Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Bear-baiting Scalia

Steven Poole performs a handy little rhetorical spanking of some of the dissenting opinions in yesterday's Hamden decision:

Scalia begins the peroration of his dissent by peering into the future:

A final but powerful indication of the fact that the Court has made a mess of this statute is the nature of the consequences that ensue. [p117]

What are these consequences? Why, that habeas petitions on behalf of hundreds of Guantánamo detainees will have to be heard. This, Scalia predicts darkly, will "keep the courts busy for years to come". Decrying a judgment because it will "keep the courts busy", presumably where they should be oases of sunny idleness, does at least have the virtue of economy.

Americans, 5; scuttling roaches of jurisprudence, 3 (with one roach abstaining)

These asstards can't even render a minority opinion without hurling nastiness at their fellow justices:
The Hamdan decision rejects this fast-and-loose attitude to the Separation of Powers. It endorses careful scrutiny of the precise powers delegated by Congress to the executive branch. The Court thus properly rejected Justice Thomas’s extraordinary idea that the “structural advantages attendant to the Executive Branch” in war-time—aspects of executive power that make that branch the “most dangerous” to individual liberty today—merit a hands-off approach by the courts. (Ironically, Justice Thomas refers to Justice Stevens’ “unfamiliarity with the realities of warfare”; but Stevens served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945, during World War II. Thomas’s official bio, by contrast, contains no experience of military service. Justice Stevens suffers another unwarranted ad hominim attack from Justice Scalia, who refers to Stevens’ sarcasm). In short, Hamdan follows the wisdom of Justice Souter’s concurrence in Hamdi: “For reasons of inescapable human nature, the branch of government asked to counter a serious threat is not the branch on which to rest the Nation’s reliance in striking the balance between the will to win and the cost in liberty on the way to victory.”
This decision means we still live in an America worth fighting for.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Does he lie awake at night thinking of ways to embarrass himself?

Limbaugh held for having Viagra without prescription

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Rush Limbaugh was detained for about 3 1/2 hours at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.
The article also helpfully tells us that Viagra is "a prescription drug that treats erectile disfunction." That's useful information.

David Byrne's journal

Have I mentioned that it's great?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Tortured in a barbaric manner"

As opposed to the way we do it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Please check the overhead compartment for any civil rights you may have left behind

Irish airplane cleaning staff: defenders of human rights.

Random inspections may be carried out on US aircraft, the Irish government has warned, after a handcuffed and manacled marine was discovered by cleaners on board a military charter flight at Shannon airport.

Maybe we should just outsource all our civil liberties protection; we've certainly lost the skills.

Change the course

Excellent idea, even better slogan. And Yahoo is now picking up pieces from the Huffington Post?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

So we'll go no more a-roving

Karl's lawyer says he's not going to be indicted--which is a far cry from him being "cleared," which is the spin some media are putting on it. Firedoglake does a better job of picking this apart--there's clearly a deal being done:

If Luskin is coming out and saying publicly that they got a letter from Pat Fitzgerald which says that Rove will not be charged, there are two things that I want to see and know: (1) what does the letter actually say, word for word; and (2) does it say something along the lines of "Please thank Karl for his cooperation in this matter."

Commentor Otis says Karl will have to jump when Fitz says jump in order to stay out of trouble.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Washington Babylon

Ken Silverstein has been a busy man this week. The NYT and some other major outlets are now picking up on his work in the Jerry Lewis investigation, but the stuff he's doing on Jefferson and African oil is astounding.

Friday, June 09, 2006


After an alarming two month silence, Fafblog is back!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Still haven't found bin Laden, but we got his Mini-me that we helped create:

BAGHDAD, June 8 --Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the mastermind behind hundreds of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq, was killed Wednesday evening by an airstrike northwest of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday.

Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born high-school dropout whose leadership of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq made him the most wanted man in the country, was killed along with seven aides near the city of Baqubah, the officials said.

Funny--whatever bounce Bush gets in the polls from this is bound to evaporate before November. Karl Rove must be losing his touch.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The rich get richer and the stats get more unreliable

Barry summarizes a good piece in the NYT about why the economy looks so good, according to government stats, and feels so awful, according to thos of us living in it. It makes a simple and convincing case; the kicker is:
In addition, aggregates generally are averages, which are of declining utility in an economy characterized by greater inequality of income and assets.
So that's why the indicators are off--they were devised for the more equitable income distribution we used to have in this country, but don't anymore.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Why books are still better

Finally saw the Narnia movie tonight on pay-per-view, which was nice because we were able to pause it during the part where my daughter threw up on me. While it didn't make me as flat-out angry as the last two installments of Lord of the Rings (let's just say if I were a screen adapter I wouldn't make a story "more accessible to women" by making up a whole lot of crap about two of them fighting over the hero), it left me pretty disappointed. I don't have the problems some folks do with the Narnia series; yes, it glorifies religious violence and it's essentially a lesson in imperial wish-fulfillment, but so is the Odyssey. Welcome to literature folks--it's all fulla stuff like violence and wacky gods and people who think they've figured everything out.

So while there are parts of the series that always make me roll my eyes a bit, I usually just overlook them, because I don't demand perfect books, thus I am able to read lots of them, which I hope helps me avoid fundamentalist attitudes and general ignorance and other bad things.

I expected to not like the glorified battle scenes, but they didn't really affect me one way or the other (maybe on the big screen it would have been different). No, what got me in the end was a feeling I summed up like this to my husband: "This is fantasy produced by people who really don't have much imagination." For one thing, I don't know how explicitly it was focus-grouped toward the Christian right and how much it was just dumbed down for Hollywood, but for a bunch of mythical characters in a fantasy world, they sure as hell were white. The faun was white, the centaurs were white, the dwarves were white. Why? I'm not saying you have to have evil black dwarves like Lewis did, but come on , this is 2006, you can't have a black centaur?

And the horses. If you've read the series you know one of the biggest faux pas you can make in Narnia is to ride a talking horse. It only happens during battles and other extreme circumstances. But you can see the wheels turning in the screenplay adapters' heads: Hey, talking horses, now that's fantasy! We'll have one say "My name is Phillip!" It'll be just like Mr. Ed, people always laughed at him, it was great.

Also, I thought the centaurs were animated for shit. But you know, I got thrown up on during all this, I'm probably pissier than usual.

Hah! Looking into the animation on the film I found this quote from a Lewis scholar at William and Mary: "He believed there was death in the camera. Meaning, when you translate word to image, the imagination dies."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why is AP buying the spin?

I'm used to the administration and its hucksters spinning the lie that the economy is really a glass half full, but why does the Associated Press feel compelled to engage in this sillines?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Job growth faltered in May, with employers boosting payrolls by just 75,000. Yet the nation's unemployment rate dipped to 4.6 percent, the lowest since the summer of 2001.
Barry Ritholtz is my go-to guy for explaining why this is a bunch of crap, along with the cooking of the CPI numbers, etc. AP's economics reporters should know better. They don't even mention how far under this report is: The target consensus was +170,000 (Bloomberg) or 175,000 (Rueters). And this isn't mentioned until the tenth paragraph:
Adding to the weakness in the payroll picture: job gains for both March and April were lowered. Employers actually added 126,000 new jobs in April, instead of the 138,000 previously reported. For March, employment grew by 175,000, rather than 200,000.
And let's not even get into the "good news" of flat wage growth. That may help hold inflation in check, but it sure doesn't help the average indebted American who, like me, is seeing a 0% cost-of-living increase this year, as in the last three years. Meanwhile, the cost of living is up about 4%. The only way for a worker to interpret this data is "ouch."