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Rock sax

Posted by Ben
on 09.30.06

An unsigned member of a piano trio best known for having covered "Smells Like Teen Spirit" claims that their collective "disdain for rock sax is well known", thereby continuing a slander whereby a set of bad saxophone solos on rock songs by groups that no one would really expect to produce rock songs with good saxophone, or any other, solos is allowed to tarnish the entire use of the instrument family in rock. (The inclusion of Morphine on the linked list is odd, because if you're going to include one rather offbeat band, why not expand your purview even more? The other strange thing about the list, which might just be a strange thing that the list relates without endorsing itself, is the claim that "some blame [the solo on "Walk on the Wild Side"] for making rock sax solos permissible in the first place"—but the saxophone was a rock instrument from way back, unless I'm completely off my rocker. Of course this Darcy individual lacks credibility somewhat, as s/he apparently doesn't think that "Aja" is even tolerable.)

While it may well be true that the saxophone solos of whatever sort of group the groups on that list are were not good, why would you conclude from that fact that "rock sax" is to be disdained? I won't consider any such dismissal the least bit grounded in reality until it shows signs of actually being acquainted with a reasonably wide variety of sax playing in rock bands. Consider, if you will, Etron Fou Leloublan or Gary Windo's performance on Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom; Picchio dal Pozzo or Marty Belcher on Rope's Widow's First Dawn—not to mention Thinking Plague or the Motor Totemist Guild, or any number of saxophone-incorporating rock bands that aren't well-known and from the 80s.

Of course, I like the sax solo in Ironica, and can even tolerate the actually pretty boring sax playing in Oingo Boingo's "No One Lives Forever". And I just discovered: PopCanon covers Naked City! But anyway, why focus just on solos, which, if they are the only presence of a sax in a song, are likely not to be integral parts anyway? So to focus would be the first step in succumbing to blatant saxism.


 

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Punishment

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.30.06

Paul from Powerline endorses this FrontPage argument in favor of waterboarding:

It is not easy to grasp the thinking of senator McCain and others who seek to ban this practice in the light of its immense value in our fight against terror. Take, for instance, the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed captured in Pakistan in March of 2003. One of the masterminds of 9/11 and al-Qaeda’s operational leader at the time, he possessed a wide-ranging knowledge of the network’s plans, logistics and personnel. Unwilling to share it voluntarily, he was subjected to forced interrogation. As resilient as he was and defiant, he held out until the interrogators decided to proceed with waterboarding. Two and a half minutes into the procedure, a broken Mohammed begged for relief. Stunned and shaken, his extensive confession amounted to nothing less than a treasure trove of priceless intelligence.
This case is unusual not in how quickly the waterboarding worked, but how long Mohammed was able to withstand it. Two and a half minutes is by all accounts a record of sorts, as most subjects usually break down inside a minute. CIA agents who undergo this procedure as part of their training rarely last more than 40 seconds. This despite the fact that they are in a friendly environment and know that death is not an option.
Although waterboarding is normally employed as the last resort and the frequency of its use kept secret, it has been made known that so far it has worked every time it has been tried. Thanks to its extraordinary efficacy, we have been able to obtain a great amount of critical intelligence that would have otherwise remained inaccessible. With the help of this information we have captured al-Qaeda operatives, stopped deadly plots, and saved many innocent lives. One of the fruits of Mohammed’s confession, to give one example, was the thwarting of a conspiracy to fly an airliner into the Library Tower, the tallest building in Los Angeles. [my emphasis]

I don't for a moment buy the empirical claims, since, as we all know, Colt .45 is the only thing that works every time, but grant them arguendo. Monster that I am, I would then part ways from the anti-coercive-interrogation absolutists by endorsing some instances of waterboarding. The point I insist on lo unto tedium is that this is nowhere close to an argument for the actual detainee bill or what appear to be our actual policies. What's critical in these cases is some kind of procedural oversight that has some chance of being effective against the obvious tendencies toward abuse, and that is what we have not got. Simply put, you shouldn't argue for a policy by pointing to acceptable individual applications and ignoring the others. (Or: keep questions about individual cases and questions about general policies distinct.)

Dean Esmay Barnett [sorry about that] takes more or less the Mirengoff view:

5) What’s the best way to get information?

Unquestionably water-boarding.
6) Gosh, I live in an intellectual broom closet and determinedly try to avoid any enlightenment on this subject. Please, please, please - don’t tell me what water-boarding is.
No dice. In water-boarding, the subject is strapped to a board with his feet above his head. A sheet of cellophane is placed over his face. Since the technique has existed and been used successfully for centuries, cellophane wasn’t always the face-covering tool of choice. It used to just be a cloth. The interrogator pours water over the cellophane. This triggers a gag reflex. The prisoner feels like he’s drowning. He feels that way because the combination of everything causes supreme disorientation. If one speaks with intelligence agents who openly used this technique like the French, Germans or Russians, they swear by it. It also works quickly. The rumor is that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad broke in under a minute.
7) But Amnesty International and the left say the information gleaned from this technique is unreliable. Is it?
Amnesty International is either confused, dishonest or both. Some people do say it’s unreliable. But the undeniable consensus is that water-boarding is an extremely productive interrogation tool.

It looks like "waterboarding is effective" is the new black. Also, some of this old post is relevant.

Finally, did you hear Katherine get the shout-out on "Wait wait don't tell me"?


 

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Hitler Was Never This Funny

Posted by Ogged
on 09.30.06

The Observer has a deftly written account of Ahmadinejad's recent days in New York, by the guy who was his translator while he was here. The whole thing is worth reading, and there are a lot of signature Ahmadinejad humble, charming and yet nutty moments. Best are a couple of great translation anecdotes that manage to convey something I've mentioned to a few people: even in serious situations, Iranians just can't resist a little good-natured needling.

And when Mr. Williams asked if he wanted to see anything else in America other than Manhattan, the president’s response was yes. Pressed for details, Mr. Ahmadinejad stuck firmly to generalities, but also said, “Albateh, esrary nadareem,” which was correctly translated as “Of course, we’re not insistent.” But the meaning was closer to “Of course, we don’t really care.”

And this one made me laugh out loud.

When Brian Williams of NBC asked about Mr. Ahmadinejad’s attire—a suit rather than his trademark windbreaker—the Iranian president replied, “Sheneedem shoma kot-shalvaree hasteen, manam kot-shalvar poosheedam”—which was translated as “ … you wear a suit, so I wore a suit.” The phrase is actually much closer to “ … you are a suit, so I wore a suit.”


 

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The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.30.06

So the House leadership has known about this guy for a year? At least, Boehner, the Majority Leader, and "Rep. Tom Reynolds, a New York Republican who heads the National Republican Campaign Committee," among others.

I so want to hear the interviews with Republican candidates: "So, does it trouble you that the man responsible for coordinating your campaign with other Republican campaigns nationally knew for a year that Rep. Foley was grooming pages for sexual activity, and kept it a secret? By the way, did you know?" I'd like to hear every Republican candidate answer those questions. Substantively important to the governance of our nation? Not really. But I still want to hear the answers.

And the vague pity for Foley in my last post? After the IMs, not so much.


 

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brb...my mom is yelling

Posted by Ogged
on 09.29.06

I'll get back to fall of the republic blogging soon enough, but have you read the transcript [pdf] of the IM between Foley and the kid? Foley has to be seriously considering suicide right now.

Ok: Transcript under the fold.

Maf54 (7:25:14 PM): hey

Auto response from Xxxxxxxxx (7:25:14 PM): scrounging for food...brb


Maf54 (7:25:25 PM): ok
Maf54 (7:25:35 PM): kep scrounging
Xxxxxxxxx (7:31:51 PM): boo
Maf54 (7:32:13 PM): bo dude
Xxxxxxxxx (7:32:17 PM): lol
Xxxxxxxxx (7:32:26 PM): whered ya go this afternoon
Maf54 (7:33:39 PM): i am in pensecola...had to catch a plane
Xxxxxxxxx (7:33:47 PM): oh well thats fun
Maf54 (7:34:04 PM): indeed
Xxxxxxxxx (7:34:14 PM): what are you doing in pensecola
Maf54 (7:34:21 PM): now in my hotel room
Xxxxxxxxx (7:34:39 PM): well ..like why did you go there
Maf54 (7:35:02 PM): for the campaign
Xxxxxxxxx (7:35:29 PM): have you officialy announced yt
Maf54 (7:35:45 PM): not yet
Xxxxxxxxx (7:36:06 PM): cool cool...
Maf54 (7:37:27 PM): how my favorite young stud doing
Xxxxxxxxx (7:37:46 PM): tired and sore
Xxxxxxxxx (7:37:52 PM): i didnt no waltzing could make you sore
Maf54 (7:38:04 PM): from what
Xxxxxxxxx (7:38:34 PM): what do you mean from what
Xxxxxxxxx (7:38:42 PM): from waltzing...im sore from waltzing
Maf54 (7:39:32 PM): tahts good
Maf54 (7:39:32 PM): you need a massage
Maf54 signed off at 7:39:37 PM.
Maf54 signed on at 7:40:35 PM.
Xxxxxxxxx (7:40:44 PM): got kicked off?
Maf54 (7:41:24 PM): must have
Xxxxxxxxx (7:41:57 PM): ugh tomorrow i have the first day of lacrosse practice
Maf54 (7:42:27 PM): love to watch that
Maf54 (7:42:33 PM): those great legs running
Xxxxxxxxx (7:42:38 PM): haha...they arent great
Xxxxxxxxx (7:42:45 PM): thats why we have conditioning
Xxxxxxxxx (7:42:56 PM): 2 days running....3 days lifting
Xxxxxxxxx (7:43:11 PM): every week
Xxxxxxxxx (7:43:14 PM): until the end of march
Maf54 (7:43:27 PM): well dont ruin my mental picture
Xxxxxxxxx (7:43:32 PM): oh lol...sorry
Maf54 (7:43:54 PM): nice
Maf54 (7:43:54 PM): youll be way hot then
Xxxxxxxxx (7:44:01 PM): haha...hopefully
Maf54 (7:44:22 PM): better be
Maf54 (7:46:01 PM): well I better let you go do oyur thing
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:07 PM): oh ok
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:11 PM): have fun campaigning
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:17 PM): or however you spell it
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:18 PM): lol
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:25 PM): ill see ya in a couple of weeks
Maf54 (7:46:33 PM): did any girl give you a haand job this weekend
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:38 PM): lol no
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:40 PM): im single right now
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:57 PM): my last gf and i broke up a few weeks agi
Maf54 (7:47:11 PM): are you
Maf54 (7:47:11 PM): good so your getting horny
Xxxxxxxxx (7:47:29 PM): lol...a bit
Maf54 (7:48:00 PM): did you spank it this weekend yourself
Xxxxxxxxx (7:48:04 PM): no
Xxxxxxxxx (7:48:16 PM): been too tired and too busy
Maf54 (7:48:33 PM): wow...
Maf54 (7:48:34 PM): i am never to busy haha
Xxxxxxxxx (7:48:51 PM): haha
Maf54 (7:50:02 PM): or tired..helps me sleep
Xxxxxxxxx (7:50:15 PM): thats true
Xxxxxxxxx (7:50:36 PM): havent been having a problem with sleep though.. i just
walk in the door and collapse well at least this weekend
Maf54 (7:50:56 PM): i am sure
Xxxxxxxxx (7:50:57 PM): i dont do it very often normally though
Maf54 (7:51:11 PM): why not
Maf54 (7:51:22 PM): at your age seems like it would be daily
Xxxxxxxxx (7:51:57 PM): not me
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:01 PM): im not a horn dog
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:07 PM): maybe 2 or 3 times a week
Maf54 (7:52:20 PM): thats a good number
Maf54 (7:52:27 PM): in the shower
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:36 PM): actually usually i dont do it in the shower
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:42 PM): just cause i shower in the morning
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:47 PM): and quickly
Maf54 (7:52:50 PM): in the bed
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:59 PM): i get up at 530 and am outta the house by 610
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:03 PM): eh ya
Maf54 (7:53:24 PM): on your back
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:30 PM): no face down
Maf54 (7:53:32 PM): love details
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:34 PM): lol
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:36 PM): i see that
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:37 PM): lol
Maf54 (7:53:39 PM): really
Maf54 (7:53:54 PM): do you really do it face down
Xxxxxxxxx (7:54:03 PM): ya
Maf54 (7:54:13 PM): kneeling
Xxxxxxxxx (7:54:31 PM): well i dont use my hand...i use the bed itself
Maf54 (7:54:31 PM): where do you unload it
Xxxxxxxxx (7:54:36 PM): towel
Maf54 (7:54:43 PM): really
Maf54 (7:55:02 PM): completely naked?
Xxxxxxxxx (7:55:12 PM): well ya
Maf54 (7:55:21 PM): very nice
Xxxxxxxxx (7:55:24 PM): lol
Maf54 (7:55:51 PM): cute butt bouncing in the air
Xxxxxxxxx (7:56:00 PM): haha
Xxxxxxxxx (7:56:05 PM): well ive never watched myslef
Xxxxxxxxx (7:56:08 PM): but ya i guess
Maf54 (7:56:18 PM): i am sure not
Maf54 (7:56:22 PM): hmmm
Maf54 (7:56:30 PM): great visual
Maf54 (7:56:39 PM): i may try that
Xxxxxxxxx (7:56:43 PM): it works
Maf54 (7:56:51 PM): hmm
Maf54 (7:56:57 PM): sound inetersting
Maf54 (7:57:05 PM): i always use lotion and the hand
Maf54 (7:57:10 PM): but who knows
Xxxxxxxxx (7:57:24 PM): i dont use lotion...takes too much time to clean up
Xxxxxxxxx (7:57:37 PM): with a towel you can just wipe off....and go
Maf54 (7:57:38 PM): lol
Maf54 (7:57:45 PM): where do you throw the towel
Xxxxxxxxx (7:57:48 PM): but you cant work it too hard....or its not good
Xxxxxxxxx (7:57:51 PM): in the laundry
Maf54 (7:58:16 PM): just kinda slow rubbing
Xxxxxxxxx (7:58:23 PM): ya....
Xxxxxxxxx (7:58:32 PM): or youll rub yourslef raw
Maf54 (7:58:37 PM): well I have aa totally stiff wood now
Xxxxxxxxx (7:58:40 PM): cause the towell isnt very soft
Maf54 (7:58:44 PM): i bet..taht would hurt
Xxxxxxxxx (7:58:50 PM): but you cn find something softer than a towell i guess
Maf54 (7:58:59 PM): but it must feel great spirting on the towel
Xxxxxxxxx (7:59:06 PM): ya
Maf54 (7:59:29 PM): wow
Maf54 (7:59:48 PM): is your little guy limp...or growing
Xxxxxxxxx (7:59:54 PM): eh growing
Maf54 (8:00:00 PM): hmm
Maf54 (8:00:12 PM): so you got a stiff one now
Xxxxxxxxx (8:00:19 PM): not that fast
Xxxxxxxxx (8:00:20 PM): hey
Xxxxxxxxx (8:00:32 PM): so you have a fetich
Maf54 (8:00:32 PM): hey what
Xxxxxxxxx (8:00:40 PM): fetish**
Maf54 (8:00:43 PM): like
Maf54 (8:00:53 PM): i like steamroom
Maf54 (8:01:04 PM): whats yours
Xxxxxxxxx (8:01:09 PM): its kinda weird
Xxxxxxxxx (8:01:14 PM): lol
Maf54 (8:01:21 PM): i am hard as a rock..so tell me when your reaches rock
Xxxxxxxxx (8:01:23 PM): i have a cast fetish
Maf54 (8:01:27 PM): well tell me
Maf54 (8:01:32 PM): cast
Xxxxxxxxx (8:01:44 PM): ya like...plaster cast
Maf54 (8:01:49 PM): ok..so what happens
Maf54 (8:01:58 PM): how does that turn you in
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:02 PM): i dont know
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:04 PM): it just does
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:08 PM): ive never had one
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:16 PM): but people that have them turn me on
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:27 PM): and if i had one it would probably turn me on
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:29 PM): beats me
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:32 PM): its kinda weird
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:50 PM): but along with that i like the whole catholic girl
look....thats our schools uniform
Maf54 (8:03:02 PM): ha thats wild
Xxxxxxxxx (8:03:14 PM): ya but now im hard
Maf54 (8:03:32 PM): me 2
Maf54 (8:03:42 PM): cast got you going
Maf54 (8:03:47 PM): what you wearing
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:04 PM): normal clothes
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:09 PM): tshirt and shorts
Maf54 (8:04:17 PM): um so a big buldge
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:35 PM): ya
Maf54 (8:04:45 PM): um
Maf54 (8:04:58 PM): love to slip them off of you
Xxxxxxxxx (8:05:08 PM): haha
Maf54 (8:05:53 PM): and gram the one eyed snake
Maf54 (8:06:13 PM): grab
Xxxxxxxxx (8:06:53 PM): not tonight...dont get to excited
Maf54 (8:07:12 PM): well your hard
Xxxxxxxxx (8:07:45 PM): that is true
Maf54 (8:08:03 PM): and a little horny
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:11 PM): and also tru
Maf54 (8:08:31 PM): get a ruler and measure it for me
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:38 PM): ive already told you that
Maf54 (8:08:47 PM): tell me again
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:49 PM): 7 and 1/2
Maf54 (8:09:04 PM): ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Maf54 (8:09:08 PM): beautiful
Xxxxxxxxx (8:09:38 PM): lol
Maf54 (8:09:44 PM): thats a great size
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:00 PM): thank you
Maf54 (8:10:22 PM): still stiff
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:28 PM): ya
Maf54 (8:10:40 PM): take it out
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:54 PM): brb...my mom is yelling
Maf54 (8:11:06 PM): ok
Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:02 PM): back
Maf54 (8:14:37 PM): cool hope se didnt see any thing
Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:54 PM): no no
Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:59 PM): she is computer dumb though
Xxxxxxxxx (8:15:01 PM): it makes me so mad
Maf54 (8:15:04 PM): good
Maf54 (8:15:08 PM): haha
Maf54 (8:15:11 PM): why
Xxxxxxxxx (8:15:23 PM): cause she cant do anything
Maf54 (8:15:31 PM): oh well
Xxxxxxxxx (8:15:41 PM): she couldnt figure out how to download a file from an
email and open it
Maf54 (8:15:53 PM): haha
Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:14 PM): and she only does it like a million times a day
Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:16 PM): oh well
Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:18 PM): whatever
Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:53 PM): well i better go finish my hw...i just found out from a
friend that i have to finish reading and notating a book for AP english
Maf54 signed off at 8:17:43 PM.


 

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That's One

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.29.06

Looks like we get a Dem pickup in Florida. Mark Foley's resigned, and it's too late to replace him on the ballot. I suppose I shouldn't count on it, but it's at the very least a good shot.

I have to feel sort of sorry for the guy -- sleazy though hitting on teenage pages is, it must really suck beyond imagining to have your career depend on staying in the closet. Wait -- it wouldn't have depended on his being in the closet if he weren't a Republican! All right, no pity.


 

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I Approve This Message

Posted by Becks
on 09.29.06

Here's what I'd like to see: All campaign ads broadcast on television must display a prominent icon-like graphic in the corner of the screen for the duration of the advertisement. The icons would be assigned by an independent organization composed equally of Democrats and Republicans (I feel this should include some kind of third-party provision, but not sure how to do it). Submission of ads would be voluntary (to quell free-speech complaints) but if you chose not to participate in the program, you would have to display a graphic showing that your ad had not been reviewed for factual accuracy.

There would be four available graphics:
* Green for ads that have been judged to be factually accurate and contain no exaggerated claims or unsound implications ("Joe Politician voted for XYZ bill, which raised property taxes by 10%.")

* Yellow for ads that have been judged to be factually accurate but contain exaggerated claims or unsound implications ("Joe Politician voted to raise your taxes 27 times! Call his office and ask why he doesn't think you should keep your hard-earned money!" [Really, he had 27 votes on only 3 bills and that's not why he voted for the bill.])

* Red for ads that are judged to be factually inaccurate or contain claims that are unverifiable (Your general smear-type ads)

* Gray for ads that the politician chose not to submit for review.

I think I mentioned this idea a long time ago in the comments in passing but I think it might be a step towards preventing more unsound, rush, pre-election legislation. One of the reasons this crap gets passed is because politicians are so in fear that if they vote against it, their opponents will be able to run ads that distort their record and claim they Hate America. Given how uneducated people are about issues and how little they pay attention to campaigns, I think the status quo of allowing candidates to run whatever ads they want and hoping the media is able to clear up inaccuracies after the fact is no longer workable.


 

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Aliens Among Us

Posted by Ogged
on 09.29.06

I'd like to see a definitive analysis of whether the habeas stripping provisions of yesterday's legislation apply to citizens [update: see here]. But even if they don't, it's not hard to see how massive a change has been made. Would you even consider emigrating to America if you looked even vaguely Middle-Eastern? An overly suspicious neighbor could make a phone call and there's literally no telling what would happen to you. And I would be very scared if I were a legal resident non-citizen today (and there are a lot more of those than you think). They could just disappear, with no legal recourse. I have a cousin who came here over thirty years ago, when he was four. You'd never think "foreigner" if you met him, but he didn't become a citizen, because it didn't seem to matter. He went back to Iran a few years ago, fell in love, got married to an Iranian, and has been back and forth a few times since. He's always hassled at the airport, which is hardly surprising, but now it's entirely possible that if he says the wrong thing one of the times he's hassled, he could disappear too. Please tell me if I'm wrong on the law here. I don't think I am.

Then there are people like me, who are naturalized citizens. I think it would take a judge about fifteen minutes to strip me of my citizenship if I donate to the wrong charity (and would you donate to any Muslim charity right now?), and I'd be subject to the same kind of treatment that "aliens" might get.

For a lot of people, it might be time to say a literal goodbye to America.


 

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Yesterday's big winner

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.29.06

Admittedly histrionic, but not without some basis in fact.

osama_fortuny.jpg


 

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Playing Botticelli While Rome Burns

Posted by Becks
on 09.29.06

Clownæsthesiologist has agreed to host.


 

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I have changed my mind about HR 6166

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.29.06

In the clear light of a beautiful morning, it doesn't look bad at all. The Anchoress:

I’m of two minds about torture, and I bet many Americans are. Our better natures say “no,” our humanity says “no.” But weighed in the balance of thousands of lives…the shoulders go up, and we shrug, lacking wisdom, and hoping to do the best we can. I think in the end…we approve the belly slaps and hope they don’t escalate.
War is difficult under the most civilized of circumstances. This is a war unlike any others, and our enemies, un-uniformed, unconcerned with Geneva Conventions, unconcerned (nay, enthusiastic) about collateral damage, will not be defeated by wholly conventional needs.
I can only be honest and say I can see both sides of the thing. I’m not thrilled about it, but I think sometimes we walk blind and have to kiss it up to God and pray for the best, trusting that what we get wrong, in good faith, He will make right.
And may God have mercy on us all.

Yes, the shoulders, they go up, do they not? And after the dark night of the soul we endorse the belly slap, which was about forty-seven escalations ago. I'm not the only one fighting an urge to subject her to Cold Cell, am I?


 

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Disambiguations

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.28.06

Three bad things about today's legislative action, more or less off the top of my head:

(i) that the bill was passed in this incredibly shoddy pre-election fashion. It would be miraculous if decisions made in such a haphazard way were reliably competent, and we have no right to expect them to be. In conjunction with this: very few people seem to care. This is almost infinitely depressing.

(ii) the lack of transparency and oversight in the bill. One might think-- coherently, not unreasonably-- that there are some situations that warrant coercive interrogation while thinking that the right way to manage such procedures involves some sort of quasi-judicial involvement. I suspect, in the end, that the empirical claims will weigh in against this; the long-term value of "we don't, ever" will trump the value of whatever Khalid Sheikh Mohammed says after staying awake for a week, and there are familiar slippery-slope worries as well. Even if this optimistic claim is false, the current situation seems to allow these decisions to be made without accountability, more or less on whim, and that's quite dangerous. Laws, not men, and so on.

(iii) the habeas, Geneva, and "torture-defining" stuff. There are two ways in which this is bad: as a matter of principle (here we have comity, I suspect) and as a practical issue. I think it's fair to wonder how much actual suffering this will add to the world. It's possible, in other words, that roughly the same amount of sleep deprivation, stress positioning, etc. would go on without explicit legal protection, but I have no way to assess the likelihood of this. God knows we've managed to do all sorts of nasty things under the radar.

I'll be interested to see how all of this looks in a few days. I can't decide whether to think of it as an unusually egregious example of run-of-the-mill terrible lawmaking-- they must know better, these people; they must!-- or as the twilight of the republic.


 

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What Does A Person Do?

Posted by Ogged
on 09.28.06

However you want to characterize what America became today, it isn't nearly what it was yesterday. I don't know whether things will go like this, or be much better or much worse. But I know that I'm wholly ashamed, and terribly sad. Carrying on as before seems so ignominious when something so horrible has been done in my name. What are you all going to do? If you're going to carry on, and be sad, but not substantially change your life, tell me why. Do you think leaving the country is real protest, or a cop-out? If it's just a way to be done with this insanity, is it ok to do it? Are any of you going to quit your jobs and go to work for a do-gooder organization? Or volunteer a few hours a week? Maybe this is just today's depression talking, but I'm not sure I could look at myself if I don't change anything. "Bummer," doesn't seem adequate to what just happened. What are you going to do?


 

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The End

Posted by Ogged
on 09.28.06

NY Times.

The Senate on Thursday endorsed President Bush's plans to prosecute and interrogate terror suspects, all but sealing congressional approval for legislation that Republicans intend to use on the campaign trail to assert their toughness on terrorism.

The 65-34 vote means the bill could reach the president's desk by week's end. The House passed nearly identical legislation on Wednesday and was expected to approve the Senate bill on Friday, sending it on to the White House.

Not even close.

More: Republicans who voted against: Chafee (R-RI). Jeffords, Independent from Vermont, also voted against.

Democrats who voted for: Carper (D-DE), Johnson (D-SD), Landrieu (D-LA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Lieberman (D-CT), Menendez (D-NJ), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO), Stabenow (D-MI).

And: We gave all this away, and there hasn't even been another attack.


 

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Thank You, Vanguard, For Making Me Feel Like A Loser

Posted by Becks
on 09.28.06

I just logged into the Vanguard website to check something about my account and they made me do that new "pick a security picture" thing that all of the financial websites are making you do these days. I also had to choose and answer some security questions for future reference, which was harder than it sounds. Fully half of the security questions they offered assumed you were married:

In what city were you married?
When is your wedding anniversary?
In what city did you honeymoon?
Where did you and your spouse meet for the first time?
What was the first name of the best man/maid of honor at your wedding?

It just felt like the site was saying "An investment site is for grownups. In order to be a grownup, you must be married." Bah.

Probably reading too much into this because I'm already annoyed by the habeas corpus thing but whatever.


 

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It Takes About 60 Seconds

Posted by Ogged
on 09.28.06

Please call your Senators today, folks. You can find their numbers here. I just called Boxer and Feinstein, and Boxer's office said they're getting a lot of calls in support of a filibuster so maybe, god willing, you can make a difference and help it happen. It takes just a minute. Here's what I said, in case you're feeling stumped:

"Hi, I'm calling in support of a filibuster on the torture bill that's up for a vote today."

That's all it takes.


 

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I think I can use this thing to start a riot

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.28.06

Ladies and gentlemen, for your reading enjoyment I present two posts by the fabulous Hugh Hewitt.

H.R. 6166:

Here is the text of H.R. 6166. 160 Democrats voted against this bill.

The Democratic Party is not serious about this war, and in collapse generally on matters of national security. Thus any vote for any Congressional Democrat is a vote against victory and a vote for vulnerability.

What Democrats Really Believe:

Kathryn Jean Lopez points to this amazing roll-call vote on the military tribunals for terrorists bill: Only 34 Democrats in the House voted to bring these killers to justice in this fashion. 160 Democrats voted against the bill.

K-Lo notes that Democrats Sherrod Brown and Harold Ford were among the 34 --and that they are running for Senate, and have the eyes of the voters upon them.
But let's be clear: No serious observor of politcs believes that Brown and Ford would do other than revert to form if elected to the Senate. They have records of Pelosi-like fealty to the hard left policies of their party, and election year manuevers can't obscure that reality.
The 160 Democratic votes against the tribunals bill tell the American people exactly what they need to know about the Democratic Party --it is unmoored from the American mainstream. It is a party concerned with the rights of terrorists and committed to retreat from Iraq. It has lost it collective mind on issues of national security. Only when some of its members come close to general elections do those few vote for the centrist policies that previously defined the party of FRD, Truman and JFK.
Sherrod Brown and Harold Ford are attempting to con voters that they are not Democrats of the sort that populate the House and obstruct the Senate.
I doubt very much if this will work.

Freedom: still not free!


 

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Something I'm Not Getting

Posted by Ogged
on 09.28.06

Isn't the Say Goodbye to America bill about as unconstitutional as can be? I understand that there are "no judicial review" provisions, but might not those provisions themselves be unconstitutional? Surely some clever lawyer could cook up enough standing to challenge the bill in court?

Give me a tiny bit of hope here, people.

Update: Lemieux says not much hope at all.


 

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The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin'

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.28.06

After the genius of "Faking it" this blog has nowhere to go, really.

(a) News coverage of the detainee/torture/habeas corpus bill has been egregiously bad. The local news said nothing less bland or uninformative than "some say the bill gives the President too much power," which, though true, doesn't help us distinguish this extra helping of power from any other; even NPR punted on the details. No wonder there's no traction.

(Aside: I now have an mp3 of He-Man saying "fabulous secret powers" on my desktop. Yet I still claim to be a heterosexual.)

(b) I find "The Biggest Loser" horrifying but riveting. With more ambition, I might be able to coax myself into writing up summaries of each episode in the style of renowned self-parodist Ann Althouse:

Michael, who we all think is the nicest contestant, says "I'm going to kill you." Wow. Michael. But he had his reason. Uli got to pick her model before he did, and she took his Nasri. His unniceness is understandable. Nasri is the one model who has stood out all season. (She's the only one whose name I learned.) Her eye is all puffed up today for some reason, but still... She's Nasri. And Uli took her from Michael... our sweetheart... the kindest, gentlest fashion designer ever. Bad Uli. "You have to grab everything which maybe makes your outfit more stunning on the runway," she explains.

Honestly.


 

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The Military Commissions Bill Passed The House.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.28.06

It's before the Senate this morning. For all I know it may have passed the Senate already -- I'm not on top of the schedule.

If this passes (or if it has passed) we live in a country that claims the legal power to detain innocent people forever, and to abuse them in any fashion we like so long as the pain we cause doesn't qualify as 'extreme' or involve a 'substantial risk of death'. If we abuse them more severely than that, they have no access to the courts for redress or protection.

Everyone who voted for Republicans over the last few years? You chose this.


 

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Tuning

Posted by Ogged
on 09.27.06

Let me try to help Becks out by pushing that embarrassing post down the page a little. Let's keep it modest:

Clicking around YouTube, I came across this living room musical performance, which is actually quite good. I found some of their other songs, but meh.

And I'm a huge fan of James McMurtry's first and a half albums, though he's been in steady decline, becoming less and less subtle since. But protest songs are scarce these days, and if you're willing to let anger make up for monotony and lack of subtlety, he might have your song right here. (It did win Song of the Year at the Americana Music Awards, so maybe I'm being harsh.)


 

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Check It

Posted by Becks
on 09.27.06

A brilliant idea for how to make sure something you put through checked luggage doesn't get lost or stolen:

A "weapons" is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols - those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets - are considered weapons...and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.
I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare...I'm given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.
That's the procedure. The case is extra-tracked...TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.
It's a great way to travel with camera gear...I've been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.
Requires a bit of advance planning and stuff but still very cool.


 

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Faking It

Posted by Ogged
on 09.27.06

I don't, in fact, approve of smacking people around, but let's suspend moral judgement for a moment so that we can ask: Who had the better smackdown of John Stossel?

Paul Waldman?

Or David Schultz?


 

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We're All Newsweeks Now

Posted by Ogged
on 09.27.06

In the post about the differing covers of Newsweek, 125 people clicked on the Newsweek story link, 126 clicked to read one of the Atrios posts, and 214 clicked to read about Hermione.


 

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The working title: 'Saved by the smell'

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.27.06

Please let this be false:

He may have played nerdy eighth-grader Samuel (Screech) Powers in the sitcom "Saved by the Bell." But former TV geek Dustin Diamond can now take his place with Colin Farrell, Tommy Lee and Kid Rock as the star of his very own sex tape....We can't get too graphic here, but word is that the action includes some bodily functions and an act known as a "Dirty Sanchez."

Via The Superficial.


 

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I Ask Questions, I Get Answers

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.27.06

Eric Rauchway gave a historical perspective on my question about the difference between progressives and liberals over at Open University on Monday. To summarize it, progressivism traces itself back to the turn-of-the-last-century reformers (think Teddy Roosevelt, muckrakers, and so forth) -- it's an ideology that sees significant problems with society as it is now constituted, and seeks to change them. To a progressive, nothing about society is necessarily fixed -- it's all provisional, and may be changed if someone comes along with a better idea. Liberalism, on the other hand, is rooted in a sense of doubt about what appropriate sources of authority are -- where a progressive says "We should do X, because I've thought about it, and I have a convincing argument that X is a good idea", a liberal is historically less certain that those kinds of arguments are sufficient to justify fundamental changes, and ends up cautiously tweaking policies, rather than forthrightly doing what seems best. (I find this bit of Rauchway's discussion a little opaque -- he seems to be saying that a liberal is a nervous progressive with no real philosophical basis for their nervousness. This does seem like a fair description of a lot of liberals out there, but it also seems like a very peculiar and unattractive stance for anyone to choose -- if this is liberalism, why does anyone call themselves a liberal?) (Update: Rauchway also links to an earlier post on Altercation in which he talks about the history of American liberalism in the 20th century. It's interesting, but still doesn't clarify what the distinction is between liberals and progressives.)

Anyway, odds are I'm garbling it. Click through and read if you're interested.


 

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Adverse Reaction, Indeed

Posted by Ogged
on 09.27.06

There's a report that Terrell Owens, who is apparently ok, tried to kill himself last night. ESPN still says [they've since updated] he had an adverse reaction to medication. Weird stuff. You may now begin the short countdown to sportswriters saying that this was just another way to get attention. It has to be admitted, however, that T.O. is pretty well into Rodman territory at this point.

Owens Denies. The ESPN story has been updated.


 

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Unscripted

Posted by Ogged
on 09.27.06

Typically, I send these things just to the apostropher, but this clip is so awful (not in a gory way; it's just an interview), that I thought I'd share. Setup: on a Dutch show, a man whose testicles were mistakenly removed by doctors is interviewed.

Suckered: It's a fake. Sorry. Damn well done though.


 

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Dear San Francisco

Posted by Ben
on 09.26.06

Why have you exiled nearly all of the interesting jazz and improv concerts to Oakland, making it even harder for me to attend them? Is this really necessary?


 

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Duty Free

Posted by Becks
on 09.26.06

I hate international airport terminals because all of the normal stores are displaced by duty free shops. When I'm stuck in the airport, I want a newspaper and a sandwich, not a Prada bag and a liter of vodka. Who actually buys this crap?


 

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Followup Race-Blogging

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.26.06

This probably comes as no surprise to anyone, but I was a little flummoxed by the reaction to my last post on this. I had thought that decentering whiteness (Anglo-ness?) by trying to reconstruct it as just another ethnicity rather than as a default state of normality was conventionally accepted as a good idea (for some value of conventional -- among people who think about issues of identity and justice relating to identity).

This does not appear to be the case: people who commented in the thread (and others) came down pretty heavily on the side of thinking that this is a bad idea -- that whiteness should, rather than being treated as a marked ethnicity, be de-emphasized until it essentially disappears as a concept, and is just what people without any other strong ethnic identity do (eat meatloaf, Mexican, and Chinese food; decorate holiday cookies; dance poorly and without enthusiasm). People with no other ethnic identity just end up partaking in the melting pot of all the various ethnic stuff that's gotten normalized as American over the years; people with a strong ethnic identity can do the same at will, or not, as they choose. And I can see that maybe this might work: I can't imagine being able to erase ethnicity at all from people's minds, but I can see it being possible to sort of erase whiteness -- it's what the discomfort I talked about in the earlier post leads people to want to do.

I'm curious about this, though -- doesn't it still leave people like me, white folks with no other particular ethnicity, as the arbiters of normality? Ordering take-out Chinese food is a normal, ordinary American thing to do, because white folks like me do it. Naming your daughter Tamesha on the other hand, is a weirdo ethnic thing to do, because white people don't do it. And I come back to thinking that treating being Anglo as a marked ethnicity is necessary. A white boss shouldn't have any more reason to think that a black employee's being named Tamesha rather than, oh, Karen is abnormal or bizarre, than a Latina boss would have to think that a white employee's being named Karen rather than Rosita is abnormal or bizarre -- in each case, it's a wildly unimportant expression of ethnicity.

But this is an area in which I feel terribly unsure of myself. So shoot me down.


 

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Because Cartoons Aren't Real

Posted by Ogged
on 09.26.06

Every single episode of The Simpsons, Futurama, South Park, Family Guy, and American Dad, free and online. You'd think the lawyers would have already beheaded the guy running this site, but it's based in Finland, so it might be around for a little bit. I'd say "enjoy," but I'm conflicted.


 

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Briefly

Posted by Ogged
on 09.26.06

Totally agree with Atrios on torture, faith, and Obama. Both here and here. Time to step up.

Via My Alter Ego in the comments, what Newsweek is running on its cover this week in various places around the world.

And most important, Emma Watson, aka Hermione, is thinking of quitting.


 

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Presentation

Posted by Ogged
on 09.25.06

On MSNBC's travesty of a front page earlier today, these three headlines, all about the very same story, were up simultaneously.

Angry Clinton defends terror hunt

Clinton loses his temper in Fox interview

Clinton, Fox anchor clash over Bin Laden


 

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Diffident White Person Race-Blogging

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.25.06

Reading about race, something that comes up fairly often is that a facet of white privilege is the capacity to think of yourself as ethnically-unmarked: brown people have ethnicites which explain important things about their identities, but white people are just people, and anything they do is a statement of their personal identity, free of the constraints of any ethnicity. This clearly happens, and I get what makes this claim to be free of ethnicity a claim of a special privileged status, which obviously white people shouldn't be claiming.

On the other hand, I don't think I've ever seen it directly discussed how hard it is to avoid doing this. I'm about as white (socially) as you get -- I've got Irish relatives, but we aren't close in a way that makes my identity meaningfully Irish, and the rest of the family gets lost in the mists of time somewhere in Queens. I grew up eating what could easily be described as white-person food -- meatloaf, pork chops, roasted meat, accompanied by a green vegetable and mashed or baked potatoes. My family doesn't have any holiday traditions that haven't appeared in Good Housekeeping or Ladies Home Journal. So pretty much the only ethnicity I have is white American -- if we're talking about ethnic backgrounds that's mine.

But talking affirmatively about one's own whiteness is desperately embarrassing, because historically, and even currently (think Prussian Blue) claiming to be white is a status claim -- a claim that you are white and therefore better than anyone who isn't. It's the "White Man's Burden", "mighty white of you", all of the racist and imperialist language that decent people have rejected for decades. When white people started thinking that it was unacceptable to be openly racist, one of the ways that got enshrined in language is that decent people stopped talking about how white they were. So whiteness is an ethnicity like any other, and it's a claim of privilege to deny that fact, but anyone who starts talking cheerfully about what white people are like, and how white people bring up their kids, or typical white holiday customs, instantly sounds like a member of the Aryan Nation.

I haven't got any useful ideas here, just that I've never seen the embarrassingness of an affirmation of one's own whiteness addressed in the context of freedom-from-ethnicity as a facet of white privilege.

(This post not all that strongly connected to, but vaguely set off by, this post and some others by BitchPhd's guestblogger John Patrick.)


 

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Halloween Bleg

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.25.06

Sally wants to go as Nausicaa:

Can anyone find me a place selling such a costume (matching the picture isn't necessary -- just anything from the movie) for a girl -- say, a 12-yr-old size? Searching has so far led me to adult anime-fan sites -- not what I'm looking for. And while this looks like something I could fake up in a pinch, I'd rather just buy it if it's for sale someplace.

(And if I don't come through with this, she's going to want do go as some goddam Disney Princess. I hate that.)


 

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So I Keep On Doing This

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.25.06

But Katherine, at ObWi, says that Sen's. Specter and Levin are co-sponsoring an amendment to take the habeas-stripping provision out of the detainee bill. Could you call your Senators again, and try and pin down whoever answers the phone on whether they're committed to supporting it? Because they really, really, have to.

The torture-legalizing provisions of the bill are disgusting, but the habeas-stripping provisions are truly lawless. As I said in my last post, a prisoner without habeas rights has no rights at all, Whatever the law says about how we're obligated to treat detainees, if they have no habeas rights we can spend years torturing innocent people in any way we like, and they have no recourse other than to hope that the same organization that's torturing them is going to suddenly decide to change its mind and spontaneously prosecute the torturers. (Note: I am not here claiming that this is a fair description of the current state of affairs, although in many cases it appears to be not far off. I am saying that if we strip detainees of habeas rights, there is no legal safeguard against its happening.)

So one more call?


 

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Family Reunion </borat>

Posted by Ogged
on 09.25.06

Megan tries to find out how many former lovers she can see in one day. Then she tries to get them to see their former lovers that day. She thinks this is a game.

Also fun, how many former lovers can you get in a room at once?
(Serial killers not eligible.)


 

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Unhinged?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.24.06

Everybody who hasn't yet, go watch Clinton setting Chris Wallace straight about what he did on terrorism , and how tired he is of hearing the same nonsense about how he didn't do enough from the same nitwit wingers who were trying to stop him from doing it at the time.

Two thoughts. First, I miss having a human being, with real human reactions, running the country. Second, anyone out there who's thinking 'Don't get angry, don't rock the boat, it looks bad and people won't take us seriously,' take a look at this. That's what angry looks like, and I can't see taking that any way other than seriously.

Update: Also read John Holbo, making a far more entertaining version of what seems to me to be a strongly related point.


 

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Don't Bomb My Country

Posted by Ogged
on 09.24.06

It's full of hotties.


 

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Sunday Happiness

Posted by Ogged
on 09.24.06

I'm paying some attention to the torture bill and the upcoming elections, but I can't help thinking that we've been living in a dictatorship* for at least a couple of years, and pretty much no one cares. I'm not sure I care; at least not enough to do anything drastic about it. Fascinating. If I weren't living it, I'd be stoked to have such a close, contemporaneous view of a dictatorship coming to be.

* The fact that we'll probably still have a presidential election in 2008 might argue against this, but I'm not sure it matters. It helps to think about rights not in terms of what the government tries to take, but what the people are willing to give up. It turns out that we're willing to give up pretty much everything. Habeas, which is about as fundamental as can be, has been respected only at the pleasure of the state since Jose Padilla was picked up and we re-elected Bush. Maybe it matters if Congress gives up de jure power in addition to the de facto power it gave up long ago, but it seems like the goose is cooked, and now we're talking about trimmings.

Shorter this post: the terrorists won, and it wasn't even close.

Word: A little birdie tells me that the term I'm looking for is "illiberal democracy."


 

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A Story In Which I Overestimate My Fellow Man

Posted by Becks
on 09.24.06

I climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge yesterday. It was very fun and the view was absolutely spectacular. (Not my photos as I haven't downloaded them yet but similar.)

On the way there, my brother and I were joking about the breathalyzer test you have to pass before climbing the bridge and how silly that requirement seemed. Guess not. One of the people in our group failed. At 9:30 in the morning.


 

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