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Jackson/Rivers v. Obama/McCain

On one side we have two brilliant strategists and great team leaders, and on the other side there's a telegenic spokes-model and a semi-senile dinosaur.

And unfortunately for all of us, the great leaders are competing for bragging rights about a kids' game, while the bozos are fumbling and bumbling and humbugging our world into oblivion.

The Lakers draft Kobe Bryant. McCain drafts Sarah Palin. Obama drafts Larry Summers.


McCain and Obama are idiots!

And since it's pointless to ask how we could convert American politics into something more like the NBA, with brilliant leaders instead of clowns in charge, because we all know that isn't going to happen...

We might as well ask how to convert the NBA into something more like American politics, and that would be simpler than you might imagine, because...

All we have to do is make sucking up to the fans the only qualification for coaching, with the proviso that none of the candidates has any kind of record as a coach, or even as a player.

"You/We are the ones we/you were waiting for!"

"I love your values!"

And if you subtracted sucking up to the fans from McCain and Obama, both those clowns would disappear, like smoke blown away from a mirror.


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A major victory for privacy

Yesterday, there was a major victory for privacy.  Unfortunately, it was not in the US.  The German Constitutional Court threw out as unconstitutional a law which required storage of all flavors of electronic data on everyone.  Further, they required that the databases which had been built to comply with that law be erased.  Immediately.

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Hypocritical Prosecution for War-Crimes in Miami

From the Guardian...

The American-born son of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor has been ordered to pay more than £14m in compensation to five people tortured during the West African country's civil war.

A judge in the US made the order a year after the same Miami court sentenced Charles McArthur Emmanuel Taylor, known as Chuckie, to 97 years in prison for his role in one of Africa's bloodiest chapters; he was the first person to be convicted by a federal court of committing offences outside the US.

The 32-year-old led the notorious Anti-Terrorist Unit, a band of pro-government paramilitaries nicknamed the Demon Forces who carried out murder and torture during his father's presidency from 1997 to 2003.

Witnesses at his criminal trial in 2008 spoke of hearing him laugh as prisoners were abused and how the Anti-Terrorist Unit "did things like beating people to death, burying them alive, rape - the most horrible kind of war crimes".

A spokesman for United States immigration and customs enforcement said that it was a "clear message the US would not be a safe haven for human rights violators."

The US isn't a safe haven for war-criminals?


Remember these fine words from Barack Obama?

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.

And Eric Holder...

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.

The torture memos from Bybee and Yoo cover everybody else, and Bybee and Yoo aren't guilty either! It was just a "bad judgement!"


Everybody walks! Nobody goes to jail!

So forget about the "clear message the US would not be a safe haven for human rights violators."

The real message for the torturers of tomorrow is...

Get some wh*re of lawyer (like John Yoo) in your local DOJ to opine that whatever you do is legal, and then you can chop up your victims with no more fear of prosecution than if you were chopping onions.

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What Is the President Supposed To Do?

I missed a recent debate on what left blogs are for (BTD's post on Booman).  I love these sorts of debates but one thing I would like to see cleared up is this:  what is the role of the President?  What are we to expect from him or her?  IMO the different camps in the left blogosphere should explicitly say their piece on that.

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The criminal failures that are sewer systems

The open thread today has a number of comments like this one on the NYT story on failing sewers in the Big Apple.  

I'd like to add my two cents (and a couple more bucks, too) to the discussion.  The failures of government to really fix these problems is, in the colloquial sense, criminal....

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Grassley seeks to censor Webb Bill Crime Commission

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled markup Thursday for the Senator Webb's Crime Bill, S.1714 creating an expert panel to spend up to 2 years suggesting measures to overhaul our criminal Justice system.

Iowa Republican Charles Grassley's Amendment would bar the commission from "considering" "legalization" of presently controlled substances.

Found at LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibion's) copsaylegalize blog

Here's LEAP's automated email to your Senator widget

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Evil, and the Liberal Vocabulary

(This was the very first diary I ever posted on the internet, way back in June 2007, and some of it is dated, but since Dick Cheney has been all over TV recently urging President Obama to stop "dithering" and "do what it takes to win" in Afghanistan, I decided it was worth reposting.)

If you're a liberal, you can say that George Bush isn't very smart, and Dick Cheney isn't very nice, and that's about the end of it. A million liberal blogs and columns grind away at synonyms for "not nice" and "not smart" year after year, but the Republicans still control 49 seats in the Senate, and Fox News still has a license to broadcast.

Bush-Cheney chained up a 78 year-old Afghan man in a fetal position at Guantanamo for more than 24 hours, while he pissed and shat all over himself.  The New York Times and the Washington Post are still a little fuzzy about what to call this procedure, and the rest of the media is even more obtuse. When John McCain sponsored a very weak bill to restrict this method of "interrogation," Dick Cheney ran through every office in the Capitol trying to defeat it, and he succeeded. The same sort of thing is happening at this very moment in a secret CIA prison somewhere, and if you don't know what to call it, I can tell you.

It's torture, Stupid!  

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It's about time for a resounding "Shut Up!"

Roman Polanski might have something to answer for. There may be a defensible argument that he should be punished in some way, perhaps even beyond what he has already served. Contrary to what the bloody alarmist screamers will tell you, it isn't really amoral motivation to rise in defense of the alleged behavior of people like Polanski that causes people like me to come to his defense. Contrary to what my critics would argue, defending people like Polanski is not tantamount to "defending child rape." What really causes me, and many people like me, to come to the defense of people like Polanski is an acute understanding of a peculiar madness rampant in our current social situation. It is our awareness of how rationality, truth and justice are mutilated beyond recognition when it comes to accusations of sex-related crimes by males.

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Afghanistan is the Taliban is Afghanistan is the Taliban

It's wonderful to have a loud-mouth liberal like Alan Grayson in Washington, along with all the loud-mouth neo-cons and mush-mouth Democrats, but whoever increases knowledge increases sorrow, and Alan Grayson's grim analysis of Afghanistan is even grimmer than he thinks.

It's not a country; it's not even a place. It's just an empty place on the map.  It's terra incognita.  People who live there are a welter of different tribes, different language groups, different religious beliefs.  

All over the country you find different people who have nothing to do with each other except for the fact that we call them Afghans, and they don't even call themselves Afghans.  They're Tajiks or they're Pashtuns, or they're Hazzaras or someone else.  The things that hold them together are simply the things that we try to create artificially.  

With all due respect, which is actually a lot, I have to say that Rep. Grayson has been addled by world-tourism, and when you spend just a few days or weeks or even a few months in very foreign countries like Afghanistan, it's easy to avoid understanding that you don't understand anything at all, and only if you're very, very lucky will you ever experience even one or two epiphanies of the obvious like a sudden realization that...

Afghanistan is the Taliban is Afghanistan is the Taliban.

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A Victim of "Bipartisanship"

From the Guardian...

Tension between gangs of teenagers in Chicago's schools that last year saw the killing of a record 42 young people has reached a peak in the city following the beating to death of a 16-year-old that was captured on camera.

Derrion Albert is seen being struck on the head by a boy in a purple shirt who hits him from behind with a long wooden board, thought to be a part of a railway sleeper. Albert falls to the ground, then stands up and is immediately punched in the face by another boy. He slumps to the ground a second time and stays down for more than a minute. Then he struggles onto his feet for a third time, at which point a separate boy strikes him again over the head with a wooden board before a fourth boy stomps on top of his head.

That time he stays down for good.

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Did Zazi's Lawyer Sell Him Out to the FBI?

This story begins with two lawyers, one of the best and one of the worst, and we might as well begin the beginning with one of the best.

Jeralyn E. Merritt is a distinguished Colorado lawyer who created TalkLeft, a website devoted to discussing "the politics of crime." Ms. Merritt was one of the principal trial lawyers for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City Bombing Case, and she has served as Secretary, Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as well as on the ABA Criminal Justice Section Council and the Board of Governors of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. Nobody questions her outstanding integrity and professional competence.

She has closely followed the case of Najibullah Zazi, who is now charged with knowingly making false statments to the FBI in a matter involving terrorism, and these charges arise entirely from statements Mr. Zazi made during a series of free-wheeling interviews with the FBI, arranged by his attorney, Arthur Folsom.

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Minsky Minimum Wages, After the "Minsky Moment"

Steven Mihm, the Boston Globe's econ correspondent, has posted a relatively long appreciation of the economist Hyman Minsky, recently celebrated by Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz for predicting the "Minsky moment" when capitalism more or less melted down after Wall Street's fourth biggest investment bank, Lehman Brothers, collapsed in September, 2008.

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