Archive for November 18th, 2009
Absolutely astonishing. The Maricopa County (Phoenix and environs) Sheriff’s Department is totally out of control. Watch the security video at the link.
Have you ever purchased something online, pressed the "Continue" button, and then, months later, discovered that you had signed yourself up for a membership program that was charging your credit card 20 bucks a month for something you had never heard of and never knew you were buying? Well, guess what: these scams are a multi-billion dollar business, they’re partnered with lots of brand name sites you’d think you could trust, and they do everything they can to sign you up for their "services" without you knowing about it.
More here from Felix Salmon, but make sure your blood pressure is in good shape before you click over to read about it. Previous background about legal harrassment of a blogger who wrote about this a couple of months ago here. (Note: blood pressure warning still applies.)
Do not trust businesses.
On the whole, has humanity proved an asset to life on earth? Or would life on earth had been better off if humanity had failed to arise?
How old is old enough for students to be approached by military recruiters?
High school? Junior high? Fourth grade? How about ten weeks into kindergarten?
Last week at the dinner table, my five-year-old son announced blithely, "Soldiers came to school today." He then added, "They only kill bad people. They don’t kill good people."
He made the announcement with the same levity he uses in recalling the plot line of Frog and Toad or a Nemo video.
My wife and I looked at each other incredulously.
"Soldiers came to school? What do you mean?" I asked.
He repeated himself and then I remembered – it was "Career Day" at school. My son mentioned a bus driver too, but it was the soldier who stuck out in his mind. When my wife asked if the soldier was cool, he nodded yes.
The soldier had given my five-year-old a gift. From his yellow backpack, he produced a six-inch, white, plastic ruler with big, bold, red letters reading "ARMY NATIONAL GUARD" next to a waving American flag and below that www.1-800-GO-GUARD.com.
So, now we know the answer to the above question…
Opposition to the Obama administration’s plan to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his confederates in a federal court in New York City is hardening into two camps. One is concerned that we may be unwittingly playing into the terrorists’ hands. The other is incensed that we already have. What both camps share, besides a kind of unhinged logic and complete disregard for the legal process, is an obsessive fascination with the accused. The result is a broad willingness to sacrifice our commitment to legal principles in favor of the symbolic satisfaction of crushing the hopes and dreams of a motley group of criminals.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, firmly in the first camp, is hopping mad that we are poised to make all the suspect’s dreams come true. As he said on ABC’s This Week: "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, when he was first arrested, asked to be brought to New York. I didn’t think we were in the business of granting the requests of terrorists."
Funny, that. I didn’t think we were in the business of caring one way or another what the terrorists want from us. The criminal justice system is as uninterested in advancing the goals of the accused as it is in frustrating them. The most vocal critics seem to forget that our legal system exists not to grant requests or dash hopes but to bring people to justice.
Giuliani seems to object mainly to trying terrorists in his backyard. Presumably, he would be fine prosecuting KSM in criminal court in Virginia. Or at least he was back when Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted on terror charges. At the time, Giuliani had this to say: "I was in awe of our system … that we can give people a fair trial, that we are exactly what we say we are. We are a nation of law." What Giuliani objects to, it seems, is the symbolic defeat of trying these defendants in the same place the crime occurred—hardly an exceptional undertaking in the criminal justice system. In his view, it’s somehow rude to New York itself to try the terrorists there…
Evidence was growing this weekend that babies born in the Iraqi city of Fallujah – scene in 2004 of one of the few set-piece battles of the invasion – are exhibiting high rates of mortality and birth defects.
In September this year, say campaigners, 170 children were born at Fallujah General Hospital, 24 per cent of whom died within seven days. Three-quarters of these exhibited deformities, including "children born with two heads, no heads, a single eye in their foreheads, or missing limbs". The comparable data for August 2002 – before the invasion – records 530 births, of whom six died and only one of whom was deformed.
The data – contained in a letter sent by a group of British and Iraqi doctors and campaigners to the United Nations last month – presaged claims made in a report in The Guardian yesterday that there has been a sharp rise in birth defects in the city. The paper quoted Fallujah General’s director and senior specialist, Dr Ayman Qais, as saying: "We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies… There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of brain tumours." Earlier this year Sky News reported a Fallujah grave-digger saying that, of the four or five new-born babies he buries every day, most have deformities…
Continue reading. George Bush’s needless invasion of Iraq continues its enormous human costs.
See if you can follow this logic.
A recent article in Newsweek states that Democrats could have won a "very significant number of Republican votes in Congress" for the stimulus — had there only been a "meaningful tax-cut component." Political journalism is often imaginative, but this verges on delusion. After all, Obama labored to add about $280 billion in tax cuts to the stimulus — over objections from many Democrats — and still netted zero Republican votes in the House. Then, the piece asserts that Obama has no "coattails," based on 2009 elections, and reports "early signs of Obama fatigue are emerging." (Again, another observer might note that Democrats have won all 5 special congressional elections this year.) The article also predicts that gubernatorial losses in Virginia and New Jersey "will" make some Democrats "very nervous" about health care reform, which is a "political risk" for the party.
"We appear to be witnessing the beginnings of a significant Republican revival," continues the piece, bringing home its quirky counter-narrative. Lucky for struggling Democrats, however, this Newsweek item closes with some free political advice. "Liberals in Washington would do well to let go of the Republican breakdown narrative," notes the final sentence, "and pull back to the center–or suffer the consequences."
It’s the kind of article that might leave you wondering if the author simply works for the G.O.P.
Newsweek‘s byline states that the writer, Yuval Levin, is "editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center." It all sounds quite journalistic and non-partisan. But Levin is also a former aide to President George W. Bush. (He served on the White House domestic policy staff as recently as 2006). If anything, this government experience makes Levin’s political analysis more interesting. Why keep it from readers?
As it happens, Levin’s first piece for Newsweek, back in March, was prominently billed as Obama analysis from "a Bush veteran." So I put the question to Newsweek, and spokesperson Katherine Barna shares their rationale: …
Here’s the test. I got them all correct. How about you? (Full disclosure: I’m a citizen raised in the US, so I have an unfair advantage.)
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today unveiled a new website designed to provide a one-stop location for veterans and veterans organizations to learn about DHS’ many veteran outreach initiatives and hiring and contracting opportunities.
"This new website reflects the shared commitment across the Department to hiring American veterans," said Secretary Napolitano. "Veterans play a vital role in the Department of Homeland Security’s mission to protect the nation, and this website will help us build our veteran workforce to more than 50,000 Department-wide by 2012."
Today’s announcement comes one day after Secretary Napolitano joined President Obama as he signed an Executive Order on the Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, which emphasizes recruiting and training veterans for employment at federal agencies, increasing the veteran workforce within the executive branch and assisting recently hired veterans in making the adjustment to service in a civilian capacity.
The new website, available at www.dhs.gov/veterans, features information for veterans about how to find employment opportunities at DHS, ways to get involved in community-based efforts like Citizen Corps, and special veteran programs such as Operation Warfighter and Wounded Warrior, which provide employment opportunities for severely wounded or recovering service members to assist their transition back to the military or civilian workforce.
The website also features DHS procurement opportunities for veteran and service disabled veteran business owners and information about DHS policies and news impacting the veteran community.
The new website is the latest step in DHS’ active engagement and recruitment of veterans and veteran-owned businesses. DHS’ civilian workforce includes approximately 47,000 veterans, comprising 25 percent of all employees—including Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute—in addition to the 42,000 active duty members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
On Oct. 29, Secretary Napolitano met with leaders of several veterans service organizations to discuss DHS’ ongoing collaborations with veterans on recruitment and other key DHS initiatives, such as the Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business contract program, which promotes contracting opportunities for veteran-owned businesses.
Secretary Napolitano also recently announced the DHS Veterans Outreach Steering Committee—a group of representatives from across the Department who will meet regularly and advise the Secretary on efforts to improve and integrate veteran outreach. At the Committee’s first meeting, held in October, she discussed plans to expand existing veterans programs and streamline the Department’s veterans outreach efforts to enhance openness and transparency—including the website overhaul announced today.
For more information, visit www.dhs.gov/veterans.
They were against it, now they’re for it—and so clear is the reversal that people are commenting on it:
In their quest to thwart President Obama, Republicans do not fear the hobgoblin of consistency.
For much of this decade, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, now the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, led the fight against Democratic filibusters of George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. He decried Democrats’ "unprecedented, obstructive tactics." To have Bush nominees "opposed on a partisan filibuster, it is really wrong," he added. He demanded they get "an up-and-down vote." He praised Republican leaders because they "opposed judicial filibusters" and have "been consistent on this issue even when it was not to their political benefit to do so."
So now a Democratic president is in the White House and he has nominated his first appellate judicial nominee, U.S. District Judge David Hamilton. And what did Sessions do? He went to the floor and led a filibuster…
The Senate votes Tuesday on whether to end a Republican filibuster of President Obama’s first judicial nominee, David Hamilton. The story of the Hamilton nomination is just part of a larger judicial nomination picture that shows the president slow on nominating judges and Republicans adept at stalling tactics.
Hamilton has served for 15 years as a federal district court judge in Indiana. He is so widely respected that Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican, strongly endorsed his nomination, as did the state president of the conservative Federalist Society. At the confirmation hearing, Lugar praised Hamilton’s "brilliance," "fairness" and commitment to law. "He is the type of lawyer and the type of person one wants to see on the federal bench," Lugar said.
Lugar, noting that he had made a similar introduction of now-Chief Justice John Roberts at his confirmation hearings, used the words of the nation’s founders to warn his Senate colleagues against allowing "the pestilential breath of faction to poison the fountains of justice."
Tuesday, Lugar is expected to be among just a handful of Republicans who will vote to end the filibuster of Hamilton’s nomination.
It takes 60 votes to end a filibuster and allow an up-or-down vote on a nomination. Democratic filibusters of some of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees so infuriated Republicans that they threatened to do away with the century-and-a-half-old rule, using an end run that came to be known as the "nuclear option."
In 2005, Republicans spoke for days about the insult of the judicial filibuster, calling it unconstitutional. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, now the Senate Republican leader, said in 2005 of the Democrats: "For the first time in 214 years they’ve changed the advise and consent responsibilities to advise and obstruct."
North Carolina’s Richard Burr, like many other Republicans, said the debate was about "fairness" and "about principle and …. allowing judicial nominees an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor."
And the man who is now the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, contended that "the Republican leadership have been consistent on this issue even when it was not to their political benefit to do so. We have opposed judicial filibusters and have not supported them."…
The GOP: the political equivalent of acid reflux.
The prospect of transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to a maximum-security prison in Thomson, Illinois, generated an interesting response from a Republican state lawmaker who represents a neighboring area.
Representative Jim Sacia of the state’s 89th District accused Republicans in Washington — including Senate candidate, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) — of risking thousands of local jobs in their demagoguery of the detainee issue.
"My thinking on this is extremely positive," Sacia told the Huffington Post. "If we lose this opportunity. All I can think of is we literally are idiots. I mean that sincerely."
"I understand I’m on different pages of music with others in my party. First of all this should not be a partisan issue in anyway. If President Obama brings the detainees on U.S. soil and we sit here with a brand new state-of-the-art, max security prison, sitting vacant for the last eight years, and pass on an opportunity to sell it to the federal government, which we would fill it with 1,500 regular prisoners and 800 detainees, what is the problem? The building was designed to do that.
"The only reason we have rhetoric now is because of the closing of Gitmo," Sacia concluded. "It makes no sense at all. This is a tremendous opportunity and we would be idiots to waste it."
As Sacia, a former law enforcement official, sees it, the proposal could bring thousands of jobs to an area that has "suffered unbelievable economic hardship."
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), meanwhile, is taking a different tack. Kirk, hoping to generate support for his 2010 Senate campaign, is grandstanding on the issue, arguing without evidence that locked up terrorist suspects would endanger Illinois residents.
In other words, as far as Jim Sacia is concerned, Mark Kirk is the "idiot" who wants to waste the economic opportunity.
The congressman’s cheap tactics may end up costing him support and credibility. The Chicago Sun-Times editorialized this week, "Kirk’s scare talk might do him wonders with the GOP base, but it won’t convince a single terrorist that this nation has a backbone."
Among members of Congress, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) has long stood out as a man a few fries short of a Happy Meal. Two weeks ago, he argued that health care reform proponents are trying to kill off senior citizens before they warn young people about the evils of the Democratic agenda. A few weeks before that, Gohmert argued that expanding hate crimes protections would lead to a legalization of necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality. He then compared those who disagree with him to Nazis.
And while Gohmert’s name is not quite as familiar as Steve King’s and Michele Bachmann’s when it comes to the House Stark Raving Mad Caucus, he’s clearly making a play for notoriety.
….Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas suggested yesterday that Democrats may actually want another terrorist attack because rebuilding the city would create jobs.
"You’ve got subways, tunnels, bridges all subject to terrorism. And unless they’re trying to create a new jobs bill by allowing terrorism back in New York then this is insane. And even that would be insane."
Last night, Gohmert said that "it is extremely helpful to have a community organizer in the White House because you’ll need lots of community organization in order to adequately evacuate massive areas of the most densely populated area in America."
This is the same Gohmert who appeared on a radical radio show in July to argue that the government may try to control what Americans eat and where we can live. He’s also endorsed the "Birther" legislation.
In May, Gohmert told his colleagues, "We are going to borrow more money from the Chinese to possibly give them money back to create habitats for wild dogs and cats that are rare. There is no assurance that if we did that we wouldn’t end up with moo goo dog pan or moo goo cat pan."
The guy has "future member of the House Republican leadership" written all over him.
THE Justice Department’s decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, in a federal court in New York City has elicited several criticisms. Most are pointless, but one — the idea that it will give a terrorist a platform from which he could stir up support in the Muslim world for his radical views — is well taken.
First, let’s dispose of the straw men. John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House, accused the Obama administration of “treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue” — as though “law enforcement” is an epithet. In truth, the White House’s counterterrorism team is composed largely of the same professionals who battled terrorists under President George W. Bush. They are generally in sync with the White House’s insistence on a strategy that uses law enforcement where appropriate and military force in places, like Afghanistan, where conspirators can’t be arrested by federal agents driving Fords.
Others complain that Mr. Mohammed might take advantage of quirks of the criminal justice system and go free. That’s highly unlikely. First, he has already confessed to the crime; and, given the zero acquittal rate for terrorists in New York previously, any anxiety about a “not guilty” verdict seems unwarranted.
John Yoo, a former Bush administration lawyer, argues that the trial would be an “intelligence bonanza” for our enemies. Also unlikely. Our prosecutors are certain that there is enough unclassified evidence to make their case. Moreover, the most prized intelligence is recent, specific and actionable. Al Qaeda today is most concerned with discovering when and where the next drone missile attack will take place in Pakistan, information not likely to be disclosed during a trial about a conspiracy hatched more than a decade ago.
Which brings us to the idea that allowing Mr. Mohammed to take the stand will give him a soapbox. The truth is, if the trial provides a propaganda platform for anybody, it will be for our side…
The Semogue 2000 is gradually breaking in. I got two good passes of lather today, and a quick trip back to the Tabac for the third pass created more great lather instantly. The red-tipped Gillette Super Speed is a good one for me, and with a previously used UK Wilkinson blade, it delivered a very fine shave with no nicks or problems. Master Lilac Vegetal is quite pleasant, unlike the Pinaud version.