Michele Bachmann is at again, this time claiming liberals support beheadings while decrying waterboarding. Even with Bill O'Reilly calling torture "dunking" she manages to make him look borderline sane:
What an unbelievable hack Clarence Thomas is. He dissented in a Supreme Court decision filed after a prisoner in North Carolina was brutally assaulted by a guard after he asked for a grievance form. The case found his treatment to be a violation of the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Thomas, along with Antonin Scalia, dissented because "Judges -- not jailers -- impose punishment." They chose to reach back to the 1689 English Bill of Rights to define the word "punishment." Under their view, the cruel and unusual punishment clause only limits the actions of judges - once you're in the penal system, the gloves are off, apparently.
This little tidbit was reported in a Los Angeles Timesarticle which reviews Thomas's ongoing fight to justify torture and brutality, backed by Scalia. And this blog entry builds on that to show his influence in the torture policies of the US government in recent years. Seems most of the lawyers who wrote the justifications for torture were once Thomas's clerks. Good read, both of those pieces.
"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the
most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every
other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes;
and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing
the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary
power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out
offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of
seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the
people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the
inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a
state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered
by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual
–James Madison, Political Observations, Apr. 20, 1795
in: Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, vol. 4, p. 491
Maureen Dowd can be irritating, but she gets things right an awful lot of the time. Lately she's been focusing on the Catholic church's cover-up of sexual abuse by priests. Her column yesterday described the flash of insight she had about the whole mess while talking to a group of educated professional women in Saudi Arabia:
I asked why they were not more upset about living in a country where women’s rights were strangled, an inbred and autocratic state more like an archaic men’s club than a modern nation. They told me, somewhat defensively, that the kingdom was moving at its own pace, glacial as that seemed to outsiders.
How could such spirited women, smart and successful on every other level, acquiesce in their own subordination?
I was puzzling over that one when it hit me: As a Catholic woman, I was doing the same thing.
This week's episode of This American Life is about Magnetar, a hedge fund that arguably is at the heart of the economic meltdown we're supposedly recovering from. By way of illustration they included a Broadway-style show tune about the company's manipulation of derivatives, and this video shows the recording of the tune:
As entertaining as it may be, it's pretty derivative itself (you should pardon the expression) of The Producers, and the lead singer does a pretty good Nathan Lane, I'd say. Not surprising since he was one of the actors who took over the role of Max Bialystock after Lane created the role in the Broadway musical version of the show.
The story was a joint effort by This American Life, NPR, and ProPublica. A text version of the story is up now on ProPublica's Web site. Makes for good reading, if it doesn't make you want to head to the ramparts in revolution.
The Daily Kos has a good piece on just how badly Chris Matthews got it wrong in discussing the healthcare endgame with Congressman Alan Grayson. Not only gets it wrong, but browbeats the guy who is on the inside and knows the planned strategy:
What a jerk. Matthew proves himself once again to be the evil love child of Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, dedicated to embarrassing the left on a daily basis. Care to lay odds whether his colleagues at MSNBC will call him out tonight for being so utterly wrong on this? Or whether he'll provide anything remotely resembling an honest apology to Grayson?
With the end of the year inevitably come awards in all kinds of fields. Ginandtacos.com has chosen the Anoka lunatic for a well deserved award, albeit one whose name I'm not going to quote here. You'll have to read the official announcement on their site. It's delicious, and takes some lovely swipes at Joe Lieberman along the way.
A few passages from the announcement:
Michelle Bachmann is the new It Girl of Teabagging – the combination sex symbol / Great Conservative Leader for people who think Sarah Palin is a bit soft and a little too book-smart.
Like all great specimens of pure Bircherite insanity, Bachmann forces us to ask repeatedly, "Is this idiot for real?"
Bachmann's award-winning year is more about reliability; no matter what issue becomes salient or what events transpire we can rely on her to represent the lunatic fringe. You can set your watch by her consistent, surreal insanity.
Well, if there were any question whether Garrison Keillor's recent stroke left him with any permanent mental deficit, he has put the question to rest with the rant in his latest weekly column. After a lengthy, misinformed attack on Unitarians, he landed himself smack in realm of Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, and the rest of the "War on Christmas" camp:
If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write "Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah"? No, we didn't.
Christmas is a Christian holiday -- if you're not in the club, then buzz off.
Wow. Talk about taking the Twin Cities back to its roots...its roots as one of the most anti-Semitic communities in the nation. Reviving the tradition of restricted clubs, no less...modeling the inclusive teachings of his beloved savior, right?
If you think he was writing this as satire, read the whole piece. He really believes this crap. Not a shred of irony to be found about Christians stealing so many of the traditions of Christmas from pagans. No recognition that it was in fact the Unitarians and Universalists of Boston who led the campaign to make Christmas a major holiday - after the Christian Puritans literally outlawed its celebration. Or that Charles Dickens, who practically defines so many of the modern traditions of its celebration, was a Unitarian in spirit if not fact when he wrote A Christmas Carol.
No, what we have here is a prime example of small town mainstream Protestant bigotry. In prime form. Anoka would be proud.