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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Monday, 23 May 2005

Topic: For policy wonks...

Compromise means no one is happy. Or it means every is happy a little. Or something.

On the weekly site Just Above Sunset and here on the daily web log you wouldn’t find that much recently on the Republican attempt to end judicial filibusters for good in the US Senate. It was interesting when it became a Christian evangelical issue – see May 1 The Oppressed Minority - Christians in America and Conservative Republicans for that. But most of the month much of the intense discussion of the issues – something news hounds and political junkies do follow – centered on who used to do what and whether this was this an unprecedented power grab or not. Some of us learned more about Senate rules and traditions, and parliamentary procedure, than was really healthy. And nothing was happening, until this week, when, on Tuesday, Doctor Frist had scheduled the big showdown.

Late on Monday, May 23, 2005 it all became moot.

Oh, never mind.

Senators compromise on filibusters
Bipartisan group agrees to vote to end debate on 3 nominees
CNN - Monday, May 23, 2005 Posted: 8:33 PM EDT (0033 GMT)
A bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement after days of talks to avert a showdown Tuesday over President Bush's judicial nominees, Sen. John McCain announced Monday evening.

Standing with a group of 13 other senators, the Arizona Republican told reporters the seven Republicans and seven Democrats had brokered a compromise.

"We have reached an agreement to try to avert a crisis in the United States Senate and pull the institution back from a precipice that would have had, in the view of all 14 of us, lasting impact, damaging impact on the institution," McCain said.

Under the deal, judicial nominees would only be filibustered "under extraordinary circumstances," McCain said.

McCain said the group of 14 pledged to vote for cloture -- an end to debate -- for three judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor and Priscilla Owen.

He said the group made no commitment to vote for or against cloture on two nominees, William Myers and Henry Saad.

"We will try to do everything in our power to prevent filibusters in the future," McCain said.

"This agreement is meant in the finest traditions of the Senate it was entered into: trust, respect, and mutual desire to see the institution of the Senate function in ways that protect the rights of the minority," he said. ...
Sounds reasonable, but Kevin Drum on his blog "Political Animal" over at the Washington Monthly is confused -
… the text of the deal only mentions five nominees. The group agreed to invoke cloture for three of the nominees (Brown, Owen, and Pryor), which means they'll be confirmed, and made "no commitment" on two of the nominees (Myers and Saad), which presumably means at least a few of the Democrats will agree to continue filibustering them and their nominations are dead.

In return, all 14 agreed to vote against changing the senate rules to eliminate judicial filibusters completely. This means Frist doesn't have a majority to support his rule change, which makes the question of whether a majority can change the rules moot.

But why aren't Griffin and McKeague mentioned? Presumably, not mentioning them is equivalent to "no commitment," right? So why not say so? What am I missing here?

As for the agreement to filibuster future candidates only under "extraordinary circumstances," well, who knows? That could mean pretty much anything, couldn't it?
Yeah, it could.

What to say? You can read the text of the thing here and here.

Compromise means no one is happy?

A site called Crooks and Liars provides a survey of initial reaction on the right under the heading The Republicans are Screaming - This deal is a load of crap! It is not compromise, but capitulation. And I say that as somebody who did agree that a certain form of compromise was acceptable. But this compromise treats a couple of nominees, Saad and Myers, as pawns. It makes them not people, but expendable objects. And that is unconscionable.

Here's some comment: A complete f****?en outrage. Not another dime, I?ve had it.

Scared Monkeys puts it succinctly: Compromise reached! Republicans screwed!

The Buzz Blog: Sellouts!

Power Line's John Hinderaker: What a hideous deal.

Michelle Malkin: My two cents: Ditto to all of the above. The GOP parade of pusillanimity marches on. With this pathetic cave-in, the Republicans have sealed their fate as a Majority in Name Only.

Captain's Quarters: Frist: Deal will require "careful monitoring". For what? You just gave away the store! Frist is continuing to spin this into a win for the nominees, but it's not going to fly. The Democrats blocked at least two of the nominees and made no substantive guarantees to stop their obstructionism. This, in short, has been a clear victory for the Democrats and a massive failure for the GOP and the White House. The GOP just endorsed the filibuster, and will have no intellectual capacity to argue against its use later on. They sold the Constitution just to get less than half of its blockaded nominees through, and the result will be much less flexibility on future Supreme Court nominations.
Yeah, yeah.

Michelle Malkin, by the way, is that oh-so-cute Filipino-American columnist who recently wrote a book to justify our World War II internment of Americans of Japanese heritage (discussed in these pages here last August) and who was quoted ragging on Newsweek in these pages here last weekend: "Not good enough, Newsweek. People have died because of your shoddy work." An excitable woman it seems?.

On the left? Same sort of thing. You will find this for the constitutional law folks at Talk Left (and they really are lawyers) -
Sell-Out Deal Made: - Bush's Judges In

The worst, the compromise is in. Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor are in. Total capitulation by Democrats. Total victory for Frist. Let them spin it how they want, it's a loss for the Democrats. Henry Saad of Michigan is the fall guy. He won't get a vote. No one cared about him anyway. That's tossing the Dems a chicken bone.

? We don't have a "Republic" tonight. We have a total Republican regime. Welcome to the Theocracy.
Sigh. I don?t think so.

And this from Sterling Newberry - "They got it. Make no mistake, this deal is an unmitigated disaster for Democracy, for the Democratic Senate caucus, for ordinary Democrats, for all Americans."

Well, if that?s so, what are we to make of this from James Dobson? He was the one who said this was a fight for Christianity.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 23 U.S. Newswire - Focus on the Family Action Chairman Dr. James C. Dobson today issued the following statement, upon the announcement by members of the U.S. Senate that a "compromise" had been reached on the filibuster issue:

"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush's nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.

"We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."
No one is happy ? but it is interesting to consider a Supreme Court without Thomas, Scalia and Rehnquist. And the problem with that would be what?

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga over at the Daily Kos has this to say about the voice of God on this earth ? "It's not a good day to be Bill Frist. He looks weak, unable to control his own caucus. His winger friends go ballistic. They get some judges, sure, but ultimately, we can filibuster Bush's next Supreme Court nominee unless he picks a moderate. The Dobson power grab may have failed a day early."

Our columnist Bob Patterson always listens Hugh Hewitt on the radio, and that man on the right says this:
It is impossible to say whether this is a "terrible" deal, a "bad" deal, or a very, very marginally "ok" deal, but it surely is not a good deal. Not one dime more for the NRSC from me unless and until the Supreme Court nominee gets confirmed, and no other filibusters develop.
The right loses?

The senate majority leader, Reid, thinks so -
? We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical arm of the Republican base an undeniable message: Abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over. We are a separate and equal branch of government. That is our founding fathers? vision, and one we hold dear.

I offered Senator Frist several options similar to this compromise, and while he was not able to agree, I am pleased that some responsible Republicans and my colleagues were able to put aside there differences and work from the center. I do not support several of the judges that have been agreed to because their views and records display judicial activism that jeopardize individual rights and freedoms. But other troublesome nominees have been turned down. And, most importantly, the U.S. Senate retains the checks and balances to ensure all voices are heard in our democracy and the Supreme Court make-up cannot be decided by a simple majority.
That sounds just fine ? so why are the lawyers at Talk Left so angry?

As I said in late January here, one might consider Henry Clay (1777-1852), the Great Compromiser, and how he is no longer a model for how governance works best. I guess he?s a villain now. Bush ? never waver (moral certitude) - is the hero now. That seems to be how one is supposed to govern. Bush?s whole party operates that way now. And the other side ? the opposition, such as it is ? responds in kind.

So we just had a Henry Clay moment. And it seems no one likes it one bit.

Posted by Alan at 19:49 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 23 May 2005 20:01 PDT home

Sunday, 22 May 2005

Topic: World View

A Day Off

The new issue of Just Above Sunset, parent site to this web log, has been posted and your editor will be out of town today – off to Carlsbad down by San Diego for a birthday party – Tiffany turns eight.

And it is too hot to think about politics and the culture and to muck about with attempts at “deep thoughts.” At nine in the morning here in Hollywood it’s in the eighties already - and getting hotter by the minute. The air is still and the sun oppressive. Given the microclimates here it will be in the low eighties at the beaches, probably ninety or more here and downtown, and over one hundred in the valleys. Out in the desert – Palm Springs and such places? Around 115 or so. Time to head out.

But to keep you up on the news, and to ignore the film business at Cannes, we have a new winner in the Eurovision song contest today. Yes – this WAS the weekend for that competition that once brought us Sweden's ABBA – remember “Waterloo” do you? – and from the UK, Lulu. Switzerland's entry in 1988 was Celine Dion. She won – except she’s a Canadian from a small town near Montreal. Whatever. Eurovision also is responsible for those Irish clompers – Michael “Lord of the Dance” Flaherty and Riverdance. They got their big break years ago performing between fourth-rate pop singers.

Last year’s competition was covered in these pages – May 16, 2004 – in Grim Music and Silly Music.

This year?

We have a winner!
KYIV, Ukraine - Greek singer Helena won the Eurovision song contest early Sunday. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko presented her with the prize for her seductive performance of My Number One, a mid-tempo tune with minor-keyed Balkan flavorings.

The singer, whose full name is Helena Paparizou, had been seen by bookmakers as the favorite going into the finals. Norway's Wig Wam, seen as her main competition, finished in the middle of the pack. The surprise runner-up was Malta's Chiara. Romania's Luminita Anghel placed third in the continent-wide telephone voting.

… transnational performances were by Vanilla Ninja, from Estonia but representing Switzerland, and by Bosnia-Herzegovina's Feminem, with one of its three singers born in what is now Croatia.
Ah, Greece, then Malta, then Romania! Cool.

Curiously, I see my tracking software shows ten unique logons to Just Above Sunset from Malta in the last year. Go, Malta!

I don’t know if Our Man in Paris, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, caught this year’s broadcast. I hope not. I doubt if I will be able to catch a rebroadcast this afternoon in Carlsbad – the one in California. And I doubt that the kids at the party want to watch Maltese pop.

Oh well.



Ric in Paris missed the contest!
My life is three hours longer for having missed the 50th Eurovision Song Contest last night. I was on a rooftop terrace - like the second floor - wearing a sou'wester, eating Ronnie the Rabbit and watching a fuzzy moon rise over the slums of Paris. I'm not fond of rabbit - 2nd rate chicken with ears at best - but missing three hours of Europop will just about make my musical year. I'm not surprised somebody won it. It's been managed before somehow. Even the losers are first rate, for Europop.

On the subject of 'pop' - I came across a copy of Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code' yesterday at my local library, so I borrowed it. Of all the things I've heard about it I don't remember anyone saying that it's very poorly written. Life is short. It isn't worth reading. If bad writing makes you grit your teeth I can only recommend this book if you want to grit your teeth for some reason.

There was a nice piece about Dan Brown in the New York Times a few weeks ago. But it didn't say anything about him being a terrible writer. Is it something he's done especially for this particular book, or is he always a lousy writer? If we wonder why people seem incapable of thinking these days; look at what they read.
Brown?s book has not been covered in these pages. Maltese pop is far more interesting, and that?s not saying much.

Posted by Alan at 09:17 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 27 May 2005 14:28 PDT home

Saturday, 21 May 2005

Topic: Photos

No blogging today… Busy publishing!

The new issue of Just Above Sunset, the parent site to this web log, was just posted – just before midnight, Pacific Time.

In this issue?

Chasing the Zeitgeist: In the current events items the national topic of conversation turns from matters of class to the hot press scandals, to the blunt Scotsman saying extraordinary things in Washington, to bad news on how the war is going, to Saddam in his underwear, then to the First Lady flying off to the Middle East to try to make things all better. Some week!

The long feature article is on dinosaurs – but really on popular culture in general. And of course the new Star Wars movie gets some attention, along with the unlucky parachutist who jumped from the Eiffel Tower. In these, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, has a great deal to add – Our Man in Paris appears in all these, rather than in his usual weekly column. Other features include an item on bloggers and the business side of the news business, and quotes about the end of the world.

Don Smith of Left Bank Lens has two pages of extraordinary photographs – the Paris tourists miss. In 1966 Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay for the movie Is Paris Burning? – but who needs them? Don has better stuff.

Bob Patterson is back ? with more on talk radio, and doing his paparazzi thing. Yes, that means exclusive photos of movie stars!

This week’s local photography takes you to the Lethal Weapon house in the Hollywood Hills, and the bizarre botanicals series continues.

New this week? Corrections – people quoted clarify what they really said. And there is a new thirty-two item photo album of Hollywood custom cars – what didn’t fit in last week’s pages.

Current Events

Meme Watch: A Touch of Class
Meme Overwhelmed: Newsweek, Suckered, Sucks the Air Out of the Room
Fireworks: The Scots are known for being blunt…
Midweek Ennui: What to say…?
End of the Week Follies: When in Doubt, Send a Librarian


Barney Does Paris: Cultural Notes for Parents from the City of Lights, Atlanta and the Texas Courts
Paris versus Hollywood: Star Wars on the Champs Elysees and Palm Wars on the Internet
Paris News: Trademark Violation Gone Bad
Web Notes: Paying for What You Read
Quotes: Armageddon?

Bob Patterson

WLJ Weekly: from the desk of the World’s Laziest Journalist - Become a conservative radio talk show host for fun and profit! (Lots of both!)
Through the Viewfinder: Paul Newman Asked for My Autograph

Don Smith of Left Bank Lens

Is Paris Burning: As a matter of fact, Paris IS burning…
Political Visuals: France at the Crossroads


Hollywood Hills: Lifestyles of the Visually Confused
Hollywood Desert: Cacti and Such
Color Studies: Odd Colors (Botanicals)


Corrections: From the Department of Oops
Links and Recommendations: Another New Photo Album

Go visit.

Posted by Alan at 23:29 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 22 May 2005 08:01 PDT home

Friday, 20 May 2005

Topic: NOW WHAT?

End of the Week Follies: When in Doubt, Send a Librarian

On Monday 17 May in Newsweek, Suckered, Sucks the Air Out of the Room it seemed the story of the week would be the business with Newsweek and the-Koran-that-may-not-have-been-in-the-toilet story – which devolved into those on the right suggesting it was time to rein in this so-called free press and force it to report what the White House says it should report. You can read all about it there. Or you can read what the Medium Lobster has to say - Stop Newsweek... Before It Kills Again!

Then there was that business with the MP from Scotland testifying to a senate committee that wanted to put him in his place. Didn’t work. He called them out and made them look like fools – see The Scots are Known for Being Blunt from Tuesday for that. And for a late reaction you might want to glance at An Open Letter to Democrats - Listen to Galloway and Learn Something -
George Galloway did that for which you have proven incapable; he spoke as an opposition. Since there seems to be a great dark space in the middle of your heads where the notion of opposition should be - a void filled by parliamentary molasses and the pusillanimous inability to tell simple truths - I suggest you all review the recordings of Galloway's confrontation with Republican Senator Norm "Twit" Coleman to see exactly how effortless it is to stand up to these cheap political bullies (watch the video). While you are at it, you can watch your colleague Carl Levin demonstrate exactly what I mean about most of you and your party, as he alternately hurls petulant cream-puff insults at Galloway and kisses Coleman's stunned, clueless ass to give that toothy dipshit some comfort in the wake of Galloway's verbal drubbing.

Galloway didn't have to walk up to the docket and slap the cowboy shit out of Coleman - though I admit I still struggle with my own secret urges to do just that with most of the air-brushed, combed-over, Stepford meat-puppets who now people the United States Congress. No, all Galloway had to do was tell the unvarnished truth, and it had exactly the same effect. If Democrats had half the spine that Galloway does if you would stop chasing your creepy little careers through the caviar and chicken-salad circuits of duck-and-cover American political double-speak, then not only would people like me not be calling for all to abandon the Democratic Party and take their fight to the streets like good Bolivians not only that, but you'd have won the last election.

The reason Galloway was able to break from your mirror party in UK - Blair's sell-out Labor Party - and still get elected, is that Galloway fights for his convictions and the real needs of his constituents, and doesn't run for cover every time the bully-boys of the capitalist establishment attempt to take him down.
Oh my! And that’s just part of it.

Then at the end of the week we get Saddam Hussein in his underwear and a leaked US Army report, an internal one, that we have been torturing people we know are innocent and, not surprisingly, a number of them die, and it is not just in Iraq and Guantanamo, but in Afghanistan too – as in wide-spread and systematic and that sort of thing. In the middle of this, scientists in South Korea come up with a medical breakthrough involving stem cells. The medical community cheers. The president says this is awful. Congress moves to loosen the rules on the medical use of stem cells, and the president, who as governor of Texas broke the record for approving executions, without paying much attention to the cases he had to review, says he will veto any such legislation. All life is sacred. When a cell is fertilized THAT is fully functional human being, after all, or could be one day. One almost expected him to break into a chorus of that Monty Python tune Every Sperm is Sacred - but he didn’t. But, now in his fifth year in office, this would be his very first veto – if he doesn’t veto the highway bill first.

And the senate is mired in that filibuster business – change the rules to get those last few judges approved. Enough has been said on that.

Meanwhile the war is not going well. Mid-week the top commanders in our military risked angering the president and reluctantly admitted things are getting worse and worse - and our guys won?t be coming home any time soon.

So those in power had a bad week. With such a muddle, what to do?

Send in the librarian!

Laura Bush on a Mideast tour to fix damaged U.S. image
Friday, May 20, 2005 10:00:00 PM GMT
U.S. first lady Laura Bush started on Friday a Middle East tour with the aim of fixing the U.S. image that was damaged among the Muslim world as a result of the Iraq war, Abu Ghraib scandal and the Qur?an desecration report, that was retracted by the Newsweek magazine earlier this week.

Arriving in Jordan on Friday, Mrs. Bush was greeted by Alia Hatough-Bouran, the country's minister of tourism and antiquities. Mrs. Laura prepares to give a speech on Saturday before the World Economic Forum.

Mrs. Bush said she hopes her Mideast tour will help repair the U.S. image damaged by a recently retracted Newsweek report that American interrogators desecrated the Qur?an at Guantanamo Bay, as well as the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.

"We've had terrible happenings that have really, really hurt our image of the United States," she said.

"People in the United States are sick about it."

?I hope that the Middle East, the broader Middle East, get to know Americans like we really are,? Mrs. Bush told reporters before arriving in Amman.

?I don?t think they really have the sense of Americans being religious.?

Mrs. Bush hopes her five-day mission in Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Egypt will help repair that damage. ?
"I don?t think they really have the sense of Americans being religious?"

Oh, one suspects they do. They just wonder about our particular religion ? the one with the Avenging Jesus, Bringer of Pain and Death.

And by the way, that excerpt was the story in Al Jazeera Online.

Got a problem with that?

Tell them -

AJ Publishing
Sheikh Zayed Road, PO Box 31303
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel:(9714) 319 7575
Fax: (9714) 319 7573

Anyway, the Saddam in his skivvies story just compounds the Newsweek business. Laura will have to be extra charming.

Over at Editor and Publisher you can find a detailed summary of the Saddam issues.


- Our military on Friday condemned a British newspaper's decision (the British tabloid Sun) to print photographs of a captive Saddam Hussein, including one showing him in his underwear. Later the New York Post published on its front page one of the photos of Saddam in his white briefs, under the headline, "Butcher of Sagdad."

- The Pentagon raised fears that the photos could cause a backlash in Iraq. But President Bush said Friday that he did not think photos of Hussein clad only in his underwear would incite further anti-American violence in Iraq. "I don't think a photo inspires murderers," Bush said.

- Bush was briefed by senior aides Friday morning about the photos' existence, and "strongly supports the aggressive and thorough investigation that is already under way" that seeks to find who took them, White House press spokesman Trent Duffy said.

- The Post had described the photos this way: "The pictures capture a Saddam Hussein far removed from the man who once owned 100 palaces, a huge yacht and a fleet of cars. This is the post-downfall Saddam -- a man of no wealth, no luxuries and underwear that doesn't fit right."

- From the Pentagon? The photos were "expected to fuel anti-American sentiment among supporters of the former dictator who are believed to be the driving force behind the country's insurgency," the Associated Press observed.

- The Sun said it obtained the photos from "U.S. military sources." Both the Sun and Post are controlled by Rupert Murdoch, a longtime supporter of the U.S. invasion that toppled Hussein.

Then Editor and Publisher quotes Col Allan, editor of the New York Post giving a very short answer to why they ran the pictures - "They were interesting." And he was not aware of the Pentagon's objections and would not comment on them. But our guys say the photos violated military guidelines "and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals." And they are, of course, disappointed the pictures got out.

Editor and Publisher tells us the Sun said it received the pictures from a source in the military who, according to the New York Post account, "hoped the release of the pitiful pictures will deal a body blow to the lingering Iraqi insurgency." The source supposedly said: "Saddam is just an aging and humble old man now. It's over, guys. The evil days of Saddam's Ba'ath Party are never coming back -- and here's the proof." And late in the day the Post spokesmen at Howard J. Rubenstein Associates says this - "Saddam Hussein is a genocidal maniac who tortured, gassed and killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. The photographs published today by the New York Post show the U.S. military is treating him with a regard he never showed his own people."

Yeah, whatever.

Just what is Rupert Murdoch up? He wants a holy war ? for News Corp?

Do you remember this exchange of telegrams in January 1897 between William Randolph Hearst and his reporter in Havana?

To: W. R. Hearst, New York Journal, N.Y.:
Everything is quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. I wish to return. - Remington.

To: Remington, Havana:
Please remain. You furnish the pictures, and I'll furnish the war.

Well, this may not have happened - but maybe Murdoch saw Citizen Kane one to many times and has Orson Welles? voice ringing in ears ? ?You provide the prose poems, I'll provide the war!?

Is Charles Foster Kane running these tabloids and Fox News ? telling Roger Ailes what to do? Could be.

But Friday?s big story was the New York Times letting everyone know what was in a classified US Army report on torture ? this time at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

This was all over the news so there is no need to deal with it in detail ? but a good summary of where we now stand on all this torture stuff comes from Andrew Sullivan (paragraphing changed for emphasis ) -
It has gone chronologically something like this:

"It's not true. It's not true."

"It may be true but it's not torture."

"Okay, it's torture, but isn't official policy."

"It may be true and official policy, but we changed the policy and we uncovered the abuses ourselves."

"It may be true, it may have been widespread, but we've punished the culprits."

?It may be true, it may have been widespread, it may still be happening, but all these reports are old news."

Well, give these guys points for effort.

How about: it is true; it should never have happened; the people responsible for the policy as well as the criminals should be punished.

Ah, but that would mean taking responsibility, wouldn't it? And we don't do that in this administration, do we? ?
Those of use who are news addicts, and political junkies, and policy wonks ? those of us who follow such things ? know Sullivan has provided a quite useful review here. It is pretty amazing.

Laura has her work cut out for her.

As for what was in the Times? It seems our guys beat prisoners to death ? using the famous "common peroneal strike" - a real good whack to the side of the leg, just above the knee. They did this so often to certain prisoners within a short period of time that they developed blood clots from the injuries and died - and said they did this mostly just to hear them scream - it was funny. The tissue on their legs, as the coroner described it, "had basically been pulpified." The guys were mostly body builders who called themselves "the testosterone gang" and decorated their tents with the confederate flags.

Cool. Why does the Times hate America? And the South?

Key excerpts ?
Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.
Yep, they sort of knew he was just unlucky? Oh well.

And there is this pop culture aspect to it all -
Some of the same M.P.'s took a particular interest in an emotionally disturbed Afghan detainee who was known to eat his feces and mutilate himself with concertina wire. The soldiers kneed the man repeatedly in the legs and, at one point, chained him with his arms straight up in the air, Specialist Callaway told investigators. They also nicknamed him "Timmy," after a disabled child in the animated television series "South Park." One of the guards who beat the prisoner also taught him to screech like the cartoon character, Specialist Callaway said.

Eventually, the man was sent home.
No comment.

And there is this -
With most of the legal action pending, the story of abuses at Bagram remains incomplete. But documents and interviews reveal a striking disparity between the findings of Army investigators and what military officials said in the aftermath of the deaths.

Military spokesmen maintained that both men had died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides. Two months after those autopsies, the American commander in Afghanistan, then-Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, said he had no indication that abuse by soldiers had contributed to the two deaths. The methods used at Bagram, he said, were "in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques."
What is generally accepted on our side isn?t playing well in the Middle East.

Digby over at Hullabaloo adds this -
As we already know from the stories in Guantanamo, many of the prisoners were sold or turned over to the Americans by Afghan warlords with an agenda. They were not guilty of anything.

? Perhaps most tellingly, the soldiers felt they were justified in beating and torturing prisoners because the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, had declared that the detainees, as "terrorists," were not covered under the Geneva Conventions. They took the gloves off. Just as their superiors told them to.

Perhaps when Newsweak "takes action" to remedy the damage they caused to US credibility, they can explain ?
Oh, they don?t have to. Laura the Librarian will explain it all. No one envies her that job ? and we really do wish her well.

But sometimes the wife just cannot clean up the mess the husband has made.

Posted by Alan at 22:28 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 20 May 2005 22:43 PDT home

Topic: Photos

Paparazzi Corner

This is Hollywood, so one needs shots of stars. Most of what is here has been on politics and culture. Before people complain it seems best to provide celebrity shots.

Coming in this Sunday’s Just Above Sunset you will find a column from Bob Patterson on the day, many years ago, Paul Newman asked for Bob’s autograph. Really.

That day in Pacific Palisades he took a series of black and white photographs, and I have been digitalizing them.

Here are a few. (Photos Copyright ? 2005 – Robert Patterson)

Richard Pryor being interviewed.

Paul Newman

Jack Lemon

Walter Mathieu

Obviously when not ?on? ? when not selling the persona ? these four look a bit unhappy, or pensive, or ordinary.

More to follow on Sunday ? including some from the Oscars ?

Posted by Alan at 16:45 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 20 May 2005 16:54 PDT home

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