May 18, 2007

Why can't the kids today perform in v-neck sweaters?

May 17, 2007

I had a brief conversation with another blogger about a month ago. He used to post frequently back in the day, but in recent years, his work imposed a greater and greater burden on him, to the point where he'd post perhaps once a month. He told me that he often would be inspired to write something, only to go to Kevin Drum's site and find that he'd already written the same thing. I know what that feeling's like.

May 16, 2007

Two opinions on the death yesterday of Jerry Falwell:
The Reverend Jerry Falwell and I were arch enemies for fifteen years. We became involved in a lawsuit concerning First Amendment rights and Hustler magazine. Without question, this was my most important battle – the l988 Hustler Magazine, Inc., v. Jerry Falwell case, where after millions of dollars and much deliberation, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in my favor.

My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling.

The most important result of our relationship was the landmark decision from the Supreme Court that made parody protected speech, and the fact that much of what we see on television and hear on the radio today is a direct result of my having won that now famous case which Falwell played such an important role in.
--Larry Flynt

The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing, that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called reverend.

Who would, even at your network, have invited on such a little toad to tell us that the attacks of September the 11th were the result of our sinfulness and were God's punishment if they hadn't got some kind of clerical qualification?

People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup.

The whole consideration of this -- of this horrible little person is offensive to very, very many of us who have some regard for truth and for morality, and who think that ethics do not require that lies be told to children by evil old men, that we're -- we're not told that people who believe like Falwell will be snatched up into heaven, where I'm glad to see he skipped the rapture, was found on the floor of his office, while the rest of us go to hell.
--Christopher Hitchens (both links via Hit and Run)
John Ashcroft, the Voice of Reason, Defender of Civil Liberties, Face of Time, Picture of Life, etc., blah blah blah...whodathunkit?
President Bush intervened in March 2004 to avert a crisis over the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program after Attorney General John Ashcroft, Director Robert S. Mueller III of the F.B.I. and other senior Justice Department aides all threatened to resign, a former deputy attorney general testified Tuesday.

Mr. Bush quelled the revolt over the program’s legality by allowing it to continue without Justice Department approval, also directing department officials to take the necessary steps to bring it into compliance with the law, according to Congressional testimony by the former deputy attorney general, James B. Comey.


Mr. Comey, the former No. 2 official in the Justice Department, said the crisis began when he refused to sign a presidential order reauthorizing the program, which allowed monitoring of international telephone calls and e-mail of people inside the United States who were suspected of having terrorist ties. He said he made his decision after the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, based on an extensive review, concluded that the program did not comply with the law. At the time, Mr. Comey was acting attorney general because Mr. Ashcroft had been hospitalized for emergency gall bladder surgery.


Mr. Comey said that on the evening of March 10, 2004, Mr. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., then Mr. Bush’s chief of staff, tried to bypass him by secretly visiting Mr. Ashcroft. Mr. Ashcroft was extremely ill and disoriented, Mr. Comey said, and his wife had forbidden any visitors.

Mr. Comey said that when a top aide to Mr. Ashcroft alerted him about the pending visit, he ordered his driver to rush him to George Washington University Hospital with emergency lights flashing and a siren blaring, to intercept the pair. They were seeking his signature because authority for the program was to expire the next day.

Mr. Comey said he phoned Mr. Mueller, who agreed to meet him at the hospital. Once there, Mr. Comey said he “literally ran up the stairs.” At his request, Mr. Mueller ordered the F.B.I. agents on Mr. Ashcroft’s security detail not to evict Mr. Comey from the room if Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card objected to his presence.

Mr. Comey said he arrived first in the darkened room, in time to brief Mr. Ashcroft, who he said seemed barely conscious. Before Mr. Ashcroft became ill, Mr. Comey said the two men had talked and agreed that the program should not be renewed.

When the White House officials appeared minutes later, Mr. Gonzales began to explain to Mr. Ashcroft why they were there. Mr. Comey said Mr. Ashcroft rose weakly from his hospital bed, but in strong and unequivocal terms, refused to approve the eavesdropping program.

I was angry,” Mr. Comey told the committee. “I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me. I thought he had conducted himself in a way that demonstrated a strength I had never seen before, but still I thought it was improper.
Let the Eagle soar....

May 14, 2007

One of the funniest books of the last ten years, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, is set to become a movie, with Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame) slated to play former English expatriate Toby Young. On his blog, Young also announced that Kirsten Dunst will co-star (it's not yet on IMBD), although it's unclear whether she will play his ex-girlfriend, future wife, or Sophie Dahl, or, even better, a character that won't require her to use an English accent (and further checking confirms the latter).
"The Terrorist's Dictionary," a blog straight out of Brooklyn that figures to give Ambrose Bierce a run for his money, looks to be a keeper. Some examples:

stem cell - noun

1. a human being.
2. a person.

COMMENT: Many people falsely believe that an embryo is a person. In fact, a mere four-to-five-day-old blastocyst contains 50 to 150 stem cells (read: persons), rendering abortion murder with special circumstances.

habeas corpus - noun

Law - a writ requiring a suspect to be brought before a court, so that his torture may be legally sanctioned.

[Origin: Latin: lit., "have the body (so that it may be tortured)."]

COMMENT: As the Latin of the phrase suggests, this is an outmoded legal protocol that has fallen into disuse. The courts have ceded their authority over torture as a violation of the constitutional separation of powers and as a wartime inefficiency.