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  • (1)

    It's a claim that is truly hard to believe:

    The 23-year-old woman accused Smith, who had just participated in joint military exercises, of forcing himself on her in the back of a moving van after a night of drinking at the former U.S. naval base at Subic Bay. She claimed three Marines cheered him on, before he dumped her on the street with her pants around her ankles.

    Smith, 21, of St. Louis, countered that the young woman was a willing participant.Sure. Chicks dig it when guys fuck them in front of their buddies. It's even better to get tossed onto the street in an undressed state.

    What's really sick is that Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith quite possibly believes this. He'll face is 40-year prison term -- oh, and let's not forget the $2,000 fine for "moral damages" -- thinking he's an innocent man.

    The other three Marines were charged in the case, but were acquitted and immediately headed back to their unit in Okinawa, Japan, where they could still face military discipline.Given the U.S. military's history regarding sexual assault cases, I'm not holding my breath.

  • (1)

    The National Intelligence [sic] Director is resigning:

    National Intelligence Director John Negroponte will resign to become deputy secretary of state, a government official said Wednesday night.

    Negroponte took over in 2005 as the nation's first intelligence chief, responsible for overseeing all 16 U.S. spy agencies. He will return to his roots as a career diplomat to become the No. 2 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the official said.

    Does this mean we can expect US-sponsored death squads in Iraq?

  • (1)

    The assumption behind all of the Bush and neocon rhetoric seems to be that any kind of withdrawal means defeat. The corollary of that is this:

    Victory in Iraq = Staying in Iraq Indefinitely

    It's the only thing that adds up. It's the only explanation that accounts for the dozen and one different reasons why we invaded, and why they call any and all alternative plans that provide for withdrawal as being "defeat."

    So now it all makes sense. Now we know why we must stay in Iraq. Because staying means victory, according to The Decider. Now we know why we must have a troop surge. Because it makes staying more likely and that means victory is in hand. Now we know why "Mission Accomplished" was announced by the Bush Administration years ago.

    Because it already was.

    We saw, we came, we occupied. Victory. QED.

  • (1)

    Now that DC has awakened to the reality of a more engaged online populace, not only are we seeing online announcements of candidacy (or candidacy exploration, heh), but also the beginnings of what is pretty much inevitable:

    Negative campaigning in blog threads.

    Yes, not only will we have wingnut fundamentalist suicide blog-bombers hitting Democrat-leaning blogs (and no doubt the agitator liberals picking at sites like Little Green Boogers), but also same-party partisans trying to score points in comments on various political blogs.

    We saw a little of it in the last election on the various echo chamber sites, but now we're almost certain to see more professional operatives bringing their low-standards previous held only for television advertising into the new media of online interaction.

    Oh I can hardly wait for all the new wrinkles this will bring to the karma-points circle jerks on the überblogs of the left.

    Is the golden age over? Are we doomed to drag the internet down to the mainstream media advertising level? Personally, as a not-much-of-a-reader-any-more of the so-called A-list blogger/pundits, I don't expect such developments to affect me very much. But who knows? This community blog has known its moments of respectable traffic, and had some pretty incredible contributors breaking out the sharp knives few others will even acknowledge.

    Yet it will be interesting how the efforts to manufacture consent in various online communities plays out when the Beltway Pros really get involved.

    One thing is clear: the Dems announcing this week seem to know themselves. Barack Obama was simple and direct, without playing into the star image he's acquired of late. Hillary Clinton's announcement was smoother and more relaxed than I could ever have imagined. And Bill Richardson pretty much won me over on This Week this morning -- I never knew he was so charismatic and could be so incisive about the issues.

    None of these evaluations are meant as an endorsement, not that anyone cares what I think. I remain an independent, pretty much distrusting everything coming from within two hours' drive from the Mall.

    I admit I am curious about how the blog campaigns will be professionalized, though. Todays question: How true is John Edwards' image? Let's sling some comments and pass the time. It's only 21 months and change until election day!

  • (1)

    Leave it to an overwhelming work schedule over the past few months to get me totally out of the blog-reading (and blog-posting) groove. One result is that I totally missed the (to me) shocking act of Amanda Marcotte's throwing her keyboard behind the campaign of John Edwards.

    Shocking, to me, because she is one of the most powerful political writers, period, and I guess I saw bloggers as more like opinion journalists -- apart from the fray in order to comment upon it. Maybe I'm just too jaded about the entire political field right now to imagine picking a horse right now. (Creative Destruction does some creative destruction of Amanda's views, wondering [I posit charitably] how her views can fit the sanitized requirements of political candidates.)

    (I confess that part of my shock also arises out of my sense that Edwards is too much the smoothie politician for his own good. He just sounds like a politician. It's that disease that most Democrats seem to have these days: dive right into bullet-point plans, without clearly articulating the overarching vision. Despite is immoveable hair and Tom Cruise grin, I do find Edwards to have a compelling presence, once you actually listen. And he is pretty much the only candidate who's unequivocally against Bush's war.)My proverbial hat's off to Amanda for her bold move. I can't find it in myself to criticize someone for actually trying to do something to help effect change. I find myself wondering, however, whether she will actually have as much influence as an official blogger for the Edwards campaign as opposed to the star of one of the most popular and successful political blogs.

    Melinda Casino senses that this all could lead to trouble, and points to some eloquent posts on different "sides" of the subject. Next thing we'll have bloggers taking people off of their blogrolls over politics.

    Oh, wait. That's not new.I wonder if anything is changing much, really. If there is a trend here, I can only see it as being positive. One of my peeves over the past several years is that many bloggers have pretended to be neutral, or at least un-influenced, about one candidate or another, while quietly working on the payroll of one campaign or another.

    Why shouldn't bloggers fly their colors? It sure beats the ethics of undisclosed free laptops and travel junkets.

  • (1)

    So Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as reportedly confessed.

    "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z," Mohammed said in a statement read Saturday during a Combatant Status Review Tribunal at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mohammed's confession was read by a member of the U.S. military who is serving as his personal representative.

    The Pentagon released a 26-page transcript of the closed-door proceedings on Wednesday night. Some material was omitted, and it wasn't possible to immediately confirm details. Some elements of it refer to locations for which the United States and other nations have issued terrorism warnings based on what they deemed credible threats from 1993 to the present.

    When people are tortured and tried in secret, how much credibility is there behind the whole procedure of extracting confessions, especially when it comes to the rest of the world. When America announces a confession today, does it carry the weight it would have 20 years ago?

    What's more, does his confession make one bit of difference? Guilty or not, confessions or denials, there was no way in hell Bush was going to let him go free. The "enemy combatant" was destined to a lifetime of "detention" anyway.

    Make no mistake: I have no doubt that Mohammed could very well be as guilty of all to which he confessed. With no public trial, as sanctioned by our Constitution, we'll just have to take our government's word for it.

    But what have we become, as a society founded on the principles of freedom and justice, as a nation that was once revered for its benevolent power, when secret trials, hidden interrogation bases and an administration that proudly proclaims its belief in torture by any other name become the order of the day?

    More:

    Pentagon Redacted Statements of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Discussing Torture

    Larisa Alexandrovna: Where is Waldo, err, Khalid Sheik Mohammed?

    Background on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh

  • (1)

    One of the main conservative leaders who fought successfully to scare politicians away from the Equal Rights Amendment has now revealed some of her underlying thinking, including -- incredibly -- the notion that husbands have carte blanche when it comes to raping their wives.

    "By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape," she said.

    That's right, honey. Say "I do" and open your legs 'till death do you part.

    She also seems to be oblivious to the changing world around her.

    One came when Schlafly asserted women should not be permitted to do jobs traditionally held by men, such as firefighter, soldier or construction worker, because of their "inherent physical inferiority."

    "Women in combat are a hazard to other people around them," she said. "They aren't tall enough to see out of the trucks, they're not strong enough to carry their buddy off the battlefield if he's wounded, and they can't bark out orders loudly enough for everyone to hear."

    Never mind that women are taller and stronger today than before, thanks to less socially imposed norms of yore, such as the undernourishment of girls and the frowning on women participating in sports.

    Besides, making grandiose generalizations based on sex when it comes to who's permitted to do what is a ridiculous claim, and politically is more in line with fascism than the old-line Goldwater conservatism that espouses small government and leaving people alone.

    In summary, it seems that the woman who tried to claim that feminism was a victim mindset has completely swallowed whole a pathologically victim-oriented view of the world, where women are soooooo inferior that we should all just shut up, cook dinner and get on our backs for men.

  • (1)

    Jon Stewart called it "Iranian Hostage Crisis: The Next Generation" (with the requisite cool cable-news-like graphics), but now Iranian dissidents are saying it really is like old times: The Iranian government planned to take British soldiers hostage.Abedini told a London press conference that an Iranian Revolutionary
    Guard naval garrison had been on alert from the night before the
    kidnapping, to prepare for the operation.Mohammad Mohaddessin, who handles foreign affairs for the council,
    said in a statement that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
    had ordered the detention of the Britons in the hope of pressuring the
    British government over a threat to toughen U.N. sanctions."You can see that the clerical regime had in a premeditated act
    arrested British sailors in order to win concessions from the
    international community and divert attention from its nuclear project,"
    Abedini said. "Claims that the sailors were arrested in Iranian
    territorial waters are baseless."

    They just hate to be left out of all the war-making fun.

  • (1)

    Well they did it: The conservative men of the Supreme Court declared that the State has the right to control women's wombs, thus rendering women officially as second-class citizens with fewer rights than men, and even fewer rights than non-persons.

    I really don't know what to say, except that if men had to bear the pregnancy burden, there would be no such debate today.

    People will look back at this decade as the era when the United States turned to darkness. Iraq, torture, raiding the taxpayer coffers for corporate profit, unprecedented deficits, refusal to acknowledge global warming (let alone do anything about it), and now this.

    "Today's decision is alarming," Ginsburg wrote for the minority. "It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists....And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health."

    Bucking Markos' insistence that reproductive rights are not part of the "important shit," McJoan writes on Kos:

    This decision throws basic abortion rights into question, which in turn brings the right to choose to the forefront of 2008, when Democrats again are going to have to make supporting the right to choose a litmus test, and where we're going to have to fight hard in the primaries for truly progressive candidates who will make protecting the right to make our own medical decisions paramount.
  • (1)

    So are the wealthy smarter, really?

    Intelligence has nothing to do with wealth, according to a US study published Tuesday which found that people with below average smarts were just as wealthy as those with higher IQ scores.

    "People don't become rich because they are smart," said Jay Zagorsky, research scientist at Ohio State University whose study appears in the Journal Intelligence.

    You think?