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Archive for September, 2007

This is a story about blogging. Please pardon while I work out my blogging neuroses by blogging about it. (more…)

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It’s difficult for non-lawyer/law student types to appreciate who Erwin Chemerinsky is.  But he basically wrote the text book on constitutional law used by many if not most law students.  He is a giant in the field of constitutional law and would have been a huge get for any brand new law school trying to establish its credentials. 

And apparently UC-Irvine, which is starting its own law school, thought so too.  Until they realized that some conservatives were going to complain.  (See also here).

And why were they going to complain?  Because he had radical views about the constitution?  No.  His views are pretty much the standard. 

But because he’s had the temerity to point out that Bush’s views about the constitution are radical.  For examples of this radical hippie beatnick’s writings and public comments see here and here about wiretapping and here about habeus corpus. 

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A great question

From the L.A. Times

In response to the “recommendation” from General Petraeus that the U.S. should keep 130,000+ troops in Iraq until at least July and spend another $100 billion. 

What else could the United States do with a guesstimated $100 billion to reduce the strength and the appeal of Islamist terrorist groups worldwide?

If you think about it, deploying troops to Iraq is a rather ass-backwards way of addressing the threat of Islamist terrorist groups around the world.  Some, like myself, would argue that it doesn’t address that problem at all and actually aggravates it.  But all that aside, $100 billion could buy an awful lot of things.  And maybe some of those things actually works better than what we’re doing. 

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Too sexy to fly

I was going to post about this the first time it happened but then figured, eh, it was probably an isolated incident.  But then it happened again

Apparently, in addition to checking your bags, making sure you don’t have dangerous items such as bombs, big bottles of liquid, knives and guns, Southwest Airlines wants to make sure you’re not dressed too sexy.  Click on the links above to see for yourself if the women harassed were dressed inappropriately. 

I think it’s silly.  And to think that it wasn’t too long ago when flight attendants were hired primarily on their looks. 

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Remembering

Six years ago I was living on the west coast in Monterey, CA.  Six years ago I woke up, rolled out of bed, put on my army physical fitness uniform, grabbed some water, and turned the television onto Headline News.  I saw the video images of one of the World Trade Center towers on fire and smoke rising.  Then I saw the second plane hit. 

I drove to the PT formation and fell in line with all of the other soldiers in training with me at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey.  There were all sorts of the rumors being passed back and forth along the rank and file.  The rumors were fueled by uncertainty, concern, and fear.  Some of us were from New York and Washington.  The White House had been attacked.  The Congress had been attacked.   The Pentagon.  More planes were in the air.  No one knew where the President was, if he was okay, what would happen to our country. 

And then of course, quite outside our concern for the people suffering, there was a lingering nervousness.  We were going to war.  That much we knew.  Most of us had never heard of Al Qaeda or Bin Laden.  But we knew that an enemy had revealed itself.  And we knew that it was on us to respond. 

Most of us joined for the benefits.  To afford college.  Somewhere in the back of our brains we understood what signing that contract meant.  But outside of the mostly air war in Bosnia during the late 90’s, there really didn’t seem to be a chance of war until that day.  So maybe some of us took that chance a bit lightly.  Maybe on that morning when the images of those burning towers, the hole in the Pentagon, members of both parties of Congress singing “God Bless America” from the Capitol Building steps were played over and over, the gravity of that contract, that uniform we put on every day, hit us like it never had before. 

Anger came later.  First, we were nervous and unsure. 

I was a Korean linguist.  Our teachers, all of them Korean natives, played the Korean language news broadcasts all day long – aired on a loop with the rapid fire Korean language commentary, watching that second plane hit again and again, picking through the vocabulary and syntax, trying to understand. 

I got my orders for Korea a few months later.  It wasn’t much of a surprise, to be honest.  I figured that’s where I would end up.  But the Arabic linguists who were in my company were almost certainly going to accelerate their training and could count on being deployed at one point or another.  I wanted to reach out to them and I felt guilty about not going with them.  When I had enlisted, I put Arabic and Chinese down as my first choices.  But Korean was the highest need language, required the most resources for training, and was considered the most difficult.  On that morning, looking over at the Arabic linguists and realizing what was going to happen to them, I thought that it should have been me. 

My heart goes out to them.  Still.  The last six years.  Some of them never made it back.  Hell, one of my soldiers in Korea died.  I’ve since gotten out and I’m living in D.C. studying the law, sleeping in most mornings, watching football on the weekends, blogging at leisure, flirting with girls, walking around town listening to my ipod, and picking through the media filter to find some clue about what it’s like over there.  The last six years.  My brothers and sisters aren’t in control of their lives, living in the desert, and getting nowhere and sometimes dying. 

All because of the tectonic shift of our political worldview from that one September morning. 

God watch over them.  I miss them. 

Bring them home. 

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Another installment of Put the Video Camera Down! 

I saw this and wanted to shoot myself.  Would any girl actually respond to this guy?  For the sake of women everywhere, I hope not. 

Maybe I’m wrong.  Is this the future of dating?  God help us. 

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Looks like the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is convening to determine whether Janet Jackson’s covered nipple was indecent or a fleeting, accidental moment on live television for which CBS should not be fined

If CBS wins, it will insulate television and radio broadcasters from sudden or accidental slips of the tongue or “wardrobe malfunctions” from the people being broadcast through their airwaves. 

I understand people’s discomfort with the idea that the major networks could be a source of violent programming, sexual content, or foul language.  I really do.  But I found it funny during that Super Bowl, where it seemed every other commercial was about erectile dysfunction, where the entire halftime show performance used sexual undertones, where scantily clad cheerleaders danced on the sideline, where the major sponsors consistently used sexual images to sell their products, that everyone went into orgasms of outrage when Janet’s breast was uncovered. 

I’m shocked!  Shocked to see that nudity is going on here! 

And if I remember correctly, that was the Super Bowl during which Moveon.org was not allowed to air a political aid because it would have been “inappropriate.” 

 What a fucked up sense of values we have. 

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Elyzabethe said I should start posting webcomics because that’s all I read anymore, and I thought this one from Bunny would fit nicely here.

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On Rilo Kiley

Rilo Kiley released a new album, Under the Blacklight, a couple of weeks ago. On opening it, I was excited. The jewel case is tinted purple, and I suspect that it actually glows under a blacklight. The booklet contains no text and is full of pictures of the band seemingly exploring the backstreets of L.A. nightclub scene, with Jenny Lewis looking beautiful as usual and Blake Sennet sort of staring off into the distance. Also among the photographs are transvestites and an old woman dressed as if going to a funeral, carrying a brain inside of a jar.

The album itself, though was a little disappointing. All but three of the songs are written entirely by Jenny Lewis, with one collaboration between her and Blake Sennet, one her and her boyfriend Jonathan Rice, and another written by Blake Sennet and Morgan Nagler. Personally I wish Blake had a little bit more to do with the production; I really enjoyed the albums released by The Elected, but not so much Jenny Lewis’ project with the Watson Twins. Most of the songs seem like there was not much thought put into the lyrics and are full of over-repeated phrases. The song “Moneymaker” is said to be the “big hit” from this album, and I suspect it will get radio play because it’s more “mainstream” if mainstream means songs about nothing that mindless teenagers can sing along to.

My oppinion, at first listen, of the best songs from the album are “Breakin Up” (Lewis/Sennet), “Dreamworld” (Sennet/Nagler), and “15” (Lewis).

Overall, I just don’t think Jenny Lewis is very good without Blake Sennet by her side..

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I hate popcorn

Seriously, I hate the smell and I never eat it at the movies or as a snack at home.  And if my roommates warm up a bag of instant popcorn in the microwave, without warning me, and that smell wafts its way to me on the couch, it pisses me off.  Some people just say I am overreacting, I don’t know what I am talking about, and popcorn is awesome. 

 Well, enjoy your lung cancer, motherf-ckers!

UPDATE: Fixed link.

UPDATE 2: Let this be a lesson to me for linking to an AP story through the L.A. Times.  Apparently, they use the same link for whatever they feel is the current top AP story.  So the article kept changing since I first posted to it.  So I found something else which related and avoided the L.A. Times AP link altogether. 

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Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-OH)

Rest in peace.  My condolences to his wife and family. 

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The media watchdog group Parents Television Council has issued a report which states that sex and violence are on the rise during what is traditionally called the “Family Hour” on network television. 

The group studied 180 hours of original programming on six broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, MyNetworkTV and the CW) during three two-week ratings sweeps periods in 2006 and 2007. It found that instances of violence had increased 52.4% since a similar study in 2000-2001 and that sexual content had increased 22.1%.

The Parents Television Council is hoping that the FCC begins to regulate violence on television the way they already regulate “indecent content.”

The network response is that with the vastly increased number of options available to families, with so many more channels now available in the basic cable package, there is less need to provide that type of programming. 

 To be honest, I agree with the networks on this one.  One of the reasons the FCC had the authority to regulate television was a combination of two factors – 1. the finite number of frequencies used to transmit broadcast signals were publicly owned and 2. there was a scarcity of options in broadcast television.  To the extent that #2 becomes less of an issue, the authority of the FCC to regulate broadcasting should be diminished. 

What the regulate-television-on-behalf-of-families crowd seems not to be able to understand is that television is a value neutral tool.  Like the internet, it has nothing to say about what it is transmitting.  It is not a substitute for parenting in respect to instilling values and exposing kids to what’s out there in the world.  Developing technology that allows “parental controls” to prevent kids from watching whatever they want while the parents are not around is appropriate.  

But the world is a dangerous place sometimes.  And people have sex all the time (at least that’s what I hear…).  I’d like my television shows to have something thoughtful to say about reality.  It’s an art.  Sometimes good.  Sometimes very, very bad.  But it should be free to tell stories that are important and relevant to all of us, even if often it does not.   

Artificial restraints based on someone’s notion of “sensible family” programming simply isn’t the appropriate role for the government.  Especially if there is a vastly less intrusive way to accomplish what is purported to be the goals of the movement. 

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(Via TPM)

Bush on Maliki: 

“[Maliki’s] learning to be a leader. And one of my jobs as the president and his ally is to help him be that leader without being patronizing. At some point in time, if I come to the conclusion that he can’t be the leader—he’s unwilling to lead or he’s deceptive—then we’ll change course. But I haven’t come to that conclusion. As a matter of fact, his recent actions have inspired me.”

“Without being patronizing?”  Mr. President, I do not think that word means what you think it means. 

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Gore running?

Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) thinks there’s a good chance

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Greg Sargent has an excellent breakdown of the public relations campaign to make it look like the surge is working and how the media has enabled it.  This sort of thing really is a life or death issue.  The longer this type of crap goes on, the more we’re dying over there. 

This is not a game. 

The conduct of this war should not be evaluated in terms of a political campaign.  Policy principles on the war are infinitely more important than a political career.  Stop playing the game!  Right now, while the cocktail circuit orders another one on the company tab and tells the latest clever anecdote about who said what to who, young men and women are risking their lives conducting dangerous missions which are not designed to get us any further along toward our objectives. 

It’s a disgusting excercise in “looking busy.”  Meanwhile, our media establishment continues to pretend that the dog and pony show is the real thing. 

I wrote this just over a week ago

2. This “Surge is working” meme being pushed by the Bush administration and certain supporters of the war is the function of knee-jerk analysis.  Of course having more troops to conduct more military operations will have an effect on tactical issues.  But tactical military issues aren’t the source of the overall problem.  This war is not primarily about fighting enemy troops in the field of battle.  Killing a bunch of people won’t actually make things better. 

We are trying to prop up/create/maintain/establish a unified Iraqi government which provides security and government services to the people so that markets can function, schools can operate, and people can begin to invest again in their communities.  None of the so-called signs of progress being thrown around loosely by war supporters speak to these issues and therefore evaluating the efficacy of the surge is premature, at best. 

The fact that many war supporters are relying so heavily on skewed data to push their version of the war in the media is an indication to me that they still don’t get it.  They believe the war can be fought and won in the media.  Good public relations is a part of any effective war campaign in this day and age but it’s not an alternative to the facts on the ground. 

But then again it’s convenient to define the war’s progress with the way the media has portrayed it.  It makes pundits who support the war “soldiers” and makes those in the media who don’t play along “the enemy.” 

Somebody please wake up. 

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As I said before, there are two major issues in health care that need reform:  the large number of people who are uninsured and the much larger number of people who have insurance but their health care needs are not being met. 

Jane Hamsher over at Firedoglake talks about her battle on two fronts:  cancer and her insurance carrier.  The plight of the sick but insured was also the subject of Michael Moore’s documentary, “Sicko.”  And it’s the real issue with health care reform. 

Why have we inserted an element into our health care system whose only motivation is to maximize profit by providing as little care as allowed by the law?  And since disputes about coverage are generally interpreted under contract law, and insurance contracts are generally not negotiated between two equal parties, it’s the worst possible system if your objective is actually to provide care. 

Let’s have a decent conversation about health care reform in this country without screaming hysterically about the bogeyman of “socialized medicine.”  There’s really no other way to put it.  What we have now is awful and immoral. 

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Labor Day Weekend

Blogging took a backseat to Labor Day weekend but I’ll be back in full force tomorrow.  Possibly with a couple short posts later on tonight.  Hope everyone had fun. 

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