Monthly Archives: September 2006

Shock waves Can Form Due to Steepening of Ordinary Waves

Shock waves can form due to steepening of ordinary waves. And I see steepening waves popping up all over. For example, they’re getting a little shrill over there at Hullabaloo:

America was once a vibrant and vocal enterprise where prominent people spoke with courage and conviction. We are now a muted and sublimated culture where the opposition is cowardly, and too afraid they will be ostracized if they speak out. A once participatory and opposition-minded mainstream press is now preponderantly part and parcel of the largest institution, that amalgamation of powerful forces referred to earlier. The most influential reporters (Russert, Brokaw and their ilk) are millionaire staffers, corporate automatons, and vanity authors who have become inured to the ways and customs of their employers. The elite way of living that goes along with their wealth and social status make them less likely to question the actions of government tyrants. Yet they are the very people with the responsibility to do so, and they are the people who are in a position to do so.

Yes, they’re getting very shrill:

Now, for those of you clinging on to the delusion that what is happening isn’t what actually is happening, let me spell it out. Gingrich is floating out there the very real possibility that Bush will not abide by any Supreme Court judgment he doesn’t like. Suddenly the idea that the Supremes aren’t the final arbiter on constitutionality is something that “merits discussion” and if you don’t think this notion is going to dominate the discourse if the Supremes strike down the torture bill, well, I hate to be so blunt about it, but you are completely, totally wrong.

I expect we’ll see lots more of this before it’s over. (And if we don’t, that’s even worse.)

Posted in The Media | 1 Comment

UK Lord Chancellor: US willing to do things beyond the law

Buried on page A12 of the Saturday (lowest weekly circulation) Washington Post, is a little lecture from the Lord Falconer. As you read this consider that this is undoubtedly a case of British understatement.

Briton Cites ‘Divergence’ With U.S.: Charles Falconer, one of the highest-ranking justice officials in Britain, said Friday that there is a “great divergence” in how Britain and the United States are handling the fight against terrorists, describing the U.S. approach as a willingness “to do things beyond the law.”

Falconer said in an interview that the practices of holding terrorism suspects without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and interrogating them in secret CIA prisons have made it “harder to identify to the world what your values are.”

Falconer recently called Guantanamo Bay “an affront to the principles of democracy.” In a lengthy interview Friday, he said Britain had learned hard lessons in the 1970s when it pursued a hard-line course in response to the bombing campaign of the Irish Republican Army. Police got new leeway in interrogation, while suspects’ civil protections were reduced. In multiple cases, innocent people were convicted and sentenced.

“We suffered badly in the ’70s and ’80s,” Falconer said, adding that the United States was among those criticizing the British approach at the time. He also noted that IRA fundraising “shot up” during this period.

“Keep your justice system as pure as you can,” Falconer said. “This is advice to a friend from the experience we have had.”

Falconer said both countries value democracy and rule of law. But some U.S. practices are “undercutting the very values both countries adhere to,” he said.

Asked whether these practices had hurt U.S. prestige in the world, Falconer said, “it is something that is raised a lot.”

Posted in Civil Liberties, UK | 1 Comment

A Company With a Death Wish

In its unceasing campaign to lose market share to Japanese companies that understand the American consumer, GM has rolled out new promotion, the “You're a Great American” car giveaway. And they've hired Sean Hannity as their spokesmodel.

You have to wonder how small the ratio gets between the IQs over there and the MPG ratings of their cars: what sort of genius does it take to identify your (struggling) company with a guy who routinely insults more than half the country? As Think Progress reminds us, this is the guy who,

And GM thinks this will help them sell cars? Short the stock now.

Posted in Econ & Money | 8 Comments

‘Republicans Just Married the Torture Issue Shortly Before Election Day’

Maybe it begins?

The Agonist, Movements and Parties:For one Congressman, at least, torture doesn’t seem like an issue he really wants to engage in. In fact, when the candidate I work for (Bob Johnson … DrBob around here) forcefully challenged John McHugh on torture using the language of morality, well, there’s no other way to put it: John McHugh freaked out.

That’s some reaction, hm? He isn’t attempting to plead the need for torture – he’s trying to deny it happens under this bill.

Yep. He wants as far away from the moral implications of torture as he can possibly get. Because Americans would freak out at some of the techniques.

They were torturing before. They will torture again. And if a bill that outlaws torture came through, Bush would castrate it with a signing statement.

But politically – Republicans, in all their fun and excitement about making liberal heads explode, got a little carried away. They just married the issue shortly before election day without knowing precisely and specifically which techniques they authorized.

Now it’s time to start telling the American people what techniques Republicans potentially just authorized in loving and specific detail (ouch for the Dems that crossed the aisle, but it’s called “collateral damage” and it serves them right).

Handled right it’s a baby seal hunt. Wear clothes that don’t stain.

Personally, I’m a bit more dubious about the ease of getting the message out, and I find the baby seal image somewhat disturbing and inappropriate, but I do like the energy and optimism here.

Posted in Torture | Comments Off on ‘Republicans Just Married the Torture Issue Shortly Before Election Day’

Freedom Flier Baggies

It’s a movement. A subject on which I hope to have more to say soon. Meanwhile, enjoy this Boing Boing: HOWTO make a “Kip Hawley is an idiot” Freedom Baggie: gives you instructions for making your own “freedom baggie” with your opinion of the TSA chief.

I flew from SFO to LAX yesterday morning, and was robbed at gunpoint by a TSA agent, who stole my cologne, face-wash, and moisturizer. She said that my moisture baggie could only contain vessels of 3 oz or less’ worth of moisture. I pointed out that all these vessels did have less than 3 oz’ worth of moist substances in them, as they were all half-empty, and she said yes, but the vessels were capable of holding more than 3 oz. Apparently, the risk is that a hair-gel bomber will take to the skies, and use a syringe to refill the tube of face-scrub through its tiny little aperture, somehow mixing some kind of moisture-bomb in the plastic tube without melting it. Apparently, liquids acquire magical explosive properties when they are in quantities of more than 3 oz.

A TSA supervisor took me aside and asked me why I was so upset. I said that my family left the Soviet Union to escape arbitrary authority, and the seizure of property by the state. She suggested that I send in a report to the TSA complaining, and I laughed and asked her how many of those people get added to the No-Fly List.

Of course, this is all a hollow joke. The risk of someone mixing a binary hair-gel explosive has been dismissed by chemists as a near-zero. Meanwhile, as points out, “air cargo is not screened and there is still no point-to-point baggage matching.”

Posted in Law: Right to Travel | Comments Off on Freedom Flier Baggies

Allen Stories Everywhere

This is getting just plain weird. In the last 24 hours the Allen campaign has descended from off-message-frenzy and damage control to deep inside Bizzaro Land.

Item: The Allen campaign unveiled a tough commercial regarding Webb’s comments opposing the admission of women at the Naval Academy — in 1979. Indeed, there’s not much doubt in my mind that Webb was something of a sexist pig back then. His record as Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, however, suggests a changed man.

Item: In an effort to blunt all the awful stories about Sen. Allen’s racist past by playing “you’re another,” the Allen campaign dug up a guy who has the sort of story you wouldn’t believe while drunk:

Allen campaign officials to direct a reporter to Dan Cragg, a former acquaintance of Webb’s, who said Webb used the word while describing his own behavior during his freshman year at the University of Southern California in the early 1960s. Webb later transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Cragg, 67, who lives in Fairfax County, said on Wednesday that Webb described taking drives through the black neighborhood of Watts, where he and members of his ROTC unit used racial epithets and pointed fake guns at blacks to scare them.

“They would hop into their cars, and would go down to Watts with these buddies of his,” Cragg said Webb told him. “They would take the rifles down there. They would call then [epithets], point the rifles at them, pull the triggers and then drive off laughing. One night, some guys caught them and beat . . . them. And that was the end of that.”

Cragg said Webb told him the Watts story during a 1983 interview for a Vietnam veterans magazine. Cragg, who described himself as a Republican who would vote for Allen, did not include the story in his article. He provided a transcript of the interview, but the transcript does not contain the ROTC story. He said he still remembers the exchange vividly more than 20 years later.

But wait! It gets better — the guy says has a tape of the whole interview — except that part. Truly a Rose Marie Woods for our times.

Note that Cragg says that he contacted the Allen camp before going public; they either encouraged him or didn’t try to stop him. This sort of garbage is the action of a desperate flailing campaign. Webb’s response (via a spokesperson), quoted in the Washington Post, is priceless: “In 1963, you couldn’t go to Watts and do that kind of thing. You’d get killed. So of course I didn’t do it. I would never do that. I would never want to do that.”

Item: And if that wasn’t strange enough, four — four! — independent sources (not part of the Webb campaign) have come forward to say … I can’t believe I’m typing this … George Allen likes to spit on women’s feet. I’ve got to wonder if this is relevant to his fitness to hold public office. It tends to show he’s odd; mean, even. And perhaps in these days of personality politics those who live by the nice guy image can fairly die by it.

You do have to wonder if we couldn’t somehow raise the tone just a little bit here.

Posted in Politics: US: 2006 Election | 1 Comment