30 September 2005

Republican Culture of Corruption

It's been quite a recent news cycle for the War party:

When the Bush administration took over, they pledged to clean it up. Instead, they've cleaned up. Meanwhile, despite the Whitewater and Monica-gate investigations, ZERO is the number of Clinton era officials indicted for malfeasance in their duties.

Now, the fountain of corruption is gushing again.

29 September 2005

This just in from the "None So Blind as She Who Will Not See" department:

On yesterday's "Hannity & Colmes," Alan Colmes spoke with Ann Coulter briefly about her book How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must!).* Coulter reaffirmed three of her "Rules for Talking to a Liberal":

• Never compliment a Democrat
• Never show graciousness toward Democrats
• Never flatter a Democrat

Colmes then cited last Sunday's San Fransisco Chronicle article "Family demands the truth: New inquiry may expose events that led to Pat Tillman’s death," in which:

• Pat Tillman's mom said that he was supposed to meet with anti-war author Noam Chomsky after his return from Afghanistan

• Spc. Russell Baer, a comrade of Tillman's for more than a year in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that Tillman considered the war in Iraq to be "f___ing illegal"

• Another soldier in Tillman's platoon said that Pat urged him to vote for Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 election

Finally, Colmes reminded Coulter of her own description of Pat Tillman, which was also quoted in the Chronicle piece ...
Tillman was an American original: virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be.
... and then asked her, "I wonder if you still would say those things, knowing now what we have learned about Pat Tillman: he was a John Kery supporter."

Coluter's first response: "Did you get that from a document from CBS News?" She told Colmes that she wouldn't retract her remarks about Tillman, "because I don't believe [the Chronicle story]." Sharp cookie, that Ann Coulter ... impugn the source, don't address the issue!

You can ignore the elephant in the room for only so long, Ann. But if and when these assertions about Tillman become incontrovertible ... what will you say about him then?

* See the video clip at ("Free Video" > "Click Here for More Video" > "Hannity & Colmes" > "Politics, Politics! -- Ann Coulter on President Bush [etc.]" (When the video starts, fast forward to the 3:00 mark — you'll probably want to skip over the part where Coulter says that most women would want to be sexually harassed by a fireman.)

27 September 2005

US soldiers trade grisly photos of dead and mutilated Iraqis for access to amateur porn

While the Bush adminstration begins its war on porn campaign, here is a truly revolting and lesser reported account of war pornography. Definitely not for the squeamish, as some of these photos are ghastly disgusting.
If you want to see the true face of war, go to the amateur porn Web site NowThatsF*** For almost a year, American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces, and sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return for letting him post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access to his site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography.

At Wilson's Web site, you can see an Arab man's face sliced off and placed in a bowl filled with blood. Another man's head, his face crusted with dried blood and powder burns, lies on a bed of gravel. A man in a leather coat who apparently tried to run a military checkpoint lies slumped in the driver's seat of a car, his head obliterated by gunfire, the flaps of skin from his neck blooming open like rose petals. Six men in beige fatigues, identified as US Marines, laugh and smile for the camera while pointing at a burned, charcoal-black corpse lying at their feet.

The captions that accompany these images, which were apparently written by the soldiers who posted them, laugh and gloat over the bodies. The soldier who posted a picture of a corpse lying in a pool of his own brains and entrails wrote, "What every Iraqi should look like." The photograph of a corpse whose jaw has apparently rotted away, leaving a gaping set of upper teeth, bears the caption "bad day for this dude." One soldier posted three photographs of corpses lying in the street and titled his collection "DIE HAJI DIE." The soldiers take pride, even joy, in displaying the dead.

All the while a military judge bars the release of Abu Ghraib photos and the Bush administration has blocked photos of military coffins.

And guess who received pornography in exchange for their photos, and who received a court martial?.

Maybe it's just part of the grim meathook future, considering these folks are going to rejoin the U.S. civilian population. Or is it just the reality of the internet age, where events like these occurred in past days, but were just not exposed to the world beyond the immediate witnesses?

Definitely not the way to win the "hearts and minds" of Iraqis…

26 September 2005

I just want accountability, I want answers

The Tillman family is still seeking answers for events that led to the death of son Pat, NFL star turned Army Ranger. The Pentagon’s inspector general opened a new inquiry in August, the fourth such probe on the matter.
“There have been so many discrepancies so far that it’s hard to know what to believe,” Mary Tillman said. “There are too many murky details.” The files the family received from the Army in March are heavily censored, with nearly every page containing blacked-out sections; most names have been deleted. (Names for this story were provided by sources close to the investigation.) At least one volume was withheld altogether from the family, and even an Army press release given to the media has deletions. On her copies, Mary Tillman has added competing marks and scrawls — countless color-coded tabs and angry notes such as “Contradiction!” “Wrong!” and “????”

Yet other Tillman family members are less reluctant to show Tillman’s unique character, which was more complex than the public image of a gung-ho patriotic warrior. He started keeping a journal at 16 and continued the practice on the battlefield, writing in it regularly. (His journal was lost immediately after his death.) Mary Tillman said a friend of Pat’s even arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan — a meeting prevented by his death. She said that although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, “Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war.”

“I can see it like a movie screen,” Baer said. “We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.”

Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush’s Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.

Is it possible that the circumstances of Pat Tillman's "friendly fire" death might have been more sinister than the jumbled stories to date?

24 September 2005

Report by US think tank says only '4 to 10' percent of insurgents are foreigners

The 'myth' of Iraq's foreign fighters
The US and Iraqi governments have vastly overstated the number of foreign fighters in Iraq, and most of them don't come from Saudi Arabia, according to a new report from the Washington-based Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS). According to a piece in The Guardian, this means the US and Iraq "feed the myth" that foreign fighters are the backbone of the insurgency. While the foreign fighters may stoke the incurgency flames, they only comprise only about 4 to 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgents.

The CSIS study also disputes media reports that Saudis comprise the largest group of foreign fighters. CSIS says "Algerians are the largest group (20 percent), followed by Syrians (18 percent), Yemenis (17 percent), Sudanese (15 percent), Egyptians (13 percent), Saudis (12 percent) and those from other states (5 percent)." CSIS gathered the information for its study from intelligence services in the Gulf region.

Most of the insurgents are not Saddam Hussien loyalists, but are members of Sunni Arab Iraqi tribes.

23 September 2005

Praying For Famous People

Earlier this week, Monday 9/19, I happened to hear the KPXQ 1360 AM Andrew Tallman show where the topic was Christians praying for famous people, most notably, actors like Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon, who have been outspoken about their opposition to the elective Iraq invasion. And while I have been generally pleased with the Andrew Tallman program, I found this particular show to be offensive and catering to the basest of bigoted thought patterns and political prejudices. In a nutshell, it served a perfect illustration of why many are revulsed with the over the top sanctimonious hypocrisy displayed by many in the Christian community.

I attempted to phone in and present a counterpoint, but was instructed that I had to pray for somebody, and for which I replied that I would pray for world political leaders, but was informed that only actors and other media personalities were valid to prayer targets for the show, and consequently, my call was not going to be taken. Which struck me silly, as it is predominately political leaders that exert significant influence over lives and are the active agents that presently place, in many cases, profits over people, expediency over justice, scapegoating over real reform, and elevate image above the truth.

The framing by the host was totally one-sided, and did not grant consideration that many actors and media stars, deliver blasts from the "righty" side, including our nation's 40th president and the current governor of California, who really didn't exactly display shining examples of model Christian life. Mr. Schwarznenegger has a long history of adultery, sexual harrassment, and a deplorable account of paying hush money to keep quiet charges of statutory rape. Reagan, heralded in the mainstream media for religious convictions, it turns out, was more a creation of skillful handlers and the image was crafted for a man that really wasn't that devout of a Christian — he did not attend church once while he was serving as President.

Meanwhile, the host proffered a diatribe eliciting dime store psychology of actor motivation for public discourse that failed to acknowledge that this sort of behavior exhibited by blockbuster actors really is no different superstar athletes, computer software moguls, internet millionaires, rock stars, legendary writers, famous artists, etc.… And it was a rant that omitted the obvious — that anyone who's attained more than a modicum of financial success and gained social stature is going to feel unrestrained in speaking out against injustice or perceived ill state of the nation or to broadcast just about any personal peeve. Go peruse the blog of any dot-com millionaire and you'll quickly discover an array of arrogance, self-righteousness, proposed solutions and shared philosophy for success.

And I'd say that Sean Penn has a greater qualification status than Mr. Tallman or many other Americans who remain, for the most part, totally ignorant of the Irag goings-on, to write about and discuss the elective U.S. invasion of a country that posed no threat. It should be considered a blessing that such individuals apply their money and resources to address global injustice, instead of confining their destiny for down the drain drug abuse or other self-abusive behavior that belabor many others in that career walk.

If there is a grievious error that the contingent of Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Bruce Springsteen, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, and whoever else have committed, it is that they uncork their passion and views too spontaneously — lefty actor activists, delivering heart felt soliliqoys actually often sabotage their own causes, and would better serve their movement by applying and directing their resources to those who can much more effectively administer and direct such campaigns.

Still, I will throw a plug out for Andrew Tallman show, it is heard 5pm - 7pm, Monday thru Friday on AM 1360 KPXQ. Though, it is a talk show for a Christian audience on a Christian talk station, where some of the syndicated hosts are way out there. Outside of a few shows where the dogma gets really deep, the framework and tone of the program is one of a open dialog, with some thought stimulating topics.

Two special-ops Brits in wigs, 'traditional Arab dress' – and a car full of explosives?

Justin Raimondo tries to make sense out of the bizarre story that unraveled in Basra, Iraq this week.
The closer we look at what happened in Basra the other day, the murkier and more suspicious the picture gets. Two British undercover operatives fired at the Iraqi police, killing one and injuring another, and were taken into custody, then "rescued" as British tanks laid siege to police headquarters. The incident culminated in a pitched battle between Iraqi and British forces, and in its aftermath a war of words is heating up that threatens to expose a widening chasm between these two ostensible "allies."

We are told that our enemy in Iraq is a shadowy network of al-Qaeda-affiliated suicide bombers who will do anything to disrupt that country's march toward "democracy," but instead we find coalition troops shooting at the very Iraqi police we are investing so much money, effort, and hope into.

21 September 2005

Leibo gone

David Leibowitz departs from KTAR 620 AM morning drive time and is replaced by syndicated conservative talker Tony Snow.
David Leibowitz' last show on KTAR was today, September 20. David and station management have mutually agreed that this is the right time to part ways and pursue new opportunities.   

In addition, NewsRadio 620 KTAR announced that Ted Simons will now fulfill a dual role at the station. Besides co-anchoring "Arizona's Afternoon News" with Heidi Fogelsong, Mr. Simons will host his own talk show from 1-4PM.

While I've directed some harsh words at David for his neconservative dupability, his show provided coverage of local goings-on like no other in the Valley, and substituting another shrill Rush wannabe does a grave disservice to the Arizona radio audience.

Good luck to David, and I'm sure he's going to be successful in whatever future endeavor, be it another radio gig or any new career realm he enters into.

19 September 2005

A little light reading

Normally, I don't give circulated chain emails more than a cursory glance, but this one is a worthy read.

From: GOD
Reference: LIFE

This is God. Today I will be handling All of your problems for you. I do Not need your help. So, have a nice day.

I love you.


And, remember...

If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do Not attempt to resolve it yourself! Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. I will get to it in MY TIME. All situations will be resolved, but in My time, not yours.

Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold onto it by worrying about it. Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life now.

If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard of privilege.

Should you have a bad day at work; Think of the man who has been out of work for years.

Should you despair over a relationship gone bad; Think of the person who has never known what it's like to love and be loved in return.

Should you grieve the passing of another weekend; Think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.

Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance; Think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.

Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror; Think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.

Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to get the opportunity.

Should you find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities; Remember, things could be worse. You could be one of them!

Should you decide to send this to a friend; Thank you, you may have touched their life in ways you will never know!

Now, you have a nice day,

14 September 2005

A storm created by a conservative ideology that, consciously or not, leads to contempt and indifference toward those not seen as society’s winners

What Katrina Tells Us About Mr. Bush's Philosophy of Government — an excellent article by Leonard Steinhorn.
Years from now, historians will likely see the Bush administration's initially callous and indifferent response to hurricane Katrina as a parable for the type of conservatism this president and his party currently represent.

From the Roosevelt years through the Seventies, we defined the American Dream as a good job, a piece of the rock, and the ability to take care of one's family. Those who lived paycheck to paycheck earned our respect, because hard work and determination were deemed virtuous. These were the people who built America.

Today, however, the conservative movement has redefined success and worth in America. Because some of us succeed, conservatives say, there must be something flawed in those who don't. The American Dream has been redefined as striking it rich, and falling short just isn't good enough.

It’s a worldview coded into the Bush and Reagan tax cuts, which showered money on the super wealthy under the assumption that these are the real people who know how to build America. Those with money, in other words, contribute more to our nation’s health than those who merely work. They have wisdom and virtue.

Compassionate conservatism at its finest. Or perhaps it's just that Bush surrounds himself with so many yes-men, that it has a paralyzing effect.

10 September 2005

It was painful…terrible…devastating

Colin Powell says his 2003 U.N. speech where he described fictional Iraqi weapons programs was painful for him and a permanent "blot" on his record:
There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me.

9 September 2005

The news that didn't make the news

Project Censored list of top censored stories for the year. Here are the top ten:
  1. Bush administration moves to eliminate open government — While the Bush administration has expanded its ability to keep tabs on civilians, it's been working to make sure the public – and even Congress – can't find out what the government is doing.

  2. Media coverage fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the civilian death toll — Decades from now, the civilized world may well look back on the assaults on Fallujah in April and November 2004 and point to them as examples of the United States' and Britain's utter disregard for the most basic wartime rules of engagement.

  3. Another year of distorted election coverage — Last year Project Censored foretold the potential for electoral wrongdoing in the 2004 presidential campaign: The "sale of electoral politics" made number six in the list of 2003-04's most underreported stories. The mainstream media had largely ignored the evidence that electronic voting machines were susceptible to tampering, as well as political alliances between the machines' manufacturers and the Republican Party.

  4. Surveillance society quietly moves in — It's a well-known dirty trick in the halls of government: If you want to pass unpopular legislation that you know won't stand up to scrutiny, just wait until the public isn't looking. That's precisely what the Bush administration did Dec. 13, 2003, the day American troops captured Saddam Hussein.

  5. US uses tsunami to military advantage in Southeast Asia — The American people reacted to the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean last December with an outpouring of compassion and private donations. Across the nation, neighbors got together to collect food, clothing, medicine, and financial contributions. Schoolchildren completed class projects to help the cause.

  6. The real oil-for-food scam — Last year, right-wingers in Congress began kicking up a fuss about how the United Nations had allegedly allowed Saddam Hussein to rake in $10 billion in illegal cash through the Oil for Food program. Headlines screamed scandal. New York Times columnist William Safire referred to the alleged UN con game as "the richest rip-off in world history." But those who knew how the program had been set up and run – and under whose watch – were not swayed.

  7. Journalists face unprecedented dangers to life and livelihood — Last year was the deadliest year for reporters since the International Federation of Journalists began keeping tabs in 1984. A total of 129 media workers lost their lives, and 49 of them – more than a third – were killed in Iraq.

  8. Iraqi farmers threatened by Bremer's mandates — Historians believe it was in the "fertile crescent" of Mesopotamia, where Iraq now lies, that humans first learned to farm. "It is here, in around 8500 or 8000 B.C., that mankind first domesticated wheat, here that agriculture was born," Jeremy Smith wrote in the Ecologist. This entire time, "Iraqi farmers have been naturally selecting wheat varieties that work best with their climate ... and cross-pollinated them with others with different strengths. "The US, however, has decided that, despite 10,000 years practice, Iraqis don't know what wheat works best in their own conditions."

  9. Iran's new oil trade system challenges US currency — The Bush administration has been paying a lot more attention to Iran recently. Part of that interest is clearly Iran's nuclear program – but there may be more to the story. One bit of news that hasn't received the public vetting it merits is Iran's declared intent to open an international oil exchange market, or "bourse." Not only would the new entity compete against the New York Mercantile Exchange and London's International Petroleum Exchange (both owned by American corporations), but it would also ignite international oil trading in euros.

  10. Mountaintop removal threatens ecosystem and economy — On Aug. 15 environmental activists created a human blockade by locking themselves to drilling equipment, obstructing the National Coal Corp.'s access to a strip mine in the Appalachian mountains 40 miles north of Knoxville. It was just the latest in a protracted campaign that environmentalists say has national implications but that's been ignored by the media outside the immediate area.

8 September 2005

The official relief effort was callous, inept and racist

An account by two American paramedics trapped in New Orleans by the Hurricane Katrina aftermath when they were attending a conference
We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

6 September 2005

A man who made his career undermining the rights and liberties of American citizens

The truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist according to famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation. His rise to power speaks volumes about the current state of American values.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Rehnquist bragged about being first in his class at Stanford Law School. Today Stanford is a great law school with a diverse student body, but in the late 1940s and early 1950s, it discriminated against Jews and other minorities, both in the admission of students and in the selection of faculty. Justice Stephen Breyer recalled an earlier period of Stanford’s history: “When my father was at Stanford, he could not join any of the social organizations because he was Jewish, and those organizations, at that time, did not accept Jews.” Rehnquist not only benefited in his class ranking from this discrimination; he was also part of that bigotry. When he was nominated to be an associate justice in 1971, I learned from several sources who had known him as a student that he had outraged Jewish classmates by goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering with brown-shirted friends in front of a dormitory that housed the school’s few Jewish students. He also was infamous for telling racist and anti-Semitic jokes.

As a law clerk, Rehnquist wrote a memorandum for Justice Jackson while the court was considering several school desegregation cases, including Brown v. Board of Education. Rehnquist’s memo, entitled “A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases,” defended the separate-but-equal doctrine embodied in the 1896 Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson. Rehnquist concluded the Plessy “was right and should be reaffirmed.” When questioned about the memos by the Senate Judiciary Committee in both 1971 and 1986, Rehnquist blamed his defense of segregation on the dead Justice, stating – under oath – that his memo was meant to reflect the views of Justice Jackson. But Justice Jackson voted in Brown, along with a unanimous Court, to strike down school segregation. According to historian Mark Tushnet, Justice Jackson’s longtime legal secretary called Rehnquist’s Senate testimony an attempt to “smear[] the reputation of a great justice.” Rehnquist later admitted to defending Plessy in arguments with fellow law clerks. He did not acknowledge that he committed perjury in front of the Judiciary Committee to get his job.

Let's see, Mr. Dershowitz has tarred Rehnquist as a bigot, racist, hypocrite, perjurer, anti-semite, and a rather unmemorable jurist. Perhaps Dershowitz was incited into this rant after his "bullying" on the Sean Hannity Fox News cable news program. While I am no fan of the segregationist chief justice, the timing of Dershowitz's blast is in poor taste.

I've always been astonished at how the general public holds in esteem judges, but dishes out heaps of scorn for lawyers. When, considering that judges are quintessential political animals, working and gaining rewards for purely partisan servitude. At various points in the nation's history, one party has been more strident than others — and over the course of the past 35 years, Republicans have exerted dominance over this branch of government, and only the Democrats have been forced the swallow the "compromise pill".

Roberts v. the Future

George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen says Senate confirmation hearings for John Roberts should be focused on the future, not Roberts past.
As legislators address a host of futuristic issues, from the genetic enhancement of children to the use of brain scanning to identify criminal suspects, laws will inevitably be challenged in court, raising novel and surprising questions about how to interpret our constitutional rights to privacy, equality and free expression.

Rather than focusing on John Roberts's past, the senators questioning him might get a better sense of his future on the Supreme Court by imagining the issues of the next generation: brain fingerprinting and the future of privacy rights, genetic screening and the future of personal autonomy, DNA and the future of affirmative action, old age and drug legalization, and property, free expression and the right to tinker.

5 September 2005

Who did you have to be to get so lucky in New Orleans last week?

Maybe the important question about the deplorable treatment of the Americans in the NOLA "shelters" shouldn't be about whether race or class was the criteria, but about nationality. In response to this story about two British girls, who along with other tourists, were found better accomdations while Americans "were forced to remain coralled in the hellholes with no food or water".
The US Military is supposed to "protect" who, now? Foreign nationals over Americans? Is this a "class thing," "race thing" or something even more evil than we can bear to contemplate? What possible reason could there have been to treat ANY of the people left in New Orleans differently? Weren't the Americans at least equal to Brits and Aussies? Was it that the foreign nationals had diplomats looking out for their interests? If so, what does that say about who was looking out for the interests of Americans?

Anyone? Any righties want to take a shot at explaining why Americans were kept, starving and dying in the NOLA camps at gunpoint, as foreigners were "smuggled" out to the Hyatt and evacuated ahead of them? Are these guys - Bud Hopes and National Guard Staff Sgt Garland Ogden - heroes?

2 September 2005

Survival of New Orleans

More on the incredible blog authored by directNIC employees who've setup a "base camp" in the heart of New Orleans, who have a working internet connection and running generator. Lots of photos and the blog author has been overwhelmed by IMs and emails, along with a webcam feed that I couldn't get to work on my laptop today. Sandwiched between repeated cries for the need for military force, are shocking tales such as this:
Three days ago, police and national guard troops told citizens to head toward the Crescent City Connection Bridge to await transportation out of the area. The citizens trekked over to the Convention Center and waited for the buses which they were told would take them to Houston or Alabama or somewhere else, out of this area.

It's been 3 days, and the buses have yet to appear.

Although obviously he has no exact count, he estimates more than 10,000 people are packed into and around and outside the convention center still waiting for the buses. They had no food, no water, and no medicine for the last three days, until today, when the National Guard drove over the bridge above them, and tossed out supplies over the side crashing down to the ground below. Much of the supplies were destroyed from the drop. Many people tried to catch the supplies to protect them before they hit the ground. Some offered to walk all the way around up the bridge and bring the supplies down, but any attempt to approach the police or national guard resulted in weapons being aimed at them.

There are many infants and elderly people among them, as well as many people who were injured jumping out of windows to escape flood water and the like -- all of them in dire straights.

Any attempt to flag down police results in being told to get away at gunpoint. Hour after hour they watch buses pass by filled with people from other areas. Tensions are very high, and there has been at least one murder and several fights. 8 or 9 dead people have been stored in a freezer in the area, and 2 of these dead people are kids.

The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

The buses never stop.

Before the supplies were pitched off the bridge today, people had to break into buildings in the area to try to find food and water for their families. There was not enough. This spurred many families to break into cars to try to escape the city. There was no police response to the auto thefts until the mob reached the rich area -- Saulet Condos -- once they tried to get cars from there... well then the whole swat teams began showing up with rifles pointed. Snipers got on the roof and told people to get back.

And a memo asking Jesse Jackson to "shut the hell up".

Respectfully, I submit that you should shut the hell up. Looting and lawlessness IS the problem. The National Guard choppers are BEING SHOT AT. The NOPD are BEING SHOT AT. You want to focus on the levee? So do they, but check this out: THEY CAN'T UNTIL THE MOB STOPS ATTACKING THE RESCUE OPERATION.

I know you're looking at this situation with concern for the racial implications of the deterioration of civilization out here, but this is bigger than whether people are going to be racists after this is over. This is about rescuing the masses i.e. life and death.

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and blame your stupid comments on your lack of knowledge of the situation. Don't prove me a fool for doing so.

1 September 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Lots of Katrina coverage over at, including:

Here is a live blog from a New Orleans datacenter.