Abuse of Authority Now Playing: the scene from The Crying Game when the chick turns out to be a guy
My understanding is that, about six hours from now, the United States House of Representatives will meet and vote on the Terri Schiavo Relief Act. Some Democrats have objected to this unprecedented and unprincipled abuse of Federal authority ---and have succeeded in making this a roll-call vote, requiring a quorum.
I have no idea what the fuck the Republican leadership thinks it's doing. That includes the President of the United States. This is easily one of the stupidest legislative actions of my lifetime.
That's because this bill represents the arrogance of usurpation. The United States Congress, controlled by a Republican majority in both houses, has taken it upon itself to countermand the decisions of the Florida state judicial system for the purpose of interfering in the medical treatment of a single individual ---a woman who suffered irreversible brain damage 15 years ago when she was in her mid-20s.
Why is this happening? Why is the Congress now opening itself up to what will become, regardless of what Congressmen like Dave Weldon say, a whole torrent of requests from thousands upon thousands of citizens for the Federal government to intervene in their lives, too? This is an unmitigated disaster, brought on by the rankest kind of emotionalism.
The greater problem, though, is that if the Federal government acts to interfere in the life of an individual by request, what is to keep the government from ultimately choosing to interfere in the life of an individual against his or her will? Isn't that the greatest of all taboos to those who swear by limited government? Indeed, what else is the drafting and passing of legislation aimed at a single person but the very essence of the abuse of the State? What could better symbolize the defeat of the notion of the individual's supremacy than this act?
The Republican leadership has badly miscalculated the tolerance of the public on this. The evangelical Christian movements and others who support this have taken a very dangerous turn in their relationship with the rest of us. They have shown us that they have more influence with the GOP leadership than they should. And they have exposed themselves as hypocrites who really do believe that the Government belongs in our private lives ---from conception to the grave.
If you can, stay up tonight and watch this trainwreck. The House is going to meet right after midnight and do something that they will regret nine ways to Sunday.
(And thanks to the commenter at Eschaton from whom I swiped this picture of a beautiful young Terri Schiavo. Look at her face. There is a woman who was living a life. She was free to ride and laugh and love. What has become of her? She must be in hell. And we're supposed to respect those who would abuse their own authority to prolong her vegetative state? Shameful.)
After what has to be one of the best word-of-mouth advertising non-campaigns in the young life of the .com age, Google has finally started making the famous GMail widely available to schmoes like me.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 8:52 PM CST
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Updated: Friday, 18 March 2005 8:58 PM CST
Thursday, 17 March 2005
don't ask Now Playing: "Strange Way" by Firefall
I find this whole Terri Schiavo business disgusting. For starters, Jeb Bush should be ashamed of himself. As should be the US Congress and the Florida State Legislature. They have all politicized this poor woman's life in a way that is unconscionable.
There are certain criteria that make life sacred. Without them, life is not sacred ---it is hell. We all know what those criteria are: dignity, self-reliance, and the ability to exercise and enjoy the very cognition of the human mind.
Because of their vanity, these people are forcing Schiavo to live out a life that cannot be, in any sense, rewarding or pleasant or meaningful.
The humane thing to do would be to give her an overdose of drugs and help her go to sleep forever. It would be painless and merciful ---as opposed to this ridiculous bullshit of painfully and mercilessly starving her to death.
There is no excuse for what these politicians are doing.
The Nine Lies of Giuliana Sgrena Now Playing: "Mr. Skin" by Spirit 1. Sgrena claimed that the car she was riding in during [her attempted assassination] was attacked by American tanks. That is a lie.
"We were on our way to the airport when the tanks started to strike against us[...]"
2. Sgrena claimed that the American troops fired "300 or 400" rounds at her car. That is a lie.
Sgrena told colleagues the vehicle was not travelling fast and had already passed several checkpoints on its way to the airport. The Americans shone a flashlight at the car and then fired between 300 and 400 bullets at [sic] if from an armoured vehicle.
I can't say it was deliberate because we can't say if there was a lack of information. But also a lack of information in this case is [their] responsibility because you are in a war field and you have the responsibility to pass immediately any information.
"Everyone knows that the Americans do not like negotiations to free hostages, and because of this I don't see why I should exclude the possibility of me having been the target."
4. Sgrena told her boyfriend Pier Scolari that the Americans had fired so many rounds at her car that she was able to grab up whole handfuls of bullets:
Suddenly as they were talking to each other without any signal a flashlight was switched on and three or four hundred bullets were shot towards the car. Giuliana told me she collected handfuls of bullets on the seats.
The car was pock-marked with bullet holes. It's not important how many shots were fired. I know that they are also saying this: that if it really had been a rain of bullets nobody would be here to tell about it and, instead, both I and the major who drove the car are still alive. I can tell you that I found handfuls of bullets on the back seat and a dead man on my body. All of this in a zone close to the airport, supercontrolled by the Amercians.
Really? Take a look at the picture of her car. Do you really believe that our troops fired hundreds of rounds into it? She's a fucking liar.
5. Sgrena claimed that her driver was motoring along at a normal rate of speed, but that's not what the US military says:
[...]according to the senior U.S. military official, the car was traveling at speeds of more than 100 mph. The driver almost lost control several times before the shooting as the car hydroplaned through large puddles, the official told ABC News. The car had not gone through any previous checkpoints, the source added.
Interestingly enough, Sgrena confirms the US military's account of how the car was handling that night:
"The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell."
Oh, I doubt that anything would keep Sgrena from telling tales. After all, people driving through water don't lose control of their car if they're going at a safe speed. What do you do when you notice that you're hydroplaning? You slow down.
6. Sgrena said that, when they started being fired upon:
"The driver started yelling that we were Italians. 'We are Italians, we are Italians.' Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately I heard his last breath as he was dying on me.
Think about that for a moment. With all that gunfire and commotion, what does the driver think he's going to accomplish by yelling out that they are Italians? Why isn't he already stopped? Why hasn't he already heeded the warning lights and shots? After all, the soldiers have been watching them "almost lose control" of their car "several times" over the course of maybe as much as 30 or 40 seconds. And since it's night time, that must mean that our boys did have an eye on them to be able to see the car behave erratically.
7. Sgrena said that the American soldiers should have known that she was en route to the airport. But Italian general Mario Marioli says otherwise:
Mario Marioli, a deputy commander of the US-led coalition troops in Iraq, was quoted by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica as saying: "I asked Calipari if I should inform our American allies of the hostage-freeing operation, but his reply was that under no circumstances was the ally to be informed."
said he had twice been warned by Calipari not to disclose the operation to the Americans.
On the second occasion, with the hostage already free but the operation not yet complete, the general had asked whether he should warn the Americans that the Italians were driving to the airport with Sgrena.
"I was told no, although I warned that this might mean a quarter of an hour's wait at the checkpoint at the airport entrance," Marioli was quoted as saying.
At a minimum, Calipari was negligent. There he is in the middle of a very hostile environment where he has to know that American troops are deployed at checkpoints ---and he wants to try to pull off some caper without giving them advance warning? It's stupid.
8. Roberto Castelli, the Italian Minister of Justice, certainly seems to think that Sgrena is a careless liar:
Italy?s Justice Minister Roberto Castelli rebuked the journalist last week declaring: "Giuliana Sgrena has created enormous problems for this government and has caused grief that would have better been avoided."
"Sgrena, I think, should perhaps be more careful. She has said a load of nonsense, speaks somewhat carelessly and makes careless comments."
That's a pretty damning assessment, wouldn't you say?
9. It's entirely possible that Sgrena's capture by Islamofascist criminals was itself staged. But what about her rescue? Did Calipari not inform the Americans of what was happening because he didn't want them to know that he had paid a ransom? Naturally, the Italian government denies that they paid as much as $10 million for her release. But why else would these savages have released her? They knew early on that she was a sympathizer, so why hold on to her unless there was a profit motive?
I should also point out that if Berlusconi is challenging the American view of the incident, it is because he is politically obligated to. He's hacked off at us because it obscures his own role in paying ransom. That's to be expected, frankly.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 8:56 PM CST
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Updated: Thursday, 17 March 2005 9:27 PM CST
In the Strangers' Gallery Mood:
lucky Now Playing: "Free Four" by Pink Floyd
Ten years ago today, I was in my favorite city in the whole world: London. I spent maybe a month there at the Palace Hotel, a cool old youth hostel near Notting Hill Gate. What an incredible time in my life. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.
In the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day of 1995, I went and visited the British House of Commons and even went up into the Strangers' Gallery for a while. What a beautiful place!
That evening, I came back to the Palace and asked aloud for an Irishman to go get drunk with. A young man from Nova Scotia, who was in London on leave from his duties as a peacekeeper in the Balkans, volunteered that he was "half-Irish". And I said that'd do.
Damn me for not remembering his name. He was as decent and good-natured a young man as I've ever met abroad. If I ever come across his name in my stash of memorabilia, I will tell it here. I hope he some day finds me or I him.
We had a great night on St. Paddy's Day a decade ago this very hour, going from pub to pub and drinking snakebites and pints of Guinness.
"The deeds of a man in his old age Are the deeds of a man in his prime..."
Erin go bragh.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 5:58 PM CST
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Updated: Thursday, 17 March 2005 6:00 PM CST
Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Dissembling, Disassembling Mood:
Christopher Hitchens has something to say about the New York Times' story from this past Sunday on the "looting" of Saddam's weapons facilities in the days after his fall:
According to the [...] story, Dr. Sami al-Araji, the deputy minister of industry, says that after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, "looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms."
But we knew this, right? Hitchens asks:
My first question is this: How can it be that, on every page of every other edition for months now, the New York Times has been stating categorically that Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction? And there can hardly be a comedy-club third-rater or MoveOn.org activist in the entire country who hasn't stated with sarcastic certainty that the whole WMD fuss was a way of lying the American people into war. So now what? Maybe we should have taken Saddam's propaganda seriously, when his newspaper proudly described Iraq's physicists as "our nuclear mujahideen."
The threat of Ba'athist terrorism isn't over, of course. In fact, if these components and systems were moved across the border into Syria, the nightmare may have only begun.
Read Hitchens and the Times story both ---and be appalled. Be appalled at what passes for news on the goddamned TV.
(A big tip o' the hat to the indispensible Little Green Footballs.)
Show This Post to the Next Wanker Who Tells You America Is a Police State Now Playing: "Sugar Mountain" by Neil Young
Courtesy of the guys at The Ombudsgod!, check out this post over at Eugene Volokh's site about the number of complaints received by the Justice Department having to do with the notorious PATRIOT Act. Poster Orin Kerr writes that in the latest report:
DOJ received 1,943 complaints about alleged civil liberties abuses. Of these, 1,748 either did not warrant an investigation or were outside DOJ's jurisdiction[...]
The report itself continues (my emphasis added):
Approximately three-quarters of the 1,748 complaints made allegations that did not warrant an investigation. For example, some of the complaints alleged that government agents were broadcasting signals that interfere with a person’s thoughts or dreams or that prison officials had laced the prison food with hallucinogenic drugs. The remaining one-quarter of the 1,748 complaints in this category involved allegations against agencies or entities outside of the DOJ, including other federal agencies, local governments, or private businesses. We referred those complaints to the appropriate entity or advised complainants of the entity with jurisdiction over their allegations.
How very desperately Leftist America wants there to be a police state! They would be so much more justified in their casual observation that the Bush Administration is the Fourth Reich.
Those who would presume to call this country a police state deserve to be locked up. Maybe even in a concentrated way. Because, for people who so earnestly believe this sort of gibberish crawling out of their own pieholes, it would be a fitting thanks from the rest of us to help them [confirm their theories].
B'gosh! Now Playing: "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" by Asleep at the Wheel
Wow. How much of a terrorist tool do you have to be to get cancelled on by Turd Kennedy? Just ask everybody's favorite boghopping bomb-thrower, Gerry Adams:
WASHINGTON - Sen. Edward M. Kennedy yesterday abruptly reversed course and joined the White House in canceling his St. Patrick's Day meeting this week with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
The Irish Republican Army's role in a brutal Belfast barroom murder and other recent outlaw acts have stirred worldwide outrage, threatening Northern Ireland's fragile peace process. Sinn Fein is the IRA's political arm.
"Senator Kennedy has decided to decline to meet with Gerry Adams, given the IRA's ongoing criminal activity and contempt for the rule of law," Kennedy spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner said.
As late as Friday night, Kennedy had been planning to meet with Adams, whom he vowed to hold accountable for the IRA's acts.
Ha, ha! That's great. After Bush and Hastert both gave Adams the backs of their hands, Kennedy ---that great stalwart of conscience--- decides that he doesn't want to be seen as just some parochial terrorist-sympathizer.
I mean, did Kennedy just now figure out what Gerry Adams is?
Lovely Rita Now Playing: John 15:5 (KJV)
This is a picture of my Grandma, taken when she was 23 years old. I've cropped it sorta goofily, but it's something to share, anyway, because today would have been her 98th birthday.
Her name was Rita. Everyone pronounced it "RYE-duh," but I think she probably preferred it to be pronounced the usual way.
I don't think she got past the seventh grade, but she was a perfectly literate woman who loved to do her crossword puzzles. She would fold up that page of the newspaper and sit with me on the front porch of her house and go to work on it with a ratty old dictionary in her lap as a writing surface. And she always did it with a blue ball-point pen.
My Grandma was a little lady, but very tough and sometimes stern. She was hard-working, religious, and full of fire. She once told me that she was born at the age of 17 so that she could help with the war effort. The Great War, that is. I guess the weirdness of that claim was enough to stick in my memory even to this day. But I think I know now what she meant: she was an old soul who had to become an adult before her time. Grandma was always on the job.
I learned a lot from my Grandma. A love of History, especially our family's history. Prudence and frugality. Storytelling and, I have to say, a strong sense of mortality: she raised me to believe in the Last Judgement and the Resurrection of the Dead, you can be sure.
In the years since she passed away, though, I have reconceived what it means to resurrect the dead. It now means to me that those who have gone before must be remembered and honored. They must be survived. Which is what I am doing with these words.
When my Grandma posed for this picture 75 years ago, she wasn't yet married and didn't have three children or nine grandchildren or six great-grandchildren. She hadn't even lived a third of her life yet. And she would never have guessed that one of her grandsons would someday take this picture, scan it into a computer, and share it with the entire world.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Haven't These Morons Ever Heard of the Founder Effect? Mood:
don't ask Now Playing: "Turning Japanese" by The Vapours
I'm watching this program on the National Geographic Channel right now about some newly-discovered ---but extinct--- species of Homo sapiens that's been found on an island near Indonesia ---and it is an absolute scientific atrocity.
You can be sure that their insistence on referring to this 18,000 year-old female skeleton as being a member of a race of hobbits is all the indication you need to know that this is a stupid, soon-to-be exploded bit of pop science.
I don't know what it is about the narrative of this program that's bugging me so much, but it may be their constant reference to the ancestors of the "hobbits" who made it to what is now the island of Flores as "not know[ing] what was about to hit them" and as individuals who "shrank" to maximize their survivability in an environment with fewer resources.
Is this not the sort of shit that the clever Creationist can pick apart in his sleep? And the National Geographic Society is supplying a whole lot of easy? What the hell?
Evolution is a fact of life. Scratch that: Evolution is THE Fact of Life. It's not even a theory, friend. And, accordingly, we need to insist that influential popularizers of Science (such as the NGS) be especially careful to educate the public properly on this issue.
You do not, for instance, say that early humans migrating into the islands of the Pacific were unaware of what was "about to happen" to them in some evolutionary sense ---because it's beyond tautological! No one's "aware" of where he or she stands on the road of human evolution. No one lives long enough to shepherd or guide anything about the evolution of the human race ---and that includes History's greatest mass murderers.
Nor do you say that any one person "shrinks" in all his organs and proportions to maximize his own survivability. Even if this were true of Homo sapiens in some isolated island environment, it would not be a conscious decision ---by one or all--- and it would not be an achievable thing in the course of even a dozen generations, anyway.
I like the idea of a race of "hobbits" who lived so close to the present time. I'm not arguing against it with some heretofore secret expertise on the subject, but I am opposed to how it's being sold to the public: sensationally, presumptively, and ignorantly enough to trip even my own bullshit detector.
The "Austin Java Concept"
I'm watching a replay of some guy on one of the cable access channels pitching what he calls the "Austin Java Concept" to the Austin City Council. Apparently, he's just scored some sort of commissary contract at the new Austin City Hall.
Well, good for him. Every crunchy town needs a crunchy coffee house in its city hall.
But let me get off my shot at this guy, Rick Engel.
Rick, your Austin Java Company may be a great idea with the goatee-stroking set, but let's see what happens when you bring some of your employees over from 12th and Lamar to our City Hall. You know the ones: the surly, tattooed, and pierced off assholes you've got running the store there who can't be bothered to acknowledge the presence of anyone who's playing off-type.
If you're smart, you won't even bother transferring them into such a high-profile gig. That's because they're rude and affected. Think this town's businessmen and developers and lawyers are going to put up with some 20 year-old waif who might get around to taking their orders if she's not busy playing grab-ass with someone in the kitchen?
Let's watch and wait.
If I've ever had a good experience with one of your baristas, I cannot remember it.
Loads of Nonsense Now Playing: "Driver 8" by R.E.M.
Via Little Green Footballs comes this report saying that Italy's minister of justice is recommending that Communist propagandist Giuliana Sgrena shut her bloody gob:
Italy's justice minister urged former hostage Giuliana Sgrena on Friday to stop making "careless" accusations after being shot by US forces in Baghdad, saying she had already caused enough grief.
Sgrena has repeatedly suggesting [sic] US soldiers shot her on purpose and said on Friday she had little faith in a joint investigation by Italy and the United States into the "friendly fire" incident.
"She has created enormous problems for the government and also caused grief that perhaps was better avoided," Justice Minister Roberto Castelli told reporters in Bologna.
Whose grief might that be? Castelli knows:
"Sgrena, I think, should perhaps be more careful. She has said a load of nonsense, speaks somewhat carelessly and makes careless comments," Castelli said.
Translation: this woman is a fucking liar.
How sorry a sack of shit do you have to be to make Michael Moore, who is a traitor, look responsible and dignified?
Susan Estrich: Miserable Buffoon Now Playing: "Some Enchanted Evening" by Robert Goulet
Jesus! I didn't realize how awful the whole Susan Estrich-Michael Kinsley thing had gotten. You've heard about it, right? The old Dukakis clown (with the voice that would offend Rosie Perez) is accusing Los Angeles Times' opinion page editor (Kinsley, the old Crossfire liberal) of refusing to publish enough women writers. What, is it 1979 already?
Apparently, she's been an unbearable bitch about it, too. As Heather MacDonald writes:
Several questions present themselves: how many pieces by women that met the Times’s standards were offered during these periods? What is the ratio of men to women among experts on Iraq? Estrich never bothers to ask these questions, because for the radical feminist, being a woman is qualification enough for any topic. Any female is qualified to write on Iraq, for example, because in so doing, she is providing THE FEMALE PERSPECTIVE. (This belief in the essential difference between male and female “voices,” of course, utterly contradicts the premise of the anti-Larry Summers crusade.) Thus, to buttress her claim that Kinsley “refuses” to publish women, Estrich merely provides a few examples of women whose offerings have been rejected: “Carla Sanger . . . tells me she can't get a piece in; I have women writing to me who have submitted four piece [sic] and not gotten the courtesy of a call—and they teach gender studies at UCLA. . . .” It goes without saying, without further examination, that each of those writers deserved to be published—especially, for heaven’s sakes, the gender studies professors!
Check this out. MacDonald really kicks Estrich in the nuts.
Alright, alright, so I cried a little bit just then when Dan Rather signed off of the CBS Evening News for the last time. What's it to you? Dan Rather was an institution before I was born. He has been a witness to some of History's most important moments for more than 40 years. Think about it! Dan Rather was B.C. (Before Cable).
But not A.I. (After the Internet).
Courage, Dan Rather. I hope you spend the rest of your days doing your best work yet: honest, relevant, and even a little quirky. Have fun, y'hear?
Is This the Car That Stopped a Thousand Rounds?
I doubt that it's going to make much difference to the anti-war Left, but this is a stillframe from some video of the car in which Giuliana Sgrena was riding the other night when the Milo Minderbinder Death$quads tried to assassinate her.
"Is Arkansas in Texas?"
I don't remember exactly how she asked me this question, but I was talking with a young woman today (maybe 20, black, and unacquainted with basic hygiene) who wanted to know whether Arkansas was in or near Texas. At first, I thought she was referring to a town or something or other, but no: she did not know that Arkansas is a state. Good Christ! I started laughing, but quickly stopped to properly take it in.
Is it possible that an American citizen of her age doesn't know such a basic fact of geography? She even had to ask whether, if she made a call to someone there, would it be the same time as here in Texas.
Sorry, but if you're not suffering from some brain disorder and you've lived in this country your entire life, there's no excuse for not knowing where and what Arkansas is. Period.
Oh, No He Di'unh!
Oh, man. Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton may want to rethink their advocacy of restoring the right to vote to convicted felons. I mean, how will they rebut observations like these (from the Deacon over at the Power Line)?:
One problem with felons is that a disproportionately high number of them commit additional crimes and thus find their way back into the criminal justice system. This makes them the natural allies of the Democrats, many of whom look askance both at tough sentencing laws and judges who take a hard line against crime. These positions likely would become more pronounced if felons were enfranchised.
What's going on with Giuliana Sgrena? Is she lying about what happened at that checkpoint? Some are calling her abduction "kidnap kabuki." Some see something sinister at work. I don't know, but something's weird.
Oh! I know what it is: she's a Communist who's praying to God.