comparison

In all the brouhaha over the past 2-3 weeks regarding Terri Schiavo's final death and the death of the Pope, it is important to look at some of the contradictions that are not resolvable and to my mind, reflect rather badly on their protagonists.

First let's hear from the Pope, or his minions:

..."Even for people infected with AIDS or for those who want to use condoms to prevent AIDS," said John Paul 11 at the International Congress of Moral Theologians in Rome in 1988, "the Church's moral doctrine allows no exceptions."

Carlo Caffarra, the pope's spokesman for marriage and family issues, added that if an AIDS - infected husband couldn't manage to maintain "total abstinence" for the rest of his life, then it was better to infect his wife than to use a condom, "because the preservation of spiritual goods, such as the sacrament of marriage, is to be preferred to the good of life."...

Culture of Life

Second, let's hear it from the Schindlers, Terri Schiavo's parents:

..."Testimony provided by members of the Schindler family included very personal statements about their desire and intention to ensure that Theresa remain alive. Throughout the course of the litigation, deposition and trial testimony by members of the Schindler family voiced the disturbing belief that they would keep Theresa alive at any and all costs. Nearly gruesome examples were given, eliciting agreement by family members that in the event Theresa should contract diabetes and subsequent gangrene in each of her limbs, they would agree to amputate each limb, and would then, were she to be diagnosed with heart disease, perform open heart surgery. There was additional, difficult testimony that appeared to establish that despite the sad and undesirable condition of Theresa, the parents still derived joy from having her alive, even if Theresa might not be at all aware of her environment given the persistent vegetative state. Within the testimony, as part of the hypotheticals presented, Schindler family members stated that even if Theresa had told them of her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn, they would not do it. Throughout this painful and difficult trial, the family acknowledged that Theresa was in a diagnosed persistent vegetative state..."

Guardian Ad Litem's Report

And then we get into the intrusion of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

First, President Bush:

"Bush's brand of forthright tough-guy populism can be appealing, and it has played well in Texas. Yet occasionally there are flashes of meanness visible beneath it.

While driving back from the speech later that day, Bush mentions Karla Faye Tucker, a double murderer who was executed in Texas last year. In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. 'Did you meet with any of them?' I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. 'No, I didn't meet with any of them,' he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. 'I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' 'What was her answer?' I wonder.

'Please,' Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, 'don't kill me.'

I must look shocked -- ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel, even for someone as militantly anticrime as Bush -- because he immediately stops smirking. "

From: "Devil May Care" by Tucker Carlson, Talk Magazine, September 1999, p. 106

Second, Senator John Cornyn of Texas:

"I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence."


The Houston Chronicle describes the situation:

"...Republican leaders' frustration with the courts has flared with the U.S. Supreme Court's ban on execution of criminals who killed as juveniles and its refusal to intervene on behalf of Schiavo's parents, who sought to block removal of her feeding tube...."

Houston Chronicle

I'll leave Delay and Frist for later dissection. But you get the picture, I would hope. In this madhouse, no one is really in favor of life unless it feeds their own interests. No one. Including the Pope.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Paging Norm Coleman, Paging Senator Coleman

When we last left our feckless Senator from MN w/ the fancy dental work, he was frothing at the mouth and demanding the head of Kofi Annan, graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, and Secretary General of the UN. Seems that Mr. Annan's son, Kojo, had gotten involved in some shady dealings with the UN's Food for Oil Program and Norm and his buddies were absolutely certain that the corruption was profound and could be directly traced back to Mr. Annan.

Well, comes the word last week, and t'aint necessarily so. Seems that Kojo did take a consultancy w/ a firm under suspicious circumstances and it was for a couple hundred thousand dollars, but that, in today's Washington, is chump change. Why I am sure that Neal Bush has grifted millions of dollars from companies eager to use his schmooze factor using his family's connections. And look at the classy whores he gets for free in Japan.

At any rate, have not heard squat from Senator Coleman since the UN investigative report was issued. Should you wish to read all 144 pages, you can find it here:

And if you can find behavior that is even a hundredth as egregious as the stink coming from Halliburton and their cozy corporate compatriots in Iraq, I'll send you a genyouwine Pentagon bolt worth at least $450. Honest.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Alberto Gonzales does not merit confirmation

The editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune says it far more eloquently than I could:

Editorial: Alberto Gonzales has blood on his hands
January 6, 2005 ED0106A

When the White House announced in November that Attorney General John Ashcroft would depart and be replaced by presidential counsel Alberto Gonzales, it was a good news-bad news sort of day: good news that Ashcroft, enemy of the Bill of Rights in this war-on-terror era, would be departing; bad news that he would be replaced by Gonzales, enemy of the rights of prisoners of war and architect of policies that led to the abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Since November, the bad news has gotten large amounts worse as horrific abuses of prisoners have been documented, especially by the American Civil Liberties Union and documents it forced into the public domain. Which leaves us to ask: Why in the world should the United States be saddled with an attorney general who, from the White House, framed cockamamie legal policies that sought to make it permissible for American forces to commit war crimes?

Indeed, when Gonzales comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, the committee must challenge him to explain fully both his role in authorizing torture and his rationale for doing so. If the answers aren't satisfactory, and it is impossible to imagine how they could be, then the full Senate should reject his nomination and tell President Bush to pick someone else.

At the height of the Abu Ghraib scandal, someone leaked to Newsweek a memorandum Gonzales authored in January 2002 which argued that the war on terror had "rendered obsolete" the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture and abuse of prisoners of war. The conventions, he said, did not apply to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan. Gonzales also was a principal architect of Bush's order authorizing the secret trial of combatants from Afghanistan by military tribunal.

Only within the last few days has it become known just how key a role Gonzales played in the formation of a notorious Department of Justice memo issued in August 2002. That memo defined torture quite narrowly -- it said that only physical pain "of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure" amounted to torture. It also said the president had inherent authority to authorize use of extreme means of interrogation on detainees suspected of terrorist activities.

Gonzales asked for the memo and discussed draft language with its author. Small wonder that, according to a "senior administration official" interviewed by the New York Times, the memo hewed closely to views already held by senior White House officials.

That memo, by the way, was rescinded by the Justice Department last week (a bit of tidying before Gonzales' confirmation hearing) and replaced with a new one that explicitly rejects the reasoning put forward in the first.

Gonzales has a great deal to answer for. He contributed substantially to prisoner abuses that brought the United States into worldwide disrepute and sullied its record for valuing human rights. If the Judiciary Committee should find his answers evasive or uncompelling, he doesn't deserve to be attorney general of this nation.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Why we must continue the fight against the Iraq war

The photo is so very apt and yet so very, very sad. Both girls had no choice over their parents. Yet that is where the similarity ends. View it and weep for what our country has become.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Evil runs rampant in the world at times

Rachel Corrie's death almost two years ago was a signal event in my life. I learned then that people that I thought were rational and caring, could in one instant be turned into raving lunatics, akin to those they sought to eliminate.

It is frightening to hear supporters of the state of Israel sound like Waffen SS members when they talk about the Palestinians and when they erect prison walls that take even more Palestinian property. The Israelis have become in some sense, what they were reacting to when they formed their country.

By this criticism I do not mean to exempt the Palestinians from their heinous behaviour, e.g. the promotion of The Protocols of Zion, the absolute fabrications about Israelis being devils, the promotion of suicide bombing. These are all horrific and I condemn them.

But Israel is in the driver's seat. They have the weaponry, the money, the power. They have, to me, the greater responsibility to behave in a civilized fashion. If they can't and they descend to the level of those whose territories they are occupying, they have become just as bad. And frankly, they don't realize it. They are too personally involved, too invested to be able to look at the deteriorating situation in a rational and detached light. And without that, they are no better than those they oppress.

What was Solomon's solution in this situation? What the Israelis are doing is cutting off an arm and giving it to the mother. Solomon threatened to cut the baby in half. Until and unless that is done, there is a very grave danger that the arm will in fact be cut off. And the entire entity will die as a result.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Stratfor says we have lost the Iraq War

This came from a friend who can read the Andrew Sullivan site w/o ill effect:

"STRATFOR ON THE WAR: Like many other smart analysts, the pro-war Stratfor military experts have concluded that the war to control the Iraq insurgency or to erect democratic institutions in Iraq has been lost (subscription required). I think it's time to start truly absorbing this possibility. Why lost? Because we blew the opportunity to control the terrain with insufficient troops and terrible intelligence; because all the institutions required to build democracy in Iraq have already been infiltrated by insurgents; because at key moments - they mention the fall of 2003 or spring of 2004 - we simply failed to crush the insurgency when we might have had a chance of success. Short version: we had a brief window of opportunity to turn our armed intervention into democratic liberation and we blew it. Money quote:

The issue facing the Bush administration is simple. It can continue to fight the war as it has, hoping that a miracle will bring successes in 2005 that didn't happen in 2004. Alternatively, it can accept the reality that the guerrilla force is now self-sustaining and sufficiently large not to flicker out and face the fact that a U.S. conventional force of less than 150,000 is not likely to suppress the guerrillas. More to the point, it can recognize these facts: 1. The United States cannot re-engineer Iraq because the guerrillas will infiltrate every institution it creates. 2. That the United States by itself lacks the intelligence capabilities to fight an effective counterinsurgency. 3. That exposing U.S. forces to security responsibilities in this environment generates casualties without bringing the United States closer to the goal. 4. That the strain on the U.S. force is undermining its ability to react to opportunities and threats in the rest of the region. And that, therefore, this phase of the Iraq campaign must be halted as soon as possible.

They recommend withdrawing U.S. forces to the periphery of Iraq and letting the inevitable civil war take place in the center.

DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN? The war has not been a complete loss, Stratfor argues, because it has engineered a slight shift in the behavior of neighboring regimes, and has allowed us to have a new base in the Middle East. The conclusion:

Certainly, it would have been nice for the United States if it had been able to dominate Iraq thoroughly. Somewhere between "the U.S. blew it" and "there was never a chance" that possibility is gone. It would have been nice if the United States had never tried to control the situation, because now the United States is going to have to accept a defeat, which will destabilize the region psychologically for a while. But what is is, and the facts speak for themselves. We are not Walter Cronkite, and we are not saying that the war is lost. The war is with the jihadists around the world; Iraq was just one campaign, and the occupation of the Sunnis was just one phase of that campaign. That phase has been lost. The administration has allowed that phase to become the war as a whole in the public mind. That was a very bad move, but the administration is just going to have to bite the bullet and do the hard, painful and embarrassing work of cutting losses and getting on with the war. If Bush has trouble doing this, he should conjure up Lyndon Johnson's ghost, wandering restlessly in the White House, and imagine how Johnson would have been remembered if he had told Robert McNamara to get lost in 1966."