Browsing the archives for the Politics & Current Events tag.


Next Up: European Truckers Angry About Night, Gravity

Politics & Current Events

European truckers and other frequent drivers are protesting high fuel prices. Various government luminaries are proposing a McCain/Clinton style repeal of gas taxes, which in the red-tape-intensive Europe would require the sign-off of the entire freaking EU, a task that would be described as Herculean if Hercules were a bureaucratic wonk.

Yet it's not clear what truckers are hoping to accomplish by cursing the darkness. Even in Europe, the government is not price-fixing gasoline. Market forces largely out of the government's control, and evidently out of its comprehension, are fixing gasoline prices. As was discussed here in America earlier during the Obama/Clinton smackdown, cutting the taxes is a Hello Kitty bandaid on an arterial gusher. What's worse, you're going to drop the price an insignificant fraction, encourage people to drive significantly more because of irrational human behavior, and thereby drive up demand and drive up the prices even higher. That's stupid. Unfortunately, many politicians would rather do a stupid, stupid thing than admit that government is at best powerless and at worst actively harmful when it addresses some economic forces. If they admitted that, people might have less faith in the government, and therefore less faith in them. Prestige would dwindle. Power would wane. Politics would cease to be even show business for ugly people; it would be merely ugly people for ugly people. Who wants that?

Not John McCain, at least. He's back to calling for a gas tax holiday. At least he hasn't yet stooped to the Clintonian levels of sneering at economists.

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Bob Barr Says He Was Wrong About the Drug War

Law, Politics & Current Events

I'm very unlikely to vote for Bob Barr. I'm more of a civil libertarian and he's more of a federalist libertarian. But that's a discussion for another day. For today, via John Cole, I see that Barr has made a statement that I wish more (relatively) serious candidates would stand up and say: the War on Drugs is a failure.

And let me just say, if you have to flip-flop on an issue, this is the way to do it:

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Sometimes You've Got To Just Quit The Club

Politics & Current Events

Looks like the U.S. has decided to give up on playing a role in the farce that is the U.N. Human Rights Council – or, at least, has decided to posture as if it is doing so. From a State Department press briefing last Friday:

QUESTION: Another subject? Did U.S. decide to cut all cooperation with the Council on Human Rights?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. Look, our skepticism regarding the function of the UN Council on Human Rights in terms of fulfilling its mandate and its mission is well known. It has a rather pathetic record in that regard. Instead of focusing on some of the real and deep human rights issues around the world, it has really turned into a forum that seems to be almost solely focused on bashing Israel.

In the – the Secretary has taken the decision that we will engage the Human Rights Council really only when we believe that there are matters of deep national interest before the Council and we feel compelled; otherwise, we are not going to. Part of our strategy is to take a look at any suggestions or thoughts we might have to improve the performance of the Council. There’s a five-year review period, and that review period is going to fall outside the term of this Administration, but of course, we’ll – we feel as stewards of the national interest, we are going to think about ways that might improve the function of the Council.

QUESTION: So what does that mean, and when was this decision made?

MR. MCCORMACK: I can’t tell you what day, but recently.

QUESTION: Well, what does it mean that you will engage the Council only when there are matters of deep national interest? I notice that today – that, I mean, at the (inaudible) today, they were speaking about Burma. Isn’t that something of deep national interest to the United States? You didn’t speak to – they didn’t speak to that.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. You know, simply put, Matt, because we don’t think it is a serious institution in dealing with human rights –

QUESTION: No, no, I understand that.

MR. MCCORMACK: — human rights issues, we are going to take a more reserved approach in terms of engaging the Council, just because the – our ability and the ability of others to really influence this body is proven to be rather minimal over the past couple of years, and as a result we are just – we’re going to choose more selectively how and when to engage the Council.

The Council currently includes China, Cuba, and Egypt. That's like having a U.N. Council on Physical Fitness staffed by Fat Bastard, Keith Richards, and me.

This is probably the right call for now. The Council's a joke. It's ineffectual at actually protecting human rights — probably because it's staffed by countries for whom human rights is at best a low priority and at worst a slogan used by Western countries to criticize them. It's obsessed with foolishness like banning "defamation of religion." It's unapologetically and transparently biased against Israel. Continued participation by the U.S. would just give it more credibility than it deserves. And it's not like the U.S. itself has much human rights credibility these days. Though a colorable argument can be made that anything we've done since 9/11 pales in comparison to routine human rights abuses in other countries, we certainly are not covering ourselves in human rights glory, and it's unlikely that any country is interested in sitting still to hear us talk about it.

Although this administration's decision to walk away from the Council is almost certainly posturing and in support of policies with which I disagree, I think it's the right step.

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Put On Your Prognostication Hats And Talk About The Electoral Split In Our Forums

Politics & Current Events

The less I say about last night's Democratic primary results the better. I've already tipped my hand about how Hillary Clinton managed to convert me from neutral to distaste, and there's not much point in me describing how listening to her speech Tuesday night made me want to swerve into oncoming traffic.

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What Is Your Business Here, Citizen?

Law, Politics & Current Events

Washington D.C. is contemplating a sort of reverse "Escape From New York" scenario, where people driving into particular neighborhoods will be stopped by the police and turned away unless they can give what the police consider to be a legitimate reason to be there:

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced a military-style checkpoint yesterday to stop cars this weekend in a Northeast Washington neighborhood inundated by gun violence, saying it will help keep criminals out of the area.

Starting on Saturday, officers will check drivers' identification and ask whether they have a "legitimate purpose" to be in the Trinidad area, such as going to a doctor or church or visiting friends or relatives. If not, the drivers will be turned away.

Seeing the sights, chilling, cruising, and just getting in your car and going wherever you want is not a legitimate reason, apparently. Although the police apparently assume that the killers and drug dealers they are hoping to deter are lazy; they aren't stopping pedestrians. Scooters? Sedgways? Not yet clear.

You might remember that this is the same mayor and police chief who announced a program in which police would go door to door asking nicely if they could come in to search for guns. I'm sure their manners would be impeccable.

These programs won't be happening in Georgetown, in case you were wondering.

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The Difference Between Free Speech Heroism and Free Speech Martyrdom Is Common Sense

Politics & Current Events

Note to blogger Gopalan Nair:

Your dogged criticism of the legal and political elite of Singapore is in the best tradition of journalism. Though your accusation that judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean was "prostituting herself" was insulting, it was fair comment in light of her tolerance of a lawsuit in which Singapore's ruling elite is using defamation law to suppress political dissent.

However….

This is what is known, in American political parlance, as "pulling a Gary Hart:"

I am Gopalan Nair. Today is May 31, 2008 at 10.40am Singapore time. I am at present in Singapore at Broadway Hotel, Room 708, 195 Serangoon Road, Singapore, 218067. The hotel telephone number is is 62924661. My local SingTel telephone number is 83764236.

I'm all in favor of you defying Singapore's ludicrous and oppressive defamation laws. But there's taking the bullet during battle in the interests of freedom, and then there's jumping in front of the bullet in the interests of self-promotion. Daring the officials of Singapore to jail you — a group that is thirsty for blood, not having caned any disaffected teenaged expats for more than a decade — seems to rush past courting danger and reach a level of pulling up to danger on a street corner and offering it $200 for a blow job.

Your arrest was not exactly a shock.

Dude, the point of blogging is that you can say anything you want and they can't do anything about it. What's the deal with telling them where to find you?

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Decipticons, Charm Bracelet Enthusiasts Threat To Air Security

Effluvia, Irksome, Politics & Current Events

Everyone knows that if we can't keep ourselves safe, the terrorists win. Hence we must strive to eliminate all threats to air security. Like T-shirts and necklaces.

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Next Up, Al-Qaeda Posts Terrifying Pictures Of Apes Throwing Barrels At Plumbers

Gaming, Politics & Current Events, WTF?

This is London reports breathlessly that an Islamic extremist site has posted an image of nuclear terror:

Washington is laid to waste. The Capitol is a blackened, smoking ruin. The White House has been razed. Countless thousands are dead.

This is the apocalyptic scene terrorists hope to create if they ever get their hands on a nuclear bomb.

The computer-generated image below was posted on an Islamic extremists' website yesterday.

Here is the picture:

Nuked Capitol

It is indeed a terrifying image.

But terror-wise, there's just one problem.

It's a concept drawing for the upcoming computer game Fallout 3, the latest in the beloved post-apocalyptic computer role playing series.

That, to me, sort of takes the edge off.

Observations:

1. Either someone put this up to scam media outlets, or Islamic terrorists are gamers as well.

2. Does the fact that Islamic terrorists have progressed from featuring Bert to featuring video game images mean they have graduated from toddlerhood to preadolescence? Can we expect some moody Indie album covers to appear on Al-Qaeda propaganda next?

(Note: some have already reported that the site was indie and not an "official" Al-Qaeda group. And as I discovered after I wrote almost all of this, The Fallout 3 Blog already picked up on this. Amusingly, they did so before This is London wrote the breathless prose above. And there are reports that at least one intelligence group was taken in.)

Hat tip to Farley of our forums on this one.

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In North Charleston, "Prosecutorial Discretion" Apparently Means "Discretion to be a Assclown"

Irksome, Politics & Current Events

Dateline: North Charleston, South Carolina. City Prosecutor Dale DuTremble is deciding whether or not to prosecute an assault by one woman upon another. He elects not to do so. Usually such decisions pass unremarked, and indeed one might never receive word that the decision was officially made, let alone receive an explanation. But Dale DuTremble saw fit to give an explanation to the suspect and complainant.

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Wow, Local Newspapers Can Suck

Irksome, Politics & Current Events

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about Bill Johnson, the candidate for superior court judge in Los Angeles with the white supremacist past. He tried to hitch a ride on the Ron Paul blimp but was wisely given the heave -ho.

My hometown weekly rag — which I grew up reading, and for which I wrote as a high school student — has decided to cover Johnson. Will it be incisive reporting? Will the La Canada Valley Sun blow the lid off of this scandal, or reach some profound conclusions about how a man's evil past can come back to haunt him 25 years later?

Not quite.

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I Got a Job With a Political Campaign

Politics & Current Events

John McCain, recognizing that he is perhaps two years behind Ron Paul in building an army of internet-savvy flying monkeys, has created a point system to encourage his minions to spread his talking points on blogs across the land.

Select from the numerous web, blog and news sites listed here, go there, and make your opinions supporting John McCain known. Once you’ve commented on a post, video or news story, report the details of your comment by clicking the button below. After your comments are verified, you will be awarded points through the McCain Online Action Center.

Wow! The McCain Online Action Center! And you get … points! What are they redeemable for? It's not entirely clear. Prestige? Bragging rights? Ambassadorships in the McCain Administration?

Whatever it is — I see this as a challenge. Who is the Popehatter who can get the most points based on blog posts that are not, in read carefully enough, complimentary to McCain? Scroll down on the page linked above and leave a message. Here's what I left:

Blog: Red State
Blog Username: ProudAmerican
Blog Body: I KNOW that John McCain is a proud AMERICAN unlike baroc HUSSEIN obamma! I was at a rally for JOHN MCAIN and a man walked up who was NOT WEARING AN AMERICAN FLAG PIN! In front of a VETERAN! And LADIES WERE PRESENT! John McCain saw him and got mad and kicked him in the groin so hard that he became incontinent (the guy without the flag pin, not John McCain). That's the kind of patriotism and leadership we need!

I'll let you know if I get points.

4 Comments

You'll Never Get Voted Out Acting Like A Dick About Criminal Defendants

Law, Politics & Current Events

Maricpa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a popular guy with the voters. He's on his fourth term as Sheriff. He's achieved impressive popularity by building his brand as "America's Toughest Sheriff" — which has mostly meant doing crowd-pleasing talk-radio-rhetoric things like making jail inmates live in tent cities in the Arizona heat (and then telling them they have it better than soldiers in Iraq), making them wear pink underwear, slashing their food budget, limiting them to G-rated movies, and bringing back chain gangs. If you can imagine Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage suggesting that something be done to inmates to show how tough on crime we are, Joe Arpaio has probably done it and crowed about it.

But if you live there, whatever you do, don't criticize him.

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Is Tofu a Weapon of Mass Destruction?

Politics & Current Events, WTF?

I only ask, you know, because apparently the FBI is trying to recruit college slackers to infiltrate "vegan potlucks" in the Twin Cities.

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Nancy Pelosi Has Passed Her Bill, Now Let Some Hapless Assistant United States Attorney Enforce It.

Irksome, Politics & Current Events

You are an idiot.

The difference between your elected representative and me is that I'm honest enough to tell you what I think of you.  You should thank me for my candor.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for limiting oil supplies and working together to set crude prices, but the White House threatened to veto the measure.

The bill would subject OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, to the same antitrust laws that U.S. companies must follow.

The measure passed in a 324-84 vote, a big enough margin to override a presidential veto.

They might as well pass a law against rain at the next Congressional Pages' Combined Picnic and Molestation outing for all the effect this bill will have on oil prices.

Via Matthew Gross

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We Stand By China In Its Fight Against Counterrevolutionaries, Wrong-Thinkers, and Ethnic Troublemakers

Politics & Current Events, WTF?

So now we're not only letting the Chinese interrogate our prisoners, we're softening them up for the Chinese interrogators first.

Buried in a Department of Justice report released Tuesday are new allegations about a 2002 arrangement between the United States and China, which allowed Chinese intelligence to visit Guantanamo and interrogate Chinese Uighurs held there.

According to the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, an FBI agent reported a detainee belonging to China's ethnic Uighur minority and a Uighur translator told him Uighur detainees were kept awake for long periods, deprived of food and forced to endure cold for hours on end, just prior to questioning by Chinese interrogators.

Now, to be fair, it's not like the Chinese are getting special treatment when we allow them to interrogate their oppressed minorities or anything:

An official authorized to speak on behalf of the Defense Department but who declined to be named confirmed it was Pentagon policy to allow officials from other countries to have access to interview their nationals at Guantanamo but declined to discuss the specifics alleged in the report.

So, you know, if we should pick up any gay poets or anything, Raul Castro should feel free to ask for his secret police to have a chat with them.

Does this mean we think that Uighurs wobble around the edges of terrorism? Well, not exactly:

The U.S. State Department has found China to have suppressed the religious freedom of Uighurs, who are Muslim, and has accused the Chinese government of persecuting, even executing, those who advocate Uighur independence.

In 2006, after the United States released five Uighurs from Guantanamo, China asked for them to be repatriated so they could be prosecuted as terrorists. The United States declined to do so, out of concern they would not be treated humanely. Instead they transferred the men to Albania, which was the only country out of 90 approached by the U.S. government who would take them.

So. We won't send them to you so that you can prosecute them and torture them. But why not come over and interrogate them here? We've got nice facilities. We'll have a beer after or something.

Via.

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