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  • Hold Ourselves Accountable

    This is discouraging : Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army. Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide. While none of the 17 will face any prosecution, one received a letter of reprimand and another was discharged after the investigations. I can't believe I have to make this point anymore, but: If we're going to go around spreading democracy, and accountability is a vital part of democracy, could we at least pretend to have some interest in accountability? As I think about this, I'm reminded of something Bill Clinton once said about debt releif: No one talks about it, because no one will lose an election...
  • Faith, Not God

    Andrew Sullivan's unsurprisingly saccharine piece about the Ashley Smith case symbolizes everything I love and hate about religion. Sullivan gets a big part of it right. Ashley Smith's story is astounding, both for her courage, and the fact that her courage didn't result in her lying dead in an alleyway. And even I, a fairly devout agnostic (Happy Easter!), am deeply moved by the extent to which Smith's faith played a role in producing her courage. But what kills me about the whole thing is that for many who embrace Smith's story, her courage becomes completely peripheral to the goodness of god. TNR's Lee Siegel observed that the story basically turned CNN into an extended Sunday mass: Reverend Frank Page, who presented himself as Ashley Smith's pastor and spiritual adviser and was going forth and multiplying himself on every news show in creation, told a linguistically bold Soledad O'Brien ("...do you think it's sort of a greater power at work in this sort of thing?") that Smith's...
  • Moderation For Real

    NYPress’ Matt Taibbi gets it just about right re: the “National Security Democrats”: The Democratic party leadership’s persistent and bizarre campaign of self-condemnation and Republican bootlicking is one of those things that, on its face, makes very little logical sense. It makes cultural sense; we have come to expect that the cultural figures we call the Democrats will respond to electoral failure first by sniveling and finger-pointing, and then by puffing up their chests and telling their dates they know how to handle themselves in a bar fight. From the Republicans we expect just the opposite; beaten at the polls, they immediately start cozying up to snake-handlers and gun freaks and denouncing school lunches as socialism. It is impossible to imagine a Newt Gingrich responding, say, to LBJ’ s Great Society by concocting its own expensive plan to feed the poor black man—but we fully expect that a Democrat who loses an election will suddenly start to reconsider his opposition to...
  • Cheney in 08? Nah...

    I'm going to have to go all downer on Matt and Jon Chait -- Cheney isn't going to find himself being pushed into the Oval Office. Chait thinks it'll happen because the Party doesn't want an ideologically soft successor to Bush and they know Cheney sacrifices virgins in Ronald Reagan's name. Matt thinks it's because the absence of an obvious successor and the proliferation of credible candidates will make Bush a lame duck well, now. But all that's presupposing an enormous lack of cynicism onto the Republican party. As Matt argued to Chait, to term Bush's agenda an ideology is an affront to ideologies everywhere, there's nothing recognizable to push into the future save maybe tax cuts and a willingness to take credit for positive developments abroad. But Matt's wrong as well -- no one's uniting around Cheney. Even if Bush were to publicly anoint him, pouring oil atop his bald VP on the floor of Congress (I hear John Ashcroft recommends Crisco fir impromptu anointing), Bush's lame...
  • Somehow, Not Surprising

    The hypocrisy speaks for itself: Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with his Senate counterpart, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), to champion political intervention in the Schiavo case. They pushed emergency legislation through Congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary. And DeLay is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube. In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die. "There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't...
  • Easter! Munz!

    So uh, Happy Easter! Resurrections are for lovers! I'm not sure where you folks got the bunny from, but considering that it resulted in my girlfriend getting a basket with enough chocolate to send me into insulin shock, I'm all for these magical, delicious rabbits that hand out sweets and restore life. So word to the Easter! Also, I think I forgot to mention it, but Daniel Munz is posting relief this weekend. You know him, curly hair, brown eyes, posts that change your life. Yeah, him. He da man.
  • Liar! Charlatan! (How'm I Doing, PZ?)

    PZ Myers sez : I know what some people are thinking: just don't call them "stupid" or a "moron", it distracts from the scientific argument. Of course it does; but one thing I've learned over the years is that this is not a scientific debate. The scientific part was settled a century ago, and evolution won, hands down. There is absolutely no legitimate, intelligent argument against evolutionary theory right now. This is not to say that we know everything or that the theory is complete or that we expect no major revisions; it means that evolution in a broad sense is an inarguable fact, and what we need to know now are details and mechanisms. The earth is billions of years old, species are all related to one another, and there has been a complex and ongoing pattern of change over the course of all of that time. All of that has been supported by multiple interlocking lines of evidence uncovered by the work of thousands of people, rechecked and verified by thousands more. That's just not...
  • France Souring on EU?

    If you believe the polls , anyway: More bad news from France for the European Union: A new opinion poll coming out Monday suggests that most French voters would reject the EU constitution if a referendum were held today. The French will not be called on to vote until May 29, but the poll is the second in less than a week indicating that France could strike down the EU’ s historic attempt to adopt a constitution. As a fan of the EU, I find this worrisome, to say the least. The EU constitution, as written, imposes a lot of new, federal-style institutions on member nations and EU citizens. Among others, it provides for a more powerful EU judiciary, a unified legal personality, and a single EU diplomatic representative. Additionally, being an EU member increasingly means supporting poorer countries; some of the most recent admittees to the EU also have the lowest GDP in the EU. Slate has chronicled what seem to be the dwindling priveleges of EU membership. The European Parliament,...
  • Death and Taxes

    I know, I know: No more about Terri Schiavo. But I just have to flag this astonishing statement from NRO’ s Jack Dunphy: If Terri Schiavo were able, she would go to the nearest telephone, dial 9-1-1, and tell the operator that people are trying to kill her. “If Terri Schiavo were able”? Why, pray tell, is she not able? Could it be, perhaps, because she no longer has the ability to think? The one useful thing about this mess is that it’s invited us to figure out what conservatives mean by “culture of life.” I think Dunphy’s statement just about explains it all. They see being alive much the same way that liberals see paying taxes: Not something one just happens to be doing, but something one must do out of an obligation to the rest of humanity. To people like Dunphy, the notion that death is a natural part of life, or that continuing to live could be a net negative, is simply unacceptible. This isn’t a culture of life. It’s a culture of publicly-owned life. It’s a culture of forced...
  • Pillow Fight!

    Later today, I'll be attending, and kicking ass in, the "world's largest pillow fight". You think I'm kidding, but no, the Kiwanis are hosting the largest pillow fight ever at the Anaheim Convention Center. I'll try and get pictures. After I kick ass.

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