Saturday, May 30, 2009

When Are We?

The Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Red Wings are back in the finals in their respective leagues, there's a Democrat in the Oval, Newt Gingrich is one of the "fresh voices" of the Republican Party, GM isn't selling any cars, and Third Eye Blind has a new album coming out.

I think that porta-potty I used the other day was actually a time transporter set to "late 90s."

Might as well make the most of it: Alison, I know we've been really flirting in art class lately and even though I think you're cute we really shouldn't date because while you don't full understand this yet, you're into girls.  But if it's cool with you, I'd still like to hold hands to Social Studies class.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Empathetic Reverse-Racist Judges

"[O]ur gender and our national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O' Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion...I am not so sure that I agree with that statement...I hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life...[W]e should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group...[N]ine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions.

Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I... owe [people] constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions, and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me require. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences."

-Empathetic Judge and Nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia M. Sotomayor, lecture to University of California-Berkeley School of Law, 2002

"But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, 'You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.'

When I have cases involving children, I can't help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that's before me. And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who's been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I've known and admire very greatly who've had disabilities, and I've watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn't think of what it's doing -- the barriers that it puts up to them."

-Empathetic Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Samuel A. Alito before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 2005

Step into the rain:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Mancow" Follow Up

Wherever you stand politically, you must give bucketloads (too soon?) of credit to conservative radio host Eric "Mancow" Muller for not only volunteering himself to be waterboarded to prove it is not torture but for immediately and sincerely acknowledging that the practice is, in fact, tortorous.  And he deserves even more credit for agreeing to be a guest on Countdown before one of the left's leading voices, a man with whom he shares little "common ground" as they put it, to inform others of his eye-opening experience.

One of the most telling lines from this conversation was early in the interview when Muller reveals to Olbermann that Sean "Too Chickenshit to Walk His Talk" Hannity actually called Muller to tell him, a man who had just been tortured, that what he had experienced was not torture.  

Hannity, you are a coward.


If I had my blog posts automatically sent to my Twitter and my tweets automatically sent to my Facebook and my Facebook updates sent to my Gmail and my Gmail linked on my LinkedIn and my Gchat integrated with my AIM and my AIM linking to my blog, would the Internets break?

Ponder over s'mores.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Head-On Collision With Irony

Michael Steele, the esteemed chairman:

"[Obama] was not vetted, because the press fell in love with a black man running for office. 'Oh gee wouldn't it be neat to do that?  Gee, wouldn't it make all of our liberal guilt just go away?'" 

I tried touching this one, but I think it's better you raindancers just enjoy the irony inherent in this statement (Hint: Republicans beaten by black man having lost every minority voting bloc, grappling with "guilt," without enough time to vet...)

Friday, May 22, 2009

"I don't want to say this...

...[but waterboarding is] absolutely torture."

So says conservative radio host Eric "Mancow" Muller who volunteered himself for an in-studio waterboarding live on air to see what all the fuss was about with pansy liberals getting up in arms about so-called "torture."

For those of you (like me) who don't know who Muller is, he hosts a radio show out of Chicago on which he has consistently maintained that waterboarding, one of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" Dick Cheney enjoys defending, is not, in fact, torture.

"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," said Muller.  "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face...I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.'"

As it turned out, the torture Muller received at the hands of a Chicago EMT was not as hilarious as expected.  

As you watch this video, keep in mind this technique of torture is being conducted in a controlled environment administered by a familiar EMT in which the victim is surrounded by his peers and is not being forced to reveal information.  And remember that the next time you hear Cheney or anyone defend this abhorrent practice, the next time you hear someone use the bastardized verbal whitewash term "enhanced interrogation technique," they are in fact ignoring, twisting, and hiding the ugly truth of the matter.  Whether they do not understand the cold logistics of waterboarding or they do and endorse it regardless of our laws, our values, our moral standing, and our respect of these fragile virtues, they are deplorable, they are corrupt, and they are dead wrong.  Waterboarding is unequivocably torture.

WaPo Agrees; Hardin, MT Answers

"Supermax Prisons in U.S. Already Hold Terrorists"

A great article that states what is logical but for some reason has become completely, mind-bogglingly difficult to understand.

An interesting blurb towards the end: "Still, one economically pressed community in Montana is bucking the trend of 'not in my back yard.' Some residents in Hardin are volunteering to open their unused, 464-bed Two Rivers Regional Detention Facility to the detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The City Council recently passed a resolution in support.

But Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) put his foot down. 'We're not going to bring al-Qaeda to Big Sky Country -- no way, not on my watch,' he told Time magazine this month. "

I can understand a big-government pro-bureaucracy Democrat thwarting the will of a local City Council (tongue-->cheek), but what leg is at-large Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg standing on? A spokeswoman in his Washington office told me the Congressman supports enhancing the usage of the sparsely populated, waste-of-taxpayer-money Two Rivers facility but paradoxically does not support the transfer of alleged terrorists (criminals) anywhere into Montana. Hmmm...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Singin' N-I-M-B-Y

The White House was handed by Congress a setback concerning the closing of Guantanamo Bay. The Senate Democratic leadership chose to strip from the administration's recent war funding proposal the $80 million the Justice and Defense Departments requested to close down the facility and relocate its 240 prisoners, joining Republicans in singing the chorus of "Not In My Backyard" as they turned their eyes towards their constituencies to make sure the voters heard them crowin' loud and clear.

The hypocrisy is staggering.

The last time anyone checked, members of Congress seem perfectly fine with allowing serial rapist-murderer sex offenders imprisoned in their proverbial "backyards." They seem perfectly content building new prisons in their districts to incarcerate first time drug offenders and brag about just how "tough on crime" they really are. But placing the Arab guy with a Muslim-sounding name who allegedly committed an act of terror (but who hasn't been charged or tried) in a maximum security prison surrounded by uniformed men with high-powered rifles is apparently akin to unleashing rabid German shepards on sick American children.

Are moms going to stop dropping their kids off at the local prison complex for playtime and soccer games because a terrorist is now fraternizing amongst the good and decent pedophiles? Will corporations stop holding their conventions in downtown detention centers because Osama bin Laden's one-time cab driver is eating his lunch gruel in the mess hall with shackles on his ankles?

Yes, the Justice Department's plan to handle detainees was bungled and not nearly detailed enough, and I expect the White House to devise what Senator John McCain (who supports the closing of Gitmo) called a "comprehensive, well-thought-out plan" to bring these prisoners to the United States, charge them, try them, convict them, and let them experience the best of American solitary confinement facilities.

But to hear Senator Reid say "I can't make it any more clear, we will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States" is immensely frustrating and disappointing. By using words like "released," Sen. Reid and many other members of both parties are distorting the issue entirely. What's worse, he's now directly responsible for obstructing progress on this issue.

Why not answer the call, accept the "burden" of housing an alleged terrorist genius mastermind (or their cab drivers) in their districts or states, and take pride in the fact that your state, or your fightin' district helped the Commander-in-Chief protect our military and our country and serve righteous, steamin' hot justice all over the faces of these jihadist bastards? Seems like it'd make a damn good re-election ad to me.

I do hope the President and his administration have learned a lesson from this and will deliver to Congress a much more detailed plan regarding the transfer of detainees. But furthermore, I sincerely hope congressional Democrats and Republicans alike tone down the singing and show some leadership by supporting what may be (curiously) unpopular but is necessary to protect this country and ensure due process of the law.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Closing the Gap

The so-called "National Security Gap" between the GOP and the Democratic Party appears to have been erased. That's right, the bread and butter issue of the Republican Party, one they could rely on heavily in the past and a well they've since returned to (this being especially highlighted by House Minority Leader Boehner's recent scare-tactic, 9/11-laced, explosions in the sky doomsday Hans Zimmer-esque foreboding musical accompaniment adverterrorment) is now drying up.

I wonder what they'll fall back on now.

Polling data provided by Democracy Corps.

Sticks and Stones

The Republican National Committee is set to vote on a resolution renaming the Democratic Party the "Democrat Socialist Party."

In related news, GOP House members have introduced a bill that would declare Speaker Nancy Pelosi a "booger-FACE."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chance of Showers, 05/15/09

Hello raindancers! Here are some of today's top stories:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's claim that she and the Congress were lied to by the CIA regarding the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" was rebuffed today by CIA director Leon Panetta, who, although not serving as director at the time, defended the agency and assured it never sought nor does not seek to "mislead" the Congress. Meanwhile, the Speaker's own story on her knowledge or lack thereof of so-called "EITS" has been changing with the wind. Perhaps the Speaker should start to consider who the public will believe: her (with her sagging poll numbers and polarizing nature) or the Central Intelligence Agency (not necessarily a bastion of transparency and forthrightness but still credible, especially since it is Speaker Pelosi who must prove her accusation).

I sincerely hope the Speaker is telling the truth about her lack of knowledge of the use of torture on detainees. But if she's not, the question becomes whether or not she could have done anything in her power to challenge the Bush Administration on the use of torture without revealing sensitive national security information.
The Obama Administration has decided to reinstate the military tribunal system to try detainees, a system the President had suspended in January by executive order. But the tribunals will now operate under some new rules: statements obtained through “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment will not be admissible in court (which the Bush Administration had permitted), hearsay evidence will remain permissible as long as the party which wishes to bring in out-of-court statements can prove the reliability of the source. Defendants will have greater latitude in choosing their legal representation, and those who refuse to testify in court will be protected.

Liberal groups have launched fiery criticisms of the President's decision, accusing him of breaking a campaign promise and endorsing Bush-like anti-Constitutional tribunals. But as Politico's Glenn Thrush points out, the President's decision is largely consistent with his stance toward these tribunals as a U.S. Senator.

Former Vice President Al Gore went after fellow former Vice President Dick Cheney for the latter's constant and early criticism of the current administration, saying that he waited "two years" before levying criticism on the nascent Bush Administration following the 2000 election.

Whether or not Al Gore actually waited two years before criticizing the Bush Administration is entirely irrelevant. There is nothing wrong, repeat, nothing wrong with Vice President Cheney offering criticism of those who have replaced him in power, regardless of whether it's two years or two minutes after President Obama took the oath of office. What IS wrong is the former Vice President's blatantly incorrect statements and false claims concerning the effectiveness of torture and his administration's handling of the war on terrorism.

The Dow dropped three quarters of a percent today with the NASDAQ falling half a percent and the S&P 500 falling over one percent. This flop of a day ended a pretty dismal week on Wall Street (3.6% drop for the Dow) which follows many weeks of rally.

And finally, the World Series Champions Philadelphia Phillies visited the White House today and presented the President with his own number 44 jersey.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Yet to Come": Reprise & Resolution

Back in April I went after Arizona State University, where the President recently delivered a commencement address, for not bequeathing an honorary degree to the President (See "Yet to Come").  Well the President didn't try to circumvent the controversy, but instead chose to spin it around and build his message to the Class of 2009 around it.  Watch the clip of his remarks below, and stay through until the end (past the jokes).

Rhetorical skill + Sense of Humor + Deep Humility  =

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Difference: Recruitment

President Obama decided to reverse course today by not releasing the anticipated photos of more Abu Ghraib-esque detainee abuse. The release of these photos has been requested of the Department of Defense by the American Civil Liberties Union by way of the Freedom of Information Act. The Department of Justice was prepared to release the photos after hearing the lawsuit, but the White House intervened. The President cited the fact that the potential risk the release of these photos poses to our servicemembers currently in combat had not been thoroughly presented in court. He believes the release of these photos will only create greater risk to our troops who would undoubtedly be subject to an increase in attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan similar to the kind seen after the release of the first round of Abu Ghraib detainee abuse pictures. Despite loud and fiery objections from the livid left, in making this decision to protect our soldiers the President has made the right call.

Of course, the good people at Fox News, who I am subjected to on a weekly basis at the DCCC (we like to call it opposition research), couldn't agree more with the President's decision and couldn't struggle more with trying to express this agreement. The phenomenon of watching Bret Baier attempt to reconcile the overlap of opinion between himself and the Socialist-In-Chief and his undying contempt for said Chief was equally hilarious and fascinating. The conservative commentators/fair and balanced news anchors on Fox, along with undoubtedly many more conservatives around the country, scream "hypocrisy!" at the White House for seeing no problem releasing the so-called "torture memos" of the Bush Administration that apparently undermined our national security but objecting to the release of pictures of prisoner abuse for fear of, well, undermining national security. They do not see the distinction between the torture memos and the abuse pictures, and have criticized the President for this apparent double-standard.

Well there is a difference. A big one: torture memos don't make good recruitment posters in Ghazni and Tikrit.

To think that somehow the very same terrorists who wish Death to America, who plot and execute attacks on our troops oversees and our citizens at home, who despise us for any number of reasons, not the least of which being our meddling in Middle Eastern affairs and our abuse of prisoners, are not fully aware of the fact that we torture members of their ranks who we capture in combat is ludicrous. They know. They have known.

Despite the previous administration's dishonest assurances that the United States of America is not a country that tortures prisoners, do not believe for a second that those who fight for Al-Qaeda were not and are not privy to the fact that the United States of America does (did) torture its captured brethren. Unfortunately and also predictably, the torture of terrorists has become the single most effective recruitment tool for Al-Qaeda. And no recruitment campaign was arguably more effective than the one inspired by the photos depicting prisoner abuse by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib.

Pictures such as the ones shown here have become propaganda posters for groups like Al-Qaeda and others who wish to swell their ranks. Nothing enrages an Arab youth whose father has been killed by an American aerial bombing like the sight of a poster outside his mosque depicting the humiliating subjugation of Arab Muslims to such abuse as suffered by prisoners at Abu Ghraib. It could be the tipping point, the moment his heart and mind flood with such hatred so as to compel him into armed insurgency against our soldiers.

By releasing either the torture memos or the abuse photographs, the White House isn't, to use their own language, "illuminating" anything new to the American public, the world, or our enemies. But by releasing the photos specifically, we would be handing terrorist organizations some of the best, most effective marketing material they could have ever wished for. Have no doubt that these photos, had they been released, would enrage terrorists already engaged in war against our men and women, but would help enormously to "inspire" more of them.

For the Arab youth who is teetering on the edge of radicalization, the knowledge that the "American Devils" torture Arab "freedom fighters" is not a new revelation. But the sight of it just might set him off.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Life

And by finally figuring out how anticipated disinflationary monetary policy would affect economic output in the Neo-Keynesian model (and subsequently learning my answer was incorrect), I officially completed my junior year as an undergraduate.

Despite my failure to comprehend intermediate macroeconomic concepts, life's good. But I'm not content. Though my favorite sports team is out of the playoffs (See: Pain Index), I'm not sure how my grades will turn out this semester, the economy is still sputtering, stuff being said by people waving teabags and the corporate enterprise that doubles as an objective news channel who sponsors and echoes said teabaggers is leaving me exacerbated, frustrated, and stressed (though often amused), I'm in the worst physical shape of my life, and I just got screwed and passed over for a position I have coveted for three years, I have a full summer ahead of me and I'd be goddamned if I let it slip away or be deterred by run-on sentences!

Today begins a New Life. It's much like the Old Life. And it lacks any experiential, epiphanic enlightenment that should come with such a proclamation of a renewed sense of self that I one day hope to actually feel. But it's a shedding away of my winter skin and an embrace of warmth, sun, the outdoors, the city, and the self-capacity that all of the above enhance.

A Few Things I'd Like To Do (In No Particular Order):

1. Purchase New Guitar Strings
For both of my babies, the acoustic and electric. This is long overdue; the organisms growing on the strings themselves have already mastered the intro to "Voodoo Child."

2. Purchase A New Bicycle
It's time. I have mourned. I have remained abstinate. I have exorcised the ghosts of grief and despair. It's time for a new bike. And thanks to Uncle Sam's lookin' out for me, I'll be able to stimulate the shit out of a DC bike shop.

2(a). Whip my ass (literally) into shape.
I plan on doing the full Capital Crescent run from Georgetown to Silver Spring via Chevy Chase and Bethesda. Followed by Alexandria to National Cathedral and Arlington National Cemetary to Soldier's Home via Oak Hill. I also plan on making a special trip to God's Country, West Virginia where I will be hitting the trails. More to come on these trips.

I also gotta hit the gym.

3. Purchase New Clothes
On a super tight budget.  But I can make it work.  I love finding clothes that look exactly like the clothes at J. Crew and Banana that are actually from Target.  And rock 'em.  And that's what I plan on doing.  I've got to buy some new dress shirts for work, some more ties, new kicks, a new watch, and new cool hip graphic T-shirts. 

4. Read
Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama. Because I haven't yet. More Esquire. Because it is a brilliant magazine. And maybe some sci-fi courtesy of my well-stocked expert roommate.

5. Manage Networks
Includes archiving Gmail (a sense of satisfaction unmatched), deleting unnecessary contacts in my phonebook (you're dead to me Joe Biden's Senate Office), unfriending unnecessary human beings on Facebook, linking in with working professionals on LinkedIn, and dropping annoying tweeters on Twitter due to superfluous twats while expanding my own followers (search iEshawn!)

6. Drink at more bars
I turned 21 in February but the burdens of school work have prevented me from sampling some of the great bars DC has to offer. This may be a difficult goal to accomplish since my internship with AARP is UNPAID (cheapass old farts) thus expendable income will be low without putting down for drinks. Gotta make use of happy hours! And I've got to get to McFadden's and make my GW rite of passage.

7. Initiate Trilogy Weekends!
On various weekends throughout the summer, I'm going to host movie trilogy viewing parties! Star Wars, Ocean's, Indiana Jones, Godfather, Lord of the Rings, Bourne, Mission Impossible, Rush Hour, and more!

8. Make Music
I'm serious about it. I'm ready for people to hear what I work hard to write. Get in touch with me if you want to write, practice, and play original music. Let's do this.

New Life. It starts now.