Friday, December 30, 2005

Republic Or Autocracy? That Is The Question.

Over at Empire Burlesque, Chris Floyd hits one out of the park with The Last Stand of the American Republic. We need to make some space in the radio program to read this one aloud on the air.
So now, at last, the crisis is upon us. Now the cards are finally on the table, laid out so starkly that even the Big Media sycophants and Beltway bootlickers can no longer ignore them. Now the choice for the American Establishment is clear, and inescapable: do you hold for the Republic, or for autocracy?
Go read the whole screed. He nails it. How will the Establishment respond? Republic or Autocracy? Do they even understand anymore that it has to be one or the other? It can't be both.

We shall see. We shall see.

Helping Them Find The Toad

Good news, comrades. Our mad scientists have cracked the neurosignaling of the marijuana munchies. Huzzah!

Now, where did I put my vaporizer? It was right here, somewhere...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

British Torture Memos Published?

The Daily Kos claims to be republishing some British "torture memos" (not to be confused with the Al Jazeera Memos referenced by the banner on the right). Unfortunately, the source of these documents has already been pulled offline, presumably by Her Majesty's Government.

These documents appear to say in black and white what anyone who has been paying attention has known there was good reason to believe since day one of this story. The USA and Britain have been avid consumers of "intelligence" they knew full well was derived from confessions produced in Uzbekistan under torture.

We've long known that Uzbekistan tortures its prisoners. We've long known that the USA and Britain have been "rendering" people into the tender mercies of Uzbekistani prison wardens. These facts have been beyond reasonable dispute for years. Years! All these documents do is show that the USA and Britain have known that specific intelligence was derived from confessions produced by specific acts of torture and they continued deliberately to look the other way while feeding more prisoners to the torturers.

If these documents are authentic (and I, personally, find that claim pretty credible), then these are evidence of violations of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Now, it should be remembered that the USA ratified this treaty but it took a "reservation" against the definition of torture in Article 16, because it insisted on using the broader prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment" in Amendment VIII of the U.S. Constitution. Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department is on record describing the treatment of prisoners in Uzbekistan as torture.

Isn't it about time the USA and Britain come clean and denounce the Convention Against Torture under the terms of its Article 31? If they did that, at least their credibility in signing treaties wouldn't be irreparably damaged. They'd still be monsters on the world stage, but at least they would be monsters with which you can negotiate a peace treaty.

Another Bullet Dodged

In addition to not falling for the hoaxed reports of Fatherland Security goons visiting college students about their habits of reading Mao in the original Chinese, it appears we here at The MojoWire have another reason to give ourselves props for keeping out of a pundit frenzy.

It seems our private suspicions about Micheal Scheuer, the former CIA agent and anonymous author of Imperial Hubris, may yet turn out to have been warranted. Over at Sisyphus Shrugged, there is quite an interesting collection of quotes from the man. It concludes with speculation that maybe the guy is a little unhinged.

We refuse to speculate, but as Bellatrys wisely remarks in the comments there: "It always surprised me that so many people thought Anonymous Mike was a good guy, just because he criticized Bushco a bit for their obvious clusterfuckery."

Yeah. What she said.

Take a moment please,

And remember Admiral James Stockdale, former VP candidate and POW who died this year. The Carpetbagger Report links to a New York Times Magazine story (sub. required) about Admiral Stockdale that is worth checking out. Here is the part that grabbed me:

After his release, Stockdale became president of the Citadel, a civilian military college in South Carolina, but only lasted a year. Stockdale apparently wanted to curb the school's violent hazing culture, his board blocked his efforts, so he quit. As he later told a friend, "When you've been tortured by professionals, you do not have to put up with amateurs."

We have discussed torture on this blog and in our radio show quite a bit in the last few years. I think it is instructive to consider the treatment of American POW's in the Hanoi Hilton in truly grasping the depths of human degradation and evil that torture represents. Not to mention, for you *realists*, the complete and utter failure it was in this context for providing useful information or even propaganda. Admiral Stockdales resistance, and his almost superhuman efforts to retain his dignity and humanity in the face of his brutal treatment, deserves a moment of reflection on his memory, and as inspiration to redouble our efforts to restore the honor of this nation and it's ideals and end the support and practice of torture by this country.

Godspeed Admiral.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Paging Dr. Strych9...

Dr. Strych9, please respond to the Economic Rough Trade Wing's Bond Yield Curve Inversion ward, stat!

mojo sends

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Warrantless Searches Should Lead to Impeachment

Okay hippies, listen up:

There is no question. The President admitted he engaged the National Security Agency in warrantless searches of electronic communications. He did it, he's proud of it, and said he'll do it again.

He also said it was legal... somehow.

Well, here's the law, comrades:

50 USC §1809

Criminal sanctions
(a) Prohibited activities
A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally—
(1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or
(2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.

(b) Defense
It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection (a) of this section that the defendant was a law enforcement or investigative officer engaged in the course of his official duties and the electronic surveillance was authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

(c) Penalties
An offense described in this section is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.

(d) Federal jurisdiction
There is Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section if the person committing the offense was an officer or employee of the United States at the time the offense was committed.

There's the law for violating the FISA statute. May we now please proceed to the articles of impeachment...

mojo sends

(P.S. hat tip to Rob in Baltimore)

Atrios Is Right... should just go read Tbogg. When you're done, you can tell me, again, who is going to police these retards.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Tyrants In Black Robes, Indeed...

Help me out here... this is an excerpt from an article in yesterday's Izvestia On The Potomac:
A federal judge in Washington ruled yesterday that the continued detention of two ethnic Uighurs at the U.S. prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is "unlawful," but he decided he had no authority to order their release.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson criticized the government's detention of Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu Hakim, who have been jailed at Guantanamo for four years; they have been cleared for release because the government has determined they are not enemy combatants and are not a threat to the United States. But Robertson said his court has "no relief to offer" because the government has not found a country to accept the men and because he does not have authority to let them enter the United States.

Robertson wrote that the government has taken too long to arrange a release for the men, who cannot return to their Chinese homeland because they would likely be tortured or killed there. U.S. authorities have asked about two dozen countries to grant the men political asylum, but none has accepted, in part out of fear of angering China.

The Uighurs -- along with seven other detainees who have been found to be "no longer enemy combatants" -- are in Guantanamo's Camp Iguana, a less-restrictive area of the prison. They were cleared by a combatant status review tribunal about nine months ago, but no solution for their release has been reached. Robertson wrote that their situation is untenable.


Let me see if I get this straight...
  • They're "no longer enemy combatants."
  • Their continued detention is "unlawful."
  • They can't be rendered back to China, because they would "likely be tortured or killed" there.
  • Nobody, presumably not even the United States of America, dares anger the Chinese Red Army by granting them political asylum.
  • A U.S. federal judge has no authority to order any relief.

I'm supposed to believe that the tyrants in America are the judges?

And would somebody please explain to me— really, one of you wingnuts with the answers to everything ought to be able to just pop in here and straighten this out with a simple one-liner, I figure— what the fsck is the United States of America planning to do with these guys? Keep them detained in Camp Iguana for the rest of their natural lives?

Why am I paying taxes to pay for this?

It Was A Hoax

I knew there was something fishy about that story out of U. Massachusetts— the one about the political science student getting a visit from scary men in black from the Department of Fatherland Security supposedly just because he requested a copy of Mao's Little Red Book on inter-library loan.

I was right: it was a hoax. That's why I didn't post about it here. Looks like none of the other editorial board at The MojoWire got fished into this one either, for which I'm grateful. We've been gulled by hoaxes almost as bad as this one, and we've never failed to admit those mistakes. We promised to be more cynical, and this should serve as evidence of our efforts to be more suspicious of stories like these.

Anyway... would somebody please smack that kid around for me? I hate time-wasting little snots like him.

A MojoWire Christmas

I would like to tell you all a story... a Christmas story ... A Christmas story about Santa Claus.

I call this story, "Santa Claus and His Numerous Violations of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution."

You all know the song "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake..."

Unfortuantely for Santa Claus, acting as he does in a quasi-state capacity as the leader of a sovereign territory, (and his involvement in nuclear disarmament activities), his warrantless searching of children's bedrooms not only represent nearly an a priori violation of Fourth Amendment protections against such intrusion, but at least in the state of California, there are several Penal Code sections that specifically prohibit non-guardian adults from gathering information about children (c.f. PC §637.9).

To begin, the act of such intrusion is itself prohibited, but then this allegedly jolly old elf uses evidence gathered without probable cause in this illegal fashion to pronounce summary judgment (we'll get to due process in a minute) in violation of the "fruit of the poisoned tree" doctrine in the exclusionary rule.

But even if he met the hurdles of fourth amendment jurisprudence for his no-knock entries of houses without any judicial oversight, he clearly runs afoul of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

For instance, in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) Justice Douglas writes for the majority:

"The Fifth Amendment in its Self-Incrimination Clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment."

And since we deem Santa to be acting in at least a quasi state actor role, we feel his activities are covered by the Fifth's protections of a "zone of privacy." And to reiterate, in the state of California, the penal code is especially protective of children given their status as the most vulnerable in our society to abuse and harm.

But let's pretend for the moment that the exigencies of the fourth and fifth amendments are met. Easily the most severe violations of constitutional rights are Santa's blanket disregard for due process as protected by the Sixth Amendment.

I don't even know where to start with this one. I mean, starting from his inability to prove-up his apparently self-appointed jurisdiction over all the children (who I might add, are still considered citizens, with all rights thereunto pertaining) of the United States.

Then there is the issue of judgment being pronounced on these children without any form of hearing or judicial process, much less giving children, or their parents, guardians, ad litems or other legal representatives an opportunity to make a case on their behalf.

We don't even want to go into the whole problem with his judgment being pronounced ex cathedra without any statutory authority for leaving lumps of coal in stockings (we won't even go into the CEQA rules about unregulated distribution of bisthmus coal in a residential setting...)

So from all of us here at the MojoWire: van.mojo, Dr. Strych9, Sean we wish all of you (even the asshats who come by) a very Merry Christmas.

legal disclaimer
From us ("the wishors") to you ("hereinafter called the wishee"):

Please accept without obligation, explicit or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion or secular practice of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions.

Please also accept, under aforesaid waiver of obligation on your part, our best wishes for a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of this calendar year of the Common Era, but with due respect for the calendars of all cultures or sects, and for the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or dietary preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting you acknowledge that:

1. This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal at the wishor's discretion.

2. This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged.

3. This greeting implies no warranty on the part of the wishors to fulfill these wishes, nor any ability of the wishors to do so, merely a beneficent hope on the part of the wishors that they in fact occur.

4. This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wishors.

5. This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.

6. The wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wishor.

Any references in this greeting to "the Lord", "Father Christmas", "Our Saviour", or any other festive figures, whether actual or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect of this greeting, and all proprietary rights in any referenced third party names and images are hereby acknowledged.

mojo sends

Friday, December 23, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm....

The latest on Iraqi democracy from MSNBC.Com...
The election results in Iraq may present Chalabi’s ardent U.S. supporters with a quandary: Chalabi, as well as other losing candidates, is alleging fraud in the election, even though the Bush administration hailed the vote as a historic step for democracy in Iraq.

Of course, Ahmed "Super Crypto Spy Man" Chalabi isn't the only one to have made this argument in recent days.

In the meantime, naturally, we here at The MojoWire are waiting with bated breath to find out whether 1) Iraq's new Jeffersonian Democracy is still the best thing to happen in the HeartOfTheArabWorld™, or 2) election fraud in Iraq is preventing Jeffersonian Democracy from breaking out in the HeartOfTheArabWorld™.

Inquiring Minds Want To Know What To Think!

Racist Scumbag Alert!

You knew they were rattling around inside the South Carolina affiliates of Fox Broadcasting Corp, didn't you? You didn't? Well, now you do. [Via ThinkProgress.Com]
Birckner’s praise of StormFront didn’t go unnoticed by Jamie Kelso (”Charles Lindbergh”), the site’s Senior Moderator, 11/14/05:
One detail that I forgot (until just yesterday) was to unmoderate our new Stormfront Member, FOXSC, so that Fox could post more easily on Stormfront.
Birckner told Think Progress that she is unsure whether or not she will be doing a follow-up piece and is waiting to hear more from the “local community.” When asked why she didn’t include some voices that were critical of StormFront, she replied she did the story exactly as she was told to and that officials at the network were very pleased with her coverage.

For those of you unfamiliar with Stormfront,Org, they are unreconstructed racist, white supremacist scumbags. They do not deserve fair treatment in the media. They are Evil and Insane, and they should be run like dogs— not fluffed with airy kisses from an affiliate of an international media behemoth.

Does anyone need further proof that Fox Broadcasting is an enemy of the United States? No? I didn't think so.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Your Shoes Are Ready For You, RedState...

Just go read this post by Michael Bérubé. Yes, RedState— we are mocking you.

p.s. Like Michael, I have to confess I'm beginning to resent being called a "liberal" too. The other names just make me laugh.

The BigWord™ Of The Day

an·ti·no·mi·an·ism n.
1. Theology. The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.
2. The belief that moral laws are relative in meaning and application as opposed to fixed or universal.

I bring this word to your attention in the context of these remarks from our friend Paperwight, who said...
The very existence of that talking point [that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi were told about the spying project months ago], the fact that it's viable, says a lot about the modern Republican Party. Think about it. The response to "Hey, that's illegal" is: "We told some of the people who represent you, and they did nothing."

That response is completely orthogonal to the rule of law and to the very possibility of any form of democracy. It plainly grows out of a nasty swamp comprising equal parts antinomianism [emphasis added —s9] and authoritarianism, which has at its rotten heart the maxim: "There is no law. There is only power."

Allow me to simplify this for the ignorant Jethros in our tiny and rapidly dwindling readership.

Antinomianism is a fancy word that means Moral Relativism. The "It's Okay If You Are Republican" (IOKIYAR) thing is what we're talking about. When you combine it with Authoritarianism, what you get is a Party Doctrine that goes like this:
Conservatism frees Republicans from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and patriotism is attained solely through loyalty and the gift of political favor.

Are we starting to hit home with some of you people yet?

I guess there really is a Santa Claus

Federal Indictments are coming to town! From the Post:

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, facing trial on fraud charges Jan. 9 in Florida, is negotiating a possible deal with the Justice Department, in which he would agree to plead guilty and cooperate in the wide-ranging political corruption investigation focused on his dealings with members of Congress and executive branch officials, people familiar with the talks said last night.

Abramoff would provide testimony about numerous members of Congress and their staffs if he and the Justice Department reach an agreement, the sources said. Negotiations have been ongoing for several months, people knowledgeable about the discussions said, but pressure is mounting because of the pending trial.

Crikey! This is going to turn into an episode of I, Claudius. They are going be knifing each other in the parking structure of the U.S. Attorneys office to see who gets there earlier to get a better deal. Talk about coal in your stocking.

Who am I really looking forward to being cuffed and sent to man jail? Ralph Reed, that pompus and evil little punk who, along with Grover Norquist, fancies himself quite the tough guy. Memo to you Ralph, you aren't Gordon Liddy. You are a pimped out Alfalfa who is looking at doing serious time. I wonder what Pat Robertson thinks of his little protege now?

How many packs of smokes to you think Ralph is going to be worth in the open bitch market at Leavenworth?

More Little Victories...

Here is another one of those little victories... ANWR drilling gets punked.

One of my favorite little bits from this was Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens getting in the well of the Senate and saying that without ANWR drilling, there will be no money to pay for Katrina victims and avian flu vaccine. That is stellar work, Mr. Wizard...

Tell me Senator, how will revenues from oil, that don't appear for a decade or more effect the Katrina recovery or public health funding efforts now?

We'll just wait here for that answer...

mojo sends

Nice Job, W, Iran Wins Iraq Election...

We get the following from Voice of America about the official results of the Iraqi Election...

The Iraqi Electoral Commission on Tuesday released more preliminary voting results from the country's December 15 election for a new National Assembly. The largest Shi'ite coalition appears to have kept most of its seats in Iraq's 275-member Assembly.

The Iraqi election chief, Adil Al Lami, says 90 percent of the votes have been counted. Although the official tally will not be certified until early January, the preliminary results show that the United Iraqi Alliance will hold the largest number of seats in the country's new four-year, fulltime National Assembly.

The United Iraqi Alliance currently holds a narrow majority in the National Assembly. It also has most of the positions in the powerful ministry of the interior. The prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is also a member.

The Alliance is a conservative grouping of Islamist parties with ties to Iran. Sunnis accuse the current government of allowing Shi'ite militiamen, thinly veiled as police and interior ministry forces, of harassing, detaining and killing them.

The issue here is of course that in spite of intense Sunni turnout at the polls, we had reports on the eve of the election of Iranian ballot tampering. Of course, all the asshats didn't seem to be worried about that, in spite of being given pretty good reason to.

So in spite of all their chest thumping faux patriotic flag waving on the march of freedom, when the Iraqi people get an election stolen right out from under them by the Axis of Evil they are no where to be seen. Typical, they would rather see a crooked election that will screw up their long run plans than have to admit that there was something wrong in the first place.

The ultimate triumph of style over substance.

Although I certainly wouldn't put it past certain elements to be willingly looking the other way... now, why would they do something like that?

mojo sends

Update 1.0: Apparently, we here are not the only ones who noticed that something was wrong with the Iraqi election. And now, the dissaffected parties, including secular Shi'a political groups, are calling for a boycott of the new government if these charges are not investigated seriously.

The Pushback Continues

I've been listening to Rush Limbaugh on the way to work all this week because I can count on him to present the Bush administration pushback on the spying scandal without delaying it or hedging it.

Today, the line appears to be a fetid load of rancid fertilizer stemming from a column by John Schmidt in today's Chicago Tribune (boo, hiss— do we need to remind you of the editorial bias at the trib?) that falsely argues the President had legal authority to order the wiretaps we've been talking about all week. I heard Limbaugh rant for a good twenty minutes on this subject. (And may I just say— dude needs to go back on the little blue ones. He's starting to go all Michael Savage on us, and that is not pretty.)

This latest argument is all of the same piece as the other attempts to muddle the debate we brought to your attention earlier this week. The fine folks at ThinkProgress.Com are all over this one. They are quite handily deconstructing this bullshit-on-demand.
[...] It features this selectively edited excerpt from a 2002 decision by the FISA appeals court:
“All the … courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence…We take for granted that the president does have that authority.” [...]

Actually, the quote doesn’t begin with the word “all”; it begins “The Truong court, as did all the other courts…” The Truong case was decided in 1978 — the same year FISA was passed — and did not deal with the FISA law.

If you read the whole thing, and compare notes with our previously linked comments, it will be plainly apparent that this pushback is all stemming from the same source. Somebody, probably somewhere inside the Justice Department or the White House, is purposely misquoting FISA and pretending it doesn't say what it does. Specifically, they want you to believe that 50 USC 1802 doesn't limit the definition of a "foreign power" to which it applies to a subset of the categories defined in 50 USC 1801 that specifically excludes international terrorists. The Congress explicitly and deliberately wrote the law this way.

Once again, apologists for the President are deliberately lying about the text of the law and the judicial record. The President has authority to order electronic surveillance without a court order on foreign agents narrowly defined to exclude international terrorists. These people are trying to pretend that the Congress did not explicitly limit the President's authority to prevent his office from ordering what George W. Bush admitted in front of God and C-SPAN he did.

p.s. "Deliberately" is a really fun word in this context— you should look it up, RedState!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Look On The Bright Side!

At least, now we know the government will have no trouble identifying who are the firearms enthusiasts when it comes time to disarm the civilian population.

A data mining operation to find a list of all the Americans with significant private armories should be trivially easy to do once you've decided it's a national security priority. I cannot wait for President Clinton to take office!

More Dingbattery To Shoot Down

On 2000-04-12, CIA director George Tenet testified to this before Congress [emphases added —s9]:

I’m here today to discuss specific issues about and allegations regarding Signals Intelligence activities and the so-called Echelon Program of the National Security Agency…

There is a rigorous regime of checks and balances which we, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI scrupulously adhere to whenever conversations of U.S. persons are involved, whether directly or indirectly. We do not collect against U.S. persons unless they are agents of a foreign power as that term is defined in the law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department.

I'm bringing this to your attention, not just because the wingnuts are pushing the line that the Echelon program was identical to Bush's program. Yes, the program was apparently called— I shit you not— "the President's program" during at least part of its life.

It was not the same as Echelon. President Clinton did not approve a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. President Bush is the one who has decided unilaterally that FISA warrants are unnecessary.

Rush Limbaugh was pushing this dingbat meme today, and it's all over the wingnut-o-sphere, i.e. here, here, here and here. (Thanks to ThinkProgress and Atrios for the heads-up.)

Update 1.0: Now, here comes Peter Daou with an explanation of why this matters.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christian Ethicists On Torture

Want to know what Christian intellectuals in America are really thinking on the subject of torture? The often problematic Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost is hosting an "online symposium" on the subject. He's got a lot of big names in Christian ethical philosopher going on the record. He deserves praise for rounding this up for us.

I frequently bad-mouth Joe, but I'm giving him props for this. Thanks for pinning these guys down.

What Is The White House Trying To Do?

[This article has been updated twice since its original posting.]

Somebody needs to talk me down off the ledge.

I've been out here on this ledge since, like— oh, I'm not sure I even remember— sometime around January 2002 or so. Right about the time the President stood up in front of the Naval Academy and announced that the Project for a New American Century had written our new, improved defense doctrine.

I keep looking at the big scandals of this White House, and the same question keeps coming up: why the fsck are these people doing it this way? The whole extraordinary rendition, prisoner abuse, Geneva conventions thing is one case in point. The latest one to capture the public attention, i.e. the warrantless electronic surveillance order, has been trundelating along for some time now as well.

In both of these cases— though, what's noteworthy about the warrantless surveillance order is how blatant it's been— the White House has gone out of its way, for completely indefensible and incomprehensible reasons, to assert that the President's authority to exercise discretionary war power is "plenary" and unchecked by Congress or the courts.

It's like they're deliberately trying to provoke a constitutional crisis.

That's why I'm saying somebody needs to talk me down off this ledge. The President and his supporters can't— really, they just can't— be that far gone, right? They are not trying to provoke a constitutional crisis. They just can't be. That would be Unamerican. It would mean our oaths to defend the Constitution against its domestic enemies would seem to be in play— which would be kinda difficult to manage under the circumstances, seeing as how said "enemies of the Constitution" would have all the tanks and planes and missiles.

So, all you right-wing freekbots— and you liberal interventionists, too— it's time to jump on the team and come on in for the big win.

You're going to explain to me, in the comments forum please, what useful purpose is served by tapping the phones of Americans without bothering to comply with the ridiculously easy terms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, i.e. you can get a warrant 72 hours after the fact from a court that has never denied a request and would probably authorize a tap on a ham sandwich if the DHS asked for a warrant.

Why would you throw down that glove to the Congress and the courts? Why else would you do it except to provoke a constitutional crisis?

Really, I would dearly love to have a sensible answer to that.

Update 1.0: Over at The Left Coaster, Steve Soto is asking all the same questions I'm asking (some of them in the comments below, and others I've been asking elsewhere).

+ Why haven’t we had more prosecutions here at home?

+ Why haven’t we had more arrests here at home?

+ Why haven’t you gone to the Foreign Intelligence Services Act court and received warrants on all these people?

+ If the current law was insufficient, why haven’t you tried to expand it in the last four years?

+ Why can’t you share [the names of wiretapped citizens] with the top four members of the congressional intelligence committees, who are already bound to confidentiality now?

I'd really like to hear a plausible answer from the President other than "Fsck off, hippie. I'm the President, and if you don't like it, you can wait until you get another President." As near as I can tell, he's deliberately trying to engineer a constitutional crisis. Really. I've been trying to avoid this conclusion for going on four years now. I'm -->this<-- close to giving up.

Update 2.0: Finally, Kevin Drum has a plausible explanation for me. He actually doesn't come out and say it, but I think we all know what he's talking about.

His theory is much more believable: the President doesn't want to comply with the need to obtain a FISA court warrant because the system that decides who gets wiretapped and for how long is now thoroughly automated (or, more accurately, it soon will be if everything goes according to plan). To keep the new wiretapping system running at peak efficiency, it would require a case load at the FISA court that would utterly swamp it with requests.

If you assume that the President simply refused to shut down the Evil Dr. Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program when the Congress ordered him to do it, then every last one of Steve Soto's questions has an obvious and easily inferred answer.

Q: Why haven’t we had more prosecutions here at home?
A: Because Total Information Awareness doesn't work.

Q: Why haven’t we had more arrests here at home?
A: You mean, why haven't we had more arrests publicized here at home, right? When most of the people you're investigating turn out to be non-prosecutable, then you either don't arrest them, or you bind them into complete silence with non-disclosure agreements.

Q: Why haven’t you gone to the Foreign Intelligence Services Act court and received warrants on all these people?
A: Because that would mean 1) explaining how we got their names, and eventually— once the system is out of beta testing— 2) overflowing the capacity of the FISA court to hear requests by several orders of magnitude, and there's no way they'd sit for that without pitching an unholy fit.

Q: If the current law was insufficient, why haven’t you tried to expand it in the last four years?
A: Hello? The Congress made it quite clear they didn't want us using data mining operations to generate the names of our terrorism suspects!

Q: Why can’t you share [the names of wiretapped citizens] with the top four members of the congressional intelligence committees, who are already bound to confidentiality now?
A: If we did that, we'd have to admit how we came up with their names and why we thought they might be terrorists.

So, you see— it's very simple. The President isn't trying to engineer a constitutional crisis. It's just an unfortunate side effect of his approach to governing.

We Read Eschaton For You

Atrios links to an excellent deconstruction by Glenn Greenwald of some conservatarian legal "analysis" currently getting play among the dumber and dumberer wings of the wingnutosphere.

Sez Greenwald...
Defenders of the Bush Administration are resorting to outright distortions and deliberate falsehoods about the Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA) in order to argue that the Administration's warrantless eavesdropping on U.S. citizens complies with the mandates of that statute. To do so, they are simply lying -- and that term is used advisedly -- about what FISA says by misquoting the statute in order to make it appear that the Administration’s clearly illegal behavior conforms to the statute.
I recommend reading the whole thing. It's short and it lays out in depressing detail how this lie got planted, how it grew, and how it continues to be defended.

Here at MojoWire, we've seen all this before. We can tell you what will happen next.

These false talking points will be picked up by some chowderhead with an SPJ membership, carried in the Wall Street Journal or repeated on some other "respectable" top-down media network. Next thing you know, people like us will have our hands full debunking a lie rather than actually advancing a narrative about how the Bush Administration never needed to violate the FISA and refuses to explain why the President's order to violate the FISA was necessary.

If anybody tries to tell you that what President Bush did was not a violation of the FISA, don't waste any time on them. Send them straight to that Glenn Greenwald piece. You shouldn't have to put up with this bullshit. (And, yes— I use the word "bullshit" with great care.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bow before Fafblog fool!

Fafblog saves Christmas from the heathen liberal and their space weapons of secular humanism, enjoy.

Here is my favorite part:
Every year around Christmastime Santa's little helpers set up thrones for Santa in thousands of Santa temples across the land so allll the children a the world can come an swear their allegiance to his jolly name. If you've been good he'll give you a candy cane! If you've been bad his unholy gaze will fill you with a burning madness that will consume you for the rest of your days. Oh don't cry Little Timmy! It's a real good candy cane.

Update 1.0 (s9): Reformatted.

A Reminder About Our Policy On Tactical Syntax

Here is our policy on the use of the "Delete Comment" and "Ban This IP Address" features for comment moderation.

We love a good rumble. We don't kick comments just because they disagree with us. We don't kick comments just because they're rude, crude or obnoxious. We don't kick comments for using "profanity" or other forms of harsh language. The comments forum at MojoWire is not child-safe.

Also, we don't kick off-topic flames. We don't ban people for trolling— even for engaging in trolling competitions. Hell, we do that ourselves from time to time. Suit up, and remember to bring enough to share. If you can keep treading water at Eschaton, then you can probably manage to stay afloat here.

Q: What will get my comment deleted from the forum here? Simple. If, in the entirely subjective [and probably drunken or drug-addled] judgment of any single member of the MojoWire Editorial Board, you post something one of us thinks is egregiously commercial spam, or something explicitly intended to send a terrorizing message [i.e., overtly threatening of violence, and loaded with racist, sexist, or homophobic content], or otherwise get us into trouble with the Ministry of Fatherland Security unless we take the time to delete it, then the comment will get deleted. No explanation. No notification. (Though, we reserve the privilege of cracking back about it, should our bile rise sufficiently.)

Q: What will get my IP address banned? Simple. If we get tired of deleting your comments manually on a case by case basis, then we'll start banning your IP addresses until you run out of them.

Q: What will happen if I have too many IP addresses for y'all to ban? Consider the immortal words of Socrates, from the classic dialogue by Nathaniel Kerr, in which the great philosopher said, "Justice is only the will of the stronger. What do you think about that, asshole?"

We may be hippie cranks, but we don't back down from threats designed to shut us up.

Update 1.0: Updated to clarify what "terrorizing" means in our minds.

One for the Good Guys!

Woot! Looks like the USA Patriot Act won't be renewed today, at least.

Here's to the little victories...

mojo sends

Update 1.0: As a side note, in case there was anyone out there still wondering about the craptacular-bee-yatch-full-ness that is Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, his website is still urging comrades to vote for cloture, even though in the final vote, he sensed the wind blowing against him, and voted with the winning side...

Thursday, December 15, 2005


(Via Paperwight, The Carpetbagger Report and Slate...)

The GOP is running a web video that pretty clearly accuses its opposition of undermining the U.S. armed services. It's currently linked from the front page of RNC.Org. You really have to see it to believe it's really coming from the Republican National Committee and not some gang of mouth-breathers operating out of a boiler room in West Virginia.

The reason RNC must be feeling the need to do this is obvious. They've been stoking the irrational hopes among their base of support that Iraq will suddenly break out with Jeffersonian Democracy after the elections today. Yet, they know that's an impossible outcome.

As I wrote in the comments to a post over at HolyCoast.Com (yet another X-tian "conservative" blog based in The O.C.), where Rick Moore has been drinking the Kool-Aid™ like we drink Irish whiskey around here:
That's a false hope.

Even if you discount the credibility of the widespread reports of SCIRI ballot forgery, it's completely unreasonable to hope the results of these elections will "get the [Iraqi] government off and running" very far.

The Iraqi "government" is a Failed State. Virtually no order it gives is any more likely to be implemented than if it were to order the precise opposite. It has no army deserving of any respect, and it cannot control even the most secure of its provinces— much less the ones where the insurgency operates with unmitigated freedom. Its parliamentarians are often under attack, and sometimes they're killed, with utter impunity. Its oil pipelines are routinely bombed, depriving it of critical financial capital. It faces a powerful guerrilla insurgency that openly bears contempt for the results of electoral processes in general, and it just wants to overthrow the new order by any means at its disposal, including the massacre of unaligned civilians.

How are elections likely to change any of this?

They have no answer to that. Instead, they're preparing the ground for when the new Iraqi "government" fails, and the American troops are driven into strategic retreat, back to Kuwait and Turkey or elsewhere, so that when those men and women rotate home, they will know whom to blame.

As Paperwight said... Dolchstoßlegende. That's what this is about. Salon notes that this has never happened before in American political history. Dolchstoßlegende, gentlemen. Dolchstoßlegende. Make sure you have your exit visa ready.

Am I dreaming this?

The American Prospect has posted an article about John Bolton's first 100 days in office. It is clear that everything people opposed to Bolton's nomination said would occur is coming to pass. The article details Boltons successful campaign to derail reform at the U.N. , a legitimate process that would have implemented real changes. Naturally, countries hostile to the U.S. such as Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela have benefited from Bolton ruining the process.

My favorite part though, is how it is has become crystal clear that part of Boltons mission, no doubt on behalf of VP Cheney and SecDef Rumsfeld, is to subvert and undermine Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice at every opportunity. Check this:

Rice’s involvement came after Bolton had won round one in the Syria battle. Bolton and Rice’s bureaucratic tiffs over Syria had actually boiled over two weeks prior to the Security Council vote. Journalist Ibrahim Hamidi, writing in the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, reported -- and the Prospect has independently confirmed -- that Bolton had leaked to British newspapers that the Bush administration had signaled its willingness to offer Syria a “Libya-style deal” -- a reference to Libyan President Muammar Quaddafi’s decision last year to give up pursuing weapons of mass destruction and renounce terrorism in return for a restoration of relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. According to The Times of London, Syria responded positively to the secret U.S. offer, which was made through a third party. But after Bolton publicly aired the details of the potential deal -- which would require Syria to cooperate with the Mehlis investigation, end interference in Lebanese affairs and alleged interference in Iraqi affairs, and cease supporting militant groups like Hamas and Hezbollah—Damascus quickly denied that such a deal was in the offing.

“It is no secret that Mr. Bolton and Dr. Rice are not the closest friends,” a well-placed UN official told the Prospect. “Indeed, I’ve heard it said that the main reason he came here was that she didn’t want him in Foggy Bottom.” The animosity between the two is, in fact, well established, as they locked horns on Iran. On April 18, 2005, The Washington Post reported that Bolton let Rice go on her first trip to Europe as secretary of state without briefing her on European opposition to his one-man campaign to seek the ouster of the International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Mohammed ElBaradei. ElBaradei was a popular diplomat -- and would later win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work -- but Bolton thought ElBaradei was too “soft” on Iran.

Now, bureaucratic infighting is a refined art in Washington, but this is of a completely different order. Bolton is Rice's subordinate, yet look at the effort she has to put out to neutralize him on important negotiations. And consider what a bunch of worthless clowns the U.S. looks like to our most critical allies when, as the article details, Rice has to send THREE minders to ensure Bolton doesn't fuck everything up at a public event. Let's think about that: The State Department cannot trust the U.N. Ambassador from ruining critical negotiatons without adult supervision.

Now it was clear to us here at the Wire what Bolton's mission was, but he has made no effort to hide it now that he has his interim appointment. And that mission has a few objectives, among them clearly are to undermine the United Nations at every opportunity, sabotage any effort at reform that could result in improving its legitimacy, use his unique positon near the center of American diplomacy to subvert any action by Condi Rice and her fellow travelers in the Administration by any means possible. Those are just a few of the obvious ones.

This is absurd. Top diplomats of the U.S Government are engaged in open warfare with each other, sabotaging each other to advance their own agenda's, and making it impossible to establish a functional, working relationship with virtually anyone else in the world, most importantly our most important and closest allies. Our enemies are clearly taking advantage of this to advance their own agenda, as the Prospect article clearly lays out.

The Bush Administration transcends any previously held notion of what is bad government. This isn't just bad policies being advanced by losers and flunkies. This is patheticly stupid behavior that is undermining the stated goals of the administration, to combat international terror groups and rogue states. Diplomacy, forging alliance, establishing international norms are a part of that. But to Bolton and the people pulling his strings, those are just obstacles to blown up or undermined. It is obtuseness and myopic behavior on an unprecedented scale. What the fuck is going on with these people? And can someone explain to me exactly why the President appoints Condi Rice to the State job, and then appoints Bolton and allows him to undermine Rice? What is the fucking point of doing that? What good does it do to have your foreign policy a running tragicomedy when you have over 130,000 combat troops engaged in a bloody mess in Iraq, and you are trying to fight a war against international terror?

Just wake me when the nightmare is over.

Anyone Interested in the Rule of Law?

Scott Horton has an interesting piece up at Professor Jack Balkin's Balkinization about the word honor in a classic understanding of the word and how it applies to the law on torture.

He also links from that page to an interesting Columbia Law Review article Jeremy Waldon on "Torture and Positive Law."

It's a bit long and kind of an academic slog, but its worth the read... mojo says check it out.

mojo sends

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Salam Pax Writes From Iraq

In Guardian Unlimited, he writes:
I found out yesterday that Iraqis all over the world get to vote before us in Iraq. The state-run station has been broadcasting pictures from everywhere, from Britain to Iran, all doing the Iraqi democracy finger salute; purple index finger held up. I bet the majority of these bomb-scare-free, minimal-security voters do not know that their votes will only count towards the 45 "compensatory seats". The fight for the rest of the 230 seats happens on Iraqi ground.

The insurgency is doing its best to defy all the security measures and has blown up the electricity generator that feeds the main water pumps to Baghdad. Most of the city is without running water and the municipality says they hope to get everything running again by tomorrow afternoon. Let's hope that's the only thing insurgents are going to blow up for the next two days.

Whoever you talk to says they think voter turnout will be just as good as last time. I do believe that for many Iraqis the fact that this time we are voting for people who are staying in government for four years has sunk in. We've been through three trial runs and this time it's for real. Keep your fingers crossed for us, will you?

Some of his earlier comments in that piece, which I did not reprint, are instructive. I'll reprint one more, but you should just click through and read the whole thing. Salam Pax is one of my heroes.
Obviously, the question of how free and fair elections are in an environment of continued violence has never been answered. In a week we go to vote again hoping that we won't be blown to pieces. And I really believe that we Iraqis do deserve a bit of credit for having done that twice now. I don't think there is a better demonstration of the will to get this political process rolling and keeping it rolling than participating under the threat of violent death. I know I make fun of it all the time but this is not to be mistaken for belittling the courage of all those who participate.

If anybody reading this is confused about whether we at The MojoWire do not appreciate the courage of the Iraqi electorate who participate in the balloting, let them stand up and identify their positions now. Please be so kind as to hold still while we compute the best trajectory for the anvilgrams.

We'll Stop Calling This Crew Orwellian...

...when they stop using 1984 as an operations manual.

Via The New Pravda (linked above), we find that the Pentagon is responding to the imminent passage of the McCain Amendment by rewriting US Army Field Manual 34-52.
The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods that may complicate negotiations over legislation proposed by Senator John McCain to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody, military officials said Tuesday.

The techniques are included in a 10-page classified addendum to a new Army field manual that was forwarded this week to Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy, for final approval, they said.

The addendum provides dozens of examples and goes into exacting detail on what procedures may or may not be used, and in what circumstances. Army interrogators have never had a set of such specific guidelines that would help teach them how to walk right up to the line between legal and illegal interrogations.

Nota Bene: the new guidelines use the "improved" torture standards— the ones that brought the world pictures of a grinning Charles Graner giving a nitrile-gloved thumbs-up next to a "previously enjoyed" information container.

[Mad props to ThinkProgress.Com]

Update 1.0: Added a link to the specific Charles Graner photo to which I am referring.

Meanwhile, Deep In The Jungle...

Doug Payton, over at Stones Cry Out (a Christian "conservative" blog), is convinced that we're winning something.

He's riffing off an appalling display, by the wankers at PowerlineTime Magazine's 2004 Blog Of The Year— of how far the U.S. military will go to run psy ops on the home population without running afoul of the laws against ratfscking the domestic press. (Bloggers aren't The Free Press, you must understand. They're just these guys, you know?)

Anyway, if anybody knows what Doug Payton and his like-minded friends think we're supposed to be winning— and, more importantly, when the prizes will actually be arriving in the mail— I'd like to know. Does anyone have a clue? Thanks.

Election Rigging in Iraq...

This whole parliamentary election in Iraq has really become a carnival of dark comedy.

The most recent news is that border guards in the south west part of Iraq intercepted a tanker truck coming across the frontier from Iran, stuffed to the gills with forged ballots. See New York Times story here.

Of course, the source from the Interior Ministry spoke on conditions of anonymity, given that he was not an "authorized" spokesperson. However, he also said the this tanker truck was only one of a fleet of them that had apparently crossed in the last couple of days with freshly printed ballots from Iran.

Interior Minister Bayon Jabor of course denies the report, saying this was just some malcontent attempting to question the legitimacy of the election.

And yes, this is the same Minister Jabor who is a member of the Iranian-government, Shi'a-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Yeah, the guy who told the Saudi foreign minister after hearing criticisim of an Iraqi constitution leaning too much towards Iran: "[...]Some Bedouin riding a camel wants to teach us!"

The guy in charge of the "anti-terror" hit squads and the detention centers where American troops have been rescuing tortured Sunnis.

Yeah, why would this guy lie about Iranian printed forged ballots crossing the border...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Maybe you should up the voltage?

Just go here. (Props to alicublog for the link)
Finished? That's right, Clinton is responsible for an increase in Blow Jobs..


How much of a freakin nutjob do you have to be to make this argument? Actually cook it up, submit to an editor and expect it to be published. Some innoncuous story about Bill Clintons new diet sends dimtwitted cranks into some kind of lather, running around the common room of the mental institution they post from screaming about blowjobs and Bill Clinton and the increase in mouth sores and other insane jabberings. Are you people determined to get Hilary Clinton elected to the White House? Look, she's not my candidate, but do not for a minute believe I won't laugh my ass off if she does ascend to the White House and sends these cranks into some kind of hysteria of clawing their own eyes out. And remember Red State, your fearless representives in Congress are determined to make the expansion of the powers of the Executive branch in the Patriot Act permanent. What do you think the odds are she won't avail herself of it to payback some of you people? It will suck to be you RedState. Nothing says Happy Holidays than a national security letter being issued and FBI agents whisking the talking heads of Fox News off to the CIA's new vacation resorts in Eastern Europe. I'm not remotely kidding Red State. The Clintons cut their poltical teeth in Arkansas, a state not exactly reknowned for Political forgiveness.

Cranking like this is only going to make you people look even more freakin crazy than you actually are, a level of insanity so intense, Lovecraftian horrors will avoid catching your eyes on the Subway. The Clintons are counting on this. In fact, they are going to start pushing your buttons soon. And like a three old who cannot help themselves, the Freak right wing media will get their Clinton on something fierce, and Hilary will secure the Democratic nomination and roll over the Republican nominee on the "Jesus these people are freakin crazy" platform. Yes, even if Condi Rice runs, you morons.

So keep it up RedState. Don't listen to us, just go ahead and write your blowjob screeds and your Mena Arkansas coke smuggling ring takes....You've been warned.

The Unitarian Jihad Strikes Back

by Rev. Chris Raible

God rest ye, Unitarians, let nothing you dismay;
Remember there’s no evidence
There was a Christmas Day;
When Christ was born is just not known,
No matter what they say,

O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

Our current Christmas customs come
From Persia and from Greece,
From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East.
This whole darn Christmas spiel is just
Another pagan feast,

O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

There was no star of Bethlehem,
There was no angels’ song;
There couldn’t have been wise men
For the trip would take too long.
The stories in the Bible are historically wrong,

O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.


Monday, December 12, 2005


B. Preston writes in JYB: You didn’t demonstrate any bad faith in the post. I said that you must or you’re banned. You didn’t, so you’re banned. Good day.

Oh dear, I called him and his crew out on the idiocy of comparing WW II to the Iraq War and now he is all sad and angry and can take no more... And even after I dared him and his crew of neo-fascists to roll into our blog and rumble, only one half-hearted attempt.

And I am banishéd to the nether regions. Oh s9, oh Sean, I am feeling faint with the vapors... whatever shall I do...

mojo sends

Why Democrats Will Lose Seats in 110th Congress

Via Seeing The Forest...

Over at Daily Kos, there is a clear and easily comprehensible explanation for why Democrats will lose seats in the 110th Congress— even if the integrity of the vote could be protected against Republican fraud.

Those of you dragged over to The MojoWire by our taunts on right-wing blogs will have nothing to learn by reading this article. My left-of-center friends, who certainly know many Democrats that remain unconvinced of the essential truth of this, should read this guy's take. The Democrats have already lost the 2006 mid-terms— it's over already. The best you can do is an inspiring defeat. This guy explains why. He's right, and you all know it. You don't have to admit it in public, but you better believe it in private. If you don't, you're going to lose the 2008 elections, and every election after that until you do believe it.

Take it from a guy who knows what it's like to work for a company with branding trouble, and who has seen what it takes to turn that around with his own eyes. Democrats have major branding issues— especially on the Iraq War™. Your product line is too complicated. You have no way to reach your customers directly. Your retailers and distributors are actively hostile to presenting your products in a fair light. You have good ideas, and your products should be competitive, but the market won't switch from brand R to brand D just because your product is better. It needs a better brand.

On A Lighter Note...

Here's a political stunt by some Texan atheists who've just earned mad props in my book. They're encouraging people to trade in their hardcopies of holy scripture for pornography. (I'm actually wondering if there isn't an arbitrage opportunity there somewhere...)


Look, there are some cases that are just so clear cut that they defy left and right posturing. And you know this is the case here when the Mojowire and Instapundit are on the same page, something has gone seriously wrong.

Here is the gist from Battle Panda:

Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frigthened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

Can you possibly get anymore whack?! I am glad to see some redstaters coming correct about the whole gun rights thing here. Yeah, this is what happens in an armed society when the cops go rogue. Not saying it's a good thing, just an inevitable thing.

But more to the point, people need to get jacked about this one. I know there are so many examples across the United States of racist cops treating the justice system like a two-dollar hooker during fleet week, but here is one that is so clear cut and is such an example of how far gone some places in this country are, that if we don't draw a line here, then where? If not this case, then which case?

Time to suit up for this one...

mojo sends

Update 1.0: Please take a moment and break off an email for Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and let him know that the world is watching!

Update 1.1: Punk Ass Bitch! has disabled his e-communications part of the website. But at least the phone number and address are listed...

Update 1.2 According to kind commenter Mr. Stephen Gordon, of the fine libertarian blog Hammer of Truth, Gov. Barbour can be contacted here. Please let him know what you think...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fuan no Shotai!

I am vastly amused by this analogy put forward in an opinion piece carried by Asahi Shimbun.

Kiichi Fujiwara, a University of Tokyo professor, observes in his book "Fuan no Shotai!" (The real cause of anxiety!) from Chikuma Shobo that the way international politics is being run by the United States today is similar to how the Tokugawa shogunate-and-domain system worked in Japan in the Edo Period (1603-1867).
There is growing censure against the "shogun." It is time for Japan to stop being his loyal vassal and map out its own withdrawal strategy.

Via pessimist writing at The Left Coaster.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Game Theory For Dummies

We're finally starting to see the War™ party talk about "victory" in Iraq.

In some ways, this can be really maddening. The typical left-of-center reaction to this kind of talk has been to remark that "victory" in Iraq remains a nebulous and ill-defined concept, and to wonder aloud what the fsck the War™ party is talking about.

The President, his administration, and their supporters have taken great pains and gone to extraordinary lengths to stand on the principle that it would be a grave and terrible mistake to set goals and objectives for the War™ mission in Iraq upon which progress can be measured, evaluated and compared against what was budgeted. (You remember the budget, right? It's that thing that conservatives believe liberals never think about.) Put simply, setting goals and objectives are the last things these people want to do— it would, they insist, signal the terrorists what it would take to force the occupation to concede defeat.

I am, of course, puzzled by the War™ party's approach. To me, as a guy whose résumé includes a stint working alongside professional game designers, the word "victory" is a technical term. The War™ party, however, doesn't seem to use the word with anything near the technical precision I prefer. Victory is a terminating condition when one or more players achieve their game objectives. It is to be compared with Defeat, which is a similar condition when one or more players fails. It's all about whether players achieve their objectives or not. Contrast this with the explanation of Victory as it pertains to the mission of the War™ party in Iraq.

I recently heard the definition of Victory in Iraq explained by a certain nationally syndicated radio talk show host with tens of millions of daily listeners who regularly claims his talent is "on loan" from God. He said, definitively, "Victory... is what we are trying to achieve." (By "we," of course, it should be assumed he means the United States, its armed forces, the President, and their political supporters— even though, he's clearly not any of the first three, and we should all be dubious whether the fourth really has very much to do with it.)

Those of you in the Reality-Based Community who are noticing the tautological nature of this argument are probably suspicious that our unnamed radio host was just vamping, filling space between thoughts with empty blather in order to prevent dead air while he searched for the words to use.


This really is the working definition of Victory in Iraq. "Victory is what we are trying to achieve. Fullstop." Okay, not quite a full stop there— because, immediately after defining Victory as whatever it is that the War™ party is trying to achieve this week, he proceeded to add this qualification: "And, it's what Democrats are trying to undermine." That only adds to the tautology.

The logic is really quite impressive when you unpack it. Not only has the War™ party established how the objectives for terminating the operation in Iraq are the achievement of whatever unspecified conditions they may find politically convenient for, well, terminating the operation, they have also defined the conditions in such a way that whatever the Democrats can plausibly be said to be "undermining," that's what they're trying to accomplish.

It's beautiful, really. Whenever they finally decide it's expedient to terminate the operation, they'll be able to declare it a Victory by choosing the terminating conditions for the Iraq operation from the set of objectives that can plausibly be said 1) have been already met, and 2) were at one time or another discounted as unlikely, unrealistic or undesirable by their political opponents.

If worse comes to worst, they will finally declare the victory condition to have been the comparatively simple task of removing Saddam Hussein from power and rebooting the Islamic totalitarian dictator software. While Democrats and other opponents of the War™ party have expressed basically no objection to the bare fact of Saddam Hussein's fall from power, they have expressed the undesirability of various outcomes, especially the most likely ones. The narrative practically writes itself. Now, the War™ party doesn't want to settle for that outcome as their victory condition just yet, because they're still hopeful they can get a result that won't make them ashamed to look in the mirror every morning— but, mark my words, if they have to settle for that, they will.

Once again, I would remind our friends that the way to challenge these views— that the difference between Victory and Defeat literally is the difference between the President's plan for redeployment of N thousand troops, over a time interval of M weeks and months, tied to event milestones X, Y and Z, and the same redeployment over the same time interval and event milestones proposed by the President's opponents— is to ask what is the pure cash value of the Victory they envision in Iraq over and above the cost of Defeat.

What should we expect to get in exchange for the $XXX+ billion we are spending on the project?

They're supposed to be conservatives. Let them tell us how much insurance we're expecting to have to buy. We're smart people. We can decide for ourselves whether the up front premiums are worth the coverage we're supposed to get in exchange.

If the terminating conditions for the operation are supposed to result in the achievement, rather than failure, of the War™ party objectives— and it's important to keep the objectives secret from the insurgents for fear they might learn ahead of time what conditions will force the occupiers to concede defeat— then we must at least have some idea how much the Victory should be worth in dollars.

That conservatarians can't place a dollar figure on the value of the Victory they insist must be achieved is, I think, a good argument they really don't place any value on it at all. They're more interested in attempting to manufacture a reality in which, whatever the conditions are in Iraq when the operations are terminated, those are the conditions that are declared to be Victory, because the important thing is not terminating the operations— the important thing is being able to declare the end of operations a Victory and have everybody believe that Defeat has been averted.

The one little bug in their process is... for the Victory to be worth something, it has to be worth something.

Assistance Requested

The flag should never be displayed with the union down,
except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

—THE FLAG CODE, Title 36, U.S.C., Chapter 10, § 176 (a).
As amended by P.L. 344, 94th Congress, approved July 7, 1976.

I am posting this on the blog in opposition to The Patriot Act, which represents an extreme danger to the life, property and liberty of all persons living in the United States.

Latest From Asshat Wingnuttery Land...

This is from an ongoing "conversation" I am having with the cadre over at Junk Yard Blog. We have been talking about Iraq and the various specious arguments and mendacity that lead us there. Let's pick things up midstream...

First: Nice take, but contemplate using the [return] key once in a while. It makes it easier to read.

Next: "We went to Iwo Jima as part of a grand strategy to defeat fascism abroad." This seems to be the main thread of your equivalence argument. However, this is not what I was addressing when responding to B’s idiotic words above.

But since you so bravely volunteered to carry water for him, then fine. (And I will have a longer take on this on my blog, not that B. Preston, Jimbo, AOG or the others have the stones to roll in there and mix it up…)

You essential pre/post 9-11 world take is well put. My only question is then “who’s next?” Because I have a whole list of countries that should be receiving a visit from my friends down the road at Camp Pendleton, even here in our own back yard so to speak.

But on the subject of threats, then here is an interesting question. What would you say to immediate pre-emptive war against a country that 1. possesses and has used weapons of mass destruction, 2. has committed attrocities both on the battlefield as well as against civilian populations, 3. has made war directly on the United States, and 4. has committed genocide?

Would this country be one of the post 9-11 nations whose mere existence we can not risk?

"Liberals are quick to point out that there “are no links between Al Queda and Iraq”, but fail to admit to even themselves that this conclusion was reached only in the sense that there was no proof of any operational links between the two in any single attack on the US."

Well, yes, we would prefer to make war on those who are actually threatening us. And your laundry list of alleged links between Saddam, is both suspect and could also be equivocated into a list of activities that encompass most of the countries in the region… Or are you saying the Iraq was the only country besides Afghanistan that had Al Qaeda members roaming around in it.

Aswer al Islam is a different story though. As far as getting “poison gas” tech from Iraq. I am dubious of that claim, especially, given that they were equally as hostile to Saddam’s regime as they were to their primary targets, the Kurds, and really had little to do with Iraq as a corporate political entity one way or the other.

"You say Iraq doesn’t rise to the level of comparison in the War on Terror to Iwo Jima. I say it surpasses it, favoring comparably to Germany in WWII. There are greater links between the two we face now."

Well, you can go ahead and say it. I still say it’s a stoopid comparison being used to by an increasingly desparate faction of the right to grasp at some sort of moral imperative for the failed policy of the Iraq conflict and convince an increasingly skepitcal public that the various bits of lies and mendacity that lead us to this point were unimportant and that we should remain in Iraq.

And we haven’t even addressed the issue of what victory looks like, (and we knew what it would look like in WWII) because if you listened to President Chimp’s speech the other day, he as much said that the Iraqis are about ready to take over for themselves.

So why the hell are we still there?

And it is this final question that seems to evade them most of all. I mean, if the idea of WWII is to defeat fascism, and that conflict is more urgent today than then, why aren't actively whacking out regimes all over the world right now? It's not like there is any shortage of violent totalitarian a-holes out there who need beat down.

But this idea is ludicrous. This is not WWII. It's not in the ball park, not in the same league, not even in the same sport. And the more the other side tries to hide the ball on why we're there, the more the moral bankruptcy of their cause becomes apparent. First it was Al Qaeda in Iraq, then it was Saddam's WMDs, then it was spreading democracy, now it's WWII all over again...

Fortuantely, the American public is catching on to the various lies told to get us into Iraq, and the various lies being told to keep us there. If I was still in the service, I would be raging mad at this administration for this. These young men and women deserve better civilian leadership than these clowns.

And the very worst part of all of this is that the crew over at JYB still won't answer my most pressing typical is that?

mojo sends

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chip Berlet's Dominionism 101

Given recent events here at the online presence of MojoWire, I think it would be helpful for our new commenters to review an introduction to some of the terminology we use around here that may not be familiar to them. One of them is "dominionism," i.e. the political tendency that channels the apocalyptic religious energy of conservative evangelical Christians into participation in elections and legislative campaigns.

Over at the Campaign To Defend The Constitution, Chip Berlet has written Dominionism 101, a nice introduction to the subject and a short, simple taxonomy for separating the sheep from the goats. If you haven't read it, you should. I just read it, and I've decided it's time to increase the frequency of my visits to the shooting range.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Caption contest underway here (at LeftInSF.Com).

Is It Time To Defect To The West Yet?

Consider the following [edited] news article. We've changed the language to disguise from the reader the identity of the country where this is happening. See if you can guess. (Answer will follow the excerpt.)

CAPITOL CITY - The Ministry of Foreign Policy has been using political litmus tests to screen Imperial citizens before they can be sent overseas to represent the Empire of Foo, weeding out critics of the Brutus administration's Eurasia policy, according to ministry officials and internal e-mails.

Current and former officials involved with the overseas speakers program of the Ministry of Foreign Policy said potential candidates were vetted -- via Internet searches, for example -- for any comments or writings that criticized Imperial policy.

"There's definitely a political litmus test. You don't have to be a Party Member, but you better not have said anything against them," one official said.

The official said he knew of no blacklist of banned scholars. "But there certainly is a 'white list' of those who can go," he added.

He and others agreed to discuss the Ministry of Foreign Policy practices only on condition of anonymity, saying they feared retaliation for exposing them.

Here is the original article in the Duluth News Tribune.

Okay, Just STOP right there!

Josh Marshall points to a story making it's way through the belly of the media snake about bedrooms kept on hand by Brent Wilkes for use by Republican Congressman. How they exactly they used them I leave to your imagination.

I just want to say that while I appreciate the efforts by the GOP congressional leadership to annihilate themselves, I absolutely draw the line at their sexual escapades. Nothing is more grotesque than the thought of these fat GOP slobs pawing 300/hr Beltway hookers dressed in their finest rented SS Uniforms. That is below average GOP. I know you want to self-destruct, but show some freakin mercy and stop with the Prostitutes.

I cannot be any clearer here. I don't want to know ANYTHING about the sexual habits of GOP Congressman. Look GOP, if some lobbyist offers you a free rented bedroom and a posh Washington Hotel, and sends you on up to meet a "friend" of his, just turn back around, head back to the office and screw that nice intern you've been canoodling with, I'm sure he'll be happy to oblige. Now, if you want to take bribes and waste our precious national security resources to personally enrich yourself, you clearly don't need my permission. I'm happy to allow you to cut your own throats in that way.

If you cannot keep your little Limbaugh in your jockey shorts, then go ahead and get a nice BJ from a sweet California girl like Billy Clinton. A hummer and a money shot in a well apportioned office I can handle. But I suspect that allowed to cut loose in a alleged secret hotel suite with someone else paying the "escort" rates was not a PG13 sexual escapade, but a night of weirdness that would make Caligula puke.

So Cut it the hell out GOP.

Why Leave Iraq Now?

Retired Lt. Gen. William Odom has some pretty good answers to that question.

And listen Redstate, this guy is an old cold warrior of the Reagan/Bush years, serving as a line officer in Vietnam, and director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as assistant chief of staff for intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was military assistant to the president's assistant for national security affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

This is not the anti-American ranting of some slack-jawed pinko hippies, like us here at the wire... this guy is the real thing. And he has arguably one of the most solid takes for getting out of Iraq we have read in a long time. (Granted a lot of the ideas are ones we have been going on about for a while now...)

mojo sends

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Attention, Ignorant Jethroes!

This article and its attendant comment thread at the excellent Making Light contain several important lessons in how not to reveal— to everyone and their posterity, for all time— that you are a benighted lummox.

Sayeth Patrick Nielsen Hayden:
An exchange in the comments section of Don’t Bomb Us: A Blog by Al Jazeera Staffers:
Anonymous: Though you broadcast these screeds in detail because it is “news” that you have a “duty” to report, when I search the Al Jazeera site for the phrase “honor killings” I get nada. Not a single hit. Don’t you think that the murder of women throughout the Islamic world by their uncles and fathers and husbands because these women have the audacity to date who they want or express what they think is newsworthy?

Mohammed [of Don’t Bomb Us]: You make mention that our website does not mention “Honor Killings”—that is true since we don’t use American English—we use English English. Try your search using “honour” instead—or just click here for Google results.

You see, sometimes little cultural misunderstands can cause such a big fuss.

Let’s keep talking. Enjoy the weekend…!
Take the hints, Jethroes... there's plenty for everyone.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Dark Comedy Friday

In lieu of a MojoWire radio program tomorrow. Cope.

(Image courtesy Jesus' General, or somebody he knows— it's not clear. Mail me, and I'll fix the attribution if PatriotBoy confirms.)