Archive for December, 2007
Sully makes a good point:
Notice also that this isn’t the ticking time bomb case that Charles [Krauthammer] has previously invoked to defend torture. There was no imminent threat to hundreds of thousands of people; we had no way of knowing for sure that Zubaydah had any knowledge of such a devastating threat; and we have no independent way of knowing whether the information he allegedly gave up under torture was factually accurate. And so in the initial cases of torture under this administration, we discover it was used simply because we had no good intelligence of future threats; and we decided to use torture for a fishing expedition. So much for the rare exception to the rule.
Right; this was pretty damned far from the justificatory apparatus that conservatives have invoked in defense of various forms of torture. Then again, it’s rather in the same vein as hawkish claims about “pre-emptive war”. If this administration understands pre-emption as the justification for the invasion of any country that might develop the capability to launch an attack at some point in the next two decades, then it’s hardly a leap to imagine that they consider the “ticking time bomb” scenario as justification for the torture of anyone who might threaten the US in the near or distant future.
And while I’m generally skeptical of “slippery slope” arguments (it seems to me political life is about drawing lines, then arguing about which way they should move), it’s hard to disagree with the following:
The defenders of torture are always saying that it can be used “judiciously” and in extremely limited circumstances, that it can be controlled within the executive branch; that it need not metastasize into a Agstress broader policy, and need not trickle down to others. But from all the facts we now know, this executive decision to rescind the Geneva Conventions began with cases that were already beneath the “ticking time bomb” scenario, and within months spread like wildfire across every theater of combat, including every major branch of the armed services, leading to scores of deaths in interrogation, almost casual if brutal torture of (often innocent) suspects in Afghanistan and Iraq, secret torture sites in Eastern Europe, God knows what in outsourced torture in the grim redoubts of Uzbek, Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian police states, and, of course, the excrescence of Abu Ghraib, which Bush had the gall to say he had nothing to do with.
There’s a lot of sturm und drang about the state of abortion laws in this country — and rightly so. Several states are trying an end run around Roe by constitutionally enshrining fetal life from the moment of conception; the Supreme Court doesn’t think women are full citizens and issues decisions that sound more like 1947 than 2007; and in 87% of American counties, there is no abortion provider.
But still. Looking at the map that Good Magazine has put together (via Jezebel) of the world’s abortion laws, we’re in comparatively good shape. Most equitorial and sub-equitorial women, it seems, are screwed. One nit to pick, though: Good’s map puts the US in a category of countries (58 of them) in which abortion is permitted with no restrictions. That’s not actually true of abortion in the U.S.; it wasn’t true under the Roe framework and it’s sure as hell not true under the Casey framework that Gonzales v. Carhart virtually gutted. In the U.S., there are countless restrictions on access to abortion: waiting periods, notification laws, a federal ban on one type of abortion procedure, “informed” consent laws. The list goes on. So as much as I’m thankful for the U.S.’s relative liberalism with regard to abortion, I also think it does us no good to paint a picture far rosier than the one we deal with here on the ground.
So Alfonso Cuaron’s Great Expectations was on HBO not long ago, and since I’d never seen it I decided I’d give it a try. It looked terrible and got awful reviews, but all of Cuaron’s other films are great, causing me to wonder whether it was misunderstood.
It, uh… wasn’t misunderstood. God, that was a terrible movie. I mean damn, it just wasn’t any good. I have to wonder whether Cuaron was actually on some kind of bender during the making of the film, necessitating the handing over of directorial duties to Ethan Hawke. Bleh. Ick.
If you’re Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Yankee, the fact that Franklin Foer still has a job pretty much has you breathing into a paper bag several times an hour.
But when he’s not calling for Foer’s head to be mounted on end of a pikestaff, TIDOS — the Dwight Schrute of the blogosphere — has taken to dispensing survival tips to his readers. If, for instance, you’ve never thought about how to survive a hail of bullets in a shopping mall — a circumstance that Sudden Jihadists are determined that all of us face someday — Gomer’s your man. Among the priceless tips:
Once you make it outside, keep moving. Put as much physical space and as many physical objects between you and the scene as possible.
So if I understand him correctly, when the shooting starts, I should . . . um . . . run? Well I’ll be damned.
Just so we’re clear on this, the contributors to Lawyers, Guns and Money have no meaningful counsel to offer on mall rampages, carjackings, street muggings, boar attacks, cat scratch fever, hot dog fingers, or getting shot in the face by Dick Cheney. Rob has, however, done his part to warn us about the Zombie Menace and the Day of the Monkeys that looms before us like a dark, hairy cloud — but as this site has always been primarily devoted to news and information that are genuinely useful, you would only expect as much.
Henry applies the “you hump it, you own it” principle to yet another of my daughter’s toys.
Reacting Wednesday to the blockbuster deal that sent power-hitting third baseman Miguel Cabrera and former All-Star left-hander Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins to the Detroit Tigers — wrecking the Sox’ latest offseason plans — Williams said: ‘‘All this has done is put the Tigers in a better position to contend with us.”
Yes, contend with you. I’m sure you believe that!
Apparently, Williams is also the prime candidate to be the idiot who takes Juan Pierre off the Dodgers’ hands; that seems about right. Which reminds me, it really should be noted that the much-maligned-by-anti-Beane-nitwits Paul Depodesta was about a hundred times better as a GM than Ned Coletti, although in fairness the Mets never would have had their incredible stretch run this year without Paul LoDuca’s incredible clutchiosity and leadertude. And you could never wina World Series with a character like J.D. Drew on your team. Advantage: Bill Plaschke!
I’m not sure — objectively! — that Yglesias or Cole fully understand the extent to which — objectively! — Mitt Romney’s speech was without question the greatest in the history of American political discourse. When even a dispassionate analyst like Hugh Hewitt can — objectively! — see the greatness of Romney’s attack on the non-religious and staunch opposition to the secular polity established by the Constitution, backed up by such brilliant analysts as Sean Hannity and Michael Medved, I can only conclude that only the most embarrassing hack could fail to see Mitt Romney as the greatest orator in the history of mankind. Objectively!
The CIA deliberately destroyed tapes of two of its “severe interrogations.” The First Rule of the Bush administration: it can always get worse. Marty Lederman correctly calls out Jay Rockefeller, who at the very least has been sitting on this information since 2006, for yet again shedding crocodile tears after failing to do anything when it mattered. Marcy Wheeler, among other good points, notes that this will be the first major test for Mukasey, “a clear case of obstruction of justice involving Goss and a bunch of other people.” We’ll see if there’s been any progress from the Gonzales regime soon enough…
I haven’t always agreed with Murray Chass’s analysis of labor issues, but he’s been doing great stuff about the exclusion of Marvin Miller from the Hall of Fame, this time by a committee stacked with Lords of the Realm after he was becoming to close to being elected under the old system. And, adding insult to injury Bowie Kuhn, the dimwitted reactionary who (thankfully) lost one battle after another in his attempt to make sure that players continued to receive grossly below-market salaries, was elected:
The National Baseball Hall of Fame has become a national joke. Its latest electoral contrivance elected three former executives to the Hall yesterday, none named Marvin Miller. Making the committee’s decision even worse, one of the three is named Bowie Kuhn.
For any committee of 12 supposedly knowledgeable baseball people to elect Kuhn, Barney Dreyfuss and Walter O’Malley and not Miller defies reasonable and logical explanation.
Of the three men elected by this newfangled panel, O’Malley deserves the honor because by moving his Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles 50 years ago, a move for which he is still reviled in Brooklyn, he opened the entire country to baseball. The new geography made a significant impact on Major League Baseball.
Few men, if any, however, made as significant an impact as Miller on Major League Baseball. You don’t have to like what he did to recognize that impact. The game today is what it is in great part because of what Miller did as executive director of the players union from 1966 through 1983.
That only 3 of the 12 voters on the new executives committee acknowledged his contribution, and voted for him, is a sad commentary on the committee members and the Hall’s board of directors, which concocted the committee.
The committee was weighted heavily in favor of management candidates. Seven of the 12 members were or are management figures, owners and executives. If ever a system was created for the failure of one man, this was it.
“They are not a jury of my peers,” Miller observed last week, “but a jury of my antagonists.”
This would seem to be payback by people who should know better. Miller wrecked the owners’ cushy setup as lords and masters of the players and they would show him. I didn’t think Miller would get the nine votes necessary for election, but I thought he could come close. I could never have imagined that only three members would vote for him. As a member of the writers’ wing of the Hall of Fame but a nonvoter because The New York Times doesn’t allow its employees to vote, I am embarrassed for the Hall and everyone connected to it. Jane Forbes Clark, the chairman, and Dale Petroskey, the president, should especially feel embarrassed for what has occurred.
It is good that Dick Williams was selected; more on that later. Stephen Brunt has more on Miller.
We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places.
OK, Mitt. Whatever you say.
Here’s the Father of Our Country (and George Washington):