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May 11, 2004

Hugged it like a brother
Posted by Teresa at 04:13 PM *

Rumsfeld won’t resign, and Bush won’t sack him.

I believe this is the first time I’ve seen George miss an opportunity to distance himself from failure and blame. The atrocities at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere will still have happened on his watch, so he’ll still have ultimate responsibility—hey, that’s what it means when you take on a command position—but firing Rumsfeld would at least have given him a cut-out, a figleaf’s worth of cover. It’s the minimum price for having anyone believe his apologies.

But no. He means to keep Rumsfeld, and so necessarily endorses him; which means the blame flows straight up through Rumsfeld and attaches to Bush. That’s so unlike him. All these times, we’ve watched him dodge responsibility; yet now, when the charges are so foul that any sane man would want to distance himself from, Bush is right in there saying “Bring it on.”

This pretty much nails down his title as the worst President in American History, except for the matter of his not having been legitimately elected. I don’t know. Maybe this will be a trick question in future presidential trivia quizzes:
“Worst President ever?” “That’s easy! —George W. Bush.”
“Is so.”
“Is not, it’s James Buchanan.”
“Got you! Bush was never elected. He was acting chief executive, or something.”
“Jeez, what a rip.”
Like that.
Comments on Hugged it like a brother:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 06:28 PM:

While I don't disagree that he's the worst President ever, he wasn't the first to serve without ever being elected to national office. That would be Gerald Ford.

Also, Dubya was elected by the Electoral College, wasn't he? It's Us, The People who didn't elect him.

#2 ::: Genesis ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 06:46 PM:

I'm probably stating the obvious here, but it seems unlikely that Bush would fire Rumsfeld when Kerry has been circulating a petition calling for him to do just that. Can't appear to give in to pressure from the enemy, you know.

#3 ::: ElizabethVomMarlo ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 06:57 PM:

Well, it took the Supreme Court to determine whether or not Florida's electoral votes counted for W or Gore, and lots of people weren't happy about the decision, not mention all those votes counted for Buchanon, and of course, Jeb was Georgie's brother, so....

I think there's a decent chance W will be considered by history to have only kinda sorta been elected by the Electoral College.

#4 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 07:08 PM:

My personal guess is that Rumsfeld can't/won't go, just because Bush doesn't want to have to try to nominate someone to be Sec. of Def. at this point in the campaign.

Can you just imagine some poor so-and-so, trying to get Senate approval? "What's your exit plan for Iraq?" would just be the start of it.

Add to that that Rumsfeld's been loyal to W, and that's all he considers to be important. It'll take a lot more than we've had so far before Rumsfeld decides that he needs to spend more time with his family.

#5 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 07:16 PM:

Rumsfeld, as a card carrying member of the Eddorian Innermost Circle, knows far too much to be cast out. If he's fired he'll turn on his erstwhile All-Highest. It's obvious.

#6 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 07:24 PM:

So, beyond the installation of torturers at Abu Ghraib, including civilian contractors, we can now lay this at Rumsfeld's feet We're putting Sadr's forces in charge of Najaf and Falujah, and an Iranian backed group of insurgents is probably joining his militia in "protecting" these areas.

That's right. The Medhi Army is being given authority in Falujah and Najaf. We're also letting the Iranians in. That's how bad things are going there.

Our "exit strategy" seems to be to leave things in the hands of thugs, theocrats and terrorists.

Any bets if the Iraqi people end up thanking us for yanking out one brutal thug, replacing him with several others, and then leaving them with a flattened country?

#7 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 07:37 PM:

I may be mistaken, but wasn't another President elected by the Electoral College without a majority of the popular vote? Wouldn't he be the first not elected through popular vote?

I agree that Ford is the first not elected at all.

#8 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 07:46 PM:

Dave - yes. In 1888, Benjamin Harrison was elected by the Electoral College despite a larger share of the popular vote going to the incumbent, Grover Cleveland. There were also two cases decided by the House: one, in 1876, when the House decided which set of disputed election returns (and therefore which slate of electors) to sit, and once in 1824, when the Electoral College was unable to select a President.

#9 ::: James Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 09:02 PM:

Aw, c'mon, surely we all remember the victory of Rutherford (known as "Rutherfraud") B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden! If I remember right, Hayes was down by 14 electoral votes with 15 disputed votes; the committee put together to judge the validity of the two sets of disputed votes was tilted by 1 to Hayes's party, and lo, every one of the 15 votes fell his way.

The Hayes Presidential Library is not far from where I went to college, and apparently it's quite clear and detailed about the degree to which Hayes stole the election. I wonder if, in 2120 or so, the Bush Library in Crawford will be as open.

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 10:08 PM:

By an amazing coincidence, in 2001, an editor not a million miles from went and reissued this 1968 book about the 1876 election by a pseudonymous writer not a million miles from the author of The Book of Skulls and Dying Inside. The editor still regards his back-cover copy (reproduced on Amazon, with added typos, under the heading "Book Description") as one of the finest works of his career.

#11 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 10:43 PM:


I think that the people who currently hold Fallujah are former Republican Guards/Baatists rather than al-Sadr's people. The Mehdi Army is in the south.

Otherwise, looks like you're right.

When the freepers tell this story, it will be of the triumphant USA stabbed in the back by the disloyal liberals who weren't ready to Go The Distance or Do What It Takes.

#12 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 11:04 PM:

Did Lincoln win the popular vote or just the Electoral vote?

#13 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 11:10 PM:

There was also the 1800 election, in which the Republican (now Democratic) Party vice-presidential candidate tried to outmanoever his running mate, one Thomas Jefferson, and become top banana. This was because the original wording of the Constitution did not presume a party system, and said the person with the most EC votes would be Pres. and the person with the second-most Veep. Once the idea of "running mates" came along, the tie became inevitable and Aaron Burr's lust for power overtook his party loyalty.

It came down to the House of Representatives, in which the opposition (Federalist) party's leader, Alexander Hamilton, basically made the choice by deciding which of the two he detested less, and putting his weight behind that person. TJ narrowly won that choice, and the election.

Given what happened between Hamilton and Burr a few years later, and what Burr did after that, I'd say Alec H. made a wise choice, and deserves his place on the $10 bill. But then I've always been a Jefferson fan.

The Constitutional Amendment that followed soon after, and prevented any later Veep-to-be from aping Burr's connivance, was also a Good Thing.

#14 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 11:29 PM:

The best theory I've seen on Rumsfeld (I think it was in the comments section of the Daily Kos) was that Bush won't fire Rumsfeld until the whole scope of the tortures is made public. If he fires Rumsfeld now and more revelations of abuse come out, then he's got to fire someone else.

(This potential chain of events makes me think of that Ren and Stimpy cartoon. "There's no one else to hang... hey, why don't we hang ourselves?)


#15 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 11:31 PM:

Lisa, Lincoln won the popular vote, but only a plurality of it, largely because there were four-count 'em-4 major party candidates, especially because the Democrats split into Northern (pro-Union) and Southern ("States Rights", aka pro-slavery) factions, and the Whig party in its death throes also put up a candidate, though they were in such bad shape that they called themselves the Constitutional Union Party.

Still, Abe -- having won the heavily-populated North -- got 180 electoral votes vs. 123 for all three of his opponents combined.

See the Wikipedia article on this election, which is handy. (If you were in my library I'd pull out a print source like the almanac or the Historical Statistics of the United States.)

Lincoln was the candidate of the spanking-new Republican Party -- only its second Presidential candidate ever -- which had formed in 1856 from the anti-slavery wing of the Whigs.

Lincoln's old rival Stephen Douglas led the Northern Democrats, and got the second-most votes -- popular votes that is. In the Electoral College, he finished fourth. (In the 1820s, the days of John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and the "Era of Good Feelings", the Federalists had collapsed, the Republican Party of that day became the only major U.S. party, and then split again, becoming the Democratic Party -- Jackson's faction -- and the Whigs.)

John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, the southern Dem. candidate, who swept much of what would soon (but temporarily) become the Confederacy, came in third in the popular vote, but second in the EC, and John Bell of Tennessee, the Constitutional Union/Whig guy, fourth and third.

#16 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 11:39 PM:

I’m amazed that Teresa can talk about Bush “not having been legitimately elected”, and people here immediately leap to the conclusion (erroneous, I’d bet) that she’s talking about the popular/electoral vote split, and not the outright fraud and chicanery that handed Florida over to him.

#17 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 11:52 PM:

What Avram said. I guess historical memory now extends back about two or three weeks.

#18 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 01:58 AM:

Genesis: *cough*steeltariffs!*cough* ;)

Lois Fundis: As I've always been a Hamilton fan, I support your view of history entirely. (Why is it that Hamilton never ran for President?)

#19 ::: Lollee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 02:06 AM:

Madeline - As I understand it, Hamilton was born in the West Indies and was not eligible to become President. (Which always seemed odd to me - none of the first six or seven Presidents were BORN in the United States. They were born in colonies that BECAME the United States.)

#20 ::: aurora ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 02:23 AM:

I guess Bush is sitting tight because firing Rumsfeld now, after backing him through the Iraq war and so on, will make him look like an idiot for having him on in the first place (I don't think Bush has yet realised that he looks like an idiot *anyway* :)) and besides, Rumsfeld has managed to build a lot of support for himself in the administration.

#21 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 03:01 AM:

There's a clause in the Constitution which may have allowed for Hamilton to become President. One sentence in Section 1 of Article II says, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;" (italics mine) Since Hamilton had lived in what would becoem the U.S. since 1772, before the Revolution, and indeed had been one of Washington's aides during the war, he would have been covered by this provision.

Why he didn't? Well, for one thing, he died in 1804, in the infamous duel with Aaron Burr. (Sometimes it seems that almost everything bad that happened in American history in the first decade of the 1800s can be blamed on Aaron Burr.) Also, he was up against some stiff competition: Adams, Jefferson . . . And he was much younger than them; born in 1755, or possibly 1757, he was twelve or fourteen years younger than TJ. In fact he was less than 50 when he died, 200 years ago this coming July.

I've sometimes wondered if, had he lived, he might have run against Madison in 1808. (Madison was born in 1751, and so was much closer in age to Hamilton.)

There's an alternate history to play around with: what would have happened when the Napoleonic Wars/War of 1812 came along if the Anglophilic Hamilton had been President?

#22 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 03:26 AM:

"...which means the blame flows straight up through Rumsfeld and attaches to Bush."

Sheee-it, Teresa. I doubt that Bush (let alone anyone in his circle of enablers) honestly believes that there is blame to be assigned, other than the blame for whoever leaked the Taguba report, and whoever "put our troops in danger" by making the Abu Ghraib photos public.

The administration's response to this godawful mess is shaping up to no different than the standard-issue shit we see whenever some pocket-edition Himmler of a televangelist gets caught banging a prostitute: "God forgives me. Why can't you? Cash, check, or credit card gratefully accepted."

To these faux-moral pin-dicks, civilization is some sort of bowling trophy we won a long time ago and don't even have to polish anymore, rather than a living concept that needs to be defended against deliberate acts of vile hypocrisy.

#23 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 03:29 AM:

Also, I deeply resent the way this administration makes me want to hyphenate insults all night long.

#24 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 07:01 AM:

Good copy, Patrick.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 07:07 AM:

Avram's right. I meant the chicanery, force, and fraud that went down in Florida, plus the later connivance of the Supreme Court.

Scott, I liked "faux-moral pin-dicks".

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 07:10 AM:

By the way, I'm wondering whether anyone will spot the provenance of the title.

#27 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 07:10 AM:

Bush has absolutely no problem with blame etc. for high crimes, as long as this blame does not cause him to lose the election. If he had a worry about the judgement of history he would probably do more to save his reputation, but i doubt he thinks that far ahead.

Actually the thing that has been bugging me for the last year is that most Presidents when they leave office make their money by high-paying speaking engagements and similar PR fluff. Can anyone see Bush being asked to do anything after this is all over?

#28 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 07:16 AM:

Teresa -

I know it's not what you meant, but your title keeps making me think of the old WB Abominable Snowman: "I'm going to love him and hug him and call him George."


#29 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 08:11 AM:

Having looked at a few of the Iraqi prison photos, I am struck by some oddities. One, the one or two US individuals shown in those do not appear to have the strength to subdue more than one person let alone lift and place multiple prisoners into positions that they want. That leads me to believe those were staged. Two, the US personnel were not always smiling as if some of the stagings repulsed them. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the actual culprits were initially blackmailing them to remain quiet about what was going on by using them in the photos.

I do not claim my interpretation to be correct. I only state that is an impression the photos give me.

#30 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 09:06 AM:

Dave --

You can safely assume that there's someone off camera with a machine gun, that the prisoners were required to put themselves into those positions, and that no one smiles all the time, especially when their mental state is cycling between real disgust at their victims and intense joy in their ability to compell their victims to be disgusting.

You can also safely assume that the prisoners were in a bad state -- hungry, exhausted, and suffering the kind of personality disassociation problems that break the ability to form decision/action loops -- by the time those photographs were taken.

Congratulations; you have almost no personal understanding of the mechanics of torture.

#31 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 09:55 AM:

Congratulations, Graydon, you have almost no personal understanding of the mechanics of reading. Try reading what I stated. It was an impression that came to me. Nothing more.

Besides which, those photos were clearly staged, regardless of the reason. As such, those would not have much value outside that prison other than to embarrass and humiliate the US.

Inside, yes, those could torment the prisoners... IF they were shown the photos. However, with most wearing hoods, just how would that matter? It wouldn't take them long to realize that without identifying marks, one hooded body looks much like another. About the only thing working against them would be personal knowledge of whether they were in those situations that were recorded or the few photos that showed them unhooded.

If you want to express an opinion, Graydon, please do so, but leave out the personal attacks. Otherwise, I'll turn those back on you.

#32 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 09:56 AM:

Regarding where "the buck" stops, the San Francisco Chronicle's Don Asmussen has a brilliant cartoon on that subject today:

#33 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 09:58 AM:

As I understand it, and I could easily be wrong, Hamilton was illegitimate, which was a big deal back then. I don't know that he could have been elected.

#34 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 09:58 AM:

My perception of the last few years suggests that Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, and Rumsfeld have been so deeply in each other's pockets that if any were to go the whole administration would collapse in flames. Lovely as that would be, I doubt that any one of them will take action to ignite the Guy Fawke's Day bonfire under their own feet.

#35 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 09:58 AM:

My perception of the last few years suggests that Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, and Rumsfeld have been so deeply in each other's pockets that if any were to go the whole administration would collapse in flames. Lovely as that would be, I doubt that any one of them will take action to ignite the Guy Fawke's Day bonfire under their own feet.

#36 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 10:11 AM:

Faren -- thanks for that link. Very funny!

#37 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 10:15 AM:

Other reasons that Hamilton was never president:

He drove his political opponents completely wild, utterly around the bend. Burr is an extreme example of this, resulting in the famous duel, but by no means unique. (Burr also had this effect on his opponents, resulting in the famous duel...)

During the debate over how bonds issued by the Continental Congress and the various states during the war would be treated, Hamilton, who was arguing for complete assumption at face value, was discovered to be making withdrawals from his savings, for no apparent purpose. This led to the obvious conclusion that he was buying up bonds, expecting to make a killing at public expense if his view prevailed. To refute this charge and save his plan for establishing the credit of the USA on a sound footing, Hamilton revealed the truth: he had been having an affair with a married woman. Her husband discovered the affair, and threatened to go public with it. The withdrawals were for blackmail payments. This did not enhance Hamilton's political prospects, although it did save his plan for the US treasury.

#38 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 10:43 AM:

Dave Kuzminski, I believe there's someone I can ask about your speculations, so hold tight. In the meantime, please don't offer to get into a fight with Graydon. If you do it anyway, I'll wait a while before rescuing you.

Lis, I always chalked it up to Hamilton being a non-egalitarian snot who didn't bother to hide it. But he was also a man with a real sense of how money works, which is why he's remembered approvingly in New York. He did a lot to get the country's commercial finance on a firm footing -- said footing being located at the lower end of Manhattan Island.

#39 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 10:59 AM:


I noticed that Grandmaster Silverbob's book description includes "...and set the stage fro [sic] eighty bitter years of segregation...

I either saw this book description in the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times.

Of course, one can also read:

Alternate Presidents

Resnick, Mike (ed.). Alternate Presidents.
Comments: New stories involving American elections, including Pat Cadigan's "Dispatches from the Revolution", J. Carr's "The War of '07", Jack L. Chalker's "Now Falls the Cold, Cold Night", G.E. Cox's "The More Things Change...", Barbara Delaplace's "No Other Choice", Thomas A. Easton's "Black Earth and Destiny", Bill Fawcett's "Lincoln's Charge", David Gerrold's "The Impeachment of Adlai Stevenson", Alexis A. Gilliland's "Demarche to Iran", Eileen Gunn's "Fellow Americans", Janet Kagan's "Love Our Lockwood", Tappan King's "Patriot's Dream", Michael P. Kube-McDowell's "I Shall Have a Flight to Glory", Barry N. Malzberg's "Kingfish", Barry N. Malzberg's "Heavy Metal", J. Moffett's "Chickasaw Slave", J. Nimersheim's "A Fireside Chat", Jody Lyn Nye's "The Father of His Country", L. Person's "Huddled Masses", Laura Resnick's "We Are Not Amused", Mike Resnick's "The Bull Moose at Bay", R. Roberts "How the South Preserved the Union", Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Fighting Bob", Robert Sheckley's "Dukakis and the Aliens", Susan Shwartz's "Suppose They Gave a Peace", Martha Soukup's "Plowshare", Brian M. Thomsen's "Paper Trail", and Lawrence Watt-Evans's "Truth, Justice, and the American Way".

Published: Tor 1992 (0812511921) and SFBC 1992.

Say, who at Tor might have had a hand in this fine anthology, which I read with repeated delight?

#40 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 11:02 AM:

There is a good column in today's Washington Post Business Section entitled, "War Management Follows the Wrong Corporate Model." The article draws parallels between W. and some other poor examples of corporate leadership in recent years. I especially liked the following two paragraphs:

"Here's a little test: You are president of the United States and revelations about abuse of Iraqi prisoners has created the biggest crisis since Sept. 11, inflaming the Arab world, undercutting support at home and undermining our moral authority in the world. How do you spend the weekend?

If you answered 'spend it at Camp David as planned, then drop in at the Pentagon on Monday to praise the defense secretary for doing a superb job,' you just flunked, along with George W. Bush."

#41 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 11:04 AM:

Not looking for a fight, Teresa. Just expressing an impression that came to me for discussion and not expecting to be accused of ignorance for doing so. It's one thing to discuss the facts and whether those support the impression. It's another to be "scolded" for ignorance.

Besides, I have enough fights already with a new one brewing because an AAR listed agent doesn't want to be listed in P&E and is threatening to sue.

#42 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 11:34 AM:

I was going to say, "What about David Rice Atchison?" Wikipedia, however, seems to feel that Ripley overstated the case (that Atchison was our only chief executive to sleep through his entire term of office). Still, a man with as much right to the office as anybody who's marking the place now.

#43 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 11:55 AM:

Dave -- I'd have suspected that being ignorant of the mechanics of torture was a good and positive thing.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 12:15 PM:

I knew what Teresa meant. "Not legitimately elected" and "not elected" are two different things; Bush was the former, Ford the latter.

Hamilton founded the New York Post. Perhaps Aaron Burr was a time traveler with good intentions, who landed just a few years too late?

#45 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 12:51 PM:

Jo, you're right.

Furthermore, treatment of that sort towards others just makes me sick. I've seen wrongful behavior before and and can proudly say I stepped in to protect a civilian from another US soldier who had over 50 pounds and a height advantage over me, not forgetting to mention I had one hand bandaged at the time. I fought that jerk to a draw because it was the right thing to do.

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 12:51 PM:

While we're here, raise a glass to absent friends.

#47 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 01:21 PM:

I read something which claimed that while the photos in the press were tightly cropped to show just the prisoners and their immediate tormentors, some of the originals show a crowd of other Americans in the background watching. I believe I saw at least one such audience-included photo, though I don't recall where.

Dave, what gives you the impression the prisoners were "lifted or placed" into position? I would assume that they were ordered into position under threat of worse punishment. Note that such orders could probably be done by gestures, pointing, and hands-on direction, without requiring much strength, nor a translator.

It sounds like the MI personnel or contractors who encouraged the torture may not have been present when the photos were taken, or at least were savvy enough to know that being photographed is never a good thing for an intelligence operative.

#48 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 01:45 PM:

Dave, Graydon,

I think we have a classic case of one person's genuine, honest statement coming across the wrong way.

Now, I don't pretend to speak for Graydon, and his "congratulations" did sound kinda snarky to me at first read, but that kind of snarky isn't Graydon's usual rhetorical style, and there was no call for him to be snarky when offering his views on the subject. So I read it again, assuming a lack of snark, and in a different subvocal tone, and what I got was, as Jo says, that it's a good thing to have almost no personal knowledge of the mechanics of torture. I certainly claim no personal knowlege of same, and am quite pleased that I can.

I do concede that Graydon's "congratulations..." sounded like some of the sarcastic comments I make sotto voce after getting off the phone with some of my less helpful clients "Congratulations! You just won the chaos bomb of the week award. You, singlehanded and unabetted, have set this project back two whole weeks! Give yourself a kewpie doll!" but I would be inclined to question whether Graydon meant it that way, before actually going into attack/defense dialectic.

#49 ::: PeterG ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 01:52 PM:

Hey, don't knock James Buchanan--he's the only President we Pennsylvanians have ever had.

#50 ::: Tom Galloway ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 02:00 PM:

While I consider the Shrub administration to be a disaster, I tend to get a bit annoyed when the idea that he didn't win the election is played up. Yes, there were significant problems with the Florida vote, but they only came to light because 1) Florida ended up being the deciding state due both to the closeness of the race and it being the last to be decided and 2) the race in Florida was so close. I'm sure if you'd looked at every state with the same intensity as Florida, you would've found minor chicanery on *both* sides going on. And if we're going to hit the Shrub for not being "elected" in that sense, well, seems to me he'd be preceded in that regard by JFK and those Illinois votes.

What happened was, basically, the election was a tie; statistically, it was closer than the various noise in the data (which include the bits by both sides to sway action at the polls around the country). Ideally, there should be a clause in the Constitution allowing for such a possibility and describing how to handle it, but I don't think Congress is math-savvy enough to do so, and it's complicated by there being no true national election, but rather elections at the state level in each state that determine the results when combined.

So, while I'm not thrilled with the fairly obvious partisanship of the Supreme Court, I don't feel this came anywhere near the 1876 election in that regard. Frankly, I would've found a coin flip between Gore and Bush to have been reasonable since for all intents and purposes, it was a tie election.

Me, I'm much more concerned about the liklihood of electronic voting systems being used to steal elections. Fortunately, there've been enough problems that it's becoming a major issue.

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 02:01 PM:

And you STILL have a better record than Texas.

#52 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Oh, were they allowed to take their hoods off so they could see gestures and pointing?

As far as the ones without hoods in individual photos, my guess is they fall into one of two categories. Either they were non-cooperative individuals that the MI feared would lead the other prisoners so they warranted extra humiliation by having their faces seen or they were snitches who were treated that way to make it appear that they weren't giving information. You can't prove you were tortured if your buddies can't see your face.

However, this is all speculation so far. We may not know anything until everything becomes declassified as much of it is certain to be stamped and kept secret.

#53 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 02:13 PM:

Lis, I always chalked it up to Hamilton being a non-egalitarian snot who didn't bother to hide it.

That too, for sure, Teresa, but what's most interesting about Burr and Hamilton is that, with their very different personalities and politics, they had exactly the same effect on otherwise-sensible opponents, of driving them completely, utterly, around the bend. And it killed Hamilton, and destroyed Burr's political career. What would those two have done if they could have remained sane in each other's presence?

#54 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 02:35 PM:

Please note that the NYPost was not always a rag, and its current horribleness is due to current ownership, not inherent character.

#55 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 02:51 PM:

BSD, change 'current' to 'recent' and I agree with you (while it's certainly gotten lots worse under the evil Murdock-demon, it's been a rag for at least 20 years that I know of personally). I was kidding, honest.

The Burr/Hamilton duel took place just up the road from me, in Weehawken. Also I have a friend who's Burr's nephew (or something) n times removed, for large n. So I've heard a bit about it, not counting the recent NPR interview with the author of a new book on Hamilton, who claims that Hamilton basically invented the US economy, or what little I remember from school ("Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel, so they put Hamilton on our money" would about cover it).

Is it possible for a newspaper to have inherent character? Now that the wall between "church" and "state" (editorial and corporate respectively) that was kept up in American journalism until recently has been torn down, what paper is safe?

#56 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 03:19 PM:

Tom, there's a difference between ordinary election chicanery and refusing to count the votes. I looked up what I wrote at the time:

In 1986 I spent a semester studying mathematics in Hungary. I was surprised at how apathetic Hungarians were about their government. "We can't do anything about it," one explained, "So why should we talk about it?" I came home with a new appreciation for America, a true understanding of what was implied by the words "government of the people, by the people, for the people".

I have not always been happy with the results of the democratic process. They have been elected leaders in my lifetime who I disliked, or despised, or even considered evil. That did not shake my faith in the American ideal.

In many ways, this election shows how close we have come to attaining the ideal. Not one vote seems to have been deliberately stolen in this election. The process of counting the votes, where it has been allowed to proceed, has been honest, open, and fair.

Unfortunately one candidate and his supporters have chosen to attack the legitimacy of our electoral system. They have attacked the fairness of manual recounts, until now universally accepted as slower but more accurate than machine tallies. They have portrayed judges and election supervisors as partisan and biased, without evidence. The result is that in a very close election, the level of error has not been reduced to a minimum. Legal procedures have not been followed.

There are certain errors for which our system has no remedy. When some voters are misled into casting spoiled ballots, or others are improperly purged from the registry of voters, there may be no way to cure the defect in the election. If this election had been tainted only by error of that sort, I would grumble about the result, but I would accept the winner as legitimate. But where the accepted procedure for tallying the ballots has not been followed, where mechanical defects in the election equipment are known and material and at least partly correctable, then the winner has no claim to legitimacy. For the first time, it appears I will live my life under a President not democratically appointed.

I type this because I cannot sleep. There is an emptiness where once there was faith. Faith in a dream, a conviction that the dream was reality. I still believe in the dream, but now it has become a thing to be attained, a goal in this darkest hour seems impossibly distant. In the morning I may see hope. I may find the strength to pursue this dream, to speak in favor of democracy, to encourage all those I encounter to see the dream and fight with me to attain it. I know I will find others who share this dream. But for now I can only mourn for that which was, and now is not.

I've gotten somewhat more radical since then--I now believe that the purging of voters was deliberate and egregious enough to call the legitimacy of the entire election into question--but I still think that a candidate and a Supreme Court refusing to accept the principle that whoever got the most votes should win is appalling beyond all measure. JFK never tried to stop a recount (and would have won even without Illinois's electoral votes). There's just no comparison.

#57 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 03:30 PM:

suggestion for immediate replacement for Secretary of Defense: Eric Shinseki. He's free, isn't he?

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 04:39 PM:

By the way, I'm wondering whether anyone will spot the provenance of the title.

Well, I can't. A simple Googling for it gave me only

When Hanuman returned home Ram was so pleased that he hugged him like a brother. He had found Sita.
I kind of doubt that that's it.

#59 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 05:20 PM:

Dave --

That wasn't sarcasm; it was right, too, because you're looking at those pictures and seeing something relatively benign.

The hoods are sort of poor man's sensory deprivation; if they're actually sandbags, as reported, you can almost see through them -- coarse burlap -- in a way that makes you dizzy with eyestrain. You can hear things, but the weak directionality of human hearing gets messed up, so you are going to mistake where sounds are coming from, and everything you hear will be distorted. No whispers; you can't communicate with the fellow next to you without talking loud enough for the guard to hear. (Is there are a guard there? You can never be sure.)

Because no one has given you food or water for a couple of days, you're wobbly and weak and your brain doesn't work quite right; the ability to connect decision to action is gone or going. You don't know where you are, who or what is near you, who might be a witness to your nakedness, who that naked person you're lying on top of is.

Given the way the American forces are collecting prisoners, that could be your brother, father, or uncle; your next door neighbour, childhood friend, you don't know. After awhile, it'll prey on your mind -- who else is here? Who is a witness to my shame?

Much of that, in a brain functioning obsessively and badly due to dehydration and starvation, starts to gnaw on the edges of sanity.

Remember the guy on the box? With the wires? He thinks, has been told, that if he falls over, he's going to die. He's not been fed adequately in some time; he's dehydrated, he's cold. He's going to fall over; he's going to know that he's going to fall over long before he actually will. Basic message? You're helpless; all the will and strength you possess cannot protect you in this place. Your desire to live can be made to make you know you are weak.

That's the passive form; the active form involves variations on demands for voluntary helplessness. Some guy with loud boots will walk by, and stop in front of you, and kick you in the balls. (Retching in your sandbag is highly disrecommended, but I'll bet they left prisoners like that.) You don't know its coming; you can't see. Anything could be about to happen to you at any moment; there is no safety, no security, no place to hide. Anything can happen to you at any time, and you won't know what until the pain starts.

You won't actually know what after the pain starts; you'll just know it hurts. Your existence comes to be defined by a taxonomy of pain from doubtful, nameless causes.

The next time Loud Boots comes by, if you cower or try to turn sideways or tense up, something worse happens. If you don't, if you just stand there, maybe Loud Boots keeps moving on, or maybe he boots you in the balls again. Maybe Loud Boots keeps going, and thirty seconds later Quiet Boots does something to you, when you were starting to think you were safe, that nothing bad was going to happen this time.

After a while, something breaks; you stop thinking you can defend yourself, and then you stop thinking there is anything there to defend. Which is what the part of this that isn't simple gloating sadism is about; it's intended to compell people to break their own brains, so that their ability to not tell you whatever you want to know is destroyed -- no self, no willpower, basically.

The ones not in hoods are the ones where they want the prisoner to see what's coming; the guys with the electrodes, the dog, the firing squad of the mock execution. Or maybe they want the father to know he's in the horrible naked pile with his son.

Depends on whether you want them to be afraid of where they are, or to be afraid of you.

Probably, you want both at different times.

But this wasn't something genteel, to which the concept of 'snitch' might apply, or any question of who had or hadn't been tortured.

If there is one thing the survivors will be sure of, in the broken world to which they have been so forcibly transported, it is the answer to the question of who has been tortured.

#60 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 06:16 PM:

Xopher -- at least you managed to get something out of Google. I couldn't get a hit on the phrase at all.

#61 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 06:29 PM:

Well, thank you for the refresher course. However, I offered only some impressions because it was what struck me in the way some of those pictures were staged. Now if you'll excuse me, I have better things to do.

#62 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 06:34 PM:

The only hit that I have been able to find, Teresa, on a variation on the title is lyrics from the band Sixpence None the Richer:

Sister, Mother
My life is plagued
By mistakes, broken love, slaps in the face.
But I'm trying to care, to dare to embrace your face.
Hug him like a brother.
Kiss her like a sister.
Let it be my mother for now.
I want to find where the maid in the street
Is pouring her wine.
I heard she takes you in and gives you the words
You need said.
If you'll be her brother,
She'll kiss you like a sister.
She'll even be your mother for now.
Hug him like a brother.
Kiss her like a sister.
Let it be my mother.
Let it be my father.
I will be her brother.
Kiss her like a sister.
Come and be my mother forever.

I can't say I can see the connection yet. Could your title be one of the lyrics from Nine Naked Men that you can't make out right at the beginning? [grin]

#63 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 10:17 PM:

T, I'm guessing Joel Chandler Harris and the Tar Baby on the provenance issue.... The cadence is dead right, and I haven't google or nothin to find out.

#65 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 01:08 AM:

Graydon, thanks for taking the time to get down to specifics. I hadn't a clue why burlap would be advantageous to a torturer, for instance.

When people try to excuse what was done just in the pictures (never mind what went on and on and on in the days and hours and minutes before and after, and that hunger and thirst are more than just feeling a bit peckish and dry) as no worse than a frat initiation, what they're not saying is that plebes consent, or think they do, to what's done to them, and expect to gain status when it's over. And that there is a time limit, known to all. And also that frat initiations aren't exactly known for their attention to safety, even though the initiates are considered, not just as humans, but as friends, when one might expect the trials to be (to a degree) tempered by mutual regard.

In short, there is no equivalency at all between the two situations.

#66 ::: Karen Mattern ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 02:33 AM:

I saw on the news tonight that Rumsfeld says more stories and evidence of torture will be coming to light, not because the press are good at their jobs, but because US Army Intelligence will reveal it. This is the new absolution: because we are coming clean, and reporting our culpabilities, we are exonerated. As if 'covering up' were the greater evil, instead of the alleged policy of brutality.

'Hugged him like a brother' - is it meant in the same sense as 'thick as thieves'? with reference to Georgie and Jebbie? GWB hugging Rumsfeld 'like a brother' if so, i found it a little obscure.

Graydon, it sounds as if you have had experience with this kind of imprisonment? Or have you studied it?

#67 ::: chris bond ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 02:44 AM:

Hunting the title:

An Australian review of a Pearl Jam concert:

Bono himself would have turned green during the pandemonic encore of Do The Evolution, in which Vedder rescued an intrepid stage-crasher from security, planted a George Bush mask on his head, danced him to his knees, clambered on his shoulders, wrestled him to the ground and then hugged him like a brother, all without missing a breath.

Although amusing, no.

How about embrace, not hug...

A translation of a poem about a mattress.

No again.

The Orson Scott Card short story Atlantis

Then he bumped against a log that was also floating on the current, and took hold of it, and rolled up onto the top of it like a dragonboat. Now he could use all his strength for paddling, and soon he was across the current. He drew the log from the water and embraced it like a brother, lying beside it, holding it in the wet grass until the rising water began to lick at his feet again. Then he dragged the log with him to higher ground and placed it up in the notch of a tree where no flood would dislodge it. One does not abandon a brother to the flood.

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

#68 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 04:14 AM:

Could it be this?

The blacks could be made a wedge to drive between the two parties, but to do this it required a party so obnoxious to the Whig or Federal party that they would not unite. So the South starts up a party of fire-eaters, claiming that slavery, according to the Constitution, might spread all over the land. Another party in the South did not want to carry slavery into politics but leave it just as the state had made it and Congress must have nothing to do with it. This hypocrisy of the South inflamed the North and a set of men sprang up actuated by pure revenge for the wrongs heaped upon the honesty of the North. They appealed to the Whigs or Federal party for help, but as the Federal party never had anything to do with slavery, as a party they got no sympathy. This fretted them and the democracy saw this and hugged it like a twin brother. So the Democratic party made a wedge of the abolitionists to split up the Federal party. This gave them the power and they have nourished a viper which has destroyed the democratic party and it will before long establish the old party of North and South, which always held that slavery was a state institution and the government never had any authority over it, outside the states where it existed.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

#69 ::: Niall ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 07:11 AM:

The Wonderful Tar Baby was my first thought, too.

Increasingly desperate googling produced this (From "Rhoda Fleming" by George Meredith):

I call him a working soldier in opposition to the parading soldier, the, coxcomb in uniform, the hero by accident, and the martial boys of wealth and station, who are of the army of England. He studied war when the trumpet slumbered, and had no place but in the field when it sounded. To him the honour of England was as a babe in his arms: he hugged it like a mother. He knew the military history of every regiment in the service. Disasters even of old date brought groans from him.
#70 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 08:42 AM:

Karen --

I haven't been imprisoned, but I have had some similar experiences.

I have also studied these things, though mostly from an abnormal psych perspective rather than a human rights perspective.

#71 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 11:58 AM:

Claude, the Sixpence lyrics were also what I came up with, but the Card and Quimby quotes seem like better possibilities to me.

#72 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 12:22 PM:

Tom Galloway - If you want to talk about "election chicanery" on both sides, consider that one of the reasons Nixon didn't try to challenge any Kennedy-Daley chicanery in Chicago in 1960 was that his advisors quietly informed him that there were Republican activities downstate that wouldn't bear much scrutiny.

But what Steven desJardins said: This isn't about election chicany, any more than it's about Bush not winning the popular vote. It's about not counting the votes.

More historical trivia: Lois Fundis writes that the Republican Party "formed in 1856 from the anti-slavery wing of the Whigs." Not exactly. The northern Whigs did pretty much all become Republicans, though not all immediately (many supported Fillmore in 1856), whether they had been specifically identified as anti-slavery or not. But there were also a large number of disgruntled anti-Lecompton Democrats, as well as the entire Free Soil Party, who were mostly extreme anti-slavery ex-Whigs. The balance between ex-Democrats and ex-Whigs was carefully observed. Every Republican national ticket through at least 1872 contained one candidate who'd started out as a Whig and one who'd started out as a Democrat.

#73 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 12:26 PM:

Teresa says, "worst President ever." Most incompetent ever, except perhaps Buchanan or Harding, yeah. But worst, I'm not so sure. I hope this won't come across as an excuse, but is Abu Ghraib, horrible as it is, actually worse than My Lai? Presidential response to that one wasn't exactly a model of responsibility either.

#74 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 12:37 PM:

I don't believe Teresa based that assessment just on Abu Ghraib. The Johnson administration had a number of actual positive accomplishments, some very significant, to go along with its very real failures. This administration, not so much.

#75 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 01:04 PM:

The title struck me as a rhyme of something that I can't place. As if I should replace initial sounds or reverse letters to get the right words, but what it is is just on the edge of my consciousness, taunting me with familarity.

#76 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 01:31 PM:

Worst president ever? Why we know he Stacks Up Well!

#77 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 03:06 PM:

Calimac --

Lyndon Johnson could talk to the press without pre-scripted answers to the pre-approved questions.

Yes, Mai Lai was an atrocity; yes, Mai Lai was substantially covered up.

Mai Lai does not being to compare to creating an extra-legal gulag, waging an offencive war on the basis of a deliberate campaign of public disinformation, destroying the economic stability of the nation, or attempting to enact a permanent freedom from the common burdens of society for the very rich.

#78 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 03:28 PM:

Did this make the U.S. news? Donald Rumsfeld a indiqué qu'il souhaitait publier l'ensemble des photos et vidéos de prisonniers irakiens, mais il a ajouté que les avocats gouvernementaux s'y opposent car cela violerait la Convention de Genève, qui interdit la présentation d'images dégradantes de prisonniers.
(Source Radio-canada)

(I haven't checked the English news yet. Translation: Donald Rumsfeld [on a surprise visit to Abu Ghraib] said that he wished to make the entire collection of photos and videos of Iraqi prisoners public but that he was opposed by lawyers for the government because to do so would contravene the Geneva convention, which forbids the presentation [which I think in this case means publication] of degrading images of prisoners.)

Lemme get this straight: The lawyers for the government are worried that publishing the images contravenes the Geneva convention. What about the subject matter? Isn't that an enormous b**dy contravention of the Geneva convention? All of the sudden, he's worried about violating the Geneva convention?

From what planet was this individual recruited? Can we send him back? On which planet does he currently believe he resides?

#79 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 04:09 PM:

Yes, it made the U.S. news. Reminded me to lookup something from Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe on the topic of letting lawyers rule your life make decisions.

On the Florida election front, I'd like to see more acknowledgement of the rebuff to Gore in the footnote to the opinion by the Florida Supreme Court reminding the world that Gore (Boies?) did not ask for a full and fair recount, even in the alternative, but rather asked that more votes for Gore be allowed.

#80 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 04:14 PM:

Yes, publishing the images does contravene the Geneva Conventions.

Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Perhaps Bush and Rumsfeld are late to the table when it comes to observing the Geneva Conventions, but I think they should be rewarded for their new-found faith. It might serve as a mitigating factor when it comes time for sentencing them after their war crimes trials.

#81 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 04:23 PM:

Oh, I understood that publishing the images was against the conventions. I was just rather flabbergasted that Rumsfeld was expressing concern for the Geneva conventions in this instance, when he wasn't sufficiently concerned to actually prevent the abuses from happening.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 05:30 PM:

jennie, Rummy's attitude toward the GC is "use it when it's to your advantage, ignore it otherwise." Time to turn flabbergast into rage.

And it is true - and unfortunately something the Bushies can hide behind - that the public display of these photos will add to the humiliation of the victims and their families. Being stripped naked is a profound humiliation to a Moslem, in a way that we (especially for someone like me, who never wear one more scrap of clothing than is absolutely necessary for health, safety, and social appropriateness) find hard to completely understand.

But you're not naked if no one sees you; conversely, the more people who do, the more naked you are. Think of them as rape victims. For them to come forward and speak out, describing what was done to them requires great courage, and will make the narrowminded view them with disgust. Yet NOT to speak out keeps the injustice from being addressed, and protects the perpetrators. Rapists (and abusers of all kinds) often use their victims' shame against them.

I guess that's it, for me. The people who caused (proximately, ultimately, or in the middle) those abuses to occur are rapists. I think they should be treated accordingly.

#83 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 06:47 PM:

A tiny ray of hope:

I can't find the story on the web (and can't remember the relevent names, unfortunately), but in the paper and on the TV news yesterday in NZ there was a story of a 10 year old NZ boy who read newspapers with stories about the Iraqi prison abuses. Of his own volition, he went to school yesterday in his pyjamas. He wanted to see what it felt like to be humiliated, and he wanted to make a public statement about it, since he firmly believed that "bullying is wrong."

People laughed at him as he walked down the street. His classmates made fun of him. Thankfully, his teacher took the time to talk to the whole class about the Iraqi issues, about humiliation, about bullying, about war, about sovereign rights, about honour.... The 10 year old boy is now a local hero, and his classmates plan to join him in wearing pyjamas to school every Wednesday until the atrocities stop.

I damn near cried when I read this story. One little boy =does= make a difference.

#84 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 06:54 PM:

I think Johnson will have to split My Lai with Nixon. The latter was president when the story came out, and it was Nixon whose administration oversaw the court-martial, and tried to "manage" the political effect of the investigation, and Nixon who set aside the court's ruling, commuting Calley's sentence from life to, effectively, time served.

#86 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 10:51 PM:

Dave Kuzminski - I'm not sure why your last reaction to Graydon continued to be snappish. I thought the clarification given was clear and informative (And may help as much as everything around this situation to keep me awake at night).

However, as one of the prisoners, since released, has talked to reporters directly, and been able to point out his own body in the pictures, hooded and not (Based on shape and known scars combined with memory), I don't think the idea of "Not knowing / one body looks much like another" are particularly to the point.

If the photos were to be used as prisoner intimidation, it would be to those not yet tortured, who may, or may not, recognize some of their fellows, or someone pointed out to them. And that recognition would be irrelevant - the message isn't, "This was done to them." It's "This is about to be done to YOU."

Grrrr. Grrr. Grrr. I want to be a citizen of the United States just long enough to vote AGAINST Bush. And our new PM is cozying up.

This frustrates the hell out of me, because I want Canada to fix some of our broken relations with the US government... but NOT until Bush is out of office. This is one of the tough things about dealing with a democracy; with a true dictator-for-life, there's actually MORE you can do to express disapproval.

#87 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 11:26 PM:

Lenora --

Paul Martin more or less has to try to do something about the really bad trade situation; I don't think I'd describe it as 'cozying up', since it hasn't worked and there's absolutely no sign of anything silly like sending troops or making approving noises about the Iraqi Debacle.

#88 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2004, 11:30 PM:

Re: Hamilton owning up to the affair-- what balls!

As for the thread title, all I can say is that every time I come here and see it I get Paul Simon's "Loves Me Like A Rock" stuck in my head...

#89 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 12:02 AM:

I get Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr”. Not that that’s a bad thing.

#90 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 12:10 AM:

Clark, under Florida law, Gore didn't have the power to ask for a "full and fair recount"; he could only ask for a recount in specific counties where he had specific evidence of a significant number of uncounted votes. I think it's the height of hypocrisy to blame him for not attempting an unprecedented legal challenge, instead of blaming the opponent who tried to block it. Gore's legal strategy may have been conservative, but with the Supreme Court signalling their willingness to strike down any recount decision that was in the least bit questionable, I can't fault him. (As I'm sure you will recall, Gore asked Bush to join him in dropping all legal challenges and seeking a full statewide recount. Bush refused. I tend to think that trying to get a full statewide recount ought to exonerate him from blame for not trying to get a full statewide recount, but perhaps you come from a planet where such logic is not considered compelling.)

#91 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 02:59 AM:

Since nobody's had an Open Thread around here recently and this one is at least vaguely connected, I'll hijack it to point to
Giblets on Fafblog (the best blog)

It's good to see that a graphic video of a man being decapitated is being taken off the internet because of the Slashdot effect. We are making great progress as a civilization here, people.

#92 ::: TJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 05:01 AM:

Could this be it? Quote:


A strong term of dislike. I hug it like a long lost brother. I embrace this anger and I seeth and I writhe. It does not stay inside like a dense little mass of hate. I unleash it at the inappropriate time and like a bomb it levels cities. Like a car alarm it pierces ears. Like the hand of god, it crushes souls.


It is not a word that is strong enough for the contempt I feel for the human race. For the people that live outside this box of mine. A word for a hatred so pure as mine does not exist.


The hatred of all mankind. The definition of my disposition. The sheer lack of care for my fellow man. I reach out my hand, not to offer help, but to throttle your throat. To rip out your heart. You turn your back, I might put a knife in it.


I embrace my little hypocrisies. There are those close to me that are untouched by my hatred. Yes they hold the sheer opposite. My heart has the capacity to love unconditionally, and hate the same. If I hate you, you know it. If I love you, you know it. So few loved. So much anger and hatred resides in my black heart it gives me chest pains. Fighting with the love I feel.

I am filled with sandwiches and black goo."

It sounds like it may be from Sandman.

#93 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 09:04 AM:

Lenora, logically, just how is anyone else supposed to recognize that individual since they don't normally see each other naked?

To repeat, I offered an impression, not an opportunity for some folks to make comments about what I know. If Graydon hadn't meant it to be offensive, Graydon could have stated that or he could have left off that last sentence to begin with. You want to call me snappish for being offended by the rudeness of his remark? Be my guest.

#94 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 09:35 AM:

Okay, I cannot help but interrupt this conversation to comment on my new favorite book title, "Night Travels of the Elven Vampire" (see Particles, "Behold the Power of Self-Publishing). I do not own this book, I cannot afford to buy this book, but man, oh, man, do I ever want that book. Just the title alone makes me want it. "Night Travels of the Elven Vampire." It's just such a fun title. Mistakes? Who cares? It's called "Night Travels of the Elven Vampire" for Christ's sake! The real question is, "Why wouldn't you buy it?"

Oh, and I profess ignorance as to most of the above conversation. I may not know U.S. history, but I have excellent knowledge as to the inner-workings of the pre-Crisis DC Universe. Does that win me any points here?

#95 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 10:34 AM:

Mr. Kuzminski --

The presumption of ignorance is the charitable assumption concerning your remarks, freely offered in a pleasant spirit.

One uncharitable assumption is that you wish to begin by calling into question the authenticity of the photographs -- to assert, on no basis other than personal incredulity, that they are staged, and thereby in some sense not real.

That beginning, some of these photographs aren't real -- though all Gods know the people in them are -- progresses through the photographs are fake to it didn't happen; the United States Command Authority did not order systematic torture of prisoners in defiance of its own public policy statements, sworn word, and obligations under solemn treaties.

Certainly, that would be the more comfortable thing to believe; administrative detention without trial is quite scary enough without sure knowledge of systematic torture, rashly and broadly applied.

Except, of course, that it did happen; there are multiple lines of evidence, including the admission of the Secretary of Defence, that this is precisely what occurred.

Another uncharitable reading, strongly supported by your last statement, is that you expect your personal incredulity to have the same standing as material evidence.

If you, like Thomas Jefferson, are personally incredulous that stones might fall from the sky, it is appropriate to tell you about the presence of asteroids in this solar system, and the various ways by which natural forces might indeed cause stones to fall from the sky, as has been observed in many times and places.

If you are personally incredulous that depictions of torture are real torture, presumably on the basis of a lack of pulled out fingernails, bloody whip welts, and visible burns, why, then it is appropriate to tell you something about the actual practise of torture since the widespread adoption of the camera as a tool for reporting the news.

You can hardly expect to substitute assertion for discourse by your own mere demand, no matter how annoying you find it to have your assertions called into question.

If no one is free to comment upon your remarks, or to call them into question, though those comments irritate you ever so much, when such discourse is the most basic of all the underpinnings of democracy and freedom, perhaps you have departed in your desires from your intent?

#96 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 10:48 AM:

Dan Blum, Johnson’s positive accomplishments didn’t make his failures one whit less bad, just as Nixon’s positive accomplishments were no amelioration to Watergate. What you’re saying is that Johnson was more competent than Bush, not that he was less bad of a President.

Graydon, same thing. Sure Johnson could actually talk with the press: that makes him competent, not less bad a president. (Hitler could talk; he was very competent at being evil. That's not to compare any President to Hitler, just to observe that no amount of badness need go with inarticularity.)

Some of the things you say My Lai does not compare to – “waging an offensive war on the basis of a deliberate campaign of public disinformation” and “destroying the economic stability of the nation” – these are things the Johnson administration actually did too.

Probably Bush is a worse President than Johnson, but none of these arguments seem to me to validate that conclusion at all.

Clark Myers: Gore did not ask only that more of his votes be allowed; he asked for second recounts in the counties where he thought he’d gain the most votes. This is perfectly ordinary procedure when requesting recounts. Bush was free to ask for recounts in his best counties if he’d wanted them. This was a mistake by Gore, as it turned out, but it was neither a moral nor a legal crime. Meanwhile, the Bush forces were actually preventing, by means of physical violence, the first, state-mandated recount in several counties. It was never completed. I’d like to see more acknowledgment of that. The election was stolen, by physical violence. Even if Bush would have won anyway, that only makes it ironic, not less stolen.

#97 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 11:11 AM:

Calimac --

I think being incompetent to talk to the press, that basic requirement of political life, is part of what makes someone a bad politician, and thus a bad President.

Johnson's Bay of Tonkin strikes me as a qualitatively different thing from Bush's Iraq; there's a difference between faking a causus beli -- that tacit agreement that one really does need one -- and declaring that none is needed.

Both are the practice of deceit; the former is at least the acknowledgement that there is a rule of law to fear, if not respect. The later dismisses the possibility of the rule of law entirely.

#98 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 11:38 AM:
Dan Blum, Johnson’s positive accomplishments didn’t make his failures one whit less bad, just as Nixon’s positive accomplishments were no amelioration to Watergate. What you’re saying is that Johnson was more competent than Bush, not that he was less bad of a President.

Well, yeah. I'm not judging moral character here, but rather the good or ill done for (or to) the country.

Maybe you are not referring to moral character, I'm not sure. If you explain the criteria you are using to determine bad Presidents, then it would be easier to have this discussion.

#99 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 11:41 AM:

Graydon, you obviously do not read the words of others very clearly, let alone give pause or thought to those you bandy about so freely concerning what you consider someone else's intelligence to be. To someone who analyzes my first comments on those photos, it would be obvious that I merely stated an impression that occurred to me. Nothing more, nothing less. I did not assert that those were facts. I did not assert that it was correct. Your last comment in your first posting regarding what I knew about torture and imprisonment was uncalled for. Your subsequent remarks presuming ignorance on my part and then further assuming that I was trying to justify those actions in defending your previous statement is reprehensible, though not nearly so much as what was done to those people. Yours is more on the level of that displayed by Mr. Rumsfeld. It's okay for you to say certain things because you know you're right even though you didn't read what was actually stated just as you assumed that certain actions had to precede those photos. I prefer to wait on some of the evidence to come in as it already is. That is why I pointedly stated that it was merely an impression that those particular photos imparted to me. Your first response regarding torture was excellent until the last paragraph where you turned it into a personal attack. That is what I object to as any reasonable person would.

As to whether those photos are staged, some of those are because some of the individuals in those clearly know the photos are being taken by virtue of the face that they're posing. What remains to be learned is for what purpose those photos were really staged. Unless you work for the people who perpetrated those acts, I doubt that you or I can answer that until the evidence is heard. Not knowing that is not an admission of ignorance on either of our parts.

#100 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 12:02 PM:

Mr. Kuzminiski,

Not knowing that is not an admission of ignorance on either of our parts.

I think, if you were to consult a reliable dictionary, you might discover that "not knowing" is indeed the very definition of ignorance.

#101 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 12:12 PM:

Oh, and I apologise for misspelling your surname, Mr. Kuzminski.

#102 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 12:36 PM:

Jennie, part of what gripes me is the fact that Graydon presumed to know what I do or do not know.

As well, ignorance is also used by many to indicate stupidity. The plentitude of meanings for words within the English language is both a virtue and a burden especially when trying to make a point.

I haven't asked for an apology, but I don't have to like it when someone states something in an offending manner and justifies it by further assumptions of my motives that had no bearing upon the initial statements other than to pre-emptively discredit me by tieing me to those. If there was no intent to offend, it could have more easily been stated as "no offense intended."

#103 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 01:05 PM:

Dave, call me naive, but I think those photos are what they appear to be--Americans documenting a part of their lives which they thought was worth communicating in their social circle.

It was ill-judged in this case, but it's a pretty strong compulsion in a lot of people.

#104 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 01:19 PM:

I never stated those weren't real. I offered an impression that those caused in me that others might also see. Like it or not, although a picture might convey a story of a thousand words, each individual is likely to use different words, in fact, even different stories. I have no problem with someone offering facts and a different impression based upon what they know.

#105 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Calimac, no, sorry, I have to disagree. Having genuine, significant, positive accomplishments as president in addition to the negative accomplishments does make someone a better President than someone who only has the negative "accomplishments" to offer. The Gulf of Tonkin and My Lai were bad things; Watergate and everything connected to it were bad things. Nevertheless, both Johnson and Nixon were serious, capable politicians who also did significant good while in office, and fifty or a hundred years from now, when no one's left with burning hot feelings on these men, they'll be judged by what the overall effect of their presidencies is deemed to have been.

That judgment may still be negative, but they're in no danger of being ranked with Millard Fillmore, Warren Harding, or G.W. Bush.

#106 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 01:50 PM:

With all due respect, Mr. Kuzminski, and I do appreciate your point, I think you need to develop a thicker skin if Graydon's reasonable comments can piss you off so easily.

(I will now return to the exciting job of baby sitting three G4s as they encode DVD-Rs)

#107 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 02:59 PM:

It wasn't his reasonable comments that aggravated matters. Besides which, why should I have a thicker skin? Just because you view the matter differently? Please remember that you're not the one who was addressed by that offending comment.

#108 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 03:22 PM:


You said, " To someone who analyzes my first comments on those photos, it would be obvious that I merely stated an impression that occurred to me. Nothing more, nothing less.

Well, yes and no. While you are technically correct, you are deliberately discounting the connotations and subtext of your posts. The subtext is: things are't as bad as they look, and we can't be sure of anything anyway. It's not like you're incapable of perceiving subtext. If you were blind to it, you would not have found Graydon's comment about knowing nothing about torture to be as offensive as you seem to have found it. My guess, from being more familiar with Graydon's prose than it is likely that you are is that it was meant to be read with a relatively flat affect. The congratulations was probably both sincere and sarcastic, a rather subtle subtext of which you got only the top-most and most accessible layer.

You've neatly turned the conversation from a discussion of who is responsible, and how to respond to these atrocities, into an argument about whether or not they happened. If you did that on purpose, it's a masterful stroke. If you did it accidentally, then I think that we should all reconsider the dynamics of this conversation. Is there really anyone here who wants to claim that there was no torture in Abu Ghraib? Anyone who wants to claim that Garner and England were just "blowing off steam?" I'm a lot more interested in the whys and the hows, because I know that it's happening in other places, and I want it to stop.

#109 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 06:14 PM:

The Stanford prison experiment link had a line I found chilling:

"diffusion of responsibility, anonymity, dehumanization, peers who model harmful behavior, bystanders who do not intervene, and a setting of power differentials"

These were the conditions that caused otherwise "good" kids to engage in sadistic treatment of their "prisoners" in the experiments. They are also the conditions in many schools with a student body over 500. Food for thought.

#110 ::: Karen Mattern ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 06:24 PM:

Dave -

I think Graydon was complimenting you, and all of us, who don't know from first hand experience about the mechanics of torture. We are priviliged, educated, (relatively) free people, who care about treating other people with respect, we want to learn and understand, and in various ways too numerous to list, we are having such a completely different experience of life from those who are capable of brutalizing other human beings. I'm not saying we're 'better' than those people, I'm just saying we've had different opportunities in life. I think Graydon meant it as a compliment that 'you didn't know about torture.' My God! This is a good thing!

As far as whether the pictures were staged, it does open the question as to whether any torture really took place. On the other hand, if the photos were staged it certainly doesn't prove there was no torture. Look at the people who take porno videos of abusive sex. In a recent documentary on the industry, it was shown that the actress being abused was not going to be warned beforehand, because by not being forewarned, it would make her reactions very genuine. So was it real abuse, or was it staged? I'd say, both.

#111 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2004, 09:47 PM:

"Subtext" does not and can not exist. The feeling identified as "subtext" comes from the reader, not from the writer.

#112 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 12:13 AM:

I take real issue with you there, James! Subtext exists -- we can agree that it exists in the mind of the reader; at least that's what I infer from your statement. That doesn't mean it isn't real -- it doesn't mean that there aren't pretty likely reactions that come from subtext.

Take the three sentences:

I don't believe in subtext.

Subtext is only a subjective experience in the mind of the reader.

Subtext does not and cannot exist, ever, no way no how and I'm not changing from thinking that.

Those can have remarkably similar denotations. Their connotations, in the mind of the reader, are likely to be very different. And claiming that paying attention to those connotations is not the job of the writer as much as the reader -- well, I don't expect that from you as a writer.

Subtext is real. How much time you want to spend agonizing about it -- that's a different issue. That an individual was traumatized by a clown at the age of 3 and therefore finds the word "clown" particularly offensive -- probably not worth much time. That a great many people find absolute statements like "X does not and cannot exist" confrontational -- probably worth a bit more time.

I'm not saying "don't say it". I'm saying "be aware that a great many people will react in ways that you may not like when you say this".

#113 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 12:26 AM:

"Clark, under Florida law, Gore didn't have the power to ask for a "full and fair recount"; he could only ask for a recount in specific counties where he had specific evidence of a significant number of uncounted votes.

You may well be right, I read this source to imply differently. Notice especially the language reopening

"21 At oral argument in this case, we inquired as to whether the presidential candidates were interested in our consideration of a reopening of the opportunity to request manual recounts in all counties. Neither candidate requested such an opportunity."

Supreme Court of Florida Nos. SC00-2346, SC00-2348 & SC00-2349

This was a mistake by Gore, as it turned out, but it was neither a moral nor a legal crime. Meanwhile, the Bush forces were actually preventing, by means of physical violence, the first, state-mandated recount in several counties. It was never completed. I’d like to see more acknowledgment of that. The election was stolen, by physical violence.

"Of the four counties in which Vice President Gore requested a full manual recount, only the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board did not complete a manual recount. The Miami-Dade Board's failure to complete the recount was attributed to a variety of factors but in the end the Board suspended the full recount, stating as its reason that it determined that it could not meet this Court's certification deadline. See Gore v. Harris, 25 Fla. L. Weekly S1112, n.17; see also Miami-Dade County Democratic Party v. Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board, No. 3D00-3318, 2000 WL 1790424 (Fla. 3d DCA Nov. 22, 2000).21 This Court ultimately held that the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board had no discretion to stop its full manual recount once it had started."

PARIENTE, J., concurring. Supreme Court of Florida No. SC00-2431 - perhaps technically dicta I take it as a convenient statement of undisputed facts or at least findings.

By no means do I argue that Gore's actions imply anything at all positive about George W. Bush. I do suggest that viewing the Florida outcome with all that implies as entirely a successful violent election fraud may be an overstatement - perhaps a strong overstatement. Certainly nothing that I for one accept without question.

Reviewing the opinions and the news it might be said to depend on just how pregnant a chad has to be to show. Looks like a pretty arbitrary outcome viewed from Seattle but hardly a successful fraud.

On the other hand assuming arguendo the precedent for successful violent election fraud I'd be more inclined to keep my guns than vote for Kerry.

#114 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 12:35 AM:

My hackles raise whenever I hear or read the phrase, "Why should I . . .?" It's a subtext thing, but my experience with the phrase has always been that the person writing or stating it is a selfish whiner who believes other people should change so he doesn't have to.

Not attacking you, Mr. Kuzminski. You could be my first exception to this statement, for all I know.

But I do wish people would stop and think a moment before they used that phrase. When trait X seems to be giving you trouble with a number of individuals, it seems to respectful thing to do to re-evaluate your need for trait X.

Just sayin'.

#115 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 12:41 AM:

Teresa, are you going to leave us in suspense indefinitely about the provenance of the title? Inquiring minds and all that . . .

#116 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 01:05 AM:

Dave: It seems to me that you are reacting, not to the one perhaps overly sarcastic and perhaps uncalled-for phrase (The caveats not becuase I cannot see why you take offense, but because those who've suggested other interpretations also have valid cause), but to all of Graydon's words as if they packed the same sarcastic nastiness. And not noting other interpretations offered. Reread the SECOND post by Graydon. Then reread your three sentence reaction.

Then wonder who is being less charitable.

I do have to wonder at this, Dave. I've seen you take serious flack and serious personal attacks with more courtesy than this, at the same time as you refused to take any BS. This time I'm seeing only a refusal to take anyone else's perspective at all, and there's considerably less BS present.

And the issue of torture is very much NOT about you.

On another matter:

Graydon, I'm aware, sadly, that we do need to re-establish trade relations with the US. But my gut reaction keeps being, "NO! Wait until after the election! Wait until that B*s***d is out of office..."

Then, of course, there's the possibility he won't be out yet then... But at least then we'll be likely to be dealing with a known dictator.

It's odd, it's harder to deal with a short-term electoral system than with a long-term ruler. With a lifelong dictator, it's easier to protest, to take serious action. It's somehow harder to muster force to stand against someone who may not even be there in a few months.

From THAT perspective, the best thing we can do seems to be to try to make sure the election is honest... I wonder if that's even possible for another country?

Then there's the desire to see both those responsible for this incident (I do mean as high up the chain of responsibility as they're able to go) AND Saddam Hussein put before an international trial...

#117 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 08:51 AM:

Lenora --

Do keep in mind that about fifty percent of the population of the US supports Bush. That's been dropping recently, but it isn't all that likely to stay dropped should further major terrorist acts take place on US soil.

Bush's political approval is just a manifestation -- a particularly horrible manifestation, but just a manifestation -- of a particular strain of really bad insecurity management that deals with a need to be good by assertion.

So the problem is much, much larger than just getting him, and the Republican party generally, out of office.

#118 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 08:54 AM:

Clark, it's not surprising the the Florida Supreme Court wouldn't mention the GOP riot. IMHO, the Florida Supreme Court (and appeals courts in general) are supposed to consider only points of law raised. They aren't to re-judge facts, and in this case charges hadn't even been filed, let alone brought into a lower court.

And as for the '..more inclined to keep my guns...', please note that the Bush administration has successfully imprisoned US citizens on pure executive branch discretion, and is one US Supreme Court decision away from establishing that as unassailble procedure. It has also (IIRC) established Guantanamo, a territory under US government control, as not being under US court jurisdiction. With no problems from the NRA. This is, IMHO, a very uncomfortable situation.

And please note the Attourney General 'down with the Magna Carta!' Ashcroft doesn't seem to be worried about the second amendment getting in the way of an administration which clearly doesn't like the Bill of Rights.

Your guns won't help you.

#119 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 10:54 AM:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.
-- Martin Niemöller


When the camp opened, only known political opponents of the Nazis were interned. From about 1935, it was usual for all persons who had been condemned in a court of law to be taken automatically to a concentration camp. The first Jewish prisoners came as known political opponents of the Nazis. At Dachau, as elsewhere, they received even worse treatment than the other prisoners. Gradually, more and more groups were interned: Jehova's Witnesses, who resisted the draft; Gypsies, who, like the Jews, were classified as racially inferior; clergy, who resisted the Nazi coercion of the churches; Homosexuals; and many who had been denounced for making critical remarks of various kinds.

-- Dachau
33. The various detention facilities operated by the 800th MP Brigade have routinely held persons brought to them by Other Government Agencies (OGAs) without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention. The Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC) at Abu Ghraib called these detainees “ghost detainees.” On at least one occasion, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of “ghost detainees” (6-8) for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team. This maneuver was deceptive, contrary to Army Doctrine, and in violation of international law. (Annex 53)
--- MG Taguba's report
Despite a major international outcry and expert condemnation of US government policy, hundreds of people of around 40 different nationalities remain held without charge or trial at the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, without access to any court, legal counsel or family visits. Denied their rights under international law and held in conditions which may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the detainees face severe psychological distress. There have been numerous suicide attempts.
-- Guantanamo Bay

Okay, so it's 1933 and you're a Good German living in Berlin. What do you do?

#120 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 12:02 PM:

"There is a road to freedom. Its milestones are Obedience, Endeavour, Honesty, Order, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Truthfulness, Sacrifice, and [Patriotism*]."

Sounds good. Couldn't argue with it, really?

[*love of the Homeland]

#121 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 02:26 PM:

Graydon: I know getting the current administration out is the tip of the iceberg. But it's a first step.

The problem from my perspective outside the country is twofold: One, fewer things I feel I can do at all. Two, even if my government does speak out; speaking in terms of power, we're a little outmatched. Doesn't mean I'm not trying to talk to them...

#122 ::: Aiglet ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 02:30 PM:

Theresa, I thought you'd like to know that as of this morning, Googling for "hugged it like a brother" brings up nothing other than Making Light references.

#123 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 03:34 PM:

James, several weeks ago, someone (I forget who -- maybe Billmon) said that Iraq was Vietnam on speed -- things were going worse much faster than in Vietnam. Now it can be compared to 1933, and I am sorry to say that I can see at least some of the paralells.

In particular today, the must read is Sy Hersh's latest from the New Yorker. (After his stories these past couple of weeks, I think the competition for the Pulitzer may be over. One way or another.) Lead paragraph:

The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror.

Go read.

#124 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 04:49 PM:

Reviewing the opinions and the news it might be said to depend on just how pregnant a chad has to be to show. Looks like a pretty arbitrary outcome viewed from Seattle but hardly a successful fraud.

Wrong. Under any standard for "how pregnant a chad has to be" (including not counting any hanging chads at all) Gore would have won a full statewide recount, because the number of duplicate write-in votes (where a voter both marked a candidate's name and wrote in the same candidate) was so high. Florida law requires all overvotes to be examined on election night and counted if the intent of the voter is clear. This was not done.

And if your point is that Gore and his lawyers didn't take every single possible opportunity to ask for a full statewide recount, I have to think you're being unreasonable. The U.S. Supreme Court had just finished coming down hard on the Florida Supreme Court for supposedly stretching their interpretation of state law. Of course Gore was not about to ask them to do anything that could get another decision struck down; he was running out of time.

Gore's position was clear: he wanted to count as many votes as he could. Bush's position was clear: he wanted to stop as many votes from being counted as he could. Only one of these positions is consistent with democracy.

#125 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 06:02 PM:

This is anecdotal, obviously, but quite a few of the people I've known who are basically non-reflective and who feel that they've been "saved" from their weaknesses by their faith seem to me to have come to believe that God has finished the job and made them a complete and redeemed soul who has no more work to do.

If Bush had spent a little time in AA, maybe he would have learned that he's the same person he was before he stopped drinking, who's gotten some help carrying his load uphill. As it is, he seems to have drawn his bright line at age forty, and what he did before was bad and what he does now is good, because he's saved.

I genuinely believe that he sees people questioning him as a challenge not just to him but to God.

#126 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 09:24 PM:

Reviewing the opinions and the news it might be said to depend on just how pregnant a chad has to be to show. Looks like a pretty arbitrary outcome viewed from Seattle but hardly a successful fraud. - me

Wrong. Under any standard for "how pregnant a chad has to be" (including not counting any hanging chads at all) Gore would have won a full statewide recount, because the number of duplicate write-in votes (where a voter both marked a candidate's name and wrote in the same candidate) was so high. Florida law requires all overvotes to be examined on election night and counted if the intent of the voter is clear. This was not done. Steven desJardins

If the recounts had proceeded, who would have won the presidency?
The answer is Bush.
The Republican would have won the statewide recount he desperately and successfully battled to stop by 493 votes, according to a study commissioned by the St. Petersburg Times and other media outlets.
The unprecedented study of ballots that were cast but not counted offers Gore a frustrating point of consolation. More Florida voters clearly intended to vote for him than Bush. But their intentions were thwarted by imperfect voting machines, confusing ballots and fuzzy state law.
How do we know?
Nearly 3,690 ballots rejected as overvotes because of multiple marks revealed clear, unambiguous votes, according to the media analysis. But vague state law kept them from being counted -- and they favored Gore over Bush by a margin of more than 800.
Florida now has new election rules for hand-counting such ballots. Had the new rules been in place last year, Gore probably would have won the election.

By TIM NICKENS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 12, 2001

Notice the vague state law kept them from being counted

quoting again:
And if your point is that Gore and his lawyers didn't take every single possible opportunity to ask for a full statewide recount, I have to think you're being unreasonable.

So far as I can tell neither Florida nor National Democrats took any single opportunity to ask for a full statewide recount despite strong hints from the Florida courts (cites omitted)

Curiously enough this discussion hasn't changed my view that Gore (and his agents) asked only for a recount where Gore could be expected to pickup votes and that Bush sought to maintain a winning position - rather than to stop as many votes from being counted as he could. My point is that it can framed in many ways and therefore seen in many ways.

Good argument for indirect election of the President though - state legislative votes are usually pretty clear though not of course commonly secret ballots. Can't have everything.

#127 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 09:50 PM:

So the problem is much, much larger than just getting him, and the Republican party generally, out of office.

I guess we just don't agree on the problem any more than on the solution.

FREX the Republican Idaho legislative delegation is currently opposed to the Patriot Act and any extensions of Federal intrusion - say denying free speech on grounds of political correctness as the Canadians do, or wasting billions on gun registration again as the Canadians seem to be doing - being part of the libertarian rather than the authoritarian wing of the Republican party.

I will cheerfully oppose tyranny over the minds of men to include imposing any particular view of social order from Washington D.C. but to my view this includes much of the liberal agenda as it does much of George W. Bush's plans.

In connection with drawing analogies as a decent man once said of Vietnam, their's was a noble cause. I tell you three times I have seen them with my own eyes and it was - I also tell you I have seen them with my own eyes and it wasn't.

Doesn't pay to go to Hell and league with the Devil in pursuit of any cause.

#128 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 10:32 PM:

I'm rereading Haldeman's Forever War for the library SF discussion next Saturday and last night I hit the part where they're hypnotized to hate the enemy. Haldeman has the protagonist talk about how we all have that kind of hate deep in the brain, the hypnosis just brings it out. I suspect that for some of us, that part of the brain is closer to the top.

#129 ::: Karen ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 12:33 AM:

Lenora - 'dealing with a known dictator' - that gives me chills.

Graydon - "a particular strain of really bad insecurity management that deals with a need to be good by assertion." - well said

Clark - it isn't about political parties, per se. It's about a widespread 'righteousness' mentality that is not as well-founded as supposed, and hence needs to 'prove' itself constantly.

#130 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 12:54 AM:

Clark --

Canadians haven't got a right of free speech, nor any other absolute right, since the Charter was carefully written from a non-theological perspective.

I prefer this; claiming absolutes is claiming something that has a solely theological basis, and it doesn't work very well, since the cognitive machinery for deciding which absolute is more absolute is, well, prone to error.

Our hate speech laws create no crimes; they create a very high standard of proof for making sentencing more severe for stuff that's already actionable, like libel and incitement and vandalism.

The gun registry is significantly a false front for something; I couldn't tell you what, but there's absolutely no way it's costing that much either by accident or necessity. My expectation is that all of Cabinet wouldn't have gone along with it at the times they have had it been significantly criminal, so while I'm kinda curious I'm not too concerned.

The only Liberal agenda I know about is the one that says peace is better than war, and that peace is built with widespread prosperity, and widespread prosperity is built out of competitive trade.

This implies a lot of things -- anti-racist positions, gender equality, the rule of law, stuff like that, but neither the basic agenda nor the pattern of implication that leads to those that I've listed strike me as argueable.

#131 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 09:50 AM:

Graydon -- whether it's arguable or not is clearly a matter of perspective.

Looked at from the level of "the good of society as a whole" I pretty much agree with you.

Looked at from the level of "I want to maximize my own personal gain (and to hell with the rest of you)" it's a very arguable point. If you remove what's in parentheses, or even substitute a different value of "the rest of you" than I think is appropriate (sort by ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, etc. for defining "you"), it becomes very easy to understand why many people will think that a particular peace is not better than a particular war; that a particular repression is much better than a general belief in equality.

And you know -- there's a lot of evolutionary theory that says that people who think that are actually right. If they pick the right side, they're much more likely to have grandchildren. Personally, as a communitarian, I don't agree. But I see their point, from the level they're looking at.

#132 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 01:50 PM:

Sorry about the gap here. Body gave up on me again. This follows on from the "Good German" question above.

Whoever undertakes to rule the kingdom and to shape it according to his whim - I foresee that he will fail to reach his goal. That is all.

The kingdom is a living being. It cannot be constructed, in truth! He who tries to manipulate it will spoil it, he who tries to put it under his power will lose it.

-- Lao-Tsu, from the Second Leaflet of The White Rose (Die Weiße Rose) resistance group.

... it is our task to find one another again, to spread information from person to person, to keep a steady purpose, and to allow ourselves no rest until the last man is persuaded of the urgent need of his struggle against this system ...
We are not in a position to draw up a final judgment about the meaning of our history. But if this catastrophe can be used to further the public welfare, it will be only by virtue of the fact that we are cleansed by suffering; that we yearn for the light in the midst of deepest night, summon our strength, and finally help in shaking off the yoke which weighs on our world...
-- from the Second Leaflet of The White Rose (Die Weiße Rose) resistance group.
Every individual human being has a claim to a useful and just state, a state which secures freedom of the individual as well as the good of the whole.

Aristotle (Politics) "and further, it is part [of the nature of tyranny] to strive to see to it that nothing is kept hidden of that which any subject says or does, but that everywhere he will be spied upon ... Also it is part of these tyrannical measures, to keep the subjects poor, in order to pay the guards and soldiers, and so that they will be occupied with earning their livelihood and will have neither leisure nor opportunity to engage in conspiratorial acts ...
-- from the Third Leaflet of The White Rose.
Do not believe that Germany's welfare is linked to the victory of national Socialism for good or ill. A criminal regime cannot achieve a German victory ... The imperialist ideology of force, from whatever side it comes, must be shattered for all time ... Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the protection of individual citizens from the abritrary will of criminal regimes of violence-these will be the bases of the New Europe.
-- from the Fifth Leaflet of The White Rose.
Freedom and honor! For ten long years Hitler and his coadjutor have manhandled, squeezed, twisted, and debased these two splendid German words to the point of nausea ...
-- from the Sixth, final, Leaflet of The White Rose.

A few links:
The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent
Concludes: "Today, every German knows the story of The White Rose." I'm not so sure about outside Germany. Certainly I never heard anything about them until a couple of years ago, and I'm reasonably interested in the history - particularly the political techniques of the Nazis in their rise & occupation.

#133 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 01:58 PM:

Graydon: "I think being incompetent to talk to the press, that basic requirement of political life, is part of what makes someone a bad politician, and thus a bad President."

Part, yes. But not a very large part compared to actual actions. If two Presidents do exactly the same evil things, and one is articulate and the other isn't, the inarticulate one might be worse. Or he might not, because the articulate one might generate more support for his actions.

"Johnson's Bay of Tonkin strikes me as a qualitatively different thing from Bush's Iraq; there's a difference between faking a causus beli -- that tacit agreement that one really does need one -- and declaring that none is needed. Both are the practice of deceit; the former is at least the acknowledgement that there is a rule of law to fear, if not respect. The later dismisses the possibility of the rule of law entirely."

True, but the Bushies have been tossing out causi beli like confetti: Saddam sponsored 9/11, he has WMDs, he's a human rights violator, etc etc. All total hogwash - the first two were false, the third was true but makes no sense as a causus beli - and they've been presented in a way to make them inconsistent with each other, but the Bushies evidently felt they were needed.

Don Blum: "If you explain the criteria you are using to determine bad Presidents..." Badness. Bad deeds. Vietnam, Watergate, Iraq.

Lis Carey: "Having genuine, significant, positive accomplishments as president in addition to the negative accomplishments does make someone a better President than someone who only has the negative 'accomplishments' to offer."

No. Goodness in one realm does not ameliorate badness in another. It would be both craven, and irrelevant, to respond to denunciations of Vietnam by saying "Yeah, but Johnson also passed the Civil Rights Act." He did, and the Civil Rights Act was a Good Thing, but it doesn't make Vietnam one whit less bad, and that's what makes the argument irrelevant. Perhaps it would be best to measure badness and goodness on two different scales. We can agree that Johnson has a reasonable score on the Good scale, and Bush has a flat zero. We can argue over whether Johnson or Bush ranks higher on the Bad scale. (I'd say Johnson still ranks worse, but Bush is rapidly rising.)

Another advantage of using different scales is that in a discussion of the history of public sanitation, say, we could give Hitler credit for his government's accomplishments in that field without sounding like apologists for the Holocaust.

Millard Fillmore, by the way, was not a bad President at all, just an obscure one with a funny name. He made some genuine efforts to settle the North-South conflict, he signed off on statehood for California (a territory his two predecessors had left in legal limbo), and he was the President who sent Perry to open Japan. (I suppose one could argue these were all bad things, though.) Fillmore's two successors, who sat there while Dred Scott, Kansas, and Harper's Ferry burned, were much worse.

Clark Myers: Your very quote shows that the count was illegally stopped. "In the end the Board suspended the full recount, stating as its reason that it determined that it could not meet this Court's certification deadline. ... This Court ultimately held that the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board had no discretion to stop its full manual recount once it had started."

And they don't even mention the riot. The riot was, of course, the reason the board couldn't meet the deadline; that was the riot's purpose. Read this and this and this and this. And Teresa's take on it.

The fact that Bush would have one a recount under certain standards makes it all the more ironic that he illegally stole the election. Not less bad, just more ironic. As for counting by clear and unambiguous intent, which Gore would have won, "vague state law" didn't keep that from happening: it was a combination of Gore's failure to realize such a count would help him, and a determination by Harris to interpret state law in her candidate's favor.

You are quite wrong that Gore took no steps to call for a full statewide recount. He didn't press it in count, but he did offer public support for the idea, and called on Bush to join him in it. See, for instance, the fourth paragraph of this story, and I could cite otherw even clearer if I had the time to go look for them.

State legislative election of Presidents would not be an improvement. Check out the history of state legislative election of senators sometime.

#134 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 03:56 PM:

Tom --

I'm sure a pile of comments have accumulated amidmost before I've got to this, but (leaving aside the arguments about how homogeneous human genes are, and how persistent) the way people decide that it's OK if some specific nasty thing happens if it benefits them strike me as being based on a terrible misreading of history.

Innovators win. Early innovators win enormously.

The guys who first figured out that you could domesticate horses, instead of eating them, were unstoppable; that's why we've got the Indo-European language family -- no stirrups, rope bridles, generally pretty crappy cavalry or chariot tech, but early counts.

The folks who first figured out how to get cast iron guns on ocean-going sailing ships pitched it because of issues of relative social status. The next group of guys who figured that out came and partitioned China.

There's a short squillion of examples, once one starts looking for them.

A decision to build the pattern of current social status into the structure of your society is a decision that your society will be, in historical time, defeated and destroyed.

Economically, building current relative social status into your social structure is a decision that no one who isn't rich already will ever get rich. (statistical 'no one'.) It's not a way to maximize gain; it's a way to maximize retention of wealth.

So, yes, there are individuals who still want that, but they're not after maximal gain; they're after maximal status. Very different critter, and people who argue for gain when they mean status either can't tell the one from the other or have the intent to deceive. In either case they have what I regard as sufficiently bad insecurity management issues that they shouldn't be taken seriously on questions of public policy.

#135 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 04:46 PM:

You say sentencing for actionable acts I say sentencing for criminal acts; you say incitement I say remotely connected - standards for libel, and incitement are clearly different across our two jurisdictions - no idea about vandalism. It does strike me funny that written material from Ashcroft's jurisdiction is stopped at Canadian customs and Canada is held up as the ideal.

If I had the comfort of conspiracy, believing that somebody competent is in charge, I'd guess the gun registry is part of a nation building scheme in which the central government assumes responsibility for directing - over the objections of the political subdivisions - and funding - with the concurrence of the political subdivisions - local law enforcement. Since I don't believe in any such coordinated conspiracy I'll go with my favorite quote from TOS - must have - "seemed the logical thing to do at the tme" - followed by the proverbial this time for sure reaction of governments everywhere.

On the recount issue, after following the link given I'll stand by the distinction between ask for and call for. I'd say Gore was careful what he asked for lest he be given it. We might agree this looks like a failure of judgment?

If the issue is a determination by Harris to interpret state law in her candidate's favor then that sounds like the political process at work to me.

If the issue of the election is rioting by special interests - who believe the Republicans are on their side - in the Miami-Dade community then the connection to George W. Bush becomes more remote. The Miami-Dade community certainly has at least a recent history of political corruption - perhaps forever for all I know,

No question rioting in connection with balloting is destructive of preferred political processes.

#136 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 05:56 PM:

Despite the fact that while in office Fillmore wasn't a complete failure, it's worth noting that he ran as the Know-Nothing candidate a few years later. Given the platform of the party -- virulently anti-immigrant, anti-catholic, and with an election strategy that relied heavily on thugs near the ballot boxes, it's not going to be easy to view Fillmore as a model of personal moral probity.

#137 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 06:03 PM:

Clark, the state Secretary of State is not supposed to be part of "the political process at work," but a neutral administrator of the state's elections. Harris in fact claimed to be neutral, and did not attempt to defend herself by saying "Tough cookies, this is the political process at work." You're making an argument for her bias that she did not. The dispute is over whether she actually was neutral.

Gore probably strongly suspected that Bush would not join him in calling for a full recount. But it's not Gore's fault that Bush wouldn't and didn't.

The anti-vote-counting riot was not just a bunch of local yokels acting on their own. And it wouldn't be one whit less bad if it were. A Republican congressman was there egging it on, Republican congressional aides were involved. It was as far as I know not normal political behavior, even in Miami. And most importantly, George W. Bush did not condemn, chastise, or attempt to discipline the officials of the party that he led who were involved. That makes Bush personally complicit; but I wasn't even trying to make the point that he was personally complicit.

#138 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 06:07 PM:

Alter, how appropriate that you should write, "Given ... an [1856] election strategy that relied heavily on thugs near the ballot boxes, it's not going to be easy to view Fillmore as a model of personal moral probity," immediately after Clark Myers attempts to distance Bush from his party's strategy of thugs near the ballot boxes.

#139 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2004, 11:57 PM:

Says Calimac,

Lis Carey: "Having genuine, significant, positive accomplishments as president in addition to the negative accomplishments does make someone a better President than someone who only has the negative 'accomplishments' to offer."

No. Goodness in one realm does not ameliorate badness in another. It would be both craven, and irrelevant, to respond to denunciations of Vietnam by saying "Yeah, but Johnson also passed the Civil Rights Act." He did, and the Civil Rights Act was a Good Thing, but it doesn't make Vietnam one whit less bad, and that's what makes the argument irrelevant.

I think there's some cross-talk going on here. Seems like Lis Carey is speaking of evaluating a President's entire term, not any one particular act.

If you're weighing Presidential badness so you can say "Prez A was a worse President than Prez B," you can calculate the ratio of bad stuff to good stuff attributable to each President to arrive at a basis for comparison. A Prez that did only bad stuff will have a higher ratio (and thus a worse ranking) than a Prez that did good and bad stuff. From that perspective, the good acts do mitigate the effect that the bad acts have on a Prez's overall record.

But I don't think Lis or anyone else here in Making Light is arguing that the good acts actually make the bad acts less bad.

#140 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 12:45 PM:

Actually my position is more in line with Allen Dershowitz - the Florida election was decided by an adversary process in Court in line with the laws and therefore must be taken as fair regardless of outcome. [vaguely resembles the ethical by good luck / unethical by bad luck theories of the last few years]

Further it is Gore's fault that the remedy he sought in Court turned out to be a weak choice - I suggest the Florida Courts raised the issue of their powers and choice of remedies sua sponte to the limit.

Seems to me Secretary of State is an elective partisan political office - I have no real idea how much of her behavior was consciously partisan, how much was rationalization but wrong and how much was right. In that connection I am mostly suggesting that when the numbers are lost in the noise the signal is hard to analyze - in our scheme of government such things are the responsibility of the executive which is in fact riddled with factionalism. Unfortunately non-partisan never is.

#141 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 02:57 PM:

I don't think Bush dares to get rid of Rumsfeld... just imagine the confirmation hearings.


#142 ::: Paul E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 03:26 PM:

Hello all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. Let me just say I really appreciate finding a community of such erudite people online! I also love the fact I learn a new word every time I log-on.

This may be a little out of chronological order for the conversation, for which I apologize.

Clark's comment on "letting lawyers rule your life" compiled with the talk of war got me to wonder on a technical point: was war actually declared? I've tried searching for the Congressional bill, but all I can find is an authorization of military action.

Is this really the same thing? Or (to my paranoid horror) are we going to observe a lawyerly defense that says "Well, technically it wasn't a war, so there are no war crimes, per se." Will benefits be denied veterans because of a technicallity?

With all of the hyperbolic 'wars' that have been declared in the past (On Drugs, Hunger, and other inanimate nouns) it's made me more than a little nervous. I figure if anyone would know, someone on this forum would.

#143 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 03:57 PM:

Paul E., Congress passed a bill giving the President broad powers to conduct war in Iraq pretty much as he saw fit. Of formal declarations of war there have been none.

Since this administration utterly lacks integrity in any form, and has been screwing our military and veterans right and left, I fear your prediction may come true.

The War on To-be-named-later is a trick the right has tried multiple times (wars on Hunger and Poverty aren't quite the same, of course). What I think they're up to is creating a state of permanent war to justify any domestic or foreign abuses they care to commit.

In Is Paris Burning?, one of the German characters says "You believe the natural state of society is peace. I believe that the natural state of society is war." I dare not draw the obvious conclusion lest I invoke Godwin's Law.

#144 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 04:12 PM:

Okay, so it's 1933 and you're a Good German living in Berlin. What do you do?

God, Jim, I just don't know. I've gained a new and horrible appreciation for the Jews who abandoned everything and fled to the the US or some other country before they became unable to do so. In retrospect, it looks like precience. The hardship of it is something I have a little better understanding for, now, as well.

I can't leave the country, not even if I were as brave as those people were, and I'm not. I'm a slightly used secretary who speaks only English, there aren't many places I'd be welcome to immigrate to, and fewer still that would be a significant improvement. (I don't know if Indonesia would accept me, but I do know I don't want to live there.)

So far, I have all my hopes pinned on the election. There's a very simple reason to vote for Kerry: because you want to have the right to vote again. If 2004 is a replay of 2000, then I think that I will despair.

This is not the time for armed insurrection. The populace is too passive. I don't see a radicalizing event happening anytime soon. If Florida didn't cause the lid to blow, and Iraq didn't cause the pot to boil over, I don't know what will.

Got any suggestions, Jim. I'm doing volunteer work for the Democrats, that's the only constructive thing I've been able to come up with. That, and trying not to completely lose my cool when someone tells me that killing ten times as many civilians would be justified to tear down Saddam Hussein, and that the best way to deal with these dictatorships is to just go in and pulverize them, and then do it again and again as often as you need to. I'm still reeling from that conversation.

#145 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 04:42 PM:

Got any suggestions, Jim.

The answer is in the first line, Lydy. Do what Niemöller didn't do, but wished he had: Speak out.

Write letters to the editor. Call in to radio stations. Write to your elected representatives, local, state, and national. Vote. Urge others to do the same. It's what I'm doing. It's all I can do.

Beyond that, live morally in an immoral world. Neither give nor carry out illegal orders. In a hundred years we'll be dead anyway -- better not to have been a willing executioner while we were alive.

#146 ::: Paul E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 05:28 PM:

Xopher - Thank you, and excuse me while I shudder uncontrollably. It's enough to make one want to run gibbering into the street, naked as a jay bird. I suppose one could gibber like a jay bird as well...

#147 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 05:44 PM:

Paul E., while running into the street is probably good (look both ways, of course), the nakedness and the gibbering are probably counterproductive.

Instead, dress tastefully and develop a coherent discourse. Set a goal to tell at least one person each day why they should vote for Kerry, even it's just as a hamster. It's not much, but it's the best we can do. (Unless you're fabulously wealthy or something, in which case...)

Don't shudder. Organize!

#148 ::: Paul E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 06:12 PM:


But a good ol' naked protest does bring the press. Especially here in SoCal. Lord knows they're not actually reporting news or anything.

Don't worry, I'll be using my powers for good - I do Art Dept. work and am working on a campaign commercial this weekend. Seeing as my day-job is less than satisfying, but pays well, perhaps a donation should be in the works as well.

I've found that writing my representatives leads to Very Polite Form Letters that neither answer my questions, nor address my concerns. I still do it, though. I like my t's crossed and i's dotted (hence asking about the formal declaration), and I don't think I could stand not making the effort.

#149 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 06:37 PM:

Paul E. --

The US, along with just about everybody else, swore off declaring war with the creation of the UN after the combination of Hilter's War and the Great Pacific War.

This why y'all have a Secretary of Defense, rather than a Secretary of War, which is what that position was called aforetime.

So the Congress more or less can't declare war, certainly not an agressive war, without formally pitching the UN and a bunch of other treaties; that it would have been much more honest to do so this time around doesn't much enter into the political calculations.

#150 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 08:21 PM:

Lydia - in my fandom there is this tremendous "meme" of "Let's all flee to Canada/New Zealand/Australia!" One thing I am doing is trying to is awaken - and I am not alone by any means - a patriotic outrage that says "We have not yet begun to fight!" instead. How? By providing three things: solid historical and current information and pointers to finding more of the same; analysis that makes sense of the random jumble of facts and counters the narratives of the Establishment media (I point people here and to other blogs as well for this); and concrete directions - call your congresscritters, and ask them these questions, what are you going to do about ensuring fair elections? where is the money for the war going, and what about the Pentagon auditing scandals? and so on. Creating slogans and images to popularize critical thinking about the regime. And of course, vote.

I don't say I do a very good job of it, or that others couldn't do it better, but there seems to be this disconnect between perception and despair, passivity that thinks there's nothing we can do against the PTB, and thus guarantees it, as if there were no alternatives between a starry eyed idealist naivete and a cynical despairing watch it all go down in flames as the jackboots go buy.

I figure we may lose, indeed - but if we don't even try to defend the City, we're doomed for sure.

#151 ::: Mike Loukides ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 08:59 PM:

I'm new here. And impressed. Excellent blog and responses.

Someone has no doubt said it in the hundred+ responses that I didn't bother to read, good though they no doubt were. There's an obvious reason that Rumsfeld can't be sacked: who'd run the White House if he didn't? We've known this all along, right? The Prez is a rather foolish talking head fronting a lot of evil. The marionette can't cut the strings that are holding him up.

I'm not making George out to be less evil than he is: some sort of soulful but weak-minded naif in the middle of con men. He's as bad as the rest of them. But let's get down to business: if Cheney and Rumsfeld were gone, who would make his decisions? Who would tell him what to think? At least give him credit for understanding that.

While I'm on a role: I'm certainly sympathetic to those talking about expatriation. This isn't the sort of country that my wife and I want our daughter to grow up in. And, more selfishly, the US is at the end of its run. Empires only become more violent as they die.

And I do understand more about English metrical romance than is good for me. If you haven't seen Beowabbit you should.

#152 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 09:25 PM:

Clark, whatever political party Secretaries of State belong to, they are nevertheless supposed to act as neutral arbiters of state elections. The appearance of nonpartisanship is always expected. Even Harris knew this, and claimed she was doing it. Why you don't know this is beyond me. I don't know what two-bit country you hail from, where political corruption is actually approved of, but this is the United States of America. Our elections are supposed to be fair, and blatant bias by the vote counters cannot be shrugged off by saying "it's a partisan office."

I don't know where you got the idea that Dershowitz thinks the election decision was fair by definition, because here's what Dershowitz actually said about it: "The decision may be ranked as the single most corrupt decision in Supreme Court history, because it is the only one that I know of where the majority justices decided as they did because of the personal identity and political affiliation of the litigants ... No honest person can any longer trust them to do justice, as distinguished from politics."

Nicole: No. There is no cross-talk going on here. In order to judge Johnson's entire term on a single good-bad scale, you have to use the good (e.g. the Civil Rights Act) to ameliorate the effects of the bad (e.g. the Vietnam War). I refuse this manner of thinking.

Lydia writes, I've gained a new and horrible appreciation for the Jews who abandoned everything and fled to the the US or some other country before they became unable to do so. In retrospect, it looks like prescience.

I keep thinking of a family of German Jews - father, mother, two little girls - who emigrated immediately on Hitler's coming to power. Prescient they were, but not prescient enough. For they emigrated to Amsterdam, which turned out to be not nearly far enough away. Their name was Frank.

#153 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2004, 10:34 PM:

Clark, Florida election law already required rejected ballots to be examined and counted if voter intent could be discerned, and had so required since the 1970s.

The law, which is rarely actually followed, says: “If any paper ballot is damaged or defective so that it cannot be counted properly by the automatic tabulating equipment, the ballot shall be counted manually at the counting center by the canvassing board. The totals for all such ballots or ballot cards counted manually shall be added to the totals for the several precincts or election districts. [...] No vote shall be declared invalid or void if there is a clear indication of the intent of the voter as determined by the canvassing board.”

There had been a state Supreme Court ruling on it in 1998 (Beckstrom v. Volusia County, cited by Gore’s legal team) which found that a ballot that had been rejected by a tabulating machine counted as a “defective or damaged” ballot under the law.

See this Miami Herald article for details.

#154 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2004, 01:53 AM:

I did not understand that Alan Dershowitz thought the Florida election was fair. I did and do understand Alan Dershowitz to be shorthand for the notion of due process regardless of outcome - as in acquitting a killer through a due process right to trial and so forth (not against it myself).

In this case he presumably thought due process lacking as the decision makers lacked independence. Dershowitz asserts the decision makers would reverse their decision if the parties were reversed and he may be right. He certainly knows the Justices better than I ever will.

The most that might be claimed is that basic fairness—by whatever means it is achieved—is a fundamental right that some may wish to characterize as natural. Such basic fairness might include independent decision makers (whether judge, jury, or some combination), the right to present a defense with the assistance of counsel, placing a burden on the prosecution to prove its case, some avenue for appeal, and protection against excessively cruel punishments (which might vary over time and circumstances). Alan Dershowitz - same sentiments appear repeatedly in his writing and speaking.

I suggest some circular reasoning here; Gore lost therefore Gore was robbed given that Gore always plays perfectly.

Seems to me that Gore so structured his case - ineffective counsel is hardly appropriate here where the client is bound by his attorney however it might apply in criminal cases - as to muddy the waters and make a clear conclusion impossible.

As when a baseball player is up for arbitration where the arbiter must choose between two pleas for relief and not impose a fair solution the player must neither overreach nor underreach.

The Florida Court repeatedly suggested the parties ask for the relief the Court sought to give. The parties did not ask. The Court chose. Similarly the United States Supreme Court decided. Due process was perhaps had by all. Everybody got a day in Court.

I haven't heard that Kathleen Harris was recalled or impeached or suffered judicial sanctions as appropriate so presumably she satisfied her constituents. What more can anybody ask?

So far as I know the Miami Herald was part of the consortium of newspapers which found that a proper count under existing rules gave the win to George W. Bush and so reported. - too bad the Miami News wasn't still around to disagree.

I am not saying George W. Bush is good nor am I saying George W. Bush is bad. I do not say George W. Bush covered himself with glory in Florida. I would not quarrel with an argument that the Florida election might properly incline one against George W. Bush.

I am saying the Florida election process does not seem to me sufficient to settle the point quite so certainly.

#155 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2004, 01:25 PM:

Clark: While Dershowitz says those things, he has also said (repeatedly) that those can only apply where the process is fair, and impartial. He wrote a clear, short and damnably well documented, book showing that the outcome of the case (Bush v. Gore) was not in any way that can be discerned (and I am bending over backwards to give the Court the benefit of what little doubt I can muster) decided on its merits, and that the personal preferences of the justices, in contrast to both the law, the procedures (vis they created a cause for review based on arguments not actually made in the petition) and the historical record of decisions those justices had made.

In his view (though I am engaging in a bit of extrapolation from his arguments) one of the reasons the Court said precedent should not attach to the decision (in itself a contradiction of the repeated writings, and speakings of Scalia) was that if it had it could be used to overturn a slew of previous decisions of those very justices.

As to the question of was war declared... No. Further the conditions Congress set in the authorization were not met either.

The President was required to show that no further diplomatic action would have positive effect and that the war was directly related to the fight against Al Qaeda. The first were abandoned, and the second was, "accomplished," by quoting predicatory clauses in the resolution, as being findings of Congress, despite those phrases being non-binding, (as well as being followed by the demand for a finding from the White House) and intially provided for the authorisation, and included in it, at the behest of the White House.

Recursion at its finest.

#156 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2004, 04:21 PM:

I think I acknowledged that Mr. Dershowitz defines due process as when he thinks the decision makers are unbiased and perhaps luck as when the decision makers are biased his way? - so is it better to say the Supreme Court is supreme except when Dershowitz disagrees? That way lies the Supreme Court is supreme except when Nehamiah Scudder says otherwise.

Reminds me of picking a jury - the rule for picking a jury is that the process on average produces a fair jury. Thew rule is not that this jury is fairly representative. The rule is not currently that any bad resulting jury selected be discarded and the universe resampled if say the selected jury is all middle age male pipe fitters however unrepresentative of the larger universe that might be.

I suggest we take the Court as we find it.

#157 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2004, 04:44 PM:

Clark, what the heck are you going on about, and what relationship does it have to what Dershowitz has been quoted here as having said?

#158 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2004, 04:58 PM:

More specifically, the Supreme Court is not, in fact, supreme. (It is a court, though, so it's ahead of the Federal Reserve and the Holy Roman Empire.) Justices are subject to impeachment by the Senate. This doesn't undo any rulings the removed Justices may have made, so perhaps it's supreme in that sense, but rulings can be overturned by later Supreme Court decisions. There is no doctrine of Judicial Infallibility.

#159 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Teresa asked:
By the way, I'm wondering whether anyone will spot the provenance of the title.

AS a Zelazny fan, I'm guessing its a Amber reference.
"I loved him like a brother. That is to say, not at all..."

#160 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2004, 05:58 PM:

My point is that Philosopher Kings being thin on the ground the Court appointments are unlikely to be individually without bias though we try to make them independent. Thus to say this or any Court (or Secretary of any State) can be unbiased and ought to behave that way on pain of pillory in the blogosphere is silly.

One might well say that given Florida as an example of a faulty decision then no other decision by this or any court can meet the above due process standard of an independent judge. This for the reason that we now see no independent judge on the Court (or were the ones who voted to your satisfaction independent?) - at best the bias matched ours and so was invisible.

Thus in Dershowitz terms the most that can be claimed is already excessive. Dershowitz does go on to discuss these issues at length. I suggest further readings be left on paper as an exercise for the screen addicted.

On the other hand a process that on average produces a good enough official ought to be respected though it fail from time to time. Thus the notion that sometimes it is more important that a case be decided than that it be decided perfectly.

Notice that in New York the Supreme Court is the court of original rather than appellate jurisdiction. Notice also that Stare Decisis is honored more or less from time to time.

Gore lost. One of many reasons he lost was election of remedies. That's life.

#161 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2004, 10:06 PM:

I have now lost the point of what you were trying to say about Dershowitz... From your writings I thought you were saying Dershowitz thought the result of the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore to be fair.

Actually my position is more in line with Allen Dershowitz - the Florida election was decided by an adversary process in Court in line with the laws and therefore must be taken as fair regardless of outcome.

Looking at that, I still think I took you rightly.

And I still maintain that isn't what Mr. Dershowitz believes. He tinks it unfair, but that such unfairness is not so great, in a single instance, as to cause us to dispense with an otherwise decent system.

As to the issue of independence... No, the court is not composed of saints, and Dershowitz knows that. It has however, tended to have justices who looked to the gravity of their office to, generally put aside their gross prejudice in favor of precedent, legal history and (this is the sticking point here) there own past record. The reversal of the theories and practice of at least four of the five who ruled for Bush makes it hard to accept that it was, in fact, made for any other reason than the personal desires of the justices.

My greatest hope (and the reason I don't despair, completely, is the thought that that decision was as abberant as it seemed.

#162 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2004, 12:13 AM:

Jill: I know it's not what you meant, but your title keeps making me think of the old WB Abominable Snowman: "I'm going to love him and hug him and call him George."

Isn't that a reference to The sound and the fury? Or some other classic I should have read?

Teresa: By the way, I'm wondering whether anyone will spot the provenance of the title.

I give up, and I'd sure like to know. Are we there yet?

#163 ::: Mr Ripley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2004, 04:42 AM:

Dan H-- The slow-witted Abominable Snowman's references to "George" and to "wanting a bunny rabbit" allude, I'd guess, to the Steinbeck novella and play Of Mice and Men, a story nowhere near as kind to the mentally disabled as the Faulkner novel.

I'm not sure that Katherine Harris's retaining the support of her constituents is a strong part of an argument for unexceptionable conduct on her part --am I right that many of the thousands of Floridians who were scrubbed from the voter rolls don't have a say in that? No doubt someone here has followed that issue more closely than I --just thought it should be brought up in the context of the legitimacy of W's electoral victory.

#164 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2004, 10:37 PM:

Mr Ripley:

Dan H-- The slow-witted Abominable Snowman's references to "George" and to "wanting a bunny rabbit" allude, I'd guess, to the Steinbeck novella and play Of Mice and Men, a story nowhere near as kind to the mentally disabled as the Faulkner novel.

Just so, and I thank you very much, Mr R. Now I've got two additions to my must-be-read list. So why am I re-reading The Truelove?

#165 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2004, 03:04 PM:

Because it's a great book.

#166 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 09:01 PM:

Mike said 'I'm certainly sympathetic to those talking about expatriation. This isn't the sort of country that my wife and I want our daughter to grow up in. And, more selfishly, the US is at the end of its run. Empires only become more violent as they die.'

Hmmm. Do you really want to become a victim of that violent foreign policy?

#167 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2004, 05:43 AM:

Terry Karney wrote:
My greatest hope (and the reason I don't despair, completely) is the thought that that decision was as aberrant as it seemed.

Considering who'll be on the Supreme Court if Bush has his way, you may look back on these as the Good Old Days.

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