The London Telegraph reports on the Strange Life of the Housewife Who
Grew Up with Monkeys Was Raised by Monkeys! Spoiler: the video is a let down
(Monkeystein could not be reached to confirm a complete denial.)
Press release in my inbox just now:
Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has launched the 'God Does Not Exist' campaign to draw attention to the case of Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist attacked and arrested in January 2012 after posting 'God does not exist' and articles and cartoons about Islam on Facebook. Aan was convicted by an Indonesian court on 14 June 2012, sentenced to two years and six months jail and fined Rp100 million (c.US$10,600).
AAI urges people to exercise their freedom of expression by tweeting messages of support for Aan with the hashtag #goddoesnotexist and posting 'God Does Not Exist' on their Facebook page.
I mention this, because in similar cases in which people have been persecuted or prosecuted for making drawings of Mohammed, lots of folks on the "clash of the civilizations right" have been eager to show solidarity—and, not incidentally, insult Islam—by also drawing Mohammed. I understand the urge to blasphemy, but decided awhile back that it was mostly wrongheaded. The glee suggested to me that the intent of many Mohammed depicters was to blaspheme somebody else's faith more than to defend free speech. Their right, of course, but one that struck me ... distasteful.
I somehow doubt most folks who draw Mohammed will be moved to show solidarity with Aan this time by posting a statement—'God Does Not Exist'—that is general enough to implicate religions beyond Islam, to offend religious believers of a wider variety.
Alexander Aan shouldn't be in jail, period, for his expressions of unfaith. Are we willing to be just as vigorous—and offensive—in defending him as we are in other situations? I'm skeptical, but willing to be proved wrong.
Of course not! That would be ridiculous! And yet Pia Lopez and I argue the question in the Sacramento Bee on Thursday. Pia, who spent 15 years in Minnesota, thinks it's a splendid idea. My take:
Personally, I find little comfort in the idea of thousands of low-information voters appearing at polling places on election day, registering on the spot and voting for the candidates they've doubtless been instructed to select beforehand.
I don't know why that vision sets liberals' hearts aflutter. If you care about the vote's rectitude, the prospect should cause anxious palpitations.
|A perfect image.|
When 'Mad Men' premiered a few years back, one of the things that its fans celebrated was the show's old-fashioned sense of adulthood: Don Draper smoked, drank, dressed well, and only occasionally seemed to notice that his children existed. "Remember when men were men!" we barked, and if nobody actually said those words, well, that's what a lot of people seemed to mean.
We've all expected the show to depict the rise of youth culture as the '60s wore on, and that theme was indeed explicit in the just-finished Season Five. We witness Don being out of his element at a Rolling Stones concert, befuddled by a Beatles record, chafing at his wife's out-of-office ambitions. It's in his marriage to Meagan, though, that we see something that doesn't get talked about a lot: Yes, the older generation hated the Peter Pan frivolousness of the Baby Boomers. But that older generation really helped create and nurture that frivolousness, as well.
Don's job, after all, is to create fantasies. And fantasies are often, in the end, the realm of childhood—a way of dreaming about "someday" and "what could be" instead of what actually is. (In some ways, too, Draper is a fantasy, dreamed up by a guy named Dick Whitman.) And the younger generation finds itself increasingly unable to tear itself away from those fantasies.
Take Meagan. When we saw her at the end of Season Four she was young, yes, but clearly a woman, even maternal with Don's kids. That's why he asked her to marry him. But as Season Five progressed, Meagan seemed to regress—from an adult who worked and dressed like an adult, back into a teen whose fashion choices were barely discernible from that of Don's adolescent daughter, till finally she ended up dressed like a princess, playing make-believe in her final scene of the season. This, after she pouted at her mother for not getting everything she wants.
And Meagan was playing princess, incidentally, in a commercial—a fantasy—constructed by Don Draper.
It was, in some ways, the saddest and most melancholy scene of the season—ranking right up there with Lane Pryce's suicide. (Er, spoiler.) Contrast that with one of the most joyful and fun scenes of the season: Don and Joan's trip to a local bar. (Giving us the near-perfect pop-cultural image above.)
Yes, there's an element of fantasy there, too. But what makes the scene satisfying is not that two incredibly sexy people flirt. It's that they don't do anything about it. They have responsibilities, to their business, to their loved ones, and they behave—ultimately—like self-possessed adults.
Maybe that's the fantasy these days, that we can all act like grownups. God knows, I'm about Don Draper's age, yet I feel adolescent next to him. But if Don's generation is grumpy with the immaturity of the kids who came after, they shouldn't feel too self-righteous. They created the fantasies, and made the promises they couldn't keep.
Cross-posted from Cup O' Joel.
"You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you...I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle."
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander
"Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices, the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon."
- President Harry S Truman
As I have pointed out before.
Rest in peace.
Today's "Fifth of November" research link: Voluntaryist
Some of my favorite records are collections of out-takes, b-sides, and other tracks that never quite made it onto albums. When carelessly curated (I'm looking at YOU, Anthology I, II, and III) they do little more gather cutting-room floor material for completists. But when assembled with care (or sometimes just luck) they can reveal something about an artist that their carefully-cultivated albums fail to. And since I haven't created a "Five Perfect" post in several years, I thought this would be a good time.
Honorable mentions: Black Market Clash, Still In Hollywood, side two of the cassette of Standing on a Beach, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death, and Tom Waits' three-disc Orphans collection.
Who could play that role initially? Some are touting former Indiana senator and governor Evan Bayh, but he's untested and not particularly articulate. A far better bet is newly elected California governor Jerry Brown -- a kind of Eugene McCarthy-esque figure -- who once bragged that he was going to move left and right at the same time. He is, of course, a serial presidential candidate, having run three times previously (1976, 1980, 1992). Though he failed each time, he twice ran impressively, finishing third in '76 after entering late in the process, winning (or having friendly delegates do so) in Maryland, California, Nevada, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. In 1992, on a financial shoestring, he finished second -- winning Maine, Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont, and Alaska, while losing California to Bill Clinton, 48-41 percent.
For Brown, the next nine months are critical, as he'll attempt to use his visibility as governor of the nation's most populous state to become a kind of Democratic Chris Christie, standing up to special interests and proposing bold new fiscal policies. If he does, he could be a formidable 2012 challenger, as he's shown a propensity in the past for running on populist themes (term limits, campaign-finance reform), while taking positions that could attract labor support (he was anti-NAFTA) and even backing from conservatives (he has supported a flat tax). As a Catholic, he does have some appeal to the working-class "Hillary Democrats" -- a part of the reason why he's done well in New England in the past.
Could he beat Obama? It's obviously a long shot. But the hope among some is that his entry into the race would so weaken Obama that Clinton might consider getting in, as Robert Kennedy once did, able to tap into a family-built organization in a matter of days. Some even harbor hopes that, under pressure from his own party, Obama might walk away from the job after one term. Stranger things have happened.
The reference to Brown's Catholicism caught me attention. I knew, of course, he was an ex-seminarian. I also was aware of his well-publicized trips to Asia to study Buddhism. Turns out, though, he married his wife Ann Gust in a Catholic Church in San Francisco -- which may or may not blunt his appeal to "working-class 'Hillary Democrats.'"
You heard it here... uh, second or third. (Tenth or twelvth, more likely.)
(Hat tip: Hayward, of course.)
That dubious distinction may well belong to the voters of Arizona's 7th Congressional District, who apparently decided to re-elect a man who called for the boycott of his own state. What's more, the voters chose a 62-year-old, ethnic chauvanist Democratic Party hack over a 28-year-old rocket scientist, for God's sake!
Somebody on the Sacramento Bee's live chat yesterday asked if any of the election outcomes surprised me. I said no. But that was before I heard about the outcome of this contest in Arizona. I realize it was always going to be a tough climb for Ruth McClung, but her defeat rankles a little. Glad I don't live there. Sure, Californians elected Jerry Brown again, but those Arizonans are really crazy.
A concered friend wrote me a cryptic, funny e-mail yesterday: "How far is the Arizona border? And how quickly can you pack?"
My reply, I think, sums up my take on why Tuesday's Red Tide barely made a ripple in California (which, incidentally, is the subject of the Scripps-Howard column this week.)
You're talking about California? I'm not too worried. Oh, sure, it's going to be a disaster, but it will be a great show. If I had my druthers, the entire GOP establishment in this state would be exiled or put on a barge and set adrift in the Pacific. They're worse than useless. But Jerry Brown is a politician and an opportunist par excellence. He'll surprise us, I think. (Maybe not pleasantly, but he'll surprise us just the same.)
Everyone needs to understand just how lame Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina were. Brown in the last week was airing a brilliant ad that put Schwarzenegger's statements and Whitman's statements side-by-side. They were practically word-for-word. I voted for her, God knows, only because I could never vote for Brown. But I had no doubt I was voting for Arnold in a pantsuit.
Fiorina constantly sounded a defensive tone, and a few days ago told a reporter she would probably have a voting record similar to Dianne Feinstein's. Way to close the deal, Carly!
What may be said of the candidates for governor and U.S. Senator may be said with even greater force about the down-ticket races, with the possible exception of Tony Strickland, who had no money or exposure in his race for controller. Lt. Governor Abel Maldanado sold out on taxes. Mike Villines, the former assembly leader running for Insurance commissioner, also sold out. Steve Cooley, who is still locked in a death struggle with Kamala Harris, the liberal Democrat D.A. of San Francisco, talked out of both sides of his mouth. The only solid stand he took during the one televised debate he had was to say he would happily accept two state pensions if elected. Naturally, Harris used that in an ad. Damon Dunn, the GOP nominee for Secretary of State, had never voted in an election in his adult life prior to May 2009. (By all accounts, by the way, Dunn is an affable fellow -- a former pro athlete and successful businessman -- with a future in state politics. Perhaps he should have picked a different race to run.)
I was disappointed with one, and only one, outcome on Tuesday night and that was the defeat of Prop. 23. What can I say? I did my best. But I'm glad Prop. 25 won. That one lowers the budget voting threshold from the two-thirds supermajority to a simple majority. (Tax increases will remain at two-thirds; and voters Tuesday approved a measure applying the supermajority to fees, too -- which may blunt Prop. 23's defeat in the long run.) But I doubt the current (dwindling) crop of Republicans will know what to do with the gift they've been given.
I don't think anything is certain here. The dynamic will change a bit in the aftermath of these elections. Now all we need are some Republicans with the skill and foresight to take advantage of it. What could go wrong?
Over at the L.A. Times, the Mighty Arnie Steinberg explains why Meg Whitman lost. Bottom line: "The vulgarity of Whitman's spending trumped any real connection with the voters."
Ladd Ehlinger at Film Ladd offers a 10-point answer to the question "What Went Wrong in California?" I don't agree with every word of it, but he makes some perceptive points and it's a fun read.
Meantime, Lance Williams at California Watch observes how "not all of the victors and the vanquished from California’s state election Tuesday were apparent from scanning the returns."
The Republicans will pick up 70 seats in the House, but fall just short of taking the Senate as Carly Fiorina, Dino Rossi and John Raese lose their contests narrowly. That's right, friends, get ready for six more years of Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray lighting up the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. Joe Manchin seems to have some good instincts on education reform, even if he's a flip-flopper on health care and no good on cap-and-trade. Take victories where you find them, and sometimes even where you don't.
Speaking of which, Jerry Brown will win in California. His first act will be to order the immediate deportation of all uncool nieces. Brown will resolve California's budget problems in a couple of months, leaving him plenty of time next summer to visit Iowa and New Hampshire in order to mount a 2012 primary challenge against Obama.
Prop. 19, the marijuana legalization initiative, will lose. I'm afraid Prop. 23 will meet the same fate. But I'm hopeful Prop. 26, which would extend the state's supermajority vote requirement for taxes to fees, will squeak through. In any event, this is no way to run a republic.
Sharron Angle will win in a nailbiter in Nevada. Christine O'Donnell will lose in Delaware, but it won't be the self-immolation the press expects or dreams about.
That's about it! Add your picks to the comments. And don't forget to vote.
(Cross-posted at Somewhat Reasonable.)
I have an op-ed appearing in Sunday's Los Angeles Times under the slightly ambiguous headline "A conservative's guide to the propositions."
It certainly is a conservative's guide -- my own. I'm not really telling anyone how to vote, just offering a somewhat eccentric perspective on this Tuesday's slate of ballot measures. I suspect I'll be hearing from my Republican friends about my take on Prop. 25, for example. And my libertarian pals won't like my equivocation on Prop. 19. Oh, well... you can't have nice things.
Keeping with my usual schtick these days, the Times presented my piece alongside a liberal's point of view -- namely, that of the estimable Harold Meyerson from the American Prospect and the Washington Post. Enjoy!
"We found ourselves in a hole that I didn't dig, but I have dug, dug and dug to try to get out of that hole." --Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Oct. 22, 2010.
Today is the 27th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Grenada, which is apparently a holy day for those who worship at the Shrine of Reagan. I'm not sure if the Grenada triumphalism has always been part of the conservative victory parade, or if that's a relatively recent development, but it's embarrassing either way. The story of Grenada is this: Our big military defeated Grenada's tiny military to control an island of no strategic importance on a flimsy pretext. It wasn't difficult, it wasn't necessary, and it didn't deserve the Clint Eastwood treatment. It was a way for Ronald Reagan to look tough without the dangers of quagmire. Pride in that "victory" is a bully's pride, hollow and a little bit shameful.
Three thoughts about "The Quick and the Dead":
* Sam Raimi's 1995 film is clearly a riff on the old Clint Eastwood "Man With No Name" spaghetti westerns with Sergio Leone -- encompassing everything from the credited name of Sharon Stone's character ("Lady") to the Ennio Morricone-light soundtrack. And I'm really fine with that: Hollywood westerns are basically American mythmaking, anyway, so revisiting and tweaking those myths to put (say) a woman at the center of the action is fine by me. No, it's not history. But it can be fun -- as this flick mostly is. Still, Clint Eastwood never cried in his westerns; I wish Sharon Stone hadn't cried in hers.
* Then again, Sharon Stone -- though she was a producer on the film -- may not have been quite up to the acting level of her compatriots in this film: Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo Dicaprio, Gary Sinise, Keith David and a bunch of other character actors whose faces you'll certainly recognize. It's a powerhouse cast, and that unfortunately makes Stone's line readings a bit more noticeably thin.
* Then again, while it's a really entertaining film -- and I'm kind of shocked nobody turned it into a "Street Fighter" video game -- there are some real howlers in the script-writing department. TQATD's final line is this: "The law has come back to town." Delivered, I believe, without any awareness of irony. But it is, unfortunately, hilarious. But Raimi directed, and he knows a thing or two about hilarity in extreme situations, so maybe I should give the benefit of the doubt. It is, however, Sharon Stone, so maybe I shouldn't.
* BONUS THOUGHT: Her persona has long since overwhelmed our notions of Sharon Stone, but I sometimes forget: She really was an extraordinarily beautiful woman back in the day.
Three thoughts about Clint Eastwood's "Space Cowboys":
* I'm shocked that Eastood and Tommy Lee Jones could appear in the same movie without Hollywood imploding under the weight of all that laconic.
* The movie was pitched to the public as an action-comedy, but it's a Clint Eastwood action-comedy. This means, among other things, that the movie is somewhat gently paced: It doesn't hit you with the gag-every-five-seconds pace of today's films. It also means, of course, that somebody sympathetic dies at the end. But it's a fun film, so it's a good death. Oh, Clint Eastwood.
* I think I prefer out-and-out science fiction and fantasy to movies set in the real space program. My mind keeps picking out discrepancies between Hollywood-NASA and real-NASA. Too distracting for an old space nerd like me.
Still, an enjoyable flick. Three out of four stars.
The timing may not have been expected, but the outcome certainly was: Michelle Rhee, the controversial chancellor of Washington, DC’s public school system, announced her resignation this morning. I wrote about Rhee’s impending departure this morning at School Reform News, with comments from policy experts at Reason, the Pacific Research Institute, and the Foundation for Educational Choice. I also published an op-ed in Investor’s Business Dailya couple of weeks ago examining Rhee’s record and likely legacy as a reformer that’s worth revisiting, if I do say so myself.
Was Rhee overhyped? In IBD, I wrote:
Nobody is indispensable, and Superman lives only in comic books…
Rhee’s likely ouster shows the perils of placing the mantle of change in the hands of one person, however capable. Her charisma earned her plenty of fans among reformers—and the lasting enmity of the education establishment. Their money brought down the mayor who appointed her.
That view is echoed in the story today:
“Rhee was overhyped in the sense that reformers need to put broad systemic reforms in place, like the DC charter law, in addition to strong leaders,” says Matt Ladner, vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix. “Rhee lasted approximately the average tenure for an urban superintendent. Leaders come and go, but the struggle for reform goes on.”
But Greg Forster, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Educational Choice, disagreed with Ladner slightly.
“Rhee was not overhyped,” said Forster. “What was overhyped was the whole heroic reformer model that says the system can work as long as we put the right people in charge of it.”
“Now we know that if you ever really do get the right people in charge of it, the unions just pull out all the stops to destroy those people,” he said. “We need to change the system in a way that breaks the unions, and only universal school choice can do that.”
Lisa Snell at the Reason Foundation described Rhee’s tenure in DC as “a cautionary tale” of what happens when a supposedly strong leader attempts to reshape powerful bureaucratic institutions. Reform is sometimes easier said than done. Explained Snell:
“Charter schools are a case in point. While there are many charismatic charter school leaders, these schools still only thrive in states where the laws make it easier to open a charter school.”
Over at Cato’s @ Liberty blog, Adam Schaeffer calls Rhee’s resignation the “least shocking news of the year.”
“No man or woman, mayor, chancellor or superintendent can significantly and permanently reform the government education monopoly,” Schaeffer writes. “It is unreformable.” He goes on to say, “Only systemic reform that creates a market in education will bring sustained, continual improvement.”
Meanwhile, at Heritage’s Foundry, School Reform News contributing editor Lindsey Burke delves into Rhee’s reform legacy:
Since taking office [three] years ago, Rhee has fired hundreds of ineffective teachers and administrators, closed poor-performing schools, and reworked contracts to include performance pay. Not surprisingly, union opposition to Chancellor Rhee’s reforms has been strong.
In the nation’s capital and throughout the country, education unions have worked to thwart attempts to reform the failed status quo, seeing any opening for children to escape monopoly public school systems as a threat to their power. While Washington, D.C. still has a long way to go to improve the school system, Chancellor Rhee has worked to place the well-being of children ahead of the demands of special interest groups such as the education unions.
The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder muses on what the future might have in store for Rhee, and sums up what made her such a lightning rod:
It appeared at times as if Rhee was dismissive of her real audience: the educational bureaucracy. She seemed indifferent at times to the emotions of teachers, parents, and students, most of whom were black and didn’t trust her, initially, because she was just different. This sounds like a small point, but had Rhee kept her disdain for the current system and its leaders to herself, she might have built stronger and more lasting relationships with the constituencies she had to deal with. But Rhee doesn’t self-censor. That’s part of who she is.
It’s worth remembering that the American Federation of Teachers’ Randi Weingarten wasn’t Rhee’s only opponent. Diane Ravitch, who’s strange intellectual course has been widely documented, criticized, and speculated about, leveled some pointed criticism at Rhee’s management of DC’s schools after last month’s mayoral primary:
Rhee believed that mayoral control gave her the power to work her will and to ignore dissenters or brush them off as defenders of the status quo. Mayoral control bred arrogance and indifference to dialogue. She didn’t need to listen to anyone because she had the mayor’s unquestioning support. Mayoral control made democratic engagement with parents and teachers unnecessary. It became easy for her to disparage them and for the media to treat them as self-interested troublemakers.
… If D.C. had had an independent school board, Rhee would have had to explain her ideas, defend them, and practice the democratic arts of persuasion, conciliation, and consensus-building. We now have an “education reform” movement which believes that democracy is too slow and too often wrong, and their reforms are so important, so self-evident that they cannot be delayed by discussion and debate….
There may be a kernel or two of truth in this. Fact is, Rhee was not an effective communicator of her reform plans. She gave the Washington Teachers Union and the AFT ample ammunition to use against her. Consider it a valuable lesson in politics. But, as Matt Ladner told me earlier, “I suspect that Rhee and her allies and admirers are sadder, wiser and undeterred.” Indeed.
(Cross-posted at Somewhat Reasonable.)
Joel Mathis and I tackle the question of whether a multi-million dollar judgment against the contemptible Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church is an affront to the First Amendment. Joel elaborates on this post, in which he sides with Phelps and flatly asserts: "Either you believe in the First Amendment... or you don't." And Joel worries that "silencing Fred Phelps might be a step down the slippery slope to silencing us all."
This is simply hyperbole, I'm afraid. It's not a matter of merely "believing in" the First Amendment, because nothing is ever that simple. And while we should be ever mindful of slippery slopes, we should take care to avoid slippery slope fallacies.
But it's certainly fair to say Joel's position is shared by the American Civil Liberties Union, UCLA libertarian law prof Eugene Volokh, University of Chicago liberal law prof (and two-time podcast guest) Geoffrey Stone, the Cato Institute's Ilya Shapiro, and the editorial pages of most major newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal -- a lot of smart people who just happen to be wrong.
"Hard cases make bad law," Joel writes in the column. "Albert Snyder deserves our sympathy. But his hard case shouldn't lead the Supreme Court to make bad law for the rest of us."
Here's my take:
This isn't a hard case at all.
Fred Phelps and his congregation have the right to believe anything they please. They have a right to assemble peaceably and exercise their religious beliefs freely. They have a right publish newspapers and weblogs preaching against homosexuality. But the Westboro Baptist Church has no right to impose itself on a private funeral.
Context is crucial. When a group of people stands outside a military funeral -- even if it is 1,000 feet away -- holding signs saying "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and worse, you needn't be an Ivy League constitutional scholar to get the point.
As Sean Summers, Snyder's lawyer, explained: "(Phelps and family) turn funerals into a circus. They send out fliers in advance. There were... state, local, county police. There were ambulances. There were fire trucks. There was a SWAT team." Police even rerouted the funeral procession so the Snyders wouldn't see the protest.
In short, Phelps turned a private event into a massive public nuisance.
Phelps's broader message may be a sinful and unrepentant nation brings such calamities upon itself. But if you're the grieving family of a dead Marine, why should you have to entertain that idea for even one moment? What makes the case "hard" is the amazing logical contortions the Supreme Court has performed over the decades in the realm of First Amendment law. Fact is, the freedom of speech is not unlimited. We make exceptions for libel, slander, and "fighting words," for instance.
When free speech collides with the right to privacy, privacy should prevail. Phelps has a right to be "outrageous." But his outrageous speech in this particular context -- the context of a family privately mourning the death of a son -- is a breach of the peace, an assault.
Barring the Phelps circus from future funerals does no harm to the First Amendment whatsoever.
Given the space constraints of the column, some elaboration is in order here. (Click "Read More" below the icons.)
As always, Karl Rove's career in punditry requires amnesia to take seriously. He writes about Democrats' poor prospects during the forthcoming midterm election:
Given this dismal picture, Democrats believe they have only one option: a thermonuclear assault on their GOP opponents, which means raising questions about their character, distorting their views, and making outlandish claims.
Such a strategy, he writes, "will further besmirch the reputations of the Democratic Party and its leader, Mr. Obama."
I'm no fan of negative campaigning. But Rove has zero credibility on such matters. You'll remember what he did, prior to his entry in national politics, to an Alabama judge seeking re-election:
Some of (Mark)Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. "We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the (Rove)camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. "It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out—he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out." This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state. "What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take."
And yet Karl Rove has a cushy gig writing for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. To be fair, though, that's not proof his reputation wasn't besmirched.
|Jonah Goldberg's debating partner.|
Toward the end of an otherwise-modest column on the government's plan to assassinate an American citizen affiliated with Al Qaeda, Jonah Goldberg stacks the deck:
Some civil libertarians seem to think we can never, ever kill an American citizen without a trial by jury (and perhaps not even then). That would have been silly during the days of conventional warfare. Now it's plain crazy.
Perhaps "some" civil libertarians believe that, but it's not the position of the ACLU, which has brought the lawsuit challenging the government's plan. In its complaint (PDF) asking for an injunction, the organization acknowledges there are times when due process will be skipped:
Outside of armed conflict, both the Constitution and international law
prohibit targeted killing except as a last resort to protect against concrete, specific, and
imminent threats of death or serious physical injury. The summary use of force is lawful
in these narrow circumstances only because the imminence of the threat makes judicial
In other words, you can kill your enemy on the battlefield, when he's also trying to kill you. Not even the ACLU is against that.
That's not what the government is doing. It is reserving to itself the right to kill an American citizen who -- for all we know -- might be sitting peacefully in a kitchen somewhere in Yemen, presumably able to be captured if he's spotted. And that's where, at the very least, the government wanders into gray area. The ACLU, noting that the "right to life" is fundamental for U.S. citizens under the Constitution, wants that area to be a little less gray.
The government’s refusal to disclose the standard by which it determines
to target U.S. citizens for death independently violates the Constitution: U.S. citizens
have a right to know what conduct may subject them to execution at the hands of their
own government. Due process requires, at a minimum, that citizens be put on notice of
what may cause them to be put to death by the state.
The weird thing is, that's not so different from Goldberg's own conclusion. "So, let's have Congress and the president come up with some clear, public rules," he writes. "Better to start the debate over an easy case than a hard one." Sure. So why knock people who share your position? Can there never be a cease-fire in the war against liberals?
I'm pretty much on record that I find gun ownership the most ambiguous of all the civil rights. It's not that I dispute the meaning of the Second Amendment -- that debate, I think, is for all intents and purposes over -- but, let's be frank: Guns are instruments of violence. Period. I'm not at all certain that the Second Amendment is always and everywhere a good thing.
But I like civil rights a whole bunch, and it seems to me that if I call on folks to defend them when they don't like it, I should do the same thing. That's why I find this story in the Philadelphia Daily News so disturbing:
In the last two years, Philadelphia police have confiscated guns from at least nine men - including four security guards - who were carrying them legally, and only one of the guns has been returned, according to interviews with the men.
Eight of the men said that they were detained by police - two for 18 hours each. Two were hospitalized for diabetic issues while in custody, one of whom was handcuffed to a bed. Charges were filed against three of the men, only to be withdrawn by the District Attorney's Office.
Read further into the story, and you'll hear tales of men arrested after they offered their legal permits to carry the weapons to officers -- who either didn't know the law well enough to accept the documentation, or, because of other issues, couldn't independently verify those permits in a quick and reasonable.
In such cases, it seems to me, the call goes to the person who is exercising their rights. If police can't prove you're violating the law, they shouldn't be able to arrest you or confiscate your property. But that's not really the case in Philadelphia, at least. Enter Lt. Fran Healy, a "special adviser to the police commissioner," and this somewhat chilling statement of values:
"Officers' safety comes first, and not infringing on people's rights comes second," Healy said.
That sounds reasonable enough on the surface -- and certainly, nobody wants to see any cop dead -- but: Spend any time in a courtroom, like I have, and you'll realize that "officer safety" is the loophole to end all loopholes. As a general rule, police have to have "reasonable suspicion" -- evidence derived from their observations or witnesses -- to stop you, to frisk you, to arrest you. Under the guise of "officer safety," though, officers can frisk you to (wink) make sure you don't happen to have a weapon. And if they happen to dig criminal evidence out of your pockets -- evidence they wouldn't have had the right to collect otherwise -- well, that's just what happens in the course of things.
Sometimes, you end up with innocent men in state custody for 18 hours because the police can't or won't get their act together.
Like I said: I do want Philly cops to be safe. And guns make the city scary, at times. But I want the police to operate on the presumption that they honor the rights of the citizens they serve. Stories like today's don't offer me comfort.
Monkey Joel has two good posts over at Cup O' Joel regarding Philadelphia's screwed-up priorities vis-a-vis constitutional rights versus the "safety" of police. Read them both, won't you?
UPDATE: Looks like he cross-posted here as well. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Tim Kurkjian, marvelous sportswriter for ESPN, laments the end of his personal sports "streak" -- one he legitimately compares to the streaks of Ripken, Gehrig, DiMaggio:
For the first time since 1989, I no longer clip every box score of every baseball game from the nearest newspaper and tape each one into a spiral notebook, a daily task that I've estimated, at roughly 15 minutes per day, has cost me 40 days of my truly pathetic life.
And why? Could it possibly be marital bliss, or encroaching maturity? No:
my equally unbreakable streak was stopped by the slow death of the newspaper business, the business I grew up in, the business I will always love. But in 2009, it became clear that my Washington Post, due to deadline issues, was no longer providing enough box scores in the edition delivered to my house in Darnestown, Md.
I enjoyed having the hard copy of the box score at the ready, be it in a car, a cab or a plane. Having every box score of a season by my side wherever I went gave me a sense of comfort. If I wasn't sure how the Padres were using their bullpen, for example, I could go through a month of Padres box scores, and I would know. I remember in 1993, right about the start of the steroid era, counting by hand the number of players that had gotten four extra-base hits in a game that season. The search took from Dallas to San Francisco. ... The box scores start every day for me because there's always a chance you'll see a pitching or batting line that you've never seen before, and might never see again, such as Ben Petrick's 3-0-0-4 a few years ago. Four RBIs without a hit!
I find this public confession of Kurkjian's comforting, myself. It is the sort of thing I could see myself doing, in a slightly different cosmos (I still buy 2 packs of baseball cards every spring training). And I understand his delight in scanning page after page of data, attempting to tease information out of it. I completely "grok" that. It is, in fact, a good part of how I make my living.
Roger Ebert has been Twittering ironic twits (tweets?) contrasting e-books to real books. Kurkjian and I (and my mom, actually) have a sympathetic preference for hard-copy as well. Touch, and smell, as well as see.
Today, I raise my glass of RC Cola (since I can't get Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle any more) to Tim Kurkjian and his 20-year streak: Hoopla!
I’m not saying there should be federal intervention, but this Google-Verizon thing is EXACTLY what legislated Net Neutrality advocates warned about. Corporatists who opposed Net Neutrality regulations liked to ask, “Where’s the harm?” Well it’s right here.
So step-up, you so-called “libertarian” advocates of unrestricted freedom for the corporate beneficiaries of government largesse. Are you going to write scathing articles criticizing the behavior of Google and Verizon, urging consumers and businesses to “vote with their wallets” and support providers who stand up for the end-to-end principle? Or will you turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of giant corporations who made their billions on the back of that principle, and now wish to deny it to the next generation?
Actual Christian Science Monitor Headline: "Monkeys hate flying squirrels, report monkey-annoyance experts"
Thoughtful post by Tim B. Lee on the lack of libertarian presence at the "liberal CPAC" event.
Also, I never say this, but read the comments - some good stuff down there!
(HT: Monkey Ben's twitter feed)
I've been too busy with paying work to read everything on this kerfuffle. But I see now that the story line has shifted to even people on the right giving Andrew Breitbart blowback for supposedly taking Shirley Sherrod's comments — as the saying goes — "out of context."
According to a transcript of Sherrod's comments James Taranto dropped in his "Best of the Web" column at The Wall Street Journal Online the other day, the former Ag official said this:
The first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm, he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. I know what he was doing. But he had come to me for help. What he didn't know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him.
I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So, I didn't give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough so that when he--I assumed the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me, either that or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. And he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him.
So I took him to a white lawyer that had attended some of the training that we had provided, because Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farmer. So I figured if I take him to one of them that his own kind would take care of him.
That's when it was revealed to me that it's about the poor versus those who have, and not so much about white — it is about white and black, but it's not — you know, it opened my eyes, because I took him to one of his own.
Now, Taranto thinks Sherrod got a raw deal. Fair enough. However, what's got me scratching my head about the flak Breitbart's getting from some on the right is the simple fact that an official in a Republican administration would have been vaporized for saying what Sherrod did. That it was "taken out of context" would not matter.*
Imagine for a minute that an official in the Bush administration at a CPAC convention said:
I'm pretty iffy on the principle of intellectual property already, but stories like this just persuade me that it's generally a bad idea:
Patent holding company NTP, which received a $612.5 million settlement from BlackBerry marker Research In Motion in a patent infringement case, has filed patent lawsuits against six makers of smartphones or related software, including Apple and Google.
A company that doesn't produce anything, but simply buys up patents in order to extort money from any company trying to produce an interesting product that meets a customer need? Only a lawyer could come up with an idea like that.