"OK, this Isildur guy is getting boring. He wears me around his neck, for Morgoth's sake. I'm a ring, damn it! I'm not a stupid pendant. Never heard of a 'necklace of power', did you? Or a 'great anklet'? Of course not! That does it. I'm out of here. O for a distraction, like a random band of attacking orcs…hey, check it out! Attacking orcs! Well, I'll be! Ah, he's putting me on his finger. Let's see, this should be easy...hmmmmm...whoa, he's getting pretty close to the river, there. Is he going to…blessed Master, he's in the water! Isildur's in the water! This is too easy! I just grow again, a tiny bit, enough to slip off...unh...ergg...So long, sucker! Oh, that arrow in the back has gotta hurt. Oh well, sucks to be him. Floatin' on down the river. Serves him right, for killing the Master. Guess I'll just flow with current for a while. I wonder where it will take me?"
Let me be the first Democrat to answer Jane Galt's challenge to rise up in indignation at the Republicans senselessly persecuting Bernard Kerik over a harmless extramarital affair.
She's quite right. The nanny, the vaguely disreputable mob ties, the prison corruption, the lousy record in Iraq, and the general lack of qualification for the job (aside from his voluble enthusiasm for demonizing Democrats during the campaign, of course) — well, that was quite enough. No need to bring sex into the whole thing.
There's more evidence of American troops sullying the honor of their uniform by behaving like beasts, in incidents that extend from the beginning of Operation Inigo Montoya until after the Abu Ghraib scandal emerged.
U.S. Marines fired a pistol in a mock execution involving four young Iraqi looters and shocked another Iraqi detainee with an electric transformer until he "danced," a document made public on Tuesday showed.
The June 16 U.S. Navy document detailed 10 "substantiated" incidents of detainee abuse in Iraq involving 24 Marines dating back to May 2003. The Marine Corps said 13 Marines were convicted in courts-martial stemming from the incidents, getting prison sentences of up to 15 months.
The document was written seven weeks after pictures of U.S. Army soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail became public, triggering worldwide condemnation.
It was one of numerous Navy documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act. In a June 14 e-mail, a Navy criminal investigator wrote that his Iraq "caseload is exploding, high visibility cases are on the rise."
"The Defense Department has insisted from the outset that abuse, to the extent that it occurs at all, is aberrational," said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU lawyer. "I think we now have overwhelming evidence that that's not true, but that abuse was widespread and that it was systemic in the sense that it was the result of policies adopted by the Defense Department."
Bush's lickspittles will point out, correctly, that some individuals were disciplined. Yet repsonsibility for the obvious pattern of abusive behavior -- a pattern that is emerging as ever larger -- can be placed nowhere else but the present leadership. And the fact that so many incidents were in fact reported makes the Administration's protests of ignorance ring hollow.
The question remains, why do so many Republicans implicitly endorse torture by their support of this Administration?
Kevin Drum notes a surprising disaffection with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's incompetence among Republicans, now that it's safely after the election. As I commented in the discussion thread:
I wonder if all this enables Bush to dump Rumsfeld -- deflecting blame for the Administration's multiple security failures from himself to Rummy -- but to appear to be doing so at the behest of conservatives, rather than the liberals who were clamoring for the move lo these many months ago?
Yet another test of President Bush's missile defense pipedream system has failed. In the first flight test in more than two years, the interceptor never even left the launchpad.
The abortive $85 million exercise raised fresh questions about the reliability of the first elements of the plan, an heir to former president Ronald Reagan's vision of an space-based missile defense that critics dubbed "Star Wars."
The interceptor missile never left its silo at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, shutting itself down automatically because of an "anomaly" of unknown origin, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said.
About 16 minutes earlier, a target missile had been fired from Kodiak, Alaska, in what was to have been a fly-by test chiefly designed to gather data on new hardware, software and engagement angles, said Richard Lehner, a spokesman.
For instance, a booster built by Orbital Sciences Corp. was to have been exercised for the first time in the way it would actually be fielded. One of the test's goals was to show it was ready for production.
Of course, it isn't, but that hasn't stopped Bush from contravening standard DoD policy and deploying this massively expensive boondoggle anyway.
Of course, if this were an acutal emergency -- and even if the North Koreans or wmomever were kind enough to warn the US in advance and bold a homing transmitter on their missile -- Seattle would be a smoking hole right about now. Meanwhile, thanks to Bush's spending money on this extravagant sow's ear rather than homeland defense, the possibility of a smuggled nuke doing just that can hardly be discounted. And yet the Republicans are imagined to be strong on defense!
TAPPED points to a "telling contrast" between the Democrats and the GOP in their behavior toward outgoing Senate leaders from the opposing party.
There are more serious things in the world to complain about than fellow senators being “mean,” but it is a rather revealing illustration of the psychological and organizational state of the GOP caucus that even pro forma goodbye calls to Daschle must be made in secret.
If memory serves me right, there's a term for those who believe in a one-party state in which corporate and state interests are merged...
(More on the GOP's insistence on hewing to the party line here.)
This week's anime-themed Xmas background (or Xmas-themed anime background) is this fetching image of Aoi Sakuraba from Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi decked out in holiday attire. I don't remember where I found it.
Today's conservative movement (from which I really do exempt the good people at Cato, who have the misfortune of being honest, empirically oriented rightwingers in an era of fanaticism and kleptocracy) aren't interested in a reasonable discussion, and the liberal movement in America has very little power to influence the course of events and must, therefore, be crude in order to have any moderating impact on the lunacy that governs the White House.
The current Social Security system is not something I would have designed or something that I would propose another country adopt. To my way of thinking, it's basically wasteful -- shifting around far more money than is actually needed for the purposes of ensuring that all Americans retire in dignity. Nevertheless, it does accomplish that purpose, and it isn't in crisis, and the country does have dozens of other more pressing problems, so even though the status quo isn't ideal, I'm fine if we stick with it and I have major, major, major fears that Bush is going to make things much, much worse.
So no nuanced discussion, no "one the one hand," no "well, if it were more like this," instead, just "no." No. I'll spare people a discussion of the metaphysics of the trust fund and just say that even if you can at things the way the trust fund naysayers do, there's not even a problem for over ten years (and if the trust fund isn't real, then the declining "social security surplus" isn't a social security problem, it's a General Fund problem -- you can't have it both ways) and even that problem doesn't rise to the scale of a crisis. So -- no. A thousand times no.
Meanwhile, Kevin Drum wonders if it isn't time for an ad campaign from the Democrats that criticizes the GOP plan to subsidize Wall Street -- sort of along the lines of an honest "Harry and Louise" campaign, but one that points out actual consequences of the Republican plan and not phony "you won't be able to choose your doctor" scaremongering.
Clinton's health care proposals were certainly flawed, but allowing industry lobbyists to define the program and remain silent about the kind of system they advocated doomed it from the start. Right-wingers love to demand that Bush critics provide detailed policy proposals to Bush's disastrous schemes, but I have little doubt that given a choice between Clinton's proposal and the system wrought by the insurance industry -- which fewer individuals and coprorations can afford -- voters would have wanted to replace that system then, as they do today.
About a month ago, I picked up the DVD of the early Sam Raimi flick Darkman for six bucks. Attack of the 50 Foot DVD recently reviewed it in light of the recent Spider-Man 2 DVD release, and comments, "It's no wonder the Spider-Man films are a success....Raimi worked out his prototype nearly 15 years ago!"
Atrios catches yet another couple of Republicans -- one a prominent Clinton scold, the other Bush's until-recent nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security -- in a bit of hypocrisy. Imagine my surprise.
The weather report had predicted temperatures starting to dip bleow freezing and snow flurries to begin today.
Sure enough, it's cold, but the snow flurries have developed into a respectable density, and there's some powdery accumulation building up. It doesn't look serious, but it's still highly seasonal. c00L (so to speak)!