Monday, March 28, 2005
Now, if they can figure out how I can get my satellite television service to consider deleting it, I will be home free... maybe if I send them a letter saying I will delay or refuse to upgrade to HDTV until they put Faux News into the "positive option" category.
Update: Fixed the link.
From the April 2005 Issue of Scientific American.
Who said scientists had no sense' of humor?
There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.
In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of socalled evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.
Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.
Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in details.
Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.
Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.
Okay, We Give Up
THE EDITORS firstname.lastname@example.org
COPYRIGHT 2005 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INC.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Psychic medium, author, and former television host John Edward claimed on Fox News' morning show Fox & Friends that Terri Schiavo is "definitely clear on what's happening now around her." Edward was responding to a question from host Steve Doocy about whether Edward could communicate with Schiavo.
Edward, whose website says that he has "helped thousands with his uncanny ability to predict future events and communicate with those who have crossed over to the Other Side," was on the show to promote his new book, Practical Praying: Using the Rosary to Enhance Your Life (Hay House, 2005). Edward was the host of the nationally syndicated TV show Crossing Over with John Edward, which aired on the Sci Fi Channel before being canceled in 2004. In October 2001, Edwards taped a segment of Crossing Over in which he "purport[ed] to contact victims of the World Trade Center attacks," according to a Washington Post article. But the episode was canceled for fear of offending the public. According to the Post, "production house Studios USA axed the whole idea after reporters and station execs -- the two least queasy segments of society -- actually cringed."
From the March 24 edition of Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: You mentioned the Terri Schiavo case. Some might wonder, "Well, you know what, I wonder if he could communicate with her."
EDWARD: I do believe that the soul, the consciousness, can communicate when they're in a state, whether it be a mentally incapacitated person, someone who's in a coma. It's a consciousness, and the soul has a living consciousness. So whether it's in a physical vehicle or not, there is still the ability to connect. Many people will have what they call out-of-body experiences, or astral dreams. Two very living people, that are healthy, could have a kind of connection in a dream state that can be validated. So why not somebody who's in this case?
DOOCY: So she may not be able to talk with her brain, but she can with her soul --
EDWARDS: But she's clear on what's going -- and I can tell you that she's definitely clear on what's happening now around her.
So let me get this straight... John Edwards, the guy who tells people that where their dead grandmother left the hidden life insurance policy, is now a FOXNews medical consultant on neurology?
Holy crap, doesn't this just tell you everything you needed to know about FOXNews and the religous right in general. Remember this is guy who got run by CSICOP for basically refusing to submit to any scientific test of his powers.
Remember this the next time someone purporting to be an expert in anything shows up on FOXNews. Media Matters also had a pretty good bit about the allged business pimp they trotted out on Fox and Friends, and gave a spiel about explaining that if Terri Schiavo, it will destroy business in America.
There is no floor for these people is there?
Friday, March 25, 2005
One of the hosts there decided he could no longer stomach the challenge to explain what he believes is the best scientific explanation for the origin of life, and if it isn't the modern synthesis theory of evolution, then to also explain why he is confident that his theory is a better one.
So, rather than answer the questions, he edited the post to remove the questions and replace it with a snarky remark. He still hasn't answered the questions, though he does vociferously claim that he's tired of answering them. (He sure gets tired easily.)
I dropped in on Wizbang! because, as near as I could tell, they are the right-wing blog with the largest community of commenters that is not censored for political views. Except, it would appear not. Looks like even they have limits on their ability to resist the siren song of controlling the political expressions contained in their comments.
So, now I'm back to searching for a right-wing blog with fair moderation of its comments. (It's hard enough finding one with comments at all, much less one with fair moderation of the comments. Where "fair" means something comparable to the widely held standards you find in the lefty blog world.)
Update: He's onto me now. I posted a snarky comment (nothing indecent, let alone profane), and he just silently deleted it. Wonderful. Here's what I wrote: "Wake me when you're done reveling in what you don't know. I need a lesson in epistemology from you like I need parenting advice from Michael Jackson's defense lawyers." It's clear he has a double standard about acceptable level of discourse: a special one for me, and another one for himself and his clones. Sigh. I had such high hopes for Wizbang...
Update the younger: Against my better judgement, I'm trying again. The guy has another thread up, titled Evolution Cage Match, where he plans to spend his holiday weekend tweaking the nose of the "oozers" as he likes to call people who accept the modern synthesis theory of evolution and specifically what it holds to be the origin of life. Mind you, I'm mostly interested in determining whether Wizbang! really deserves their reputation for having a fair policy of comment moderation. So, here's what I posted there.
Let's test Paul's self-control. Once again, I will pose a pair of questions to him to get him to clarify what he means to say. We'll see if he feels the need to delete my post again rather than meet the challenge of answering the questions.
+ What does Paul believe is the best explanation science has produced to explain the origin of life?
+ If the answer to the previous question is not the modern synthesis theory of evolution, then why does he believe his preferred theory is superior?
Will Paul dodge the questions? Will he delete the post so that he doesn't get caught dodging the questions? Tune in here later today and find out.
I'll revisit this later this weekend, and see what were the results.
Further meanderings: Attempts to get him to take a position in the debate over evolution continue to meander. He keeps deleting posts and complaining about people refusing to follow his insane rules for participating in the discussion. (Are the rules really insane? Yes, they're insane. Read the post where he outlines them.)
He's been writing about this for three days now, and I've been trying to nail him down to a position for those three days, and he won't take one. Here's his latest response to my deleted comments:
NOPE THAT'S NOT what I said: I've said that people who refuse to accept that the whole oozer theory might actually have some problems are religious zealots. There is a MOUNTAIN of Difference.
You see... This is why I have the tight rules on this post. You are misquoting me PROVING that I need the rules.
Now- You repeatedly complain that my moderation of this thread is not fair. You have just misquoted me. Who is not being fair? Think about it.
He's run away from the discussion temporarily and closed the comment thread. I'll post my response here.
He won't identify the people he's calling "religious zealots" by name. There isn't anyone in the collection of respondants to his weirdness that fits the description. Everybody admits that the modern synthesis theory of evolution leaves a lot of room for further research and refinement. Who are these religious zealots he thinks he's arguing with? Well, there are two choices here, of course: 1) everyone who doesn't share his exaggerated and irrational level of skepticism about evolution; 2) some mythical "scientists" who don't actually practice any science, and who are actually theologians because they regard a scientific theory as if it were the literal word of God. There isn't any in-between, and he hasn't offered any counter-examples to show otherwise.
Either way, how exactly did I misquote him? Where is this MOUNTAIN of difference? (Answer: it's the old sophists trick. When faced with an otherwise irreconcilable contradiction, draw a new distinction and resolve the difference with argumentation. Even a drooling gomer can master this technique.)
What's more: what do the words "whole oozer theory might actually have some problems" mean in his language? He keeps talking about how "the whole theory" is "seriously flawed" while, at the same time, complaining about people who interpret that as an attack on the "whole" synthesis of current evolutionary theory.
Over the last three days, I've given the guy multiple invitations to answer the questions above and he's dodged them all. Answering the questions shouldn't be difficult for him. At times, he seems to be endorsing evolution. At other times, he seems to be endorsing I-D. He's clearly getting a lot of mileage out of reiterating his skepticism of what evolutionary theory says about the origin of life. He openly revels in what he thinks scientists can't know, and gleefully mocks anybody who might be less pessimistic than him about the applicability of the scientific method to the study of evolutionary biology.
Here's an excerpt of what PZ Myers at Pharyngula says about the "drooling gomers" like our friend Paul at Wizbang!, and I couldn't agree with him more.
I know what some people are thinking: just don't call them "stupid" or a "moron", it distracts from the scientific argument. Of course it does; but one thing I've learned over the years is that this is not a scientific debate. The scientific part was settled a century ago, and evolution won, hands down. There is absolutely no legitimate, intelligent argument against evolutionary theory right now. This is not to say that we know everything or that the theory is complete or that we expect no major revisions; it means that evolution in a broad sense is an inarguable fact, and what we need to know now are details and mechanisms. [...]
So what's the argument about? Not science, that's for sure. The opponents of evolution don't know any. They are effective political agents who are attacking the enterprise of science without addressing the scientific issues seriously. They have been relying on their opponent's hesitation or aloofness to escape criticism of their competence or ignorance. They shout with authority when they possess none.
You know what? It's time to stop that.
I particularly liked his observation that these people are "effective political agents who are attacking the enterprise of science without addressing the scientific issues seriously." Because that really does nail down a crucial part of the problem. If they were just nothing more than modern American Lysenkoists, it would be one thing. These people are aiming for something bigger and more troubling.
And they feel no particular compelling need to play fair in going about it.
Oh yeah, and one more thing... If Paul hadn't been so heavy-handed with the comment suppression three days ago when the discussion started and I began pressing him to take a clear position in the evolution debate, then he wouldn't have gotten my ire up. He could have just ignored the questions, and it would have been okay.
But no, he had to be a dimwit and scrub the comments of challenges to his carefully imbalanced dodging of the issue— thereby trashing any supporting argument for the idea that, at least, Wizbang! among all right-wing blogs can handle comments from their political opponents showing up in their website. By the time he arrived at the "Evolution Cage Match" thread and started aggressively managing the discussion, the damage was already done. Spiking and heavily editing my posts in that thread too was just laying down the varnish.
Okay, now I'm done with this. So. Are there any right-wing blogs where the comments are open to opposing views? Or is the right-wing mind simply incapable of fairness in comment moderation?
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
My take is that this should serve as yet another reminder that the "so-called liberal media" in America is fundamentally broken and cannot be trusted with the important function of serving public interests. I've had a long-running friendly argument with Mojo about this topic. He seems to think the press corps is generally innocent of any intent to do harm— rather, they are victims of predatory owners and publishers. I have been much more harsh on journalists as a class than he has been willing to be.
I can't imagine how CNN could have done what M. Nagler writes about if Mojo's views were correct— unless every last journalist still employed at CNN Center in Atlanta were now on strike or locked out of their jobs.
Moreover, I declare unequivocally: when Jay Rosen complains about conservatarians de-certifying the press, he's talking about an inside job.
(Update: fixed grammar to clarify what Jay Rosen is talking about.)
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Your first warning that this story washorse manure is the inclusion of Kiddie Porn. Nothing like scaring the bejeezua out of Parents that some freak is connecting them via their WiFi to the worst sorts of criminal activity. And don't forget they dropped the threat of Terrorism. Very little column space is given over in the Times Story to the vulnerability of supposedly secure networks that contain vital financial information.
Isn't this analogous to blaming the phone company for a crimes committed via their network, like stalking or threatening calls? You can use a freaking payphone to committ a variety of felonies. Is Federal law enforcement going to haul
SBC executives in for questioning on why their network is so easy for criminals to pervert to their use? We accept that the criminals use phones as part of the cost of using it. Somehow we survived...
Why is the reporter only talking to law enforcement? Some experts, whoever the fuck they are, are cited, but why not an academic or engineer with a technical expertise in the field? I think most would take a call from the Times.
You know, there are plenty of technology issues that people should be worried about, I really doubt this rates very high...
Insert quotation here.
Insert the vengeful, apocalyptic wrath of the space-God Jehovah-1 here.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
The spread of the wireless data technology known as Wi-Fi has reshaped the way millions of Americans go online, letting them tap into high-speed Internet connections effortlessly at home and in many public places.
But every convenience has its cost. Federal and state law enforcement officials say sophisticated criminals have begun to use the unsecured Wi-Fi networks of unsuspecting consumers and businesses to help cover their tracks in cyberspace.
I'm posting this to MojoWire right now from my home wireless network, which is a completely unsecured access point— reachable by any of about a dozen homes in my immediate neighborhood— and, for all I know, in half a dozen directories of such open access points to be found in San Francisco. I'm on the side of a hill where anybody with a good directional can use my Wi-Fi network from practically anywhere between my house and the Golden Gate bridge. And I like it that way.
The last several times I've taken packet traces of my Wi-Fi network in the middle of the night, I've noticed that one or more people are using it to surf porn or VPN into their work accounts. This is all good as far as I'm concerned. And believe me, I know how to configure my network for security. I WROTE THE FSCKING CODE THAT IMPLEMENTS IT IN THE PRODUCT I'M USING. I could easily turn it on if I wanted to...
I don't. So, I'm vastly amused by this article in the Grey Lady. My favorite part comes in the last paragraph.
That attitude makes life easier for tech-savvy criminals and tougher for those who pursue them. "The public needs to realize that all they're doing is making it harder on me to go find the bad guys," said Mr. Gilhooly, the former Secret Service agent. "How would you feel if you're sitting at home and meanwhile someone is using your Wi-Fi to hack a bank or hack a company and downloads a million credit card numbers, which happens all the time? I come to you and knock on your door, and all you can say is, 'Oops.' "
When that happens to me, it's going to be a fun time for everyone involved. It will be a three-ring, six-alarm circus. I am living for the day when this "former Secret Service agent" comes to my door and tells me this. Believe me, I will be able to say a lot more than just "Oops."
I will say, "And this is my problem why?"
No, really. Why is this my problem?
Is there a law or something that says I have to lock my stuff up so that nobody else uses it when I'm away?
No, you dimwit— you don't get to charge Mr. Identity Thief with unauthorized network access in addition to all the other more serious charges. I am quite deliberately leaving my network open to anyone who wants to drive up and park on the street outside my house, including thieves and criminals. Why? So that pindicks like you have to have a defensible probable cause before you can break into my house and take away my shit. That's why.
And if you don't like it, you should explain to me why you think you should be able to lean on my family and neighbors because you're having a hard time catching a crook you can't prove has anything to do with us. Yes, I understand your job is hard. So is mine. But when I fsck up, we sell fewer products and maybe the company loses money. When you fsck up, you might end up accusing the wrong guy of being a terrorist and starting a process that quickly results in rendering his sorry carcass to someplace like Turkmenistan— where they boil people alive if they don't make a false confession under less strenuous treatment.
I'll bet you think it was unfair of me to make that observation. Tough noogies. It's the sad truth, and people in your line of work better start getting used to it. You're cops. Real surveillance is what you guys are supposed to be trained to do. Start doing your fscking jobs.
Let me make this perfectly clear: My IP address is not my identity!
If you think I'm a criminal, then grow a spine and prove that I'm the guy who really did the crime you're investigating— not just the owner of a network used by the real criminal you're trying to catch. The alternative before you is to make it a crime for me to operate an open network— and I gotta say, it's going to be pretty damned funny watching you try to enforce that law. You will open a can of weirdness beyond your capacity for rational thought trying to do that.
MUSIC: Intro/Hendrix, Star Spangled Banner
s9/ Prodigy, We Have Explosive
Exeunt/WildChild, Renegade Master
J. Good Morning, and welcome to The Mojowire, Vol. 3, No.7... I'm Mojo...
S. And I'm Sean, it's Saturday, March 19, 2005, Day 1,433 of the Neocon Captivity, and here's the news for the week gone-by...
J. Brought to you by Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988. Now headlines, from Mojohaus:
S. First this morning, we are going to bring the radio equivalent of a hot poker in the eyes as we examine the appointment of Deputy Secretary of State for Dick Cheney's Affairs John Bolton to be W's new man on the ground at the United Nations.
J. Next, we cut through this week's mainstream media celebrity clutter to bring the real news about some important doings in the Capitol that were pushed off the front pages by more important news about Robert Blake and Michael Jackson.
S. Then our special correspondent from low earth orbit, Dr. Strychnine, fires up the terrajoule death laser and fixes the conjugate tracking mirror on a building in Northwest D.C., home of the quislings and pimps of the Democratic Leadership Council.
J. Next, we have a little vocabular lesson, and the low down on a new bit of right wing kookery disguised as a policy meme from the hive brain at the Heritage Institute. TABOR is going to bring a whole new meaning to your life if it is enacted in any way here in California. Just look at what it did to Colorado...
S. Finally this morning, we have the latest installment in our Arnold Watch. This week Conan the Republican will find himself in court for running the political equivalent of a Nigerian money scam, collecting money for policy advocacy, which in turn is ending up in his campaign warchest.
J. …So stand by to stand by while we get ready to pull the pin on this thing...
MEET THE NEW BOSS
J. We would like to start this week's wire by asking a simple question: John Bolton? John Fscking Bolton?! Are you freekin' kidding me? Upon the news' crossing the wires, many of the Mojowire staff were sticken mute and blind, mostly junior editors and copy-creatures, several of whom only survived the initial blast by gnawing off various body parts... more experienced correspondents, editors and bean counters had medicine handy to counter the more immediately noticable side effects, like extemporaneous limbs spontaneously sprouting out of the middle of the back or a sudden, unexplained ability to speak Swahili.
Okay, for those of you waking up with hangovers from the end of the quarter parties on the fabulous campus of UCI, and you may not have heard, Maximum Leader has tapped John Bolton to be his maximum pro-consul to Havana on the Hudson, 39-stories of cheese-eating Anti-Americanism known as the Untied Nations.
By this time, vague alarm bells should be ringing in your head... John Bolton? Where do I know that name? Oh yeah... he was the administration's chief arm twister for the weapons of mass destruction paradigm for invading Iraq; the adminsitration's current drum beater in chief for a preemptive war in Iran, and Defesnse Department Under-Boss Doug Feith's crummy little toady over at the State Department.
So, while we are reeling in horror from this, let's go ahead and face the full intellectual realization of this nomination... everyone get out those percentile dice, this one's going to hurt. Alot.
You know, this is like naming Charles Manson to be the next director of Health and Human Services, or making Bernie Ebbers Treasury Secretary. Bolton is one of these reflexively irate neocons who wears his disdain for international law and cooperation like some perverted badge of honor, like when you were the first kid on your block to smoke a whole cigarette, you were cool for about 2 minutes before all the other kids saw you wretching so hard you almost passed out face down, semi-conscious in your own vomit.
Yeah... that kind of perverted badge of honor.
Bolton once said in 1994 (and has repeatedly and expressly stood by the statement) that: "There is no such thing as the United Nations. If the UN Secretary building in New York lost 10 stories it wouldn't make a bit of difference." He has also militated against paying the U.S.'s billions of dollars in back dues until we can be sure of getting our way there. Seriously, did this guy ever graduate from middle school? Do what I say, or we won't be in your stoopid club?
A few other telling public utterances from Bolton on the necessity and utility of international cooperation and the rule of law from The American Progress' Progress Report: "If I were doing the Security Council today, I'd have one permanent member [the United States] because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world," Bolton said in 2000. When proponents of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty worried that its defeat was marking an isolationist turn for the U.S., Bolton called them "timid and neo-pacifist." And when Bolton was given permission to sign the letter to the U.N. that stated Washington was renouncing the Rome Treaty creating the International Criminal Court, he described it as "the happiest moment of my government service."
Nice work, there C-plus... This is the same guy you had to recall to the United States when he managed to scram six-nation talks with North Korea, because he was careening through the international news media on the cusp of negotiations referring to North Korean Premiere Kim Jong-Il as "rude human scum." Look, we're not big fans of the weird little bollicks either, but when you're about to engage in talks with an unstable regime who's leader who is not only potentially mentally ill, but also is very close to having his very own Doomsday Weapon, you might want to parse your public words a little better there, Tacitus.
So given that exemplary record of diplomatic service, deep thought and respect for international order, of course this is the guy Maximum Leader taps to be his guy in the U.N.
S. But more to the point, the fact is that Bolton really is the perfect guy for this job. Think about it for just a moment. John Bolton is clearly the guy who most reflects the current thinking in the West Wing and down at Foggy Bottom about the United States' position in the world and how the President and his inner circle view normative concepts of international legitimacy.
Okay history geeks, listen up because were going to get a little academic here for a minute...
Look, for the last half-millenia, international order has been maintained by the Westphalian system of stability based on a balance of powers in the world. Basically no one, either alone or in concert, had a sufficiently big enough stick to enforce their will on the other great powers (in spite of the United States' best efforts in the 20th Century). That all came crashing down in what the egg heads over in the History Department are calling the "Unipolarity Shift" of the late 1980s, when the Berlin Wall came down.
Now legitimacy back in the day was based on maintaining a rough balance of power in an insane nuclear tightrope act, but now? Well, that's the problem that a couple of brainacs named Bob Tucker and Dave Hendrickson addressed when they penned a little opus for Foreign Affairs (and a big tip of that hat to Publius & Eric at the Legal Fiction Blog, for their extended discussion of international legitimacy from which we cull much of the following).
"Legitimacy arises from the conviction that state action proceeds within the ambit of law, in two senses: first, that action issues from rightful authority, that is, from the political institution authorized to take it; and second, that it does not violate a legal or moral norm. Ultimately, however, legitimacy is rooted in opinion, and thus actions that are unlawful in either of these senses may, in principle, still be deemed legitimate. That is why it is an elusive quality. Despite these vagaries, there can be no doubt that legitimacy is a vital thing to have, and illegitimacy a condition devoutly to be avoided."
But remember, this is Maximum Leader we are talking about here, and to him and his posse, appearance is everything. They took a lesson from much of U.S. history in the late 20th Century, where we did things that were not strictly speaking in the letter of international law, but viewed as legitimate anyway because the United States was the one doing it, and acting to keep the evil Soviet's at bay, yada yada yada...
It's not like the U.S. actions were the international equvalent of the closing credits of the Bennie Hill show with people running around in double speed with the pants down around their ankles... The U.S. fought long and hard for many of these international principles, paying at times with the blood of our own citizens to insure these were working systems.
There were essentially four pillars of international order adhered to by the U.S.: A commitment to internatoinal law, acceptance of consensual decision making, moderation and making preservation of peace the organizing principle. Boy howdy... did that get screwed up or what...
Without a counter balance to U.S. power, the actions of the U.S. constitute the actions of a rogue state, acting of their own accord not even pretending to consult with allies or think about long term consequences. We maintain that this is the express goal of the current group of Stalinists in charge of foreign policy at Foggy Bottom. Hell, even before the attacks on 9/11, John Bolton in his incarnation as Undersecratary of State for Arms Control and Internationaol Security... no that's okay we'll wait while you clean the milk out of your nose and off your shirt...
Yeah, so even before 9/11, Bolton wrote in a paper on international relations: "it is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law, even when it may seem in our short-term interst to do so, because over the long-term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to cosntrict the United States."
The short hand here of course is Maximum Leader's "your with us or your with the terrorists..." trying to create a false legitimacy against a background of criminal stateless actors.
So in that context, it makes perfect sense to send John Bolton to be George Bush's represnetative to the United Nations. In fact, it may be the most hideously honest thing George Bush ever does in his eight cursed years as President. It's like the Mouth of Sauron coming out in front of the Black Gates to run his boss' smack and tell Gandalf and Co., how much he is going to enjoy running them bitches into the ground.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss...
DOPING IN BLOGISTAN
J. So Wireheads, it was a busy week for the Mainstream Media's NewsMachine. Of course, the listening audience of this program, indeed, of the Darkling Eclectica spent all of their leisure time this week catching up on their reading, you know, the Proust you read to relax with, or the latest edition of the Warren Commision report you felt inspired to pick up again after wading through the euphemisms and doubletalk of the 9/11 Commission report.
Of course, I'm not trying to draw a connection between the "Alleged" murder of a President by CIA shooters from the Grassy Knoll...ERRR...I meant a lone gunmen from the fifth floor of the Book Depository shooting magic bullets, and the "alleged" failure of the Bush Administration in preventing a terrorist cell from killing 3000 Americans. I'm just saying that we felt a jab of Deja vu, and perhaps you did as well..
Anyway, we digress...Naturally, our listeners are too sophisticated to follow the concurrent and ongoing media trials going on lately, the Michael Jackson trial, the Robert Blake trial, the sentencing of Scott Peterson, Public Enemy number 1, the spectacle of future Baseball Hall of Famers hauled up in front of a Congressional Committee to answer questions on Steroid use in the league. Quite a bit to draw your attention this week, wasn't there?
I'm sure it was just a coincidence then, that your GOP Congress, ever dedicated to transparency in Government, scheduled key votes on some of the most controversial issues of the last few years to come up for a vote. One particular vote leapt to mind, Allowing Drilling in the Alaska Natural Wildlife Reserve, ANWR.
As you know, the Bush Administration and the Conservative Carney show of freaks and losers has dedicated themselves to defacing the pristine wilderness of ANWR, all in the name of extracting a few million more barrels of oil that will not make a dent in rising energy costs, but will make a tidy profit for the oil companies when they sell that oil to China and India. Oh, I'm sorry Red State, didn't you know that it isn't cost effective to sell that oil domestically, that all that oil is headed to Asia? Did Mr. Limbaugh forget to mention that to you?
The obsession with UNWIRE is inexplicable, unless you surrender to the grim reality that the Bush Administration and it's conservative allies really enjoy destroying the environment for it's own sake, a grim sadistic pleasure best shared at cocktail parties held in the "Red Room" at the American Enterprise Institute. By invitation only, and "Special Dress" required...
Democrats and few Republicans have managed to derail ANWR in the past, so the proponents decided to use some legislative Legerdemain and hide it in a budget resolution rather than in an up and down vote. Senator Maria Cantwell sponsored an amendment to strip ANWR from the unrelated legislation, but it was defeated, with the help of our favorite GOP..DOH! Democratic Senator JoeMentum Lieberman. It's been a busy week for JoeMentum. Last week Uncle Joe was helping Republicans defeat amendments to the Bankruptcy Bill that would have stopped it's passage. The fact that Joe voted against the final product means nothing since his vote wasn't required for passage. Joe gets to tell Democratic Primary voters he voted against it while pleasing the financial services companies in his home state that demand his obedience. So Joe helps the GOP get their ANWR and their Bankrupcy Bill. Did we really nominate this jack-hole to be Vice President?
We are just aboslutley sure here at the Wire that scheduling the ANWR vote this week had nothing to do with the anticipated verdicts in the Blake Trial or the Peterson sentencing? Could the GOP really be that cynical? Do you have to ask?
It takes more than just a contempt for the voters to time crucial votes during egregiously overhyped media events like the Jackson trial, secure in the knowledge that Americans are so bizarelly obsessed with celebrity, that dreadful accusations and media saturated trials demand their attention more than crucial votes in Congress over Bankruptcy, over the exploitation of America's wilderness and resources, the theft of their retirement insurance, Torture of prisoners, and whatever else the addled hyena's in the Republican party are up to this week.
Yes, it takes a cruel and brutal hatred of Democracy and everything it stands for.
The only thing worse are the Democrats who gleefully assist the GOP in these victories for short term political favors. Memo to Joementum and friends: Maybe you could stand up one day for the Middle Class constancy that you take such delight in shafting. I expect no less from Conservative sleaze balls who condone torture and foster hatred of everything good and decent in this country, but if you want to be a democrat and liberal, you need to stop orally servicing the subhuman lizard men in the majority and acutally take a stand for something that might displease the money necromancers on K Street. If not, please go over to the other side where you will gleefully served the cuisine of human misery and degradation that is standard fare in the Republican Party.
S. A special piss off to the Conservative section of the blogsphere that woke up the day after the Bankrutpcy bill passed to whine and bleat about how maybe this bill wasn't so good. Do you think? Your sainted GOP has been trying to pass this bill for 3 years? Did you just suddenly learn to read and discover this? You voted for this you shmucks! Acting like you are mildly disapponted is shameful. It's your fault right wing blogistan.
We told you that these people would screw you. Yeah, It's red State America that has the worst bankruptcies rates. You did it yourselves. Do us a favor and shut up or actually hold those jackels you got elected accountable. YOur pathetic and abject whines after the fact serve only to call you out for clowns and patsies. Show some respect for yourselves for Gods Sakes!
The most awful dimension of this is that every day, every single flippin day, a new revelation erupts from the bowels of the Administration about how Americans, people who have sworn to uphold the Constitutin of the United States, are personally engaging in torture, sending people off for others to torture, or walking in our courts and willingly telling Federal Judges that the Executive Branch has the authority to toture anyone it wants at any time so get off their back.
So let me just soak this one up for a moment. I'm supposed to be horrified by the dreadful realization that Baseball players routinely juice up, but not even fazed when the Director of the CIA tells Congress that, yeah, we're probably rendering people to torturers. Um, Red State? It's time for our weekly intevention.
It's been obvious to anyone watching Baseball that isn't mentally ill that players in the game have been juicing on Steroids? DUH! Baseball players wrote the book on substance abuse! Coke, Booze, Pot, speed, the Major leagues are pioneers in this.
Whether or not McGuire or Bonds has juiced isn't worth the attention we are taking away from the adoption of the tactics of torture and dehumanization we hung people at Nuremberg for by this Administration. Grow UP Red State! Your Pro Athelete aren't heros, or Gods, or role models. They are atheletes, enjoy the game, buy the gear, drink the bear and stop short of putting them on a pedastal best reserved for people who contribute more to our society than touchdowns, runs and baskets.
And just for the Record, the editors here at the Wire are devout sports fans who will spend the weekend geeking on March Madness. So yes, we love sports but hate the liars and theives who will greedily ruin the games we love to suck out an extra quatloo in cheap stadium beer or overpriced Jersey.
So wake up America. Stop watching the Jackson trial reenactment, it's strange and evil to do this and sensationalize a trial about the gruesome abuse of children.
Focus on something that matters. It's embarrassing to the rest of us. Pretend you have a brain and a life and pay attention! This means you Red State!
And now the music is telling me that we have an incoming transmission from the redoubtable Dr. S9…
J. That’s right. It is time once again for our regular contributor Dr. Strychnine, reporting from his super-secret, ultra-dope, mega-cool, extra-jiggy, Mojohaus spy satellite of love high in geosynchronous orbit above Baghdad by the Bay…take it away S9…
Greetings and salutations, comrades and fellow entrepreneurs of the 21st century international space movement. Once again, we are coming to you live and direct with our unique brand of political analysis, viewed from a position parked firmly in Clarke orbit over the Pacific Timezone.
This week, we have been vastly amused by the ongoing kerfuffle between the Internet roots of the Democratic Party and its quickly greying, almost old enough to be an "old guard" but not yet willing to admit its full maturity-- the Democratic Leadership Council (or the DLC, as it's often abbreviated).
First, we should come right out and present our biases. The consensus of the crew on S9 station is that our sympathies come down squarely on the side of the Internet roots and against the elitist, useful idiots of the DLC like Ed Kilgore (their policy director), Marshall Whitman (their current president) and Al From (their founder and chief executive officer).
There's been a bit of a factional skirmish going on. Normally, the mainstream political news operations would cover something like this, but apparently you have to be a major national party with an actual say in the development of government policy to rate that kind of media attention now. So, now, you have to read Internet weblogs and obscure subscription-only trade hardcopy sheets to know about the fight between what I'll call the "new progressive" movement and the old Democratic
First, a brief lesson in who these people are and what they think. The Democratic Leadership Council claims on its website that its three core principles are "promoting opportunity for all; demanding responsibility from everyone; and fostering a new sense of community." What does that mean? They explain: Since its inception, the DLC has championed policies from spurring private sector economic growth, fiscal discipline and community policing to work based welfare reform,
expanded international trade, and national service." President Bill Clinton was one of their guys, and he was about as good as they have ever gotten. Remember when stopped caring about the plight of working people enough to protect their rights in the workplace? Now you know
who to blame: the DLC. They're all those nice Democrats who talk about "transcending the stale left-right debate" with "innovative, non-bureaucratic, market-based solutions." Not to be too pedantic, but-- they are the latest incarnation of the revisionist impulse among the American left.
On the other side of the current melee, you have the vast and chaotic melange of new Democratic networkers. This includes large organizations like MoveOn.Org, and Democrats For America (the phoenix that arose out of the ashes of the Dean For America campaign), but it also includes the hundreds of rogue bloggers typified by the people who write for websites like DailyKos, American Street, BOP News, The Agonist, Eschaton, and a hundred other small advertiser supported operations that have really demonstrated the potential for using the Internet to raise funds and promote progressive activism. There is even a new rival to the DLC, founded by Simon Rosenberg and constructed along the lines of a traditional Democratic policy and advocacy shop. It's called, oddly enough, the New Democrat Network (not to be confused with a creature of the DLC with a similar sounding name). The Internet organizations are the last, best hope of modernizing progressive politics in America. Where the DLC is about organizing the "leadership class" in America to support a progressive agenda, usually with mixed results at best, the new progressives are actually organizing real progressive people-- people who have day jobs doing productive things
besides politics. To that end, they tend to be focused primarily on unifying the disparate factions of the old, broken progressive groups to present a coherent and strong opposition to the growing challenge of the conservative stranglehold on government, media and policy development. They are about message discipline and the nuts and bolts operations of getting ordinary people to show up and speak out.
It's no surprise then that folks on the Internet went ballistic this week after the DLC's Will Marshall ranted in their house organ to the effect, "What leftist elites smugly imagine is a sophisticated view of their country's flaws strikes much of America as a false and malicious cartoon. Democrats should have no truck with the rancid anti-Americanism of the conspiracy-mongering left." Markos Zuniga of DailyKos.com was the highest profile blogger to fire back with a nasty broadside about how "no one wants [the DLC] to come aboard to talk about issues."
Broadening the attack to include JoeNertia Lieberman, he called them "the designated 'Democrat-bashers' for Fox News and the rest of the media world. They have so consistently delivered, for so long, that they are the first to be called on when a reporter is looking for that conflict in his or her story. Writing about MoveOn or Michael Moore? Call the DLC! They'll provide the 'Democrats are divided' quote. Need to bash Democrats on any particular issue? Call Joe Lieberman! He has
no concept of party loyalty and will happily blaze away." What was that Ed Kilgore likes to say about the "circular firing squad" mentality?
Kilgore had the impiety to respond to Kos the same day. His take? "...being called "divisive" by a guy who's way around the bend in hating this particular group of Democrats is just a bad joke." He's basically trying to laugh off the criticisms of the new progressives. But, as an article in The Nation last week by Ari Berman reports, even the DLC staffers are privately admitting that they can only get media coverage when they deliberately cause controversy among the Democratic
rank and file.
What's our take here in S9 station? Well, we're not Democrats, so it would probably be polite for us to hold our tongues about what the family in the house next door is doing in their back yard. But we're also dirty, rude, impolite bastards-- so we'll do it anyway. The DLC are revisionist, imperialist running dogs of the reactionary and decadent bourgeois elite. They should be disowned by any decent Democrat. We don't care how many money trees for Democratic politicians these people are still capable of shaking down-- they're doing more harm to the party by impairing efforts to achieve unity than any of their irrelevant policy papers or conference workshops might be helping.
Marshall Wittman watched Joe Lieberman's sad performance on the bankruptcy bill and said on his weblog, "This should be a lesson for all those lefties who have been in a full-throated fury against Joe. He is a Democrat in the proud tradition of Truman, JFK and Scoop." Wittman is no idiot. He knew full well that Lieberman only voted against it when it wouldn't matter, and voted against killing it when he had a real chance.
The Democrats of today need guys like Ed Kilgore, Marshall Wittman, Al From, Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller like the Democrats of 1948 needed the Dixiecrats. They'll only cause further division and discord the longer they continue to feel welcome to keep identifying themselves with us. It's hard-coded into their blood. So, purge them, I say. Purge them all. Purge them immediately and without further delay or debate. Give them no quarter or mercy. Do it now. Before they cost us the 2006 midterms.
Cue James music for exit
And in the immortal words of Cato the Elder, "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam." Or, as we would say in American, "Nuke Carthage!"
J. Okay wireheads, listen up it's vocabulary time. Here's is this week's new word. TABOR, T-A-B-O-R. No, not the small medieval Continental version of the Bagpipes, but the horrible acronym for the Tax Payers Bill of Rights, coming to a state legislature near you soon. And I gotta tell you I am getting past tired of every freekish tin foil hat right wing butt-biscuit of an idea getting turned into a "Bill of Rights." Look, there is only one Bill of Rights, it was the first Ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, based on some older English Common Law enlightenment concepts on liberty and government/citizen relations.
That said... TABOR, a Heritage Foundation sponsored piece of sophistry, is a fairly simple means of killing state government funding. Here's how the basic thing works courtesy of the Bell Policy Research Center: TABOR at it's heart is a series of statutes and state consititutional amendments that make it more difficult for states to raise and spend money.
The four basic elements are requirements for voter approval for any new revenue, limits on revenue collections, limits on spending and restricts how government can shuffle tax money around.
On the surface, some of these sound pretty reasonable, especially to us here in the Golden State, land of the never-ending budget cycle. But let's take a little close look at the actual details. First, the voter approval for revenues is fairly straightforward and what you would expect from bat winged minions of evil. More interesting are the limits on revenue collection with formulas prescribing growth in spending and requiring that all revenues in excess of that amount be returned to taxpayers.
Then there are the spending limits and the sanctions against real estate transfer tazes, local income taxes and state property taxes, requring that any state income tax change have a single rate with no surcharges and that all tax increases begin in the following year.
Again, nothing too out of the ordinary for Heritage, like death sentences for pagans, or establishing state-run "rescue clinics" to hold homosexuals as wards of the state until they can be healed through the power of cheese, or some such other nonsense that usually sublimates out of thin air whenever these waterheads try sparking their synapse gaps.
Even though Heritage wants to take this show nationwide, they are trying desperately not to get people to look too closely at their test bed for TABOR in Colorado, where the effect has not been so much to reign in an out of control state government, but to take a tattered state infrastructure on life support and drown the thing in the tub.
Much of this lies in the basic game of economic Three Card Monte, where the voters of Colorado were both simultaneously sucker and shill. They voted for a complicated funding formula none of them understood, which basically attached government spending to a magical function of population growth and inflation. Here's the trick: There is no existing measure of inflation that correctly captures the growth in the cost of the kind of services provided and paid for by the government. The inflation adjustment is not sufficient to allow the continuation of services, according to the Bell Report.
Also, the people who foisted this horrible experiment in social engineering knew perfectly well that subpopulations serviced by the state grow more rapidly than the overall population growth used in the formula. Example: while total population in Colrado grew by 15.4 percent from 1990 to 2002, the number of elderly and disabled who depend on Medicaid grew by 70 percent.
S. But enough of the theorectical, what did this bloodsucking set of statutory scribblings do to Colarado? Well, in terms of health care, the number of children in Colardo without health insurance has jumped from 15 percent in 1992 to 27 percent in 2003, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank dedicated to examining policy effects on low and moderte income Americans.
They also note that around the time of the passage of TABOR, the on-time vaccination rate for kids in the Rocky Mountain State was above the national average. Colorado kids are now last in line nationally for immunizations.
But hell, that's okay, because now Colorado no longer has the money to educate the little bastards anyway, so if more of them start dying from flu and mumps, well, it's just natural selection isn't it... In Colorado, the ratio of teacher salaries to average private sector pay is lower than any other state according to The Center, while the high school graduation rate has fallen six percent and now the state ranks 48th in the nation for state funds for higher education per $1,000 of personal income. At the same time, the Bell Study details how public college tuition has shot through the roof with increases between 9.5 percent to 15 percent, while the national increase nationally hovers at around 5 percent.
Not that Colorado needs educatin' anyway, given that they are bleeding jobs and industy since TABOR terror was enacted. It is to the point where even conservative Gov. Bill Owens is now publicly criticizing TABOR, recently calling for an overhaul of the law.
Look, to some of you older listners, you're saying: "yeah, the Conservatives in the Adam Smith rough trade rubber room in the basement at Heritage are bringing more heat in their relentless war against the United States government, please tell us something we don't know."
The problem is that there are many people who don't understand that this freek show is getting ready to go national, with conservative groups in several states beginning to agitate for further passage. Moreover, even a cursory look at TABOR shows it to be nothing more than the right's blatant attempt to kill government, and further a war against the poor in America.
This is the organizing principle of Conservative political thought. A weird form of economics, like Marxism meets The Stepford Wives. Fundamentalism where those who are poor or sick deserve to be poor and sick because that's just God's Will, and as we all know from our American catechism classes that George W. Bush is God's personal representative on earth, not that doped up old cross dressing Polack in Rome.
And W., as the "elect" like to refer to him as, has spoken through his earthly billionaire bishops that if only you would walk in the ways of the Lord as defined by W., and his cadre, you too could be rich, but if you are an unrepentant sinner (read, gay, lesbian, black, hispanic, woman, possessing an IQ in triple digits) then you are on the business end of God's Judgment and anything that government does to help you would be contrary to God's Judgement.
You must by now see that TABOR is simply God's will interpreted through temporal economic theory. Because it's all about the freedom and the liberty, don' t you know. The absolute freedom to worship God at the community protestant church of your choice.
And when they bring their grotesque medicine show to California, you can be assured you will not be allowed to read the ingredients before you are told to drink it down. For real, how much hope do you have that we will be able to follow the hands as the cards start flying and find the red queen?. Before you answer, take a moment and think about who is currently Governor...
J. And speaking of our illustrious Gropernator, the boy may have finally gone around the legal bend this time, with his "Citizens to Save California Committee." Surely by now, if you own a TV, or at least have been near one lately, you have seen the commercials. Ordinary suburban Californians, just like you, putting up signs, getting signatures, ropin' a bull doggin' the neighbors to evangelize the Governator's message, coming together to make common cause with our brave governor to do what the legislature lacks the good old fashion American Spine to accomplish.
But it is the horror of these ads, and some of the Steroid Poisoned Freek's other activities with Citizens that have landed him in hot water. And earlier this week a group aptly named "TheRestofUs.org" filed suit in Superior Court in Sacramento County this week itemizing the various violations of state political laws committed by Herr Dopenator. To wit: that most of this Citizens to Screw California Committee and the Govenor's California Recovery Team are essentially nothing more than a bit of grifter's misdirection and actually just an offshoot of Arnold's reelection campaign.
Look, we could get into the various legal technicalities of agency law, the theory of respondeat superior, and Government Code §§81000 et.seq., but we are coming to the end of our time here soon, so let's boil this down. The point of the lawsuit is that these committees are the political equivalents of Nigerian money scam emails. You give them money and support, and it unlawfully ends up in the hands of Arnold's reelection committee.
And we passed Prop. 34 in this state just to prevent this kind of nonsense, the creation of political alter egos, within alter egos, within alteregos, expressly for the purpose of generating phat stax of mad bank. And the way this is being done by the Governor's posse is that they are also managing to circumvent reporting rules, so that we don't know who at least 20 of the Governor's largest campaign contributors really are, because they are twisting the rules of how policy or issue committees report, as opposed to candidate controlled committees.
Will this lawsuit go anywhere? Who knows... sorry, that's just the fact of the matter, but the allegations in the suit should raise some questions about the whole myth of Arnold working for the average working Californian against the evil "Special Interests." Because you know, it seems like more and more of us each day are ending up on the Special Interests roster -- teachers, nurses, cosntruction workers, Hispanics, parents, Native Americans -- while the Gropenator seems to be laboring tirelessly for an ever-shrinking circle of people, like his old energy pals, the California Chamber of Commerce, and a handful of gun nuts who just loved him in Commando and Predator.
Under the guise of his initiative push, he has been raising reelection money at fundraisers where the minimum bid recently was $22,000. For $100,000 or so, you actually got to sit at the Governor's table and breath in the smoky noxious fumes he regularly exhales. And you could probably smell his cigar smoke, too.
S. As noted by the Los Angeles Times: "It may be that Schwarzenegger can't be bought, but the perception around Sacramento will be that those who contribute generously have a better chance at access and favors than those who do not. This perception isn't helped by the state Chamber of Commerce's underwriting of his 2,000-person inaugural lunch Nov. 17."
And at the time, we even told you -- yeah, there's going to a bit of that -- we freekin' * told*you* that this guy is being bought and paid for by the same people who brought you energy deregulation, school vouchers and immigrant bashing. Over at ArnoldWatch.org, they do a pretty good job of deliniating the Governator's rhetoric from his reality.
For instnace, when Arnold says he is going to clean house because he already has plenty of his own money, that still didn't stop him from taking more than $14 million in contributions from business, which has apparently lead to an influx of old Pete Wilson appointees drunkenly stumbling back across the American River and into the Capitol.
So it should come as no surprise that when Arnold talks about how the special interests that give money to candidates then collect on that note, he speaks from direct experience, seeing that his top donors are among the most powerful interests in Sacramento, primarily real estate and financial interests such as the 1.2 million samolians from Ameriquest Capital, more than $500,000 from Murdoch's NewsCorp (that's FoxNEWS gang), and $1.1 million from the A.G. Spanos Companies.
And the Spanos donation is worthy of an aside here quickly. Spanos is a garden variety land raper who's Horatio Alger story is regularly pimped by no less a corpulence than Rush Limbaugh under the guise of regularly recommending Spanos' self-serving paen to greed entitled "Sharing My Wealth."
Among his various eponymous holdings, there are realty concerns, securities sales, land development and... oh yeah... he also owns the San Diego Chargers and the A.G. Spanos Jet Center a fixed base operator of aviation services at Stockton Airport. Tell me, what do you think a smart entrepreneur like that is going to expect for his hard earned $1.1 million to the Governor?
Remember, you are the ones who all got your chones in a bunch and voted this waterhead and his little collection of Karl Rove superfriends political action figures in to office. And now, our budget deficit is running away like an uncontrolled fission reaction, schools are being squeezed, infrastructure is crumbling, and this guy doesn't have the first clue what to do about any of it.
His only response seems to be a combination of pandering the lowest common denominators in California's electorate with promises of worthless and ill-conceived ballot measures, while raising absolutely stoopit amounts of money for himself personally from people who expect him to do his bidding.
Yeah, we here at the wire would just like to say thanks once again to all you who did this for us. Thanks a lot, that's great work...
J. It's 601 days until the midterm election and our patriotic thought for the week is: taxes means the terrorists win, or as John Ashcroft used to say... “Go ahead protest all you want... we'll be right there with you...”
S. And that’s all for this week, tune in again soon for another exciting installment, until, of course, we are declared enemies of the state.
And remember, you can now email the Mojowire at Mojohaus@hotmail.com, that’s M-O-J-O-H-A-U-S@hotmail.com. Email, us hippies!
J. And now you can check out the Mojowire online at Mojowire.Blogspot.com; you can read the entire archive along with our general ramblings...
This has been the Mojowire, brought to you by Mojohaus...Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988, and produced by our super funky fly producer Mike Payne and the Darkling Eclectica, here on KUCI, 88.9...
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
MIDLAND, Mich. – A statewide family values group Tuesday praised Midland Central Middle School Principal Paula Geller for pledging to ensure that the middle school’s student newspaper will not publish articles in the future encouraging its 11- to 13-year old readers to consider experimenting with witchcraft.
Gary Glenn, Midland, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, contacted school officials in response to the Winter 2005 issue of the middle school’s Cavalier Chronicle, which included an article entitled “Good Witch or Bad Witch?” in which an 8th grade member of the student newspaper staff wrote that “most people believe that witches don’t exist, and I am here to prove them wrong.”
“My family is a normal family, except that my aunt is a Wiccan witch,” the Central Middle School 8th grader wrote. [...]
Well now, this really isn't a surprise— is it? Of course, it isn't. We've always known that, when the American Family Association complains about religious freedom, they don't much care about the freedom of non-Christians. So, we should not be surprised at all when they come out with self-congratulatory press releases after bullying some school principal into silencing the religious evangelism of some hapless student who would be receiving their full support if they weren't evangelizing for another team.
I mention this because it reminds me of my favorite taunt to these people when they come at me with arguments in favor of spending government funds on vouchers for use in paying tuitions at private religious schools. I typically say something like this: "Bring it on. I live in San Francisco, home of the world headquarters of the Temple of Set, a 501(c)3 religious organization. They are a Satanic church, and they make Anton LeVey's little traveling carnival look like the cheap circus show it is. They are organized and many of their members are not poor, starving debt-slaves. When you pass this law, these people will set up a private school that accepts your vouchers the very next day, and I will be able to spend your tax dollars sending my kid to a school that teaches the fscking dark arts. Won't that be fun for you?"
Deep inside them, you can almost hear them telling themselves, "Oh, no you won't. The government won't let Satanists take the vouchers." But they're never too sure, and it kills them. After all, they're pretty sure the Mormons will get to take the vouchers... and so will the Jews and the Muslims and the Buddhists and the Hindus and... how do you draw the line at the Satanists?
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
So, take what I say in this post with all due regard for it.
I'm told that the South has a lot of white people. I understand that a lot of them voted for Bush/Cheney in the last election. I even remember Howard Dean getting in a lot of trouble for saying that maybe Democrats should try to win more votes from among their numbers. So I figure there should be a whole lot of them here in Atlanta.
The parts of Atlanta that I have been traveling? Not many white people. I haven't seen any— to be precise, I haven't seen any that I could reasonably believe were locals. Plenty of everybody else on God's green Earth. I didn't see any white people working in the airport when I arrived Sunday night. It was late at night, though— maybe all the white people get to go home at 5:00pm around here. Almost all the white people in the hotel appear to be from out of town, here for the same conference as me. The woman waiting on my table tonight is the only caucasian person I've seen on the staff here, and she has a heavy Eastern Europe accent and a Serbian name on her badge.
Where are all the white people? I see them on the local affiliate television news. I know they're out there. Why aren't there any in my immediate vicinity? Have they deliberately erected a personnel barrier around the places where I might travel while I am in Atlanta so that no white people should have to encounter me in person? What are they doing out there? It's really pretty weird.
Not weird, in a bad way, mind you— I could learn to like Atlanta with no white people.
Update 2005-03-16: Okay, then. I've had a chance to track some down. There is a bartender and a member of the room service staff. Still, they do sure seem like a tiny minority here.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
So, there I was crusing my favorite legal blogs looking for something erudite to enlighten an otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon, when what should appear to mine wondering eye as I gaze upon the ACS Blog, official blog of the American Constitutional Society, this lovely little tidbit...
They Can't Show Dawn of the Dead in Kentucky Either
William Poole, a Kentucky high school student, was arrested on felony charges for writing a short story.
"My story is based on fiction," said Poole, who faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge. "It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, [and] the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies."
But local police say the setting of Poole's story renders it illegal. "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill."
Turns out this kid was busted on Tuesday after his grandparents found a short story he was working on for school and turned it in to school authorities. He was summarily picked up by the cops, and had his bail raised from $1000 to $5000 at the request of prosecutors "given the serious nature of the charges."
It was then that some socially deviant malcontent wrote in the comments section: "Poor, poor detective Caudill. He is about to meet the business end of 42 U.S.C. §1983."
So I decided to take a quick jaunt over to Findlaw.com and see what all the hubub was about.
Yeah... looks like this sloping forehead redneck could be about to get a severe schooling in federal jurisprudence, to wit:
"Section 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia."
Yeah... this could be very amusing for the law enforcement establishment in Red Neckistan. Does this kid have a legal defense fund? Are there any brave attorneys out there looking to get in their pro bono hours in.
We can only hope and pray that a beating of biblical proportions in front of a federal judge is on the way for Det. Caudill. Nice Job Redneckistan, we are throwing high school kids in jail for writing stories about zombies.
Memo to the 'Necks...zombies are not real, this kid was not seriously plotting to get his "House of the Dead" on at his local High School. He was not planning on creating a Zombie army just so he could engage in a little target practice during home room.
Or maybe...just maybe... his story hits a little too close to home for some of them inbred blue skin country boys... hmmm...maybe he was on to something... A little of the Insmouth look perhaps? stay tuned
MUSIC: Intro/Hendrix, Star Spangled Banner
s9/ Prodigy, We Have Explosive
Exeunt/WildChild, Renegade Master
J. Good Morning, and welcome to The Mojowire, Vol. 3, No. 6... I'm Mojo...
S. And I'm Sean, it's Saturday, March 05, 2005, Day 1,419 of the Neocon Captivity, and here's the news for the week gone-by...
J. Brought to you by Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988. Now headlines, from Mojohaus:
S. First this morning, we peel the thin veneer of humanity and unfurl the bat wingéd horror that is the current crop of Maximum Leader's nominations to sit on the federal appellate courts. We look at two particularly hideous specimens and wonder aloud what could prompt anyone to summon these creatures from cold depths of space out of long dead eons.
J. Next, while we're on the subject of the federal judiciary, the Bush Administration has run into a little trouble on their war on terror, namely District Court judges who are getting past fed up with the Tom Clancy approach to legal maneuvering in their court rooms, and they are starting to assert themselves. These men and women may end up being the last thing between us and a full blown police state.
S. Then our special correspondent from low earth orbit, Dr. Strychnine, will focus his outrageous contempt on Alan Greenspan, and burn another giant hole in the ozone with his horrific observations about the aging Federal Reserve Furher...errr Chairman's rambling and incoherent speechifyin in the last week or so to lawmakers.
J. Finally we bring you the horrible word on the new bankruptcy overhaul bill that is set to land on Maximum Leader's desk for a quick crayon scrawl and dab of drool soon. This bill makes Charles Dickens London look like a kibbutz and is nothing more than welfare for poor starving bankers and their loan managers...
…So stand by to stand by while we get ready to pull the pin on this thing...
HERE COME DA JUDGES
J. Here is the primary problem with the Bush judgeship nominations: They are insane! Crazy, like chickens on speed. And having degenerate hate monkeys disguised as the mature leadership of American jurisprudence is just not the organizing principle our founding fathers had in mind for the courts, nor is it one we should be adopting now.
Dispassionate sarcasm and slanderous hyperbole aside, there is a good reason to be concerned about the nature of the current crop of yahoos parading up to the Senate Judiciary Committee's sacred snack chambers. We like the nuclear reactor metaphor. You see, the executive branch of government is like a big ol' pile of unsteady fissile material stacked up like bricks, and the Congress is a giant glowing hard rod of fissile material being placed through a hole in the middle of that stack. The resulting excited neutrons created from tiny bits crashing into each other throw off immense amounts of radiation, or in the case of our loosely translated metaphor, laws.
Problem: that reaction will run away with itself and plow right through the center of the Earth like a giant glowing gopher, unless there is some controlling mechanism in place. The framers of the Constituion-1 governmental reactor decided that some giant chunks of graphite inserted into the reactor, in the form of an independent judiciary would do the trick at keeping the reaction humming along with reasonable legal output without getting completely sideways and eating itself.
Okay, we've about exhausted that metaphor, but I think you see where we are going with this. The judiciary's role is the nuclear damping rods in the reactor of government. They are the ones who are not being pushed or pulled on the political winds of expediency or dependant on the fickle will of the voters for their jobs. In a real sense, they serve not the people, but the law in the people's interest.
At least that is the way it was supposed to be. But that's the problem with the current neo-con carnage taking place in New Jerusalem on the Potomac. Because to get the rest of the cultists to drink the kool-aid, some of the leadership has to quaff a bit, too. In this regard, that means buying into the whole myth of "liberal activist judges."
To be fair, there have been judges who have made some questionable rules more out of a primal sense of right and wrong, and less on the nuts and bolts of so-called "black letter" law. And those decisions usually manage to make the right howl like burning mice. These decisions were usually made by judges who were being asked to make rules about situations that were indeed novel, and so they were in uncharted territory. One good example of this extension of legal theory was Roe v. Wade.
But now, fast forward many moons, and the myth of liberal judges run amok has become so pervasive that those in the position to make law have decided that this is in fact the sole reason to appoint judges; to get your guys on the court to do whatever without regard to the law. They are completely straight up about the fact that they are appointing their activist judges, and just view it as appropriate vengence against American progressives.
And with that in mind, Maximum Leader has thrown up some real doozies to the Senate. Let's take a look at just two of these jurists to see if we can discern a pattern for the administration's ideas on American jurisprudence.
Our first contestant is Judge Terrence Boyle, who was up for hearings last week to be appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. For those who don't know, the Fourth Circuit, covering the southeastern United States, including Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and points Red State from there, is the antithesis of the Ninth Circuit. If the Ninth is notoriously liberal, then the fourth is radically conservative.
And what does the Fourth Circuit say about Judge Boyle? It has overturned his opinions for major errors in judgement and fundamentally flawed legal thinking more than 150 times in the past 15 or so years. As a former Jesse Helms protoge, Boyle has been careening around the federal court in the Eastern District for North Carolina since the last days of the Bush the First administration, and ever since he first donned that black evening gown, he has been nothing but an embarssment to his own team, to say nothing of his inept approach to law.
In quick terms, the guy is the judicial equivalent of a thug in hockey. Thugs in hockey don't get their positions because they skate great, shoot well, or have a particularly good head for the game. Their position on the team is solely to get out on the ice and injure opposing players, and if they can actually stand on skates for more than a minute at a time, then so much the better. This is why Helms pushed this guy through back in the late 1980s.
Here are a few examples of how excellent this guy is. In 1990, the state of North Carolina tried redistricting to reflect the growing African-American population in the state. Twice Boyle ruled it unconstitutional, and twice he was punked by the Supremes. In that first decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that his ruling was clearly erroneous and you know when Clarence Thomas is calling you out as a poor legal scholar, you are in serious trouble.
Another favorite campfire horror tale about FrankenBoyle has him ruling in one his many attacks on the Americans with Disabilities act in Williams v. Channel Master Satellite Systems, Inc., for example, Boyle ruled working was "not a major life activity" which should be protected by the ADA. In reversing his ruling, the Fourth Circuit said of Boyle's declaration that "while some courts might entertain claims under the 'major life activity' of 'working,' this Court does not."
S. And his hits just keep on coming... In his work against workplace discrmination laws, he once waxed rhapsodic for allowing North Carolina to beg off laws protecting women in the worokforce because to do otherwise would be a grave insult to the state's culture. The Fourth District actually called him out in reversing his decision, saying his opinion constituted an abuse of discretion. And let's get this straight here folks, when the Fourth District, you know, the people who have been helping the Bush Administration whisk people off the streets and send them to GTMO, when they call out their own team members for abuse of discretion, you have really gone off the res.
Now, let's meet our next contestant. William G. Myers the Third, come on down... You know, Boyle is evil and wrong, but in a punk orc fashion, he is just another garden variety sociopathic racist who managed to con his way on to the federal bench to squid for his political patrons and their facist agenda.
Myers, on the other hand; this guy has got Witch King of Angmar written all over him. There are no less than 180 different organizations, representing millions of Americans who are lining up against this guy. Tapped for a seat on the Ninth Circuit, because you know, those hippies could use some straigtning out, Myers current nomination is a Mulligan. Last week was his second time up in front of the Judiciary Committee in their treehouse of horror. Last year, his nominations got crushed out of the park like a rookie pitcher floating a weak changeup in front of a hallucinating Barry Bonds. Hell, his first nomination hasn't even landed yet, and he's back up there for more.
Let's take a look at why the villagers are storming the castle with their torches and improvised peasant pole arms. The People for the American Way have quite the dossier on this guy. For instance, some of his statements regarding environmental law, to wit: attacking federal management of public lands, saying it was comprable with "the tyrannical actions of King George in levying taxes' on American colonists."
He has said there's "no constitutional basis" to protect wetlands. He also railed that "environmentalists are mountain biking to the courthouse as never before, bent on stopping human activity whenever it may promote health, safety and welfare." The cases he was talking about involved logging on national forests, racial discrimination in the placement of waste treatment plants and protection of irrigation canals from toxic chemicals.
These were not the statements of some wild eyed drunk half passed out on the lawn of the courthouse. These were the words of a policy wonk at the U.S. Department of the Interior. While a corporate shill at Interior, Myers drafted rules allowing the Glamis Imperial Mine Project, a 1,600 acre open pit gold mine not only in the middle of the California Desert Conservation Area, but also squarely on Quechan Indian land, producing a stunning ounce of gold for every 280 tons of rock moved. He also mounted a vigorous attack on any rules that would protect CDCA as "undue impairment" of business activity. His opinion was later shot down by a federal judge who ruled it twisted the "clear mandate" of federal law to prevent the degradation of land.
This is not the first time Myers has appointed himself chief broker and head auctioneer for public lands in the Western U.S. In 2003, as chief lawyer at Interior, he prodded to Congressmen from NoCal to introduce a bill that would literally give away more than $1 million worth of public land near Sacramento to a private company.
In 2000, the Yuba River Properties was caught mining public land illegally. The Company claimed it owned the land and their chief pimp on the inside was none other than Myers, who did their bidding without even checking on their claim, and then without further prodding or consultation with his superiors, went to Congress to ask that the land just be given to Yuba. It's their birthday and they wants it precious...
This of course all comes on the heels of a very successful lobbying career out west here. He spent most of the 1990s doing battle in the courts against Clinton Administratin efforts to preserve the endangered species act, protect public lands from overgrazing, seizing on opportunities in court to eviscerate the clean air and clean water acts...
And that all might be one thing if the dude actually any qualifications for sitting on the federal bench, other than being the prison beyotch for western land rapists. Even the normally stolid American Bar Association couldn't support this guy. Not a single member of their 15-person judicial screening committee rated the guy as qualified. And five or six of them actually gave him the active thumbs down.
So when you hear the right complaining about obstructionists in the Senate and wondering if freedom of speech for minority Senators is such a good idea, then remember the real stakes we are playing for and the reason some of these guys nominations are being swatted out of the park. They are punks and fools and deserve no place in the American legal system other than on the business end of a righteous sentencing hearing.
These two guys make the perfect statement about the reality of how Maximum Leader and his gang in the West Wing view the court system and see it not as a chance of correcting past wrongs, or getting the pedulum back to center, but as a chance to put their activists on the court, get their run and get paid. These guys are not about law, they are about getting revenge on you wireheads for having the temerity to place notions of justice above their profit margins while choosing leaders in the past.
Fortunately for them, you have been all relieved of that tiresome duty. There is still the matter of your punishment they will be considering, though...
THE DISTRICT JUDGES ARE REVOLTING
J. And while we are on the subject of stackin the federal bench, this is a good time to have a little talk about why it is of particular import for Maximum Leader to get his hack-tackular lawn monkeys into the appellate courts. It has been the case since last summer, coming to full steam last November that one of our last lines of defense between a damaged but still essentially functioning republic and an all out police state orgy of lawless government might well be the federal judiciary.
From federal tort rules, to sentencing guidelines to the war on terror, federal judges have been engaging in a not-so-quiet revolt against the Bush Administration and their attempt to flip the federal bench to provide some sort of legal cover for their hideous authoritarian agenda.
Starting last summer, federal judges began to complain bitterly about former-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his infernal meddling in the affairs of the courts, by personally nullifying plea deals pushing for federal death sentences in ridiculous circumstances, publicly calling out judges for being soft on crime, all the while administration officials have been placing themselves above the law by just flat out refusing to abide by district court rulings... At first, the judges rolled for it, but how much did these goofballs think they were going to take before going to the whip themselves?
There have been a number of specific cases lately where the administration is running into resistance from federal judges who, liberal or conservative, are starting to feel a bit threatened by the President GoGo and his minions attempt to get over on them.
One good quick example has been the case of Empress Norton over at the Department of Interior. Her department has been trying to sell off Indian land out west to some of her old friends in the mining and ag biz and has been shorting the tribes on the take out the tribal trust funds to the tune of about $135 billion so far. When a judge specifically ordered this practice to be stopped, Norton thought she'd show them who's boss by just ceasing all payments to all tribes from all their trust funds in this case, and then turned around and her minions file a brief with the court saying in essence: "Well, the judge told us to stop our current practice, so we did..."
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, nominated by Ronald Reagan and appointed by Bush the Elder, found this reasoning significantly less than amusing, writing in an order: "The Court is offended that the individuals responsible for these acts would cite the Court’s Orders as justification; but the perniciousness and irresponsibility demonstrated by blaming the Court pales in comparison to the utter depravity and moral turpitude displayed by these individuals’ willingness to withhold needed finances from people struggling to survive and support families on subsistence incomes. These actions, whether Interior ordered them taken or merely turned a blind eye and allowed them to occur, are a testament to the startling inhumanity of government bureaucracy."
He then wound up his little tirade by ordering a personal appearance in court by Sec. Norton to explain her bad self or face a contempt citation. And just to put this in context, this was a first in U.S. History. Secretaries have appeared in district court before, but never by order of the court to go out back and cut a hickory switch to then be applied to nether regions. Norton decided she didn't need to show up indeference to the order, so Lamberth ruled against Interior across the board and is now taking it directly out of their hide.
But where this is taking on particular significance has been on the war against terror and other unseemly emotions. It was last November when the Revolution went public on the Federal Bench and the judges started tossing cases where the standard of evidence was ridiculously low in terror cases, chastising federal prosecutors and their bosses for bringing bad cases into their court rooms.
One of the more important cases here is alleged "dirty-bomb" plotter Jose Padilla. Both American citizens and both charged with crimes related to the war on terror. Last Monday a federal judge finally ordered the release of Padilla after judges had been ruling in his favor for months regarding his pre-trial confinement, status as enemy combatant and a general lack of judicial process in his treatment.
From the L.A. Times: "Monday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Henry F. Floyd found that Padilla's "indefinite detention without trial" violated his constitutional right to due process and ordered the administration to release him or charge him within 45 days. Floyd, who was appointed by Bush in 2003, rejected the government's position that Padilla was an "enemy combatant" because he was captured during the ongoing war against terrorism. "The president has no power," the judge said, "neither express nor implied, neither constitutional nor statutory, to hold [Padilla] as an enemy combatant."
It has been asserted that this is another in a series of rulings that hearken back to last November when a federal district judge ruled that the whole GTMO experiment was not, strictly speaking, the American way and began ordering the release of certain inmates. A process that the federal government has yet to comply with, while they attempt to throw up more faux legalistic road blocks to obeying the courts.
S. Then there is the weird case of one Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the American citizen charged with plotting to assisinate the President. As our Red Baiting Comrades over at the Dark Tower of the New York Times wrote a week or so ago, this has been a horrible object lesson in what has gone wrong on the war on terror. Given the penchant of federal judges lately to demand that the federal government meet at least some standard of evidence other than "because we say so" there are those who are now saying that Abu Ali is going to walk, or perhaps be rendered back to Saudi Arabia for more "vigorous massage" at the hands of jailers.
Abu Ali was arrested in Saudi Arabia while a student there; busted at the behest of the United States, who oversaw his captivity there, while he was beaten and tortured according to his court filings. When FBI agents questioned him there for four days, he repeatedly demanded an attorney and his demands were met at first with simple denial, then with threats that if he kept belly aching about legal representation that he would simply just be left in Saudi custody for the rest of his soon to be very short life.
Let me repeat that last part so you understand, the FBI Agent in charge of his interrogation has admitted in pre-trial proceedings to specifically threatened him with continued rendition to Saudi custody if he didn't sing their tune and kept demanding a lawyer.
This is going to be similar to the so-called Detroit "sleeper cell." That case came apart in federal court after evidence came to light of manufctured evidence and massive prosecutorial misconduct, and is now an insurance fraud case and even that looks like it is going to be another Justice Department train wreck.
Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, told the L.A. Times Monday that rulings like these were illustrative of a "the revolt of district judges" who were disturbed by the government's handling of terror suspects. "District judges are used to dispensing justice to people in front of them," Fidell said. "They are down where the rubber meets the road in the administration of justice in this country, and they bring a special perspective. And they have found ways to express their discomfort."
And this is a fairly important point. Does anyone out there in the vast heartland gulag understand that they have a dog in this fight? This isn't about activist judges or soft on crime liberals or any of the other countless red herrings that are being tossed out there to get everyone looking up to the book depository window while the kill shot on the Republic comes from the grassy knoll.
This is about the meaning of the rule of law in our country. Are we a nation, governed by laws, or are we a mob ungoverened living a brutish existence of absolutism and lawlessness? If the federal government feels it no longer needs to abide by its own laws as interpreted by its own courts, then there is a defact state of lawlessness. Or at least that law will mean nothing.
These judges are not attempting to deliberately thwart the war on terror. They are trying to uphold a much more basic tenet of our country; that the executive branch is subject to the same law as everyone else and that they cannot make up their own law as they go along. And this whole "if the President does it, it can't be illegal" arguement is not going to wash. It didn't work for Nixon, it's not going to fly for C-Plus Augustus.
And yet, it still leaves a chilling question: What happens when the administration decides that they are simply tired of going through the motions of court and trying to forestall the federal bench's decisions through legal maneuvering? What happens when they simply decide they do not have to abide by any federal court decisions they disagree with?
We'll just leave you, faithful wireheads to come up with the answer to that one...