Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Undiscovered Country

Robert Steinback writes in The Miami Herald:
If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.

Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.

If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.

If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Mari[n]e Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.

That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path.

What is there to say now?

All of these things have happened. And yet a large portion of this country appears more concerned that saying "Happy Holidays" could be a disguised attack on Christianity.

I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed, because I would have expected such actions to provoke -- speaking metaphorically now -- mobs with pitchforks and torches at the White House gate. I would have expected proud defiance of anyone who would suggest that a mere terrorist threat could send this country into spasms of despair and fright so profound that we'd follow a leader who considers the law a nuisance and perfidy a privilege.
Go read it all. (Found at firedoglake.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Hilarity

Today the G.G.W. reports with a straight type the funniest thing I've read this year:
The commander of American-run prisons in Iraq says the military will not turn over any detainees or detention centers to Iraqi jailers until American officials are satisfied that the Iraqis are meeting United States standards for the care and custody of detainees.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Room 101

WASHINGTON (AP) President Bush is expected to sign a voluminous defense bill that requires the humane treatment of foreign terrorism suspects and rebukes some of his wartime policies. On a voice vote, the Senate late Wednesday approved the bill setting Pentagon policy, sending it to the president's desk for his signature. The House passed the legislation Monday.

The Bush administration initially threatened to veto any bill limiting how the United States detains, interrogates or prosecutes terror suspects. But last week, Bush reluctantly endorsed the ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of foreign detainees amid pressure from the Republican-controlled Congress and U.S. allies.
George found himself helplessly strapped to a chair fixed to the floor, in a basement room he had never seen before. Into his view strode the aged, sad, bespectacled representative of The Authority. "Now, George," he said slowly, "we've all had enough of your stubborn refusal to face reality here. Your threat to veto anti-torture legislation has become a major political problem for us. Popular support for it is so strong that it may make the public wake up and demand accountability. We can't have that. We've explained this over and over, and you just won't listen. So now we've had to bring you here."

George cast his eyes around the room, but it had no other occupant. The man in glasses smiled. "You're wondering what's here to change your mind, George. I'll tell you. What's here is the worst thing in the world. It varies from individual to individual, but it is always whatever you fear most. Through that locked door is what you, personally, are most terrified of, George. Since you won't obey, I'm going to have to unlock it, and leave you here, unable to flee what will come through to you here."

George began to shake. He felt he was about to lose control of his bladder. "No! You couldn't be that cruel!" he cried, then whimpered "Please! No!"

"It's out of my hands, George," said the older one. He walked slowly over to the door and inserted a key. There was a rattle, as if something on the other side was testing the door to see if it would open yet.

Finally, George realized that there was only one way to prevent his punishment. So he began shouting frantically, unable to stop.

"Ban it! Ban it! Ban torture! I'll sign the bill! I don't care! I'll ban it! Just don't open the door!"
DEC 16 Why The Spy Stuff?
Reliable observers confirmed that they saw 80-year old Prez mum Barbara Bush leaving the W. House this afternoon, attempting futilely to hide her striking white mane beneath a scarf and wearing mirrored shades. There was no public announcement -- or acknowledgement when asked -- of the twice-past First Lady's secretive drop-by. Could it be clandestine discussions of Xmas gifts for the family? Gossipy minds want to know!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Short Review: Ewww!!!

Rising Hegemon gives us an illustrated ad for REACHAROUND RIDGE, featuring an all-male mésalliance between Crawford and Connecticut. Like those long distance non-viewers writing about gay cowpokes, I already want my money back, and I only saw this blurb. (Spotted by Tristam Shandy.)

Another Domino Leaps Overboard

From the Wednesday WaPo:
A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John D. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.
(Found at Booman Tribune.)

Funny Faces

I missed this until today. Some clever soul has done a parody of Oz, with George Bush as Dorothy, and a similar cast of supporting players, including a raft of photoshopped stills I'm surprised the studios haven't sued over. Some lines of special merit:
Somewhere under the radar, way down low. ...

And in the name of The Alibi League,
We'll cover up for you in Potemkinland. ...

Aren't you forgetting the Ruby Ferragamos? ...

Follow the Yellow Cake Road. ...
Go enjoy it all at The Wizard of Oil. (Found at Anonymoses .)

Interview With Victim IV

What is your name?

I'm just one of the little ones in the Amendment family. My nickname used to be "Privacy", but Albert convinced me that made no sense. Just call me Four.

Albert would be this so-called therapist they brought in to interrogate you?

Yes, he helped me see that I was being delusional, just thinking that vague shapes and shadows were solid objects. He called them "penumbras", and made me see they were imaginary.

Didn't he take your papers, bug your phone, read your email, gag you, shackle you, and do repeated full body-cavity searches?

Oh, no, Albert would never do that himself. He was always sad when I was bad and had to be reeducated for my own good. All those men in black were just doing their job. They wanted me to get over my insanity just as much as he did.

Why did they keep you locked up?

I was hurting my own country's war on errorists.

You mean terrorists?

No, errorists. See, that's something else Albert helped me to understand. Those people who hate America and try to destroy it aren't really evil, they are just mistaken, and we need to gather them into our gentle hands with love and help them reach their own full potential as human beings by comprehending the mistakes they've been making. I was being an obstacle to their future happiness, by nitpicking over trivial legalities instead of joining in the group love to transform them into good citizens of the world.

Weren't you just insisting upon warrants for searches?

Oh, yes, but Albert showed me how I, too, was being an errorist. I did say, "no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause", sure, but I never said they had to be issued by a judge, did I? Albert showed me how wrong judges are, trying to be objective and neutral, when that makes emotional attachment and love for the people impossible. How could someone, who doesn't allow themselves to feel, know when a person needs to be restrained for their own good? How could a cold thinking machine share the pain of someone foolishly trying to hide part of their life from the minders who love them most? So the best ones to issue the warrants are the very people who already know from their investigations who needs help, including being searched. I'm happy I've gotten past that old mistaken idea of mine.

How long were you kept locked up?

Well, I lost track of time early on, when they began leaving me in the dark all the time. I'm told it's been over four years now, but it doesn't seem that long. However long it took to bring me to my senses is fine with me. I know I'm kind of set in my ways and hard to change. After all, I'm over two hundred years old. But now, without the burden of trying to micromanage law enforcement all over the country, I feel born again. I have a new mission in life -- enabling the spread of the tough love all those errorists need.

Provisional Diagnosis: Stockholm Syndrome, Acute.
Prescription: Lots of sunlight and open air. See if the ACLU has a deprogramming squad.

The Silver Lining

The G.G.W. (aka the N.Y.T.) uncovers more titillating tidbits:
One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Finally, they stumble upon the real terrorists. I had so counted on a beautiful llama coat for Christ Holimas. Now at least agent Scully will be checking for paint cans among the attendees at fur catwalk shows. That's right, sister! Gisele Bündchen needs protection from those putrid PETA pests!

Cutting To The Quick

Since no one powerful has either flattered them or paid them to conceal the truth on this issue, The Great Grey Whore actually reports some facts:
In his opinion, the judge said he found the testimony of Barbara Forrest, a historian of science, very persuasive. She had presented evidence that the authors of an intelligent design textbook, "Of Pandas and People, merely removed the word "creationism" from an earlier edition and substituted it with "intelligent design" after the Supreme Court's ruling in 1987.
Citing that book is what is known as "arguing in bad faith". Judges really hate seeing that demonstrated in their courtroom. It threatens their own robed egos. But here is what really raised my eyebrows:
The judge found that intelligent design is not science, and that the only way its proponents can claim it is, is by changing the very definition of science to include supernatural explanations.
That is an unusually astute observation for any sitting judge. That is precisely the issue here. This fight is not over whether or not God created the universe. It is about whether truth is objective, universal, and not subject to decrees by parties or sects, or whether an organized gang can demand that everyone else agree that two and two is really five if they say so.

To let this mob (or any other one) redefine "truth" is to commit intellectual suicide. The issue is literally life and death. Congratulations to this judge. This brave witnessing for reality truly does deserve a Medal of Freedom.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber agrees at Hero of the Year.

UPDATE 2: P.Z. Myers can hardly contain his glee at Pharyngula, with lots of juicy links and dissections of this glorious decision. It seems the judge is a Republican and a former Congressional candidate, whose previous history also included trying to privatize state liquor stores, but also attempting to ban one brand of beer because its label was "in bad taste". He's no wild-eyed civil libertarian, much less some secular humanist liberal. He did go into great detail about the gross dishonesty of the witnesses for the deus-ex-design-lab, as PZ quotes, or you can read them in the decision itself in pdf format.

Oh, Happy Day!!

Sonnet § 1802 (U.S. Code, Title 50, Chap. 36, Subchap. I)

Bush says our torture laws do not apply:
     Rendition puts such acts beyond their reach.
     In his courts judges may not hear the cry
     Detainees raise, nor pay heed to their screech.

Each leaker only tells the truth in vain:
     Our "record paper" sits on what it saw.
     For though the Constitution seems quite plain,
     Alberto says the Prez can waive the law.

Carping lawyers unheeded pound the door:
     Homeland inquisitors hear only him.
     Each agent knows so very well the score:
     Rights all are now dependent on his whim.

Outlasting obsolete impeachment calls,
     Nixon's spirit once more walks White House halls.

Book 'Em, John-O

All Fafnir wants for Christ Xmas is safe shelf surfing.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Liars Figure

I was dubious about a report at Dean's World about a study showing how "unbiased" the media is:
NPR and PBS are far less left-wing than generally thought, and are actually admirably centrist. If you exclude the editorial page, the Wall Street Journal is significantly to the left of the Washington Post or the New York Times.
The commenters there pretty much chewed up the basic assumptions involved to show it was GIGO again. Then Sid's Fishbowl checked out the "researchers" themselves, to demonstrate what hacks they are:
Using the same "guilt by association" techniques that the professor uses in his paper, I conclude that he is far from unbiased. In fact, taking the average ADA score of the four groups in the previous paragraphs, which are all supported by the same foundations that have funded the professor in his research, results in a score that ranks the professor as more conservative than any of the news outfits in his rankings. More than the Drudge Report, more than Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, more even than the Washington Times.
Sad, really. Another foolish hope dashed....

The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today asked four presidential scholars for their opinion on former White House Counsel John Dean's statement that President Bush admitted to an "impeachable offense" when he said he authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without getting a warrant from a judge.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis said Monday in a radio interview that President Bush should be impeached if he broke the law in authorizing spying on Americans.
(Both found at Shakespeare's Sister.)

The Basis Of George's Claim

I knew I'd read this somewhere before:
The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort as that by their own industry and by the fruits of the earth they may nourish themselves and live contentedly, is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will: which is as much as to say, to appoint one man, or assembly of men, to bear their person; and every one to own and acknowledge himself to be author of whatsoever he that so beareth their person shall act, or cause to be acted, in those things which concern the common peace and safety; and therein to submit their wills, every one to his will, and their judgements to his judgement.

This is more than consent, or concord; it is a real unity of them all in one and the same person, made by covenant of every man with every man, in such manner as if every man should say to every man: I authorise and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition; that thou give up, thy right to him, and authorise all his actions in like manner. This done, the multitude so united in one person is called a COMMONWEALTH; in Latin, CIVITAS. This is the generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently, of that mortal god to which we owe, under the immortal God, our peace and defence.

For by this authority, given him by every particular man in the Commonwealth, he hath the use of so much power and strength conferred on him that, by terror thereof, he is enabled to form the wills of them all, to peace at home, and mutual aid against their enemies abroad. And in him consisteth the essence of the Commonwealth; which, to define it, is: one person, of whose acts a great multitude, by mutual covenants one with another, have made themselves every one the author, to the end he may use the strength and means of them all as he shall think expedient for their peace and common defence.

And he that carryeth this person is called sovereign, and said to have sovereign power; and every one besides, his subject.
--Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapter 17

Did Ibsen Forsee This?

Barbie, that plastic icon of girlhood fantasy play, is routinely tortured by children, research has found.

The methods of mutilation are varied and creative, ranging from scalping to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving....

Violence and torture against Barbie were repeatedly reported across age, school and gender. No other toy or brand name provoked such a negative response.
No wonder she's fighting back:

Jungian Politics

Jane Hamsher writes
When Hollywood (or anybody else) develops a movie no matter how complex they know at heart they are always playing with powerful emotional archtetypes and familiar, basic narratives to tug at people's heart strings and engage them in a particular drama. It is not happenstance that it is his wife Bruce Willis is trying to rescue from the exploding skyscraper and not his accountant.
Sounds like she hasn't seen the latest sequel, Die Hard 4: Your Days Are Numbered.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Desires And Dreams And Powers

"The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them." --Human Advancement
"But there is solemn satisfaction in doing the best you can for eight billion people. Perhaps their lives have no cosmic significance, but they have feelings. They can hurt." --Robert Heinlein, Double Star
"Certainly it hurts ... The trick ... is not minding that it hurts." --Lawrence of Arabia


Vladimir Bukovsky, a victim of Soviet torture, warns us:
One nasty morning Comrade Stalin discovered that his favorite pipe was missing. Naturally, he called in his henchman, Lavrenti Beria, and instructed him to find the pipe. A few hours later, Stalin found it in his desk and called off the search. "But, Comrade Stalin," stammered Beria, "five suspects have already confessed to stealing it." ...

Investigation is a subtle process, requiring patience and fine analytical ability, as well as a skill in cultivating one's sources. When torture is condoned, these rare talented people leave the service, having been outstripped by less gifted colleagues with their quick-fix methods, and the service itself degenerates into a playground for sadists. Thus, in its heyday, Joseph Stalin's notorious NKVD (the Soviet secret police) became nothing more than an army of butchers terrorizing the whole country but incapable of solving the simplest of crimes.

I'll Be At War For Xmas

We were told by skippy:
yes, virginia, there is a war on christmas.

it exists as certainly as lesbian feminazi’s who want to abort all the babies in the world exist, it exists as certainly as communist jewish pinkos who want to force children to worship satan in the schools exist. alas! how dreary would the world be if there were no war on christmas!
We were even warned about the leader of their shock troops by Fafblog:
You see Santa lives in the North Pole where he crashed to earth thousands a years ago in the time before time, when the Jolly Ones walked the earth and stalked primitive man in the halls of the Jingle King. Now he sleeps beneath the frozen wastes waiting for the one time a year when the stars are right and he can rise from the ice to spread toys an goodies an Christmas cheer an feast on the brains of naughty children everywhere.
Now the evil Santerrorists have come out in the open on the streets of a place just hours ahead of us:
A gang of drunken "Santas" caused merry hell across central Auckland yesterday, robbing stores, tagging buildings and assaulting security guards.

Three men were arrested on a variety of drunk and disorderly charges, and two security guards had to be treated for cuts after being hit with beer bottles.

The group of 40 men - mostly in their mid-20s and dressed in ill-fitting Santa costumes - began their "Santarchy" shortly after 2pm. First stop was the Victoria St motorway overbridge where they smashed beer bottles and urinated.

They moved through Victoria Park kicking over rubbish bins, throwing bottles at cars and leaping in front of vehicles. One also tagged the Victoria St NZ Post building. Then they headed to the Sky City Casino where several vandalised the giant Christmas tree in the foyer.

Some made their way to the Victoria St Star Mart where they took several items from the shelves. Then it was through Queen St, High St and down to Britomart where security guards said they were yelling, swearing and "causing mayhem".

One ripped a window wiper off a bus while others harangued security guards and waiting passengers. --New Zealand Herald
This Axis of Grinchiness even has it's own anti-Christmas song, viciously using the music of my favorite carol reset to words from H. P. Lovecraft fans! You can read the lyrics, and click on a link that will play the song for you at The Carol of the Old Ones:
Eons have passed: now then at last
Prison walls break, Old Ones awake!
They will return: mankind will learn
New kinds of fear when they are here.
Turn off the lights on your tree, and be very afraid. (Thanks to BlondeSense for the picture.)

What Else Fitz Found In Karl's Emails

(Dear Karl:

Per your request to begin laying the groundwork for dumping the scapegoat overboard, we propose this remake of a recent popular film. The musical melodrama Moulin Rouge moved the MTV masses, so we have adapted it for your own political purposes. Of course, we had to make certain ideological changes to appeal to your major corporate backers. Naturally, your client will be the idealistic hero, and your intended patsy will serve as the evil villain.)


[overlaid words: PARIS 2005]

[The film opens with a view of the city from above, panning down to the office building containing the headquarters of the Renard TV network. In front is the giant black millstone that serves as the logo of the network's biggest hit program, Meule Noire. In the huge axle hole in the hub of the stone stands Perlé, in his costume as The Enchanted Wurlitzer, slowly singing "Money", from Cabaret.]

PERLÉ: "If you haven't any coal in the stove, And you freeze in the winter...."

[As he goes on singing the song, the camera slowly pans up to a nearby rooftop (where a billboard reads "Quick Cash"), and then down into the tiny loft apartment of Bushé, unshaven and in rumpled clothes, snorting coke at his desk. He looks up dazedly, goes out to a table and chair on the balcony, and begins to type on his laptop, writing these words just as Perlé sings them:]

PERLÉ: "Money makes the world go around."

[Bushé goes on typing, reading his words aloud as the camera moves out and about the city, the stone before the network headquarters, the stage where the show is filmed, and broadcasts of recent programs, showing the various characters as he mentions them.]

BUSHÉ: Meule Noire: A combination broadcast news magazine, sometime talk show, televised trivia tournament, and an ahistorical "reality program". Its symbol was a huge black millstone, engraved with the words "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small." Hosted by Ailé, a former campaign consultant, it was a palace of prime time political pleasure, where spinmeisters traded tall tales with young, sexy fluffers of the media world. Loveliest of any was the woman who would come to work for me -- Speakerine. A miller's daughter, she had become a jet set power groupie, who shared her airtime with movers and shakers. They called her the Sycophantic Jewel. And she was the biggest ratings draw of Meule Noire. The woman that I hired is ... gone.

[He looks up and stares out the window in agony, then returns to his typing, while his voice continues over the camera panning around the city, the train station, flashbacks to his father speaking, and the partying studio audience at Meule Noire.]

BUSHÉ: I came to Paris for the first time from rural Texas. Out there with no cable television I had never seen Meule Noire, Ailé, or Speakerine. The whole planet's politics were being transformed by an exciting revolution, and I wanted to make my own vision a part of it. I had to turn my back on my father, who warned that going to the big city

[Cut to his father, snarling "To pursue that vision thing wouldn't be prudent!"]

BUSHÉ: Paris had the bands, the artists, the authors, creating the new Neocrat world order. Here I was willing to starve in a garret while drafting my masterpieces about life, rapture, democracy, and the ideal I idolized above all else, profit.

[Cut to his father, shouting angrily "Why this endless preoccupation with profits!"]

BUSHÉ: Of course there was a slight difficulty. I'd never actually earned any profits. Just then a man's body fell off the rooftop onto my balcony.

[The unconscious Norqy falls on the table from above. Perlé, Reedé, Robé and Alyssa look down at him from the rooftop.]

PERLÉ: Please excuse us. We were rehearsing a new reality segment for Meule Noire.

BUSHÉ: [Again reading his voice-over as he types it.] It was to be a modern show, filled with Neocrat ideals, called "Armageddon Armageddon". The man who fell off the roof was Norqé, who had been convicted of attempting to drown a baby in the bath. Instead of putting him in prison, the state had placed an electrical implant in his head. Whenever he came near an infant, or even thought of one, he received a severe jolt to his brain's pain center that knocked him out. The players enlisted me to stand in for Norqé and read his part for the rehearsal. They were busily working on some troublesome lyrics by the show's writer, Alyssa.

ALYSSA: [In a black outfit with a long cape and bobbed dark hair. Reads from her script.]
Money - gold gleam
Profit's my dream
It fosters my self-esteem.

REEDÉ: No, too high-brow. Try this:
Money, it's plain
We all want gain
We don't care if that makes pain

ROBÉ: [At keyboard.] Too sadistic. How about:
Money, keep still
It's all uphill
It gives me a big time thrill

BUSHÉ: [After clearing his throat to no response, finally bursts into song, from Pink Floyd's "Money":]
Money, get back.
I’m all right jack
Keep your hands off of my stack.

[The others stare in astonishment, then begin cheering.]

PERLÉ: That's it!! Alyssa, he's got the right vision -- he should help you write the program!

ALYSSA: [Snarls.] That suggestion is anti-mind. Only a single brain can provide the focus to reconstruct reality according to rational value judgments. I refuse to collaborate with collectivists. [She clamps her long black cigarette holder in her mouth, tosses her cape over her shoulder, and storms out of the room, slamming the door.]

BUSHÉ: [Voice over as others joyfully congratulate him and shake his hand.] So I wound up stumbling into my very first job in the City of Light. Perlé figured they could convince Ailé, the show's boss, to accept my work by first persuading his star, Speakerine. I would be introduced as a notorious and brilliant American avant garde writer, and when she understood my vision she would be so impressed she would demand that Ailé use me. But I was hesitant. [Speaks to the others:] I may not be right for this. I'm not sure if I am a genuine Neocrat!

PERLÉ: Not a Neocrat! Nonsense! You believe in compulsory Democracy, don't you?

BUSHÉ: Why, yes.

REEDÉ: And you do believe in Life, especially unborn life?

BUSHÉ: Of course.

ROBÉ: And you expect The Rapture soon?

BUSHÉ: Certainly.

NORQÉ: Never mind the metaphysics. How about Profit?

BUSHÉ:: Especially Profit. A return on investment is a return to paradise. Dividends make life worth living. Gains are the wind beneath our ailerons. The invisible hand of the marketplace is the unseen arm of heaven. Fortunes are a favor for the brave.

NORQÉ: And taxes?

BUSHÉ: Don't use socialistic obscenities like that around me! Greed is good! Capitalism rules!

PERLÉ: See, everyone! He's one of us! A genuine Neocrat!

BUSHÉ: [Voice over, typing, as they all snort lines of coke from the table.] To celebrate, they would give me my first sample of the deadline writer's friend ... cocaine.

[He sniffs. Out of the powder on the table rises a spirit in white with wings, which expands and flies to face him.]

WHITE ANGEL: I'm the White Angel. [She sings J. J. Cale's "Cocaine", as she flaps her wings and zips rapidly around the room, leaving a trail of white powder in the air. All the others are wildly cheering.] She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie....

BUSHÉ: Fully charged, we dashed out for the Meule Noire studio, where I would meet Speakerine.

(More later on request.)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Old Shell Game

The Great Grey Whore reports
House and Senate negotiators agreed Friday to a measure that would enable the government to keep prisoners at Guantánamo Bay indefinitely on the basis of evidence obtained by coercive interrogations.

The provision, which has been a subject of extensive bargaining with the Bush administration, could allow evidence that would not be permitted in civilian courts to be admissable in deciding whether to hold detainees at the American military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In recent days, the Congressional negotiators quietly eliminated an explicit ban on the use of such material in an earlier version of the legislation.

The measure is contained in the same military policy bill that includes Senator John McCain's provision to ban the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in American custody worldwide. ...

The juxtaposition of the seemingly contradictory measures immediately led lawyers for Guantánamo prisoners to assert that Congressional Republicans were helping to preserve the utility of coercive interrogations that senior White House officials have argued are vital to the fight against war against terror.

While the measure would allow the Guantánamo prisoners to challenge in federal court their status as enemy combatants and to appeal automatically any convictions and sentences handed down by military tribunals in excess of 10 years, it would still prevent the detainees from asking civilian courts to intervene with the administration over harsh treatment or prison conditions.

Thomas B. Wilner, a lawyer who represents a group of Kuwaiti detainees at Guantánamo Bay, said in an interview that the new language would render the McCain restrictions unenforceable at the Cuban prison. "If McCain is one small step forward, enactment of this language would be two giant steps backwards," Mr. Wilner said.
UPDATE: What denial of legal responsibility means in practice is stories like this one:
Forty miles from where I write, a man sits. His eyes and ears are covered, his wrists and ankles manacled. He has been drugged. He may not know he is aboard a Lockheed Gulfstream jet, refuelling on the tarmac at Glasgow International Airport. He may not know where he's going.

He is going to be tortured. With beatings. With a scalpel. With a broken bottle. He will sign a confession. He will say he knows people whose names have been given to him. Some of the people he names may, some day, be on that plane. He may be on that plane himself because somebody else has, in the same position, named him.

At some moment, in the past year or two, this has been the case. It may be the case at this moment. --Ken MacLeod
(Thanks to Avedon Carol.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Reflected In The Funhouse Mirror

And Andrew Sullivan -- pursuant to his apparent brand differentiation strategy, I guess -- is bravely standing up to the "NRO-Reynolds chorus," whatever that means. I don't think I really agree with Mark Levin, Rich Lowry, et al. on the specific subject at hand, though I confess that I haven't followed that particular pissing match very closely. However, I do agree with them that Andrew has been consistently, pompously, and annoyingly moralistic and irritatingly unspecific. So if that's the chorus, well yes -- but it's a song that has a lot of notes, most of them struck by Andrew himself. And I'm irritated with him, not for the reason you might think -- because I disagree with Andrew -- but more the contrary, because every time I read one of his preening posts, I find my opposition to torture weakening in response, even though I've been consistently in opposition to torture since 2001 (and before). God help me if he ever starts blogging in support of nanotechnology and bans on cloning -- I'll probably start looking at Leon Kass more sympathetically. It's like listening to Robert Bork talk about original understanding jurisprudence. --Instapundit
Now all the friends and sycophants who had fawned upon him so lovingly over the years; the stanch supporters in Walter's world who had stood with him throughout his career in a solid phalanx of adoration and approval that had formed a shield against public criticism even in his darkest moments; the thousands in the academic world, the professors who had so often cited him with warm approval as an example of the perfect public servant, the students who had secretly or openly made him their ideal; all that heterogeneous mass of uneasy and sometimes startling bedfellows who huddled together under the term "liberal", some truly so and some among the most rigid and reactionary, in their complete intolerance, that he had ever known; all those overseas in many lands who admired him as a symbol of what they considered best in the American system -- now they all would turn upon him, he knew, with the frantic, hysterical savagery of the tyrannical betrayed. --Allen Drury, Capable Of Honor, p. 481

Monday, December 12, 2005

Arbuste Says Americans Have Paid A Heavy Price

Paris, 12 Dec. -- French President Georges Arbuste expressed optimism about the American elections this week, but also admitted that the people there have paid a heavy price -- 3,000,000 dead -- as a result of the French-led occupation and the bloody insurrection against it.

As Americans began voting in their own parliamentary elections, Arbuste cautioned that no known country has ever formed a working independent democracy without "challenges, setbacks, and false starts."

"There remains very much hard work to be done in America," the president said. "But, thanks to the bold spirit of the American population, the year 2005 will be remembered as the great turning point in the history of the United States, the history of the western hemisphere, and the proud history of freedom."

Arbuste unprecedentedly allowed questions from the audience and was at once asked about the growing number of the war's American casualties.

"I would figure 3,000,000 more or less have been killed, by our initial occupation and by the continuing violence against Americans by foreign-backed terrorists," the president replied. "We've lost about 214,000 of our own brave French soldiers in America."

Presidential counselor Danielle Poire said afterward that Arbuste's estimate of the total of Americans killed was not any official calculation but that the president was only restating media estimates.

Another reporter questioned the administration's allegation of a link between the July 14, 2001, terrorist destruction of the Louvre with the American occupation. Arbuste repeated that Albert Gore, the last elected American president, was a threat and he was widely believed in Europe to control weapons of mass destruction. This perception was later proven incorrect, when it turned out that the Halliburton Corporation, to which the US military had outsourced its entire nuclear arsenal, had pocketed the payments and replaced the bombs with empty shells.

"I had to make that difficult decision," Arbuste said. "And if I knew then what I know now, I would still make that same choice. Removing Gore made this world better and America safer."

The French government's English-language television service, Sourire, did carry Arbuste's statements live, but it was not shown on any of the pirate or Canadian English television stations. A new poll showed that most Americans do not approve of the French forces present in their country.