Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween 

Don't have time to purchase a pumpkin and carve a jack-o-lantern?

Problem solved!

But He'll Make the Trains Run on Time 

Ezra Klein discusses the folly of treating the two parties' frontrunners as differing more in personality than substance:
. . . the media should, in its role as guardian of some minimal level of competency within the political process, be pointing out that [Giuliani] is dangerous, his statements scary, his campaign unsettling, and his advisers insane. His is not a normal candidacy, and so long as the reporters continue treating it as the equivalent of Hillary Clinton's campaign rather than Pat Buchanan's, we're in trouble.
Of course, Giuliani's lunacy doesn't stand out boldly when he is with the other Republican candidates.

Monday, October 29, 2007

No Two Ways About It 

Essential reading from someone who knows about the subject.

Malcolm Nance deals with the subject of waterboarding at the Small Wars Journal Blog in a relatively long post titled "Waterboarding is Torture . . . Period".

case anyone is prone to dismiss his arguments as coming from someone
who is merely trying to make a partisan point, here is Nance's
Malcolm W. Nance is a counter-terrorism and terrorism intelligence consultant for the U.S. government’s Special Operations, Homeland Security and Intelligence agencies. A 20-year veteran of the US intelligence community's Combating Terrorism program and a six year veteran of the Global War on Terrorism he has extensive field and combat experience as an field intelligence collections operator, an Arabic speaking interrogator and a master Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) instructor. From Beirut in 1983 he has deployed on numerous anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism intelligence operations in Balkans, Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and other small wars in direct support to the principle agencies of the Special Operations and Intelligence Community. In 1997 at the US Navy SERE School’s Advanced Terrorism, Abduction and Hostage Survival program (ATAHS) in Coronado, California, he created and led the terrorism training team tasked to simulate the Al Qaeda organization and its tactics, techniques and procedures. In January 2001, he formed Special Readiness Services International to support the SOF in analysis of Al Qaeda and global Jihadi strategy and tactics. On the morning of 9/11 he eye witnessed the attack on the Pentagon and performed rescue/recovery at the crash site. For more than six years he has conducted operations in support of international, federal and state homeland security agencies as well as in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
So I would say he has a little more first-hand authority on this subject thanwaterboarding advocates such as President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Rush Limbaugh or the other right-wingers who strive to justify this interrogation technique.

A brief except:
Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim's face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration - usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.

Call it "Chinese Water Torture," "the Barrel," or "the Waterfall," it is all the same. Whether the victim is allowed to comply or not is usually left up to the interrogator. Many waterboard team members, even in training, enjoy the sadistic power of making the victim suffer and often ask questions as an after thought. These people are dangerous and predictable and when left unshackled, unsupervised or undetected they bring us the murderous abuses seen atAbu Ghraieb, Baghram and Guantanamo.
President Bush's father was part of a generation that tried Japanese interrogators who used waterboarding as war criminals. How far we've fallen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kingsley Guy Doesn't Disappoint 

Yesterday I insinuated that the National Review's Jonah Goldberg and the Sun-Sentinel's Kingsley Guy had common vapid thoughts, only the scope of their respective publications differed.

After reading Guy's column in today's paper, I want to apologize to Mr. Goldberg.

The column was the typical 8th grade rant we've come to expect from Guy, but this tirade against Al Gore would have done Captain Queeg proud. You can almost hear the metal balls click together as Guy tried to convince us that Gore is totally undeserving of the awards (Emmy, Oscar and Nobel) that he has recently received.

Much like other right-wingers, he cites the ruling by a British judge that some explanations would have to be made to students if the film An Inconvenient Truth was shown in the classroom. According to Guy, this is absolute proof that Gore's work is unmitigated propaganda and nothing else.

But let's just look at what the judge actually said about the film:
High Court Judge Michael Burton said he had no doubt that the points raised in "An Inconvenient Truth" about the causes and likely effects of climate change were broadly accurate, but in a ruling published Wednesday he wrote that they were made in "the context of alarmism and exaggeration."

Gore's film "is substantially founded upon scientific research and fact," Burton said.
Some of the "errors" that Judge Burton found were not factually wrong, but rather not sufficiently proved to date.

In spite of his findings,
. . . the judge said many of the claims made by the film were fully backed up by the weight of science. He identified “four main scientific hypotheses, each of which is very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC”.

In particular, he agreed with the main thrust of Mr Gore’s arguments: “That climate change is mainly attributable to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (‘greenhouse gases’).”

The other three main points accepted by the judge were that global temperatures are rising and are likely to continue to rise, that climate change will cause serious damage if left unchecked, and that it is entirely possible for governments and individuals to reduce its impacts.
Some people cannot see the forest for the trees. In Guy's case, he can't see the forest or the trees for the twigs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rudy's Neo-Cons 

Josh Marshall on the Rudy:
I know I've said before that Romney's profound and almost incalculable phoniness is a terrifying prospect to behold in a possible president. But the danger of phoniness, aesthetic or otherwise, cannot hold a candle to the truly catastrophic foreign policy Giuliani would likely pursue if he got anywhere near the Oval Office. Watching him campaign it's pretty clear that the guy has no real sense that posturing and pandering to ethnic paranoia in New York City simply isn't the same as running a national foreign policy. The people he's coalescing around himself as his foreign policy advisors are the ones who are going to help him learn as he goes. And they are simply the most dangerous, deranged and deluded folks you can find in American political and foreign policy circles today. It's really not an exaggeration. Scrape the bottom of the "Global War on Terror" Islamofascism nutbasket and you find they've pretty much all signed on as Rudy advisors.
And this guy's ahead in the Republican polls.

What Part of All-White Jury Don't You Understand? 

Flablog has a roundup of editorial reaction to the acquittal of the boot-camp guards and nurse in the death of Martin Lee Anderson.

That Damn FDR! 

Jonah Goldberg, the National Review's version of Kingsley Guy, is once again entering new (for him)territory stubbornly relying a map that doesn't fit the terrain. In this case it is the right-wing fantasy that the U.S. and Great Britain should have kept driving east following the fall of Nazi Germany.

Now even Goldberg knows this is a losing hand, but worthwhile for making a feeble partisan point:
One common — and absolutely correct — response to the suggestion that we should have taken care of the Soviets in 1946 is that we couldn't because the American people were too exhausted from the war. That's true, but it leaves out an important point. The American people were also exhausted by the New Deal, which had kept the American public in a de facto state of war for nearly an entire decade before the real war even started. The relentless exhortations, the scarcity, the propaganda: these things began long, long, before Pearl Harbor and even before Roosevelt was promising voters he would keep America out of another European war.
Next we might expect to be treated to a Goldberian innuendo that the New Deal was a strategy cooked up by FDR to insure that the U.S. wouldn't be able to threaten Soviet Communism.

Just as kids should not be allowed to play with matches, so Goldberg and his ilk should not be allowed to play with history.

(via Alicublog)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Black Humor 

Although I enjoy the Daily Show, I rarely see it as my wife wants to watch the 11:00 PM news (and by that time I'm too lazy to get up and go into another room, turn on the TV and change the channel).

I am sorry I missed it the other night when Lewis Black gave a spot-on comedic (but all too true)commentary on the state of political discourse in America.

Via Discourse.net

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Family Values 

Florida Representatives who voted against the SCHIP bill (expanding insurance coverage for children):
FL-1 Miller, Jeff [R]
FL-4 Crenshaw, Ander [R]
FL-5 Brown-Waite, Virginia [R]
FL-6 Stearns, Clifford [R]
FL-7 Mica, John [R]
FL-8 Keller, Ric [R]
FL-9 Bilirakis, Gus [R]
FL-11 Castor, Kathy [D]
FL-12 Putnam, Adam [R]
FL-14 Mack, Connie [R]
FL-15 Weldon, David [R]
FL-18 Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [R]
FL-21 Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [R]
FL-24 Feeney, Tom [R]
FL-25 Diaz-Balart, Mario [R]
One would expect the Republicans to march in lockstep to the White House commands, but what's a Democrat doing on this list of shame?

A visit to Kathy Castor's website provides no clues -- no "issues" posted since September 17th.

Rep. Castor's district includes downtown Tampa and parts of Hillsboro, Manatee and Pinellas Counties. She is the daughter of Betty Castor, a former Florida Commissioner of Education, president of the University of South Florida and candidate for the U. S. Senate.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones* 

Bark Bark Woof Woof provides another example of compassionate conservatism.

*Matthew 18:10

Carnival Controversy 

Seems the Broward Caribbean Carnival is not welcome back in Fort Lauderdale next year. City officials say that it's too big, and hint that the crowds are not well behaved. The event organizers claim that the police overreacted to a situation that could be (and was) handled without calling out the troops.

It seems that Fort Lauderdale has done its best to run public festivals out of town. I remember when one could go downtown on most weekends and go to a festival at what was then known as Bubier Park (currently Huizenga Plaza). The events were put on by non-profits and had a somewhat home-grown (or amateur, if you prefer) feel to them. But there was plenty of beer, good music and a relaxed atmosphere along the river.

Before long, the sharks began to circle: the city's parking garages started charging premium fees on festival days, new regulations were put in place that made it next to impossible for volunteers to organize and manage the festivals, and then the city and Downtown Development Authority began to restrict the space and times in which the festivals could operate.

Finally, the big festivals -- those that were left -- were moved to the outskirts of town near Lockhart Stadium. Hardly the same ambiance, but it did have open space and parking.

Now, if the Caribbean Carnival is any indication,that site won't do, either, as far as Fort Lauderdale is concerned. (We will ignore, for the moment, our undocumented feeling that all this controversy would not be happening if the Caribbean Carnival organizers were members of the Tower Club, rather than being a bunch of black immigrants).

Too large, they say. And yet both the Winterfest Boat Parade and the Air & Sea Show garner praise and support from city officials, even through they attract many, many times the number of visitors that came (or tied to come) to the Caribbean Carnival.

Speaking of the Winterfest Boat Parade, Bob Norman is skeptical of its attendance figures.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Andrew Sullivan on Rudy Giuliani:
. . . being mayor in NYC, which means being a flaming asshole and occasional authoritarian are not the skills we need in the presidency right now.
Floridians recently had experience with an occasional authoritarian as governor -- look where it led this state.

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