Guantanamo Detainees Have Right to Due Process

U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green has ruled that the detainees at Guantanamo have rights under US law. Read the Reuters story here. Key paragraph:
Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats, that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over two hundred years.

Class Warfare

In the Bush Administration™'s continuing attempt to recast class warfare as the Ownership Society®, the latest object of "reform" is health care. The pinko LA Times has the scoop here.

More on this later.


Kim Jong Illin'

North Korea on verge of collapse? Say it isn't so....

Shroud of Fictional Savior Is Really, Really Old

We're never going to hear the end of it. The Shroud of Turin may be much older than previously thought. The BBC reports that tests run on the "Holland cloth" portion of the shroud--the portion C-14 dated to the 13th century--confirm that it was added to the rest of the shroud. Since the chemical... Oh, just read it for yourself.

The problem isn't vindication of the shroud-worshippers. It's that now we're going to hear about this new, pro-shroud evidence over and over and over again. It's the Michael Jackson story of the jesusphere. Of course, what we won't hear is that, even if the shroud came from a cave in Palestine from the era of the early Empire, it's still just a piece of cloth with an image on it. Fascinating, yes, but evidence for the truth of Christianity? No.


US in Contact with Baathist Insurgents?

Intriguing: According to UPI, US military commanders appear to've been in contact with former-regime insurgents for over a month in a special arrangement that precludes dialogue. If true, the most interesting aspect of the story (for my money) is the Baathists' eagerness to distance themselves from Al Qaeda and Zarqawi. The full story is here.

They Both Wore Black

Good god. Friday night at a World Economic Forum dinner in Davos, Switzerland, Iranian fundamentalist Muslims broke bread with secular Europeans and other Western types without anyone, apparently, approving the menu. The results were not good. Best paragraph:
Biden finally arrived an hour and 20 minutes late, having gone to the wrong hotel. His wife's figure-hugging leather pants and a top that left her arms bare from the shoulders were in stark contrast to Vice-President Masoumeh Ebtekar's all-enveloping chador, although both wore black.

A New Argument for a Presidential Mandate?

On NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, the host, Scott Simon, was discussing the upcoming battle over the domestic budget with Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Bill Beech, senior fellow in economics at the Heritage Foundation.

Simon asked Beech, "Was the vote the President received, and for that matter the increase in seats the Republican Party got, due to their domestic proposals?"

"I'm not one who says the President can't claim a mandate on these issues," Beech replied, "Because I don't think mandates are ever certified until the Congress convenes and you see how successful the President's agenda is in moving from committee to a floor vote. And if it's successful, then he obviously has a mandate."

Come again? In the US, all words are subjected to the gale-force winds of marketing and misuse, and since the election the term "mandate" has taken a beating. If the President has a mandate on the basis of a 2-3% victory, then the word means nothing.

Forget that Simon didn't use the word "mandate," which raises questions about its unsolicited use in Beech's reply (Karl, is that you?). Beech deserves credit for skipping the popular vote altogether. According to his logic—and I'm being charitable here—a narrow electoral victory, which he retroactively terms a "mandate," is "certified" (or not) by the not-so-simple act of moving legislation from the committee to a floor vote. Never mind the vote itself, just moving the legislation certifies it.

Even if he meant that the legislation's passage certifies the mandate, it makes no difference: There was nothing to "certify" in the first place. The mere movement of legislation from committee (or stomach) to floor vote (or colon), let alone its movement beyond the legislative body onto the Capitol steps in solid form, says more about the ability and will of various Congressional factions to compromise or, as has been more popular since Bush took office, of the dominant faction to force a bill through, than it does about any popular support for the legislation itself.

This is a curious view. At bottom, it implies that the chaos of desires and rationales which politicians like to call "the will of the people" is perfectly expressed through the equally chaotic legislative process. This implies that there is no mediation between the collective vote for President and the legislation that he signs into law. How absurd. If anything, "the will of the people" is often FUBAR by the very same process. Mandate? Nigga, please. A mandate begins and ends with the popular vote. No certification required. And in this case, there is no mandate. Continually saying there is doesn't make it so.


Just Add Water

A must-read from Riverbend in Baghdad. The water's back. BTW, according to this currency converter, 1 dollar roughly equals 1,500 dinars.


Pan Islamism?

An intriguing overview of the Middle East in the last hundred years and where it might be headed (Power and Interest News Report). Two key paragraphs:
The US current administration's drive to spread democracy in the Middle East does not envisage the melting away of boundaries and decades-long political sovereignty - rather, Washington seeks to preserve the existing states as they are by bringing democratically oriented governments to power. This policy is driven by a premise that democratic states would not pose a danger to one another, would respect one another's sovereignty within the existing borders and would not easily launch war on their neighbors for a religious, political or ethnic purpose. The collection of pacific but independent Muslim states would allow for unobstructed access to the world's oil resources and would preclude the emergence of a regional hegemon capable of upsetting the existing balance of power.

That is precisely what Iran and al-Qaeda want to avoid. The melting away of artificial Middle Eastern and North African boundaries that were imposed by now-defunct governments of Western Europe would create a massive state with the majority-Muslim population in the hundreds of millions and in control of the crucial oil and natural-gas reserves. Such an outcome would in effect create another superpower in the world arena. There are indications that Muslim states are seeking to move closer to such a reality.
PINR's most recent report, on how a nuclear Iran would affect Turkey and Saudi Arabia, is here.


I live in a house that's been converted into apartments, and the outer door is down the hall. Earlier today, my doorbell rang. Peeking out my doorway, I could see a young, tall black man framed in the glass of the door, a pencil behind his ear. Since I work at home, I'm often not presentable; today was no different. While I was trading clothes for my robe, my girlfriend remarked that somebody was outside, apparently calling out to see if anyone was home.

When I got outside, no one was there. So I went around the side of the house. The man was there, in a velour jumpsuit, talking with a grad student at the back of the driveway (my upstairs neighbor is a professor and students appear now and then). He had one of those faces whose age is hard to judge. His height made me think he was older than his acne told me he was.

I asked him if he'd rung the doorbell. He said he had, then paused, as if I'd interrupted him and needed to state my business. I asked him what he wanted. He shrugged, then started walking past me and said that he didn't understand why everybody around here talked to him like he was a kid. He said I looked like an "older" man, old enough to be his dad.

Not knowing where he was headed with that observation, I said, "I don’t know about that. But okay."


I pointed out that he’d rung my doorbell, so it was natural for me to wonder what he wanted. "What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm working," he said, "instead of standing on the street corner, selling drugs, gang-bangin'."

"Okay," I said.

"I'm selling magazines."

"Well, I'm broke," I said, not mentioning that I never buy magazine subscriptions, especially from incompetent assholes.

He walked off. As I was going back inside, he called out over his shoulder that he'd "check back later."

"Don't bother," I said.

Unfortunately, our friendship did not end there. Back inside, I told my girlfriend what had happened and she headed out the door, to see if he was still out there. After a few girlfriendless minutes, I went outside to find her. She was half a block away, talking with him.

When she came back, she told me that he’d claimed that "everybody in this neighborhood's got twenty-thirty dollars to help me out." She'd told him that she was poor. (Never mind the difference between begging and selling.) He was sick of white people pulling away when they saw a black man at the door, he'd said. She'd replied that he was the one who rang the doorbell and was rude to her boyfriend; race had nothing to do with it. He'd said that he was off the street now, working, but could still "get on the phone" and call somebody to "take care of the problem."

Nothing quite like appealing to someone's sympathy and then threatening them.

Since the young model citizen didn't provide the story with a climax, my girlfriend and I manufactured our own. I told her that I didn't want her to do anything like that again—going after a hotheaded stranger. Uh, whoops. Before I could elaborate or rephrase anything, she started sobbing, grabbed her keys and headed out the door, for class. She wouldn't tell me what was wrong.

Later, she did. She said she was upset about what the guy had said to her and about what he'd said to me and about me fussing at her for confronting a hotheaded stranger. It was an upsetting afternoon for all concerned.

Another Failed Social Security Privatization Experiment

Not that anyone outside of The American Prospect is talking about Britain's failed Social Security privatization experiment, but the NYT has a piece today on a similar failure in Chile under Pinochet. The last two paragraphs are telling:
...There is now even an Association of People With Pension Damage, 157,000 members and growing, that consists of Chileans, mostly former government employees, who find that their pensions, based on contributions to the private system, are significantly less than if they had remained in the old system.

"They come to us in desperation," said Yasmir FariƱa, the group's president, "because those who stayed in the government system are often retiring with monthly pensions twice as large as everyone else's."
(Link from Joshua Marshall.)

Iraqi Elections: an NYT Interactive Thingee

Here's a terrific interactive presentation on the impending Iraqi elections, including expected voter turnout, death threats, and recent killings (click on the link in the right-hand column, below the map of Iraq). Since the voters have to walk to the polling stations (and who knows how far), they should be easy to pick off. Let's hope that doesn't happen. If you want to see raw courage, look at the people who show up at the polls. And remember, in Baghdad, they haven't had running water for a week.

Condi's Confirmation

"Ms. Rice should make an ideal Secretary of State. She's already proved to the U.S. that she can evade questions in front of a Congressional panel."
--The Onion


Feith without Works

Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's undersecretary for policy, is leaving the DoD. While my immediate response is huahhh! woohoo!, that's premature. Who knows who'll replace him. But it's hard to believe his replacement could be worse. After all, this is the ideologue who was partly responsible for the trifecta of 1) the stovepiping of unvetted CIA intelligence, 2) taking Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress at their word (contrary to cautions from the CIA), 3) ignoring detailed State Dept. post-war Iraq plans and dismissing expert opinion on nation-building for fear it might undermine the cause for war, and 4) arguing in the '80's that terrorists shouldn't be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. As Gen. Franks remarked about Feith in Woodward's Plan of Attack (p. 281), "I have to deal with the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth almost every day."

Good riddance.

You can find a thorough trashing of the guy here and Feith's response here.

UPDATE: Juan Cole's view of the Feith resignation: What you won't hear on, say, the nightly news.

Side by Side

Here's a disturbing juxtaposition of quotes from the President's inaugural address with quotes detailing the torture of detainees. It's not easy to read. I still have trouble fathoming the Mengele level of cruelty that soldiers reached based on somewhat less imaginative techniques that Alberto Gonzales, Rumsfeld and their boss greenlighted. (Link from Andrew Sullivan.)


Porn Again

Last night was the Krewe du Vieux, the first parade worth going to for Mardi Gras this year. It's in the French Quarter and is always a bawdy parade. The theme last night was the revised commandments. The first float was "Porn Again," complete with giant phallus and a man dressed up as God, all in white. Phallic crosses adorned the necks of men dressed as monks. This city's a blue (well, purplish) oasis in an otherwise blood-red state.

Giant humanoid will fire flames

Who doesn't doubt that if the DoD had some of these, recruitment would soar?


Homeland Insecurity

Not long after the ABC hidden-camera report on the Dept. of Homeland Security's Hawaiian convention bash comes the (oops) cryptome.org publication of a slew of classified Homeland Security daily morning briefs. Bet Tom Ridge is happy he already announced his resignation...



What better way to say celebrate Bush’s second inauguration than with this appropriately altered Delacroix?

To hear the accompanying music, click one of the links below:

Keep Saying "Yes"!

Happy Inauguration Day, fellow travelers! As you go out to celebrate the victory of our beloved leader, remember that we are at war and keep our boys (and girls) overseas in your prayers.

I know some of you are squeamish about the way the war has been conducted, but because of the seriousness of this conflict, it's imperative that we stand united against the enemy, the 49% of "Americans" who voted the wrong way. That's why we all need to hold our heads high and, as we mingle with other "Americans," keep the following in mind:
  • Don't criticize the conduct of the war. Remember: There've been some rough spots, but we're on the right track and we're looking forward to Iraqi elections on Jan. 30th. Freedom is on the march.

  • Don't express doubts about whether the war should've been waged. If you catch yourself thinking this, ask yourself whether America and the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. If someone expresses doubts to you, ask them the same question.

  • Don't say that we "tortured" anyone. Remember: If enhanced interrogation techniques will prevent just one beheading by evildoers, it's worth beating any number of Arabs, subjecting them to dog bites, forcing them to perform simulated fellatio or form naked-man pyramids. Cheerleaders form pyramids, too, and there's nothing wrong with a little hazing—it's a form of male bonding, if you think about it.

  • Don't say that the war in Iraq might have been off-target for the War on Terror (and never say what it might've been on-target for). Remember: Vice President Cheney said repeatedly, along with Secretary Rumsfeld, that there were links between al-Qaeda and Saddam's regime.

  • Don't say we didn't find any Weapons of Mass Destruction. Remember: the CIA led us to believe that Iraq possessed such weapons. And even if Iraq didn't have them, they still had the intent and capability to produce them. If someone mentions that other nations also had that intent and capability, ask them pointedly if they think America and the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. And insist that Saddam's regime was a danger to the world and to the region.
Remember: we said "yes" to Bush on November 2nd. It's more important than ever that we keep saying "yes" now.

GOP House Party II: We've Got Big Balls

You know how much money is being lavished on Bush's second inauguration. You've seen the news shows on all the pomp. You've read the events calendar and long to see Earth, Wind & Fire play the ball and Kelsey Grammer emcee. But, alas, you just couldn't afford to go. What do you do?

Have a party at home!

I'm ever upper class high society
God's gift to ballroom notoriety
I always fill my ballroom
The event is never small
The social pages say I've got
The biggest balls of all


Iraqi (Meta) Blog

For those interested in first-person accounts of Iraq as it nears election day, here's an excellent blog devoted to (what else) Iraqi blogs.

Dissent in North Korea?

This is quite a turn: possible dissent in a factory in North Korea, complete with graffiti. Hopefully, the story's true.


Baghdad Burning

Here's a blog worth reading. It's a first-person account from Baghdad. Too bad she doesn't post more often, but when she does she has Something to Say. Here are a few sample paragraphs from a 15 Jan. post:
I hope Americans feel good about taking their war on terror to foreign soil. For bringing the terrorists to Iraq- Chalabi, Allawi, Zarqawi, the Hakeems… How is our current situation going to secure America? How is a complete generation that is growing up in fear and chaos going to view Americans ten years from now? Does anyone ask that? After September 11, because of what a few fanatics did, Americans decided to become infected with a collective case of xenophobia… Yet after all Iraqis have been through under the occupation, we're expected to be tolerant and grateful. Why? Because we get more wheat in our diets?

Terror isn't just worrying about a plane hitting a skyscraper…terrorism is being caught in traffic and hearing the crack of an AK-47 a few meters away because the National Guard want to let an American humvee or Iraqi official through. Terror is watching your house being raided and knowing that the silliest thing might get you dragged away to Abu Ghraib where soldiers can torture, beat and kill. Terror is that first moment after a series of machine-gun shots, when you lift your head frantically to make sure your loved ones are still in one piece. Terror is trying to pick the shards of glass resulting from a nearby explosion out of the living-room couch and trying not to imagine what would have happened if a person had been sitting there.

The weapons never existed. It's like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit- having your country burned and bombed beyond recognition, almost. Then, after two years of grieving for the lost people, and mourning the lost sovereignty, we're told we were innocent of harboring those weapons. We were never a threat to America...

Congratulations Bush- we are a threat now.


I've answered my own question. A 12 Jan. article in The Washington Post says:
Patrick Butler, vice president of The Washington Post Co., said the company, which is the parent of this newspaper, agreed to donate to be sure that it has enough tickets to the Inaugural Ball to cover its major corporate advertisers, which The Post fetes at the event every four years.


If you're bored or just curious, here's a list of donors to the 2005 Inauguration motorcade pageant fête. Two thoughts:
  1. Is it usual for donations of this nature to come in amounts divisible by $25,000?
  2. Is it, say, questionable for a media company--not just an owner of lots of stations, like Clear Channel, but a single-outlet newspaper--to give money for an inauguration? The Washington Post gave $100,000. If you look at the rest of the list, they stand out a bit. Maybe, since they're a Washington-based paper, they donate every four years, regardless of who's in power. Anybody know?


Opiate of the Masses?

I'm speechless. (Thank you, anonymous Savant reader.)

Social Insecurity II

While we're on the subject of Social Security, this article in The American Prospect is well worth reading. In 1984 Britain did something similar to what Bush is proposing to do. It failed. Maybe the article's spot on, maybe it's not, but I'd like to see more work on the same subject.

Social Insecurity

I'm repeatedly amazed at the current administration's ability to push the envelope. This is just sick.


New Blackberry

A friend of mine just got a new Blackberry. Amazing what those things are outfitted with nowadays:

Contract with America

At the start of the 109th Congress, some Republicans are reevaluating the last 10 years of their Congressional rulership, which began with the Contract for America. Where have they succeeded? Where have they failed? Here's the real thing, for your perusal.


The High Cost of Inauguration

Those who aren't professional event coordinators might gasp at the sticker price of a second Bush inauguration: $40 million (in private donations). A new Salon article puts the matter in context.

As Bull Moose noted, "It is obscene to hold a lavishly funded official ho-down in the nation's capital while our troops go into harms way thousands of miles away from home. Only a few miles away from the waltzing, brave young men and women will be struggling to walk again at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval."

Bush ~ Bismarck

This quote from Andrew Sullivan is too on-the-money not to post: "Bush has never understood classical liberalism. He is a conservative, religious statist, who sees himself as the personal guardian of the country. He's Bismarck with a penchant for massive government debt." If only he were as shrewd as Bismarck...

Tsunami Blog

Here's a terrific, all-encompassing tsunami blog.


A Journalist on Fineman on Rathergate

Earlier today, I asked a journalist friend of mine what he thought of the Fineman MSNBC piece that's being punditized all over Blogoland. Though the following email exchange was not an interview, I've presented it in that fashion for context and ease of reading (and no, the irony of a non-journalist seemingly doing "journalism" has not been lost on me):

Me: "Have you read Fineman's piece on the MSNBC site?"

J: "Nah, hadn't, but that seems a touch contrived to me. That process has been churning along for years, way before this CBS thing. Actually, I think the moment the national media (talking specifically about the big networks and national political correspondents, who Fineman's talking about but which actually constitute a pretty slim, albeit prominent, segment of the media) jumped the shark in '87 with the Gary Hart story. I think that's the moment when the national media began concentrating more on scandal-sheet shit than substance, and I don't think it's recovered since.

"And besides, not that CBS is innocent, but given the amount of disinformation and outright bullshit that passes for 'news' on FOX and MSNBC on a daily and nightly fucking basis, this 'Rathergate' nonsense is, at most, a low-grade felony. Of course, it seems a propitious time for the clever pundits to chuck clods of dirt on the Mainstream Media. But personally, I think the failure of the networks and correspondents to hold the administration's feet to the fire on the justification for war (especially given that today, the White House has finally conceded that, no, they never found any WMD in Iraq) is the REAL gobsmacking fuckup that should make all of us hang our heads in shame. I suspect that may explain, too, some of the glee with which everyone's dumping on Rather.

"'Course, that's just me. I didn't mean to vent so. I guess it just needed to come out. Believe me, on balance, I'm just as cynical about the media as anyone."

Me: "No, the venting's appreciated. My biggest beef is what Fox viewers seemed blind (or inured) to: holding the Administration's feet to the fire. They pretty much failed with Clinton, too. What I want to see much more of--and what I saw late in the presidential race--is fact-checking. Not taking the Administration's word for anything. I wish there was more of that across the board. I'm talking about national, not local, news, but I don't see what [sic] the same principle wouldn't apply there too."

J: "But here's another problem, even though I appreciated the post-debate fact-checking by the networks: They were missing perspective. There's a James Carville line in The War Room that sums it up: He's on the phone with some reporter, and he's complaining about that very thing, saying something like, "We call $1 million $1.2 million, they call $1 million $78 trillion, and you guys say, 'Well, they're both fudging numbers!' Sorry, it ain't even close. The fact-checking I saw compared, say, Kerry's claim of $200 billion (or whatever the figure is) spent in Iraq -- when that's only a projection of what might eventually be spent -- to massive Bush whopper after massive Bush whopper as if they were equivalent. That's just as misleading in its own way.

"Also, at this point, with God only knows how many FOX-watching Americans believing that propaganda designed to reinforce their own prejudices is what constitutes 'news' -- how can actual news compete? And that applies to left and right, although for my money it's way worse on the right ..."

Intent and Capability

You've no doubt heard that the White House has officially called off the search for WMD in Iraq, saying that Saddam "retained the intent and capability to produce" such weapons. Like Iran, North Korea and Pakistan? As Cartman would say, "Weak."


America: the No-Longer-Banned Book

As you probably heard, the Mississippi Jackson-George [counties] Library System’s board of trustees banned America: the Book. After a barrage of criticism, they reversed the ban. I discovered this, unfortunately, after spending half an hour searching the Jackson-George Regional Library System’s collection for non-banned offensive material. Yes, now it’s moot, but here’s what I found:
  • Anaïs nin: a Biography
  • Delta of Venus
  • The Diary of Anaïs Nin
  • Henry and June: From The Unexpurgated Diary Of Anaïs Nin
  • Sade: a Biography (no de Sade, though)
  • Collected Writings / Thomas Paine
  • Pryor Convictions, and Other Life Sentences / Richard Pryor with Todd Gold
  • Rock With Barney [Videorecording] Protect Our Earth (clearly the most offensive item in the collection)
  • Rock This! / Chris Rock

Water for Life

Beleaguered NGO officials often mention in weary tones that whatever problem they’re tackling claims as many lives over time as a disaster does all at once. The lack of fresh water is one of those problems. On NPR’s Day to Day yesterday, a representative of the NGO Water for Life dramatized the situation this way: If you crashed 20 jumbo jets full of children into a mountainside each day, that would be how many children die daily from diseases resulting from a lack of fresh water. Now I don’t have a soft spot for children, but the majority of Americans seem to, so I figure it’s good marketing. If you’re itching for a good cause, this qualifies (I hear they help adults, too).


Sodomy is Destiny

Since we're (I'm) on the subject of liturgy, here's a possible liturgical object given to my girlfriend and me by a lesbian friend of ours to celebrate our living in sin:

When open, the egg looks like this:

For those who, like me, have lost their glasses, the pink paper inside the egg says, "Sodomy is destiny."

For comparison purposes, see the Ramey memo.

A New Liturgy

This comment’s put me in a liturgical mood. Luckily, my girlfriend got a yen for Ben and Jerry’s; when she brought some New York Super Fudge Chunk home from the store and tasted it, she held the pint aloft and intoned: “Fuck me now, hard and sideways, from the back and up the ass.” (For the hard up, let me clarify: it's an expression of joy, not a directive or an imperative.) I think we could base a liturgy on that. Any ideas for other verses, let me know.


Darwin Beneath the Cedars

Believe it or not, somebody actually commented on one of the posts below. Too bad they commented at Irate Savant instead of here, but who am I to complain?


Scott Ritter on Zarqawi

The contention that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a myth isn't new. But former weapons inspector Scott Ritter has an interesting take on it, complete with alleged contacts. Yes, the publisher is Al Jazeera, but it's still a piece by Scott Ritter; given his experience in Iraq, he's worth hearing out.

True to form, the same issue contains an argument that Saddam never gassed the Kurds. Yeah, right. Maybe Pravda will cover that next: the Kurds disappeared into the Hollow Earth.


Senate List

If you have a hankerin' to tell your senator or senatrix that you don't (or, god forbid, do) want Alberto Gonzales to be confirmed, here's a contact list.

Pravda Gone Wild

And speaking of Pravda: I’ve never been an avid reader, but would someone mind telling me what’s going on? I was under the impression that while Pravda used to be an organ of state propaganda, it at least used to focus on (albeit heavily spun) news. Now Pravda’s more like a combination of the Fox News Channel and The Weekly World News. For sheer wackiness (with high entertainment value), check out the following stories:At least one story helps explain how pro-Western voters in Ukraine could've won the recent election. According to Yuri Malin, a former KGB officer, "Americans have reportedly created radiators of modulated signals, which control people's behavior. One should say that the control can be conducted thousands of kilometers from afar. It is not ruled out that such technologies were used during the presidential election in Ukraine."

Now, as before, "Truth" really equals fiction.

Next: Bat Boy....

Ukraine: Yanukovych resigns

More good news from Ukraine: Kuchma dismisses cabinet and accepts Yanukovych’s resignation. Even Pravda’s forced to report it.

A Tortured Reading of the Geneva Convention

In honor of the start of confirmation hearings for the Bush butt puppet who formulated the "forward leaning" policies that led to the systematic use of torture in our Middle East outposts, here are some "quaint" Geneva Convention texts.

Gonzales disagrees, of course. As the BBC reports, "The Texan judge defended a robust US policy on terror suspects, but denied that it was responsible for the Abu Ghraib scandal, which he said was 'simply people who were morally bankrupt having fun, and I condemn that totally.'" What a relief. I'm sure all those America-hating Muslims are eating their words now. Ironic: We're trying to look good (and yes, we are doing good) by helping tsunami survivors in SE Asia while implicitly affirming our egregious treatment of (mostly innocent) Muslim prisoners. But that's no surprise. Bush made it clear he wants Rummy to stick around, and besides, the US has its decades-long practice of mind-bending self-contradiction to uphold.


Everything Happens for a Reason

Click here for more recent posts.

Like everyone, I'm stunned and horrified at the tragedy in Southeast Asia. For all those who would pray for the survivors, don't bother; give money instead (thanks for the link, Irate Savant). But if you can't be dissuaded, at least do us this favor:

Don't thank God for sparing the survivors. Don't thank God for sparing you or your friends or loved ones who were vacationing in Sri Lanka just before Christmas. Don't say what a blessing or miracle it is that the little sobbing orphan on TV survived, clinging to a plastic chair and keeping his head above water so he could breathe until rescuers found him. Please, please say none of that.

Not long ago, my father had surgery for esophageal cancer. He's doing well now. While I was home to see him in the hospital, my stepmother talked with the occasional cashier about what had happened to my father and how he was doing. The cashiers would all say the same thing: "That is such a blessing that they caught it early. Everything happens for a reason." My stepmother returned the sentiment.

What I told her then and what this tragedy brings to mind now is this. If you're going to thank God for saving people—especially while saying that God saved them for a reason—you have to acknowledge that he killed everyone else for different reasons. You can't give God credit for doing good while giving him a pass on doing evil. Unless your god is limited (or limits the scope of his actions) and nature runs its course independent of him.

No, the survivors were just lucky. Just like my father and the little sobbing orphan and your friends or loved ones who were vacationing in Sri Lanka just before Christmas. Just like all of us who weren't in Southeast Asia for that tragic event.