Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 Index by Title

The archives for this blog were recently reformatted to make them easier to peruse. You can now click on a link in the left sidebar for a whole month's worth of Third Path, listed in reverse chronological order (newest at the top), with each title linked to the full text of the article. However, if you're looking for a specific article, especially if you're not sure in which month it was written, you may find this alphabetical index more useful.

If you want to find a particular article by keyword, use the search box in the top margin and click on "Search this blog." For example, a search for "Michael Brown" would turn up the article "Another 30 days to clean out his desk," even though his name is not in the title.

My New Year's Resolution is to find something to write about under X and Z.

Jump to: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

49ers Training Video
85 years of suffrage

A.I.M. for Peace
Abortion: Safe, Legal, and RARE
About the Details
Abu Ghraib: we haven't heard the end
The Acting President
Ahmadinejad refers to the Holocaust as a myth
Alito's mad-CAP adventures
Alternate Text of the Federal Marriage Amendment
Am I the first to refer to both "George Fwill" and "Jedgar Hoover"?
The amazing new Nightline
Amazing stuff on television
America the (Phrase) Book
America We Stand As One
Ann Coulter only begins to wake up
Another 30 days to clean out his desk
Another devastating hurricane on the way
Another Grieving Mother at Camp Casey
Another strike against Prop 78
Another Sunday, Another Opportunity to End the Bush Nightmare
Another Unqualified Appointee
Apparently, I'm now a porn star!
Area Codes of the World, Unite!

Back on the air Real Soon Now
¡Baila Conmigo!
Beannachtai Samhain
Beautiful promo for PBS
The best of Comedy Central's Last Laugh '05
Big Honkin' Disclaimer
The Big March
Bill Maher speaks his mind
Bill Maher takes on the Democrats
Bill Maher, live and in person
Bill O'Reilly and Coit Tower
A Black Day in Green Land?
Blame the Victim
Boondocks hits its stride
The Boondocks
Bound to Happen
Brent Scowcroft
Brownie quietly shuffles back to Washington
Building consensus
Bush officials deliberately lied about Saddam's WMD
Bush on Harriet Miers
Bush's iPod
Bush's Neighbors
Bush's only possible exit strategy
but what about the Democrats?
Bye, Bye, Brownie!

The California Primary, T minus 365
California-style Recall Election for Dubya
Can a big quake bring peace to South Asia?
Can't get there from here
Canada's Political "Nuclear Option"
Canadians: we will remember
Cartoon Action Heroes
CBN coverage of diversity in school
CBN on ID in KS
Check out my even newer blog!
The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys gave us that Statue of umm, Torture, to put in New York Harbor
Christian Telephone Company
Christians for Christ
Christmas campaigning for Canada
Christopher Hitchens on the Daily Show
Cliff's Notes on my Federal Marriage Amendment
Colbert Report
Colbert Stahling for Time
Colbert table scraps
Colbert v. Colbert Debate Transcript
Colbert's Oath of Truthiness: Wørd!
Colbert's zinger for Lou Dobbs
Colin Powell will be on the Daily Show tonight
College foo-ball silliness
Comedy Central devastated by rift between anchors
Comer es más rico
Coming up on the Magna Carta
Commercials worth watching twice
A compliment from Ahmadinejad
Confirm John Roberts
Confronting the faults of "us"
Conservatives v. Bush
Coping with TiVo guilt
Crisis Danger Opportunity Colbert

Daily Show on hiatus
Damned if he did, damned if he didn't
Danny Bonaduce is my role model
Darth Lucas and the Revenge of the Sixth
David Brooks lives in a fantasy world
DDDisney's perfect 3-D technology
The DEA can count, sort of
The death penalty
Def Leppard on Jimmy Kimmel
Defecting from Cuba
Did Bush suggest bombing Al Jazeera?
The Difference Between Bush and Clinton
Ding Dong, the Cottonnelle is Dead!
Dispatch from Paris
Do I smell a DVD?
Do spammers take Christmas off?
Don't call Bush a racist
Don't You Wanna Go with Me to God's New City?
Donation for Orphanage
Doublespeak about Harriet Miers
Dubya's new speechwriter
Dubya's version of "Accountability"
The Duration of War

The Economic Winner of the 21st Century
Election prediction
The Erasing Mace
Erasure is Coming!
Évian Flu on Nightline
Existence = Resistance

Faerie Omen Favorable For A Fab-Ulous Castro Street (or FOFFAFUCS)
Fareed and Colbert, sittin' at a desk, t-a-l-k-i-n-g
Fareed v. Fwill on Snuffaluffagus
Federal Air Marshals open fire
FEMA staffer on Nightline
Finding myself with strange (judicial) bedfellows
Footnote TV
Fort Bragg in Plain English
Full-frontage failure
Fun with Drugs on the Daily Show
Further analysis of election results

Galloway asks for perjury charges
Gay Nazis to Lesbian Feminists
George Bush's eulogy for William Rehnquist
George Carlin and Rome on HBO
Get your al Qaeda franchise now!
God bless those other countries, too
"Good Night and Good Luck"
Gov. Schwarzenegger Opposes Electoral Reform
Governor's reply about marriage bill
Graham Norton for President!
Grammar as a Secret Handshake
Great pictures from Camp Casey
The Great Threat to Heterosexual Marriage
Greetings from Texas
Gwen Araujo jury rejects "tranny panic" defense

Hanson grows up
Happy BBirthday!
Happy Birthday!
Happy Indigenous Genocide Day
Happy 雙十節
Harry Reid needs to step down
Hats Off to Deep Throat
Hazards of watching Christian tv
HBO's Rome and Dubya's America
He gave new meaning to "going out with a bang"
Heading to Washington
Here Comes the Bride
Herman Cain on CBN News
Hey, hey, ho, ho, BLANK-ism has got to go!
Hindsight: A User's Guide
How O.J. was not in double jeopardy
How would Jesus guide public policy?
Hugo Chavez on Nightline tonight!
Hydrant Adapters

I evolved for millions of years for this??
I Favor Peace and Freedom in Iraq
I feel for you, President Bush
I Have a Dream
I Pledge a Grievance to the Flag
I Pledge Allegiance to the Constitution
I want my LOGO™!
I've never been to Crawford, Texas
Imaginary Risks
The important family finds 99 french fries
In Defense — and Criticism — of Ward Churchill
In Defense of Bill Bennett's Virtue
In Honor of the American Flag
The Industry Leader
Intense Hurricanes
Intrusiveness of Government
Iraq war resolution
Iraq's New "Reality TV"
Iraq's new constitution: not out of the sandstorm yet
Irresponsible local Republican
Irresponsible world leadership
Is bisexuality real?
Is Relying on Foreign Law Impeachable?
Is Senator Orrin Hatch illiterate?
It seems y'all like Nate Corddry
It's getting DIRE for DeLay

Jack Van Impe on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Jeb Bush is a fairy??
Jeff Gillenkirk on Joining the GOP
Jon Stewart, doin' the impossible
Judge Wapner says No on 77
Judicial Nominations and the Filibuster
Judith Miller on Nightline
Just maybe we need to get rid of Roe v. Wade

Kathleen, just give the clothes to Goodwill!!
Katrina and New Orleans
Kurt Vonnegut on the Daily Show
Kurt Vonnegut's list of "Liberal Crap"

L. Patrick Gray, Mark Felt, and Watergate
Learning from the Drudge Report
A Leftie I Can't Respect
The Legacy of the Mattachine
Legalizing Marijuana
Let me just say this about that
Let's face it, I talk a lot
Libération speaks about Katrina and Bush
A little Bill & Ted for a Tuesday afternoon
LIVE from Crawford
LIVE Presidential debate tonight!
Lords of Dogtown
Louie Gohmert has learned nothing from the wars of the 20th Century

A "Man of God" Preaching Hate and Division in New Orleans
The Mayor of Spokane
The meaning of Xmas, Boondocks style
Merry War on Christmas
Metaphors for the Bush Presidency
Michael Jackson was Acquitted
Miers withdraws
Milo Radulovich LIVE in person!
Misleading on Pre-war Intelligence
A Modest Proposal
More about Cronyism
Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days" on FX
Mr. President, will you PLEASE rotate the LA/MS NG back home?
Murder in the name of Christ
Must-see Snuffleupagus!
My assessment of George W. Bush
My Challenge to Bush's Judicial Nominees
My Challenge to Governor Arnold Schwuleficker
My finger of blame points directly at George Walker Bush
Mysterious Skin

Nancy Pelosi on Jon Stewart tonight
Narnia coming out in time for Aslanmas
New Dave Chappelle is coming!!
New Google Blog-search Tool
News Flash from Subic Bay, Derkderkistan
Next to fall on his sword: Senator Tom Coburn
NOAA Weather Alert on Katrina
Now I'm confused

Okay, what was the Japanese hosteller saying?
One more thing about Torture and Deranged Chimps
ONE more voice
One of my favorite reference sites
Ooh, baby, give me that comma!
An open letter to India and Pakistan
Open letter to John McCain
Open thread, anyone?
Oprah and the Southern racist
Oprah for President
Orhan Pamuk and Turkish sedition

A particularly clueless letter to the editor
Pat Robertson interviews John Ashcroft
PBS Frontline on "The Torture Question"
Penn & Teller Skewer "Self-Help" Workshops
"Peter Ustinov" is alive and well in the Mission District
Pit Bulls and War Plans
Pizza and Privacy
Planned outage
Please, give me a SIGN!
A political reading of Harry Potter®
Present for Nicolas Cage's Son's 18th Birthday
President Bully on Fox News
The President's A-Hole
The Price of Gasoline
Protecting the Vote for Men Only
The Punk Kid Never Cleans Up His Own Mess

Questions for John Roberts
Quite a day for fake and real news
Quite a week for The Daily Show!

Racism in America
Reading from the blog
Real Estate Bubbles, Property Taxes, Prop 13, and Edumacation
Real redistricting
Reappearance of the Desaparecidos
Reformatting the archives
Results from Ranked Choice Voting in SF
Retirement Accounts
Revenge of the Sith on DVD
"Revolutionary Conservative" is a Contradiction in Terms
Reza Pahlavi on Fareed
Robert Reich on John Roberts
Rosa Parks, a true American hero
Rumsfeld on ABC News This Week
Run (away), Arnold, run!

A Sad Day in the Forty-Hectare Wood
A Salute to Michael Schiavo
Sanda Day O'Connor for Supreme Court
SAT Analogy Question
Schwarzenegger Trembles Before Satan
Schwarzenegger's bad analogy
Scooter Libby Indicted
The secret to world peace
Senator Landrieu is part of the problem
Senator Sessions, that's just how WE feel!
Senator Stevens' Mental Health
Separation of church and science
Seriously, how about some peace in the Middle East?
SF Local Proposition Endorsements
SF local results analysis
SFChronicle on Quake Preparedness
Signs of Hope in the Waco Trib
Snake Oil in the Shopping Mall
"So Help Me God"
So who is this Alito guy?
Something odd about Manson
Sometimes it's the little things
South Park takes on Scientology®
Special Election is On
Sulzberger on Charlie Rose

Ted Koppel on Preparing for Disaster
Temporary Comment Restriction
Terror Strikes
Thank you, Senator McCain
That didn't take very long at all
These nutbags think we could have WON in Vietnam
Third Path Proposition Endorsements
Thousand-year spelling gaffe
Thumbs down, not thumbs off
TiVo disaster! West Wing did not record!
Today's McLaughlin Group
Tom DeLay's Mug
Tonight's Bill Maher
"Top 10" Bush and Cheney
Torturing the Iraqi election
Transgressing Gender Conference
Truly a Remarkable International Spam
Truly Petty Theft
Turtles Can Fly
TV Ass-Clowns
Twenty-one Twelve
Two minutes silence for Armistice Day
The Two Wars of the Worlds
Two-week old quotes

U.S. Policy on Nuclear Weapons
Umm, Lynching is Bad, M'Kay?
Uncharitable Awakening
The Unintended Consequence of Laws
Unlikely Sales Prospect
Unspeakable Irony

Vice President Cheney on Nightline
The Volokh Conspiracy
Vote Yes on No!

Want to understand the world? Listen to Fareed Zakaria.
War on Christianity
Warren G. Harding
Washington Week in Podcast
Watching ranked-preference voting in action
Weirdos who want to actually COUNT the votes
Welcome Nate Corddry to the Daily Show team
Welcome, Skippy-philes
West Wing Debate
What am I talking about?
What color is your cat?
What is Rule 21?
What the { } // null set Do We Know?
What will I do with my evenings?
Where do babies come from?
Who needs a draft? We'll just KIDNAP new recruits!
Who was Stephen Biko?
Why Bush can never win in Iraq
Why I opposed Robert Bork
Why Pedophile Priests are Inevitable
Why was CNN stunned?
Will these bloggers ever shut up about The Colbert Report?
Wiretapping on the NewsHour
Wow, that's me!!

Yet another Corddry
"You visit illegal web sites"

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Senator Stevens' Mental Health

Ted Stevens has been a United States Senator from Alaska since LBJ was President. He is now President Pro Tempore of the Senate. The President of the Senate is Dick Cheney, but he only shows up to break tie votes. The rest of the time, the President Pro Tem either runs the show or delegates the task. But that ain't all: the President Pro Tem of the Senate is the #3 in the line of succession to the Presidency. Veep is first, of course, followed by the Speaker of the House — just like on West Wing last year — and then PPT of the Senate, followed by the Cabinet officers. That means that Ted Stevens is only three heartbeats from the Presidency, and one of those three is Dick Cheney.

There is also the fact that Ted Stevens is, by his own direct admission, mentally ill. Ted Stevens has copped publicly to being clinically depressed, and is receiving treatment for that condition. That in itself is no big deal, and certainly no disqualification for high office. What is more worrisome is his out-of-control behavior on camera, on the floor of the United States Senate and its committees. Stevens appeared to be on the brink of physical violence when committee members suggested that the testimony of oil company executives about energy policy should be given under oath. He seemed to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown when it was suggested that a bridge serving only 50 people might not be the best possible use of millions of federal highway dollars. His determination to permit oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is beyond obsessive.

When he is facing a particularly difficult challenge on the Senate floor, Senator Stevens likes to wear a necktie with the Incredible Hulk on it. I remember a pre-schooler (brother of a friend in high school) who used to run around in his green costume, shouting, "I'm the Crebin Hulk!" Evidently, Senator Stevens is at a comparable stage of emotional development.

It is abundantly clear from Senator Stevens' recent irrational outbursts that there are very real questions as to whether he remains mentally fit for office, and most especially whether he is really the man America wants to assume the Presidency in the unlikely catastrophe that Bush, Cheney, and Hastert are all incapacitated. I think the time has come for Senator Stevens to return home and spend some quality time with his 17 children and grandchildren.

By the way, yes, I really do mean it when I say it would be a catastrophe if George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Dennis Hastert [Pres, VP, and Speaker of the House] were all incapacitated. Much as I disapprove of all three officials, the only way they all fall at once is in a major disaster. The "collateral damage" from that disaster would be inflicted upon the American people.

And with that, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous Old Year — all 63 minutes we have left of it!

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Judith Miller on Nightline

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who went to jail for 85 days for refusing to divulge the source from whom she learned the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, gave an extensive interview on Nightline Thursday night. Judith Miller was spoon-fed stories about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction by her close pals in the White House, giving the imprimatur of the NYTimes to the administration's empty claims. Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, told Miller about Valerie Plame as part of a deliberate smear campaign against Plame's husband, administration critic Ambassador Joseph Wilson. In spite of the fact that the revelation of Plame's identity was a crime in and of itself, and in spite of the fact that it was information that the public had zero right to know and that Libby had zero just cause to reveal, she spent 12 weeks in jail to protect her miscreant source.

Miller makes the valid point that the initial blanket waivers of confidentiality that the administration required Libby and others to issue, were not truly voluntary.

Sometimes you have to protect people who are not "whistleblowers," the classic whistleblower, in order to encourage the classic whistleblower to come forward. That's the way this business operates; that's the way we journalists operate. You can't say, "I'm only going to protect the saints, the good guys." Everybody, at one point or another, has a story that the public may need to know, and they may not be immaculate themselves — I certainly know I'm not. You have to encourage people to talk to journalists, and that means sometimes protecting people who don't pass someone else's litmus test of virtue.
But Scooter Libby, in this instance, was not just "not the classic whistleblower," he was the very antithesis of a whistleblower. He not only fails my litmus test of virtue, he fails any test of virtue. Using the press to compromise national security for strictly partisan political motives, is not virtuous. I thus do not share Judith Miller's sense that she "accomplished something in terms of the First Amendment"; indeed, I believe that by her actions she damaged the First Amendment and in particular the principle of allowing journalists to shield confidential sources.

Miller does make a valid point, sometimes overlooked in the flurry of activity around Plamegate and the Iraq war more broadly, that we as a nation cannot rest assured that our spy agencies are giving us accurate intelligence about Iran, Syria, or North Korea, any more than they did about Iraq.

However, in answer to Terry Moran's question, yes, there will always be people who, when they see the byline Judith Miller or when they see her on television, will simply say, I can't believe her. I say that with some assurance, because I number myself among their ranks. The damage that Judith Miller did to her journalistic reputation with the Valerie Plame affair, but more importantly with her overly credulous reporting of the administration's claims that Saddam Hussein had large stockpiles of WMD's, is, in my view, irreparable.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

George Carlin and Rome on HBO

I watched George Carlin's new HBO special Life is Worth Losing tonight. Wow. If you have HBO, if you have a friend whose cousin's neighbor has HBO, you should see this special.

And yet, as euphoric as I feel right after watching something so incisive, I can't help despairing because I still don't sense the American people as a whole, turning on the people responsible for the terrible state of our nation, the neoconservative cabal intent on exploiting anyone foolish enough to submit to them.

Earlier tonight, I watched another excellent HBO program, Rome. Yes, it's all from two thousand years ago, but the echoes in our present political situation give pause to any serious student of history. George W. Bush fancies himself a modern-day Gaius Julius Cæsar, but in fact he is more of a Nero, fiddling while Baghdad burns, fiddling while New Orleans drowns, just fiddling while Washington becomes his own private Neverland Ranch.

There's an image: Michael Jackson as emperor of Rome. For that matter, how about Michael Jackson for President of the United States? He's just as qualified as George W. Bush! True, Bush was governor of Texas, but Jacko wins in the "sincere, committed Christian" column. I would also have to give Jacko the edge on "contact with reality."

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Do spammers take Christmas off?

My e-mail passes through several layers of spam filtration, kind of like a Brita pitcher. The first line of defense is a massive array of known spamhausen who are not permitted to talk to my server at all. After winding through a few more layers, we finally reach the last hurdle, the anti-spam software on my home computer. Less than 1% of spam attempts make it that far; although they are fiercely determined, spammers are also mostly too stoopid to get legitimate work.

I've noticed the last few days, though, that my spam has dropped to almost unprecedented levels. Going back through my server logs, though, the raw spam volume spiked about 3 weeks before Christmas, and is still running well above pre-Thanksgiving levels. All I've seen in the last week are a couple of "phishing" attempts against non-existent EBay and PayPal accounts, a couple of indecipherable ads in Russian (Я не говорю по Русский!), an unusually up-front plea from a Nigerian woman to help smuggle her husband's illegal slush fund out of the country before the police find it, two penny-stock pump-and-dump scams, and a partridge in a pear tree, but the spammers keep running at my front gate like tortured lemmings into a Cuisinart.

It leads me to suspect that the spammers who are better at evading the front-line defenses have taken a holiday. I'd be happy to sponsor them on a permanent holiday at "Club Fed" (Mmm-BOP, indeed!), but they probably wouldn't fall for that unless I disguised it as a vacation timeshare. "Come sail through the Love Canal!" Yeah, that's the ticket!

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Don't call Bush a racist

Yesterday's special Christmas edition of NBC's Meet the Press highlighted a sound bite from an interview with Alleged President Bush on 2005-12-12:
Somebody I heard, you know, a couple of people, you know, said, Bush didn't respond because of race, because he's a racist, or alleged that. That is absolutely wrong, and I reject that. Frankly that's the kind of thing that, you can call me anything you want, but do not call me a racist.
Very well, Mr. Alleged President, I will call you several things, but not a racist.

George W. Bush is:
  • a liar
  • immoral
  • unethical
  • elitist
  • stupid
  • crazy
  • a drug addict
  • a hypocrite
  • an insincere Christian
  • a classic schoolyard bully
However, George W. Bush is not a racist. He does not hate black people. It isn't even that he doesn't care about black people. The simple reality is that George W. Bush doesn't care about poor people.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Reformatting the archives

For your convenience and enjoyment, The Third Path archives have been reformatted. Previously, each week's postings were recounted in full on a separate archive page. Now, each archive page contains a full month's worth, but only the titles. The title of each post links to the full text. That should make it easier to refer back to an old article.

Existing links to specific articles are unchanged, but if you bookmarked a full week's posts in the archives, those links will no longer work.

Oh, and Happy חנכה, Merry Christmas, and (one day in advance) Blessed Kwanzaa!

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry War on Christmas

Merry War on Christmas to all, and especially to Bill O'Reilly and the whole Fox News propaganda team, سلا and שָׁלוֹם.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Mr. President, will you PLEASE rotate the LA/MS NG back home?

Mr. President,

I am writing this open letter to you while watching ABC News Nightline. Specifically, I'd like to focus on the segment about the conditions in parts of New Orleans. It is no great secret that I hold you in the same high esteem in which the people of New Orleans hold Michael Brown, but it just seems to me that it would be such a simple and obvious gesture of good faith to rotate the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard units out of Iraq back home so that they can participate in the rebuilding. Instead of fighting insurgents in Fallujah, the LANG should be building temporary housing in the 9th Ward and then organizing volunteers to build schools and stores and levees. If the 9th Ward isn't ready to be rebuilt, then let's get the ACOE in there to build better levees or re-route the Mississippi out the Atchafalaya or fesquilate the enchironicas with the fastapoozle — we're the goddamned You-knighted States of America, goddammit! We'll do whatever the hell it takes to rebuild Nawlins, on the double, mister!

Why in the name of الله haven't you announced that the Katrina/Rita/Wilma area National Guard units are going home? Is it possible that you're doing "a heckuva job" yourself?

Lincoln Madison

P.S. To any Republicans reading this, can you at least acknowledge that I honestly do think that George W. Bush is no better at his job than Michael Brown was at his? That doesn't make me crazy and it doesn't make me unpatriotic, but that is without exaggeration my view.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005


In today's San Francisco Chronicle, the "Entertainment Report" contains three headlines, with a perhaps unintended meaning from their juxtaposition. Pop star Britney Spears is suing a magazine for claiming that she and her husband made a sex tape. Hawaiian singer Don Ho is recuperating after heart surgery. British pop star Boy George had his trial on drug charges postponed to February. Here are the headlines as they appeared:
  • Spears sues Us Weekly for libel
  • Ho's health improves
  • DeLay for Boy George
Well, yes, actually it says "Delay" for Boy George, but I prefer to think of "The Hammer" championing the gender-bending pop star as an act of solidarity.

Happy Solstice. For those of us north of the equator, today is the winter solstice; for you weirdos down under, it's the summer solstice. It's a proven scientific fact that not only toilets and bathtub drains, but also wristwatches and automobiles, run backwards south of the equator. Driving in countries like Ecuador, Indonesia, and Kenya, straddling the equator, can be especially confusing.

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Wiretapping on the NewsHour

Tonight's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer features a fascinating debate between two legal experts, David Cole from the Georgetown University Law Center, and Bradford Berenson, former Associate White House Counsel, regarding President Bush's secret executive order permitting the NSA to spy without judicial oversight on communications involving "U.S. persons" [citizens and legal permanent residents, and certain others] within the United States. A major element in the discussion is FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law passed by Congress in 1978, in part because of domestic surveillance activities during the Vietnam War.

Berenson: The administration has offered several defenses, legally speaking, for what it has done. First it claims that there is no violation at all of the statute at issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, because another act of Congress, the resolution authorizing the use of military force against al Qaeda, implicitly gave the President the power to collect intelligence against al Qaeda, regardless of what FISA may otherwise have imposed by way of limitation. But even if that weren't true, what the President, the Vice President, and the Attorney General have said is that the President has inherent authority given to him directly by Article II of the Constitution to take measures to defend the country that include gathering foreign intelligence, and that Congress couldn't, even if it wanted to, impair that authority or take it away or limit it or regulate it, and that this [secret eavesdropping order] falls squarely within that authority.
The first claim is utterly specious on its face, and would be laughed out of any court in the nation. FISA says specifically that the President and the Attorney General can authorize warrantless electronic eavesdropping ONLY if "there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party" [50 USC 1802 (a)(1)(B)]. The authorization to use force did not "implicitly" toss out that law; the claim is beyond absurd.

The claim that Congress cannot regulate the President's authority to conduct war is equally absurd, especially since we are NOT in a state of war. No declaration of war has been made by the Congress. Furthermore, the administration is engaging in an insanely broad reading of Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States ...
while utterly disregarding several of the clauses of Article I, Section 8:
The Congress shall have power ... to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations; to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water; ... to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces; ... and to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
It is utterly impossible to construe those two passages in such a way as to state that the Congress has no power to regulate the President's conduct of war.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Separation of church and science

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones issued a decision today ruling that the decision by the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district to mandate teaching so-called "Intelligent Design" in science classes alongside the theory of evolution, was an illegal "establishment of religion" in violation of the First Amendment.

Judge Jones is a Republican and a church-going Christian, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush. I'm sure that's all just deep cover for his true mission as part of the liberal conspiracy to destroy Christianity in America, though.

Judge Jones makes clear that the Intelligent Design Movement is a religious, not scientific, movement. The purpose of I.D. is to mask the religious doctrine of creationism in scientific-sounding language to make creationism appear to be science.

The following quote from the actual text of the decision is a bit long, but I think it illuminates the subject quite well. I have emphasized a few highlights.

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the [First Amendment] Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
The scientific evidence points overwhelmingly to the process of evolution of species over millions of years. There are only two possibilities: either evolution happened (and continues to happen), or a malevolent God maliciously created evidence of evolution to mislead humanity.

The scientific theory of evolution does not address the great cosmic "Why" of life. Evolution is neither hostile nor friendly towards belief in a divine creator; it is resolutely neutral. For example, it is entirely consistent to believe that a wise and benevolent God created the process of evolution to carry forth His vision for life on earth.

The Bible, read with narrow-minded literalness, holds that God created the earth and all life upon it in a period of 6 days. He created Adam, a male human being and then, as an afterthought, added a female, Eve. They had children who intermarried, somehow producing — in a scant few thousand years — all the races of humanity. God also created every species of life on earth individually and later fit two of every land-based creature onto a single boat during the great flood. If you recognize this mythical story as an allegory, filtered through the limited knowledge and understanding of people millennia ago, it need not challenge your religious faith. However, if you believe the account as a precise and literal historical account, you are led inexorably to the conclusion that God is a capricious miscreant, bent on deceiving humanity.

There are some questions that science is well-suited to answer. Science is very good at predicting the orbits of planets and moons, calculating the forces that will bear on a bridge or a skyscraper, and understanding the process by which life adapts to changing conditions on the earth. There are other questions that religion is better suited to answer. Religion provides answers to the unknowable: Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of good and evil? Science cannot answer such questions.

Science and religion best co-exist when they respect the separate realms of inquiry they inhabit.

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The President's A-Hole

No, I'm not making an obscene reference. In yesterday's press conference, President Bush was asked about his illegal domestic espionage program.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Getting back to the domestic spying issue for a moment. According to FISA's own records, it's received nearly 19,000 requests for wiretaps or search warrants since 1979, rejected just five of them. It also operates in secret, so security shouldn't be a concern, and it can be applied retroactively. Given such a powerful tool of law enforcement is at your disposal, sir, why did you see fit to sidetrack that process?

A: We used the process to monitor. But also, this is a different — a different era, a different war, Stretch. So what we're — people are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent. I keep saying that, but this is a — it requires quick action.

And without revealing the operating details of our program, I just want to assure the American people that, one, I've got the authority to do this; two, it is a necessary part of my job to protect you; and, three, we're guarding your civil liberties. And we're guarding the civil liberties by monitoring the program on a regular basis, by having the folks at NASA, the legal team, as well as the inspector general, monitor the program, and we're briefing Congress. This is a part of our effort to protect the American people. The American people expect us to protect them and protect their civil liberties. I'm going to do that. That's my job, and I'm going to continue doing my job.
In the official transcript of the press conference on the White House website, the President's answer was corrected, because he intended to refer to the NSA, the National Security Agency, not NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The NSA ("enn-ess-ay") is a sooper-seekrit spy group tasked with spying on people outside the United States. Title 50, United States Code, Chapter 36, Subchapter I, Section 1802 [50 USC 1802] explicitly gives the President (through the Attorney General) the authority to spy without a warrant only if "there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party" [paragraph (a)(1)(B)]. 50 USC 1801(i) defines "United States person" to include any U.S. citizen anywhere in the world, any legal permanent resident of the United States, and most U.S. corporations and organizations. If there is any "substantial likelihood" that you're spying on someone legally in the United States, then you must get a court order.

NASA ("nass-uh") is a mostly non-seekrit organization tasked with sending spaceships and space cargo and space experiments and space explorers into space. It's true that NASA does sometimes deal with launching satellites that will be used by the NSA or other spooks, but mostly they're concerned with moon rocks and Mars rovers. It's also true that the first A in NASA is for Aeronautics, which isn't as much of their mission as it once was.

However, NASA and the NSA are not the same thing. They're not even very similar, Mr. President. And NSA is definitely not pronounced "nass-uh." Since you allegedly lived in Houston for a while, you should know that. NSA is more than just NASA with an A-hole.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Vice President Cheney on Nightline

Tonight's Nightline featured a one-on-one interview by ABC's Terry Moran of Vice President Dick Cheney at the al Asad air base in al Anbar governate in western Iraq. (Al Anbar governate is one of the three Sunni-dominated provinces that voted overwhelmingly against the Iraqi constitution.) The Vice President's dissembling was nothing short of jaw-dropping. Indeed, I disagree with ABC's characterization of the veep's answers as "frank and direct." Here are a few highlights.

ABC/Terry Moran: This is your first trip to Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. What surprised you today? What do you know about Iraq today that you didn't know yesterday?

Vice President Cheney: Well, I think, like most people who've looked at it, I've been tremendously impressed with what happened in the election this past week. I really think that's maybe a seminal event in the history of Iraq, that it's such an important part of the process of building a democracy, a viable Iraq, an Iraq that can stand on its own. ... There is strong support, even in the Sunni areas, for participation in the political process.

Moran: But you know, we've had elections before in this country now, twice before. There was that moment of hope after the January elections ... and those hopes have been dashed again and again.

Cheney: I disagree with the notion that the hopes have been dashed. I don't think that's true.

Moran: The violence has continued.

Cheney: Well, the violence has continued, but I think the key in terms of looking at the elections is that they've made every single milestone that's been set, every single one. From the time we turned over sovereignty in June '04 to the first elections in January, then writing the constitution, getting the constitution ratified, and now national elections under that new constitution. They've had three elections this year. Each one's gotten better and stronger and more effective. I do think it's serving to undermine the legitimacy of the insurgency. I think it will make it increasingly difficult for the insurgents to be effective.

Moran: You talk about undermining the legitimacy of the resistance. Before the war, you said that Americans would be greeted as liberators here, and yet your own trip here today was taken in such secrecy that not even the prime minister of this country knew you were coming, and your movements around are in incredible secrecy and security. Do you ever think about how and why you got it wrong?

Cheney: I don't think I got it wrong. I think the vast majority of the Iraqi people are grateful for what the United States did. I think they believe overwhelmingly that they're better off today than they were when Saddam Hussein ruled. I think the vast majority of them think of us as liberators, and I think your own polls show that, Terry. If you look at the poll that was done just recently by ABC, it shows a great deal of optimism and hope on the part of the Iraqi people that their lives are better and are going to get better in the future, so I really believe that the notion that somehow the Iraqi people opposed what we did when we came in and toppled Saddam Hussein or that a majority of them are against it, is just dead wrong. It's not true. I think a majority of them supported it.

Moran: There's still a great debate in our country about how we got into this war, and many Americans — most, according to some polls — believe that you and the President misled the country into this war by deliberately exaggerating the threat from Saddam Hussein and deliberately suppressing the doubt and uncertainty that we now know existed in the intelligence community about his weapons of mass destruction programs. You said in 2002, "There is no doubt," but there was. Did you know it?

Cheney: No, but Terry, go back and look at the studies — the analysis that was done by the Robb-Silverman Commission or by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Everybody believed in advance that he did in fact have weapons of mass destruction. It turns out that the intelligence was wrong. The director of the CIA, when asked by the President of the United States in the Oval Office, how good is the intelligence on WMD's, said it's a slam-dunk case. That was the view of the intelligence community. There might've been people some place down in the bowels of the organization who didn't agree with it, but that was never communicated —

Moran: You never heard any doubt about these programs?

Cheney: No, everybody — it was a very solid, slam-dunk case, is the way it was presented. But beyond that, to some extent that's a bit of a side issue, because what we did was exactly the right thing to do. As the President said the other day, if we had the decision to make over again, knowing what we know now, would we have done it? The answer is, absolutely. We did exactly the right thing. The world is far safer with Saddam out of business, and Iraq will be a democracy, a government capable of defending its own interests, taking care of itself, will help fundamentally transform this part of the world, because of what we've accomplished here, what the troops are doing here, and what the Iraqis themselves are doing.
I included a link to the poll that Cheney mentioned, and the spin he put on it is entirely unsupported by the facts. Cheney claimed that the vast majority of Iraqis view us as liberators, but in fact a majority believe that the U.S.-led invasion was a mistake, and support for the U.S. position has eroded significantly since the previous ABC poll in February 2004. 65% of Iraqis oppose the U.S. presence, and fewer than 20% believe that U.S. reconstruction efforts have been effective. An anemic 54% majority of Shi'ites in Iraq believe that the country is better off now than it was under Saddam, and only 7% of Sunnis share that view. How, exactly, is that "the vast majority" viewing us as liberators?
Moran: The President has now acknowledged authorizing, and reauthorizing more than 30 times, a program to spy on Americans without any warrant from any court. This is a huge change —

Cheney: I think that's a slight distortion of what the President said. What the President said is that we will use all of our power and authority, in the decision we made after 9/11, to do everything we can to defend the country. That's our obligation; we take an oath of office to do that —

Moran: That's not in dispute.

Cheney: — and that, when we have a situation where we have communications between someone inside the United States and an acknowledged al Qaeda or terrorist source outside the United States, that that's something we need to know, and he has authorized us to look at that. And it is in fact consistent with the Constitution. It's been reviewed — it's reviewed every 45 days by the President himself, by the Attorney General of the United States, by the President's counsel, by the director of the CIA, it's been briefed to the Congress over a dozen times, and in fact it is a program that is, by every effort we've been able to make, consistent with the statutes and with the law. It's the kind of capability that, if we'd had before 9/11, might've led us to be able to prevent 9/11. We had two 9/11 terrorists in San Diego, prior to the attack, in contact with al Qaeda sources outside the United States. We didn't know it. ...

Moran: Mr. Vice President, this is a program that surveils people inside the United States —

Cheney: — who are in touch with al Qaeda terrorists outside the United States.

Moran: Don't you have to have a court give permission for that? In any other circumstances, to eavesdrop on communications within America.

Cheney: Terry, these are communications that involve acknowledged or known terrorists, "dirty numbers" if you will, and in fact, it is consistent with the President's Constitutional authority as commander-in-chief, it's consistent with the resolution that was passed by the Congress after 9/11, and it has been reviewed repeatedly by the Justice Department every single time it's been renewed, to make certain that it is in fact managed in a manner that's fully consistent with the Constitution and with our statutes.

Moran: But that's all the Executive Branch. The Constitution calls for a court, a co-equal branch of government, as a check on the power of the executive, to give a say-so before an American, or someone in America, is surveiled or searched or spied upon.

Cheney: This has been done, Terry, in a manner that is completely consistent with our obligations and requirements, I can assure you. That's one of the reasons we hold it and watch it so carefully. That's why it has to go to the President every 30 to 45 days to make absolutely certain that we are in compliance with all of those safeguards with respect to individual liberty, and that it is managed in a very conservative fashion, and it is signed up to by the Attorney General of the United States, and reviewed by the office of legal counsel in the Justice Department, so we spend a lot of time making certain that this is in fact safeguarded, and, as I say, we've briefed Congress on it — just a few members, the leadership — on over a dozen occasions.
The Fourth Amendment says, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I have the right to be secure in my communications (papers and effects, more or less) against unreasonable searches. No search warrant may be issued without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation. The arbiter — the "judge," if you will — of "probable cause" for issuing a warrant is a judge, not a bureaucrat in the NSA.

The President's executive order allowing eavesdropping on Americans without a court order is flatly unconstitutional, and the issuance of that order is a "high crime" against the United States of America. In other words, President Bush should be impeached for issuing this executive order, even if no other grounds for impeachment existed.
Moran: The President has said that we do not torture, and Senator McCain proposed a measure, in part to vindicate those values, that would ban the cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of any prisoner in U.S. custody anywhere in the world. Why did you fight so hard against that?

Cheney: Well, we ultimately reached a compromise between the President and Senator McCain. It was arrived at just last week. The position I took was one that was the position the administration had taken when we signaled to the Congress that we were prepared to veto any bill that went farther than we thought it should in terms of trying to restrict the prerogatives of the President and the Executive Branch.

Moran: How so, when it comes to cruel and inhuman treatment? What is the President's prerogative when it comes to cruel treatment of prisoners?

Cheney: There is a definition that is based on prior Supreme Court decisions, and it has to do with the Fourth, Thirteenth — three specific Amendments to the Constitution [that would be the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments] — and the rule is whether or not it is something that "shocks the conscience." You can get into a debate about what "shocks the conscience" and what is "cruel and inhumane"; to some extent, I suppose that's in the eye of the beholder, but I believe, and I think it's important to remember that we are in a war against a group of individuals, a terrorist organization, that did in fact slaughter 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11, that it's important for us to have effective interrogation of these people when we capture them.

Moran: Should American interrogators be staging mock executions, waterboarding prisoners? Is that cruel —

Cheney: I'm not going to get into specifics. You're getting into questions about sources and methods and I don't talk about that, Terry.

Moran: As Vice President of the United States, you can't tell the American people whether or not we would interrogate —

Cheney: I can say that we are in fact consistent with the commitments of the United States that we don't engage in torture, and we don't.

Moran: Are you troubled at all that more than 100 people in U.S. custody have died, 26 of them now being investigated as criminal homicides? People beaten to death, suffocated to death, died of hypothermia in U.S. custody?

Cheney: I won't accept your numbers, Terry. I guess one of the things that I'm concerned about is that, as we get farther and farther away from 9/11, and there have been no further attacks against the United States, there seems to be less and less concern about doing what's necessary in order to defend the country. I think, for example, the PATRIOT Act, a vital piece of legislation, it was in fact passed in the aftermath of 9/11, it extended our ability to operate with respect to the counter-terrorist effort. We need to maintain the capability of this government to be able to defend the nation, and that means we have to take extraordinary measures, but we do do it in a manner that's consistent with the Constitution and consistent with our statutes. When we needed statutory authority, as we did for the PATRIOT Act, we went and got it, and now Congress, the Democrats, are trying to filibuster it.

Moran: Does the United States maintain secret prisons around the world?

Cheney: I'm not going to talk about intelligence matters.

Moran: Secret prisons?

Cheney: I'm not going to talk about intelligence matters.

Moran: Does the International Red Cross have access to everyone in U.S. custody, as we are obliged?

Cheney: Terry, with all due respect, I won't discuss intelligence matters. I shouldn't.

Moran: I'd like to put this personally. You're a grandfather, I'm a father. When we look at those girls and we think that the country we're about to pass on to them is a country where the Vice President can't say whether or not we have secret prisons around the world, whether waterboarding or mock executions are consistent with our values, and a country where the government is surveiling Americans without the warrant of a court — is that the kind of country we want to pass on to them?

Cheney: We want to pass on to them a country that is free, that is not plagued by terrorist attacks, doesn't see a repeat of the terrible events of 9/11 when we lost 3,000 of our people that morning to a handful of terrorists who had no justification at all for what they do. I can guarantee you that what we do do as a government, as an administration, is to support and uphold the Constitution of the United States, that we do in fact take extraordinary steps to make certain we maintain our Constitutional obligations and responsibilities, which include both defending the country as well as defending individual liberties and protecting the rights of all Americans.

Moran: But it's not the America we grew up in.

Cheney: Having said all that, well, you know, somehow we go through these cycles. After 9/11, we are berated for allegedly not connecting the dots. "You guys weren't tough enough, you weren't aggressive enough, you didn't follow up on all the leads." And now, you know, it's been four years, maybe it was a one-off event. Maybe the terrorists just hit us accidentally. Maybe there's nothing for us to be concerned about. I know that's not true, and I want my kids to grow up in a strong, free, independent America where they are free from the kinds of outrages that have been perpetrated not only in New York and Washington, but in Madrid and Casablanca and İstanbul and Bali and Jakarta, all over the globe. We're up against a very tough adversary, and under those circumstances we need to do everything we can to protect the American people. That's got to be a prime concern for us, and it is.

Moran: Even if it's changing who we are?

Cheney: It's not changing who we are. We've had times in the past where we've had to go before, take steps to protect ourselves. The whole argument over military commissions — should the President be able to set up military commissions to try unlawful combatants, terrorists who've committed murder or other outrageous acts against the American people. The precedent for that is FDR in World War II, who set up military commissions to try German spies who came into the United States to commit acts of terror. They tried them, perfectly tried, it was a legal proceeding, and they were executed. Everybody acts as though a military commission established now is somehow a brand new development — no, it's not, it's a precedent based exactly on what was done in World War II by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Extraordinary times offer extraordinary measures, but we do everything we can — and I say successfully — to defend our basic Constitutional liberties. That's part of who we are, that's part of what we have to do.
The "compromise" the Veep referred to between the Prez and Senator McCain was that the President accepted exactly, word for word, the original language that McCain proposed. The "compromise" was that the President's abject capitulation was announced on the same day that the Iraqi election was drawing the attention of the world and particularly the U.S. news media.

The existence of secret detention facilities without Red Cross access to the prisoners would violate our international obligations and our laws. Cheney says that we are not doing anything that violates our international obligations or our laws. Yet he refuses to say that we do not have secret detention facilities. What is the conclusion of any reasonable person from those three facts? They do not add up. Cheney is lying.

The Veep "respectfully declined to talk about" Valerie Plame.
Moran: As Vice President, can you answer, did you direct anyone to disclose her identity or to lie about disclosing her identity?

Cheney: Terry, you can ask the question any way you want. Scooter Libby is a close friend of mine, he's one of the most able and talented people I know, he's entitled to the presumption of innocence, and from my perspective, it would be totally inappropriate for me to comment, period. ...

Moran: I'm going to try once more, because I'm not really asking about the criminal —

Cheney: The answer will be the same, Terry.

Moran: — I'm asking about the conduct of the Vice President, and people have a right to know that. Did you direct anyone to disclose her name or to cover up disclosing her name?

Cheney: Terry, I have given you the answer. I will not say any more about it. There will be a time when I can discuss it, but not now.
Terry Moran did not ask about Scooter Libby's guilt or innocence. He asked about Dick Cheney's personal involvement, and Dick Cheney refused to deny having directed anyone to disclose the identity of an undercover CIA operative or to cover up that disclosure. If it looks like a rotting dead fish and it smells like a rotting dead fish, it probably isn't a bottle of perfume.

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The meaning of Xmas, Boondocks style

In "A Huey Freeman Christmas" [first aired 2005-12-18], The Boondocks updates the Charlie Brown Christmas special. A little girl with a voice eerily reminiscent of Linus Van Pelt explains the true meaning of Christmas:

Christmas is about how Santa died for our gifts and rose from the dead and moved to the North Pole. And because of that, every year Santa comes down to forgive us our sins and give us eternal presents.
How many "serious" Christmas shows have you seen in which the gifts are the true "reason for the season"? It's not hard to turn the traditional carol "O Christmas Tree" into this:
O Santa Claus, O Santa Claus,
You give us so much treasure!
How oft at Christmas tide the joys,
O jolly fat man, give us the toys!
O Santa Claus, O Santa Claus,
You give us so much treasure!

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Friday, December 16, 2005

What will I do with my evenings?

Both of the world's première television newscasts are on hiatus for two weeks. No new Daily Show with Jon Stewart nor Colbert Réport for the rest of 2005. Of course, Real Time with Bill Maher is also on hiatus until February.

You'd almost think that some people have better things to do this time of year than sit in front of a television. Who knew?

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Torturing the Iraqi election

My goodness, what an unremarkable non-coïncidence: Senator John McCain reached an agreement with the Bush administration to accept his proposed language against "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment of prisoners in the physical control of the United States — on the very same day that Iraqis went to the polls to choose their national assembly.

It's been painfully obvious for some time that the Bush administration would cave in to the pressure exerted by McCain and others; the only question was one of timing. By announcing the deal today, the Bush administration can put the best possible perfume on their malodorous policies.

Torture does not work. Waffling about the issue of torture does more to harm American security than just about anything the President can do.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Canadians: we will remember

U.S. ambassador to Canada David Wilkins said in a televised speech that Canadian politicians should resist the temptation to "bash" America in the upcoming Parliamentary election campaign, because of the long-term friendship between the two nations and the fact that the U.S. is Canada's #1 trading partner.

I have this to say to Canadian politicians: if you take a strong, principled stand against U.S. policies — from Iraq to soft-wood lumber — we will remember your bravery when democracy returns to the United States. As a true friend of the United States, Canada has an obligation to stand up to American bullshit.

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Irresponsible world leadership

Today, we had yet another example of the leader of a nation making stunningly ill-informed, patently offensive, jaw-droppingly bellicose statements. President Ahmed-in-a-Jihad of Iraqn made his third recorded statement that Israel should be destroyed or relocated out of the Middle East and that the Nazi Holocaust was nothing but a myth used as a pretext to rob the Palestinians of their rightful homeland. It played very well to his "base" domestically, and the broad-based international condemnation was more of a badge of honor than an impediment, with the stunned embarrassment of his domestic critics dismissed as irrelevant.

Does that sound at all familiar as a political modus operandi?

President Bush and his henchmen claimed that they were absolutely certain that Saddam Hussein had massive stockpiles of WMDs, active programs to develop nuclear weapons, and extensive operational coördination with al Qaeda, none of which proved true. He persevered in the face of worldwide condemnation, to the chagrin of his own countrymen. He played to his own war-mongering base, and portrayed the criticism either as unpatriotic or as nothing more than reïnforcement of his own decisiveness.

I have said before that the glib comparisons of George W. Bush to Hitler are absurd and obscene; they dishonor all who lost their lives, from the concentration camps to the armies of the world marching on the Third Reich. However, the comparisons between George W. Boosh and Mahmoud Ahmed-in-a-Jihad are entirely too close for comfort. The main difference is that Bush already has nuclear weapons.

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