Saturday, August 24, 2002

Fair and balanced

A little while back, I linked to this LA Times op-ed by Jonathan Turley discussing John Ashcroft’s plans to build internment camps for American citizens, a plan which, according to Turley, had been "disclosed…but little publicized."

Well, this blogging thing is kind of hit and run, and of course I don’t have the resources to fact check the LA Times. But a few readers wrote in puzzled at their inability to find anything further on the topic via Google. I have occasional access to Lexis and I’ve had it in the back of my mind to do more research, but as it turns out, a conservative blogger whose site is named, straightforwardly, Right Wing News, is on the case (found via Instapundit). And leaving aside ideological differences, this one does appear to be, well, pretty much nonsense. (Afterthought: I mean the concentration camp rhetoric here, not Turley's larger point about unconstitutionally detaining American citizens, which any regular reader of this blog knows I've been ranting about for quite some time.)

This writer, John Hawkins, contacted Turley directly, and as it turns out, Turley’s entire op-ed was based on this paragraph from an article in the Wall Street Journal:

The White House is considering creating a high-level committee to decide which prisoners should be denied access to federal courts. The Goose Creek, S.C., facility that houses Mr. Padilla -- mostly empty since it was designated in January to hold foreigners captured in the U.S. and facing military tribunals -- now has a special wing that could be used to jail about 20 U.S. citizens if the government were to deem them enemy combatants, a senior administration official said."

Hawkins goes on to note, I think correctly:

First off, whatever you may think of possibly jailing 20 "enemy combatants" without trial, doing so certainly does not in any way, shape, or form mean you've created a "camp." Furthermore, how does imprisoning 20 men in one Navy brig somehow constitute creating "camps", much less having a "camp plan?" Worse yet, to compare jailing less than two dozen people believed to be connected to terrorist organizations to putting 120,000+ Americans in camps based on their ethnicity goes beyond gross exaggeration into what many people would call deliberate deception.

It seems to me that there’s enough really troubling stuff going on right now to keep us all busy wailing and weeping and gnashing our teeth twenty-four-goddamn-seven, without resorting to these kinds of tactics. The Padilla case is horrifying on its own merits, particularly now that it’s been revealed that the government has no real evidence against him. An American citizen has been arbitrarily stripped of his rights, on little more than John Ashcroft’s say-so. There’s no need to gild this particular lilly—the case speaks for itself. (Or at least it should. I don’t follow the right-leaning blogosphere closely, so as always I could be wrong™, but I haven’t seen a lot of outrage over this. In fact, what I see far more often are snarky dismissive put-downs directed toward people who are worried about these self-evident threats to civil liberties. But that’s probably another rant.)

At any rate, I don’t think it does anyone any good to, basically, make shit up out of thin air. It only undermines your case, gives people cause to write you off as a goofball. If anyone has any actual information here, any real evidence of Ashcroft’s plans to start building concentration camps, please feel free to let me know. But I’m not interested in paranoid fantasies with no basis in reality. Reality is scary enough by itself these days.


Thursday, August 22, 2002

Odds and ends

The lovely and talented Ann Coulter is at it again:

Then she said: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
I told her to be careful.
"You’re right, after 9/11 I shouldn’t say that," she said, spotting a cab and grabbing it.

Also in this illuminating article, she lays her shtick bare:

She said she "takes joy in liberal attacks. It’s like coffee. I mean, usually when I write up a column, I know what’s going to drive them crazy. I know when I’m baiting them, it’s so easy to bait them and they always bite. That is my signature style, to start with the wild, bald, McCarthyite overstatements—seemingly—and then back it up with methodical and laborious research. Taunting liberals is like having a pet that does tricks. Sit! Beg! Shake! Then they do it."

Patrick Nielsen Hayden responds:

Ann Coulter says she wishes the folks in the Times building had been killed. She said "We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too." You know, that's my mother and father she's talking about. For some reason, I don't find this kind of thing entertainingly outrageous. Publicly winking at it doesn't make you look smart, or broadminded, or brilliantly devil-may-care. It just makes you look cruel and stupid.

And while we’re sitting and shaking on the Ann beat, there’s this radio interview conducted by Steve Rendell of FAIR, in which—in order to maintain the consistency of her worldview—Ann denies knowledge of the notorious Newt Gingrich memo instructing Republicans to use terms such as bizarre, decay, destructive, sick and traitors when describing Democrats and liberals; the infamous Rush Limbaugh bit in which he referred to a thirteen year old Chelsea Clinton as the White House dog; and Jesse Helms’s reference to UNC as "the University of Negroes and Communists."

* * *

This "letter to America" has been making the rounds, and generating the predictable responses. I like Wil Wheaton's take on it. I’d excerpt it, but it works better if you read the whole thing.

* * *

A note about this site: I'm maintaining the nuts and bolts myself these days, and to be honest, updating the weekly links falls somewhat low on my personal scale of priorities, certainly below spending time with my wife, and focusing on my cartoons, and, well, any number of other things. So if the "newest cartoon" button hasn't been updated first thing Monday morning--well, for gosh sakes, go to Salon and find the cartoon for yourself. Same for the archives. With all due respect, it's as if some of you kids had never heard of the internet before you somehow stumbled across this page.
UPDATE: At the suggestion of several clever readers, I'm changing the link on the "newest comic" button, which will now lead to this index. You'll have to click twice, but at least the latest work will always be accessible via this site.

* * *

Finally, shifting gears: It was my sad duty to have an old friend--an old, blind, and very sick cat--euthanized last week. You adopt these animals when they are young, and they enrich your life, become such a part of the ebb and flow of your daily routine that it becomes nearly impossible to remember a time when they were not there—but the price you pay for all they give you is that you will outlive them, and sometimes you will even have to make the decision to end their lives, and make the appointment and put them in their little carriers and take them down to the vet's, knowing you are taking them to die. And it’s a hard goddamned thing.

So now I’m down to one dog and one cat. And even knowing what I know, having gone through the pain, these past few years, of saying goodbye to two cats I adopted more than a decade and a half ago, a continent away--and knowing what I’m going to have to face someday down the road with these two—the thing is, I still wouldn’t trade them for anything.

I guess what I want to say is, there are a lot of animals out there who need homes. And they’re worth it. There are worse things you could do with your time.


Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Further proof that Thomas Frank is a national treasure

The Journal itself, far from showing contrition for its New Economy excesses of a few years back, recently ran a defense of the nation's beleaguered stock analysts by none other than James Glassman, coauthor of the 1999 book "Dow 36,000." In his article, Glassman argued that analysts from the big Wall Street firms are being unfairly singled out for blame by killjoys like the New York attorney general. "Every bear market requires a scapegoat," Glassman wrote, "and this time the chosen victims are stock analysts." Glassman is certainly right about the stock analysts. However guilty they are for puffing the bubble, analysts alone shouldn't be forced to bear the blame for the subsequent catastrophe. That burden should be shared--by, for example, Glassman himself, the editors of the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, Forbes magazine, Cramer and Kudlow.

Messrs. Cramer and Kudlow should, by all rights, have been sentenced to some kind of lengthy intellectual exile, required to spend the next decade in a defunded public library somewhere, reading the complete works of John Maynard Keynes. But a full year into the slow-motion crumbling of the Nasdaq, CNBC decided instead to reward these two great salesmen of the bull market with their own daily program, where their thinkings, alternately frenzied and surly, can reach an even wider audience than before.

So too with Glassman. Instead of being required to write "I will not confuse libertarian hallucinations with practical investment advice" 36,000 times, he was indulged with a seat on President Bush's 21st Century Workforce Council.

We are finally rid of the most egregious corporate swindlers of the 1990s. Why aren't the intellectual snake-oil salesmen following the dot-cons into oblivion?

More here. Via Cursor (as were the last couple of posts).

Quote of the day

"As with all sovereign nations, we respect Iraq’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” --Donald Rumsfeld, 1983. Much more here.

Another reason I am proud to be from Iowa

DES MOINES -- Where's the peace candidate?

Who, some voters ask, is willing to stand up and say that an invasion of Iraq could involve too much carnage or become another Vietnam-like quagmire?

So far, many people in Iowa, a longtime incubator for peace movements, say they do not see any of the potential 2004 candidates positioning themselves to be the Eugene
McCarthy or George McGovern of this era. Those men were anti-war candidates of the Vietnam era, U.S. senators who challenged sitting presidents over their war policies
and drew surprisingly large numbers of followers.

Certainly, 2002 is different from the late '60s and early '70s. The Vietnam War was an effort to contain communism a world away; the war on terror and any war on Iraq are a
direct response to a threat against this country. Support for anti-terrorism efforts remains strong, though there is some wariness in national polls about invading Iraq.

But in Iowa, which will host the first 2004 presidential caucuses 17 months from now, some voters are going a step further, raising serious questions not only about how to
conduct a war on Iraq, but whether it's a worthwhile option.

"Saber-rattling just doesn't go over well here," said Roxanne Conlin, a Des Moines lawyer and longtime Democratic activist.

But there's plenty of that going on among the future White House candidates, all of whom are positioning themselves to back an invasion of Iraq.

Story here.


Monday, August 19, 2002


Blogging will be light this week, I think.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?