SocraticGadfly: 6/4/06 - 6/11/06

June 10, 2006

EBJ sucks up to SBC/ATT, votes to kill Net neutrality

What do all the acronyms mean?

They mean that Dallas Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a member of the Progressive Caucus and allegedly one of the House’s more liberal members, has seen the light from campaign contributions from SBC(formerly Southwestern Bell), now part of the new AT&T.

Specifically, she has voted to eliminate Internet neutrality so that folks like AT&T can charge companies like Google out the wazoo for Internet service, especially broadband. This ignoring that the bandwidth of telecommunications is supposed to be under federal regulation as a fair-play utility.

Reason what, No. 223, to vote Green! (EBJ has a Green as well as a GOP opponent this fall.)

Another reason NOT to vote Democratic — hypocrisy from Harry Reid

Of course, as the vote shows, he IS leading Senate Democrats

The Democrats’ Senate Minority Leader has again called for stiffer intelligence agency oversight
“All of us as Americans need to review how the Bush Administration cherry-picked and hyped the case for war with Iraq to sell it to Congress and the American people, so we can make sure it never happens again,” Reid said … at the YearlyKos convention.

Of course, this is the same Harry Reid who voted in favor of National Security Agency illegal-telephone-record-and-domestic-phone-call-snooper-in-chief Michael Hayden to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Shock me that he would be a featured speaker of the “win first, principles later” Markos.

Of course, Reid wasn’t alone. Democrats present and voting favored Hayden by a 25-14 margin. That includes alleged liberals and civil liberties stalwarts such as Byrd, Leahy and Levin.

Armando’s corporate clients and GOP coffers

How much more have some of Armando’s clients given to Republicans than Democrats? C’mon, looking at the likes of Wal-Mart, GE Capital, Altria (formerly Philip Morris), the four or five Big Pharma companies, and others, we know it’s a LOT more.

I’ve gotten into this project enough that I may just do a little research over the weekend.

And hasn’t his legal work for them helped the corporate bottom line, therefore the GOP campaign contribution bottom line?

June 09, 2006

Armando’s and McConnell Valdés’ corporate client list — plenty of bad boys on it

Here’s a list of all of McConnell Valdés’ and Armando Lloréns-Sar’s top clients, , taken from the firm’s website.

Why do I say McConnell AND Armando?

Because, according to the firm, Armando Lloréns-Sar is a partner in the Litigation Department of McConnell Valdés (emphasis added).

Anyway, here is the list:
· 3M Company · ABN AMRO Inc. · AIG American General Co. · Altria Corporate Services, Inc. · American Airlines · Ann Taylor, Inc. · Aventis Pharmaceuticals PR, Inc. · Banco Popular de Puerto Rico · Bayer Corporation · Best Buy Corporation, Inc. · Better Roads & Asphalt Corp. · Borders, Inc. · Bose Corporation · Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. · Citibank, N.A. · Clorox Commercial Company · Colgate-Palmolive Co. · Compass Group USA, Inc. · De la Cruz & Associates, Inc. · Dorado Beach Hotel Corporation · Doral Financial Corp. · Eli Lilly and Co. · Federal Express Corp. · Federated Department Stores, Inc. (Macy's) · The Gap, Inc. · GE Capital Corp. · The Gillette Co. · GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, LP · GlaxoSmithKline Puerto Rico, Inc. · Goya Foods, Inc. · Hamilton Sundstrand de PR, Inc. · Hewlett-Packard Co. · Hospital Menonita, Inc. · Independence Blue Cross · La Cruz Azul de PR, Inc. · IPR Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a part of AztraZeneca) · IKON Benefits Group/NFP Partners · J.C. Penney Company, Inc. · Johnson & Johnson · JPMorganChase · J. Walter Thompson · Kimberly-Clark Corp. · Luxottica Retail · MB Sports, Inc. · Maxxam, Inc. · Mova Pharmaceutical · NBTY, Inc. · Oriental Bank & Trust · Otis Elevator Co. · Paviahealth, Inc. · Popular Insurance · Popular, Inc. · Rémy-Martin · R&G Financial Corp. · San Pablo Hospital · SBA Network Services, Inc. · S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. · Schering-Plough Co. · Sears Roebuck & Co. · Serrallés · The Shell Company (Puerto Rico LTD) · Sherwin-Williams Co. · Siemens Transportation Systems, Inc. · South American Restaurants Corp. · Spice Air, Inc. · Sterling Jewelers, Inc. · Storage Technology (Bermuda) Ltd. · Televicentro of PR, LLC · Tishman Realty Corp. · Toys R Us · Tyco Healthcare Group LP · Unilever US, Inc. · Unilever de PR, Inc. · Universal Insurance Co. · Univisión Communications, Inc. · Univisión Radio, Inc. · Viacom, Inc. · Walgreen Co. · Wal-Mart Puerto Rico,Inc. · Wells Fargo Financial Inc. · Westbrook Luquillo, LP · WH Smith USA Travel Retail · Wyeth · Xerox Corp. · Zurich American Insurance Group

At the risk of being accused of “gotcha” journalism, there’s a whole, whole bunch of bad-boy clients here from a progressive point of view. Just about any from Big Pharma, like Aventis, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth, for example. (Yes, I know that because of federal law on Puerto Rico, pharmaceuticals do a lot of business theree, but still.)

Tobacco lobby? Altria, formerly Philip Morris.

Tyco? Have we forgotten their HUGE legal woes?

Toys R Us, which has said in the past it wants to “own” children.

Wal-Mart, of course. Wal-Mart has also been identified as a laggard in the “No Dirty Gold” campaign, along with Sears and JC Penney. The No Dirty Gold campaign is an activist movement trying to get jewelry retailers to only buy gold from mining companies, etc., that are labor and environmentally responsible.

Mainstream media giant Viacom.

Kimberly-Clark, well-known as a corporate bad buy in Texas and by environmentalists in general for its poor record on the use of recycled paper.

GE Capital, which benefited from the horrible new bankrputcy legislation.

Citibank. Connected with international finance, etc. Not exactly the most progressive financial institution re developing nations.

Borders. Refused to carry the most recent issue of The Humanist; what magazine will get banned next time and why?

My Armando post that got deleted from Kos, edited and expanded

At the great delight of being deliberately contrarian, I'm jumping into this fray with both feet, while laughing my head off. And calling Armando out.

So Armando is throwing a titty fit because Stephen Spruell from National Review Online is ”outing” his day job as a corporate attorney.

In his own Kos diary, Armando claims it’s an inside job, and not right-wing attack politics.
A major Right wing site has chosen to support a troll’s campaign at this site to out me.

But that’s not all. Last fall, he threatened to ban a DKos poster who started digging at his corporate legal representation.
Come any closer to my personal circmstances [sic] and you will be banned.

Well, from having crossed swords with Armando a few times myself, including his projecting psychological issues on other people, I’d say, while there are a few “nicer guys” to whom it could happen, Armando himself would be pretty high on the list.

Tough shit and stop throwing a titty fit.

OK, Armando, so who is this troll? Let's have a name, a particular diary/diary response post or other evidence, and then we can hear from this alleged DKos "troll."

And yes, I use "alleged." Putting a legal angle on it for you the lawyer, until we the reading jury can see all the evidence, it's an "alleged" troll.

And, of course, it is an alleged troll.

According to Diane Ensley, Armando wrote HIS OWN Wiki bio, complete with lists of his corporate legal clients such as Wal-Mart and now boo-hoos about getting “outed”? NOTE: According to Wiki's discussion board on whether or not to allow Armando's own request to have his bio deleted, it appears he did not write his own bio. If this is confirmed, I will delete this.

Of course, I've crossed swords with Armando a few times myself, including his projecting psychological issues on other people, I’d say, while there are a few “nicer guys” to whom it could happen, Armando himself would be pretty high on the list.

Oh, Armando, you’ve proved “goblue72” right, by quitting blogging rather than looking for a new law firm. I choose to remain at a lower-paying weekly paper rather than trying to work at a seven-day daily, precisely so that I can get involved in antiwar protests, anti-Bush protests, and anti-ExxonMobil protests without running afoul of a major newspaper's corporate codes of conduct.

And, Armando, about your martyr complex?

First, get down off the cross, we need the wood.

Second, and more seriously, as a light-skinned Cuban-American, a descendant of Cubans who surely had money, how much were your ancestors corporate shills, or even corporatists themselves? Just how far from, or close to, the tree of pre-Castro Cuban exploitation of the poor by the rich did you fall?

Knee-jerk Kossack intolerance obviously supported by Kos himself

I provide a series of comments from people who have left or been in the process of being booted from Kos.

Here’s one of the best comments I’ve read from one of the few, and rapidly disappearing, critically thinking diarists there:
GWHayduke says:
’Toe The Party Line Or Be Silenced’ ought to be emblazoned on the masthead of the site. …

Mike S, Kestrel, taylormattd, Natural Anthem, Carnacki, Eternal Hope, shermanesq, als10, boadicea, jimreyn, wiscmass, trashablanca, BlueInARedState, Albatross, condoleaser, Wbythebay, DemocraticLuntz, zephron, you all ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

I'll leave you with this ... If DailyKos is the Last Best Hope for the future of the Democratic Party, and the Last Best Hope for the future of the Republic, both the Party and the Republic are doomed, for any community that is so intolerant as to routinely practice censorship of honest, if unpopular, opinions will eventually, like the former Soviet Union, collapse of its own weight.

I came here and lent my support to this community because of the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic Party, and because this community did indeed appear to be the Last Best Hope to remake it into what it should be.

Clearly, I was mistaken.

"I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

-- Abraham Lincoln

Or here’s Proximity1:
(My one comment), apparently went beyond what Dailykos could tolerate in unconventional views and so, it seems, they censored it.

Nothing could better illustrate the power of words, of unpopular ideas than to see one's views censored as unacceptable. I recommend that those of you who think that in our society all opinions are open to debate and discussion re-examine that assumption --yes, "even" in a so-called liberal, open-minded forum such as the Dailykos is supposed to be. On mentioning on a thread ( in another public forum) that I'd been banned from the New York Times reader fora, I was asked by one regular there why I was banned. The answer is always simple and always the same: something was written, expressed, which those in authority refused to allow to remain for others to see, to consider.

Since the Dailykos censored my post, I'm obviously through practicing "free speech" there; I'm also through contributing any other opinions of mine to their fora.

For me, they just made a mockery of the principles they are supposed to stand for and they certainly joined President Bush in making a mockery of the very principles for which our nation's combat troops are supposedly risking, and many losing, their lives.

Proximity goes on to offer these comments about Kos’ site management and therefore Kos himself:
To attempt to excuse (diarists allowed to delete others’ comments) as "Gee, you know, we can't help it, we just run the place is more of the sort of bizarre thinking that has so enabled Bush and Cheney. It seems that many progressives have, in the course of becoming terribly “yeah, whatever,” have also lost the capacity to hold those in authority responsible. Among the many remedies available are these: The site's management could instruct all those who register that, while they may issue corrections and retractions to their posted diaries, they may not delete them as this violates the rights and interests of those who take the trouble to read and comment on them. I do not excuse the failure of the Dailykos to have taken at least that minimum measure, since they are responisble for formulating and applying the standards in use at this site.

Almost every day offers me fresh examples of how shoddy reasoning on the part of supposed progressives contributes to their political principles being easily put through the wringer by Neo-cons and Bush-league conservatives. … Yes, whether you recognize it or not, whether you like it or not, that manner of reasoning is absolutely indistinguishable from the blind obedience--given grudgingly or whole-heartedly by the German people of the 1930s and 1940s to Chancellor Hitler.

Or we have a more conservative diarist:
You know, I support your cause of getting Bush out of office. I really do. He's a jerk. And I tried to fit in, and tried not to make waves. But ever since I started here, I knew that there were some fundamental problems with this site and this community, and a couple of days ago they came right to the fore.

Essentially, you guys think you're different, but you're really not. You’re as intolerant of other points of view as anyone else, and you’re just as quick on the draw to censor them. For people who are supposed to embody the liberal "ideals" of tolerance, inclusiveness, etc., as a group you're remarkably mean-spirited and vicious. As a non-liberal looking in on the liberal world, I'm decidedly unimpressed, and think I'll go back to whatever it is I did before I started wasting time here, and I think I'll stop wasting time on liberals who can't even live by the ideals they slam others for not having.

Or, via gfactor we have former Kos blogroll member Sterling Newberry pointing out similar problems:
It has been a great run, and I have nothing but gratitude for the community and its support. However, the reality is that the moment of swarm collapse has happened, where the community is talking only to itself. Kos is now what DFA became in the late days of the Dean campaign - a bubble. It was waiting to be organized from the top, while it keeps itself in the dark and feeds on shit. A few people will have the ability to cut through the noise - I'n not going to be one of them.

The left blogsphere has a big problem - it is getting dummer. Alito was definitely the point of conversion - nothing but all screaming all the time. Now here is the kicker, the kossacks could have had a place at the fillibuster table - but they wouldn't take it. They had a chance for a meeting early, but they didn't take it. In short, they aren't marginalized because they are being kept out, they are marginalized because they are too busy screaming at each other to get anything done.

...This moment means that the community is about to go down hill in terms of its thinking - because as people with something to say leave, so too will others who have something to say leave.

Could this be fixed? Is it terminal? It can't be fixed, because for the people who are screaming - the swarm - nirvana has been reached. There is now a screamsphere - where on any given day, any given screaming can win the screaming contest.

And, censorship over pointing out Democratic connections to Jack Abramoff resulted in this diary:
In one day, as the result of my persistent criticism of the Democratic Party's participation in the corrupt Washington lobbying game, I've lost my "trusted user" status and have seen several of my comments on the issue rendered invisible.

Believe me, children, not participating at dKos ain't gonna be the end of my world. I’ve been here less than a month, and I “get it.” Like Free, the rightwingnut “milblogs,” and Democratic Underground, this is an echosphere as opposed to a site where any sort of truth is hashed out.

Complaining about the apparent racism sounds of some Kos ads and getting torn down for it gives you this diary:
Yesterday I submitted a diary about the advertisements posted on this site,two of which I found rather offensive. I felt that the Brown Devil Ad reinforced old stereotype of the bad black/brown man and thought it was inappropriate to appear in DAILYKOS. I submitted the diary in a respectful manner as I would usually do in real life in the company of friends and acquaintances.

I was sworn at, ridiculed, told to shut up, told to subscribe if I didn't want to see the ads or go somewhere else if I didn't like it, by people who I am sure would not have the rudeness to tell me straight to my face in real life.

Commenting about that smackdown led to this diary pointing out the whiteness of the typical Kossack (a Washington Monthly story, without commenting on race, said the majority of “Kossacks” make more than $60,000 a year and are under the age of 35). (Note: This is one diary that I don’t totally agree with.)
I don't know if this is news to you, but Dkos is mainly a majority of lilly white priveledged WASPS who've never known discrimination and have so many perks handed to them just for being born a lighter shade of pale that they cannot even see the advantages they are given for their melatonin deficiency.

I guess that would be OK if these pink nerd wanna-bes were conscious and considerate to the different lives given to those who have color in their skin and the offenses made daily that go under the radar about having skin pigment, but these crackers not only aren't considerate of their colored peers, they are downright ignorant and red-neckish when confronted with any racial issue.

Anyway, behind the Goodbye Cruel World diaries these are, there’s plenty more smoke, I’m sure.

Crudeness in “liberal” discourse exemplified at Kos

Browsing through some recent diaries there related to Armando's self-inflicted pseudo-“outing” it’s clear that four-letter language, or uncreative invective like “Malkinite” has more and more not just come to be, but been made into, a willing substitute for critical thinking and open-mindedness. Kos is becoming a caricature of all those things its/he claims to despite about conservative thuggery.

I’ve been banned! A badge of honor at the hands of Kos the cult fascist

I have been banned from posting, if not banned outright, from Daily Kos.

Basically, that’s the cyberworld equivalent of getting booted out of the Communist Party by Stalin or the Nazi Party by Hitler (less the gulag or shooting that follows).

This WILL have more blowback to Kos’ detriment, eventually.

People who have been banned, and who have been accused of being trolls, will actually be trolls at other progressive websites — the judicious ones holding their fire for the occasions when Markos’ or Armando’s names, or the Daily Kos website, gets mentioned.

I’m nowhere near being in the most commonly visited blogs, and I’ve gotten a couple of comments and one trackback. Looks like Markos and Armando have caused a self-inflicted wound.

THIS is what Armando is so bent out of shape about? Anonymity or greed?

Here’s the link to the May 23 comment on The Washington Note that “outed” Armando. As I said, before Armando got his Wiki bio deleted, all of his major corporate clients were listed there. AS the discussion at Wiki about whether to allow that deletion to become permanant indcates, by appearing on National Public Radio and Majority Report, and at legal conferences where he has both been identified by full name and his association with Daily Kos more than puts him in the public record. To claim he was “outed” is baloney.

Anyway, here's the quote:
Hi -- off topic, but I blog here often and just wanted to let everyone know that I was just banned from dkos... for having the nerve to point that Armando (full name Armando Llorens-Sar) is a PARTNER in a anti-evironmental, anti-labor law firm (McConnell Valdes) that represents Walmart and many other perennials on the "worst corporations list." During the day Armando's law firm fights AGAINST the same progressive causes he promotes on dKos. The firm even has a lobbying department to promote corporate special interests! This is all public knowledge that he himself has presented publically, but apparently mentioning it on dkos is an offense worthy of banning. Also, this all came about in RESPONSE to a diary that he wrote attacking ME!
Posted by: jiggyflunknut at May 23, 2006 08:59 PM

Given that this and his law firm were all public info, I suspect Armando's capitalist pursuit of the legal billing dollar perhaps has trumped, or at least somewhat folded, spindled or mutilated, his conscience.

I prefer to stay working for a small suburban weekly newspaper rather than a major seven-day daily in part precisely so that I can march in protests, such as the antiwar, anti-Bush, or anti-ExxonMobil ones I've done, without violating company policies.

Armando, stop being a crybaby; stop being so greedy; stop being a martyr.

Update, June 15, after first two comments posted:
As for the NRO story, and its documentation of the changes in Armando's Wiki bio? SOMEBODY scrubbed it. Armando or one of his friends would be the only ones with reason to do so.

As for the NRO story, the pre-scrubbed version of the Wiki bio shows that it was ALL not just public but PUBLICLY DISSEMINATED info.

According to Diane Ensley, Armando wrote HIS OWN Wiki bio and now boo-hoos about getting “outed”?

If Armando really didn't like this being known, he could have had whoever scrubbed his Wiki bio do so long before the NRO posting.

Armando, anonymity and his Kos and real-world credibility

According to Armando, he was being "outed" by one or more Kos members who were trolls about his list of corporate clients and how that affected his posts, at least potentially.

Well, since (until Armando "scrubbed" it) his Wiki bio listed some of those corporate clients, such as Shell and Wal-Mart, this would be a legitimate concern.

But, I'm wondering how much of Armando's concern wasn't the other way around -- fear that corporate clients wouldn't want his services if they knew he was a major blogger on Kos. As he hadn't gone to a smaller firm, let alone one not devoted to corporate law, I think if we paraphrase Shakespeare and say, "A dollar sign by any other name would smell just as corrupting," we can guess as to another reason behind Armando's concern for anonymity.

Daily Kos, banning, diary deletions and Orwellian limits on free speech

About 5 p.m Central time Thursday, June 8, I posted, from my office, a diary on Daily Kos (deliberately not URL-linked) about the so-called “outing” of the corporate legal work and background of longtime Kos preferred diarist Armando.

After Game 1 of the NBA Finals was done, I got on my computer and got online, to discover this diary was not listed on my diary page. It was a big enough deal, that, before making any accusations, I drove back to my office to see if I had indeed posted the diary or just previewed my posting before leaving.

I had actually posted it.

So, I reposted, and added a line about being very angry about having the original diary apparently deleted.

The fur has flown, to say the least.

A fair portion of posters sound like they’ve been cultically brainwashed by Armando.

Many quite obviously believe that free speech is an Orwellian commodity to be doled out unequally. Most of that number has called outright for my banning from Kos. (They’ll have to do it, I won’t quit on my own.)

Many others have gone far beyond calling me a troll, literally calling me “shit” and other pejoratives. That really doesn’t surprise me; I’ve seen the almost rabid foaming at the mouth of many “Kossacks” (doesn’t the very name, and it’s willful self-adoption, smack of cultism?) any time I have mentioned my previous support for the Green Party. (This cultist mental lock-step is reflected in the great majority of those people not knowing that Ralph Nader was NOT the Green Party presidential candidate in 2004.

(I’ve also found out, via one post, that my original diary was indeed deleted.)

Well, if Kossacks want “trolldom,” I can provide that comment on what’s happened to me in my comments to various posts on other major blogs.

No, in the scheme of liberal/progressive blogging, it may not be much, but it is in terms of principle.

And, this incident, at bottom line, illustrates why I am the skeptical progressive self-identified as the Socratic Gadfly.

UPDATE: Five minutes after I posted this, I found out my second diary had been deleted. Sometime in the next 24 hours, if not sooner, I'll post a diary about censorship at Kos.

Izzy, La Russa and the Cardinals’ future

Cards closer Jason Isringhausen is struggling again this year. After seemingly having worked through some early problems, he’s been struggling again lately.

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci points out that he’s thrown at least a third more balls than last year. His walks-plus-hits per inning is at a whopping 1.78. Tom wonders if, in fact, he’s hiding an injury.

Meanwhile, Redbird manager Tony La Russa can be loyal to a fault to players he likes. Is it time for a change? My personal feeling is that if Adam Wainwright is going to be kept in the pen in St. Louis rather than starting in AAA, if Izzy continues to struggle, let’s change closers. Wainwright has the intimidating size at 6-7, hot heater and slider. Give him a shot.

And, for that matter, has LaRussa worn thin? He’s been there a decade-plus. Maybe he, or his intensity, have worn thin. He’s struck me as the MLB equivalent of college basketball coach Roy Williams in some ways. It seemed like Williams’ Kansas Jayhawks always burned out come NCAA Tournament time, because of his high-intensity personality. But then, he goes back to North Carolina and smartly NOT as the first coach to follow legendary Dean Smith. He mellows out and wins a title in his first year there.

And, the latest contretemps between him and Ozzie Smith over Ozzie visiting or not visiting the Birds’ spring training reminded me of how poorly L aRussa handled that.

And, for all he’s done to get the Cards into the postseason year after year, could he have done better? I look back at the 1988-90 Oakland A’s and can’t figure how he and the team blew two out of three World Series. I mean, Gibson just had one swing of the bat. And getting swept by the Reds in 1992? Geez.

La Russa’s been in St. Louis 11 years. If they can’t at least get back to the Series this year, even if they don’t win it, maybe it’s time for a change.

June 08, 2006

Say it ain’t so, Milquetoast Tom

Former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle was in New Hampshire testing the presidential waters. Tom, here’s $50, go buy a clue.

NBA Finals thoughts, Game 1

1. Can the halftime announcers pronounce Nowitzi correctly? Dudes, the “w” in German has a “v” sound; and it’s not like he hasn’t been First Team All-NBA the last two years.

2. Josh Howard needs to handle the ball better in future games. Outside of Dirk’s shooting struggle, or maybe even not outside of that, this was the biggest threat to the Mavs’ winning Game 1.

3. Shaq’s a thug. Don’t give me that “He’s 7-1 and 325 pounds” crap for the brutalness of either the elbow to Dirk’s jaw or the shove of Jason Terry late in the game.

4. That is actually Dallas playing defense, not just Miami shooting badly. The Heat scored less than 50 points total after the first quarter.

5. Is Pat Riley’s facelift about to crack? I heard one columnist saying he’s looking more like Grandpa Munster every day.

June 06, 2006

Ahh! Euro-guilt on renditions, just as I suspected

The Guardian spills the beans on European participation in CIA renditions of alleged terrorists, as I suspected and blogged about early this spring.

Poland and Romania stand accused as most guilty, followed by Great Britain. However, it goes MUCH further than that.
(Dick) Marty says that far from being hoodwinked by a “CIA plot,” 14 European states were fully aware of much of what was going on.

That includes antiwar and alleged human rights stalwart Germany, and even, horror of horrors, pacific Sweden. In short, it’s pretty disgusting and dolloped with a fair bit of hypocrisy. Notably, though, France is NOT among the 14 charged countries.

More heterosexual family values

As blogger Michael Petrelis noted, who can forget about the rampant adultery of presidential brother Neil Bush ? Surely, not his “defend the family” presidential brother?
Ah, it’s nice to be Neil Bush.

When you’re Neil Bush, you’ll be sitting in a hotel room in Thailand or Hong Kong, minding your own business, when suddenly there's a knock at the door. You answer it and a comely woman strolls in and has sex with you.

Just how much fun was revealed in a deposition taken last March, during Bush’s very nasty divorce battle. Asked by his wife’s attorney whether he’d had any extramarital affairs, Bush told the story of his Asian hotel room escapades.

Again, let’s not forget that in the Torah the oh-so Christian Bushes theoretically read (that’s Old Testament to you, George and Neil), the penalty for adultery is death by stoning.

Leviticus 20:10:
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife … both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

(Leviticus 20:3 specifies stoning for another offense, so one would assume stoning would be the type of death here.)

The political party we really need

Although, as indicated below, I’ll quite likely support Green candidates over Democratic ones right now, the sentiment of this post should indicate that I take many official Green positions (alternative medicine comes immediately to mind, followed by opposition to nuclear power) with grains of salt as well.

If the Maharishi Mahesh Goofball Yogi hadn’t stolen the name, I’d call for Natural Law Party.

Instead, how about the Science and Reason Party? Of course, freethinking atheist skeptics aren’t the largest political block.

Kay Bailey: Bible against gays, no, really, but take all the divorce condemnation with a wink and a nod

With a word of caution to liberal Christians on the side

Divorceé Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson apparently believes in biblical double standards. According to a local constituent, the Bible really means what it says in condemning gays, but not in condemning divorceés who remarry.

As Mark 10:12 says about remarriage:
If a woman divorce her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery.

Sounds pretty clear to me, Kay. Perhaps you had your cheerleading outfit wrapped around your ears the last time that passage was read in your church.

Oh, let’s not forget that in the Torah that Jesus reportedly would have been familiar with (that’s Old Testament to you, Kay), the penalty for adultery is death by stoning.

Leviticus 20:10:
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife … both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

(Leviticus 20:3 specifies stoning for another offense, so one would assume stoning would be the type of death here.)

(At the same time, mushy-minded “liberal Christians” should note that we have a Jesus here who obviously wasn’t all about sweetness and light. The unknown authors of Matthew and Luke first had problems with this when they softened his own absolute prohibition to allow for adultery of the old spouse as a legitimate ground for divorce.)

June 04, 2006

Why we DON’T belong in Darfur

David Rieff gets it exactly right about why we don’t belong in Darfur.

The main point of his argument, that it’s questionable as to whether or not what has been happening in Sudan is actually “genocide” or not, is one I’ve argued for more than a year. (I’ve always contended that, ignoring attempts to put nice and neat boundaries on things, what we have is more intertribal warfare-cum-civil war than out-and-out genocide.

Here’s his take on the situation:
Yes, in the United States, it is universally believed — so much so that the claim is even enshrined in a unanimous congressional declaration — that a slow-motion genocide has been taking place in Darfur. But many reputable groups abroad, including the French section of Doctors Without Borders, whose physicians have been on the ground in Darfur for a very long time, reject those claims.

Does this matter, since everyone agrees the government of Sudan has committed or abetted the most terrible crimes in Darfur? On the most obvious level, the answer is no. The Genocide Convention is itself a deeply flawed document, and the crimes of the authorities in Khartoum have been unspeakable.

But, on another level, the recurrent use of the term “genocide” is a way of delegitimizing any questioning of the intervene-now-no-matter-the-cost line. We failed to intervene in Rwanda, and now we know we were wrong; Darfur is the Rwanda of today; hence the only correct thing to do is intervene at once in Darfur. Q.E.D.

But Rieff goes beyond that. He pointedly underscores the idea that many interventionist liberals are looking for an “offset” for not having backed the invasion of Iraq. Beyond that, he asks why haven’t these interventionist liberals learned the lessons of Iraq?

From there, he says that, even if intervention is warranted, we have no chance of doing well in leading it,
“without even the fig leaf of a U.N. Security Council authorization."
To the contrary, there is a good case to be made that the United States is the last country that should be leading an international operation in Darfur.

To put the matter starkly, the United States no longer enjoys enough moral credibility in the world as a whole to intervene in Darfur in a way that would avoid deepening the civilizational crisis in which we find ourselves.

If we DO intervene, Rieff is definitely NOT sanguine about the likely result.
To the contrary, such a deployment can have only one of two outcomes. The first will be the severing of Darfur from the rest of Sudan and its transformation into some kind of international protectorate, a la Kosovo. But, at least in Kosovo, the protectorate was run by Europeans — by neighbors. In Darfur, by contrast, it will be governed by Americans (who are already at war across the Islamic world) and possibly by NATO (i.e., Africa's former colonial masters). Now there's a recipe for stability.

If anything, the second possibility is even worse. Assuming the intervention encounters resistance from the Janjaweed and the government of Sudan (and perhaps al-Qaeda), the foreign intervenors will arrive at the conclusion that the only way to bring stability to Darfur is, well, regime change in Khartoum: In other words, the problems of Darfur are, in fact, the product of the al-Bashir dictatorship, and these problems can be meaningfully addressed only by substituting a more democratic government.

Such an intervention may well end up being Iraq redux, and it is disingenuous to pretend otherwise. But, then, it was disingenuous to pretend that the United States could democratize Iraq at the point of a gun.

Why the Woodrow Wilson sesquicentennial hagiography?

President Wilson was a racist who officially segregated Washington, D.C., but you aren't reading a word about that in any media coverage of recent days.