Slicker Than Owl Shit
I heard that Johnnie Cochran died today. And although his family and friends deserve our condolences, I cannot help but to say that he was a terrible race-baiter and a demagogue.
Cochran was the lead attorney in the defense of the double-murderer O.J. Simpson. And in that particular Trial of the Century, Cochran used race like a battering ram to bully a weakling on the bench and to sweet-talk a dozen or more of the stupidest assholes to ever sit on a jury. He slandered some good cops and lied about everything else he could think of to get his client off. "Twins of deception" and "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" and a lot of other dishonest bullshit.
Years from now, people who weren't alive to see that circus of insanity will wonder how we ever got so worked up about what Simpson and Cochran did. But trust me, kids: it was a low point in the history of American jurisprudence and of race relations in this country. Sure, it was a major media event and one of the weirdest falls of an all-time sports legend and a sometimes celebrity, but it was a moment of great impact on our culture. A lot of degenerate nonsense that characterizes this society all came together in that single trial ---and it was infuriating to all reason and fairness.
That is Johnnie Cochran's legacy as I see it. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.
Some Remarks I Made Elsewhere
If Americans would only recognize that marriage is not, in itself, a sacred institution, the Schindlers would have a vastly more legitimate claim to be their own daughter's next of kin.
But, as it is, the legal construct of the Schiavos' marriage ---which has become a meaningless bond in all practical senses--- is the very thing that is keeping Michael Schiavo in legal control of his "wife's" life.
The only thing that is sacred in any given marriage is the commitment between the two people in it ---regardless of gender. Absent that, what is there to it?
Michael Schiavo has a wife. A fully conscious one by whom he is a father to her two children. The legal guardianship of the severely brain-damaged Terri Schindler Schiavo should have reverted to her parents years ago.
De Novo ex post Facto Mood:
a-ok Now Playing: "Rock the Casbah" by the Clash
This weekend, I somehow found myself in a very interesting exchange over at one of my very favorite concept-blogs (The Politburo Diktat) with a blogger who went (and goes again?) by the name of Allah. This would be the famous Allahpundit of the old blog Allah Is in the House. I don't know what his status is, but he used to produce some of the best stuff in the blogosphere. Really ingenious PhotoShop stuff ---as well as some excellent writing.
If I believed in jinxes, I wouldn't want to cause one, so I'll just leave it at that. Maybe his garden will grow again.
Anyway, we were discussing the Schiavo Relief Act on the comments thread at the link posted above; in particular, the Act's detrimental effects on the Republican Party, as well as its Constitutionality. I bluffed my way through the legal aspects of it as well as I can, but feel free to set me straight once you've seen what transpired.
Bottom line? The Republicans should never have opened up this can of worms.
"Then comes my fit again." Mood:
don't ask Now Playing:Macbeth, III, iv
CNN's Anderson Cooper is reporting that the FBI has just nabbed somebody who was offering over the Internet to pay a quarter-million dollars for the murder of Michael Schiavo.
And fifty grand for the murder of Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer.
Serviceable Villains Now Playing: "I Am the Walrus" by the Beatles
I'm liking this (on the front page of today's Washington Post):
UNITED NATIONS, March 24 -- Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri with "physical harm" last summer if Hariri challenged Assad's dominance over Lebanese political life, contributing to a climate of violence that led to the Feb. 14 slayings of Hariri and 19 others, according to testimony in a report released Thursday by a U.N. fact-finding team.
The report, which calls for an international investigation into Hariri's death, describes an August meeting in Damascus at which Assad ordered the Lebanese billionaire to support amending Lebanon's constitution, according to testimony from "various" sources who discussed the meeting with Hariri. The amendment, approved Sept. 3, allowed Emile Lahoud, the Syrian-backed Lebanese president, to remain in office for three more years.
This is important because, of course, it's the Holy United Nations that's getting behind the anti-Syrian movement. Which means that it's a Left-proof lead pipe cinch that, when it comes to evicting the Ba'athist element from Lebanon ---and maybe even the Islamofascist terrorist element there--- it will be a much smoother process than two years ago in Iraq.
Hell, if Kofi and Jacques are in on the deal, what could any of these democracy-hating hippies object to?!
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 5:04 PM CST
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Updated: Friday, 25 March 2005 5:08 PM CST
Was "Outing" Valerie Plame a Crime?
Thanks to Tom Maguire, here's the Washington Post's report on a brief filed yesterday.
A federal court should first determine whether a crime has been committed in the disclosure of an undercover CIA operative's name before prosecutors are allowed to continue seeking testimony from journalists about their confidential sources, the nation's largest news organizations and journalism groups asserted in a court filing yesterday.
The 40-page brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that there is "ample evidence . . . to doubt that a crime has been committed" in the case, which centers on the question of whether Bush administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in the summer of 2003. Plame's name was published first by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak and later by other publications.
The Left have been salivating over this thing for nearly two years now because they want someone in George W. Bush's White House to pay. But let's not forget: Joe Wilson was the one who outed his own wife. How's that? Because the decision to send someone of his qualifications to check on the story of Nigerien yellowcake was a curious one. It would have been natural, in the wake of his infamous New York Timeseditorial, to ask how some unqualified ambassador from the Clinton Administration managed to get such an assignment. After all, Wilson's motivations are not above question, are they?
As Wilson wrote in that editorial of 6 July 2003:
After consulting with the State Department's African Affairs Bureau (and through it with Barbr[a] Owens-Kirkpatrick, the United States ambassador to Niger), I agreed to make the trip.
Maybe so, but that "consultation" wasn't just the result of some random drawing. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is the one who got him the job. She is the one who arranged that "consultation."
And, considering the rather high-profile approach he took to contradicting the President, that fact would have been uncovered by any investigative journalist worth his or her salt.
As it is, the well-connected Robert Novak was told the name.
Enough Now Playing: "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas
The comments about Terri Schindler Schiavo and her family that I have come across here and there are very often extreme and, frankly, hurtful. I wish the people making them had the decency to stop and consider what an awful thing this is for that family.
Terri Schindler Schiavo herself is beyond blame. Something terrible happened to her a very long time ago ---and her body has kept whatever is left of her as a human being trapped in an unknowable and unknowing hell. It is very sad.
I wish for her to finally be at peace.
I wish for her family to know the truth about her and to let her pass away. But I do not blame them as parents or siblings. They see their loved one in a way that none of us can know, except in our own experiences with our own loved ones.
But this is not a blameless situation. The Republican leadership of this country and a great many of the evangelical Christian community in America are to blame. The conservative punditocracy of this country ---such as John Gibson on FOX News and most of the staff of the National Review and bloggers such as Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt and others are to blame. They have, in the past week, made me genuinely ashamed of my association with them.
I think they have gone mad. I mean that sincerely. They are like the inhabitants of a medieval village who have all eaten moldy grain and slipped the bonds of reason.
It is very likely that Terri Schindler Schiavo will die in the next few days. You can be sure that there will be displays of fundamentalist hysteria the likes of which we have not seen in this country in a very long time. And when these things do happen and when a lot of outrageous and irresponsible nonsense is spouted, I will be standing with people with whom I very rarely stand to condemn those who've got it coming to them.
That's you, President Bush. That's you, Governor Bush. That's you, Tom DeLay. That's you, Dave Weldon. You people have committed a very terrible error in judgement and it is you who will be responsible for the backlash to come.
I have no idea what's gone wrong inside your heads, but you will be smacked down. Passing that law in the dead of night and against all parliamentary decorum? Intimating that there are "options" at your disposal that circumvent the rule of law? Intervening in the private life of an individual who cannot defend or define her own wishes?
It is an obscenity.
This isn't goddamned Michael Jackson or Scott Peterson or any of that degenerate filth that the cable news networks force upon us every day of our lives instead of addressing the real issues in this society. This is an event imposed upon us by the United States Congress and the President of the United States. They have taken the private grief and torment of a family and used it for political purposes.
I hope all of you are made to pay for this with your jobs and your credibility. I hope this culture finally awakens to the disgusting spectacle of the fundamentalist threat staring us down.
That's part of my shame, see. How often do I find myself defending you people and your right to display the Ten Commandments and to pray in public schools and at sports events? How often do I justify your ways to my secular correspondents and opponents? And this is what it comes to? This craziness that exposes me, too?
Let the storm come. Maybe it will fix you this time.
"You are so awesome!" Now Playing: "Turn to Stone" by the Electric Light Orchestra
My favorite TV ad these days is the Geico thing with the young couple in a reality show where they have to live in a miniature house for a year. The execution of the spoofery is dead-on. Absolutely masterful. But what sells it to me is the inanity of the guy telling his bride that she is "so awesome." That is fucking funny, jackson. Because it perfectly captures the vocabulary of the whole "Dude!" set of 20 and 30-something guys who can't be bothered learning too many words to communicate their [innermost thoughts].
Chance Phelps Now Playing: "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens
I was quite moved earlier today by a story on the CBS Evening News about an ongoing project to honor those brave men and women whom we've lost in the War for Iraq. On display at Arlington National Cemetery is a giant array of painted portraits of these heroes entitled "Faces of the Fallen".
And one of those faces is that of a young Marine named Chance Phelps, whom I learned about last year through Blackfive.net (a very fine milblog that y'all should be reading).
Chance died defending democracy and his country last year in Iraq.
"Chance was an artillery cannoneer and his unit was acting as provisional military police outside of Baghdad. Chance had volunteered to man a .50 caliber machine gun in the turret of the leading vehicle in a convoy. The convoy came under intense fire but Chance stayed true to his post and returned fire with the big gun, covering the rest of the convoy, until he was fatally wounded."
The artist who painted this handsome portrait of Chance is his daddy, John Phelps.
Burn All the Hippies
You're going to get mad reading the following post at SoundPolitics.com, but it's good to know where you stand as an American, see.
These are excerpts of a letter written to the Seattle School Board and Superintendent by Major Terry Thomas, USMCR:
This past Friday afternoon, March 11, 2005 I served as one of a panel of guest speakers at the West Seattle High School Theater after having been invited to West Seattle High School by a student, Mr. Ben Doty, via referral from Ms. Nadine Gulit of Operation Support Our Troops. I served as one of a panel of approximately seven guest speakers at the West Seattle High School Theater. The topic on which I was invited to speak was my experience as a combat veteran of the war in Iraq. I was informed that I would have an opportunity to speak to students, along with other veterans as part of an objective forum with both anti-war and pro-troops sentiments.
But what do you know? Here comes the filthy hippy contingent, baying like the ignorant dogs they are (emphases mine):
Upon entering the theater at 12:30 PM, approximately 15 minutes prior to the event, I was taken aback by what I witnessed. As I stood there in my Marine Corps Dress Blue uniform, there before me stood numerous kids running around in sloppily dressed and ill-fitted helmets and military fatigues with utter disrespect for the symbols and uniforms of the U.S. military. The walls were covered in camouflaged netting and the stage was covered with approximately twenty white, life-sized cut-out patterns in the shape of dead women and children, all of which were splattered in red-paint to depict human blood. Onstage, children were kneeling and weeping while dressed in ill-fitted Arabic headdress with white-faced masks similarly covered in red paint to depict human blood. At a podium, children were reading a monologue of how U.S. troops were killing civilians and shooting at women and children. Moreover, several grown adults were standing on stage in bright orange jump-suits, with black bags on and off their heads, some bound and tied, and some banging symbols and gongs in a crude depiction of what I believe were their efforts to depict victims of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse episode.
Read the whole damned thing. It's disgusting.
(And thanks to the very delicious Michelle Malkin for the link.)
Lieberman: "Some of my best friends are neocons..." Now Playing: "Dance the Night Away" by Cream
I'm not really sure how to make a direct link to this particular piece, but be sure not to miss Jeffrey Goldberg's "The Unbranding" in the 21 March 2005 issue of The New Yorker. It's mostly a whole lot of 2004 election analysis and state-of-the-party musings from Joe Biden ("No goddam chairman’s ever made a difference in the history of the Democratic Party"), but I especially love this bit about Joe Lieberman:
Lieberman is a study in the dangers of steroidal muscularity, becoming an outlier in his own party. (He has edged to the right as his running mate in the 2000 election, Al Gore, has moved leftward.) His fate was sealed with a kiss, planted on his cheek by Bush, just after the President delivered his State of the Union address. “That may have been the last straw for some of the people in Connecticut, the blogger types,” Lieberman told me. But he is unapologetic about his defense of Bush’s Iraq policy, saying, “Bottom line, I think Bush has it right.” When I asked if he was becoming a neoconservative, Lieberman smiled and said, “No, but some of my best friends are neocons.”
Ha, ha. That's definitely going in the Drollery Hall of Fame.
Joe Lieberman's vilification by the Left is one of the strangest things I've ever seen in politics. To know that this man was as close as Florida to becoming the Vice President of the United States a little more than four years ago ---and to see him routinely pissed upon by his former supporters today--- is a useful indicator of where the Democratic Party is heading.
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.)