Saturday, January 31, 2009

The BTPC reviews Taken

What do Liam Neeson and Carl Lee Hailey have in common? You don't want to f*ck with their daughters.

I had high hopes for this flick. The trailer was one of the better ones I have seen in a while. When I saw it was co-written by Luc Besson, I was more intriqued by it. Besson created The Professional, which along with Immortal Beloved is Gary Oldman's best work.

Neeson's character is "Bryan," a man with a particular set of skills that you don't want to piss off. Famke Jansen plays his wet blanekt/ex-wife who got tired of being home alone with their daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace - you may know her as the sister who fell in love with Sayid before being shot by Ana Lucia), so she left him and married a rich-ass "Stuart" (played by Xander Berkeley or "George Mason" for you 24 fans).

Bryan was evidently part of a CIA wetwork team or something, a job he describes to his daughter as being a Preventer, preventing bad things from happening. After some initial set up to let us see how estranged Bryan is from his daughter (although I don't think they do a very good job with it), the real story gets rolling. Kim and her slutty, blond Hills/Tara Reid friend say good buy to a reluctant Neeson (who is worried about letting two 17 year olds go to Paris) and run down the terminal (like retards I may add...seriously, what 17 year old girls act this stupid) and hop a plane to gay Paris.

On landing, a wonderfully nice, good-looking french guy offers to help them take a picture, then split cab fare, then take them to a party. I don't think its much of a spoiler alert to tell you this guy is setting them up. So they get taken while Kim is on the phone with Bryan and Liam Neeson channels his inner Carl Lee Hailey.

So what did we think? We both gave it two thumbs up. In fact, I thought it was pretty damn good for a couple of reasons. The biggest thing about these movies is, we love it when a guy is simply a straight-up, bad ass. And Neeson plays a good one.

I hate in action movies, when they feel the need to build drama, by having the hero struggle so mightily. You know, when he gets shot or stabbed multiple times and just about beat to shit before saving the day. Or when he has successfully whipped 4-5 guys in every scene up until the end, then he can barely beat that last one guy. Well, Besson and company ingored that tired route. No, Bryan is bad ass, and these petty thugs, no matter how organized they be, are no match for a trained professional. One of my favorite scenes in all moviedom is when William Munny, killer of women and children, asks who owns the bar, then shoots Skinny dead without so much as blinking an eye when he comes forward. There are several cold moments like that in this movie.

In fact, there are several minor things in this flick that you think would happen in this standard genre, but they do not. Personally, I think Besson set it up like that to add some drama. I don't want to spoil anything, lets just say Bryan was part of a team and we find that out early on.

Anyway, Taken was pretty good. In fact, it may get a second viewing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Riding the coattails

New RNC Chairman Michael Steele shows the sign of what Republicans can expect under his leadership. L for LOSER.

Republicans, meet your new RNC Chairman. I think I made my feelings about Mr. Steele pretty clear back in October.

That was after Steele went out and pumped the GOP line about why someone like Colin Powell would come out and support Obama instead of McCain. Here's what I said then about Mr. Steele:

According to Steele, Powell just wants to be a part of history and get on the
first-black President bandwagon. You see, it's all about Powell being black.
They always stick with their own, you know. Well then, Michael...if that's the
case, how does one explain you?

For someone who blasted Powell for jumping on the Obama bandwagon just because of color, it sure seems like he has no problem taking this job thanks to his being African American. I mean, lets face it, the GOP Chairman race came down to Steele versus Katon Dawson, a man whose membership in an all-white country club was the biggest national splash he's made lately. Quick question, how many black congressional members does the Republican party currently claim? Zero. How much of the African American vote did they get this past election? Less than 4%.

It wouldn't be the first time the RNC attempted to use Steele to counter Obama. Remember, after Obama stole the show at the 2004 DNC, the GOP trotted Steele out at the RNC. I'm sorry...but Michael Steele is no Barack Obama.

It's hard not to look at this as a strictly token pick. I mean, how well did Steele do in his last gigs? He apparently made up a bullshit story about people throwing Oreo cookies at him during debates in 2002. He lost the '04 senate race in Maryland, despite trying to confuse voters into thinking he was a Democrat with the signs pictured above and having low income folks from Philly bused in to hand out misleading fliers. Or how about this gem:

While speaking to the Baltimore Jewish Council, Michael Steele compared
doctors conducting stem cell research to Nazis performing human experiments
during the Holocaust: "You of all folks know what happens when people decide to
experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a
tool." [Associated Press, 2/10/06]

Or how about the jam up job he did with GOPAC. He took over in February 2007. How have things looked since then?

Seriously, for a guy who claims Reagan's pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps won him over to the Republican cause, he sure looks like an opportunist who is riding Obama's coattails. What's worse, he couldn't hack the "competition" of riding them in Obama's on party, so he threw in with the other guys. I have to admit, as a career move, it's pretty shrewd. He certainly would not be anywhere near this if he was in the Democratic party. But since he's in a party that lacks color, he grabs the spotlight.

Here's what Benen had to say:

Indeed, whenever I see Steele, I immediately think of the
the Washington Post ran on his U.S. Senate candidacy in 2006,
which described Steele as a man of "no achievement, no record, no evidence and
certainly no command of the issues." Noting his four-year tenure as Maryland's
lieutenant governor, the Post added, "Steele had at best a marginal impact, even
on his handpicked projects."

Cheer's, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to watching you get drubbed for the next 8 years. Let's face it, you've been damn good at losing so far in your career.

Late add: Good one by Tim F.:

Dear Republicans,

Obama is not kicking your ass because he is black.


ps. I assume that you hope to keep a tight leash on the new antic-prone chairman (e.g.,
see below) and not look like patronizing racists. Good luck with that.

Mistake? Or is The State precog'ing?

Former Florence Mayor Frank Willis may have gotten a few phone calls last night, thanks to a mistake on The State's online website. In a story about former Latta Mayor Alan Lenneau Berry being indicted for Social Security fraud, the headline read: "Ex Florence mayor charged with Social Security Fraud."

As of 10:37 Friday, it had not been changed. It's either a mistake...or maybe precognitive slip up by the folks on Shop Road?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Karl Rove writes his most ridiculous article yet

Look! Over here! OVER HERE!!! I'm still the greatest!

Perhaps feeling a little left out (although John Conyers certainly wants to hang with him), Karl Rove has a new article up for the WSJ attacking the "overcrowding" President Obama is setting up in the White House. According to Turdblossum, there's going to be 4 people in his old office. Why does that matter to me and you?

This reduces the space for ad hoc meetings in personal offices, where so much
West Wing work once took place.

You like making a list of the US attorneys who refused to prosecute the way they wanted. Or maybe plans on how to leak covert CIA operatives to the press. Then again, those ad hoc meetings were always a good place to plan the unwarranted prosecution of Democratic governors.

Rove went on to disparage the fact that the size of "senior staff" has increased.

All of this matters because management structure affects decision-making and
determines the range and quality of voices the president hears. That impacts
policy outcomes.

Yep...that's Karl Rove lecturing us on how management structure affects decision-making and the range and quality of the voices the president hears. Weren't those two areas Karl Rove and company failed miserably at?

Rove is also worried that the new guys may be burning the candle at both ends.

Mr. Obama's tendency to work late into the night will also pose problems. reports that the White House staff is "preparing for a return to
long nights, heavy weekend shifts." Requiring a senior staff that meets at 7:30
a.m. to work until 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. will quickly cause burnout and diminish
the quality of advice and oversight.

Bush was notorious for not working late. How'd that work out for us? I did the early-to-bed philosophy of W work wonders for us? Apparently, it is completely lost on Rove that maybe these guys will have to pull a few all-nighters to clean up the mess the last guys left.

Would like to be this lady's first? It will only cost you $3,800,001.00

22-year old Natalie Dylan is like any other student getting ready to enter graduate school: she's sweating her thesis. While thinking about her upcoming thesis project, the value of virginity, before entering a Masters Degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy, Natalie came up with the idea to auction her virginity at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch.

Top bid so far? $3.8 million. Yowzah!

Green Ledbetter

And they called and I said that I want what I said and then I call out again...

Meet Lilly Ledbetter. She called for justice. Today she got it with President Obama signing his first bill into law approving equal pay legislation.

I know this is gonna get me some Kool-Aid remarks, but I'm sorry...this guy may be one of the shrewdest Presidents we have had in a long time. All of his acts so far seem to be wonderfully calculated to hit on what he promised during the campaign and how he wants to set up his agenda.

Torture? He's defined it and ordered we don't do it. Plus ordered Gitmo closed.

Environment? Give the Govunator the right to make stricter emissions.

Arab relations? Give an Arab television network the first interview.

Go to Capital Hill so that it shows you're not too big to work with Congress, while making any who oppose you in Congress seem small and petty? Check.

Throw a big bone to pissed off Hillary supporters? This Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I heard Frank Lutz on NPR this morning saying he tested every single ad from this election, and the Ledbetter ad Obama ran was the single most effective "negative" ad. It was considered negative, because it had Ledbetter telling her story and then explaining that John McCain had voted against the bill explaining that women just needed more education or something like that.

Now 70, Ms. Ledbetter discovered when she was nearing retirement that her male
colleagues were earning much more than she was. A jury found her employer, the
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Gadsden, Ala., guilty of pay
discrimination. But in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court threw out the case,
ruling that she should have filed her suit within 180 days of the date that
Goodyear first paid her less than her peers.

This is one of the few times in recent years when Congress has come out after a particular Supreme Court decision and pimp slapped the Court back to reality. (And yes...I just used the term pimp slap in a post on pay equality). It's horseshit to say her statute ran from the day Goodyear first paid her less, instead of when she actually discovered it. According to Ledbetter, someone eventually left an anonymous note in her mailbox and she brought a claim within a few days. Congress tried to act right away, but guess who blocked them? The Compassionate Conservative himself.

“Goodyear will never have to pay me what it cheated me out of,” she said. “In fact, I will never see a cent. But with the president’s signature today I have an even richer reward.” If you're wondering, the Federal jury gave Ledbetter an award of more than $3 million, which John Roberts and company denied her.

Jim DeMint is an idiot

Our local king of foot in mouth places his wingtips up against his molars once again. Seriously, Jim? A black president and you use the term "mugging?" Stay classy (and dense). even appears his Republican peers get tired of his shtick.

Funnier by the minute much are these damn attorney's charging me again?

Norm Coleman's Election Challenge is getting more and more ridiculous. The latest two examples of how ridiculous his challenge is:

1) Coleman's attorneys have said repeatedly over the past few days that they were not cherry-picking voters. Instead, they've tried to position this as a fight to simply make sure no voter was disenfranchised. Unfortunately, they forgot to prep their witnesses to lie for them. Take Peter DeMuth:
Upon cross-examination by Franken attorney Kevin Hamilton, DeMuth said he was
contacted by the Republican Party and told about the problem. "They asked me if
I knew my absentee ballot had been rejected. I said no," said DeMuth. "They
asked me if I was a supporter of Norm Coleman, and I said yes, and they
proceeded to ask me if I would like to go further."

2) Then there's this wonderful nugget that came out of Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg while cross-examining Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann:
Friedberg: In point of fact, even though I did something I wasn't supposed
to do with the application, my ballot should still count because my signature is

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann: Not according to the procedures we
use to determine whether the signature is genuine.

Friedberg: I don't care about your procedures.

(Franken lawyer calls an objection, is sustained.)

Friedberg: Okay, I do care...
That pretty much sums up the apparent position of Team Coleman so far: I don't care about your procedures. Or the law. Or the truth. I just don't want to lose.

But I don't want to seem like all I'm doing is kicking the mud out of Norm Coleman. Maybe I should throw him a bone. How about this: His wife is sure is hot. She's got legs that go all the way to the floor...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bill O'Reilly Pwned by Jessica Alba

"Hey, Bill. It's JA. Kiss my ass."

Maybe you saw the video of Jessica Alba refusing to give Bill O'Reilly a shout out, saying he was "kind of an a'hole." She also commented she was trying to be "Sweden about it."

Well, well...little Missy. You f*cked with the wrong Marine. Bill O'Reilly will rip off you head and call you a pinhead. And how will he justify it? By pointing out what an idiot you are for not knowing your history. It was Switzerland that was neutral, sweetheart. Now shut up.

Well, if Alba is a pinhead, what does that make Bill O? Because Sweden, like Switzerland, was also neutral as Alba recently pointed out on her MySpace page.

“I want to clear some things up that have been bothering me lately,” Alba
blogged on MySpace Celebrity. “Last week, Mr. Bill O'Reilly and some really
classy sites (i.e.TMZ) insinuated I was dumb by claiming Sweden was a neutral
country. I appreciate the fact that he is a news anchor and that gossip sites
are inundated with intelligent reporting, but seriously people... it's so sad to
me that you think the only neutral country during WWII was Switzerland.”

Yglesias commenter DTM points out, O'Reilly was probably just distracted by thinking about Alba wielding a falafel on him.

Sullivan strikes nickname gold: The Presider

Andrew Sullivan has a post up in which he documents how differently 44 is from 43.
Key quote:
If Bush was about the presidency as power, Obama is about the presidency as
authority. It's fascinating to watch this deep difference in understanding
slowly but unmistakably realize itself in public actions. Somewhere the Founders
are smiling. The system is correcting itself after one of the most unbalanced
periods in American history. But it took the self-restraint of one man to do it.
The Presider over the Decider. Somone's been watching their Mad Men.

We're all just a little bit Irish

There's tons of reason to love the Emerald Isle. I've placed just a few of them above. However, its none of the above that give Republican Politicians the vapors. What Irish items has them all hot and heavy? Irish Taxes!

It's a myth they love to pimp when complaining about how tough our tax rate is on corporations. You may remember McCain using this same argument shortly during the campaign, saying American business pays 35%. Businesses in Ireland pay 11%. Where would you locate? Of course, it's a ridiculous argument because it ignores the fact that the Irish tax system got that low by closing loopholes in exchange for lowering the rate. As Benen notes, it ignores the fact that 2/3rds of US Corporations don't pay taxes, that the US is the #1 country to do business in and that Ireland collects more in corporate taxes than the US does.

But, that doesn't stop the GOP from spouting this nonsense. I mean, after all,'s in the talking points.

When I hear all this faux-Irish love, I'm reminded of how every St. Patty's Day, every swinging dick is "part-Irish." I say we send these two Irish lads over to the Capital to straighten things out. Boondock-style.

RNC members have an epiphany

If the RNC was responsible for fashion, we'd all be headed out the door today in our parachute pants and Member's Only jackets. To call their collective consciousness slow, would be like saying Charlie Babbit was ok at blackjack.

Seems the rank and file have finally realized, "This George W. Bush...he's not really that great."

My favorite quotes from this article? How about the standard Republican plea we've heard since they got their teeth kicked in:
"People in this country are more conservative than what has been shown," said
Cathie Adams, an RNC member from Texas.
Sure, Cathie.

Or how about this nugget in support of current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan:
"We all agree that change is necessary in our Party and at the RNC," Jim Burnett
of Arkansas wrote in a letter to fellow RNC members. "But we must be for the
right change. Mike Duncan knew how to run and manage an effective RNC with the
White House and he knows even better how to run and manage an effective RNC
without the White House."

Really? I guess when compared with the effectiveness of other recent conservative leaders like W, Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Brownie...Duncan has done a jam up job.

The only comment that seemed to get it, was from John Feehery, who was a top adviser to then-House Speaker, Dennis Hastert.
"I think we're becoming a regional party. It seems like we only want to
appeal to Southerners. We seem too far to the right, and I think we need to have
a better understanding of principles that appeal to people in all 50 states."

If you've followed this race for the RNC Chair, it becomes apparent a lot of these guys don't get it. Katon Dawson has pledged to be "Obama's worst nightmare." Go ahead. If that's the course the RNC charts, it will take the Republican Party out into the wilderness for decades. I'm telling you right now, Obama's popularity is incredible and its going to stay high.

For instance, there's been a lot of talk among conservatives about the need to get back to the fiscally conservative ideology. How ideologically founded is the GOP's opposition to the stimulus package? According to one report, just as many House Republicans showed up at the meeting with Obama just to get their picture taken as to ask him questions about the package.

Seriously...President Obama has already done a great deal to increase his prestige at home and abroad in just one week. The only area he hurt himself seems to be with die-hard Pro Lifers, but lets face it, they're crazy anyway. Seriously...if out of the first two weeks the biggest issue you think there was involved lifting the gag rule, get a life. How about giving a shit about the people who are already living first. Once we help them stop being tortured or from losing their house, then lets worry about the zygotes. talk to him man. Not gonna overturn a lot elections with that.

Having taken part in election legal challenges, I've seen some stupid challenges and some bad lawyering. But Norm Coleman's challenge in Minnesota may be taking the cake. In the current court case, Coleman's team decided to put up two witnesses who were correctly rejected under Minnesota law.
One of the voters was Douglas Thompson, who admitted under oath that his
girlfriend filled out his absentee ballot application for him, signing his name
with her own hand and purporting to be himself. His ballot was rejected because
the signature on his ballot envelope (his own) did not match the signature on
the application (his girlfriend's). The Coleman team's argument appears to be
that he is still a legal voter in Minnesota, as the signature on the ballot was
his own, even if admitted dishonesty was involved in getting the ballot.

Keep in mind: Thompson's story came up during the direct examination by
Coleman lawyer James Langdon. So the Coleman camp fully knew this information
and decided to make him into a witness.

Another one of the voters, an older man named Wesley Briest, initially
responded that he voted at the polls -- not by absentee. Then Coleman attorney
James Langdon showed him his absentee ballot envelope, reminding him that he did
not go to the polls, too. Upon cross-examination by Franken lawyer Kevin
Hamilton, Briest admitted that his wife, who served as the witness on his
ballot, did not fully complete the witness section of the absentee ballot.
If you're wondering why one would put up witnesses that admit to voting illegally for you, when you are behind, join the club. It seems insane. Who's Coleman's attorney? This guy?

Did Bank of America use bailout money for campaign contributions?

Did Bank of America take taxpayer bailout money then turn around and use it to fight the Employee Free Choice Act? Let's put it this way, if they did not, we certainly are seeing some of the decision making that put them in the position of needing a $25 billion dollar bailout. And is Bernie Marcus as self-righteous prick or what?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The BTPC Religious Nut of the Day

Meet Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of the National Review online. In a recent piece for the National Catholic Register, K-Lo dropped this nugget:
"...Rick Warren reminded us why all eyes were on the Capitol steps that Tuesday
afternoon: “in His name.”

We’re a nation not just where you are free to believe or not to
believe; we’re a nation founded for Him — so we could praise Him, so we could do
His will."
Maybe you didn't get the memo, K-Lo. But religious fanaticism is out. All of it. Including Christian fanaticism. You guys had your leader and he ran this country into the ground. Time to step back and let the grown ups have the wheel.

Mayor Bob in for a fight has a post reporting that Steve Benjamin is going to run for Mayor of Columbia, meaning he'd lilely be challenging 5 term incumbent Bob Coble in the Democratic Primary. Benjamin raised a ton of cash and gave Henry "Did I mention I'm running for Guv'ner" McMaster all he could handle in the 2002 AG's race.

Benjamin is very sharp. He headed up the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon services, so he's got some good law enforcement chops. He also happens to be one of the first notable state Democratic party "leaders" who got behind Obama, which is a big deal.

Make no mistake about it, this past election was a big deal as far as the Democratic Party in South Carolina is concerned. For a long time, the same folks have been guiding the party and let's face it, the results speak for themselves. There were a lot of folks in the state party who made some poor decisions and had to scramble to find chairs when the music ended. And I don't think the game is over yet. Benjamin's potential run may very well just be an example of the musical chairs game the Democratic Party is still playing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bye-bye Billy.

Bill Kristol's run at the New York Times is done. Good Riddance. It sucked and was famous only for being wrong and completely obvious in its opinions and direction.

Kristol is the conservative intellectual heavyweight who first pimped Palin, who thought Iraq would cost a mere $16 billion a year (try $12 billion a month, Bill), and who jumped on the Hillary bandwagon during the primary.

Someone tell me again why this guy has a job giving his opinion? Oh yeah...nepotism.

Conyers to Rove: What's up now, b*tch?

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers is a stubborn cuss. Seems when he subpoenas someone, he expects for them to appear.

Now that W is out, Conyers has once again subpoenaed Karl Rove regarding the US Attorney firings. As Conyers says, "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sullivan on the EOs and torture

Although we disagree on some fairly substantial subjects, I do really enjoy Andrew Sullivan's work. I find him to be a smart and thoughtful writer, who is not afraid to admit mistakes. He brings class to blogging.

Having said that, Cheesefrog and I have had a little back and forth concerning my post on the EOs and torture from the other day. I understand Cheese's point. And I think Andrew has done an excellent job of articulating the answer to that point. Check it here. Having directed you, here is fine cut from the post:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the
law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil
turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This
country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's!
And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think
you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the
Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
That reminded me a quote I first discovered in the 7th grade, in Ms. Grant's class. In the prep materials for the Bicentennial Competition, was First they Friedrich Gustav Martin Niemöller. It may very well be the first thing that really stuck with me, philosophy-wise.

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up
because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up
because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t
a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one
left to speak up."

Seems apropos here.

What Obama means to Al Queda

Lets call it a tale of two president-enemies. Who would Al Queda rather have in power? It's pretty clear it 's W. I base that on how Al Queda is responding to Obama. He has them so worried about the reversal his election means in American image around the world, that they have they went so far as to blame him for the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza. Which was OVER by the time Obama assumed office. The Post is right when it points out:
The departure of George W. Bush deprived al-Qaeda of a polarizing American
leader who reliably drove recruits and donations to the terrorist group.
It's the same reason the consensus opinions given prior to the election indicated they wanted McCain to win. They saw him as continuing W's policies and further digging America into a hole.
More recently, they've taken some hints from the Bill O'Reilly-Marc Thiessen bandwagon and did the following:
Friday, a new al-Qaeda salvo attempted to embarrass Obama, a day after the
new president announced his plans for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Appearing on the videotaped message were two men who enlisted in al-Qaeda after
being freed from that detention center.

"By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our
principles for which we went out, did jihad for and were imprisoned for," said
Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, who described himself as a deputy commander for
al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The translation was also provided by the Site

Site founder Rita Katz said the messages show "just how much al-Qaeda
is intimidated by Obama."
So...when will people start questioning the O'Reilly and Thiessen crowd's patriotism. I mean, they're going beyond undermining our national security with their comments. It looks like the terrorists are actually using their horseshit as strategy.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I don't read books, B*tch. I write 'em.

Sometimes the jokes just write themselves. I'm betting the worlds most notorious hockey mom hopes books do too.

If I had to guess, I'd say the target audience is the same readership as this guy's:

Goodbye Duck Season '08.

So long to the 2008 Duck Season. I actually hunted more this year than I did the last 2 seasons combined. What a difference actual water makes, huh?

Thanks to everyone who helped find places and thanks to those who went with. We didn't always limit out, but we had a good time.

Not a bad haul, huh? Now I best get to cleaning and marinating.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ladies' night

President Obama ain't just reintroducing us to the concept of liberty (see here), but he's also bringing back the lady herself.

See how easy that was?

George W. Bush liked to call himself the Decider. He was big on his "gut." He didn't care what people thought of him. And yet, for 8 years, he was unable to do something as simple as define torture and make certain everyone knew we did not do it.

Just two days after assuming office, President Obama showed how easy it is to lead on the issue of whether or not America tortures. Obama signed 4 Executive Orders on Thursday which puts the issue to rest. Under the EOs:
the CIA’s interrogators cannot question detainees using “any interrogation
technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not
authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3.” That manual was rewritten
by the Army in 2006 to reemphasize its compliance with the Geneva Conventions
and U.S. laws banning torture. The Bush administration took an unyielding stance
toward exempting CIA interrogations from that manual and those laws. But the
Obama administration revoked all Bush administration executive orders from
September 11, 2001 onward “concerning detention or the interrogation of detained
individuals,” and directed the attorney general to conduct a thorough review of
all other “directives, orders, and regulations” on the subject issued by the
Bush administration that are no longer applicable.

Obama further instructed the military to close
Guantanamo Bay within a year. A different executive order empanelled
a cabinet-level task force to determine what should be done with the roughly 245
detainees still held at the Cuban naval base, as well as determining “lawful
options for the disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection
with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations” in the future.
This is a big deal. As Ret. Major General Paul Eaton said on tv last night, "seven years without a trial is wrong." And for those who say there you go being soft on terrorists, lets not forget something: they are "suspected terrorists." We already know we had to release some of the detainees held in Gitmo and subject to our "not torture" techniques, because --surprise--they weren't terrorists. Denial of Due Process isn't just wrong, it is unAmerican. It's the biggest victory al Queda could have and the last administration handed it to them.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), in discussing these EOs, brought up an interesting item. He noted that when Obama was an Illinois state senator, Obama wrote a law requiring all police interrogations to be videotaped, which Holt has long argued should be standard CIA and military practice as well. He's absolutely right. I clerked for Joe McCulloch in law school. McCulloch is one of the best criminal lawyers in SC and the attorney who founded the Palmetto Innocence Project, South Carolina's chapter of the national Innocence Project, an organization that represents the wrongfully convicted.

Anyway, when I was there, Joe was pushing two things on the Richland and Lexington County Law Enforcement Agencies: sequential photo arrays and videotaping of interviews. As far as the videotaping, the story was always the same. The cops were reluctant as hell to do it everywhere it has been implemented. But within a year or two, every single agency admitted it was a great idea. What they found out, was that memorializing the entire process on video actually helped their cases. Its hard for a defense attorney to attack your interview process as being coercive, if it is obvious on video that it was not. Reading this reminds me I wanted to send the packet we used back then to Sheriff Boone.

As Sen. Russ Feingold stated, “President Obama’s first days in office have been a triumph for the rule of law."

Word, Russ. Word.

Keep that in mind, as we continue to hear about the crazy shit that has gone on the last 8 years. You know, like the spying on journalists.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gitmo Closed

True to his word, Obama moves on an issue right away.

As an American, I am thankful this blight is being done away with. As an attorney, I am hopeful this means our government is moving back towards respecting the rule of law. Where the Constituion is a guide, not something to try to get around.
Interesting thing someone pointed out over the inauguration: The President's oath doesn't say anything about protecting America or Americans. It deals solely with protecting the Constitution. Why? Because if you protect that, the rest falls in line. W and Cheney never got that.

And more than closing this place, Obama left no doubt what the standards are: The Army Field Manual. It's what one ex-CIA officer called a "great leap forward." (Must be a big Mao fan)
For those who don't think this is a good idea, that this place and its enhanced interrogation techniques kept us safe and were worth it, I'd defer to someone who has worn the uniform, Colin Powell (on Meet the Press):

Guantanamo has become a major, a major problem for America’s perception as
it’s seen, the way the world perceives America. And if it was up to me, I would
close Guantanamo, not tomorrow, this afternoon. I’d close it. And I’d not let
any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put
them into our federal legal system. The concern was well, then they’ll have
access to lawyers, then they’ll have access to writs of habeas corpus. So what?
Let them...

Isn’t that what our system’s all about? And by the way, America,
unfortunately, has too million people in jail, all of whom had lawyers and
access to writs of habeas corpus. And so we can handle bad people in our system.
And so I would get rid of Guantanamo and I’d get rid of the military commissions
system, and use established procedures in federal law or in the manual for
courts martial. I would do that because I think it’s more equatable and it’s
more understandable in constitutional terms. But I’d also do it because every
morning I pick up a paper and some authoritarian figure, some person somewhere,
is using Guantanamo to hide their own misdeeds.

And so essentially we have
shaken the belief that the world had in America’s justice system by keeping a
place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission. We
don’t need it, and it’s causing us far more damage than any good we get for it.
But remember what I started this discussion saying, don’t let any of them go.
Put them in a different system, a system that is experienced, that knows how to
handle people like this...

Bill O'Reilly is an idiot.

Not exactly news by now, but Bill O'Reilly is once again reminding everyone what an idiot he is. On air with Dennis Miller, he said the following:

"I didn't like the line in [Obama's] speech...about how we don't have to
compromise our values to protect ourselves. I think sometimes we do.
I think sometimes we have to be realistic and do things that aren't
Army-Field-Manual polite. We can't give the Lazy-E-Boys to the captured
terrorists. We can't give them the iced tea and wind chimes. And I
think that was oversimplifying, and kind of a cheap shot at the Bush
administration. ... [Liberals] would torture the hell out of Bush if they could,
can you imagine?"

This sounds as lame as the W fans who are upset because Obama "attacked" W in his speech. Listen, Bush tasked his attorneys and staff with making torture legal. If he can't stand the heat from the fact that flies in the face of the notions of freedom and liberty, tough.

Hey, Bill. Its assholes like you that have helped Al Queda accomplish things they never would have been able to before. Its that kind of thinking that has resulted in us torturing people and denying due process of law.

And a note to Miller, check what the people really think about the detainees being sent to Leavenworth. Turns out a lot of folks heard their new President's call to grow up. Hopefully you guys will.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hey, World...Check Me Out.

After digesting it all last night, I came to the conclusion that not since Diane Court have we seen someone this impressive. I understand he also has a theory on convergence.

Seriously, for those who tsk-tsk, saying the Obama-love is going to far, check out the reaction around the globe. You don't think this is a big deal? You don't think people want to believe America is what we say we are? You don't think this country took a hit the last 8 years? If you can't see what this means to our image around the world, you're an idiot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Now that's a prayer.

In addition to Rev. Lowery's wonderful benediction, I was very moved by the opening prayer of the whole shebang, which was delivered at Sunday's concert by Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop. Here it is in its entirety:

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC January 18,

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please
join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our
next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with
tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a
day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an
education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against
refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve
preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves
and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges
of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us
will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a
human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding
that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine
respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our
diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every
religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human
community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the
office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s
reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best
efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm
captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be
inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to
facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his
leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that
experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those
who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him
remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his
daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our
presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and
his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to
keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we
have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and
that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity,
prosperity and peace.


President Schmoove

To paraphrase the Fu-Snicks, La schmoove...he ain't got nutin' to prove.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle just made their first appearance of the evening at the Neighborhood Ball. His first words: "How good lookin' is my wife?" Smooth, Mr. President. Very smooth.

Their first dance was to Etta James' "At last." And after watching it, I think we can say, hands down, President Obama takes the title of having the most rhythm of any of our presidents (although Grover Cleveland was rumored to be one funky motherf*cker).

A dream realized

Regardless of your political persuasion, today truly has been a great day in American History. Given our long battle with race in this country, it is impossible not to acknowledge the significance of today's events. I'd imagine a lot of my Republican friends are gagging at what they see as a disgusting lovefest, but I'm sure even the most jaded of them would agree that today is a pretty big bullet point on the timeline of our country.

Wow. That's a hell of a crowd, huh? Early estimates are 2 million crowded the mall to take part in history.

Years from now, when my grandkids ask me where I was when we elected our first black President, I'll get to tell them I was stuck in a local attorney's office taking part in a fruitless mediation. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the event live. But I have been furiously trying to catch up on the days events and I have a few comments already.

1) Having read the text of the speech, I agree with Adam Serwer on what the overall message was: time to grow up. Since 9/11, we have taken the easy way out. We have sacrificed the true core beliefs that make us what we are and we sacrificed them out of fear. It ain't easy being grown up. But that's life. Deal with it. As Benen pointed out, this is a man who talks to us like adults instead of treating us like kids. The time has come to set aside childish things.

2) Rush Limbaugh and Leon H. Wolf are unpatriotic assholes. They have both publicly stated they hope Obama fails. Eff you, assholes. I truly thought W was an idiot and that he stole the election, but I certainly never hoped he would fail.

3) Religion. First off, I'd like to personally thank Rick Warren. Rick, thanks for giving fuel to the Mullah's fire that war with America is Jihad against nonbelievers. Could you mention the name Jesus one more time please? Secondly, I am glad that Obama specifically mentioned "non-believers." I am sad it took 44 Presidents before someone acknowledged this large contingent of the country. Lastly, "So help you god" ain't part of the oath. If it was and a "liberal judge" left it out, what would we be hearing right now? "It's an assault on Christianity!"

4) The oath. Those idiots who think Obama is disqualified from being President are already probably filling out new lawsuits to challenge whether he really is the President based on the oath flub. What's even funnier is the argument over who messed it up. The Right is reporting how Obama screwed it up, even though its clear Roberts screwed up the wording and can be heard apologizing for messing up. Personally, I'm impressed Obama caught the screw up. Anyone want to bet on whether W would have just gone with it? BTW, how funny is it that a self-styled strict constructionist can't the wording of the oath right?

5) Cheney. When I saw him in the wheelchair, I thought two things. First, he looks like Jeffrey Lebowski. Not the Dude, but the one whose wife is running all over town owing money to people like Jackie Treehorn. Second, I thought of all the corny tv shows where the Plaintiff or Defendant shows up for court in a wheelchair or in a neck brace in a blatant attempt to illicit sympathy from the jury. How does one pull ones back out shredding doc...uh...I mean moving books anyway?

6) This guy is a douchebag. He's Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and he boycotted an Iowa congressional delegation reception based on his "philisophical" problems with Obama.

I'm sure I'll have more later. But I just wanted to get my initial thoughts in before settling down to soak it all up tonight.

Can I get an Amen?

I'll post more on today's events later, but I had to post Rev. Lowery's Benediction. Classic.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. Blogger...

Happy Birthday to me. That's right...Pluvlaw has turned the big 34. I am now going to patiently wait for lunchtime to arrive so I can get my birthday drink on. I mean...I don't want to start before noon. With no football game involved, that would mean I have a problem.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's been a long time coming...

Sam Cooke.
Yes it has, Sam.

Taibbi slams Friedman. Again.

I read Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem around 2000 and found it pretty good. After that, I started reading more of his stuff and following his work. In law school, I saw him speak in Columbia. I was very impressed at the time, but have never really been able to finish one of his books since that first one. I have realized something: Tom Friedman has never met a problem Tom Friedman can't solve. And he's full of two things: Shit and himself.

By the time the Iraq invasion rolled around, it became apparent to me that Friedman held a little bit too healthy of an opinion on his own opinions. He may be the only person in the country who talked tougher about the invasion than Bush and Cheney. Who can forget his infamous "Well Suck On This" comment or sometimes you need to hit someone upside the head with a 2x4. And given his level of enthusiasm, this writer channeling his inner Charlie Bronson in all his pimping for the invasion, has never really issued a satisfactory mea culpa.

But despite the above, his cardinal sin and the reason I stopped reading his books, was it was incredibly hard to read through his attempts at witty language. He wants to boil everything down. You get the feeling he thinks it displays his intellect to sum up the solution to age-old problems with a smart 5 word sentence. It doesn't matter that the sentence actually does not make sense. That first one had been easy, because it was really the first book on the Arab-Israeli conflict I had ever read and I was eager to learn the history. Since then, I have found much more informative and certainly better written books.

But I digress. Taibbi, who is one of my favorite current writers, has been calling out Tom for quite some time. His latest is a classic example of someone or something getting the Taibbi skewer:

And who cares if it doesn’t quite make sense when Friedman says that Iraq is
like a “vase we broke in order to get rid of the rancid water inside?” Who cares
that you can just pour water out of a vase, that only a fucking lunatic breaks a
perfectly good vase just to empty it of water? You’re missing the point, folks
say, and the point is all in Friedman’s highly nuanced ideas about world
politics and the economy—if you could just get past his well-meaning attempts to
explain himself, you’d see that, and maybe you’d even learn something.

My initial answer to that is that Friedman’s language choices over the years
have been highly revealing: When a man who thinks you need to break a vase to
get the water out of it starts arguing that you need to invade a country in
order to change the minds of its people, you might want to start paying
attention to how his approach to the vase problem worked out. Thomas Friedman is
not a president, a pope, a general on the field of battle or any other kind of
man of action. He doesn’t actually do anything apart from talk about shit in a
newspaper. So in my mind it’s highly relevant if his manner of speaking is

At some point, maybe the folks that read Friedman are going to start wondering if this guy is really as smart as they thought he was.