Saturday, February 05, 2005


Quote of the Day

(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.

(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court shall have jurisdiction--

(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or

(B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision

—REAL ID Act of 2005 (H.R. 418), Section 102 (via Daily Kos)

Friday, February 04, 2005


Quote of the Day

Mr. Mill never deigns to consider that an Irishman is an Irishman, and not an average human being—an idiomatic and idiosyncractic, not an abstract, man.
—W.R. Greg, 1869, writing on the foolishness of Irish land reform

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Quote of the Day II

Of "homosexual detection experts"—

Some people may believe you just choose to let others convince you to be a homosexual detector, while others may believe you're just born with the skills.
—Lloyd Garver, CBS commentator


Quote of the Day

The hypothesis that the discrepancy between the exit polls and election results is due to errors in the official election tally is a coherent theory that must be explored.
statistician Josh Mitteldorf of Temple University and lead author of "Response to Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004 Report."

Posting late today

The State of the Union address is the occasion for me to write a piece I've been postponing for some time—a post mortem of the election. It's time to bury the stinking mess.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Gasp! Socialists in the press

I've been having fun this morning reading the fulminations of Cliff Kincaid, editor of the AIM Report. Accuracy in Media (AIM) was the organization set up by the right in the 70s to critique the "librul" press, and if nothing else, served as a conceptual model for progressive media watchdogs that followed.

Well, Kincaid has discovered that the Washington Post has hired a ... socialist!

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson is described by the paper as "editor at large of the American Prospect and political editor of L.A. Weekly." That's only partly true. Myerson [sic] is, in fact, a socialist. More specifically, he's a vice-chair of Democratic Socialists of America. Why doesn't the Post tell us that? Is the paper afraid to admit that it has hired a left-wing extremist to write columns?

Of course, that Meyerson is "editor at large of the American Prospect and political editor of L.A. Weekly" is not "partly true"; it's entirely true.

To help us grasp the implications of this, Kincaid has posted a blurb in the upper righthand corner: A socialist implies opposition to capitalism and big money. What the Democratic Socialist website proclaims up front is

Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

The operative word here is "democratic." Capital is a wonderful thing—under democratic control, that is.

I don't know about you, but I for one am relieved that there's anybody in the mainstream press who does anything other than cheerlead for capitalism and big money. And, of course, Meyerson depends upon capitalism and big money to be heard, so I wouldn't expect to see calls for the takeover of the Washington Post.

Curious about what a socialist might be writing about in the Post, I took a gander—internal labor politics, the Democrats, the Republicans, Wal-Mart and Johnny Carson. Some pretty radical stuff, you know.

I particularly enjoyed "Wal-Mart Loves Unions (In China)." Meyerson writes

Up to now America's largest employer has opposed every effort of its employees to form a union. Wal-Mart doesn't recognize unions; it doesn't even recognize "employees." The proper Wal-Mart name for its workers is "associates," a term that connotes higher status and collegiality and that actually means lower pay and workplace autocracy....

But that was the old Wal-Mart. Last week Wal-Mart announced that if its associates wanted a union to represent them, that would be hunky-dory — as long as the union was affiliated with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, a body dominated by the Chinese Communist Party. The official statement was simple and seemingly unambiguous: "Should associates request formation of a union, Wal-Mart China would respect their wishes."

Wal-Mart America has made no such declaration, of course. Why it deems its 20,000 Chinese associates who work in its 40 Chinese stores worthy of representation while its million U.S. employees can't be trusted with the right to represent themselves is a good question. Whence the Sinophilia and Americaphobia?

We can, I think, dismiss suspicions of anti-anyone-but-Chinese racism as such. The answer, then, must lie in Wal-Mart's preference for old-line communist-dominated unions in authoritarian communist states over any other kinds of unions anywhere else. America's unions, which Wal-Mart despises, have a long history of anticommunism, and today's AFL-CIO is the staunchest defender on the American political scene of democratic rights in communist nations such as China. For that matter, unions affiliated with reformed or post-communist parties outside of the few remaining communist states have gotten nowhere with Wal-Mart either. Only in China, with its inimitable blend of Dickensian capitalism and authoritarian communism, has Wal-Mart found a union to its liking.

And small wonder. Unions affiliated with the All-China Federation seldom push for wage increases or safer machinery. Indeed, the locals are often headed by someone from company management. Not that there isn't worker discontent in China: Every week brings accounts of spontaneous strikes, and now and then an occasional riot over such lifestyle impediments as unpaid wages. But the role of the state-sanctioned unions isn't to channel the discontent into achievable gains; it's to contain it to the employer's benefit.

The leaders of genuine workers' movements in China don't end up running the All-China Federation. They're to be found in prison, in exile or in hiding.

Besides, truly democratic unions in China would run counter to the truly undemocratic, one-party state. Allowing a democratic union movement to form would threaten both Dickensian capitalism and authoritarian communism, and diminish some of China's competitive advantage over other low-wage but not authoritarian nations in Southeast Asia, Central America and elsewhere. Such a development would be anathema to both the Politburo and Wal-Mart's board of directors.

.... When America's largest employer feels more affinity for the political legacy of Mao Zedong than for that of Franklin D. Roosevelt, it's time to start democratizing our own back yard.

Ah, yes. Freedom-loving Wal-Mart has the full support of freedom-loving Bush.

I just want to express my appreciation to AIM and Cliff Kincaid for alerting the public to a fine writer. Less prominently Kincaid also notes—

... [J]umping at the chance to employ a socialist, the New York Times hired Barbara Ehrenreich as a guest columnist last year. Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, said that she was "a brilliant social critic, historian and political commentator." Ehrenreich is also an honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America and a member of the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. She spoke to the national NORML conference in 2000 and attacked drug testing as demoralizing. But notes about her talk, posted on the Web, were written down by an admitted "stoner" and so we can't know for sure exactly what she said.

That's really good, Cliff. Stick with the humor.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Comments from an idiot II—Can you tell which is which?

I really do value comments, especially when they're informative. I wish there were more of them, but I suppose that writing about matters as noncontroversial as those that I cover has a chilling effect on the comments section.

On the other hand, occasionally a comment gives me the comfort of knowing that I am not just preaching to the choir, that I really do have a right-wing readership. Such was this comment on my post concerning Kerry's CIA–Khmer Rouge connection—

Yawn. This is news? Gee, I'm so shocked. Utterly appalled! Then again, no I'm not. Nobody cares about cambodia. You may quit whining now.

Since the comment is devoid of content with respect to the topic, we may instead turn our attention to the commenter. Let's see what we have here.

The commenter

I identify the writer as a "right-winger" because of the tell-tale marker "whining." While the verb (verbal, in this case) has its uses, it is greatly and inappropriately overused by the right to characterize any presentation of information that discomfits their world-view.

The comment is signed by one STFU, an abbreviation of "Shut the Fuck Up." This has been a right-wing marker ever since FoxNews immortalized Bill O'Reilly's "Just shut up!" O'Reilly's limited abilities in any type of non-sexual intercourse has, I'm afraid, restricted many of his responses to the drab "STFU." Since he has been quite handsomely rewarded for this behavior, it should come as no surprise that there are a number of STFU wannabes.

I did a little googling and discovered that there is an actual STFU "clique"—which goes to show the need for more employment in this country. I do not know if my STFU is a member, but one suspects that he or she may be interested in fashion, since the writer's email address conjures up "style points."

Ah, Fashion! Always new, always fresh (unless, of course, it's retro)! I try to keep up, but there's just so-o much of it! I've written about it on occasion. And if I can ever work my way through the panoply of genocides past and present that present themselves as topics, I hope to be able to turn my attention to fashion full time.

Now what kind of right-winger do we have here? Religious zealot, good ol' boy, neocon power monger, corporate automaton or idle wealth?

I'm inclined to dismiss the notion of a religious zealot out of hand because of the naughty word in the acronym. However, at the website you'll find links to both pornography and Christian Singles. Hand and glove, as they say. Still, the air of ennui, as opposed to fervor, disinclines me to the religious option.

Good ol' boy? Certainly not. Good ol' boys don't use words like "appalled," and if they ever tried, they would mispell it.

Neocon power monger? Neocons don't have time to read my blog. They leave tasks like that to the FBI and local police.

Corporate automaton? This is hard to rule out, since there is plenty of boredom in the belly of the corporate beast—videogames behind closed doors, whimsical tours of left-wing blogs, with maybe a little nappy-poo in between. Yet boredom isn't quite the same as ennui, at least as we use the word in English. Boredom easily arises out of the restrictions of the workplace whereas ennui arises out of something more psychological—a depressed Weltanschauung perhaps. And corporate automatons simply don't have Weltanschauungs, depressed or otherwise.

So that leaves us with Idle Wealth. Here all the elements come together—fashion, ennui, a kind of empty hipness à la Jenna and Babs Bush, and a general disdain for humanity.

The content

I recognize that too often I write elliptically, leaving my readers to connect the dots as they may. This is frequently for no better reason than that I am quite lazy. Except for a tiny remnant of a social conscience, you wouldn't find me anywhere near this blog; I would be sipping a tall drink with an umbrella in it while leafing through the pages of GQ the livelong day.

But the other reason for leaving the dots lying about all disconnected is that in some instances there are just too many permutations. So I toss out a tidbit that seems interesting and presume the readers can form their own damned gestalts.

I would place the Kerry item in this latter category. That the U.S. was arming the Khmer Rouge is not news to me, but that war hero and antiwar activist John Kerry was a participant is.

Here's a little quote from the NY Times 2004 Almanac on Cambodia, to which Kerry's comment on his services to the Khmer Rouge offers an interesting counterpoint—

Shaken by the Vietnam War in the 1960's, Cambodia broke relations with the United States in 1965 because of South Vietnamese incursions across the border. In 1969 relations were restored when Sihanouk charged North Vietnam with arming the Khmer Rouge Cambodian Communist rebels. In the same year, American planes began secret bombing raids in Cambodia. In 1970 Sihanouk was ousted by a coup led by pro-U.S. Gen. Lon Nol; the monarchy was abolished, and Prince Sihanouk went into exile.

Well, I just said that American involvement with the Khmer Rouge wasn't news, but perhaps I misspoke, because it would certainly be news to anyone who relied upon the NY Times Almanac.

Now in fairness to Kerry and the CIA, the Khmer Rouge hadn't really hit its stride in 1969. And since we know from our recent experience in Iraq that the CIA is the last to learn what's going on inside a foreign country, a generous interpretation of American involvement would say that the Americans thought this was a movement to bring democracy to the Cambodians.

The Times Almanac tells us what happened next—

In April 1975 the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, captured the capital, Phnom Penh, and established a new government, the Kampuchean People's Republic. In an ensuing reign of terror, an estimated 3 million people died and hundreds of thousands more fled to refugee camps in Thailand.

All of which makes me wonder if Pol Pot was ever observed shooting prisoners in cold blood with a number of policemen and Americans ranged about. If that were the case, we might have to question the sincerity of the American position.

That seems to be what Anthony C. LoBaido was doing in 2000 in the pages of—can this be true? the pages of the right-wing WorldNetDaily.

Pol Pot and his cadres were responsible for the murder of 1.7 million Cambodians in the Killing Fields genocide perpetrated between 1975 and 1979.

Yet, in the ensuing quarter century, not a single Khmer Rouge soldier or leader has been brought to trial or justice. Pol Pot died in 1998.

Now, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen -- a former Khmer Rouge leader who defected to the Vietnamese side -- is negotiating with the U.N. in an effort to get the world body to approve of Cambodia's handling of the upcoming trials of two Khmer Rouge leaders.

Hun Sen, whose son recently graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, is reluctant to give operational control of the trials to the U.N. He points out that the U.N. gave Pol Pot a seat in exile during the 1980s, after Hun Sen's Vietnamese Communist government invaded Cambodia and overthrew the Khmer Rouge. Hun Sen wants a trial, "run by Cambodians to judge Cambodian subjects."

While Hun Sen and Annan spar over legal minutiae at the United Nations meetings in Bangkok, WorldNetDaily continues to piece together the involvement of the British Special Air Service and the U.S. Special Forces in supplying and training the Khmer Rouge.

Between 1985 and 1989, the British SAS trained anti-Vietnamese Cambodians in sabotage and other soldiering skills -- yet never trained any Khmer Rouge killers. Indeed, the British soldiers trained only those Cambodians loyal to the former deposed Cambodian King.

However, recent interviews and research in regard to alleged American involvement with the Khmer Rouge have brought new developments to this twisted tale of genocidal insanity.

Nina Morrison, a former pilot with the CIA front company Air America, refused to undertake any flights to arm and supply the Khmer Rouge.

"The SAS were there doing training in Cambodia all right," Morrison told WorldNetDaily. "Just like they were involved recently in East Timor."

"The world in general has become a lot more complicated. As such, journalism must also adapt and become more thorough and complex to put all of the missing pieces together. In regard to the Khmer Rouge, this is dangerous work indeed," said Morrison. "True history has a way of disappearing into the night." [emphasis added]

Indeed it does.

In regard to the alleged American involvement with the Khmer Rouge, Morrison added, "I do not have words to express my disappointment in our government's position in world affairs, for it does not reflect the foundation upon which this great Republic was created."

Well, this is all fine and good, but in the meanwhile there are war crime trials to be held and justice to be meted out to the evildoers of the world. As former Attorney General Ramsey Clark said so recently on NPR,

You can stop anybody on the street and they can recite to you all the terrible things that all these people have been alleged to have done. But that just doesn't overcome the fact that the truth is hard to find in these matters.

Particularly apt when you think of former U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry ferrying arms to the Khmer Rouge.

Previous post
Speaking of war criminals: John Kerry in Cambodia

Related posts
The magic word: Genocide (9/13/04)
Powell's follow-up on Sudanese genocide (9/15/04)
First comment from an idiot (9/23/04)
Anti-war is in fashion again (10/06/04)


German state cooperates with Turkey to deny Armenian genocide

I recently wrote about an insurance settlement here in the U.S. to victims of the Armenian genocide. Subsequently I received an email from Yessem of Reseaunate blog, who is trying to call attention to a serious case of Armenian holocaust denial going on in Germany at the behest of the Turkish government.

Yessem has more here.

Related post
Insurer pays Armenians—90 years later (1/27/05)

Monday, January 31, 2005


Quote of the Day

By definition, constitutional limitations often, if not always, burden the abilities of government officials to serve their constituencies. Although this nation must unquestionably take strong action under the leadership of the Commander in Chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats, that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over two hundred years.
—Judge Joyce Hens Green in ruling on the unconstitutionality of the Guantánamo military tribunals

District court says Guantánamo tribunals unconstitutional

I don't usually do breaking news, but this is too good to pass up. From the Jurist,
US District Judge Joyce Hens Green has ruled that the Guantanamo military tribunals for terror suspects are unconstitutional, and that Guantanamo prisoners have constitutional protections under the law. Judge Green said that the eleven plaintiff before her in a co-ordinated habeas proceedings had valid Fifth Amendment claims and that the proceedings conducted by Combatant Status Review Tribunals [DOD fact sheet] to determine if they were "enemy combatants" violated their due process right....

Judge Green's ruling appears to conflict directly with a ruling earlier this month by US District Judge Richard Leon concluding that Guantanamo detainees had no constitutional rights [JURIST report], setting the stage for an appeal to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.


Speaking of war criminals: John Kerry in Cambodia

John Kerry was on "Meet the Press" yesterday. At one point Tim Russert was asking him about the Swift Boat Veterans' allegation that he was not in Cambodia on Christmas Eve of '68.

While allowing that he may have gotten the exact day confused, he made this astonishing remark—

RUSSERT: And you have a hat that a CIA agent gave you?

KERRY: I still have the hat that he gave me, and I hope the guy would come out of the woodwork and say, "I'm the guy who went up with John Kerry. We delivered weapons to the Khmer Rouge on the coastline of Cambodia. We went out of Ha Tien, which is right in Vietnam. We went north up into the border." And I have some photographs of that. And that's what we did. [emphasis added]

When it comes to killing their own people the Khmer Rouge made Saddam Hussein look like Jimmy Carter.

I can't find any other comment that Kerry has made on exactly what the CIA was doing. During the Swift Boat brouhaha, Jim Kaplan at Slate gave this quote from the Washington Post

There's a secret compartment in Kerry's briefcase. He carries the black attache everywhere. Asked about it on several occasions, Kerry brushed it aside. Finally, trapped in an interview, he exhaled and clicked open his case.

"Who told you?" he demanded as he reached inside. "My friends don't know about this."

The hat was a little mildewy. The green camouflage was fading, the seams fraying.

"My good luck hat," Kerry said, happy to see it. "Given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia."

Kaplan notes that—
It is certain that by this time [Christmas 1968], the United States had long been making secret incursions across the border. This is from Page 24 of William Shawcross' 1979 book, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia:
Since May 1967, when the U.S. Military Command in Saigon became concerned at the way the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were evading American "search and destroy" and air attacks in Vietnam by making more use of bases in Laos and Cambodia, the U.S. Special Forces had been running special, highly classified missions into the two countries. Their code name was Daniel Boone.

The circumstances at least suggest that Kerry was indeed involved in a "black" mission, even if he had never explicitly made that claim. And why would he make such claims if he hadn't been? It was neither a glamorous nor a particularly admirable mission—certainly nothing to boast of. [emphasis added]

I guess not. It's unfortunate that there weren't any reporters on "Meet the Press" to ask about this.

Follow-up post
Comments from an idiot II—Can you tell which is which?

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Ramsey Clark on international justice; Bill Clinton on Saddam

Scott Simon interviewed Ramsey Clark on NPR Saturday. According to Wikipedia, Clark was the 66th U.S. Attorney General under Lyndon Johnson—

.... [H]e supervised the federal presence at Ole Miss during the week following the admission of James Meredith; surveyed all school districts in the South desegregating under court order (1963); supervised federal enforcement of the court order protecting the march from Selma to Montgomery; and headed the Presidential task force to Watts following the riots. He went on to supervise the drafting and executive role in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1968. As Attorney-General, Clark also opposed the government's use of wiretaps.

Following his term he worked as a law professor and was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He visited North Vietnam in 1972. In 1974 he was the Democratic Party's candidate for the United States Senate from New York but lost to Jacob Javits.

Not a bad legacy. And what a contrast to the current piece of crap waiting in the wings for the post of Attorney General!

But it's his activities defending the presumed scum of the earth that has him so hated and vilified by the right. He has offered to be legal counsel for Saddam Hussein, which Hussein has apparently accepted, though Clark hasn't been able to meet with his client.

Scott Simon asked him to justify himself—

Simon: .... What about those people who would say that whatever treatment he has received it's certainly been better than that that he has accorded to hundreds of thousands of political prisoners over the years?

Clark: If the theory is that one wrong justifies another then there'll be no end of wrongs.

Certainly it's harder for Americans... One of the greatest problems that we have is demonization.

I think it's always been necessary to demonize an enemy for soldiers because you just don't have the heart to kill somebody unless you think they're a demon or bad or evil or are going to hurt you or something. We've had a long history of it.

But now the demonization is relentless. You can stop anybody on the street and they can recite to you all the terrible things that all these people have been alleged to have done. But that just doesn't overcome the fact that the truth is hard to find in these matters. Very often fault can be shared. Demonization makes it seem that all wrong and "evil," as President Bush likes to say, is all on one side. I don't really believe in evil. I think we have people who do terrible things. But if you call people evil, you're prepared to crush them. And that's not good for peace.

Simon: .... What are some of the lessons you think that maybe you can pass on?

Clark: The first is—and it's founded in international law—that you have to have a legal court that's, as the law says, competent, which means it's legally constituted, that's independent and that itself is personally impartial. Because if you don't have those three qualities you're probably wasting your time in the trial because it's not going to be a fair trial, so what's the point?

Now if you look at the court that's been set up in Iraq. That court was created by the U.S. We chose the group that chose the court. So both in fact and appearance who could possibly have confidence in that court being competent or independent or impartial?

Like the Rwanda court—There's not been a single Tutsi prosecuted in the ICTR (Internation Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda). Yet the former prime minister—the first prime minister under the present government—says that more Hutus were killed than Tutsis, but no Tutsi has been indicted or charged with anything. Now what kind of justice is that? And what kind of reconciliation is possible when only one side gets prosecuted and both sides have been deeply involved in the tragedy that happened there.

Simon: What's your answer to people who in press accounts refer to you as "the dictator's best friend"1 ..."the war criminal's best friend"? —And these were accounts even before Saddam Hussein.

Clark: Well, I'd say they're hard up for friends—which I'm sure the people who call me that would say is justice, [that] they shouldn't have friends. You know all my life ... I thought that the major challenge and duty is to those least likely to get a fair trial and those for whom a fair trial is most important to society. And if that's being a dictator's best friend, so be it. [my transcription]

Clark is urging Bush's impeachment and is affiliated with Perhaps if articles of impeachment are drawn—or better, if Bush is indicted—Clark will offer to serve as his counsel. It would be just like him.

Clinton on Saddam

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton has been letting his hair down in Davos. This remark on Charlie Rose a couple of nights ago has put the right in a froth.

... [M]ost of the terrible things that Saddam Hussein did in the 1980s he did with the full, knowing support of the United States government. Because he wasn't Iran, and Iran was what it was because we got rid of their parliamentary democracy back in the '50s. At least that's my belief. I know it is not popular for an American ever to say anything like this, but I think it is true."

Related post
Torture-monger for Attorney General?


1 See the 1999 Salon article "Ramsey Clark, the war criminal's best friend"

Ian Williams writes,

The former U.S. attorney general has become the tool of left-wing cultists who defend Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and Rwandan torturers as anti-imperialist heroes.

.... Many liberals and leftists cut Clark a considerable degree of slack. For a start he is almost the only person the American left has had in high public office since World War II, even if it was a retrospective success, since his long march leftward only began afterward. His views as the former attorney general are listened to with a respect that would be accorded to few others with such eccentric opinions. As a revered spokesman of the left, he is a perfect symbol for its near-impotence in American politics today.

To which I say, to the latter point, "We'll see." [back]


Quote of the Day

Kerry did not, actually, offer a credible and coherent alternative
—George Soros, spilling the beans at Davos (via Taegan Goddard)

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