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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Monday, December 31, 2007

LOSING THE LAW

"Any plan that starts with, 'First, we have her take her top off. Then we tape her sunbathing all week' must have had a lot of volunteers."

In the past I've pointed at the evils of abusing children and pornography, the horrors of little girls used for sex and the industry in general. I've condemned preying on people on the internet, which I suppose sets me apart with the 99.999% of humanity who opposes these things. Yet there's an aspect to modern life that disturbs me in the way law enforcement is approached. There is a popular television show on right now called To Catch A Predator that shows real life episodes in which the show chats with adults while pretending to be children, then sets up a meeting with them, and the cops show up to arrest them.

Now, I'm all for busting scum who prey on children, I think they are monsters that should be beaten within an inch of their lives and thrown in prison forever. My problem is with the very concept of setting people up to deliberately throw them in prison. Its one thing to arrest people for doing bad things, it's another entirely to encourage them into doing bad things in order to arrest them.

Remember the forgotten wallet sting I posted about a few weeks ago, where cops left a purse or wallet out then busted people who didn't go to them with the item? Here's a few other examples of "stings" of this type.

In Thousand Oaks, California (near Los Angeles), police put an unlocked car full of newly purchased Christmas presents in a parking lot and watched it:
It wasn't like police weren't trying to make it as enticing as possible: They left the car's trunk open and car windows down at times. The vehicle was left outside of Best Buy on Moorpark Road, the Janss Marketplace and The Oaks mall.

The stuff left in the car was worth enough to trigger a felony charge if anyone took the bait.
Nobody did. Some locked and closed the door. Some found the cops and told them. Some told mall security. People just wouldn't play along. Here's another example, a bit more risque:
Robin Garrison, an off-duty 42-year-old firefighter, was walking in Berliner Park in Columbus, Ohio, in May when he saw a woman sunbathing topless under a tree.

He approached her and they started talking and getting comfortable, the woman smiling and resting her foot on his shoulder at one point.

Eventually, she asked to see Garrison's penis; he unzipped his pants and complied.

Seconds later, undercover police officers pulled up in a van and arrested Garrison; he was later charged with public indecency, a misdemeanor, based on video footage taken by cops who were targeting men having sex or masturbating in the park. While topless sunbathing is legal in the city's parks, exposing more than that is against the law.
Half naked women? No problem. Man whips it out when asked to by a beautiful topless woman who's foldling him with her foot? Call the cops! Who is the pervert here again? At Protein Wisdom Darleen highlighted these cases and a morality lecture at a college, pointing out how society is confused on the topic (to put it mildly) noting the problem with these stings:
The major fallout of poorly conceived and executed stings is the increased distrust of, and cynicism towards police. And not just police, but to even the concepts of private/public behavior and property are questioned.
Commenters discussed the problem:
He approached her and they started talking and getting comfortable, the woman smiling and resting her foot on his shoulder at one point.
If some guy I just started chatting with rested his foot on my shoulder, I would think he was a pervert.
-by May Bee


In order to keep the peace among three kids at the dinner table my mom stressed that we were supposed to “pay attention to our own plates.”

This I took to mean, if I pay attention to my brussels sprouts and unfinished mashed potatoes, my sister and brother’d focus in on theirs, too. I call this the “Don’t look over my fence, and I won’t look over yours” school of self-regulation. And I think it works.

The problem with ’stings’ is, law enforcement folks (and more and more, privately retained “investigators”) go out of their way to engineer entry for themselves into a “mark’s” private sphere with the hopes of convicting that person for something.

That is the opposite of what I was taught, and it resembles the behaviors that Americans used to berate when they occured among the Chinese in Beijing in the late 60’s.

Sometimes, it appears the Chinese Communists forced our evolution their way thru the 70’s and 80’s, not the other way around.
-by Steveaz


I think Darleen’s bigger point is a good one and well put. When everything is illegal–from smoking in your own car to putting out the trash in the wrong bin –people’s morality gets muddled and they resist doing what they know they ought to.
-by Clarice
OK here's the part where I wax philosophical.

Darleen's point is that when law enforcement acts in unwise or improper ways to arrest bad guys - or at least guys who if a clever lawyer is involved can be shown to have technically violated the letter of the law - then the general public loses it's way morally and is unsure how to behave. Find a purse, take it to the lost and found... and find yourself arrested. Weren't you doing the right thing? Not when the cops are working a sting deliberately trying to generate crime and thus arrests. So how are we to behave? Apathy toward your fellow man seems to become the proper response, but then there are laws that jail people for not helping out when they can - as shown famously in the last episode of Seinfeld.

As if a deliberate illustration of this, in the comments I didn't quote several people talked about how they download music from record companies and feel good about how they are ripping off the evil or corrupt music business. Artists complained about how they are abused by record companies and producers, and suggested that downloads don't actually hurt them very much in terms of revenue.

Yet the entire point of that discussion is perfect for the original writer's point: because the RIAA is acting so insanely overprotective and greedy, people feel justified in ripping them off. Because people are ripping them off, the RIAA feels justified in acting the way it does. In essence, each side is using the other's ill behavior as their reason for how they act. And the cycle becomes self-feeding, with each side condemning the other and losing their way entirely from an ethical perspective.

The problem we're facing is that without a shared, absolute ethical basis for behavior, without society agreeing upon right and wrong based on one standard, we're left with trying to force moral behavior by rule of law. Where this fails is that law cannot encourage moral behavior, it can only punish some immoral behavior. So when you lose that central pillar that holds up the canopy of morality over a culture, you lose all sense of right and wrong and are simply reduced to legally actionable.

Without that guide, nobody is sure how to act, and the law enforcement community loses their direction and purpose as well. Ask a police officer what their job is, and 9 times out of 10 they will say "to protect the community, to keep safety." Sounds great, but it's not true, at least not in the purest sense. Police officers are supposed to enforce the law, not keep the peace. Keeping the peace is the result of their enforcement efforts, it is a byproduct. Keeping the peace means doing nothing when acting will cause more problems than it solves. Keeping the peace means ignoring the traffic when everyone is driving 80 in a 70 MPH zone, because it's orderly and peaceful - even though it's illegal.

Cops who don't understand the ethical basis and spirit of the law they are supposed to enforce end up with jobs like placing things out hoping people steal them. And the culture suffers as a result: we lose not just morality, but law its self.
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THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR VISOR

Usually when you bid on things at Christie's auction house you have a reasonable expectation that you're getting something of value. Yet, it appears there's a problem with a recent sale there:
A Trekkie who paid $6,000 for a poker visor that was supposedly worn by the android Data on the television show "Star Trek: The Next Generation" claims in a lawsuit against Christie's auction house that the prop is a fake.

Ted Moustakis, of Towaco, N.J., said he began to doubt the authenticity of the visor and other items he purchased at an auction of CBS Paramount props in 2006, after he brought it to a convention in August to have it autographed by the actor who played Data, Brent Spiner.

According to the lawsuit, Spiner recognized the visor as the one that had been sold by Christie's and told Moustakis that it wasn't the real deal. The actual visor had been sold by the actor himself some time ago.

Now, I can't work out why anyone would pay six dollars, let alone six thousand for a visor from a TV show. What will you do with it? Put it in a display case? A phaser or something is pretty distinctive, but a visor is just... well it's just a visor. And The Next Generation was pretty poor stuff, just another sci fi show on TV, and a weak one to boot. At least the original show had style and is historical. But six thousand dollars for a star trek prop just makes me think of this from Saturday Night Live:



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STUFFED GODS

"It takes a brave man to insult groups of people who will turn the other cheek."

A while back I posted on some plush figures of historical persons including Che Guevarra and Karl Marx. Apparently these are sold in book stores and on universities, because presumably people who go to these places want stuffed versions of monsters in the past made to look cute. Now, out of Japan, we have another use of the stuffed figure; religious dolls.
...artist Luke Temby has turned them into hand-stitched plush dolls. He has made a Jesus doll, a Satan doll and various Indian gods. His Queen Elizabeth is the Church of England's representative of God on Earth, and his Joan of Arc is listening to music from the Smiths on a melting Walkman.

He has made suicide-bomber dolls that fall into two categories: little green monsters and female martyrs. "They're heroes or devils depending on your perspective," he says.
However, the real punchline was pointed to by Tim Blair:
There is no Allah doll because "you're not allowed to represent him, and I thought I'd better not".
What about portraying Jesus, whom many Christians believe to be a sin to show in art or figure? Well, they won't riot, you see. And besides he was being respectful:
"I wanted to be respectful, and a little bit irreverent at the same time," he says. "If I'd just designed them on the computer and printed them out, then it wouldn't be so reverent, but because I'm spending a lot of time doing it and thinking about it, I think it's quite OK."
Commenters at Tim Blair's site talked this over:
Another de-balled dhimmi playing with dolls. Tsk tsk.
-by Mystery Meat


Not much to say after Mystery Meat’s bull’s eye. I’d be interested, though, in hearing Mr. Temby explain his use of the passive voice, “you’re not allowed”. Not allowed by whom? There’s no Caliphate in Australia, is there?
-paco


In all honesty, Paco,I felt a bit guilty posting that quip since Tim did say he knew him and he was a nice guy. OTOH, too many artists these days need a good smack on the side of the head. Wait . . . did I say these days? Artists have always lived in lalaland. I wonder how he feels about Theo VanGogh who had his head sawed off for his “art”? In fact, why didn’t he make a Theo VanGogh doll with a removable head, and a butcher knife stuck in his chest?
-by Redd


No need to feel uncomfortable about it, Redd; you make a great point. Artists are constantly prattling about the need to challenge people’s traditional views, bourgeois hang-ups, sacred cows, etc. A test of the honesty of their intentions is how far they’re willing to go in exposing themselves to something other than the mere disdain shown by people whom they neither respect nor fear . I am, frankly, delighted to see so many of the culturati exposed as jelly-spined poseurs.
-by paco

"I wanted to be respectful, and a little bit irreverent at the same time,” he says
Mot that felt dolls could in any way be described as ‘art’, instead are just ‘design’, but by declining to make a Mohammed doll he contradicted his own justification.
-by romeo


Just a comment on your “he’s a nice guy” comment, Tim.
Most people, on a personal level, are nice people and many are really personable.

Even terrorists don’t immediately start putting crap on you unless they’re actually attacking you. Most pedophiles surprise their community because they have been “nice guys”,or active (!) in the community, heads of socially useful organisations, etc etc.

None of this means that “nice” people are incapable of cruelty, corruption or treachery. In fact, “nice “ people are especially susceptible because they like to go along with the crowd to “keep the peace”.

Just see all the niceness (including your “nice” artist friend) that currently deliberately obscures the islamic ugliness in the world, the “nice” people that support David Hicks, the “nice” people that have supported psychopaths and violence and then betray their own, principles notwithstanding.

“Nice” doesn’t mean shit. Your friend may be good for a beer at the weekend, and he may yet get to understand the threat of Islam but at the moment the only thing that nmatters to him is his skin, funding and his art, in that order.

And why not? He’s not a real warrior, he’s an adolescent playing at rebellion, as are most self-styled speakers on “freedom” these days. (Not necessarily excluding me!;)

And this doesn’t mean I advocate unnecessarily playing with fire either - it’s generally sensible to avoid conflict - the trick is, I guess, knowing when to push it and when to reveal it. That needs percipience, sometimes training and always courage.
-by carpefraise
In the artist's defense, he is largely ignorant of religion or religious practices. He says he learned about gods by reading the internet, and came up with this stuff based on what he read there. An example of this ignorance on display is that there's no Jehovah because he used the Queen of England to represent Christianity's god. Yet there's a Jesus Christ and a Moses there, so what exactly does she represent, again? I doubt he really even knows.

So he wasn't intending to disrespect or abuse any religion, he wasn't mocking anyone's faith. He's just clueless about it. Most Hindis would be upset that he chose Kali instead of Vishnu or Shiva for his portrayal of their faith, for example, but Kali was the one goddess he found in his search and he made her. There are still problems here.

The first and most obvious is that, although these are fairly well crafted, they aren't art. They're just crafts, putting things together. It's somewhat clever, but very simplistic and unimaginative once you get past the initial concept, which isn't all that bold or imaginative to begin with. I don't mind making crafts, I admire the skill that goes into it quite often. I just sigh and roll my eyes when I see it portrayed as art, or put in galleries. This week I'll be putting up a Dire Straits song that mocks this.

I notice he was careful not to upset Muslims by not portraying Allah, fine, that's respectful and decent. There's no reason to go out of your way to offend people, particularly if they are easily offended and childish about it. Yet he portrayed Jesus Christ who as I noted earlier many Christians consider sinful and wrong. He found out easy enough on the internet one ought not portray Allah, yet never once found anything about how one ought not portray Jesus? The sad thing is I suspect he knows at least one Christian, yet never bothered to find out. There was a loud controversy in Christian circles about the Passion of the Christ and how it had an actor playing Jesus - some Christians argue it is always wrong to show Jesus in any visible form, let alone play Him in a movie. The 2nd commandment is pretty explicit about not portraying God in any form - and Jesus is God, goes the argument.

Yet the third problem I have is more frustrating to me yet. Muslims rioted when Muhammad was portrayed in political cartoons without even seeing the cartoons to know what their content was. Their anger was basic: never portray the prophet in any manner. South Park was censored to prevent Muhammad from being shown (even though he'd been on an earlier cartoon), yet the same cartoon had Jesus Christ having feces flung at him by the president of the United States.

Jesus SlaveHere's where the problem comes from: the Muslims rioted because no one can portray the prophet in art. In fact, they believe that no one can portray any prophet of God in art, no matter who. Muslims honor both Jesus Christ and Moses as prophets of God. Is there ever any outrage when Jesus Christ is portrayed in any manner, let alone in an insulting, disrespectful, or hideous way? Not a peep. In fact, they join in with the chorus of attacks on Jesus Christ.

Ultimately his comments about respect being generated by the time it took to create these dolls falls flat on its own merits - respect is not shown by the clock - but it also is shown to be false by the exhibit's name Cupco is God and the fact that he thought it would be disrespectful to portray one of the religious figures, and not the rest. This is just pathetic, no matter how nice a guy Tim Blair says he is. It's weak and at best ignorant. At worst, and most likely, it's just a deliberate contrivance for controversy and attention - yet too cowardly to draw the ultimate controversy and upset Muslims.
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Quote of the Day

"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."
-Eugene McCarthy
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Friday, December 28, 2007

INTERNATIONAL SPEECH

"That’s like defining “publication” as the act of buying a book and taking it home."

Lawsuits
Everything I post on this blog is technically, according to copyright and other laws, published. That is literally the language used by software producers: web publishers is a term for programs that help you put content on the internet. I do so consciously, aware that I'm putting things up for the entire planet to see, for posterity. This isn't just an exercise in ego or vanity, I'm trying to write things that people will think about, learn from, react to, and find interest in.

When anyone writes anything that is uploaded to a publicly accessible server, they are publishing as well: when you write comments on a blog or message board, you're publishing on the internet. Publications are subject to libel laws, and here's an unfortunate example, from AP writer Michael Gormley:
New York's highest court decided Thursday a state law can't help a Manhattan author block a libel verdict brought against her in London by a Saudi billionaire over her book "Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It."

The unanimous decision interpreting a New York law now goes to a federal court. There, author Rachel Ehrenfeld has sought to combat what her attorney argued was a chilling effect on free speech by the billionaire, Khalid Salim A. Bin Mahfouz. The Saudi businessman has sued more than two dozen times over writings on terrorism and those who fund it, including Ehrenfeld's 2003 book.
...
Mahfouz sued Ehrenfeld for libel in the High Court of Justice in London, although Ehrenfeld didn't appear or acknowledge the court's jurisdiction in the 2005 case. A default judgment requires her to declare her writings about Mahfouz to be false, publish a correction and apology, and stop further publication of the disputed statements in Britain.

In U.S. Circuit court, Ehrenfeld sought to declare the British decision unenforceable in the United States. The suit claims that Mahfouz chose to sue Ehrenfeld in England because its libel laws favor plaintiffs. Ehrenfeld's attorney said Mahfouz was engaging in a kind of "libel tourism."

Mahfouz had defended the choice of venue, saying 23 copies of the book had been purchased in England over the Internet and a chapter of the book was available from the ABCnews.com Web site.
I'd have much the same response: you're suing me in a British court? Good luck with that, I'm an American. Yet the New York Court rejected a motion to block a verdict, allowing money to be garnished from the writer. Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine responded with these thoughts:
What’s profoundly frightening about this is that we in America could find ourselves subject to the UK’s libel and privacy laws, which throw free speech to the wolves in defense of privacy.

In other words, thanks to the internet, we could be subject to the lowest-common-denominator of protection of speech against libel actions.
How far does this go, particularly in an age where Muslims in Canada are trying to take writer Mark Steyn to court for daring to criticize Islam? As much as nations like the UK and Canada bend over backward to avoid the very appearance of racism and appease Islamic radicals, the specter of being sued for criticizing Islam is very real. Commenters at Buzzmachine discussed this:
In Common Law systems the “publication” is defined as the act of downloading into the browser. Thus blogs and online articles are published where the reader resides, not the server nor the author. So, yes, we are all subject to the libel laws of every other nation.

Dow Jones lost a case (and then settled before appeal) on this very point in Australia.
-by Tim Worstall


Don’t read too much into this decision. She was in the wrong court. She should have been in Federal court, not NY State court.
-by Steven Den Beste


Mark Steyn is at the center of another speech case in Canada, being summoned before two human rights panels with regard to a complaint about his bestselling book, equating it to hate speech. As Steyn puts it, “so I couldn’t care less about the verdict - except insofar as an acquittal would be more likely to bolster the cause of those who think it’s entirely reasonable for the state to serve as editor-in-chief of privately owned magazines. ”

It is sad that countries who proudly proclaim themselves to be progressive are not that far behind the tyrants when it comes to restricting expression and speech.
-by Jeff Nolan


>>In Common Law systems the “publication” is defined as the act of downloading into the browser.

If that’s true, that’s an awful, wrongly decided precedent. EvilPundit correctly points out that dowloading into the browser is analogous to taking the book from the library or bookstore.

The “correct”, {as in aligned with reality} definition of electronic publications would be analogous to “printed and bound”, which would be “uploaded into a publicly accessible server”. As a regulatory matter, you would still need to decide at which endpoint of the upload transaction the act of publication occurs at: the server, or the machine from which the author uploads?

There are even more possible permutations of electronic publication to consider. Theoretically, an author could provide the public with read-only access to his working hard drive, allowing the public to grab copies of his works in progress the moment they are saved to disk.

Another common practice to stage and QA content on servers before exposing the server to public traffic.

What this leads to is an even more precise and useful definition of electronic publication, which would be “intentionally made publicly accessible”, which covers every scenario I can think of offhand. The point at which the work would be made publicly accessible would also be well defined.
-by geekWithA.45


You should consider this in light of the WTO ruling that Antigua can steal copywrited materials produced in the US because of a dispute over on-line gambling. (How or why the two are connected is beyond me.) So not only does the UK law get to control what does or doesn’t get published, but every little island in the Caribbean gets to set trade policy and domestic regulations. Welcome to the New World Order
-by Raoul Ortega


Free speech issues concern me, as I live and work outside the USA (in Latin America). Most people do not realize how much influence the USA wields in this one area. The more the USA restricts free speech, the more other countries justify their restrictions on free speech.

Restricting free speech does verifiable damage to societies. Whether it is the free flow of scientific information, or political news, or economic information, people are hurt when they do not get the information they need. On the other hand, free speech in a free society has verifiable benefits.

A couple of quick examples: How many people would have been saved if they had had an early warning on the tsunami in Indonesia? One single statement by Juan Carlos I of Spain caused an electoral defeat of Hugo Chavez’s attempt to discard the constitution of Venezuela.
-by Harry
Now, personally this isn't going to have any effect. Sure, I might get sued, but they're welcome to collect the 16 dollars I have to my name. It's with other people that my concern lies.

This only came about because of 23 copies of the book that sold in England, which allowed the Saudi to use England as his courtroom of choice. Given the courts in England and many decisions when it comes to Islamic issues, he chose wisely.

It's true that the internet is changing our perceptions of national boundaries, cultures, and copyright law. I've called for changes to copyright law to reflect modern technology and reality over and over: the old patterns do not adequately deal with the new millennium. Yet there's a danger that the law will go the wrong way: becoming more restrictive, blending country laws, jurisdiction and rulings. We already have a problem with judges citing foreign laws they particularly like in the US, this ruling is troubling because it implies that citizens of one country can be legally attacked in another country and must suffer any judgement.

At this point you have to wonder what exactly national sovereignty and laws mean? Given the variety of legal systems, judges, and viewpoints in the world there's a good chance you can be sued for nearly anything in any nation and win. It would become a terrible weapon against enemy states: China sues the US for whatever it wants, Bill Gates has to pay. After all, he lost, and the courts won't protect him?

This is a hideous precedent that absolutely must be blocked by the courts. Along with Steven Den Beste, however, I am confused by one thing: how is this a state court matter to begin with? It should have been tossed out for lack of jurisdiction, they ought to have been told with the filing process that this isn't an area the court can deal with.

Yet this is the place that political correctness and an almost pathological fear of appearing racist lands you: assisting an accused terrorist supporter in suing someone in another country in collecting for a statement in a book. At some point free speech, the protection of one's own citizens, and the very concept of libel has to come under scrutiny here to a degree that the New York court clearly was not interested in examining.

The ruling was very strange at one level in any case. They ruled that since they have no jurisdiction over the plaintiff in the lawsuit (because he's a Saudi) then they can't block the judgement. Yet the fact that this Saudi sued in a British court (?) against an American citizen apparently did not come to their attention. How does the British court have any jurisdiction? This is a horrible decision that the Federal Courts must rule differently on.
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DYNASTY

"a vote for Hill gets you Bill, too"

Senator Clinton Dreams
One of the strongest arguments against a Clinton presidency (or, say Jeb Bush running for president) is the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton argument. We've seen enough of these guys, it's time for someone new. It grates against American psyches to see the same names or families in power for too long, regardless of who they are. It can happen, of course, Kennedies have been in political power for a long time, but most people dislike that and are uncomfortable with the idea. It feels too much like a monarchy.

Yet there's a different argument against Senator Clinton (D-NY) being president that I've hinted at here a few times but was waiting for another to flesh out a bit more. I don't think Senator Clinton can win the primaries, let alone become president, I just don't see her winning. However, if it somehow happened, there might be at least philosophical issues with the constitutionality of it:
The motivation for the two term limit in the 22nd Amendment is that enough, even of a good thing, is enough. Given that the Clinton years were not an unmitigated boon, the electorate understandably has qualms about electing the Clinton family to a third term.

The more Hillary touts her experience and the more it looks like Bill is seeking something like a reelection once removed, the more Barack Obama and John Edwards rise in the polls.

Last Sunday, Maureen Dowd suggested that Hillary Clinton is offering herself as a way of electing Bill a third time. Ms. Dowd is amused, and perhaps anticipating happy hunting. Ayawisgi in the Daily Kos and Michael Goodwin in the New York Daily News strike the same theme and are decidedly opposed. Douglas W. Kmiec would be against Hillary in any event, but he seizes on the prospect of Bill Clinton as a "shadow President" to muse whether Bill should be exiled to the Supreme Court. This gives Kmiec, a reactionary who welcomed Grand Inquisitor Kenneth Starr to Pepperdine Law School, a chance to mention that Bill's law license was suspended for "serious misconduct."

Obviously, Hillary's election would not violate the letter of the 22nd Amendment, she has never been elected before, Nevertheless, the Amendment is a political problem because it is a Constitutional embodiment of a vaguer political thought that eight years is enough.
That's what Steven Kaus pointed out at the Huffington Post. Here is the text of the 22nd amendment of the US constitution states:
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Now, to what degree this applies to Senator Clinton is up to some discussion, which the commenters at Huffington Post engaged in:
We need term limits,and age limits in congress, and the senate. We need to eradicate the feeble minded old farts that stand in the way of progress! If Hillary was so involved in Bills job then she should have the experience to fit right in with the unchangable Washington royalty, We don't need another four minutes of stagnation, We need some fresh faces and ideas in Washington, we have had plenty of time with what don't work, lets try something else, And Hillary is old school, she knows her way around washington, but we have already been there! "W" with a jumpsuit? I think not, no way not now not ever!
-by wrabbitt


At the close of another year, and at the dawning of the new, we come once again with these creatures of evil placing fear in us. Now, we are contemplating the unknown year which streches out before us, we recognize our weakness. We keep putting inexperience people in office. Once again the liberal (with their own agendas-especially free to do all source of vile things) want to put a one year senator and a hillbilly from the Carolinas to govern us. Once again, the inexperience. If you don't want a woman and a very experience couple to get us out of this mess, then, don't go crying for another 4 years about the diasters in this world. You voted this texas governor twice, let's hope you have enough sense to know that it takes "familiar, experiences and wisdom" to govern!
-by jakibaez


Bill Clinton was a great president. If the laws don't allow us to reelect him, then why the hell not circumvent the laws and elect his wife?
With Bush 43 being the worst president in modern history, why the fuck is everyone on Hillary's back? You think she'd be a worse president?
You think Elizabeth Edwards or Michelle Obama could have even a scintilla of global impact compared to that of Bill Clinton?
Bush has fucked up our nation so royally, it will take more than one person in the Oval Office to begin to repair the damage.
I say we elect someone who's married to someone who's had proximity to and familiarity with the Oval Office.
I wish HuffPo would get off the Hillary hating.
At her absolute worst she's better than Bush at his absolute best.
-by KarenZipDrive


You have captured the uneasiness I have with the Clintons. Their overwhelming need for the spotlight has made think they can run for a third term or at least do whatever they can to keep that spotlight on them.
Gracefully exiting is not in their DNA. They are like relatives who overstay their welcome and cannot see they are getting on the host's nerves.
Their rational is 'it's her turn'. I'm sorry but, the presidency was never held for someone in particular and was never anyone's turn to occupy it.
I believe if the democrats are silly enough and obtuse enough to nominate her, this will be a big issue in which the republicans will go after her on. They can make a big deal over the faintly unconstitutional air of HRC's nomination.
Hopefully the democrats will spare themselves the embarrassment and nominate one of our other and far more superior candidates running.
-by Iafrance


I'm very surprised that Obama and Edwards have mentioned that they are in fact running against Bill Clinton. They are running against Bill's experience in the White House, Bill extolling the virtues of the '90s on the stump (with his own stump speech), and, all the same old policies championed by him -- and by Hillary only as an extension of his views. Perhaps ex-presidents should be subject to the same type of laws as other politicians turned 'lobbyists'. It may be the only way in the future to really know who one is voting for. Soe might say there is a free speech issue here but in many instances free speech can be regulated. Spouses that have held any public office should be baned from active campaigning.
-by fraze


And Oprah the Mistress of Merchandise, that slogs junk to 8 million women a day, is ok to intervene in a caucus and use the trust and good will she's received from Repubs, Clinton supporters, Indies, to try to move these women and hopefully steal Clinton votes?

She has the gall to use Martin Luther King's name
to push her boy on us?

Oprah, Queen of Merchandise can stump. Bill Clinton cannot?

Have you lost your mind?
-by morris1030


Why is there no "debate" over a son running for office after his father's presidency?
-by yahnis
The primary concern here is cause by repeated statements by the Clintons over the years. They started out with a clear intent to both be in charge, calling it a "co-presidency" and have repeated this theme all the way through Mrs Clinton's running of commissions in the white house to her latest statement:

"The federal government should be making immigration policy and that’s what I’m going to try to do as president again..."

This is troubling on two fronts. First, if she was president (unelected) for two terms on equal footing with President Clinton, then she's ineligible for reelection in the 22nd amendment. Second, if President Clinton will share this power in a third term in office, then he's violating the 22nd amendment also.

Now, the response to this is typically displayed above: "who cares, I liked President Clinton" and "well then being a son is a violation too, and President Bush is illegal!" The first is just patently typical for those who lust power and political victory over the rule of law: I don't care if its illegal, as long as it is what I want.

The second is nonsense. Being a child negates the possibility of sharing power with the president (you'd have to disqualify every president with children under 35 - the minimum age for presidential office - if that were even remotely true), and further the Clintons made it very clear, repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms that they were both president. That when you elected one, you got both. They didn't do this under the table, they were very up front about the intent and the execution of the intention. Under no circumstances in any case is a son the equivalent of a wife. One does not rely on their son's experience and wisdom for help and support making decisions the way one does a wife.

The thing is, this particular approach is not exactly helping Senator Clinton's candidacy, as Steven Kaus points out:

The more Hillary touts her experience and the more it looks like Bill is seeking something like a reelection once removed, the more Barack Obama and John Edwards rise in the polls.

People say they like President Clinton, but few people alive at the time savor another Clinton presidency. Even people who liked his policies are repelled by his personal behavior, the shame he brought on the country, and his antics in office. The constant string of scandals so strong even the press couldn't ignore them and the constant stream of bizarre incidents makes even the most fevered BDS-fueled fantasies of the Bush administration look tame. When President Bush won the presidency, particularly on 9/11, the great majority sighed with relief that the adults were back in office.

In the end, voting for Hillary Clinton gets you Bill Clinton too, and I think the nation has had quite enough of that, thank you.
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DEALING WITH BOOBS

" I thought I looked immediately more feminine. And taller. And sexier."

In a society where obscenities are so common that leading politicians use them, it is odd that some more common words have become reduced to being semi naughty. Boob, for instance, used to be more popular a term to refer to an idiot, a goofy person. Now it primarily means a woman's breast. Yet in a way they are related, boobs can turn men into boobs. At the Daily Mail, a woman got a fake breast enlargement using makeup and a prosthetic, and went out on the town to see how she was treated. To enhance this effect, she wore a plunging neckline to get extra cleavage out there. More on that in a bit:
Had all the men in Oxford gone mad overnight? The postman started it. When I opened the door, he stood there grinning like a Cheshire cat, and lingered rather longer than necessary while I signed for a package.

Worse – or was it better? – was to come. In Sainsbury's not one but two men offered to let me go ahead of them in the queue.

Another wanted to know if I needed help packing my groceries away. Another still wanted to open my car door for me in the car park.

In my local delicatessen, Gluttons, the man behind the counter smiled and nodded like an eager puppy as I bought such mundanities as olive oil and courgettes.

But it was the (male) librarian at my local library who really seemed to have lost his marbles.

Only a few days previously, he had processed my son's books in the nursery section, and he had seemed like a perfectly normal, capable, soul.

Now, though, he was a man on the edge.

He stuttered when I asked him to show me how to use the new IT system. He flushed beetroot as I sat down.

As he pointed to the screen, I noticed that his hand shook. He seemed incapable of a simple sentence.

Eventually, muttering something about going to find his assistant, he fled completely, and sent a (female) colleague back in his place.

Not that the women of Oxford were behaving normally either.

One looked decidedly cross and uncomfortable to be asked directions to the post office.

When I left a bar that evening, three glamorous types threw me withering looks.
This seems to fit all convenient stereotypes, and readers at the Daily Mail responded:
Sorry, but any woman wearing a low cut dress like Clover's would attract attention, whatever the size of her breasts. I'm 32H and I've found it easy to dress conservatively without attracting too much attention to my chest. Walking around in a low cut dress in chilly November is always going to get attention
-by C Tallin


If some women sink to the depths of having artificial enhancements carried out to their boobs how on earth can they complain if some men react to that?
There will always be idiotic women for whom bigger breasts are everything and similarly some men who think of nothing else in a woman. This lot deserve each other.
-by Phil Bailey


I am a D cup and I hate my breasts. I certainly don't get anybody letting me into the queue, but I do get comments from revolting men every now and then; 'Look at the size of them'is the most common one. I also like to keep fit, and I have to buy bras that resemble bridles to keep my chest down. I have even had a friend remark 'in your bondage gear again?' For me, large breasts are painful, inconvenient, unsightly and embarrassing. Hate them!
-by Jw


It is amazing the power you can wield over men when you have large breasts. It is flattering but also sad at times because it can get you off to a bad start with men particularly in a work situation. Recently when I went to purchase a brand new car the salesman became slavelike and was a gibbering wreck so I took my money elsewhere because of his unprofessionalism.
-by Xena Milner
As many of the commenters noted, she specifically wore a very low cut dress designed to show off her breasts. In November. Unsurprisingly, people paid attention to her breasts. Further, her attitude, her sense of femininity was enhanced, she felt sexier, and thus was likely acting sexier. The result is that men responded to this display and attitude. I know there are some men who seem mentally disabled by large breasts, I know ones that don't care one way or another. I expect there were many men that she met who didn't treat her differently or unusually, but those aren't very interesting for her story so they didn't get mentioned.

The women, I suspect, were reacting to her negatively because she was on display and thus not only strong competition but easy to tag as slutty and deliberately provocative. In effect, she advertised for the reaction she got, then got the reaction and wrote about it. In the process she managed to slander men in a blanket manner (they're all pigs!), even one of her best friends. And women didn't come across in a very attractive way either (they're all catty!).

This article did touch on a part of femininity that's always mystified me, though. Men in general aren't that terribly concerned about their bodies or looks, unless they've been over-feminized like the pathetic metrosexual with manicures and facials and a man purse. Yet women always seem to want to be different than who they are. Different hair color, different height, bigger breasts, smaller breasts, curly hair, straight hair, longer legs, shorter legs. No matter how they've been made, it's not good enough. That's always confused me, men have different faults but women seem perpetually fixated on physical appearance and how theirs isn't good enough.
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Quote of the Day

"If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can't be done."
-Peter Ustinov
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

HIDEOUS

"This is why I do all my shopping on Amazon."

High Fashion
Christmas shopping is a trial that I avoid. My brother and I go Christmas shopping like a lot of bachelors do: a few days before Christmas when there's nobody out there and the really hot items are all sold out, leaving end of season sales and more thoughtful gifts out there. I picked up a nice RC helicopter for my nephew for about twice what the batteries it takes cost. He got a couple books for about the same price. The clerks were weary looking but happy because the work load was a more sane level. It was almost Christmas so the day off was coming soon and they were cheerful.

Yet I know what Christmas shopping is like from many, many accounts. One such example is Rachael Lucas, who tells in a long, profanity-laden rant the horrors of facing the crowds, including a segment about a baby barely old enough to sit up on its own in the middle of the floor while the crowd roared past. The mom sat vacantly staring, leaning on the stroller with the thousand yard stare of a woman who's been through this shopping stuff once too often and seen some s**t, man.

She segues into a mini rant on women's clothing at this point:
I saw this article this morning and it made me want to punch myself in the face:
Sales of women’s clothing, a traditional pillar of the holiday shopping season, are unusually bleak so far this year, according to a major credit card company, an ominous sign for the retail industry.

From high-end dresses to bargain coats, spending on women’s apparel dropped nearly 6 percent during the first half of the Christmas season, compared with the same period last year, according to MasterCard Advisors, a division of the credit card company.

Analysts blamed a rough economy, which has discouraged women — and mothers, in particular — from splurging on clothing for themselves and a lack of compelling fashions this winter.
Bull S**T! It’s because everything is both hideously ugly AND built for starving 5′10″ teenagers! What the f**k are we supposed to do? Buy ugly s**t that doesn’t fit us? You want women to spend money, try making attractive clothes for normal human females. It can’t be that hard. GAH!

And “a rough economy”? Are you freakin’ kidding me?
The clothing industry is afflicted by the same sad misconception that the music industry is: people aren't buying our stuff, blame someone else! It can't be that our product sucks no it has to be those dirty customers. Commenters picked up on this and continued the rant, mostly women:
This post has me rolling! I also went out into the masses this weekend. On a Friday early afternoon it was insane. I can’t even imagine a Saturday. I actually really enjoy it normally but this year my patience is short.

I definitely would have mouthed off at that idiotic mother. WTH???

And clothing…OMG…don’t get me started. You think it’s hard for you to find clothing - you’re a good size … and probably shaped normally. My body won’t fit into any “normal” clothes. Not all “fat” women are shaped like bowling balls. We still have curves. ARG!
-by castocreations


What kind of clothes do you want? If you’re a T-shirt and jeans girl like me, only nice figure-flattering T-shirts not the tent Extra Larges you used to wear in high school, not that I know anybody who did that, I totally fell in love with Eddie Bauer over Thanksgiving. They have these T-shirts, both long-sleeve and short-, V-neck and round-, that are the most comfy thing going and in really good colors and don’t shrink if you wash them properly. I also got some thermal long-sleevers.

If you’re after nicer stuff than T-shirts, try Nordstrom Rack. On a weekday during the day.
-by Anwyn


Great rant about the clothing industry, Rachel.

Would petite sizes be too short for you? I’m 5′1″, and one of the few reasons I hate being short is all the DAMN GRANDMA STYLE DESIGNS THEY HAVE FOR PETITES!

Every time I do an online survey for JC Penney (to get that 15% off coupon, because I love saving money even if it’s only 50 cents..)….is to practically beg them to put out stylish clothes in the petite dept. To JC Penney’s credit, I have see vast improvement. But most other stores either don’t have petites or they have the little old lady clothes.

Yeah, and they wonder why women’s apparel sales are down…Hello? We also don’t want to look like Britney Spears either!
-by doanli


I have to comment on this Rachel - women’s clothes today are horrific! I don’t want my boobs showing at work so that takes away about 1/2 of whats available. I’m 5′9″ so finding pants long enough is impossible (because I happen to be slender) , and colors, oh please. Who the heck wears orange?

But that’s too bad because I just knew a big city would have a better selection, I guess not! Have fun in Italy.
-by Sunflower


Ah, the certain things people leave un-watched and un-attended that they really shouldn’t. Your aforementioned baby for one, and unlocked, keys-in-the-ignition-and-motor-running cars I see at 7-11 and the post office. I’d consider taking these things just for 15 minutes or so to make sure someone learns the lesson of “keep an eye on your baby” or “don’t leave your keys in the ignition”, but that whole felony grand theft auto or felony kidnapping thing keeps me from doing it.

As for Old Navy, it’s the only name-brand store I feel that actually offers clothes for human beings anymore. I remember the dust-up about Abercrombie & Fitch having a catalog of mostly nude teenagers. Upon entering the mall last week and seeing one of their stores, I figure they must’ve stopped selling clothing and were now full-fledged pornography puryevors, because the windows to said store were completely blacked out, and the only thing I could see inside the store was a large b&w homoerotic picture of some male model. At least Old Navy advertises its clothes by showing people wearing clothes.
-by dfwmtx


Ever since I was a very young man, I have thought that 99.5% of the people who design clothes for women either hate women or believe that they should all look as if they are trying out for the lowest-budget porn flick being made. And yet, women all rave about how “daring” and “original” and “liberating” their designs are. Does it occur to you that women are the ones encouraging this crap because you won’t speak out in protest? Ranting to us is all well and good, but we have no control over the designs, colors or styles. Raise your voices where it does some good! With the store chains and even the designers themselves. MAKE them understand what you want! Or let them know that there are alternatives to their places; and you intend to patronize those . As long as you put up with this crap, you are only going to see it get worse.
As to the mall and shopping therein: I WAS feeling somewhat low because I have no family with whom to share Christmas and buy gifts for, etc., until I stopped and thought about your rant. I have plenty of food for my Christmas dinner (unlike a lot of people) and if I need more, I can zip 6 miles to Wal Mart at about 11:30 at night when the crowds are gone and the service is fast because the clerks want to get off by midnight. For presents, I’ll pick up a couple of toys, bones, treats and roast for the dogs and cats — and I’m done. (I already got mine: a new .45 Auto) Alone does not necessarily mean lonely!!
-by Bill


I think I mentioned this before some months back (I previously posted as “B Nueva”, but that screen name sucked, so I changed it): I manufacture women’s designer jeans as a side business. Sizes are completely arbitrary on a brand by brand basis. Our size 27 jean is actually a 28 inch waist. Somebody’s size 5 could be anything, and may vary from clothing article to clothing article, let alone between brands. The cheaper the clothing line, the more likely you’ll have size variations between articles of clothing even though they are marked the same size.

Had you picked up another size 5 of the same brand and style, there’s a good chance it would have fit differently.

With regard to your shopping experience: I just paid $100 to ship stuff expedited from Amazon. It was worth every damned penny.
-by Wahsatchmo


Tell me about it. The clothes today suck and look like a bad acid flashback hit the designers. I was a young thing back in the 70 and the clothes were not flattering then and they are certainly not now. I have a waist and boobs!! How about the designers make some clothes that recognize that women have figures and that we aren’t all built like flat chested teenagers. Even in my 20’s I couldn’t fit into the clothes because of my…..ahem….hourglass figure because everything was made for flat chested types like Twiggy. Told you I’m old :-)

I agree…what’s up with the horrid colors, clothes that look like recycled 1970 maternity outfits, polyester for God’s sake!!! and that have no shape and hang like a tent. The putrid colors and patterns that look like grandma’s outdated couch throw. Chartreuse is not a good color for anyone and combining it with baby poop yellow in garish puke inducing patterns isn’t working.

In self defense I took up sewing and make most of my clothes so they will FIT and be flattering. There are a few on line catalogues that I can buy from, but not many.

The economy has nothing to do with the slow clothing sales. It has to do with the staggering ugliness of the clothes. You can do better by shopping at the Salvation Army or a consignment store.
-by dust bunny queen


I work in an outlet mall - I won’t say which, but they’re all the same. The one good thing about it is that they have stores like Kasper and Jones New York as well as all the usual, so there’s some variance from the inevitable Varsity Prostitution Team Uniform. Still, I do see an awful lot of Traffic Cone Orange. Who wears this voluntarily, in the demented belief that it makes them look good?

Fashion hint, girls (women already know this); people do not look good because of florescent colored clothing, but in spite of it.

I knew I was headed into early Geezerhood when I realized that my thought when I saw some half-dressed teeneybopper ripple past in Whore Chic was “Yeah, but she’d want to talk afterwards, and she hasn’t anything between her ears but meringue”
-by C. S. P. Schofield


Rachel, you think YOU have it bad?

Try being a 5′4″, 110 lb. MALE.

There is nothing, literally nothing, that fits me right. If my mother wasn’t good at sewing and altering, I would not wear clothes at all. Jeans are the hardest to find. I wear 28X28. Go into any department store and find that size. You can not do it.

And no, don’t tell me to buy my jeans in the boys’ department. The waist and length may be right, but they do not make the crotch the same for boys and men. I do not like my $*@#s to be crushed when I wear jeans.

The only answer is to buy boys’ jeans a size too large and have them taken in. A huge pain in the ass…not to mention that they make all these sizes only in “husky.” I swear nobody has ever heard of “slim.”
-by otcconan


When did clothing designers decree that a woman’s waist has gravitated upward to the point immediately below the breast?
Maternity clothing tops are now skin tight while “regular” tops are like mini parachutes, cinched in at the boob bottom and blooming out to totally hide everything south of there.
Most designers of women’s clothing must be gays who are trying to ugly up the competition.
-by boneshaker
I've long been puzzled by women's fashions. So often they seem deliberately unattractive and uncomfortable, and they're designed by gay men so often I can't work out how exactly that's going to be something women want. I mean, that's like having child vegetarians design the meat course for octogenarians. Can you be any further off the mark?

It's baffling to me, I've said this many times to the angry response of some women: women dress for each other, not for men. Most men could care less what you're wearing unless it's spectacularly ugly or slutty (there are exceptions, the catholic school girl outfit usually gets attention). Women wear clothing that other women will approve of or envy, not what men tell or want them to wear. And honestly, as of late it appears women wear clothes that are deliberately unattractive. Maybe I'm a bit out of date but I seem to remember women wanting to dress nice to go out, yet what I see most of the time is women in sweats. Like they were lounging on the couch watching Oprah then said "hey, I better do some shopping, but why change?" It could be just local.

In any case, I feel for Mrs Lucas and the other women struggling to find sane clothes in a trash-filled environment. At least there is a glimpse of sanity out there, a boutique in New York City is coming up with clothes for younger girls that isn't slutty, something I've long, long wanted to do as a business. It's too bad they cost so much. Now if only someone can do something about the ugly and idiotic "punched in the eyes" makeup effect. Who wants a girl to look like a raccoon?
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RUNNING OUT OF TIME TO SURRENDER

"The only thing that these folks seem willing to fight to the death over is…defeat."
I was in Nam during the Tet Offensive in 68. We were celebrating that we had kicked ass. Walter Cronkite and the leftist press was telling the American people that we had suffered a great defeat. The left won and it cost another 2-3 million deaths in Cambodia and the reeducation camps in Viet Nam. When will we ever rid ourselves of these leftist anti American crowd? Sad, but probably never.
-by Gene
Quick, before we win!This comment comes in a blog entry by Donald Surber. Why did this come up? Well it has to do with eating crow and the Drum principle taken to another new level. See, about a year ago, Kevin Drum said he'd eat crow if the Surge worked, if the increase in troop strength and change of strategy in Iraq gave results. Don Surber is cooking the crow with all the trimmings even as you read this, for Mr Drum:
Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly had an interesting take a year ago:
Still, honesty compels me to say that I’m glad this is going to happen. I know this makes me a bad person with no concern for human life etc. etc. (feel free to expand on this sentiment in comments), but at some point we have to come to a conclusion on this stuff. Conservatives long ago convinced themselves against all evidence that we could have won in Vietnam if we’d only added more troops or used more napalm or nuked Hanoi or whatever, and they’re going to do the same thing in Iraq unless we allow them to play this out the way they want. If they don’t get to play the game their way, they’ll spend the next couple of decades trying to persuade the American public that there was nothing wrong with the idea of invading Iraq at all. We just never put the necessary resources into it.

Well, screw that. There’s nothing we can do to stop them anyway, so give ‘em the resources they want. Let ‘em fight the war the way they want. If it works — and after all, stranger things have happened — then I’ll eat some crow [emphasis mine]. But if it doesn’t, there’s a chance that the country will actually learn something from this.
In the spirit of Christmas, I hope Santa brings him a nice big bird this year.

And I don’t mean a turkey.
Chances of Kevin Drum admitting it worked are slim to none, he'll just move the goalposts: it didn't work despite how well it's working because of this new reason I never mentioned before and that is irrelevant to the discussion. Remember, this is the same guy that said he'd betray his principles rather than say anything that might remotely help President Bush. Here's an example of what I mean, with other comments:
“The Surge helped Iraq get on its two feet.”
It didn’t. It temporarily reduced violence. Iraq has no functioning central government that can assert its sovereignty across the country. The “Anbar Awakening,” in which Sunni Arabs took responsibility for security in their province after seeing that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces couldn’t do so, proves that the Iraqi state is failing, not growing more successful.

Endlessly declaring victory will not produce it. Go find BGN C.D. Alston’s December 2005 statement that the insurgency could no longer sustain itself — this wishful thinking, “last throes” bullsh**t has been going on for years. You’re fantasizing.
-by postwar war


Successful democracies are only built from the ground up. Remember that, “the postwar war”. Do a little historical reading if you’re iffy on the subject.

That is what the surge allowed to happen. That is what has been happening for the past year nearly everywhere in Iraq. That is success, without qualification.
-by Jimmie


Give everything time. Americans are used to instant coffee and remote controlled TV. The war is over. Now we can work on reconciliation of the religious factions. We are Americans. We don’t give up and surrender. We (I) are not controlled by the NY Times and the Washington Post. Think positive.
-by Gene


After the Revolution the US had to face that 10% of its population lay dead and another 15% fled to the other Crown colonies. The Articles of Confederation were very weak and the States were suffering under the weight of the loans taken out to pay for the war. In a few years there were private armies marching around at the behest of the State governments to put down insurrections, to stop Court House burnings which were happening because of land confiscation due to the taxes imposed to pay for the war. In 1786 things were very bad and the Shaysites were mere hours off in being able to gather the weapons necessary to put MA into turmoil and much of the rest of the Northeast.

The very first American government, that ran the war from 1776, was failing and, in many parts of the States, it had failed: it was putting poor farmers into jail, it was not making good on internal loans, the States were having a hard time keeping up with external debt, and minor revolts across the States were threatening a second war because the soldiers from the Revolution had not gotten their pay for years.

That United States of 1786 was not a pretty sight. The call from the Anapolis convention for the 1787 Philadelphia convention was a plea for help by the States to re-think the entire concept of government because the high ideals they had didn’t work well. We are very lucky that the intellectuals had not been killed off or chased off like in Saddam’s Iraq. We are extremely lucky to not only have had one of the best generals *ever* who turned down the thought of a military government after the Revolution, but then who came in to help get a new form of government started. Iraq does not have people like that for the simple reason of their being a threat to Saddam: he had them killed or they went into exile for decades. Iraq can barely remember the legal system that was handed it to the British and that didn’t last long enough to stick, nor that of Ottoman Imperial law before it… the Ba’ath party wiped those away so the few surviving judges are now in their 80s.

Between 1782 and 1787 the entire US was ready to *collapse* because of Statehouses impoverishing their people without much say at all via representative government. Quite a few folks were starting to realize that this was not what they fought for. Iraq does not have the benefit of having a few centuries of liberal western history, of a deep understanding of the common law system or of having deep and committed patriots to help raise their Nation up. They have the great and good fortune of having a ready income supply and a great want to end the killing that has plagued them from tyrants and terrorists since the 1950’s. They do not have a relatively homogeneous population like post-war Germany and Japan, and the Middle Eastern work ethic leaves much to be desired… strange that now factories are re-opening and folks want to get to *work*.

From 1775 to 1786 was 11 years… probably should have written democracy off as a bad job as it couldn’t figure out how to repay debts in a just way. Americans didn’t really want a military dictatorship or junta, so we ‘doubled down’ for a second shot at it.

Iraq after 5 years? Barely through the half-life of most insurgencies. I am frankly astonished at how *quickly* things are going: this COIN engagement is unprecedented in military history. This is on a much faster path than Britain, France or any other major industrialized power, including the US in the Philippines, has ever done a COIN engagement.

And people *complain*?

The last guy to go *faster* marched an Army of 10,000 from Greece to India and took over everything in his path but with a side-trip to Egypt first. Guy by the name of Alexander the Great, although his victories would not outlast his short life. We, unfortunately, don’t have that sort of world to work with, and may end up taking a distant second place in COIN work compared to him, but possibly make it stick for a good long time. We are outdoing the Brits in the Malay and the French in Algeria, not that it was a great success, but it more or less worked until the subsequent revolution after that.

Complaints?

If we cannot reach out to those that have been rescued from tyranny, from barbaric terrorists and from despotism, and we are the ones doing that rescuing, then we do not deserve our own democracy. Because we paid much more in blood than others have and it is dear to us, especially after winning a war. Our lives are dear, but liberty dearer still and we know that cost comes not easy, nor cheap, nor quickly as our OWN history attests to. But those are liberal, western and civilized ideals… apparently many in the US no longer have those. When we forget these things our own liberty and freedom are soon to chase away into the night, because they do not come cheap nor quickly. And the payment to win liberty is blood.
-by ajacksonian


Hey, Postie, got’cher postwar “war” roundup right here, man. Scholarly, reasonable, researched.

I grew up believing the MSM, Uncle Walter and the rest. You can’t imagine a world where everyone, (and I mean everyone) believed in the Media as the guardians of fact. Actually, we didn’t give it a thought, as to what we read or saw. It wasn’t until Dan Rather was caught in a lie that crossed my area of expertise (typesetting) that I finally quit believing them. And long ago, when I learned to think for myself.

The above linked essay from Commentary Mag just sickens me, because I realize I watched lies every night, while college hippie protesters insisted that the military were the liars and worse.

There’s no shame in being deluded, only in choosing to stay that way.

The article won’t fit your narrative, but, hey, I used to be a skull full of mush, myself.
-by Joan of Argghh!


Postwar War: the reason we had no IED’s in Japan is very simple: instead of fighting the “kindler, gentler” war that liberals want, we burned Japanese alive until they got the notion “opposing Americans is death.” That’s how you win a war quickly and finally.
-by SDN


Victory throughout history has never been defined as the victor leaving a country better off than it was before the war. The United States has done so many a time, but it has never been part of the victory. It has been done after the victory. The vicotry itself has always left the losing nation in a state of shambles.
Now the Lefties in this country want to define victory as having defeated another nation, in this case Iraq and Afghanistan, and somehow left them better off than they were prior to the war (see the requirement above that the Iraqi government be able to function better than the US Congress in order for conservatives to declare “we won”)! Insane? Yes, but that’s the “reality based community” for you. There isn’t a single dictionary in the entire world that would describe victory as the Lefties demand it be described now. There hasn’t been a single victory in the history of the human race that is consistent with what Lefties now want to define as victory.
If you are unwilling to fight for victory, you don’t get to define it, either.
-by Diggs


What’s odd about the left’s perspective in general and Drum’s in particular on Vietnam is that we DID win, militarily speaking. Khe Sanh was a disaster of epic proportions for the NVA, the Marines retook Hue, Tet just about annihilated the VC, the Linebacker bombing campaigns brought the North to its knees, the mining of Haiphong was economically ruinous… I could go on. There was no question of “nuking Hanoi” any more than we needed to nuke Pyongyang to keep them out of Seoul; in both cases, we had successfully established a peace treaty, and all we had to do was keep a viable threat of renewed bombing/mining/fighting around to enforce it.

These people act as though we did not successfully defend S Korea for 50 years.

The lesson of SE Asia is simple and twofold: one, don’t abandon your allies before they can defend themselves; two, peace under Communist dictatorship is not much better than war. Somehow the left instead took the lesson as “America can’t win a difficult war,” perhaps largely because the second half is something they still refuse to admit they were horribly, tragically wrong about.

*Well, if not a peace treaty, at least a cessation of hostilities.
-by TallDave
Remember, it's never too late to declare failure and defeat. You can always find some reason that overwhelming evidence is false: just move the standards of victory to unreachable levels. If there's any violence then it's clearly not a victory. If there's any political unrest or instability, it's a failure.

Looking around the world, countries with a stable government and little violence in their borders are the exception and not the rule. We all want Iraq to be one of those exceptions, and the longer the coalition troops stay and help rebuild, encourage reconciliation, and protect the country until it's ready to stand on its own, the sooner and more likely this is to take place. But it's a fool's metric to presume that unless Iraq looks like a more stable and peaceful America then we've failed utterly.

I'll say it once again: the coalition won the war in 2003, unequivocally and unquestionably. It was an absolute, stunning, and unprecedented success of overwhelming victory. The mission of conquering Iraq was accomplished, without any possibility of historically accurate and informed debate.

The rebuilding and pacification of the country is another story. It takes years, even decades to finally calm a nation down after being defeated. Look at France in WW2, the Nazis had absolute control over the country, yet faced constant sabboteur and insurgent problems. Were they fighting France in a war? No, they beat France in about a month, and were having security problems with patriots who were fighting the tyranny. Over and over again through history there have been thousands of examples of this: a conquered nation fights and causes trouble for a long, long time after the war is over.

Only in some modern days in very unusual and a-historical situations has this ever, ever been different. Post WW2 reconstruction was a bizarre anomaly in human history, and we didn't really conquer those nations anyway. We destroyed their army, tore down their government, helped them rebuild, and they are back in charge of their own destiny again, insofar as is humanly possible. It took ten years to get Japan to the point we could let them take charge again, yet people want us to abandon Iraq after four? The gross, inexcusable historical ignorance on display so often is difficult to stomach, it frustrates me deeply.

And guys like Kevin Drum who'll never, ever admit they might possibly in some small way be wrong about Iraq do so not out of principle or personal belief, but out of the fear that their political enemies might gain in some way from it, and that simply cannot be allowed, no matter what damage it does to their stated causes or ideals.

I'm hoping, Mr Drum, that the country does learn something from this: that you cannot trust the left for whom political victory trumps all other causes and interests. That you do not abandon someone who has been promised help. That the US doesn't bail on an effort simply because it is difficult and takes longer than a year. That honor means doing what is hard because it is right. That we learned from Vietnam and won't abandon our troops or betray their efforts. I hope we do learn from all this.

For those, more honest, honorable, and noble among the anti-war crowd, here are some recipes that you might want to try, courtesy commenter DavidL.
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NO VACCINE FOR IGNORANCE

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
-Martin Luther King jr

polio vaccine
One of the major breakthroughs of the 20th century was the advent of vaccination. Medicine in the past had been limited in its effectiveness, prevention was nearly impossible. As a doctor you tried to treat symptoms when someone got ill, but the bulk of your work was merely to assist the body heal its self. With vaccines, medicine crossed over a critical threshold which allowed doctors to prevent sickness rather than merely treat it. In fifty years, many of the major plagues of the modern age were eradicated: polio and smallpox, for example. My mother's generation knew no household that was not affected by polio. Today the disease is utterly unkn0wn.

Yet there is a segment of society that considers vaccines bad. They started out as a dull rumble under the surface, showing up only on daytime talk shows to make claims about the dangers of vaccinations. There are websites, books, and talk circuits with people warning of the evils of protecting your children from ghastly diseases that these folks grew up free of their danger. Whooping cough, for instance, was still a concern when I was a baby; it was all but eliminated, but now it's beginning to make a comeback. Why? Because parents are being convinced by this movement that the vaccines are worse.

The major concern is autism, the claim that certain kinds of vaccines, particularly those containing heavy metals, causes autism. At Respectful Insolence, Orac points out a voice in this crusade: Don Imus' wife Dierdre who is trying to stop Governor Corzine of New Jersey from signing a bill.
Deirdre apparently decided to prove just what an antivaccination loon she is once again with a little pre-Christmas turd-bomb that she dropped on the Huffington Post on Friday entitled Missing the Mercury Threat: An appeal to New Jersey's Governor. Imus starts out with a quote from Einstein, that "only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity." She's absolutely right, just not in the way she thinks. It turns out that her post demonstrates unequivocally that infinite stupidity is hers.

It's not surprising that the recent mandate in New Jersey to add four new vaccines to the list of vaccines required for children to attend school, the influenza vaccine, pneumococcal, meningococcal, tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertusis (Tdap) vaccine. Antivaccinationists are simply beside themselves over this decision.
Orac goes on to cite several studies that indicate no link between these vaccines and autism, a fact that anti vaccine crusaders brush aside. The original story by Mrs Imus is at the Huffington Post, which, according to Orac, is systematically deleting and editing any posts critical of or questioning the thesis she brings up. Readers discussed this story and vaccines at Respectful Insolence, and at times it got quite heated:
You Curtis and Kuby listeners still don't get it. They were only local. Not National. They were not on Television, even if it is RFD-TV. So you folks are dismissed.

The comments regarding Deirdre Imus are even more ignorant. Do you all know what themiserol is? It is a preservative that contains the heavy metal mercury. Mercury causes brain damage. And in the early stages of an infants life this is dangerous. This additive has been prohibited by the FDA back in 2002 though vaccines are still available with it.

New Jersey has the highest incidences of autism. Corzine is nuts.

And Robster if you cannot use the correct name of Imus' wife Deirdre don't say it. And she is not a trophy wife stupid. She is a caring person who does more in a year then you will do in a lifetime.

This blog is truly a waste of time. And ignorance is what it should be called.

Go away and take a dose of Mercury. It's good for you. Then die.
-by Bruce


Ah, nothing warms the cockles of my heart like the love of my fans!

I agree that ignorance (particularly hateful and nasty igorance) should be called, which is why I'm going to point out that it is your ignorance that is truly breathtaking. The amount of exposure to thimerosal in vaccines is lower than it has been since the 1970s and, yet, as you point out, autism incidence rates are still high, although it is not, as you mercury militia-types like to claim, an "epidemic." Moreover, multiple studies (like this one, for instance) have failed to demonstrate a decrease in the incidence of autism (or other neurodevelopmental problems) after thimerosal was removed from vaccines in multiple countries. That's about as slam-dunk evidence as epidemiology provides against any sort of link between thimerosal and autism.

Deidre Imus is a clueless twit, even more so than her husband. Period. She doesn't know what she is talking about when it comes to the alleged link between vaccines and autism. As long as I see her continuing to post ignorant antivaccination screeds like the one I discussed here, I'll from time to time call her the idiot that she clearly demonstrates herself to be with every post she makes about vaccines and autism in which she spouts pseudoscience and misinformation. She could be the most "caring" person in the world otherwise, and she would still be a scientific ignoramus when it comes to the issue of the cause of autism. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, which is why I don't really buy the whole "but she cares so much" line as a defense against criticism.
-by Orac



It seems to me...and this being said without any clinical studies....injecting anyone with a mercury based solution (let alone infants at 6 months) is a stupid thing to do. The real reason that thimerosal is even used, at this stage in modern medicine, is corporate greed. Thimerosal is not needed as a preservative when vaccines are produced in individual doses. Instead...using mass production's of huge multiple-dosage vials..it costs less to produce. The studies you have produced do not exonerate any link between thimerosal and autism. What these studies do is claim they cannot find any (or, explain any) link. That, in itself does not make them safe, by any means.

The Autistic rates jumped sharply after mandated multiple-inclusive vaccines were made available. These vaccines were manufactured, not in single "safe mercury free" dosages. They were made as cheap as possible in large multiple dosage vials.

As a Grandfather of three autistic children, I am no rocket scientist...but injecting mercury IN ANY AMOUNT into babies, children, OR adults...is tantamount to being treasonous to the honor of the Physicians oath.

Mercury, in ANY amount is not conductive to good and honorable medicine.

Next, will you be telling all of your readers that the lead content in toxic toys being imported into this country are "OK in small doses"?

After YEARS of trying to get LEAD out of paint in
homes...MANY in the poorer ethnic areas...are we in this country going to ignore this issue too? If Deirdre Imus raised this issue, would you trash her for that too?

Forgive me if this is presumptuous on my part...but we stewards of our children in this country have bigger fish to fry...other than your obvious biased opinion about Deidre Imus (or Don).
-by donaldinks


hmm...3 grandchildren with autism, and it doesn't occur to you that it might be genetic??

I, and hundreds of my fellow 30-somethings, were injected with vaccines that may have contained thimerisol. Hell, some of us may have used contact lens solution containing thimerisol.

Whatdyouknow...none of us are autistic. Not to say that there aren't some thirty-somethings who are, but I know personally ONE person who is probably undiagnosed Aspergers out of thousands of people my age...

But there's THREE people with autism in your immediate gene pool.

Funny how it does seem to run in families, isn't it?
-by CanadianChick


Bruce said "You Curtis and Kuby listeners still don't get it. "

I thought this blog comment was primarily on the Mrs. Imus wrote on HuffPo. That is a blog that is read by anyone with a computer and an internet connection. What does it have to do with listening?

What are your specific objections to Orac's critique of what she wrote? Do you have any real substantial evidence that thimerosal is a cause of autism? Do you have an real substantial evidence that the vaccines cause more harm than the actual diseases? Try to make sure it is not something that has already been fisked by this blog (use the search box on the upper left of the page under the words "search this blog" to find that information).

Bruce continued "Now if this is a Medical Blog you have it over me."

Well, it is mostly. Did you not read the URL? It starts out as "scienceblogs." The subject of this particular posting is about false information on vaccines. Those words written in blue are links to other webpages, if you click on them you can read further information.

I personally do not understand the objection to the Tdap vaccine. It is given to adolescents and adults, people who are way past the point of being diagnosed with autism. All three of my teenagers have received protection from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also known as whooping cough or the "100 day cough", which thanks to the efforts of Barbara Loe Fisher and others like her is coming back!) It does not even have thimerosal! See Table 3 of this page

(reminder that is a web link, you have to click on it to read it... Table 3 is almost at the bottom of the page, right above the references).
-by HCN

The studies you have produced do not exonerate any link between thimerosal and autism. What these studies do is claim they cannot find any (or, explain any) link. That, in itself does not make them safe, by any means.
Perhaps, but a lack of direct evidence doesn't prove your alternate theory. There is plenty of epidemiological evidence, and though this kind of evidence does not prove anything it is very suggestive. Studies like this one (new window)
or this one (new window)
or this one (new window),

which have been discussed by Orac before, have attempted to find a link and have found nothing. A brief search on PubMed yields hundreds more studies, opinions, etc. by experts who all agree that no link can be found. This more than satiates my concern. So how about you who disagree? Are all these researchers on the take? Where are your studies proving your opinion? Why doesn't Imus cite more than news articles and editorial? I think these are fair and reasonable questions which you must address to be taken seriously by any scientific skeptic. Otherwise all your "facts" amount to post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning.
-by petri

The studies you have produced do not exonerate any link between thimerosal and autism. What these studies do is claim they cannot find any (or, explain any) link. That, in itself does not make them safe, by any means.
Geez, you really don't know anything about how medical studies work, do you? Science can never completely prove a negative beyond all doubt. What science can (and has) done in studying the claim that the mercury thimerosal in vaccines somehow causes autism or ASD is to do studies with the statistical power to find a link, if it existed. What we can say from the existing large studies done in Denmark, Canada, and other countries is that it is exceedingly unlikely that mercury causes autism. Indeed, the continued failure of large, well-designed studies to find even a hint of a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines has led even the previously most die-hard antivaccinationists to start handwaving and invoking other causes.

In any case, other than flu vaccines (which can be obtained in a thimerosal-free version), there is no thimerosal in childhood vaccines above trace amounts and hasn't been since 2002. Unless mercury is some sort of magical compound without a dose-response effect that still somehow causes an "epidemic" of autism, even though the amount of mercury babies are exposed to is much lower than it's been in decades.

You know, judging from the quality (or mainly lack thereof) of the comments from the Imus fans who've invaded here, the level of scientific understanding is really low and the "arguments" that mercury in vaccines cause autism are clearly some of the lamer ones cribbed from some of the less sophisticated antivaccination websites and painfully easy to refute. If the Imus fans/trolls who've invaded here are any indication of the intellectual firepower of Imus' fanbase, I have to say that I'm not impressed.
Arguments aside, the ISSUE is: is it ok to inject known poisons into a human being...at any age.
Then I suppose you'd like to ban Botox. After all, Botulinum toxin is considerably more toxic than mercury, but aging stars line up to have it injected into them and pay lots of money for it.

The dose makes the poison. Even water is toxic if enough is ingested. If you can't understand even that very basic concept of pharmacology, I suggest that you learn it before making even more of a fool of yourself here.
-by Orac


Correct me if I'm wrong (I haven't taken chemistry since my freshman year), but isn't mercury simply one atom in the thimerosal compound?

Last I checked, hydrogen was highly flammable and, Jesus Christ, there are two hydrogen atoms in the water molecule! Where are the studies that show how dangerous dihydrogen monoxide is in medical applications?? All of these so-called "scientists" must be deep in Big Pharma's pocket!

Hold the phone, Wikipedia tells me there are nine hydrogen atoms in the thimerosal molecule! And one sodium atom! Everyone knows sodium reacts exothermically with water! Are they trying to kill us all??

It's hard to be this snarky so close to Christmas...
-by Adrian


I had vaccines. We all did . My kid had them.
so what?
CONCLUSIONS. Prevalence findings from special education data do not support the claim of an autism epidemic because the administrative prevalence figures for most states are well below epidemiological estimates. The growing administrative prevalence of autism from 1994 to 2003 was associated with corresponding declines in the usage of other diagnostic categories.
In other words, children diagnosed as autistic were siphoning numbers from other diagnoses.

CONCLUSIONS: The body of existing data, including the ecologic data presented herein, is not consistent with the hypothesis that increased exposure to Thimerosal-containing vaccines is responsible for the apparent increase in the rates of autism in young children being observed worldwide.
-by Phil


I was just scrolling through the comments and saw that Bruce was repeating (parroting?) the claim that New Jersey had the highest prevalence of autism in the country.

I don't know where that particular canard got started, but it isn't supported by the IDEA annual report to congress.

In the report from fall 2006 (the most recent available), the top three states for autism prevalence are:

[1] Minnesota
[2] Oregon
[3] Indiana

New Jersey isn't even in the top 10. It's number 12.

If this is how accurate his "facts" are, I think we can ignore pretty much anything else he has to say (parrot?).
-by Prometheus
The frustrating thing with scientific issues is that so often people with a little bit of knowledge combine that with fear or hype and end up with a sort of informed ignorance. They know just enough to end up foolish. Sodium is a very deadly poison, in fact it reacts so violently with water that it literally explodes. Chloride is another lethal poison, it's so deadly that people used to make poison gas out of it in World War 1. If you combine these two lethal poisons, they make... table salt. Chemistry is an interesting subject, the way things combine and interact. Merely having mercury in something does not make it instantly lethal or even problematic.

You have mercury in your body right now. It's in some of the food you eat, the water, you drink, it's even in the air. The critical aspect of this is how much and in what way you get mercury. Sipping from an old-fashioned mercury thermometer: bad. Eating an apple with 1 part per billion mercury in it: good. As it turns out, your body actually needs certain lethal chemicals in it, at small levels. Arsenic, for example. These chemicals are not deadly by their mere presence, they are deadly in quantity.

If you were to put one drop of mercury into Lake Superior, it would in fact contain mercury... but not enough to endanger anyone, anywhere, in any capacity. This is what I mean by informed ignorance: enough to know mercury is dangerous, not enough to understand how or why. The sad part is, this voice is growing in influence and volume, it is getting more respect and convincing more and more parents (primarily mothers, who are more likely to see daytime talk shows and hear this troublesome nonsense). Vaccinations have stomped out several horrible diseases, but as we've found out in Africa, they can come back if the efforts are blocked.

Africans have been told, primarily by Islamic leaders, that western vaccines are the cause of AIDS in the area. So people have stopped getting children vaccinated. So smallpox is coming back in the area. That kind of cascade effect is very dangerous, and it's sadly predictable. We've seen it before with ALAR and DDT: some well-meaning, informed but ignorant person with a loud voice manages to get something banned in the face of scientific evidence. And sometimes people pay the price of that ignorance with their lives.
"If I were to have another child I wouldn't vaccinate at all, never, ever,"
-Jenny McCarthy
The hard part in this particular argument is when people point to previous successes removing materials that may not be harmful at all due to hype and fear. They banned mercury from cosmetics, and you're shooting it into my child's arm!!!!!1!!

Thanks to Gerard from American Digest for the tip leading to this story.
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