Archive for June, 2006

A bad day for democracy

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Venting on Limbaugh

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

In response to the story about Limbaugh’s new prescription drug problem, I wrote the following — which I felt the need to share — in an email to a friend:

I patiently wait for the day that Limbaugh’s heart explodes, his mouth and eyes fill with the bile of his putrid, puss-like existence, and — if one were to believe in these kinds of things — what’s left of his burnt and spoiled soul painfully drags itself into a dark corner of the netherworld to shake in fear of the impending karmic retribution.

A man can dream, can’t he? :)

I don’t wish his death. I’d prefer he be completely immasculated (all Viagra puns intended), metaphorically-speaking, long before he joins the right-wing choir inflammable.

Unfortunately, as Steve pointed out, Limbaugh will continue to enjoy the mindless support of his deluded legions, no matter how many of his hypocritical, unethical or immoral acts are exposed.

He truly does represent the Republican party.

- Greg

Defacing the Bill of Rights

Monday, June 26th, 2006

They say the small minded people may have the votes this time.  They may actually be able, for the first time in American history, to deface the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by formally amending the Bill of Rights.

To tell you the truth, I don’t give a damn about protecting the right to burn flags.  If the Supreme Court tomorrow were to overrule Texas v. Johnson, the 1989 decision that first held that flag desecration is protected by the First Amendment, I would disagree, but I wouldn’t lose much sleep over it.

What I do give a damn about is the Bill of Rights.  As my friend Winston once said,

Do these people have any sense at all of the degree of the blasphemy they’re committing? Make no mistake — the Constitution of the United States, and most particularly, the Bill of Rights, represents something sacred — our nation’s greatest achievement. Not just the fact we adopted them. The fact that for over 200 years we’ve actually lived them, not perfectly, but, most of the time, remarkably well.

No other nation in the history of the world had done that before. And if 1,000, or even 10,000, years from now, human beings, having perhaps migrated to the stars, look back at the great events in the history of our race, I have no doubt that the Constitution of the United States, and in particular, the Bill of Rights, will still be celebrated as being among the key events in the advance of human kind.

That’s the heritage bequeathed to us by those who came before. A heritage we will be throwing away, like yesterday’s newspaper, if ever we allow the small minded to amend the Constitution, so as to turn it into an instrument that restricts, rather than guarantees, the freedom of individuals.

God, don’t you ever wonder why it is that a people so in love with the word freedom find it so hard to live it in the real world?

Update: As noted by MikeH in the comments, the amendment failed in the Senate by one vote.  If your senator was one of the no votes consider sending him/her a thank you.  This vote took some courage.

Chronic Moderate Republican Denial Syndrome (CMRDS)

Monday, June 26th, 2006

One really cool thing about blogging is that we bloggers are free to pontificate on any subject we want, regardless of whether we have the slightest clue as to what we’re talking about.  This expertise-neutral attribute is, of course, particularly valuable to certain conservative bloggers, who, obviously, would otherwise be condemned to eternal silence.

Still, we liberal bloggers take our fair advantage as well.  And speaking of which, why not apply the principle to psychiatry?

Speaking as a layperson, I believe that when the American Psychiatric Association finally gets around to publishing the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, they need to seriously consider adding a new disorder — Chronic Moderate Republican Denial Syndrome (CMRDS).

Diagnostic Criteria:

The Axis I diagnostic criteria for CMRDS will be as follows:

A. A person holding relatively moderate views on political and social issues;

B. Who is a long term member of the Republican Party;

C. Who has cognitive recognition that the so-called moderate wing of the party no longer exists and that today’s Republican leaders are almost exclusively far-right extremists;

D. But who, nevertheless (and this one clinches the diagnosis), ignores this information and continues to wholeheartedly support the Republican Party.


The daily doom, part XV

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

To repeat myself, yet again: Does a day ever go by anymore without another terrifying revelation about global warming?

(LA Times) Greenland’s Ice Sheet Is Slip-Sliding Away

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Should all of the ice sheet ever thaw, the meltwater could raise sea level 21 feet and swamp the world’s coastal cities, home to a billion people. It would cause higher tides, generate more powerful storm surges and, by altering ocean currents, drastically disrupt the global climate.

Climate experts have started to worry that the ice cap is disappearing in ways that computer models had not predicted.

By all accounts, the glaciers of Greenland are melting twice as fast as they were five years ago, even as the ice sheets of Antarctica — the world’s largest reservoir of fresh water — also are shrinking, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Kansas reported in February.

I seem to be spending an awful lot of time anymore blogging about global warming.  You’d almost think the whole world is on the line, or something.

Must read Jim Hansen article on global warming

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

A really terrific summary article in The New York Review of Books, via Hullabaloo

The Threat to the Planet

Animals are on the run. Plants are migrating too. The Earth’s creatures, save for one species, do not have thermostats in their living rooms that they can adjust for an optimum environment. Animals and plants are adapted to specific climate zones, and they can survive only when they are in those zones. Indeed, scientists often define climate zones by the vegetation and animal life that they support. Gardeners and bird watchers are well aware of this, and their handbooks contain maps of the zones in which a tree or flower can survive and the range of each bird species.

Those maps will have to be redrawn. Most people, mainly aware of larger day-to-day fluctuations in the weather, barely notice that climate, the average weather, is changing. In the 1980s I started to use colored dice that I hoped would help people understand global warming at an early stage. Of the six sides of the dice only two sides were red, or hot, representing the probability of having an unusually warm season during the years between 1951 and 1980. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, four sides were red. Just such an increase in the frequency of unusually warm seasons, in fact, has occurred. But most people —who have other things on their minds and can use thermostats—have taken little notice.

Well now that certainly worked out well

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

What has 2,500 American deaths and over a trillion dollars spent bought us (among other disasters)?  Why, an increasingly cozy and powerful Iran-Syria coalition, that’s what.

In all seriousness: Could Bush and the neocons have fucked this up any worse if they’d tried?

Maybe that’s why The Boss is richer than I am

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

After all of the huffing and puffing people like me have done about Ann Coulter, along comes The Boss and puts her away with one laugh.

If you haven’t seen the video, check it out at Crooks and Liars.  There’s some good stuff there.

Now there’s a hell of an offer

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

This is quite an offer: Complete amnesty in Iraq to any insurgent who hasn’t committed a crime.  Maybe they’ll sweeten the deal later by throwing in free lifetime dental care for those insurgents who have already lost all of their teeth.

New amnesty plan excludes those who attacked U.S.

(06-23) 04:00 PDT Baghdad — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s new plan to promote reconciliation among Iraq’s rival factions will offer amnesty to Iraqis who have carried weapons but not to those who have committed serious crimes, according to Iraqi politicians who have read the proposal.

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It says that the government will issue an amnesty for all those who have not committed crimes against the people of Iraq and the friends of Iraq,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, an ethnic Kurd. “Those who attack U.S. forces are not immune from legal consequences. An attack on Iraqi forces or multinational forces are seen legally … as the same thing from the perspective of the government.”

And yes, I understand the idea is to grant amnesty to those who have belonged to insurgent groups and militias, but not to those who have carried out attacks.  But seriously, could there be a more unworkable proposal?

When law becomes a bother

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Perhaps the greatest single consistency of the Bush presidency has been its contempt for legal process. Given the choice between following prescribed legal steps in carrying out policy or flouting them, Bush & Co. will almost always choose the latter. So habitual is this contempt of law, it’s hard anymore to chalk it up to pragmatic motivations, like, for example, a cop who lies about a supposed “confidential informant” to justify searching the house of a bad guy.

No, there’s something more at work here.

Take the administration’s insistence on conducting wiretaps without court approval. It isn’t as though the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) present some horrendous burden to the government. FISA judges have approved almost all requests for national security wiretaps; and, in any case, the terms of the Act allowed surveillance to begin even without court approval, subject only to a far from oppressive requirement that the government obtain retroactive court approval within 72 hours.

Still, the Bush Administration refused to be bothered.

No, this isn’t about expediency; it’s about contempt for the rule of law — together with an arrogant insistence upon completely unfettered executive power.

It’s been a long and ugly parade, going back to the start of the administration, but especially since the Sept. 11 attacks, an event Bush seems to believe transformed him into a de facto dictator, with complete freedom to ignore not just enactments of Congress, but the United States Constitution itself: Military tribunals created by executive fiat, foreign nationals seized and held in secret, American citizens imprisoned in military brigs as “enemy combatants,” attorney-client confidentiality breached without court order; widespread warrantless surveillance, resistance to all congressional oversight, use of “rough interrogation” methods otherwise known as torture, issuing presidential “signing statements” purporting to exempt the president from the law of the land and on and on and on.