Wednesday, January 30, 2008

um, like ... dude!

In light of recent news, I'll revisit what I wrote a year ago, which any half-witted blogger could have predicted:

we see that Giuliani is outpolling the next three Republican candidates combined.

Once more, just so I’m clear about this, Giuliani will never never never win the Republican nomination for president in 2008. Never never never never. It’s simply not going to happen.

. . .

If he does manage to win the nomination, I will do a little celebratory dance in honor of Rudy, because it will mean that the Republican base has seen the error of its ways and agreed to relinquish the cultural direction of the country to Godless liberals like myself.

Of course, I apparently had my money on Brownback and Hagel. Looks like the Magic 8 Ball beats human powers of prediction once again.

Also, Clinton. Ick.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

pack your bags

"I still can't believe this is happening in America."

So said the sister of a U.S. citizen locked up by the government for weeks and nearly deported because he couldn’t produce a U.S. birth certificate and the government couldn’t be bothered to check its own records.

Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he's never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack's claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona.
[Continued at Citizen Orange]

Sonata in Atrios, op. IOZ

Dear Jane,

They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t want to. They don’t share your priorities. They are not on your side. Cut them loose or lower your expectations.



Monday, January 21, 2008

the divisive Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is important to remember that, while universally praised and honored in America today, during his lifetime, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a deeply controversial and divisive figure.

Fringe views that still exist today (which I won’t dignify with links) condemning King as a dangerous radical, a socialist, and a communist, were the views of much of the mainstream press during the 1960s. King was viewed as such a disruptive force by the U.S. government that Attorney General Bobby Kennedy disgracefully authorized J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to wiretap King’s phone. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Hoover’s FBI worked to undermine and destabilize civil rights groups like King’s SCLC, all in the name of national security and American unity.

[Continued at Citizen Orange]

Sunday, January 20, 2008

inspiration or exploitation?

In researching a forthcoming post, I stumbled across this remarkable video (wmv) about rural Kenyans who have gotten the rights from the corporation that owns the Simpsons to produce and sell handmade soapstone carvings of characters on the show. They receive $6 for each carving, which they use to support and educate their families. The spokesman from the group is very pleased about the work and the impact it has had on the community.

But then we find that the carvings can be sold in the UK for ten times that amount, $60 a piece. Does it really cost $54 to ship a small bust of Homer Simpson from Kenya to Britain? Perhaps, but I am skeptical. But I’ll refrain from complaining too loudly since if the project were ended for some reason, the Kenyan artisans would clearly be worse off than they are now.

[Continued at Citizen Orange]

there will be blood

There will be interminable tedium. Consider yourself warned.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

why lawyers are stoopid, or, why there's nothing ethical about legal ethics

Exhibit A:

For 10 years, Leslie P. Smith, a Virginia lawyer, reluctantly kept a secret because the authorities on legal ethics told him he had no choice, even though his information could save the life of a man on death row, one whose case had led to a landmark Supreme Court decision.

Mr. Smith believed that prosecutors had committed brazen misconduct by coaching a witness and hiding it from the defense, but the Virginia State Bar said he was bound by legal ethics rules not to bring up the matter. He shared his qualms and pangs of conscience with only one man, Timothy G. Clancy, who had worked on the case with him.

“Clancy and I, when we were alone together, would reminisce about this and more or less renew our vows of silence,” Mr. Smith told a judge last month. “We felt that there was nothing that could be done.”

But the situation changed last year, when Mr. Smith took one more run at the state bar’s ethics counsel. “I was upset by the conduct of the prosecutor,” Mr. Smith wrote in an anguished letter, “and the situation has bothered me ever since.”

Reversing course, the bar told Mr. Smith he could now talk, and he did. His testimony caused a state court judge in Yorktown, Va., to commute the death sentence of Daryl R. Atkins to life on Thursday, citing prosecutorial misconduct.

And I have to paste this next bit in the hope that the most improbably named law professor in the country gets quoted again sometime:

Ronald D. Rotunda, who teaches legal ethics at George Mason University, said the rules in Virginia were murky about what lawyers in Mr. Smith’s position could do. But if the bar’s initial advice was correct, Professor Rotunda added, “there is something wrong about the law, particularly if you are talking about execution or years in prison.”

I would have to agree.

a face in the crowd

Aw, shucks. If faithful Americans want to give their money to Creflo Dollar, I have no problem with that. It’s a free country, after all. What could be more American than enjoying the liberating experience of freely giving your money to a con man? Named with suspicious aptitude, this one has been particularly good at casting himself as a spiritual self-help guru. And yes, the reason I’m posting about this now is because I watched him for a bit on my teevee the other day. He is fascinating to listen to, and I say that in all seriousness. It makes me wish that Joseph Smith’s sermons could have been taped for posterity, so we could marvel today in the power and cleverness of his sheer, enveloping charisma. (Again being serious. Ok, now back to your normally scheduled sarcasm.) One wonders if Dollar will also manage to convince his congregants, as only the best of the pretenders have before him, that his favored position as God’s messenger endows him with a special exception to the blessed rule of monogamy imposed on the many.

If so, rest assured that you will read about it here shortly afterwards.

Friday, January 18, 2008

deep thoughts

First question: Is "rare show of bipartisanship" the dumbest phrase ever wrought by man or woman?


Second question: What prompts me from time to time to encourage my imaginary commenters to discuss these momentary but irrepressible convulsions of irritation known as blog posts, which they probably couldn't care less about and may not even understand? (assuming arguendo that these commenters existed at all):

(a) Unadulterated egomania, tempered by the distancing from normal life only achieved by the truly self-absorbed, and an endearing but pathetic tendency to adopt turns of phrase more meaningfully employed by bloggers with traffic on the scale of Texas/Canada rather than Uzbekistan/Wyoming.

(b) The maddening propensity of political reporters to seek compromise in every instance without respect to substance or principle, their habitual preference for coded cliché over concise transmission of useful information, their infuriating refusal to invert the pyramid (it’s supposed to be upside-down for a reason, goddammit), and their refusal to pick a fucking side once in a while.

(c) The New York Times is retarded.

(d) I am retarded.

(e) “Rare show of bipartisanship” is refreshing as the morning dew compared to the novel observation that “Mr. Bush’s approval ratings may be low, but the ratings of Congress are even lower.”

Turn your answers in when you're done and then you can leave early.

(Hint: It’s not D.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

shit, let's bomb 'em anyway

Via IOZ comes the revelation that the Hormuz incident may have stemmed from a prank:

A threatening radio message at the end of a video showing Iranian patrol boats swarming near U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf may have come from a prankster rather than from the Iranian vessels, the Navy Times newspaper has reported.
If this is true, two possibilities present themselves, neither very flattering to the military juggernaut we know and love:
(1) a nameless radio hacker fooled the best and smartest armed forces in the world into thinking he represented the government of Iran; or

(2) we weren't quite sure who was talking or what was going on but we stood ready to unleash massive, unprovoked destruction anyway, a la Joe Horn.
I'm sure we'll have another chance to start a new war in the Middle East soon enough. As it turns out, any excuse to pull the trigger (or none at all) will do just fine.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Great Immigration Swindle

News came a few days ago that Eliot Spitzer has failed in his effort to allow long-incarcerated felons some measure of freedom, freedom denied them so far by the Parole Board’s categorical refusal to grant parole to inmates convicted of certain crimes. Reading this story got me thinking. Spitzer started his term popular and ambitious but then something happened. That something is known collectively in some circles as the flying monkeys of immigration restrictionism.

Here is the key passage in Sam Roberts’ NY Times article for my purposes today:

With Mr. Spitzer’s political capital depleted and the governor hardly eager to embark on another unpopular crusade

By “unpopular crusade,” I’m speculating that Roberts primarily means Spitzer’s attempt to fulfill a campaign promise to reinstate New York’s previous policy of permitting undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Hillary Clinton’s recent dip in the polls ahead of the primaries has also been attributed by many to her “gaffe” on the same subject in a debate a couple months ago.

Political capital is ineffable and notoriously volatile. Much of a politician’s room to maneuver depends on which narrative our media gatekeepers decide is suitable for consumption by the masses. Those gatekeepers are often easily misled as to the prevailing temper of the public—witness the “Village’s” continuing support for the War in Iraq when all available evidence indicates a large majority of Americans oppose the war.

This ongoing disjunction between reality and media narrative has not arisen organically—it has several causes, among them: fear of being labeled soft on national security, fear of being caught by surprise again after 9/11, ignorance of the substantive details of the issues at hand, weariness of being tagged with the now-pejorative “liberal” label, coziness with power brokers in government and business who profit from the machinery of war, and simple groupthink.

I propose that savvy conservative activists have perpetuated a similar con on the gatekeepers: the Great Immigration Swindle. Through a decades-long coordinated effort, groups calling for more restrictive immigration policies, or “restrictionists” for short, have positioned a media narrative once considered racist and extreme as fully mainstream.

Here are the component parts of the Swindle:

[Continued at Citizen Orange]

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

objectively pro-Franco

John Holbo makes the expected case for Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism as an exercise in projection. Here he quotes Jeet Heer:

Since its founding in 1955, National Review has been a haven for writers who are, if not fascists tout court, certainly fascist fellow travellers.

Let’s put it this way: if Woodrow Wilson and Hillary Clinton are fascists then what word do we have for those who admired Francisco Franco? When the Spanish tyrant died in 1975, National Review published two effusive obituaries. F.R. Buckley (brother to National Review founder William F. Buckley) hailed Franco as “a Spaniard out of the heroic annals of the nation, a giant. He will be truly mourned by Spain because with all his heart and might and soul, he loved his country, and in the vast context of Spanish history, did well by it.” James Burnham simply argued that “Francisco Franco was our century’s most successful ruler.” (Both quotes are from the November 21, 1975 issue). Aside from F.R. Buckley and Burnham, many of the early National Reviewers were ardent admirers of Franco’s Spain, which they saw as an authentically Catholic nation free from the vices supposedly gripping the United States and the northern European countries. National Review stalwarts like Frederick Wilhelmsen, Arnold Lunn, and L. Brent Bozell, Jr. made pilgrimages to Spain, finding spiritual nourishment in the dictatorship’s seemingly steadfast Catholicism.

The really twisted side National Review’s philo-fascism came through in 1961 when Israel captured Adolph Eichmann, a leading Nazi, and tried him for crimes against humanity. National Review did everything they could editorially to offer extenuating arguments against the prosecution of Eichmann, arguing that he was being subjected to a “show trial”, that this was post facto justice, that pursuing Nazi crimes would weaken the Western alliance and further the cause of communism. As the magazine editorialized on April 22, 1961, the trial of Eichmann was a “lurid extravaganza” leading to “bitterness, distrust, the refusal to forgive, the advancement of Communist aims, [and] the cultivation of pacifism.” (The editors didn’t consider that a mere 16 years after the death camps were liberated, a “refusal to forgive” the architects of genocide might be understandable).

Not to mention National Review’s odious editorializing through the years on race, and on race and genetics, in particular. And you don't have to go back very far at all to find a wholesale defense of Pinochet from several NRO contributors.

On one level, it’s ridiculous to participate in a discussion about such a ridiculous book, lending it some quota of buzzworthiness. But for a group of people who idealize the past so thoroughly, is it too much to ask that they not whitewash their own published not-so-distant history?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

our Pakistan policy

Here are some disquieting thoughts from Jim Henley concerning bin Laden, Pakistan, and the absence of terrorist attacks [clarifying: attacks in the U.S.] since 2001.

happy New Year!

Let's make 2008 a better year than 2007 turned out to be for migrants and their families in the U.S. and elsewhere. Fash has some good New Year's resolutions for migrants and their allies over at the Open Borders Lobby. Check them out.

[Cross-posted at Citizen Orange]