Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Spurrier quits. Jeebus, we really are a pathetic excuse for a football organization, huh? As Mike Wilbon was just asked on Washingtonpost.com, "Did you ever think you would see the day that the Wizards were the most stable franchise in town?"
Oh, and this is just fucking bizarre.
Link farm. Obsidian Wings has some good ones up this morning, so I'll just pass them along.
First up, an interesting article from the Guardian regarding radical lefty backbench MP Ann Clwyd, who was one of the most surprising and vocal supporters of Tony Blair's call for war on Iraq. Her emotional, graphic speech detailing the horrors of the Saddam Hussein regime was one of the key turning points in Tony Blair's bruising fight to marshall Labor Party support for the Iraq war (he, in fact, intimated that he would resign if he didn't get a majority on the question. He got his majority, but before Clwyd's speech many thought he was going down):
"I always felt the regime should be toppled for human rights reasons. Everyone should have made that argument about the war. The barbarity was so acute that no human being could listen to this and not take some action. So, it was the week after I came back and I made that speech. I couldn't look the Kurds in the face again if I opposed the war. Once I had made up my own mind, there was no going back for me.'
Clwyd admits that the question of weapons of mass destruction was the wrong one on which to base the war. But rather than blame the protagonists, she says that the fact that there is only a shaky legal basis under the United Nations for military intervention on humanitarian grounds - apart from to avert genocide - shows that the UN needs to look again at its own charter.
'I am sure people sincerely believed that there were and are weapons of mass destruction,' she said. 'Whether they are right or not, I don't know. As the Kurdish leader said, the biggest weapon of mass destruction was Saddam himself. He didn't understand why we have this obsession with WMD here.'
Despite the post hoc fulminations and selective quotation of Bush defenders, the humanitarian justification for war was, sadly, a footnote here in the run-up to the invasion. It was all WMDs and al Quaeda links, all the time. An interesting contrast -- whatever you think of the merits of her case for intervention, it's certainly the strongest pillar that remains in the general argument for war, and it's made all the stronger in her case by the fact that she was relying upon it before the shooting started.
Next, a link to Dave Barry's annual year-in-review piece. I don't really read Barry's column anymore, but this annual piece is pretty much always funny (his blog's not bad, either):
(January) World tension mounts when North Korea announces that it is withdrawing from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, on the grounds that it's really hard to pronounce "proliferation." Faced with clear-cut evidence that the North Koreans are actively developing weapons of mass destruction, President Bush vows to determine whether North Korea "is located anywhere near Iraq."
[ . . . ]
(February) Meanwhile, tension between the United States and North Korea continues to mount as North Korea, in what the White House calls "a deliberate act of provocation," uses nuclear missiles to destroy Columbus, Ohio. A visibly angry President Bush warns the North Koreans that they "better not give any of those missiles to Iraq."
[ . . . ]
(March)North Korean troops invade Oregon, prompting a grim-faced President Bush to declare that "time is running out for the Iraqi regime." But the United States continues to have trouble getting other nations to join the coalition, and is forced to bribe Turkey by giving the Turkish government an "economic aid package" consisting of $37 billion in cash, plus unlimited nighttime and weekend minutes, plus what is described as a "hard-to-get video" of Britney Spears. With Turkey onboard, the coalition now consists of seven nations, assuming you count Guam, Puerto Rico and Staten Island as nations.
And lastly, this point-counterpoint from the American Physical Society regarding significant new directions in alternative energy and mass transit:
[POINT] When a cat is dropped, it always lands on its feet, and when toast is dropped, it always lands buttered side down. Therefore, if a slice of toast is strapped to a cat's back, buttered side up, and the animal is then dropped, the two opposing forces will cause it to hover, spinning inches above the ground. If enough toast-laden felines were used, they could form the basis of a high-speed monorail system.
[COUNTERPOINT] It is in the interests not only of public safety but also public sanity if the buttered toast on cats idea is scrapped, to be replaced by a monorail powered by cats smeared with chicken tikka masala floating above a rail made from white shag pile carpet.
Monday, December 29, 2003
This is huge. I have no time, and I will post more about this later, but the IRS has fired an early salvo in a war I have predicted for a while:
The Internal Revenue Service will announce this morning that it is going to focus on misconduct by lawyers and accountants who represent wealthy individuals and corporations. The I.R.S. commissioner, Mark W. Everson, said auditors would be instructed to develop cases that impose penalties on taxpayers. The move is intended to shut down the lucrative trade in opinion letters, which taxpayers buy in the expectation that they can get penalties waived if their strategy is disallowed.
Mr. Everson said he wanted to weed out "attorneys and accountants who sacrifice their independence and integrity at the altar of higher fees." Opinion letters, typically scores of pages long and freighted with caveats, sell for as much as $1 million each. Such letters typically assert that a particular tax strategy is "more likely than not" to survive an I.R.S. audit, but often they are based on unreasonable economic and legal assumptions that do not necessarily match the specific circumstances of the taxpayer who buys the letter.
Under regulations to be issued this morning, such opinion letters would become worthless for deals made since last Jan. 1, as a defense against penalties, which can run as high as 75 percent of the taxes not paid.
The regulators are turning their attention from the accounting firms and corporations to the secondary community of law firms that bless the transactions that later turn out to be fraudulent ot illegal. The paradigm is, of course, Vinson & Elkins, which got a streak of bad press after the Enron collapse (hell, former Enron firm Brobeck Phleger & Harrison ceased to exist within a year of the Enron collapse). Every law firm produces hundreds of these letters a year, a vast community of executives depend on these letters to cover their ass for aggressive tax maneuvers, and every firm is going to have to scramble to figure out what to do about this.
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Hobbit-Man: The King Returns. Trenchant, insightful analysis from Ain't It Cool News:
Oh, and also that I Don't Want to be the King/I Am Destined to Be the King Dude is with them, and he has this whole other story where he pretty much decides to be the King because, I mean, pussy for miles. This is where I started getting really confused, though, because they start talking about kingdoms and alliances and there's a lot of lines like, "Rohan shall ride!" and "Gondor still stands!" and "Flabadan Son of Rectum must wear the mantle of Bloggith!" and also there's some shit with the elves that's like being in a fucking candle store for twenty minutes.
But the movie is only doing this to set up the BATTLE OF SHIT-YOUR-PANTS, which isn't the actual name of the battle but SHOULD be because you will shit stuff you did not eat when you see it.
Go read it, there's more. Lots, lots, lots more.
I really hate to do this to you, but some excesses are too horrible to ignore. It was inevitable that this would happen, and it could only be brought to you by the good folks at WorldNetDaily:
Today, our civilization faces just such a challenge, with enemies within and without. America, the champion of the West, is challenged by the orcs of violent Islam, the would-be Sauron that is the United Nations, and its Nazgul – France, Germany, Russia and China. Nor should we forget our globalists in government, who, like Saruman, would betray everything to which they are sworn in an attempt to win the favor of the growing shadow.
We cannot all be Aragorn. But, perhaps we can each strive to be a Frodo, shouldering our lonely burden for the sake of those and that which we love. And we can hope for loyal companions such as the trusty Sam Gamgee, who will walk by our side, always ready to lift us up and carry us when we falter.
In this manner, we will persevere ... until the return of the King.
"The orcs of violent Islam." "The would-be Sauron of the United Nations." Oh, I would be laughing if I wasn't vomiting. This is classic, late-90's Patriot movement stuff, black helicopters and handing out flak jackets to combat the New World Order. And look at this kid - the Rancid-meets-the-WWF hillbilly goth cut, the black t-shirt, the painfully earnest Christian references. Blech.
Monday, December 22, 2003
Going to settle on our first house. Given the horror stories one hears about this procedure, I am fully expecting tears, surprise $10,000 "processing fees," fisticuffs, rending of garments, gnashing of teeth, locust invasions, and all the rest. Wish us luck.
Update: Got the house, but not without extended drama and surprises over a three-and-a-half hour closing. Unknown mortgages popped up, surprise phone calls, a moment where it seemed that all was lost, then daylight breaking through, and then a rush of signing, and it was over, and I had the keys in my pocket, the price hadn't gone up, and we had paid less in closing costs than I had estimated beforehand. So, worth it, but jeez, what an afternoon.
Friday, December 19, 2003
Would-be Reagan assassin released! Well, sort of. NewsMax reaction? "It's Clinton's fault!".
Unapologetic progressive government. I'll try to post more on this later, but for now, I have to say that I think Virginia Governor Mark Warner's new budget proposal is a masterstroke of political strategy:
Warner's Budget Puts GOP on Spot
RICHMOND, Dec. 17 -- Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) presented a budget Wednesday that increases spending on public education, colleges, police and health care and challenges Republicans who control the legislature to cut popular programs or approve the $1 billion tax increase he has proposed to pay for them.
Warner's $59 billion budget for the next two fiscal years assumes that the General Assembly will approve the tax increases on goods, corporations, smokers and upper incomes he proposed three weeks ago.
Republican lawmakers challenged that assumption and said they will try to cut state government before turning to taxpayers.
"The whole plan is to make us look like a grinch if we don't go along with him," said House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem). "Most of these things are good things. But when you look at the overall cost to the economy in Virginia, it may not be such a good thing."
This is perfect. Don't apologize for having priorities, and force the other side to stick up for the full implications of their own policies or go down to ignominy. The Republicans either have to say "Keeping taxes low is more important than schools" or they have to knuckle under. I hope the broader party is listening. Plus, Warner finally hikes the criminally low VA cigarette tax. Amen, brother. Damn shame you only get one term.
More Iraqi debt (yay!). In the wake of my tearful admission yesterday, I did not really look behind the debt forgiveness story to see what, exactly, the French and Germans had committed to. Turns out, as I learned from the estimable Daniel Davies at Crooked Timber, what they (and by they, I mean, essentially, Chirac) decided to do was dump the whole question onto the laps of the Paris Club, an organization that exists, essentially, to work out defaulted government-to-government debt. The Paris Club is apparently known for several things: First, it is identified with a set of internal principles that seek to ensure that whatever plan emerges will, in fact, be a manageable burden for all involved and will actually lead to better conditions in the subject country ('better conditions' being generally defined as 'the ability to live up to the deal we just hammered out and not just default again, we're looking at you, Argentina!'). Apparently, the Club is quite successful in this regard. Second, it is known for being incredibly slow:
[I]t’s not just a matter of James Baker going round the world saying come on you stingy bastards and Chirac saying oh go on then. Now that the debt’s entered the Paris Club process, it’s no longer really an option for France or Germany to unilaterally forgive a chunk of debt (that’s presumably why they did it). The Paris Club is a good process for making sure that the eventual restructuring is a genuinely workable plan, and for minimising free-riding by creditors, but it’s more or less completely incompatible with the piecemeal, quick-win style approach which Baker appears to be taking.
So France and Germany, while they have undeniably entered a process that will result in a dramatic reduction in the amount of money Iraq is obligated to pay, they have done so by using a process which requires detailed evaluation of the stability and reliability of the government of the subject nation. If the process bogs down, France can always point righteously to the mess in Baghdad, and, by implication, lay the blame for the delay at the feet of the Iraqi government's American sponsors: "Well, we would have finished long ago, but the Iraqis, they are not ready."
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Corrections department. Last week, speaking of the disconnect between withholding contracts from France and Germany and asking them to forgive Iraq's debt, I wrote the following:
But under this bifurcated policy, Baker is basically taking pains to point out the big fucking stick in "Old Europe's" hands, while Wolfowitz is daring them to use it to bash Iraq into a bankrupt, seething Weimar. This deeply conflicted policy won't work.
Unfortunately for my credibility, but fortunately for Iraq, I was completely wrong. Shows what I know.
Oh, well, here's hoping I was not wrong when I said this:
Unless I am very wrong, much of the air will go out of the resistance now. While certainly some of the insurgents have been outsiders, or have been Iraqis motivated by something other than loyalty to Saddam, a large portion of them are Saddam's men, for whom Saddam's escape and continued freedom were simply more evidence for the myth of Saddam's indestructibility.
Early signs are not encouraging. But give it a minute - four days is not nearly enough time to judge the full effect of the capture.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
The Impossible Triangle. Nico Pitney at Not Geniuses has the best single description I've seen of the implacable logic faced by all sides of the "Palestinian question:"
Israelis face, as they say, the impossible triangle. Israel can be Jewish and democratic but not include Palestinian land, it can be democratic and have the Palestinian land but fail to be Jewish, or it can be Jewish and have the land but fail to be democratic.
To which CalPundit adds:
The second and third options are simply unacceptable to most Israelis, I think, so like it or not that leaves only the first option: giving up the land.
Sharon seems to have spent some time over the last few years trying out option 3a: democracy for Israelis, mockery and rockets for nascent democracy in Palestine. Don't get me wrong. One of the few things I agree with Bush about is the total uselessness of negotiating with Arafat, who is a gangster and an opportunistic changeling. None of this will change while Arafat is pulling the strings on the Palestinian side. But on the issue of settlements, which obviously intersects with the questions of sovereignty Pitney is referring to, Sharon is proving equally unreliable. Sharon's position that the continuing uprising is driven by Arafat alone, is somehow entirely under his control, could be stopped by him (or any other PA representative) at a word, and is not driven at least in part by some real, legitimate anger over the expansion of settlements, is not credible. And Pitney's ineluctable logic is something with which he (and any Israeli government) must deal.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Saddam Hussein captured. As everyone who hasn't been under a rock for the last 12 hours now knows, U.S. Special Forces troops captured Saddam Hussein in a bolt-hole under a barn on a farm outside Tikrit (too many stories to link - just go here). There is no doubt or uncertainty on this one, no shadowed bloody pictures, like with Uday and Qusay. There he sits, big as life. Viewing the video of the initial announcement by General Sanchez to the American and Iraqi press corps is really quite moving (click on "Saddam Capture Video" in lower left corner). Sanchez notes the capture, and the audience does not really react. They are reticent, I suppose, because they have no evidence; this is just an assertion in a briefing. Then Sanchez shows a videotape showing the hole where they captured Saddam. Still no reaction, because still no proof. Then Sanchez's briefing video switches to a bearded man being examined by a doctor. It is clearly Saddam. The room explodes with happiness teetering on the edge of rage. The journalists are clapping, cheering, and screaming curses at the screen. This was what a great many Iraqis had been waiting for, apparently. Unless I am very wrong, much of the air will go out of the resistance now. While certainly some of the insurgents have been outsiders, or have been Iraqis motivated by something other than loyalty to Saddam, a large portion of them are Saddam's men, for whom Saddam's escape and continued freedom were simply more evidence for the myth of Saddam's indestructibility.
Cults of personality fascinate me. Some people go along with these regimes because they seek power, or security of position, but many people truly believe that a single man captures a national essence, and will act as a father figure for the Nation; disciplining to correct, but full of love for the people. It is amazing what capture and display can do to such a myth. From a god to a confused vagrant in the space of an hour. From Il Duce to poor Benito. From Guzman to this crazy old man. From Saddam to this. When these figures fall, and are exposed as human, the tyrant's real motives, kept at bay by the image and propaganda for so long, come flooding back in; the aura is gone, the power structure embodied by the tyrant implodes utterly, and all the loyalists are left blinking, muttering "but...but...but he said...but we were going to..."
Oh, and as for the domestic reverberations, this is clearly not good news for any of the ambitions of the Democrats. Successes like this (and don't kid yourself, this is a monumental coup for Bush) put the candidates into uncomfortable positions; especially those who voted for the war resolution, have since adopted the anti-war stance, and now have to go on the hustings and talk about why this capture is a good thing. It just looks slippery for John Kerry to vote to give Bush war powers, then criticize the war while its going badly, then jump up and praise the capture of Saddam. I'll have to think about this a bit before I develop a hunch about what this does to Dean. Who knows?
All that is certain is that the coming weeks will show a dramatic reversal in the downward trend of support for the war, and a similar upward surge in Bush's approval rating. Dow 10,000, Saddam in the clink. This whole episode leads me to a couple of initial impressions:
1. Goodbye to Saddam Hussein, a murderous tyrant who went out as a grubby little man in a hole, clutching a gun and sitting on a box of dusty hundred-dollar bills. The world and your nation will not miss you.
2. Batten down the hatches, America. If you are unemployed, if you are poor, if you are in a union, if you are a teacher, if you depend on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, if you are a footsoldier, if you are a goddamn sockeye salmon -- in short, if you are anything other than a suburban Christian with a steady job, batten down the fucking hatches, because it looks like Junior is going for another ride around the track.
Friday, December 12, 2003
Least Surprising Headline Department.
Pentagon: Halliburton Overcharged Millions
Pentagon auditors found that Vice President Dick Cheney's former company overcharged by possibly as much as $61 million for gasoline in Iraq, senior defense officials said Thursday.
Halliburton's subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, also submitted a proposal for cafeteria services that was $67 million too high, the officials said speaking on the condition of anonymity. The officials said the Pentagon rejected that proposal.
The Pentagon officials said they were concerned about the problems with KBR's contracts, which were awarded without competitive bidding for up to $15.6 billion.
As Hesiod said, "Anyone the least bit surprised by this?"
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Moe Lane, the often irritating, but usually funny conservative head of the Obsidian Wings* hydra, has posted a spot-on parody of the opening speech of Shakespeare's Richard the III, as told by Joe Lieberman. A representative excerpt:
I - that am centrist-stamp'd, and lack th'ability
To strut with style and flatter aimless kids -
I - that am curtail'd of Leftist endorsements,
Cheated of stature by dissembling colleagues,
Hawkish, Jewish, sent before my time
Into this breathing world a DINO born,
And that so wonkish and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I lecture them-
Why, I, in this calm before the shitstorm,
Have no delight to give away this time,
Because Bush is not stupid, alas -
Or unaware of our deficiencies.
He's got a real ear for this stuff, no doubt about it. In fact, my only quibble (besides my obvious disagreement with the premise of the thing - that the Democratic candidates are a hopeless pack of backstabbers who won't get within a hundred miles of the White House in November) is with the site translating the speech into modern language that Moe links to as his inspiration. The problem is with the treatment of this passage:
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.
This classic quatrain is translated as:
Only thing I can do is think about how damn ugly I am.
In fact it means:
The only way I can amuse myself is to piss on my own shadow out of disgust for my own ugliness.
Which is both evocative and vulgar, a combination you don't see nearly enough, and such things should be encouraged. La vie est belle, you dumb fuck.
*a blog name that, I'm sorry, has got to be among the worst in history.
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
You gotta pay to play. The U.S. delivers the goods for its "coalition partners," and follows through on Colin Powell's threat that there would be "consequences" for those who obstructed the war. Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz issued a directive on Friday listing who may, and who may not, bid on reconstruction contracts in Iraq:
Under the guidelines, which were issued on Friday but became public knowledge today, only companies from the United States, Iraq and 61 other countries designated as "coalition partners" will be allowed to bid on the contracts, which are financed by American taxpayers.
Among the eligible countries are Britain, the closest American ally in Iraq, as well Poland and Italy, which have contributed troops to the American-led security effort. But the list also includes other nations whose support has been less evident, including Turkey, which allowed American aircraft to fly over its territory but barred American forces at the last minute from using its soil as a staging point to invade Iraq from the north in March.
The directive by Mr. Wolfowitz does not spell out a precise argument for why allowing French, German and Russian companies to join in the competition for the contracts would hurt American security interests. But it suggests that the main motivation is to use the contracts as a reward for countries that participate in the American-led coalition and contribute troops to the American-led security effort.
As Josh Marshall points out, this is somewhat unfortunate timing, given the current lobbying effort by Bush "family fixer" James Baker to get concessions on Iraq's debts from Iraq's biggest creditors. Japan is owed the most, but two, three, and four on that list are, you guessed it, Russia, France, and Germany. Now, I'm not sure if this reflects well upon those three nations; it's rare that doing good and peaceful things will get a violent, genocidal dictator up to his neck in hock to you. But under this bifurcated policy, Baker is basically taking pains to point out the big fucking stick in "Old Europe's" hands, while Wolfowitz is daring them to use it to bash Iraq into a bankrupt, seething Weimar.
This deeply conflicted policy (a) won't work, and (b) does not help U.S. credibility both within and without Iraq. Nor do non sequiturs like the following, culled from Wolfowitz's declaration:
Limiting competition for prime contracts will encourage the expansion of international cooperation in Iraq and in future efforts.
This is the way the world ends.
Take a bow, Josh.
Monday, December 08, 2003
So true it makes you vomit. Everything has a lifespan - eventually, every story gets tired of itself and, without fresh infusions of fact, becomes a bit of history. Bits of history have their partisans, but once something is frozen into the wallpaper, it becomes more difficult to imagine events as the lightning rods they once were. A recent example is the 2000 elections. In the immediate aftermath of that fiasco I felt sicker, angrier, more disappointed, and more disgusted with American politics and with the Republican Party than I have ever been, either before or, frankly, since. Now, it just feels like something that happened. I'm still mad about it, in an abstract sense, and I still recognize that it was an incredibly damaging watershed in our politics, but I am no longer stomping around my house screaming "This is BULLSHIT! These fucking LIARS are STEALING the fucking WHITE HOUSE!" In the month or year afterwards, when some Republican told me "You lost - get over it," I wanted to hit them. Now, when I hear that, I think "What an asshole. He's probably right, though." It's just the way of things, I suppose.
It is probably good and certainly inevitable that this will happen - such a burden of helpless rage is, frankly, unsustainable. So what? Well, with that in mind, I have been keeping an eye out for the gradual slide of the Iraq/WMD question from the front page onto the wallpaper. Witness, via TPM, this exchange with White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card on CNN's Late Edition yesterday:
BLITZER: Was U.S. intelligence going into the war faulty?
CARD: Well, intelligence -- I think, first of all, there was plenty of justification to go to war. He had stiffed the United Nations many, many times. He was a threat to his own people and a threat to the region. He was a threat to our interests. And we had called for -- as a country, we had called for regime change under the previous administration.
But when you go there today and you see some of the mass graves that are there, where he murdered his own people, you just can't help but think that we are much better off with[out] Saddam there. So, I think that's a moot point.
Now, I know that this has been the official line for a while, but I think this is the first time I've seen reference to the pre-war intelligence question (Was it good, bad, faulty, manipulated? Were we lied to? Was the president lied to? Was it all just an honest mistake?) as "a moot point" by a senior administration official.
Time marches on, and that's what will moot the questions of deception and spin surrounding the Bush case for war. Not the mass graves, not the general badness of Saddam Hussein. Time.
There's a presidential election coming up. The faster the Bush folks can make this issue seem more like Democratic carping about history, and less like an active allegation of deceit and/or incompetence, the better it is for Bush.
Sunday, December 07, 2003
Why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam?
Thursday, December 04, 2003
The Icon Is Love. While not a scandal, exactly, it has been interesting to watch the continuing series of Bush media events that play strong to the broader population, but that end up the subject of nagging criticism from those that are watching more closely, i.e. media/bloggers/etc. What is especially interesting about these mini-controversies is that the white house has so often seen fit to lie about the clear imagemaking that is going on behind the scenes. I am thinking of Bush's handlers denying that they were the ones that put the white labels over the "Made in China" boxes, or the "Mission Accomplished" banner behind Bush on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln; the weird story and pointless fibs about the fly-by-that-wasn't with the British Airways jet (I still don't know what the fuck is up with that one), and now comes this story about how Bush was photographed with the troops at Baghdad airport holding, not a real turkey, but a fake display bird, carefully dressed for the photo. What the fuck, anyway? What would have been the harm in letting Bush hold a real goddamn turkey? What were they afraid of? But, in the end, I suppose, the picture's the thing, and however it happens, once it's out there, people forget about nit-picking controversies about image control, and just remember that the president went to visit those brave boys overseas, and brought them a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. He's a nice man.
The Post story about the turkey contains an interesting quote from Mary Matalin that sort of gets inside this control fixation:
"This was effective, because it captured something about the president that people know is true, that he really cares about the soldiers and gets emotional when he sees them," Mary Matalin, a former administration official, said about the trip to Baghdad. "You have to figure out how to capture the Bush we know, even if it doesn't come through in a speech situation or a press conference. He regularly rejects anything that is not him."
Reacting to the Post story, TPM sums it up quite nicely:
So fake scenes are good becaue they capture deeper truths about the president "that people know [are] true." That's classic. Sorta like how the Santa Claus story captures the deeper meaning of Christmas or that other story about the Stork.
Ho, ho, ho.
Oh, and Dean is ahead of Kerry (and everybody else) by 30 points in New Hampshire. Holy crap!
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
It must be fun to be a Federal judge. Sure, there are a hundred arguments for and against lifetime tenure for judges. Stability on the bench vs. inability to remove the impossibly hidebound. Freedom from concern for the vagaries of elections vs. an increasing sense of unaccountability as the years roll on. But outside of all of that, you have to like a system that allows someone to write and publish in the official reporters a decision like this one, in the 2001 case of Bradshaw v. Unity Marine, et al., 147 F. Supp. 2d 668 (2001):
Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact--complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words--to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions. With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.
And it goes downhill from there. If I was the lawyer for either side, I would never show my face in that courtroom again. I would become a tax attorney. Or a dogcatcher. Or something. Jeez, I can just imagine the look on the face of the poor associate who drafted the briefs for the motion as it dawned upon him that he had just become a laughingstock. And then he heard the increasingly loud click of the partner's hard-soled Italian leather shoes coming towards his office down the newly refinished hallway. Desperate for a way out, the associate flung his eyes around his 5X8 office - no closet! no exit! no hope! But...leaping on top of his desk, he punched out one of the foamcore drop-in ceiling tiles, and hauled himself up into the warren of ducts and wiring, then replaced the tile, just as the clicks stopped at his door. Muffled through the insulation he heard the partner ask the secretary across the hall where he was. "I can never go back there." thought the associate, as he began his new life in the crawlspace, sleeping during the day, and dropping down from the ceiling by night to feed on half-eaten bagel sandwiches left on ransacked plastic catering trays.
Who said it?
To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day hero ... assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an un-winnable urban guerilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability.
(Highlight blank space below to see answer)
George Bush Sr., A World Transformed, 1998