Monday, March 26, 2007

Great Moments in US Diplomacy

In an interview today, a U.S. Military Commander openly questioned the conduct of the British Soldiers who were captured by Iran. Specifically, he was surprised that they did not open fire on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

He said "What's the matter, did your p*ssies hurt?"
Ok, no actually what he said was:
"Our boarding team's training is a little bit more towards self-preservation"

"Our reaction was, 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?'"
But it's kind of the same thing. This reminds me of an analogous personal experience. Back in September, I was mugged at gunpoint. When I was relating this story to the fiance of a friend of mine, his reaction was "Have you ever thought about taking a self-defense class?"

I actually did take martial arts (well, in high school) and I don't know of a move that is 100% effective of disarming some cracked-out motherfucker who has a gun to your head. Losing a wallet is better than taking a slug in the cranium.

And to you Commander Ice Man Shoot First & Ask Questions McLater, maybe the brits didn't open fire because they didn't want to be the ones responsible for STARTING A F*CKING WAR!!! Just a thought asshole.

Article from The Australian

Friday, March 23, 2007

What would happen if you spit off of this?

The Grand Canyon Skywalk, the world's highest structure (to be fair, nature did most of the work). Considering I get kind of freaked out on the first step of a ladder, I don't think I'll ever find out.

From CNET. More Photos.

Joyeux Anniversaire a L'UE

This weekend the EU will turn 50 (well it's been fifty years since the signing of the Treaty of Rome in any event). As someone who has personally benefited from the efforts of Jean Monnet and others to create a peaceful and united Europe, Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Seriously though....

how do I get on these email lists?!?! Is it all the on-line porn I look at? Although this one isn't as bad as the first.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"Bong Stinks for Jesus" and a lot of "unfurling"

Oral argument was heard today in Morse v. Frederick (aka, that case in Alaska where the kid unfurled a 15' sign that read "Bong Hits for Jesus" where the Olympic torch was being carried through town, and was suspended).

The oral argument transcript (here) is a good read, but it gets a bit boring towards the end. There is something surreal about having the SCOTUS discussing high school truancy and bong hits. Here are some fun highlights from "Fast Times at SCOTUS High:"

JUSTICE GINSBURG: So if the sign had been "Bong Stinks for Jesus," that would be, and Morse had the same reaction, that this was demeaning to the Olympics and it was unruly conduct, that there would be a protected right under Tinker because the message was not promoting drugs?


JUSTICE BREYER: Suppose that this particular person had whispered to his next door neighbor, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus, heh heh heh," you know. Supposed that's what had happened?

Friday, March 16, 2007

I Own the Great Wall, I Swear

In what I believe will come to be seen as a big event in the evolution of "communist" China away from it's Maoist past, the National People's Congress today gave the same legal protection to private property as it currently does to state-owned property. (LeMonde article here).

As the Economist points out though, this is going to create a pretty big headache, because now it must be determined who owns what. Now that individuals have more of an incentive to pursue ownership and property rights, this is sure to create some problems, especially in the countryside where mass collectivization happened.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Narrowly Missed: Harriet Miers' incredible judicial objectivity

Remember Harriet Miers? Ex-Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers? A.k.a. the smartest person within 30' feet of shrub's office?

Well, as it turns out she was the one who started the ball rolling in the recent wave of US Attorney firings. In fact, she originally suggested in February 2005 (as White House Counsel) that all 93 of the US Attorneys should be fired at once. See article form SFGate. That sounds like a great way to fight terrorism! It also sounds like a great way for Karl Rove to get his 'ol buddy Tim Griffin in the Arkansas vacancy.

This seems to fly in the face of the White House's explanation now, that 1) the White House wasn't involved in the terminations and that 2) the final 8 US attorneys were fired only because of work-performance issues.

There has been some suggestion that the San Francisco's own Kevin Ryan was sacrificed because he was vigorously investigating and prosecuting the stock-option back dating cases in the valley of silicon (article at valleywag). Something must have happened though for the powers to change their mind though, because he was originally on the list of "Stellar performers," according to this NYT article.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

News Flash! Sororities Pick Girls Based on Looks, Bears Shit in Woods

Now I'm not saying it's right, but as someone who was actually a little bit involved with the greek system back in college (I needed somewhere to live when I came back from Europe, STOP JUDGING ME!!), come on...they ALL do this. I don't like exclusive clubs full-stop, but singling out one sorority for actually blatantly doing what all sororities and fraternities only somewhat blatantly do, isn't really fair. I know there is social pressure to be "the pretty house" so pointing the finger at these girls who were just operating within the system is only finding a scape goat/fall guy...kind of the Scooter Libby of the greek world. Honestly, I think we should just get rid of these things as the evil leftovers of a paternalistic and patriarchal culture that they are.
Full story HERE

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Public Defender of the Year Award Nominee-Steve Wax

In late February, The Department of Defense informed the Office of Federal Public Defender in Portland, Ore., that three of its clients detained in Guantanamo bay were "eligible for transfer," or are eligible to leave the island prison.

One of those three is Adel Hamad, a native of Sudan declared an enemy combatant by the U.S. government whose life and legal case formed the centerpiece of what one Internet expert describes as a "visionary" video filmed and posted on YouTube by his lawyers in the Federal Public Defender's Office.
From national law journal

The Youtube video details Steve Wax's (head of Portland's Public Defender's office) trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan in an attempt to determine if Hamad's stories of innocence were true. As you can see in this video, all of the interviewed parties seem to agree that Hamad had nothing to do with the Taliban or any terrorist organization.

Another interesting part of this article is that when Wax learned that one of the three judges on the military commission who decided Hamad was an "enemy combatant" had dissented. Wax
later discovered there was a written dissent by a U.S. Army major who said that employees of groups with some ties to terrorism should not be automatically considered "enemy combatants." To reach such a conclusion would create "unconscionable results," he wrote.
The sad dark underbelly of this story though is the fact that not all local public defender's offices are going to go to this effort (btw, I still don't understand why Portland's public defender's office is defending a person detained in Afghanistan and held in Guantanamo). Plus, these secretive military commissions (and combat status review tribunals) only give the accused limited access to evidence and no right to civilian counsel in addition to allowing only cursory civilian appellate review by the DC Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. So even if someone goes to this effort, I'm not even sure this would be admissible in the kangaroo court military commission.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Update: Edwards' response to Coulter actually kind of gay

I don't know how I feel about Edward's reaction. While I appreciate it as a way to profit from this as much as Ms. Coulter herself is aiming to profit from it, I think I would prefer a statement from Edwards about, oh, I don't know, tolerance and human dignity. Just having a link to donate money is an awfully empty and devoid response.


Link on Edwards for president page

Why Do We Care What You Think? Part II

Ann Coulter. Much like Rush Limbaugh, I don't really understand why people listen to her. Although I do understand that she is a conservative republican's wet dream (pretty in that naughty 1950s housewife kind-of-way, articulate, and prejudiced), she is really nothing more than a pundit. I'm not a fan of pundits generally, but Ann Coulter really adds nothing. Other pundits at least might make you stop and think, but Ann is just angry and offensive.

Case in point, here she is commenting on John Edwards.

I'm sorry, was she just trying to call John Edwards a fag? And I don't think she means he's gay. She's using the word like an ignorant 19 year-old frat boy.

And here she is defending Mark Foley a while ago.
Notice that even Bill O'Reilly seems shocked at her stance. That should tell you something. I think this clip really evinces the fact that Coulter doesn't understand a lot of issues she discusses. She calls the democratic (although I remember everyone being really freaked out by this, not just democrats) outcry after the Foley scandal "gay bashing," and that being upset at the congressional conduct is "hypocritical." In the clip, notice how she refers to Foley as "a gay guy." If you remember though, it wasn't the fact that Foley may or may not be gay. It was that he was being a little too friendly with little boys. Being upset at that is not "gay bashing" Ann. It's being upset at the fact that a pedophile might be your representative in Congress. Truth is, I think if he had been sending little girls lascivious emails, this whole thing would have been even more scandalous.

Oh, and just in case you forgot about this, here are some clips of her from Keith Olbermann's show where she is defending the position in her book that the widows of 9/11 are publicity whores. Yes, women who lost their husbands on 9/11 should not be allowed to speak out because it is politicizing their loss. Yeah, and Rosa Parks should not have been allowed to comment about how she could not get a seat on the bus, because it might have politicized race, or maybe Korematsu should not have been allowed to challenge his detention because it might have politicized both race and the powers of the president. The widows should roll over, accept that the patriotic thing is to accept their deaths were for the benefit of everyone, have a funeral service with some potato salad, and then shut up.