"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hitchens bitchslapped

One thing it can't do is give Christopher Hitchens any common sense or sufficient intestinal fortitude to at least back up his stupid posing and provocative behaviour. The short version of events is that Hitchens, while out on the town in Beruit, decided to deface a poster for what amounts to the Syrian Nazi Party, after being warned that these were not people to mess with. As luck would have it, a party goon happened to catch him in the act and there was an altercation. Hitchens being Hitchens is trying to make it sound like he heroically took a beating from cowardly evil thugs for bravely daring to stand up for freedom, but there appears to be another side to the the story.

"Even the one impressive detail first reported about the fight via Hitchens’ supporters–that he got stomped in the middle of the night, in a dark empty Beirut backalley, after getting famously drunk in a bar, fighting alone against a gang of Syran fascists–was an inversion of the truth, a very sad slapstick truth. In reality, Hitchens was stomped in broad daylight in a “posh shopping district” by a lone Syrian twerp fighting against Hitchens and two friends after they set him off."

Now, the other side of the story is based on this account on one of the least reliable dingbat wingnut sites, so take the details with an ocean-full of salt, but from the sounds of things, there was no brave standing-up-to-facism moment here, more like Hitchens' ego writing cheques his ass couldn't begin to cash.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bring on the trials
Unless it wants to become an isolated international pariah with which no other nation will sign agreements of any kind, the United States had better collect its excrement into a single place and start prosecuting people for torture. It has a legal obligation under several international treaties to do so and unless it plans to repudiate its treaty obligations, and thus invalidate all international treaties it has signed, it must fulfil those obligations.
I am not a lawyer, but Glenn Greenwald is.

The U.S. really has bound itself to a treaty called the Convention Against Torture, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1994. When there are credible allegations that government officials have participated or been complicit in torture, that Convention really does compel all signatories -- in language as clear as can be devised -- to "submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution" (Art. 7(1)). And the treaty explicitly bars the standard excuses that America's political class is currently offering for refusing to investigate and prosecute: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture" and "an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture" (Art. 2 (2-3)).

Ending prohibition - a pinko plot!

Once again a short post at the Gazetteer has provoked me into writing a lengthy comment that has morphed into a full post. It seems like it was just last week that my inner conservative had to set RossK straight on the folly of funding scientific research instead of paying huge bonuses to bank executives and brokers. Now he's suggesting that taking all the profitability out of the drug trade might be a way to stem drug-fueled gang violence. Silly progressive, why does he hate capitalism and the American dream?

Dear RossK,

Are you suggesting legalization?

That's crazy!

Allow people who want to take an intoxicating substance that has been around for centuries without subjecting them to the dangers of robbery, inferior possibly even poisonous product, criminal violence and legal persecution and incarceration? Why would we do that?

During the golden era of prohibition, people made fortunes selling liquor in the United States. Once people realized they could go to a speakeasy instead of going blind drinking homemade bathtub gin, they went in droves. Such illegal hot spots thrived on gambling and prostitution (in for a penny, in for a pound) and stayed in business through a massive system of corruption and bribery. Empires were built and everyone made money! Real, unfettered capitalism thrived and entrepreneurs like Al Capone became rich and powerful. It was the American Dream in action!

And then Franklin D. Roosevelt a bunch of America-hating pinkos who hated freedom decided to punish success and ended prohibition, spoiling the whole thing.

Right now, just as during the good old days of prohibition, thanks to the strict laws against drugs in the United States, the drug trade is largely controlled by large, powerful, well-organized and heavily-armed groups who murder anyone who gets in their way and there is very little that law enforcement can do about it. It's that kind of ambition that has made America the superpower it is today!

Legalizing drugs would take money out of the pockets of hard-working dealers, smugglers, crack-house operators, gang-bangers, thugs and black-market gun-dealers and put it back into the hands of students, musicians, working people of all kinds and most especially desperate drug addicts who currently need to steal to support their addictions, thus creating jobs in law enforcement, security services, the prison industry and the legal profession. Why do you want to put hardworking narcs and lawyers in the poorhouse RossK?

Good conservatives know that its is important to get tough on crime. I suppose a beatnik like you thinks it would be "groovy" if we sent fewer people to jail, just because their crimes have no obvious victims. Well, I've got news for you, hophead, thanks to the sensible lock'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key drug and prison policies enacted in the last couple of decades, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration and the largest prison population in the world. That's right, the USA is NUMBER ONE!!!!1!

Don't you realize that legalization is racist? It's simple - five times as many whites use drugs as blacks, but the government, in its mercy sends far more blacks than whites to prison to get the help they need to stay away from drugs and crime. If we legalize drugs, how will society help all these poor young black men stay out of trouble? (Have a look here for more information)

Without being the source of desperately needed drugs, how will pimps control their prostitutes? By violence, that's how! Why do you want these poor fallen women to get beaten up RossK? Don't you know it's hard out there for a pimp?

Furthermore, legalization would give the oppressive forces of big government another source of tax revenue to squander on stupid things like drug rehab centers, schools and public health programs. And they would be able to stick their interfering fingers into controlling the strength and quality of drugs, taking all the mystery out of the market for buyers. What is the free market without some risk?

Being as how you're obviously some kind of drug addled hippie (who else would support legalizing drugs?) I bet you're in favour of the safe injection site in Vancouver that has taken heroin addicts off the streets where they belong and put them in a controlled environment where they won't die from overdoses or get AIDS from dirty needles. I mean honestly RossK, junkies are like cockroaches, they are the scum of the earth -- if they don't die from overdoses or AIDS, how the heckfire are we supposed to get rid of them? If an early death from drugs was good enough for jazz great Charlie Parker, it should be good enough for them.

And if we decriminalize addiction, won't that make it easier for junkies to get into rehab centers, thus taking up valuable space that could be used to incarcerate the children of wealthy families who have been thrown out of boarding school for smoking pot? Why do you hate successful people RossK? Don't you know that's class warfare? You who else was a big fan of class warfare? Mao!

So, there you have it: Legalization is a communist plot.

You might be a liberal if...

Well, according to this analysis of Alan Wolfe's new book, liberals share seven common dispositions:

Four of these dispositions will be quite familiar: "a sympathy for equality," "an inclination to deliberate," "a commitment to tolerance," and "an appreciation of openness." We're used to the portrayal: liberals as talky, tolerant, open-minded, egalitarians. It's not surprising, then, that these types are at home in the garrulous world of the academy—or that bossy preachers, convinced they have the one true story, do not care for them much. But Wolfe's sketch of the liberal adds three unfamiliar elements to the picture: "a disposition to grow," "a preference for realism," and "a taste for governance."

All in all a fairly good summation if the Slate article linked above is anything to go by.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A tale of two murderous douche bags

Who wants to bet we hear a lot more about this horrible incident than we do about this horrible incident
The first is straight-up domestic violence carried to an extreme, but we will hear all about it because of the religious beliefs of the people involved. There will be no shortage of  ignorant loudmouths lining up to proclaim this "terrorism" and tell us it proves that "those people" are all bloodthirsty savages.
The second incident appears to be a backlash to domestic violence, normally somewhat newsworthy in and of itself, but one would have thought that the activities of the "victim" might have drawn a bit more attention. They certainly would have if  someone hadn't put him down like the rabid animal he appears to have been.

"When in trouble or in doubt,

Run in circles, scream and shout"

Two thoughts on this video clip:

First, I see this kind of behavior every week. At my office, where some people need to work on their interpersonal skills and at the pool where I take my kids for swimming lessons, there is a bank of vending machines that sell canned coffee and soft drinks, bottles of cold green tea, water, sports drinks and, everyone's favorite -- ice cream. The room is stuffy and overheated and I'm there for a couple of hours along with all the other parents and the little brothers and sisters of the kids who are in the pool. I take my ipod and sit facing the ice cream machine and watch a succession of toddlers completely and utterly misplace their feces (occasionally this literally happens, but the diaper-throwing story is one for another day). I'm talking about two-, three- and four-year-old kids who see the ice cream machine and upon being denied a frosty treat, go straight to defcon 5 and launch the mother of all tantrums. 

The duration record so far this year is held by a three-year-old girl who, being told she could not have a second ice cream, launched into a 35-minute fit of floor-pounding, screeching, purple-faced rage that culminated in running across the room and repeatedly kicking her mother (the kid, not me) before actually falling asleep/passing out from lack of air mid tantrum. 

The intensity record was set by a three-year old boy who after jumping up and down hollering for a few minutes, ran straight into a concrete pillar in the center of the room and bloodied his nose, which seemed to calm him down a bit. 

For the record, my kids, while they might occasionally whine, never threw tantrums when they were little. In fact, with one notable exception when I had to take my son outside and explain that no, he could not go to karaoke in the bar adjoining the restaurant and crying at the table wasn't going to get him anywhere, they have always been extremely well behaved where ever we go. 

Second, the woman in the video is in the airport in Hong Kong. Its a good thing she's in a country that respects human rights as much as China. Imagine what might have happened if she had carried on like this in certain other places.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Don't delay, get yours today!

The Revolution Will Be Streamed --- Now available on the U.S. and Canadian iTunes Store. 

If you want a free preview, just click "listen" on Radio Woodshed -- I'll be streaming the album for the rest of the week.

How bad is the financial crisis?

You thought George W. Bush was an unpopular leader? Meet Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Taking the "public" out of public transportation

I sure hope nobody ever sees an anti-abortion ad or religious message on an Ottawa bus.

When The Geneva Conventions

Were Thought to be "Quaint"

Just when you thought we'd hit the bottom of the barrel on the revelations of torture, abuse and crime under the Bush regime, you realize that buried under this barrel is a whole other barrel of festering evil.

"Third, the Nelly account shows that health professionals are right in the thick of the torture and abuse of the prisoners—suggesting a systematic collapse of professional ethics driven by the Pentagon itself. He describes body searches undertaken for no legitimate security purpose, simply to sexually invade and humiliate the prisoners. This was a standardized Bush Administration tactic–the importance of which became apparent to me when I participated in some Capitol Hill negotiations with White House representatives relating to legislation creating criminal law accountability for contractors. The Bush White House vehemently objected to provisions of the law dealing with rape by instrumentality. When House negotiators pressed to know why, they were met first with silence and then an embarrassed acknowledgement that a key part of the Bush program included invasion of the bodies of prisoners in a way that might be deemed rape by instrumentality under existing federal and state criminal statutes. While these techniques have long been known, the role of health care professionals in implementing them is shocking. " (emphasis mine)

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, it hasn't just been the big companies like Haliburton and Blackwater that have made a fortune shafting the taxpayer and the Iraqi people. It appears some of America's Shiny Perfect Heroes in Uniform aren't so shiny after all.

In one case of graft from that period, Maj. John L. Cockerham of the Army pleaded guilty to accepting nearly $10 million in bribes as a contracting officer for the Iraq war and other military efforts from 2004 to 2007, when he was arrested. Major Cockerham’s wife has also pleaded guilty, as have several other contracting officers. (emphasis mine again)

What the heck is Obama waiting for? He won the election. He has the votes he needs in the House and Senate even if every Republican decides to walk out on the vote. He has the public support. Is he afraid the truth will make bipartisan baby Jebus cry or something? Bring on the trials!