Monday, January 30, 2006

Bizarre Journalism

Yesterday, a new tape from Al Qaeda terrorist Ayman Al-Zawahiri came to light that seemed to offer definitive proof that he was not killed in the Pakistani Predator strike. In other words, the first justification given for the strike, a strike in which everyone admits civilians, including women and children were killed, has evaporated.

The second justification given was that the strike killed four other Al Qaeda members, including Abu Khabab (for whom we since learned the State Department posted the wrong picture).

It's on this second justification where the media coverage has simply become bizarre.

ABC's Brian Ross has been the main source of confusion having broken the exclusive story suggesting Zawahiri had been killed and then the exclusive follow-up that 4 Al Qaeda had been killed. In covering the Zawahiri tape, Ross does not note whether Zawahiri disputes whether, in fact, the strike killed Al Qaeda members. He goes on to state:

[Zawahiri] refers several times to the Jan.13 airstrike in the Pakistani village of Damadola, which was meant to kill him but instead killed four of his closest deputies and 14 villagers.

This is bizarre, if not outright misleading, to report this as fact when nobody has gone publicly on record verifying Al Qaeada deaths as fact (the closest was a statement from Pervez Musharaff given after Prime Minister Aziz said there was no evidence of Al Qaeda deaths ... Musharaff said he believed some Al Qaeda were killed but then hedged and said he wasn't 100% sure).

The Associaed Press Report likewise reported Al Qaeda deaths as fact and suggested Zawahiri did not dispute this. The AP stated: "The strike killed four al-Qaida leaders including a man believed to be al-Zawahri's son-in-law ....

On my way home, I heard coverage of the story on NPR and was surprised to hear for the first time that Zawahiri claimed only "innocents" were killed in the attack.

The New York Times then put up an article echoing NPR's coverage by noting Zawahiri's claim that the attack only killed innocents and stated:

Thirteen villagers were killed in the strike, setting off widespread protests in Pakistan. American officials say that several Qaeda figures were among those killed, but have not determined who they were.

From all the information I've seen, the New York Times report appears to be the accurate one. One then wonders why ABC and the Assocuated Press would report something as fact which has yet to be established as such. Certainly, I, as an American, am hopeful that the strike killed Al Qaeda members and, more hopeful that it killed some of their leaders. To kill civilians in a sovreign nation (purportedly without Musharaff's consent - though I doubt it) without successfully killing some truly bad actors would damage or credibility in conducting the war on terror in places, like Pakistan, where we really need to confront Al Qaeda.

But wishful thinking should not pass for journalism. Brian Ross' reporting has been fraught with just that and apparently he, as is the AP, willing to play the conduit for thoise who would like people to accept claims as fact.

[UPDATE: After I had written much of this post but before I posted, I noticed that the AP, as it often does, has revised its story to include Zawahiri's claim that only "innocents" were killed in the attack. The factual statement that 4 Al Qaeda leaders were killed still remains however. I believe when the AP does this, it should openly acknowledge the revision rather than trying to simply slip it by].

Haiti & How Republicans Undercut Democracy

This incredible piece of journalism about the further disintegration of Haiti showed up in the New York Times over the weekend. It's a long piece but deserves a thorough reading by anyone interested in how Republicans truly view and approach foreign policy.

In short, the piece details how the Bush administration officially claims one policy while surreptitiously undercutting that policy to achieve its true goal --- support of elite business interests.

The vehicle for doing this is the IRI (International Republican Institute) which is chaired by none other than "Mr. Straight Talk," John McCain. No wonder that when it came to the less-than-straight practices of the IRI, John McCain gave this straight answer to the NYT --- "no comment."

What amazed me was that people portrayed in the traditional media as reasonable, foreign-policy Republicans - whether we're talking McCain, Powell or Rice - all appear to be involved in this duplicitous policy --- say one thing (democracy), do another (support elite business interests). Certainly they would prefer cases where the two ideals are one, BUT, and this is what is most imnportant, where the two ideals are at odds, the Republicans support the latter over the former.

In Haiti, the consequences of this immoral policy have been absolutely devastating.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Taking Women Hostage In Iraq

It's not just for insurgents and terrorists.

I've actually heard talk about the United States using this tactic for some time now. Still, it's very disappointing to see it's use confirmed.

I cannot imagine this tactic is being used without approval from people high up the chain. Does this go all the way to Rummy's door? In any event, the story shows that the military leadership still doesn't get it. It's not just the result that counts; how we get there is just important. The way we - the United States - behave is symbolic and sets the moral standard for criticism against those who abuse human rights as a means to an end. The fact that this principle is so obvious was why Abu Ghraib was such a jaw dropping shock.

Taking Iraqi women hostage as leverage against their husbands opens up the door as the use of hostage taking as a legitimate tactic.

The story also notes that our military has now released 5 women we have been holding captive for months now. Officially, the military denies this is connected to the Jill Carroll kidnapping and the timing of the releases is merely coincidental. But who's going to believe that.

So while we condemned - rightfully in my opinion - the Italians pay off to hostage takers for the release of one of their journalists. It appears when an American female journalist is kidnapped, the United States is willing to concede to the kidnappers' demands as well.

Simply pathetic.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I Just Don't Get Righty Humor

Ann Coulter suggested that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Smell The Iraqi Freedom: Poverty Version

From The Australian:

THE number of Iraqis living below the poverty line has increased since the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to one-fifth of the population, according to figures released today.

"Abu Khabab" Is Alive And Well & Living In London

After it started becoming "unlikely" that the Pakistani Predator strike killed Al-Zawahiri as originally suggested, unnamed intelligence sources in the Pakistani and U.S. governments began suggesting that the CIA killed Al Qaeda master bombmaker Abu Khabab and three other terrorists instead. Indeed, the State Department provided the oh-so-scary picture above on the left.

But ... Oooopppsss ... it turns out that the picture provided is not of Abu Khabab but of Abu Hamza, a radical London-based Imam. Indeed, the State Department picture even appears as if it has been photoshopped to make Khabab/Hamza appear blacker ... hmmmm.

Never fear, however. NBC's Lisa Myers informs us that "Pakistani intelligence officials say he was killed recently in the Predator missile attack in Pakistan." Again their is no named source for this and Myers, always a bit slow on the upkeep, fails to inform her readers that on CNN, just on Sunday, Pakistani Prime Minister Aziz stated flatly: "There is no evidence, as of half an hour ago, that there were any other people there." Adding, "[W]e have not found one body or one shred of evidence that these people were there," referring to Al Qaeda.

This story just seems to get stranger by the moment.

I'm also a bit suspicious about the names of the other Al Qaeda members - provided by Homeland Security Spokesperson Craig Fenson - claimed as killed:

M'Balz Es-Hari
Haid D'Salaami
Izheet Mahdrourz

Something sounds amiss.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

UPDATE On Iraqi Reconstruction Funds Scandal

NPR covered the story tonight and told of a large payment to an elevator repair contractor. After payment was made and the elevator supposedly repaired, the elevator went into a free fall killing three people.

American conservatives need not worry, however. Tort reform in Iraq has been a resounding success. There will be no malpractice claim against the repair contractor since Iraq does not even have the semblance of a functioning judiciary.

Never ones to be satisfied, American conservatives are bemoaning that they, unlike their Iraqi counterparts, actually have have to pay a portion of the regressive taxes necessary to fund conservative "judges" to throw out jury verdicts against their corporate cronies.

Smell The Iraqi Freedom

The New York Times has finally covered the story ofThe Kurds sentencing a professor to 30 years in prison, after a 15 minute trial, because he dared criticize the government.

The article goes on to note that this is not just an isolated incident, but that other governmental critics are likewise facing charges carrying 10 year prison terms.

Well worth dying for? Of course not, that's why you want find this story on most rightwing blogs.

Pool Contracting In Iraq

Now we know what Bremer meant when he warned us about not expecting "Western-Style accounting" in Iraq.

The BBC gives us another horrific look as to how reconstruction spending was really just a corrupt free-for-all under the CPA.

One official kept $2m (£1.1m) in a bathroom safe, while another allegedly stole $100,000 from a colleague's unsecured stash to balance his own books, investigators found.

Payment was handed over for projects without any official contract being drawn up or checks on the work carried out.

More than 2,000 contracts were found to be at fault.

In one case a contractor was paid $100,000 to refurbish an Olympic swimming pool.

US officials certified the work was complete, but it later turned out that the contractor had just polished the equipment, which was found to be defective. The pool has not been used since.

One US military assistant is said to have gambled away up to $60,000 while accompanying the Iraqi Olympic team to the Philippines.

... the Right, of course, is oddly silent when it comes to these stories. Too busy, I suppose, with supporting the troops to be concerned about corruption in a program that may have ... uhm ... actually helped the troops with some much needed sincere and positive PR.

The Right's Vision of Moral Purity: Democratically Elected Leftists Are Worse Than Tyranical Conservative Human Rights Abusers

The rightwing blogosphere (for example, see Rightwingclueless) is throwing a hissy fit over the fact that Cindy Sheehan met with elected Venzuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Funny thing. You never hear them complain when their party leader and our President meets witrh and provides material support to tyranical, human rights abusers like ...

Uzbekistani tyrant Islam Karimov, or ...

The tyrants in the Saudi Royal family.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Timmy the Hamster

A number of media outlets, including the BBC and ABC have covered the story of a hamster who was placed in a cage with a snake as a snack. The hamster, to seemingly everyone's delight, has lived with the snake now for four months.

Call me a pessimist, but I've got a feeling that this story is destined to go the way of Timothy Treadwell.

BTW - Has anyone seen "Grizzly Man"? It's quite an interesting movie --- about ten seconds into Treadwell's monologue opening the movie, I shouted out to Mrs. Macswain, "Babe, you've gotta see this guy. He's whacked!!!"

How To Make A Bigger Hellhole: Bush In Haiti

The New York Times posts this piece about the current state of Haiti in the run-up to the latest attempt at elections.

But the media, in general, has failed to do any reporting, at least any of which I am aware, as to the failure of President Bush's policy regarding Haiti. Since 2001, President Bush followed a policy of hostility toward the democratically elected leader of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide. His administration aided the tiny but rich elite and their friends in the military - including former human rights abusers from the Duvalier years - who sought to destabilize the Aristide government. Ultimately, the Bushies aided Aristide's ouster and proclaimed a new government would be elected. Of course, Bush's democracy, as is almost always the case, was farcical The most popular person in Haiti - Aristide - would not be allowed to participate in the election.

Over a year and a half later, their still has been no new elections and apparently the Bush-friendly, appointed government and the Bush administration have been engaging in what is charitable called "foot dragging." Why? Because of the wide held belief that any election would be won be Aristide protege Rene Preval.

Haiti reveals that Bush's foreign policy has little to do with humanitarianism or democracy. Those issues are only important if they coincide with the interests of economic elites who, for self-enrichment, are willing to put the interests of international and American corporatists ahead of the well-being of their countrymen.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Amending the Constitution - King George Style

Today, the Bush team ran out General Michael Hayden to give those of us in the dirty masses a "tough love" lecture on the need for warrantless spying.

But ... Opps! Holden at First Draft catches the shift in spin away from "FISA was just too slow." Now the Bushies claim they needed to use a standard of a "reasonable belief" as determined by the NSA politicos making the call at the time.

The Fourth Amendment's "probable cause" requirement was just too sticky. So like all good tyrrants, Bush decided just not to follw that advisory document we call the Constitution.

As to the application of the "reasonable belief" standard, General Hayden tells us its the same as making the call as when to a drop a bomb on the enemy. Very reassuring.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Human Rights Abuses in Iran

The New York Times has a post up on a database compiled by two sisters - the Boroumands - which attempts to detail the horrific human rights abuses that have occurred in Iran since the fall of the Shah in 1979.

This is incredible and noble work. Here's some sad examples of cases they are trying to document:

Ali was a 17-year-old killed after allegedly sympathizing with Iranian opposition groups. Ozra, a married woman, was killed after a charge of adultery. And Bahram, age 50, was executed for being a member of the Baha'i faith.

The sisters, who were attending school in France in 1979, were apparently hopeful with the fall of the Shah only then to become disillusioned by the atrocities being committed by the new Islamic government.

We should not forget what happened in Iran - a change in government does not necessarily mean an end to human rights abuses and, therefore, regime change is not sufficient simply because a bad regime is replaced with some other regime. The goal must be the end of human rights abuses period.

Friday Morning River Blogging

This is about 100 yards from the Macswain compound.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dumbshits of the Day: Michael Axelrod & Jay Paul Deratany

Have you seen the Antonio Davis incident from last night's game between the Knicks and the Bulls? Knicks player Antonio Davis goes into the stands in Chicago because his wife is involved in some sort of dispute.

Michael Axelrod and his attorney Jay Paul Deratany are planning on suing Antonio Davis and his wife for ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

I've seen the video. Antonio Davis does nothing to warrant a lawsuit much less anything any reasonable person would consider wrong.

The Drone Attack In Pakistan

I've been following the story regarding the Unitded States' attack on a suspected terrorist dinner in Pakistan using three Predator drones armed with missles.

It seems undisputed that 13-18 civilians, including women and children were unintentionally killed as part of the attack. What remains to be determined is whether the attack resulted in the deaths of dangerous terrorists as well.

Initial reporting (a Brian Ross/ABC News Exclusive) raised hopes that Al Qaeda bigwig Zawahiri was among the dead. When evidence of this diminished and it began to appear that only civilian casualties occurred, large protests began to spring up in Pakistan and questions started to rise about whether or not this was a Fuck-Up.

Feeling the heat, the Pakistanis responded two-fold. They made the assertion, improbable to me, that they were not involved nor informed about the U.S. operation. They also suggested that 4-5 unnamed terorists were, in fact, killed and that Zawahiri still might be among the dead.

Given that vague references to unnamed terrorists isn't going to satisfy the skeptical and feeling the heat on some more concrete word about Zawahiri, we now have been treated to another bizarre installment on this story with ABC's Brian Ross proudly and unequivocally proclaiming in a headline - U.S. Strike Killed Al Qaeda Bomb Maker. But wait ... it turns out that Ross' story that the strike killed Abu Khabbab (I shit you not, that's the guy's street name) is based on unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials. As to Zawahiri, the back away is buried down in the story with a statement that his death is now believed "unlikely."

CNN ran its own story stating:

The U.S. network ABC News reported on its Web site that he was killed in the attack, quoting "Pakistani authorities." However a number of Pakistani officials have told CNN they cannot confirm whether Abu Khabab was killed in the strike.

CNN goes on to quote anonymous U.S. officials who will only say known terrorists were "in the area."

Certainly we remain a long way from determining whether the strike was a success or a failure. But that hasn't stopped the likes of Rightwingclueless from declaring the strike "A hit."

I hope questions will continue to be asked but suspect - with the waters sufficiently muddied - the mainstream media will wander away. And - lo and behold - today, as if on cue, we have a new Bin Laden tape.

But make no mistake, I hope that forthcoming is definitive evidence of a successful strike on known Al Qaeda bad guys and not of a fuck up which resulted solely in the waste of civilian lives.

On a related note, Kevin Drum uses this strike to pose the interesting moral question as to whether, assuming Al Qaeda's top bomb maker was in fact present, the strike would be justified even with 13-18 deaths of innocent bystanders? With Kevin's assumptions and assuming there was no other less damaging manner for taking him out, I would say "Yes." Anyone else want to weigh in? Do you think it would afect the opinion of most Americans if we were talking about 18 innocent Ameericans as collateral damage as opposed to Pakistanis?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

More Transparency From Bush ... NOT!

The Bush administration has reversed course. They have decided that they will not release information regarding Jack Abramoff's numerous visits to the White House.

Via Josh Marshall.

Whatever happened to the Republicans who were all so concerned about the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton years?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

We Are All Classified ... The NSA Wiretap Cover-Up

At the Daily Kos, bewert filed a FOIA request to the NSA "...for any records, including electronic intercepts, that include or are related to the following names, screen names, e-mail addresses and/or phone numbers...", listing his personal name and contact info.

The NSA denied the request stating: "[B]ecause of the highly classified nature of the program, we can neither confirm or deny the existence of records responsive to your request. The fact of the existence or the non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter in accordance with Executive Order 12958, as amended."

This is "1984" type of shit. We are all now classified and our society is no longer transparent.

It's hard to believe that the Bush administration would go to these lengths if there wasn't something damaging to them politically to keep hidden.

"Did Chief Justice Roberts Mislead [Oregon] Senator Wyden?"

Blue Oregon has a post that raises the question.

Here's what The Oregonian reported on August 10, 2005:

Supreme Court nominee John Roberts declared that, in cases dealing with end-of-life care, he would "start with the supposition that one has the right to be left alone," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said after the two met for an hour Tuesday. ...
Roberts told Wyden that he would look closely at the legislative history of federal laws and would be careful not to strip states of powers they traditionally have held -- such as regulating the practice of medicine, Wyden said.

"You don't get the impression from how he answered that he'd let somebody stretch a sweeping statute like the Controlled Substances Act," Wyden said. ...

Roberts said the basic genius of the federal system is that it affords states the ability to approach problems in a way that is best suited to their different needs; imposing uniformity across the nation would stifle the intent of the founding fathers, Wyden said.

Here's Roberts now ... "Suckas!!!"

Chief Justice Roberts Tells Oregon Voters To Go To Hell!

We told you so!

We told you John Roberts was THAT conservative. We told he was no O'Connor. We told you he was a conservative, result-oriented judicial activist.

So Arlen Specter should just shut the fuck up!

Today's Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Oregon reveals how far Roberts is willing to go in pursuit of his desired results. Results driven undoubtedly by his religious beliefs and his rightwing fervor.

The State of Oregon voted twice by explicit referendum - the second vote by a wide majority - to allow physician-assisted suicide or "death with dignity" under specific and narrow guidelines. Former AG and religious zealot John Ashcroft sought to impose his (and presumably President Bush's) religious views on the People of Oregon by finding authority in an act of Congress to criminally punish Doctors who assisted compassionate deaths under the Oregon statute. Was this grant of authority explicit? No. Was there any evidence that Congress inytended to grant this authority? No. It was just a pure power grab by the executive branch to impose its will by misinterpreting statutory authority in some out-of-whack fashion (Hmm ... sounds much like using the Afghanistan authorization of force statute as a basis of conducting warrantless wiretaps).

Indeed, after Oregon's Death With Dignity Act passed, Congress has had ample opportunity to specifically address the issue and those who have tried have failed. But then, guys like Roberts, Scalia and Thomas really don't care that much about allowing this issues to be addressed in an explicit, democratic fashion. One a result is against their moral beliefs, they like Tyrants of the past, say "Screw Democracy!"

Once confronted with this gross power grab, Roberts sides with the imperial presidency over the democratic rights of the People of Oregon and over the individual liberty of the people who are suffering slow and painful deaths.

But I'll guarantee you another thing. Roberts would not reach this result if it were a Democratic President who engaged in such obvious statutory misinterpretation. His philosophy - as that of Scalia, Thomas and Scalito - is and will be one based on the result. If its a conservative result, he will claim there was no misinterpretation by the President. If its not a conservative result, he'll find an abuse of power.

Roberts, through his conservative activism, places himself above democracy and individual liberty. The People of Oregon can go to Hell if they don't agree with him. He is exactly what the Left feared.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Stand Up to Injustice! He Did

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blumenthal On The Gospel of Sammy Scalito

More scary stuff.

Sidney Blumenthal highlights more of Scalito's unguarded statements which reveal Scalito's hatred of liberalism and his belief in a "unitary executive."

Scary - Scalito's Full 1985 Statement

"I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this Administration. It is obviously very difficult to summarize a set political views in a sentence but, in capsule form, I believe very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement, and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values. In the field of law, I disagree strenuously with the usurpation of the judiciary of decisionmaking authority that should be exercised by the branches of government responsible to the electorate. The Administration has already made major strides toward reversing this trend through its judicial appointments, litigation, and public debate, and it is my hope even greater advances can be achieved during the second term, especially with Attorney General Meese' leadership at the Department of Justice.

"When I first became interested in government and politics during the 1960s, the greatest influences on my views were the writings of William F. Buckley, Jr., in the National Reveiw, and Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign. In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment. I discovered the writings of Alexander Bickel advocating judicial restraint, and it was largely for this reason that I decided to go to Yale Law School.

"After graduation from law school, completion of my ROTC military commitment, and a judicial clerkship, I joined the U.S. Attorney's office in New Jersey, principally because of my strong vews regarding law enforcement.

"Most recently, it has been an honor and source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan's administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly. I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.

"As a federal employee subject to the Hatch Act for nearly a decade, I have been unable to take a role in partisan politics. However, I am a life-long registered Republican andhave made the sort of modest political contributions that a federal employee can afford to Republican candidates and conservative causes, including the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Conservative Political Action Committee, Rep. Christopher Smith (4th Dist. N.J), Rep. James Courter (12th Dist. N.J.), Governor Thomas Kean of N.J., and Jeff Bell's 1982 Senate primary campaign in N.J. I am a member of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy and a regular participant at its luncheon meetings and a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University, a conservative alumni group. During the past year, I have submitted articles for publication in the National Review and the American Spectator."

Via Wampum and Daily Kos

UnEffing Belivable!!! Cell Records Available for Purchase on Web

Johnny America did some great sleuthing and was able to buy a record of General Wesley Clark's cell phone records from a company on the Net.

Apparently anyone's records are available and the extent to which anybody can peer at such records is only dependent on the fee you must pay to see them.

This is absolutely outrageous and one can only wonder who has already taken advantage of this.

NYT Editorial: "Alito In His Own Words"

Today's must-read is a NYT editorial that provides an excellent, concise review of a number of the troubling aspects from Alito's testimony.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


The Iraqi Shiites leading political figure Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim is making it clear to the Sunnis that there will be no amendments to the Iraqi charter as was suggested to get moderate Sunnis on board before the October 15 and December 15 votes.

I've seen the actual Arabic translation of Al-Hakim's statement and it reads a lil differently: "Bring on your Civil War! You Sunni Sons of Bitches!"

Scalito's Pro-Military Rap Just Cover for Avoiding Vietnam

As we are witnesing the worst case of confirmation conversion since Robert Bork lied on the Senate floor, the lefty bloggers are taking a close look at Say Anything Sammy's claims yesterday as to why he would have participated in CAP, the extremist rightwing Princeton Alumni group.

The latest - from Attytood - has the breakdown on Alito's interest in ROTC being - you guessed it - as a vehicle for avoiding the Vietnam draft.

Chickenhawks of all generations UNITE!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Update on Scalito's Song & Dance Re CAP

Armando at Daily Kos nails Scalito's goofy explanations regarding his membership in CAP while at Princeton.

After stating again this morning that he had no recollection of joining Concerned Alumni for Princeton, the racist and sexist organization that objected to women and minorities being admitted at Princeton, despite having included it in his job application to work for Ed Meese in 1985, Alito this morning now pretends to remember WHY he joined an organization he says he does not remember joining.

So Alito's story on CAP is that 'he didn't do it, and if he did do it, he doesn't remember, and if he did do it and does remember, then he had a good reason for doing it.'

My gawd, it takes some chutzpah to come up with that one.

The truth and Alito are finding it hard to stay in the same room right now.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bush Will Crush Octagenarian "Terrorism"

81 year old Grant Goodman thought it was okay to continue a fifty year history of correspondence with another retired history professor in the Philippines.

Thank God Bush was there to screen their letter and thank god he didn't seek no stinkin' warrant.

We can all sleep safer. Who knows ... they may have been bad mouthin' Macarthur.

Scalito - Still A Puny Lil Asshole

Digby has the takedown on Scalito's opening statement in which Scalito takes a not-to-subtle dump on Feminists, Vietnam era war protesters, civil rights ptrotesters, etc.

Scalito said:

And after I graduated from high school, I went a full 12 miles down the road, but really to a different world when I entered Princeton University. A generation earlier, I think that somebody from my background probably would not have felt fully comfortable at a college like Princeton. But, by the time I graduated from high school, things had changed.

And this was a time of great intellectual excitement for me. Both college and law school opened up new worlds of ideas. But this was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. And I couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community.

Digby responds:

This is the same guy who wanted to keep women out of Princeton. Presumably, they wouldn't have "felt comfortable" there. But that's not what made that statement so revealing. It's this notion of smart and privileged people "behaving irresponsibly."

I think it's fairly certain that he's not talking about branding frat boys' asses or getting drunk and stealing Christmas Trees. He's talking about anti-war protestors, feminists etc. And like so many campus conservatives of that era, he sounds like he's still carrying around a boatload of resentment toward them.

Roberts apparently came out of all that unscathed. Confident in his own abilities and social prowess, he didn't appear to have this puny, pinched view of liberalism as a threat to decency and morality. (He may have it, but it didn't show --- or he was smart enough to hide it in his hearings.) Alito is one of those other guys.

... he's a freeper. I say filibuster the creep.

NYT's Gutsy Headline on Scalito

Alito Tells Senators That 'Rule of Law' Is Paramount

Wow, that's really telling ...

Except for the fact that there isn't a fucking single jurist in the entire country who wouldn't say that.

Did they really think there was a possibility he might say, "Fuck the law. I'm gonna be your King, bitches."

Essay of the Day

Fuck the New York Times.

Scalito is "THAT BAD"

Scalito is a America's worst nightmare as a nominee for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

- He is clearly against a woman's right to choose specifically and against a right of personal privacy more broadly (at least when it comes to private sexual behavior).

- He believes in absurdly high standards for proving employment discrimination specifically and more broadly supports corporations over individuals and employers over employees.

- His prior testimony before Congress on conflicts of interest and his spin regarding his subsequent nonrecusal activities show a disregard for the truth.

- He believes in an imperial presidency.

- He has so little regard for the rights and freedoms granted individuals under the Constitution that he would allow a strip search of a 10 year old girl who is not named in the relevant warrant.

- He is a Federalist Society true-believer with a history of participation in other conservative reactionary groups like CAP.

He is in Priscilla Owen/Janice Rogers-Brown territory.

How can any sensible Democrat or moderate Republican vote for a guy whose views are so out of touch with our American values?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Living Photo Props

David Sanger posts a story today at the NYT about Bush's supposed "bipartisan consultation" with numerous former Cabinet Secretaries about foreign policy, including Iraq.

Sanger breaks through the spin in illustrating how these folks were just being used as props for Bush's latest photo op.

Geek Question: How Can Playstation 3 Come with Blu Ray?

I'm big on high tech. HD TV and TIVO are fantastic. Indeed, I would say ABC has HD down the best --- the BCS series was phenomenol in High Def and whatever technology ABC is using looked better than the NFL HD games that were broadcast by Fox and CBS this season.

The next big thing is High Def DVDs. The New York Times has an article up on the continuing saga of the two competing technologies - HD DVD and Blu-ray DVD.

Toshiba grabs the headline by announcing a HD DVD player for under $500. But what caught my eye was the part of the story noting that Blu-ray players will be initially priced between $1,000-1,800. Yet, Blu-ray's biggest selling point is that it will be included in Sony's Playstation 3 set to be released this Spring.

Given that the Playstation 3 must compete with the $400 Xbox 360, how can it include a piece of technology that by itself costs $1,000 at a minimum and yet be comparably priced to the 360?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Smell the Freedom!

From Juan Cole:

The Kurdistan authorities have sentenced an Austrian citizen of Kurdish extraction to 30 years in prison for publishing criticism on the internet of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani, accusing the writer of "defaming" Kurdistan. Kamal Sayid Qadir is appealing the decree of a special security court in Irbil, and has gone on a hunger strike. Ah, the joys of liberty in the new Iraq

Did Bush Wiretap Christiane Amanpour?

This is weird.

THE BIG ONE: USC vs. Texas

After a stellar regular season (30-20-2), my picks have been horrible in the Bowls (1-6). Can the Macswain Jinx be broken?

I picked USC early when they were favored by 6. The line today is at 7.

Anyone else have the guts to make a call on tonight's game?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

It's time to pick the big bowl games!

There are six games today with my personal favorite being a great matchup between Ohio State and Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The big question - how good a coach is Charlie Weiss?

The Irish are the Dogs in this game with the oddsmakers giving the Buckeyes a 5 point edge. But I'm down with Notre Dame to win in a tight one. Take the points.

The premiere game tonight features - IMHO - a mismatch with Georgia facing West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl (notably, being played this year in the ATL). I've already recommended one bet on Georgia when they were favored by 7. The spread has dropped to 6 1/2 and I say double up. Give up the points and get your money down on the Bulldogs.

The Gator Bowl features Virginia Tech as a 10 point favorite over wild card Louisvile. Coach Beemer prepares well for bowl games and likes the platform for making bold statements for next year. Though I hate betting on the big spread games, I say put your coin on the Hokies.

Tomorrow night's Orange Bowl fetures another mismatch with Penn State favored by 10 over Florida State. The Seminoles don't really deserve to be in a BCS bowl and now without A.J. Nicholson (being investigated for sexual assault), the 'Noles truly have no chance. Look for a Nittany Lion blow out - give up the points.

Here are the odds.

Anyone else willing to step up?