Thursday, June 30, 2005

Iraq--Most Important Resource in War on Terror

With the major arrests of top-level terrorist leaders recently in various cities around Iraq (most notably this guy and most recently this guy), and including the live rescue in Baghdad (pop. 6 million) of the Australian hostage a couple weeks ago, I'm led to believe that what we're seeing right now might be the beginning of a very competent counter-terrorist intelligence service in the Iraqi military/government. I believe that the Iraqi experience is a corollary to the Israeli experience in this regard. Think about how the Israeli intelligence services (i.e. Mossad) came to be the most highly capable intelligence operation in the world during the relatively short amount of time that they've existed; they've lived with terrorism next door and have been consistently dealing with it since the sixties. And the proximity makes every Israeli citizen connected to the conflict in some way. Now think about the all the experience and know-how that the fledgling Iraqi forces have been getting for 2 years now, living in the cauldron of terrorism, and their direct involvement in operating in what has become, literally, the front line in the war on terror (not to mention the world-class training they're receiving). What are we now seeing from it? Fruit, and it's bearing big-time high-level fruit, both figuratively and literally (could be true--after all, Arafat literally was a fruit). In thinking about where Iraqi intelligence capabilities could be in the next five years, I do not think it would be a stretch to say that they could be even more important than Israeli intelligence in that part of the globe, if not in proficiency then certainly in effectiveness. I say this because the Iraqi's have one simple, major advantage: they're Arabs living in an Arab state! Plus, like every Israeli citizen, every Iraqi citizen becomes somehow connected to the fight against terrorism because they live with it and see its evil crimes with their own eyes. It has been said that Pakistan is America's most key ally in this war for similar logistical reasons, which is a valid point. But they are not Arabs who can infiltrate or even necessarily understand the culture of the Arab states, the origin of past, current and future terrorism, and where 90% of it still festers. Turning Iraq into our ally (a true ally in the popular-Iraq sense) has got to be one of the smartest, most clever and ingenious things that American planners have ever whipped up, and it's one more reason why the fight for Iraq is vital, and for which the war on terror will ultimately be decisive.

Update: With developments like these, one wonders whether Cheney may have had inside info when he recently talked about the "insurgents" being in their "last throes", because that is a very bold thing for a vice-president to say, especially when considering that he's right near the top of the decision-making that moves things in their direction.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Once Again, Sex Crimes Against Kids Are No Big Deal

In Gray v. Bourne, 2005 Va App LEXIS 237, the Virginia Court of Appeals recently allowed a convicted sex offender of children to adopt a child over the express objections of the child's natural parents. The court held that the fact that the adoptive father pled guilty in 1997 to sexually battering an 11 year old girl and then failed to register on Virginia's sex offender website was not significant enough to make the biological parents' objection that the adoption would be against their child's best interests plausible. Rather, the court affirmed the trial court's ludicrous ruling that the biological parents were acting against their child's best interest when they sought to prevent the child sex offender from adopting their son.

There are so many bases for outrage that it is difficult to decide where to start.

First, the court took pains to minimize the 1997 child sexual battery guilty plea by laying out the facts as the molester presented them, (as if a child molester would not provide self-serving testimony of his crime.) According to the molester, he lay down in bed with his girlfriend's eleven year old daughter, fell asleep, and awoke to find that he had an erection and had placed the little girl's hand on his penis. Just while he was sleeping, so basically the whole thing was just a sonambulatory accident. The court says nothing about the little girl's side of the story, but that doesn't matter because children can't be trusted to accurately report abuse. So the sexual battery of a child thing is just no big deal. (The police and prosecutors, however, had originally charged him with aggravated sexual battery against a minor and lowered the charge pursuant to a plea agreement. You've got to wonder what facts the police and prosecutors had to indict on aggravated sexual battery in the first place.)

Second, in a move with which we are all now well-familiar, the court relied on social science to further bolster its attempt to minimize the molestation charge. One psychologist interviewed the molster and reported that "his sexual interests were within normal limits." Since the results of these "tests" for sexual deviancy are based on what the molester reports about his sex acts and attractions, how reliable can they possibly be? (Doctor: Do you want to have sex with young children? Molester: No. Doctor: He's cured! None of our hokus pokus treatment is necessary!) The court went on to agree with the brilliant psychologist that the molester "gets some bonus points for having a clean record since 1998." Give a star to this molester! He is well within average range of non-reporting of child abuse in this country!

A third point of outrage incidental to the whole thing is the apparent lack of punishment for the 1997 offense. (Of course, this is not surprising. You need only go to any sex offender registry to see the outrageously short time frame between convictions, demonstrating not only high recidivism, but the fact that these predators are already out of jail in time to offend, get caught, and be convicted. Or, if they only have one charge, the fact that the charge was recent and the current address is not a prison.)

I do not know how long Bourne went to jail, or if he went to jail at all, but I do know that he was not in jail in 2000 when his new girlfriend's ex-husband raised concerns about the molester's sex offender status in the couple's custody hearing. The praise for not having offended since 1998 leads me to assume that he was out by then, meaning he was in jail for a few months to a year.

What kind of message are we sending to sexual predators when we punish sexual battery of a child with less than 3 years in jail? What does that say about the value we place on women and children in our society when sexually abusing them carries a penalty lower than many property crimes or non-violent crimes?

Finally, the court purported to be carrying out the wishes of the state legislature, holding that because the statute that requires convicted sex offenders to register with the state for ten years is silent on the subject of those sex offenders' eligibility to adopt children, it must mean that the legislature felt that offenders should be able to do so. The court would not defy the legislature on such a matter by finding otherwise!

The stupidity of that logic is so vast that, again, it is hard to know where to start--or stop. So I will just point out one of the many criticisms that could be made, (besides the fact that adoption is fairly irrelevant to registering on a website, and thus it is not silent consent to such adoption for the legislature to have failed to include a provision about the collateral issue.) The statute establishing the offender registry states that it was enacted "to protect . . . communities and families from repeat sex offenders and to protect children from becoming victims of criminal offenders by helping to prevent such individuals from being allowed to work directly with children." Va. Code 9.1-900. Clearly, accoring to the court, adopting a child is not included in "work[ing] directly with children." The legislature has spoken, indeed.

In sum, the Virginia courts have essentially held that parents whose parental rights are apparently being terminated because of drug convictions (and I am not saying here that that is necessarily the wrong move) are acting against the best interests of their son in objecting to his being adopted by a convicted child molester. Better a molester than a drug user to raise a child, of course. Thus, being a convicted child sex abuser is not sufficient grounds for a biological parent to object to your adopting their child. This is the age of tolerance, after all.

Tom addzz: Bienvenido, Alexandra, I was wondering when you'd finally post. I was hoping that you'd list 5 or more points of outrage because that would officially beat your record of the 4 times that you were officially outraged (offended) at the Battle of the Sexes game that we all played that night at Monroe's. But seriously though, good post. I'll admit, your professional, legal articulation puts my freestylin' azz to shame.

Monday, June 27, 2005

INFDL and drogas perjudiciales

Some of the editors here at INFDL take the view that legalizing drugs is a good answer to many of america's problems (at least I think some of you do). I don't share the same degree of enthusiasm for it, but I certainly share some of the ideas (cutting crime literally in half, ending mucho expensivo drug war, don't think weed is more harmful than alcohol, etc.). But for me the sticking point to legalizing drugs is crystal meth, because this piece of shit drug creates monsters capable of extreme violence. Now, I have nothing to prove this, and I'm just a gamblin' man when I say this, but I'd bet a huge portion of violent crime and murders are the result of zombies cranked on meth (who haven't slept in 4 days, and who are numb in mind and heart). I take into account the huge increase in meth use that's been reported when I claim this. And let's no forget to mention, if crystal meth were ever legal, we might have more people in America smiling and speaking (and serving you your tacos or processing your bank loan or buttering your pancakes at Denny's) with chompers as showcased in this article from the old grey nutsack. So, since it appears that nobody at INFDL has had anything they'd like to say in over a week (what up with our poor performance last week bros?), feel free to begin dialogue on the issue of legalizing drugs and/or anything else about drugzz (or, of course, stories about crazy-ass-meth-heads and all the extra meth money they'll be getting from the tooth ferry).

Noah Adds: I don’t favor broad drug legalization, but I do support the right of states to legalize drugs if they choose. I also think that it would be a good idea to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use by adults. This would be on an experimental basis. Also, I don’t think prison is a good punishment for casual drug use. If you’re doing drugs without hurting anyone (besides yourself) you shouldn’t go to jail. (On the other hand, if your drug use leads to child neglect, DWI’s or taking a crap on a public street, you should go to jail.)

As for the lack of posting . . . I’m afraid that it’s possible my slowdown may be permanent. My employers are suddenly making the unreasonable demand that I work for my “wages.” (I put the word in quotation marks because my “wages” are pathetic. Still, they’re more than I actually deserve . . . as my formerly prolific posting during work hours so amply demonstrates.) Also, the day after tomorrow I’m going on vacation in the Red Triangle. Pray that the sharks don’t eat me . . .

Tom adds: sorry to hear that, Noay. Working for $$$ really sucks, and I've spent my whole life trying to figure out that riddle (I hear that "working" for the city of New York is a pretty easy ride--and one reason they'll never get out of debt). Your views on the legalization of doobies (aka MARIJUANA CIGARETTES!!!!!) on a trial basis seems pretty reasonable, with all the same rules being applied (like public intoxication). To me, the best reason to legalize drugs would be to end so much crime, and though just legalizing doobies wouldn't necessarily do that, it would end the assinine imprisonment of the pot-takers and the rollers of doobies, which is much needed. I hope that the "work" thing doesn't interfere too much with your internet surfing and other observations while at "work" which have contributed in a mighty hefty way to INFDL and kept it alive during many dry spells from the rest of our asses.

Sean adds: I find myslef on a similar situation to Noah--all work no play. I should emerge soon, though. On the subject of the sticky-icky: Legalize it. There's no reason that I (not that I would ever, ever, ever smoke dat shit) as an adult shouldn't be able to smoke Herb or Juniper Bark or wheat-grass or my Chuck Taylor All-stars. Does that mean that I advocate the legalization of Crystal and its attendant dental pleasures? Absolutely not.

I remember a conversation I had with Alexandra a few months back. She asked me why I would like to see the Owl legalized and not, say, Heroine. My answer goes something like this: as a gun enthusiast, I enjoy discharging a nice Heckler and Koch 40. Does that mean I advocate selling Nitro Glicerin at Smiths? No. The simple fact is that there are different levels of destructiveness that each and every drug posesses. Heroine can destroy the heart. Meth can destroy the brain, the lungs, your very muscles and your teeth. Cocaine turns you into an asshole. All of the afore mentioned drugs can lead to extreme crime.

Weed? It makes you hungry and you say ",man" alot. Besides, Cocaine and Heroine are already legal as medicine (oxycontin, anyone?)

Also, I still believe that the more important part aspect of Gomzales vs Raiche is the issue of over-reaching federal power and the chilling effect that the decision had on the concept of federalism.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Send me to Washington, I've got the secret!

Can somebody puh-lease tell me what credentials one must posess to get elected senator? Apparently an IQ just above average levels, though not completely absent on the floors in D.C., is not a pre-requisite. So says me after reading about the senator, Dick Durbin, who, while on the senate floor (a place venerated for years for its great and famous debates) , called the Guantanamo guards the N word; Nazis! Personally I believe that anyone who genuinely tries to futher their arguments by comparing anyone or anything to nazis must immediately surrender any credibility they might have had before. And I'm absolutely serious! Fuckin A I could be a senator if that's all the F I have to do. For a sweet deal like that (high salary, pension, capitol hill groupies, cocktail parties) I'd call everybody nazis (even the mayor)! Forrealz, is it any wonder that two of our senators got their asses handed to them by George Galloway last month? Because from what the Dick Durbin example reveals to us, they don't necessarily have to know how to competently argue a point it seems. Think I'm overgeneralizing a whole group based on one guy's incredibly juvenile argument skills? Think again. Think Ted Kennedy! A simple Google search will provide plenty of evidence. So there's two now, take that! Elected officials in general, those that fill the myriad statewide and municpal capacities, are one thing. But national office? These are the ones people around the world think are your best and brightest! You don't send the county fair queen to represent your state in the Miss America contest! But some states do, it seems. But seriously, it is a crime against basic intelligence to be ignorant of the scope of the thing, like the Nazi or Gulag camps, that you're comparing other things to. Not to mention a crime against the real victims of those very real circumstances that they endured or to which they succumbed. And from a United States Senator! One of the supposed "distinguished gentlemen". Who'da thunk. Public discourse really took a dive once the nazis came around and gave everyone a "point of reference".

Noah Adds: Dave Barry brings up the tactic of comparing your opponents to Adolph Hitler in his classic piece on how to win arguments.

"Poking in the Chest with the Finger"

James Lileks mocks the Time Guantanamo prisoner abuse story with hilarious precision. Also, he references Monty Python.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

An Unpalatable Cocktail

Am I the only person irritated by the way the AP decided to report the story of Douglass Wood’s rescue? Here’s the first paragraph of their report:

Iraqi troops, backed by U.S. forces, freed an Australian hostage after six weeks in captivity, officials said Wednesday. The release came as a suicide bomber dressed in an Iraqi army uniform blew himself up in a mess hall north of Baghdad, killing at least 25 Iraqi soldiers and injuring 27.

What the hell does the suicide bomber have to do with the rescue of Douglass Wood? I know that the wire services like to lump the catalogue of Iraq horrors together in their daily dispatches from the war zone, but the rescue of Douglass Wood is a story filled with drama, excitement and joy. It's a story that clearly deserves to stand alone.

The AP headlined the Douglas Wood rescue with this: “Iraqi, U.S. Forces Free Australian Hostage,” and then a mere one sentence into their tale of military derring-do they ditch it to give us two and a half paragraphs on Baghdad bombings. They then return to the hostage rescue, before going back to the bombings yet again for another 10 paragraphs.

These are two separate stories that have no connection to one another. It would make as much sense to combine at random any other two stories in today’s headlines. For example:

Thousands of people have been arrested across Ethiopia after violent clashes in which police killed 36 people, a New York-based human rights group reported Wednesday. The clashes came as Tom Cruise said his romance with Katie Holmes is the real deal.

The only explanation is that the AP, with its standard MSM anti-war bias, intentionally soiled a bit of good news in order to prevent it from making their readership feel any better about Iraq. It’s a pathetically petty tactic.

Tom adds: the anti-war people that write and edit this news know very well that they'll never change the present course of events, and the potentially huge impact that these events will have, through the typical means of anti-war demonstrations, sloganeering, or shouting down the Governator giving a speech. They know very well that the best way to acheive their goals is to negatively spin the war in every aspect in the attempt to influence as much pessimism and defeatism and "we're-just-making-things-worse"-ism as they can. And since much of this war isn't about military battles, but rather a war of competing ideas, these writers and editors know they have alot of power in their hands to accomplish it. In light of this, I'd like to share what my esteemed General William Tecumseh Sherman had to say about the press:
I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast. Could very well be true, Bill T.
On another note, does the fact that the American and Iraqi forces had good enough intelligence to find a live hostage say anything worthy of print? Guess not.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Finally, a List we might all be able to agree on!

I've just been looking at Discovery Channel's list of 100 greatest americans. Where the F do I even start? Alright let's try to start with this fact: of the 100, about 45 are still living! (and about 10 of those are only recently deceased--among them Johnny Carson). So with that being said, I guess one could deduce with not too much difficulty most of the 45 living greatest americans of all time. Some of my favorites include: Ellen, Oprah, Martha, Madonna, Jacko, Favre, let's not forget Heff, Cruise, and one to never be forgotten in the hearts of his countrymen: DR. PHIL!!! Barack Obama made the list. But hasn't he been a senator for only, like, 4 weeks or something? James Madison? Who needs him! U.S. Grant? Yeah, what'd he ever do! At least Martha tells me how to arrange a bouquet and makes me feel real good inside. Now I'm disapointed that Delilah didn't make it, the one that plays the love songs on the radio where cheesedick husbands can embarrass themselves by calling in and affirming their love to their "other" on-air. But at least they got John Edwards on the list where he belongs. I mean, who else has a comparable talent of winning tens of millions of bucks suing doctors by welling up with tears to emotionally bond with the juries? Huh? Actually, I could honestly put Edwards on my own list of top 100 Greatest American Pieces of Shit. Now of course, a list like this would have to exclude all the REAL and TRUE pieces of shit in America, like murderers and abusers, and this woman. One exception to this rule will be that it's permissible to include The Juice. Yes he's a murderer, but not just any murderer (as opposed to the Billy Earl Randolph's and Rudy Ray Watson's) since he's also a public figure, so he counts. Plus, even without the murders he committed, he's still a total slimeball. Have you seen any of his interviews in the past 10 years? Though his idea of a "Juice" reality show version of Punk'd sounds a bit entertaining for the simple reason of absolute shock value: imagine that you've just been "punk'd", and itstead of Ashton Kuthcher coming out to reveal the gag, it's OJ, and you've just been "Juiced"! That's some real Twilight Zone shit! Anyway, back to the list. Anyone can participate, readers and INFDL contributors alike. So please, feel free to submit entries into the top 100 Greatest American Pieces of Shit of all-time. If this get's some good participation, I'll put 'em all together and make it neat, and maybe even tally up the votes. Here, I'll add another: the Supreme Court Chief Justice that oversaw the Dred Scott case. Now there's a real piece-o-shit!

Sean's first entry: Black Eyed Peas. Every one of them. Who do they think they are kidding? Let me guess, they just happened upon each other in a night club one day and everybody happend to be a different color of the world-wide rainbow? We all knew immediately that they were the new Menudo when they kicked out that stoopid anti-war song with Justin Timbercrack. Yes, I know the lady knows how to shake it, but that's no excuse for changing the name of "Let's Get Retarded in Here" to "Let's Get it Started in Here" so as not to offend any mongoloids.

Brigham's entry: Following on Sean's line of thought here, I would like to nominate another musician: Alanis Morissette. The timing is perfect on this one, not only is it the 10th anniversary of her piece of crap Jagged Little Pill (apologies to John McDonald, owner of the masterwork) but Alanis recently (as noted by Noah earlier) qualified herself for the list by becoming an American citizen (I need to get someone at Dep't of Homeland Security on the line about that). Maybe she knew that it would be much, much more difficult to make the 100 Biggest Pieces of Canadian Crap List so she went for a country where the competition is less stiff. In a recent interview, Ms. Morissette explained that "there's a timelessness about the songs from 'Jagged Little Pill.'" I think we all know that the only timeless nature of the album is exactly what qualifies her for Tom's list: the album is a piece of crap and always will be.

Tomzz third entry: this kind of pains me to do this, since I've long thought this guy was the complete shizzle. But Sean Penn has dissapointed me too much lately with his overt "worldwide victims of America" motifs. I was somewhat forgiving of his traveling to Iraq before the war as a "special correspondent" for the SF Chronicle to report on his state-sponsored tour where he was shown all the candy and rainbows and unicorns in Iraq, because that was his first offense. Then I saw his movie The Assassination of Richard Nixon, which was, honestly, a movie that really tried to show, on a very emotional level, how committing terrorist-style mass-murder can be seen as justified or, at the very least, "understood". Now he's in Iran, again as a "reporter", reporting on the Iranian elections, and I just CAN'T WAIT to hear how he calls those. I sincerely hope that one, two, or one hundred of the fiercely pro-American Iranian students see him on the streets and tell him to go fuck himself.
BQC adds: Two more reasons to vault Mr. Penn to the top of your list. First, this letter that he wrote to Trey Parker and Matt Stone in which Penn (kettle) accuses of Parker and Stone (collectively "black") of being "above it all." Penn then writes, "It's all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well, to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world." What is going to lead to these horrific results? The reelection of George W. Bush of course. Does Penn think that he is actually the one keeping it real? Second, and a possibly premature justification, but in Penn's travels to Iran he had his video camera temporarily confiscated by Iranian authorities as he tried to videotape Iranian women demanding the right to vote. Do you have any doubt that Penn will liken his treatment in Iran to the treatment that honest people like himself face in the United States under the disembowling-loving Bush regime?

Noah Adds: James Buchanan, Aaron Burr, Benedict Arnold, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. These people all did HUGE damage.

Sean's adjusted list: Noam Chomsky, who idolized the Khmer Rouge to the point that once everybody realized the kind of human slaughtering operation they were running, Chomsky was forced under a rock for a decade. May he return to said rock shortly. Also, that clown from Coldplay. Not only does he get to poke Gwyneth, but he's also a cheap knock-off of U2. He obviously idolizes Bono, perhaps coveting Bono's strange position as rock's representative to the UN. Let's not forget Kobe Bryant who, like a douchebag whoes cup overfloweth, just couldn't bring himself to admit that Shaq was the man who begat three rings. Last but certainly not least is the man who I consider the clowniest of the clowns, Bill Maher. 'nuff said.

Yo...

TommAy!
TommAy: whatup dogg (as American Idol's Randy Jackson would say it)

Now that was a bitchin' rant....

Angry, yet contained. Profane but profound. Noah lets loose on the war on drugs and makes some fine points about the constitution in the process. I would add to his observations about the Washington Times a rather strange incident I recall from a few years ago involving the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

A few unsuspecting congressmen (including our very own Chris Cannon) were invited to a function in one of the senate buildings and were treated to the anointing of the Reverend as the one true Messiah. As many of those on the official invite list scrambled to distance themselves from this particular incident, it struck me how truly bizarre Washington can be, a point driven home to me last week by the Supreme Court.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Butterflies

I have posted Chapter 6 of Uncle Theo. In this chapter we witness the debut of our hero’s infomercial and see its effect on Linda Sandoval. Will Toby win her over? You’ll just have to read to find out.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

What has Robert Charles Been Smoking?

Generally I’m not a guy who cares very much about the medical marijuana issue. I think that pot should be legal for medical uses, and even for recreational use. But I’ve never smoked pot and I don’t intend to ever do so (unless I get sick and marijuana will help me manage pain and increase appetite. In which case you’ll find me with a huge Bob Marley stogie stuffed in my pie hole).

Despite my history of apathy however, I’m steamed about the Supreme Court’s outrageously anti-federalist medicinal marijuana decision. And today a Washington Times op-ed by some character named Robert Charles pissed me off even further. There’s hardly a sentence in the entire piece that isn’t a distortion, half truth or an outright lie.

Take, for example, the following:

The so-called "medical marijuana movement," led by cleaned-up former hippies and underwritten by three or four wealthy anti-establishment millionaires, including George Soros, seems to have been intended to find a back door into the federal legislative, federal law enforcing, and federal regulatory process -- one that logically, sensibly and thankfully forbids the production, sale and distribution of narcotics.

First of all, dragging George Soros into the argument in order to discredit the proponents of medical marijuana is pathetic. Has Charles forgotten that his little article is appearing in The Washington Times, a publication owned by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Moonies? Talk about a pot with a glass house writing a note on a brick and throwing it at a kettle (“Dear Kettle: You’re black.”)

And what’s this “back door” to federal law that Charles is talking about? He considers the Constitution of the United States of America - the greatest political document ever written - to be nothing more than a “back door” to federal law and regulation? Excuse me while I vomit in the trash can next to my desk . . .

The janitor is going wonder what the hell happened when he empties it later (he’ll also wonder how I can be alive while subsisting entirely on Mike & Ikes and Diet Pepsi.)

But it gets worse:

To the clever few, a possibility of tricking the vast majority of Americans into supporting a colossal change in society's approach to a substance that measurably lowers human immunities, thus leading to early death for those with AIDS; (Shouldn’t AIDS patients decide for themselves if the benefits of Marijuana outweigh the risks in their specific situation?) creates direct and polydrug addition; (If you’re dying of cancer a possible marijuana addiction is the least of your problems. And the “polydrug addiction” argument is pure horseshit) accounts for the greatest number of young people in drug treatment today; (medical pot laws wouldn’t provide teens with drugs, unless they were sick) contributes to tens of thousands of emergency room incidents annually; (The people benefiting from medical marijuana laws are always in the hospital anyway so what’s the problem?) and alters personalities and brain function (for the better in the case of Ms. Raich, the Defendant in the recent case) -- seemed just too good to be true (It was too good to be true, thanks to Congress and the Supreme Court).

Charles goes on and on in this vein before ending with this:

As a people, we have long respected those we elect to craft federal criminal laws, and we rightly revere those who defend us by enforcing them. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Supreme Court takes a similar view. Neither our reverence for the rule of law and medical science, nor the Supreme Court's, is likely to change. You cannot fool all the people all the time.

Accordingly, the "medical pot" hoax is over.

As a people, we have respected the Founding Fathers, who crafted the Constitution, a hell of a lot more than we have revered the well-meaning jackasses who have crafted our federal drug policy.

And Charles is deluding himself if he thinks the so-called “’medical pot’ hoax” is over. Someday Congress will overturn its prohibition on medical marijuana. When that happens the federal government will impose its pro-pot view on the entire country and the states will not be able to decide for themselves whether or not they will ban the medicinal use of marijuana. On that day the decision in Gonzales v. Raich will become a trap for short-sighted buffoons like Robert Charles, and a psychedelic haze will enshroud America from coast to coast.

“Instead of the Cross, the Albatross . . .”

How much of Howard Dean are the Democrats willing to put up with? They chose the man in a fit of pique following the election and by now they’ve got to be wondering if they should have allowed their passions to cool (perhaps they should have used the “cooling saucer” of the Senate that we always hear about). “We betrayed ourselves by choosing a milquetoast like Kerry,” they said, “and now we need an out-of-control nut-job like Howard Dean at the helm!” So the Moveon.org types who had “bought” and “paid” for the Democratic Party got their wish and put their man in power.

The decision has proven a disaster. Dean was put in place largely because he was supposed to have discovered a magic method of using the internet to milk vast contributions from the Democratic Party’s cyber-teats. This has not occurred, the teats remain unmilked and the Dems have fallen far behind the GOP in fundraising. And while he fails to bring home the bacon (or even Spam); Dean makes wild remarks about how he “hates” Republicans and everything they stand for, and how the Republicans are “evil” and don’t work. Most recently, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, he has criticized the GOP for being “a white Christian party.” Apparently when he made that last remark he forgot that the 57% of the Democratic Party is comprised of white Christians (including himself). How does he think speaking of Christians in a dismissive way is going to endear him to the voting public? (Two-thirds of Americans are white Christians, and the vast majority of Hispanics and African Americans are Christian as well).

Dean isn’t bringing in much money and he’s making remarks sure to alienate the electorate. How long are the Dems going to leave this albatross wrapped around their necks? Nancy Pelosi defends him on the grounds that “he energizes the grass roots.” Supposedly this has always been Dean’s great strength, but how much energy is he really producing if it is insufficient to make them open their wallets?

Pelosi also says that Dean “just tells it the way he sees it . . . but that's what part of his appeal is.” The controversy surrounding Dean clearly shows, however, that many people don’t find him appealing at all, including many Democrats (such and Joe Biden and Diane Feinstein) who have distanced themselves from Dean and his remarks.

The fact is, Dean was a terrible choice, and the only reason the Dems haven’t tried to chuck him already is that they don’t want to hear Republican’s saying “I told you so.” But the longer they hang on to Dean the deeper he’ll drag them down. I hope they keep him forever because I’m really enjoying the spectacle.

Sean Adds: Heh, heh. He said "Cyber-teat".

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

One Monkey Typing on One Typrewriter Will Eventually Produce . . . Better Grades than John Kerry

During the presidential campaign we were told that Bush was a moron while Kerry was an intellectual and a “nuanced thinker.” Bush was mocked for his mediocre grades at Yale. Kerry, who also went to Yale, did not release his grades, and for good reason: they’re as mediocre as Bush’s.

In fact, in his first year in college Kerry, the intellectual giant, got four D’s. He got D’s in “geology, two history courses and political science.” Geology I understand, but Political Science! It’s the man’s bread and butter for goodness sakes! Bush only received one D at Yale (in astronomy). Kerry’s cumulative GPA was a 76. Bush’s average over his first three years (apparently we don’t have a record of his fourth) was 77.

So the chimp did slightly better than the genius.

Monday, June 06, 2005

No weed for the needy...

Gonzales v. Raich: the Supremes smacked down medicinal Mary-J today and with it any trace of Federalism left in America today. In the majority opinion, interstate commerce was (quite unnaturally, IMHO) sited as the main sticking point. Stevens wrote for the majority (thank the Volokhs):
As we stated in Wickard [v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111, 128–129 (1942)], even if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.” Id., at 125.
The feds had blurry standing on the interstate commerce clause, so they went micro:
We have never required Congress to legislate with scientific exactitude. When Congress decides that the total incidence’ ” of a practice poses a threat to a national market, it may regulate the entire class. See Perez, 402 U. S., at 154–155 (quoting Westfall v. United States, 274 U. S. 256, 259 (1927)
No money was paid, the weed was grown in California, and the weed market in Nevada, Utah, and Oregon was not affected (er...a friend told me). The supremes argued that fears of the California weed hitting the black market was justification for the implementation of the commerce clause. Scalia wrote:
That simple possession is a noneconomic activity is immaterial to whether it can be prohibited as a necessary part of a larger regulation. Rather, Congress’s authority to enact all of these prohibitions of intrastate controlled-substance activities depends only upon whether they are appropriate means of achieving the legitimate end of eradicating Schedule I substances from interstate commerce. By this measure, I think the regulation must be sustained. Not only is it impossible to distinguish “controlled substances manufactured and distributed intrastate” from controlled substances manufactured and distributed interstate,” but it hardly makes sense to speak in such terms. Drugs like marijuana are ungible commodities. As the Court explains, marijuana that is grown at home and possessed for personal use is never more than an instant from the interstate market— . . . .

Scalia's remarks would hold water if I thought that people were really looking to funnel the Med Mary-J from California into the western weed market at large. This is hogwash. Weed can be had by anyone at almost anytime in almost anyplace in America. We are talking about a huge market. To suggest that Med-weed could even make a small dent in the many thousands of pounds of Owl toked by Americans is plainly naive. Stevens may think that throngs of sleepy-eyed hipsters are waiting at the gates of Cali for the gift of skunk-aplenty, but I think not. The Feds would be better served securing the southern border if they want to make a dent.

I should point out that many of my political leanings (mostly concerning land management) are fairly non-Federalist, but I also recognize that states rights to self-regulation in many areas. We currently have medicinal cocaine (codeine) and heroine (oxycontin), two drugs that are truly destructive if misused, yet we leave them on the market because they offer a benefit to those of us who are mature and responsible enough to use them without snorting them. That being said, I think fear of weed has just facilitated a federal power-grab.

P.S. I know jack shit about the law. Perhaps one of the cadre of lawyers here at INFDL would like to set me right.

Update: Here's a good breakdown. Thanks to Instapudit for the heads-up.

Noah Adds: This case is a tough loss for medical marijuana (a cause I support) and for federalism (a cause that I think is much more important). It’s disheartening that Scalia, the great proponent of originalism, fell for the horseshit theory that marijuana grown in my own backyard is somehow in "interstate commerce." (ALERT TO FEDERAL AGENTS: THIS IS A HYPOTHETICAL! THERE IS NO MARIJUANA IN MY BACKYARD! . . . IT'S ALL UNDER SUNLAMPS IN A BASEMENT CLOSET!)

Federalism is important because it maximizes freedom and allows states to experiment with different legislative schemes. If Oregon wants to allow assisted suicide, Nevada wants to legalize gambling and prostitution, and California wants to let sick people smoke “the pot,” the federal government should do nothing to prevent it. And if Utah wants to ban alcohol consumption, OK. These states have the right to pursue their own ideas and make laws based on local values. Their citizens have the right to order their society in the way they think best. If the federal government imposes its own vision on all of us, freedom is reduced. No matter what you think about medical marijuana, today’s Supreme Court decision represents a massive loss of liberty. The people of California (and other states) decided that they wanted to allow medical marijuana, but the Federal Government stepped in and said “mama knows what’s good for you!” This paternal dogoodery is absolutely sick-making.

The concept of federalism has been nearly completely destroyed by the commerce clause. The Supreme Court (beginning with the atrocious “Wickard v. Filburn”) has interpreted the clause in such a way that these days pretty much any activity can be included in “interstate commerce.” And this means that the federal government can stick their nose in anywhere they want.

There was hope for federalism a few years ago when the Court delivered the Lopez decision, which said that Congress did not have the right to pass a law regulating the possession of firearms in school zones because there was no conceivable connection between weapons possession in a school zone and interstate commerce. At the time I hoped that this would be the first in a string of decisions to reassert federalism, but I have since been disappointed.

If marijuana grown in my backyard and consumed only by myself is in interstate commerce, then pretty much everything is in interstate commerce, and federalism is in real trouble. It’s sad that Scalia doesn’t see this. Kennedy’s vote was almost as disappointing. He was with the majority in the Lopez decision, but decided to render that decision obsolete with today’s ruling.

The rest of the conservatives did well on this one at least. Thomas, Rhenquist and O’Connor all voted to protect state medical marijuana laws. It was the liberals on the court that voted to assert the power of the federal government and strike down medical marijuana.

My hope is that this decision, and others like it, will awaken liberals to the value of federalism. The libs have been crapping on federalism for years because they have had control of congress. It only got in their way. Now that Republicans are running things it’s possible that the importance of federalism will soon become perfectly clear. Someday we may get back to the form of government that the framers intended.

Update from Sean: I really wonder if the marijuana issue has the staying power of the states rights issue, as Noah points out. No doubt this will open the eyes of many in the lefty dope-smoker demographic, but the really perceptive ones will see what we've been talking about all along: the less the government stands on your sack, the better. The best quote to come of this is from Clarence Thomas:
Thomas said the ruling was so broad "the federal government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives and potluck suppers throughout the 50 states."
Well said.

Hot Cha Cha!

Chapter 5 of Uncle Theo has now been posted. In this chapter Theo denigrates T.S. Eliot’s secrets of salesmanship and Toby meets his arch-nemesis: Trevor Winston-Frobisher. Also, work on the Slimmer Thighs America infomercial begins! How can you resist clicking here?

Friday, June 03, 2005

"On the Thorn the Snail is Not"

I finally got around to seeing George Lucas’ latest nauseating excretion last night. I went into the movie with high hopes. After all, “The Revenge of the Sith” had scored well on the Tomatometer (a helpful, though far from infallible, measuring gage), and, more importantly, I am a highly optimistic person with decidedly lowbrow taste in movies. While driving to the theater with my wife and two “younglings” I found myself agreeing with the poet Browning:

The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!

Ha! I was about to be disabused of such notions.

The movie starts with a long and incoherent battle scene. Despite the whole “A long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away” stuff that preceded the battle I had only vague notions of who was fighting who and why. Big battleships going at it yardarm to yardarm in an intergalactic slug fest, but to what end? Why should I care? It was all just wallpaper for some bogus heroics provided by Obie Wan Kanobi (or however the hell you spell the man's name) and young Skywalker.

In the climactic moments of the battle the two Jedi confront General Grevious, a creature that is about 98% robot and 2% meat, and yet suffers from a chronic hacking cough. Even worse, when the General talks he sounds just like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I kept waiting for him to say “I love the Jedi . . . to poop on!” (And he wasn’t the only one who sounded ridiculous every time he opened his yap. Some of the aliens had accents like Japanese people with Down’s syndrome.)

But there are worse things than bad accents. Every time a character speaks in this movie you cringe at how bad the dialogue is. The scenes between Anakin and Padme are particularly painful. And yet the closing credits reveal that the writer of these words is none other than George Lucas himself. I’m not surprised that Lucas wrote the script, but I am surprised that he would take “credit” for it. If I were the Big Cheese I would have shifted the blame onto some Lucas Films underling. The credits would say “Written and Directed by . . . uh, that kid who brings me my coffee.”

And then we have Skywalker’s transition from a good (though somewhat troubled) youth to Darth Vader, the most evil creature in the galaxy. Apparently he joined the dark side because he was worried that his wife would die in childbirth. I didn’t buy it.

The movie ends not with a bang, but a whimper. In the closing twenty minutes of the film we are treated to two separate light saber fights: one between Obie Wan and Anakin, and the other between Yoda and the Emperor. Unfortunately, if you have seen any of the first generation of Star Wars movies you know very well what must happen in both of these duels. You know that neither Yoda nor the Emperor are killed or maimed and that Obie Wan severely wounds Anakin, but does not kill him. Because of this, these fights are completely devoid of any real tension (rivers of molten lava not withstanding).

The best part of the movie is when Anakin is transformed into Darth Vader. He is severely burned in his battle with Obie Wan so robot doctors patch him together and stuff him into the classic Darth Vader suit. When he comes out from under the ether he asks the emperor (in the voice of James Earl Jones) “how’s Padme? Is Padme okay?” These words, coming from Darth Vader, seem so silly and wildly out of character that I laughed out loud. But it gets worse. The Emperor informs Darth that he (Darth) killed his wife in a rage. Upon learning this, Darth breaks free from the operating table, strides dramatically to center stage, balls his hands into fists and then turns his gaze heavenward and shouts “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I have never, in my 30 year sojourn upon the face of this earth, seen anything half so hackneyed.

As Yoda might say “sucks much ass this movie does.”

(Making fun of Yoda’s syntax? Jeeze, talk about “hackneyed!”)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Maybe Ben's half right...

TommAy and Noah pointed to Mark Felts' admission to being the star of "Deep Throat"... I mean the Nixon rat "Deep Throat". Whichever it is, each job requires a desire for exposure and a loose jaw.

Noah pointed to Ben Stein's rant in the American Spectator, which commemorates the occasion with an accusation of genocide being foisted upon Woodward and Bernstein. A bit of a stretch to say the least, but a strong defense of Nixon anyway:
Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW's, ended the war in the Mideast, opened relations with China, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty, saved Eretz Israel's life, started the Environmental Protection Administration. Does anyone remember what he did that was bad?
A few years back, when I was a fairly rabid greeny, I decided to check and see who the wonderful soul was that gave the Enviros the tools required to litigate the government into compliance with things like the EPA (Environmental Protection Administration), NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) and the Clean Air Act. After hangin' with my buddy Google for a few days, I found myself pushing the refresh button over and over again, unable to believe that the man responsible for the current model of environmentalism (litigate, litigate litigate, etc.) was none other than their arch nemesis: Nixon. Stein continues:

That is his legacy. He was a peacemaker. He was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton -- a lying, conniving peacemaker. That is Nixon's kharma.

Yeah, they all got problems, but you have to admit, there was an actual burglary executed by the Monopoly Man , which is some crazy shit, no matter if Nixon knew about it at the time or not. Not leaving well enough alone old Ben leaves swinging:
So, this is the great boast of the enemies of Richard Nixon, including Mark Felt: they made the conditions necessary for the Cambodian genocide. If there is such a thing as kharma, if there is such a thing as justice in this life of the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth. And Bob Woodward is right behind him, with Ben Bradlee bringing up the rear. Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide. I hope they are happy now -- because their future looks pretty bleak to me.
Hey, I'm down with a fresh look at things as much as the next guy, but "Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on earth"? Worst than Saddam? Ciaucescu? Timberlake? From here on out, I'll take what Ben has to say with a grain of salt... Make that a grain of asparin.

Japanese hold-outs....

Here's that story we were talking about the other night. Two Japanese soldiers, both nearly ninety years old, were reportedly found in the jungle of the Philippines. Nobody is uncertain as to wether the men knew the war was over but, according to the Beeb, they are living amongst Muslim rebels and one of them is married. And as it has been pointed out before, the best possible way to bury your head up your ass for sixty years is to hang out with Muslim separatists.

Update: Here's a cool page with some history on holdouts.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

30 years for Nuttin'!!

Among the most UNinteresting news to come out this week has got to be the "Deep Throat Revealed" story. Mark Felt? Talk about an anticlimax! All this time we were wondering which White House insider/Nixon-loyalist it could have been to secretly come forward out of "consciencious" or "constitutional" duty, or whatever it was we thought, and hand Nixon over on a platter. What drama right? Wrong. Turns out to be just some disgruntled FBI man. And is it just me, or does anybody else think that the whole Watergate thing was overrated? I mean, it's generally acknowledged that Nixon didn't have pre-knowledge of the break-in, but was only involved in the coverup out of loyalty to his subordinates (i.e. his dawgs). It's been said by many that he gave staunch loyalty but expected the same in return, so I guess they were right about that one. There's no longer any mystery to me as to why the republicans went after Clinton's mistruths about his blowjobs so rabidly; they wanted a taste of sweet revenge. One interesting thing I saw on the news yesterday was the press interviewing the family of Deep Throat (his daughter and grandsons). They were grinning like they'd just won the lottery; strange. One of the grandsons, who happened to have a slight beatnik look about him, when asked how it felt to be the grandson of Deep Throat, offered that he was "very proud". Somebody knows he's getting laid at a sit-in this weekend! Or at the very least getting some digits at the Starbucks.

But for me, the best news this week by far is the slide of the Euro. I might even consider taking me self a vacation to the land of the EuroWeenies (this does not reflect on Britain, Poland, Italy or any other of our chummy coalition of the willing allied countries) if this slide keeps up. When I was there in the summer of '00, the dollar was at 88 cents to the euro (a reflection of regional currencies). So not only was I the "that's Mister Ugly American to you, monsieur," but rather, RICH Mr. Ugly American (a much more empowering feeling, it was truly a "Kid Rock" moment in time for me). I will feel this again only when Mr. Franklin's true nature comes out of hibernation and shows that baby-blue/pink/red/purple tinted Neville Chamberlain euro-note who's got the say, and who's just gay.

Update: This one could also work in that last sentence about C-notes vs. soon-to-be-wimpy Euro-notes: who's the GUY, and whose just the guy (pronounced "gee", wimpy name for French male). Any other submissions will be gladly received. The winner for best submission will win those spark plug feeler gauges from long ago that are still sitting in Sean's kitchen next to the fruit bowl.

Noah Adds: You hit the nail on the head TomAy. After all the years of mystery surrounding Deep Throat the final revelation of his true identity is a boring letdown.

The most interesting article on Mark Felt was written by Ben Stein for the American Spectator. In it, Stein blames Felt for . . . the Cambodian genocide. Now, before we knew and loved Stein for his comic turn on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (“Bueller . . . Bueller . . . Bueller . . .”) he was a Nixon speechwriter. And in his writing for the Spectator over the years he’s shown himself to be a staunch Nixon loyalist, but still . . . the Cambodian genocide?

I realize that The American Spectator is the spearhead of the vast right wing conspiracy, but you’d think that someone over there would have pulled Stein aside and said, in soft tones, “Ben, we know you mean well . . . but this piece you’ve written is squarely centered in crackpot territory.”

Sean Adds: I too was let down by the revelation of Mark Felt as the man. All this time and it turns out that Deep Throat was nothing but a chagrinned aparatchik who was passed over by Nixon in the race to replace J. Edgar Hoover, and pissed off because of it. It would be like Richard Clark being the one to break some nifty tidbit on the Cowboy.

TommAy, I agree that Watergate has become of inflated importance. But just think of it, without Watergate, we wouldn't have all those great audio clips of Nixon gettin' sloshed and wandering around the White House talking to paintings of former presidents. By the way, does anybody know if what I just said is true or a fleeting leftist dream?

Foozling the Muse

You didn’t need it. You didn’t ask for it. You didn’t want it. Nevertheless here it is, like the weekly “Value Mailer” in your mailbox. I have posted Chapter 4 of my novella, Uncle Theo. In this chapter our hero, Toby, plays golf with his dastardly Uncle. Also, Theo makes a shocking declaration that will endanger poor Toby’s fondest dream! Now that you are tingling with anticipation, click here!

"Gems of Totalitarian Wit"

Just when you think the North Koreans can't get any stranger, they decide to develop a sense of humor.

Classy!

Many sinister weapons have been used in the long and ugly history of political repression (tear gas, rubber bullets, lead bullets, pepper spray, dogs, tanks, and sheriff’s deputies with severe halitosis, just to name a few). But the Egyptians have apparently reached a new low:

Hundreds of Egyptians have staged an angry protest against the alleged sexual harassment of female activists and reporters by government supporters . . .

Anger has grown after opposition activists and female journalists were groped and physically assaulted during protests against a referendum designed to approve multi-candidate presidential elections later this year.

Opponents of Mr Mubarak say the referendum was flawed and say the measures will not bring about real democratic change.

The Egyptian ruffians engaged in “grope attacks” and tore the clothing off some of the female protestors. This strategy has the dual advantages of suppressing protest and bolstering police recruitment. “Ooooh, Achmed, you join police? (Nudge, nudge) You get some gropie, gropie, yummy, yummy?”

Disgusting!