30 September 2006

Signing Statement: Runnymeade, 1215 AD

Funny. Sort of.

Bride of Acheron wonders, "What if Bush had signed the Magna Carta"?

Trial By Jury
In regard to Section 39's suggestion that "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land", we shall construe the provision in a manner which is consistent with our nation's traditional constitutional commitment to us of responsibility for conducting and protecting the security of our beloved homeland against all foes, foreign and domestic, and shall consider these provisions only advisory in cases of those determined to be enemy combatants or supporters thereof or apologists therefor, especially rumor-mongering free-lance town criers or wandering scribes.

There's more.

29 September 2006

Republican Culture of Corruption

Well, we knew they were corrupt, but quite frankly we did not know that they were this sort of corrupt. I was thinking more the "bribes for government contracts" sort of corrupt, not the "covering up sexual indiscretions with minors" sort.

Let's recap, cause it's fun:

Today, creepy-ass Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned after emails and text messages revealed the squirm-inducingly gross cyber-sex he was having with a 16-year-old male House Page.

The AP reports that this came to light 10 or 11 months ago. The page worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La). Rep Alexander notified the House leadership. Speaker Hastert (R-IL) and Rep Shimkus (R-IL) did nothing for almost a year. They report that the child's parents did not want to pursue the matter. So they buried the matter and allowed this pedophile to continue working with teenagers until ABC news publicly revealed the emails today.

It would be easy to view this as a personal and private failure of one sick man. But this goes deeper. The GOP leadership knew. They did nothing.

Why did Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert permit Foley to remain in the House GOP leadership (Deputy whip) for almost a year after they knew he was having sex talk with minors online, minors he met on the job?

Why did Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert leave Foley as the co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children for a year after they knew?

Oh, yeah. Because they are all irredeemably corrupt. They would rather support a pedophile and retain a republican seat than get him out of Congress and risk losing the seat. Power is more important to them than justice, than honor, and more important than the continued safety of the teenagers working in our nation's capitol.

I almost forgot.

Senate passes McCain Torture Act

So the new, updated litany of "Low points in American Democracy" reads as:

  1. Dred Scott: Supreme Court held that blacks are property and not citizens of the United States.
  2. Alien and Sedition Act: Made it illegal to criticize the president.
  3. Plessy v Ferguson: Supreme Court institutionalized racial segregation.
  4. Japanese Internment camps: Imprisoned 100,000 innocent Japanese-Americans.
  5. McCain Torture Act of 2006: Authorizes torture and rescinds Habeus Corpus as US policy.
So much for the Magna carta and 230 years of American moral authority.

Ave atque vale.

28 September 2006

What the GOP doesn't get

President Thumbscrews and his rubber stamps in congress just don't get it. They don't understand that whether the US engages in torture says more about us than about our enemies.

As John Aravios so elegantly illustrates:

And when George W Bush stands up in front of the world and says "The United States does not toture," the rest of the world will know it is a lie, because they have been watching the open assault on the Geneva Conventions, and heard Bush say:

Common Article III of the Geneva Convention . . . says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It's very vague. What does that mean, "outrages upon human dignity"?
George, if you have to ask that is a sure sign that you are a true moral cripple. And your attempts to lawyer up the Geneva Convention make the US a moral cripple in the eyes of the world. And history will damn you for that.

Democrats in Congress plea for Habeas Corpus

Has it really come to this?

Feingold speaks.

Dodd speaks.

Obama speaks.

Where are the rest of the democrats? Where is the filibuster?


27 September 2006

Things which have irritated me today:

  • I arrived at work to find that we are short three nurses, leaving me two nurses to cover an 18-bed ED.
  • We are out of patient chart templates and nobody knows how to order them, so I have to take notes on blank paper.
  • Despite being short-staffed, a steady stream of ambulance traffic arrives. (Didn't they get the memo?)
  • The computers are on the fritz.
  • I got chewed out by an irascible consultant.
I have been at work one hour.


24 September 2006

That doesn't sound right

What? A Democrat speaking plainly and courageously from a point of personal conviction? Are we in Bizarro World?

From Saturday's debate between Republican Senator Burns and his Democratic challenger, Tester, in Montana:

When it came to the USA Patriot Act, Burns called it a useful tool, saying it lets law enforcement fight terrorism with the same tactics used against organized crime. He said that people "need to be able to go to the movies or football games without worrying about being blown up. I don't think Mr. Tester understands the enemy," he said.
Burns said he also supported programs monitoring international telephone calls against those suspected of terrorism.

"He wants to weaken the Patriot Act," he said of Tester.

Tester sought to clarify:

"I don't want to weaken the Patriot Act, I want to repeal it. What it does, it takes away your freedom ... and when you take away our freedoms, the terrorists have won," Tester said.

He came back to the subject near the end of the debate, when Burns tried to link him to New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is, Burns said, pro-gun-control.

"With things like the Patriot Act," Tester said, "We'd damn well better keep our guns."

20 September 2006

Not Dead Yet

Oh, good times. The NYT's tech guru, David Pogue, writes:

Ten years ago

* Fortune, 2/19/1996: “By the time you read this story, the quirky cult company…will end its wild ride as an independent enterprise.”

* Time Magazine, 2/5/96: “One day Apple was a major technology company with assets to make any self respecting techno-conglomerate salivate. The next day Apple was a chaotic mess without a strategic vision and certainly no future.”

* BusinessWeek, 10/16/95: “Having underforecast demand, the company has a $1 billion-plus order backlog….The only alternative: to merge with a company with the marketing and financial clout to help Apple survive the switch to a software-based company. The most likely candidate, many think, is IBM Corp.”

* A Forrester Research analyst, 1/25/96 (The New York Times): “Whether they stand alone or are acquired, Apple as we know it is cooked. It’s so classic. It’s so sad.”

* Nathan Myhrvold (Microsoft’s chief technology officer, 6/97: “The NeXT purchase is too little too late. Apple is already dead.”

And the stock price:

The Daily Show meets the Senate

Senator Harry Reid and Dick Durbin play Q&A on the Senate floor. This occurred immediately after Majority Leader Frist cast the blame for the "Do Nothing Congress" on the Democrats (you know, the minority party). Rarely can anything that occurs on the Senate floor be described as "hilarious" but this is one of those cases.

A partial transcript:
Mr. REID. Mr. President, for more than 3 years, this Congress, which has been given the name of the ``do-nothing Congress,'' has turned a blind eye to the intractable war in Iraq, ignoring the administration's many mistakes and allowing it to stay on a failed course.

Here we are, with 6 days left in the 109th Congress, and the Republicans, who control the House and Senate and the White House, have not held one hearing--not one--into the President's wartime failures. During the Civil War, President Lincoln was faced continually with oversight hearings by his Congress. Of course, we know during World War II, there were a number of commissions. The most famous was that conducted by Senator Harry Truman of Missouri, which led to his becoming Vice President. Some say, but for that he would not have been chosen as Vice President. What was the Truman Commission? It was to determine what was going on with World War II. Was money being wasted? Were troop levels right? Korean war hearings were also held, and the same for the Vietnam war. But for this war, none--even though this war has taken longer than it took to settle the differences in the European theater in World War II. Soon it will be the same amount of time that we were able to beat Japan.

This Republican Congress has wasted 20 months on horse slaughtering; the Schiavo case, dealing with someone's personal relationship, which should not even have been before this body; gay marriage; the nuclear option; flag burning; repealing the estate tax. But they could not find a day for some time to look at the President's mistakes, missteps, and misconduct, which have hurt American security and plunged Iraq into a civil war--not a day.

Yesterday's Washington Post newspaper brought the latest indictment of the Bush incompetence in Iraq, in a front-page story entitled ``Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq.'' [. . ]
..... applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

Here are some of the questions that were asked of the applicants: ``Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000?'' They even asked questions about how the applicant felt about Roe v. Wade. People being interviewed for purposes of helping rebuild war-damaged Iraq were asked questions on Roe v. Wade. The questions had nothing to do with one's competence, their educational background, or their experience.

A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance--but had applied for a White House job--was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

Mr. President, this picture says it all. Here is Paul Bremmer. [...] on his throne--on his throne. He is on a throne surrounded by Iraqis.

Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. REID. I will be happy to yield for a question.

Mr. DURBIN. Can the Senator refresh my memory? Was Mr. Bremmer the recipient of a gold medal or something from the President? Didn't he receive some high decoration or medal for his performance in Iraq?

Mr. REID. The answer is, yes, he received that. I assume one would expect that from somebody who had a throne while he was over there.

Mr. DURBIN. Isn't it also true that George Tenet, who was responsible for the intelligence that was so bad that led us into the war in Iraq, got a medal from the President the same day?

Mr. REID. That is true.

Mr. DURBIN. Did Michael Brown with FEMA receive a gold medal from the White House before he was dismissed?

Mr. REID. I don't think he did. Even though he was doing a heck of a job, I don't think he obtained a medal from the White House.

Mr. DURBIN. Apparently, these gold medals were being awarded for incompetence. They missed Mr. Brown, but they did give one to Mr. Bremmer.

Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for another question?

Video here.

15 September 2006

Anonymous Comment

From Nathan's Guest Book:

Nathan has changed my life forever.
I take a million pictures of my kids.
I read them “just one more” bedtime story when they ask.
I put off watching my favorite show to snuggle them in their beds a little longer.
I take them everywhere so they can experience everything.
I apologize when I have been short with them.
I tell them I still love them even though I’m angry at the moment.
I’ve taught them about death, heaven and God. They are not afraid.
Nathan has taught me that life is too short and too many bad things happen.
He also has taught me to just accept the bad things when they do happen.
There is no time to sulk or think “why me?”
Nathan has taught that I should make the best of every single moment I have on this earth
He has also taught me that good health is nothing to take for granted.
Children are the greatest teachers.

As much as I have learned from Nathan and as much as he has changed my life for the better, I would give it all back if it meant he could stay here on earth with his family.

Stay strong Gentry Family. You are an inspiration to us all.

I couldn't have said it better. You may recall that Nathan is a young boy with Neuroblastoma. He and his parents are in New York looking for new treatments. Send them some love.

This is why we move the meat

Our waiting room is always full, or at least it seems like it. Sometimes the nurses and hospital docs get a little miffed at me when I am pushing hard to get patients out of the ED as fast as possible. I don't look for a diagnosis quite so much as a disposition, and once there, I try to move the patient and get the next one back.

And this is why. Bad things happen in the waiting room. Apparently a runaway jury has decided to upgrade it from malpractice to homicide. Great. It won't stand, but it does usefully reinforce the point that I like to make: Quality ER care is of necessity Timely ER care.

Patient's Heart Attack In Hospital Waiting Room Is a Homicide
Coroner's Inquest Followed Death Afer 2-Hour Wait in ER
September 14, 2006

The official ruling by a coroner's jury in Lake County, Illinois that the cause of death for a 49 year-old patient who died in a nearby medical center was the "result of gross deviations from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in this situation." The jury determined that the patient's 2-hour wait in the hospital's emergency room was a homicide.

A Radical Regime

I've always loved the writings of Sid Blumenthal, the journalist and former advisor to President Clinton. His memoir, The Clinton Wars, is probably the best restrospective on the Starr witch hunt that I have read (Lord but it seems like ancient history now). I still read him from time to time on Salon, the Huffington Post, and TPM Cafe. He's recently been mounting something of a crusade regarding the radicalism of the Bush presidency (here and here and of course his new book), and today has a great bit out today on Bush's character and how it has in many ways defined his presidency. I like it because it really rings true with my own perceptions. Money quote:

But Bush’s temperament is an essential part of the dynamics. His stubbornness, lack of curiosity, shallow reservoir of knowledge, Manichean division of the world, and contempt for “nuance” are parts of a personality that key members of his administration play upon to get their ways. They carefully restrict the flow of information to him and flatter him as a great historical figure misunderstood by the mere mortals of his age. Their constant manipulation of Bush is an important part of the decision-making within the White House.
I don't think I will buy his book, though. I think I would find it depressing and not particularly helpful, and I would rather look forward (optimistically?) to a new congress and a not-too-distant new administration.

14 September 2006

Body Armor II

Faithful commenter Matt writes regarding the body armor ad:

It's also absurd. Let's go over what this argument supposes:

A) That Donald Rumsfeld would not take more budget if you gave it to him.

B) That you know more about the effective distribution of resources for battlefield safety than staff at the Pentagon.

Seriously, the body armor thing is a horrendously stupid argument. Could it make a great campaign? Sure, but it just fails on its merits.

You may have noticed that the narratives that define political campaigns occasionaly deviate from slavish devotion to "facts" and "truth." What this ad is is brilliant political theatre. There are a million legitimate ways to criticise the administration's execution ot the Iraq occupation. The problem is this: they're complicated, boring, and impossible to explain in a 30-second ad.

This is exactly the same thing as the "John Kerry voted against $80 Billion for the troops" that was so effective against him. It is a minor out-of-context vote (maybe even a procedural vote?) that is used to illustrate the broader point.

In Kerry's case, the point was: Kerry is soft on terror.

In this case the point is: The Republicans have screwed up the war.

Both points are debatably true, but more importantly, both fit well in the narrative that the parties want to use in the respective campaigns.

13 September 2006

Body Armor

This is awesome:

Atrios calls it the best ad of the cycle so far, and I'd have to agree. It's like Swiftboating in reverse -- it's true, and against a republican!

04 September 2006


Well, this is a bummer. Sounds like it was a stingray spike to the chest. Funny, I would have thought it would be something more venomous that would get him.

Is a stingray venomous? I don't know.

Even the crocodiles may shed a tear. Rest in Peace, Steve Irwin.

03 September 2006


Wind, Sand, and Stars, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Yes, the same writer who wrote The Little Prince. He was also a pilot for the Aeropostale (now Air France) in the nineteen-twenties, and wrote three books about his experiences. I had always kind of wondered why there were so few works of literature about flying, since I have found it to be one of the most beautiful and spiritual experiences, and would have expected it to lend itself to literary expression. But most of the books on aviation I have seen have been pretty dry, technical treatments which utterly fail to evoke the wonder and majesty of flight.

Saint-Exupery brings a beautiful, elegant prose along with a unrestrained love for the craft and art of flying together with sensitive insights and philosophy together in a work which almost reads as poetry. Add to it that he writes about a time when aviation was a dangerous trade, which lends a bit of a swashbuckling air, and it truly is a masterpiece. He even (mostly) manages to avoid that lethal trap for pilot-authors by eschewing the jargon and technical minutia of flying, depicting his aircraft more as an organism and partner, and narrating his flying as more a matter of instinct than science. But he does so without demeaning the reader or himself, and gives enough detail to let he aviation junky like myself take pleasure in understanding the inside story.

Saint-Exupery was shot down by the Luftwaffe in 1944 while flying a reconnaissance mission over the Med.


Well, this is pretty cool. The above image is from a screenshot I took at Pollster.com. It's a new offering from the clever folks who brought us Mystery Pollster. It tabulates all the available polls for the major races and runs them through number-crunching algorithms to generate the fully-interactive graphics sampled above.

Manna for a political junkie.