August 29, 2007

Rape, or whatever...: A talmudic discussion of whether there can be rape without a victim "harmed" by the attack, here. Ezra Klein raises a strange analogy, likening the woman who doesn't feel "terribly traumatized" after a "non-consensual sexual act" to a "bookish type" who doesn't miss the TV set that was burgled from his studio apartment; in Klein's view, the perpetrator of the first act is as much a "rapist" as the second is a "thief." By the same token, if I get slapped in the face, but I'm not hurt, the slapper has committed "battery" just the same as if I had been punched in the jaw.

But since rape, like burglary, is a crime, not merely a verb describing a particular bad act, how the victim feels afterwards makes all the difference in the world. In prosecuting crimes, the DA's office will only proceed if there is a sense that harm has been imposed on a victim, for obvious reasons: it's next to impossible to convince a jury to deprive someone of his liberty unless they feel he's wronged someone in an egregious manner. With rape prosecutions, having a traumatized victim is even more important, since the element of consent is not all that easy to prove, especially since eyewitnesses are not likely going to be available to decide the issue. And having a victim who feels like she's been wronged is always handy when you're proceeding to trial; the last thing a DA wants is to have the supposed victim appear before the jury as a reluctant, unsympathetic, or even hostile, witness.

If all you want, though, is to decriminalize "rape," to turn what has been viewed for millenia as one of the worst crimes people can inflict on each other, into a mere insult, like calling someone a "thief," then by all means, parse away.

August 28, 2007

Another entry from the gutsy journalistic tradition that is the N.Y. Post:
'It's hard. He's such a wonderful person,' one source said. 'He's such a great guy and so smart and just . . . nice. We're just hoping he gets better.'
"He", of course, being Owen Wilson, the "tow-haired, Tinsel Town hunk" who is recuperating from a recent suicide attempt. Why Murdoch's flagship paper is granting anonymity to a source for expressing the courageous thought that The Wedding Crashers star not succumb to his demons should be obvious; the last thing any entertainment reporter wants is to be cut out of the loop by the P.R. flacks who write most of the stories about the "Industry." [link via Kausfiles, which inexplicably thinks the LA Times should be as similarly hard-hitting]

August 27, 2007

The Little Boys Room: Another GOP Senator busted.
Becoming a Man: Like many of you, I saw the live press conference by the former Atlanta Falcon quarterback this morning, and I was particularly moved by this quote:
I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts and, you know, what I did was, what I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up.

I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player.
Although some people may live their entire lives on the straight and narrow, the callow rebellious youth who emerges from a life of selfishness and vice into later greatness is a common one. It is a story that is as old as Alexander the Great and St. Augustine, and on through to Prince Hal, Winston Churchill, and the great man who currently holds supreme power in this country. Many of us can attest to what the Leader of the Free World admitted during his first Presidential campaign, that when we were young and irresponsible, we were young and irresponsible.

In the fullness of time, with the wisdom that accrues from age and experience, we can look back at the folly of our youth, whether it be the all-night carousing with our friends, the snort or puff of an illegal narcotic, or the rape stand we tie a defenseless animal to for breeding purposes. Just as I cringe at some of the things I used to pull in my adolescence, from crank yanking girls who didn't want to go out with me to T.P.'ing a neighbor's house, Vick will no doubt roll his eyes at the silliness of some his exploits with the Fallstaffs of his life, such as electrocuting and shooting the also-rans at "the Kennel," or injecting dogs with performance-enhancing drugs to accentuate their killing abilities.

This whole thing is just a learning experience, one that a more mature Michael Vick can use when he returns to action next season.
This place was not constructed to keep something out... To answer Pam Spaulding's question, this film, which besides some hilariously pretentious dialogue, also contains the most comical sex scene in screen history. I even remember the date I saw it: January 2, 1984. Together with my pals Jim Christianson and Greg Sapinsley, the three of us ventured to Westwood to see the early evening showing, thereby missing the second half of the Orange Bowl, and afterwards engaged in the sort of giggling more common among people who've imbibed a substantial amount of weed. I still cannot believe the director was able to survive that fiasco.

August 26, 2007

The Unfiltered Views of a Neo-Conman:
When faced with the possible threat that the Iraqis might be amassing terrible weapons that could be used to slay millions of citizens of Western Civilization, President Bush took the only action prudence demanded and the electorate allowed: he conquered Iraq with an army.

This dangerous and expensive act did destroy the Iraqi regime, but left an American army without any clear purpose in a hostile country and subject to attack. If the Army merely returns to its home, then the threat it ended would simply return.

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.

The simple truth that modern weapons now mean a nation must practice genocide or commit suicide. Israel provides the perfect example. If the Israelis do not raze Iran, the Iranians will fulfill their boast and wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Yet Israel is not popular, and so is denied permission to defend itself. In the same vein, President Bush cannot do what is necessary for the survival of Americans. He cannot use the nation's powerful weapons. All he can do is try and discover a result that will be popular with Americans.

As there appears to be no sensible result of the invasion of Iraq that will be popular with his countrymen other than retreat, President Bush is reviled; he has become another victim of Democracy.

By elevating popular fancy over truth, Democracy is clearly an enemy of not just truth, but duty and justice, which makes it the worst form of government. President Bush must overcome not just the situation in Iraq, but democratic government.


If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.
--Phillip Atkinson, a contributing editor for the Center for Security Policy, a conservative "think-tank" that includes, among others, former CIA chief James Woolsey, Laura Ingraham, Monica Crowley, and Frank Gaffney. The piece was subsequently scrubbed from the think-tank's website, although, as Digby points out, they can't say they weren't warned about this guy's extreme opinions concerning other subjects.