Nero's Fiddle
A View From The Handbasket

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Dartboard update
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:17 AM
Upon further reflection (and, one imagines, an uncomfortable conversation or two), Tony Snow has decided that the President doesn't really think using blastocyst-Americans for stem-cell research is murder after all:

Q Tony, not to bring up last week's news, but the issue of whether embryonic stem cell research is murder came up yesterday on "Meet The Press." You said, I believe, last week that some people regard this as murder and the President is among them.

MR. SNOW: Yes, well, I --

Q Does he believe this is murder?

MR. SNOW: I overstepped my brief there, and so I created a little trouble for Josh Bolten in the interview. And I feel bad about it. I think there's concern. The President has said that he believes that this is the destruction of human life.


But the President certainly does not oppose the promise of pluripotency. The President certainly does not oppose stem cell research. But he does find -- he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans. I will go ahead and apologize for having overstated -- I guess, overstated the President's position.

But on the other hand, I think it's also important in this particular case to keep in mind that when it comes to stem cell research this President was the first to allow the use of embryonic stem cell lines, and he has supported -- more than any other President in American history -- research into embryonic stem cell research, and also shares the goals that Senator Frist and others have talked about, which is unlocking the possibility of pluripotent cells.

Q So the President does not regard this as murder?

MR. SNOW: He would not use that term.

Q And the corollary question that's emerged on Capitol Hill and elsewhere is, if it is murder, do you then shut down in vitro fertilization clinics?

MR. SNOW: Well, as you know, they're not the recipients of federal money. We're talking about the use of federal money on things that are morally -- that some people consider morally objectionable and some do not. It's one of the reasons why, as you know, we've allowed states to make their own decisions. And a number of them have, in terms of assigning states resources for use in embryonic stem cell research.

Salon asks the obvious question:

Say what you will about Snow's characterization of stem cell research as "murder"; it offered moral clarity, even if the president and his supporters weren't willing to take it to its logical conclusion. Now? It's slippery slope time, and Snow's construct has the White House sliding right down one. Perhaps somebody ought to ask Snow this today: If it isn't appropriate to outlaw things that "some people consider morally objectionable and some do not" unless those things are done using "federal money," then how can the GOP advocate a federal ban on gay marriage or limits on internet gambling?

Meanwhile, Condi goes to Beirut and offers soothing noises:

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice touched down in Beirut yesterday on her Top Secret visit, bombing in the city miraculously halted for a few hours, a sure sign of the close collaboration that exists between the United States and Israel.

Rice told her Lebanese counterparts that she was "deeply concerned about the Lebanese people and what they are enduring." She brought blankets to prove it.

Yet, we aren't so concerned about the plight of the Lebanese people as to interfere with pressing business:

The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

After all, we can't let a little human suffering (of fully-gestated brown people, rather than lily-white "snowflake" embryos) get in the way of the President's "leadership moment" (hat tip to Billmon for this gem):

White House aides have said they consider the Lebanon crisis to be a "leadership moment" for Mr Bush and an opportunity to proceed with his post-September 11 plan to reshape the Middle East by building Sunni Arab opposition to Shia terrorism. Yesterday Mr Bush cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing help to Hezbollah.

The utter incoherence of the administration's Middle East policy is laid bare in the above quote. So, Bush's post-9/11 plan is to "build Sunni Arab opposition to Shia terrorism"? First off, it's rather odd that an attack by al Qaeda, a Sunni terror group, would inspire Bush to recruit Sunnis to go after "Shia terrorism." Further, toppling Saddam's secular Sunni regime and replacing it with an Iran-friendly Shia government is a curious approach to furthering this plan.

But beyond all the quibbling about how we've put Iran in the catbird seat by winning the Iran-Iraq war for them, one has to wonder how encouraging and arming Israel in their quest to punish Lebanon as much as humanly possible for the sins of Hezbollah is supposed to convince Sunni Arabs (such as, say, the democratically elected Hamas government) that they need to help us fight Shia terrorism.

Do they have mulligans in darts?

UPDATE: Here's the inevitable result of Bush's folly.

2 comments on this post
Friday, July 21, 2006
Just say no (II)
Posted by neros_fiddle at 6:17 PM
In our extremely irregular series of pictorial warnings on the dangers of feline mind-altering substances, we bring you these disturbing images. Remember, kitties, if you do catnip you could end up like this:

3 comments on this post
Dartboard morality
Posted by neros_fiddle at 5:54 PM

In today's Washington Post, we learn about the President's view of Israel reducing Beirut to rubble:

One former senior administration official said Bush is only emboldened by the pressure from U.N. officials and European leaders to lead a call for a cease-fire. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan demanded yesterday that the fighting in Lebanon stop.

"He thinks he is playing in a longer-term game than the tacticians," said the former official, who spoke anonymously so he could discuss his views candidly. "The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.' "

Earlier in the week, Tony Snow expounded on Bush's first-ever veto, rejecting federal funding for stem-cell research:

What the President has said is that he doesn't want human life destroyed. Now, you may consider that insignificant, but the President has said -- and you have had in a number of cases the Snowflake babies, where some of those fetuses have, in fact, been brought to term and have become human beings. The President believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder; he's one of them.


Slaughtering innocent civilians as a "let's see what happens" foreign policy exercise = "consequences that will have to be managed".

Using a glob of cells -- that was already slated to be tossed in the dumpster after fertility treatments -- for potentially revolutionary research that could rid millions of debilitating and deadly illness = "murder".

Which only leaves us wondering where to file this:

In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, a number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must look shocked — ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel — because he immediately stops smirking.

I've been told that Bush was re-elected because of his "moral values." If that's the case, the American people are a bunch of sickos.

5 comments on this post
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Hall of mirrors
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:10 PM

Jeez, look at this. I leave for a week, try to have a nice vacation, and you guys go and start World War III (or IV or V, if you believe the wingnut talking heads). How am I supposed to enjoy decadent scenes like the one below when Israel and Hezbollah are trading atrocities? How inconsiderate.

Narcissism aside... well, not so fast. Let's stay with the narcissism for a second. Surveying the carnage from his bunker at the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol intones:

The right response is renewed strength--in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions--and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement.

But such a military strike would take a while to organize. In the meantime, perhaps President Bush can fly from the silly G8 summit in St. Petersburg--a summit that will most likely convey a message of moral confusion and political indecision--to Jerusalem, the capital of a nation that stands with us, and is willing to fight with us, against our common enemies. This is our war, too.

Somewhere in a cave in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden is chuckling as his plan comes to fruition. It's an insane plan, to be sure -- the sort of combination of hubris and recklessness that lesser minds admire as heroism. Osama understood during the heady post-Oslo days that a moderate US Middle East policy (one that did something other than mindlessly enable Israel) would defang his rhetoric and influence. 9/11 had a single, simple purpose -- to poke the biggest stick possible into the eye of the United States, then sit back and watch as moderation was thrown out the window of the Humvee.

What actually happened, of course, was beyond Osama's expectations. The Bush White House quickly discovered that their self-interest intersected with Osama's in maintaining a radical position toward the Middle East. Bush mirrored Osama by pursuing an absolutist policy that eschewed statesmanship in favor of scorched earth in Iraq. By invading Iraq, we went well beyond simply enabling Israel -- we became Israel, with Iraq playing the role of Palestine. For a few years, the US and Israel pursued mirror-image versions of reality, in which both attempted to pawn security issues off on a "sovereign" government while nervously eyeing "democratic" elections that promised to produce more problems than solutions.

Of course, we were told before the invasion that overthrowing Saddam would actually stabilize the Middle East. When asked about this, Condi announced that only positive effects could be attributed to the Iraq invasion:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But before the war in Iraq many argued that going into Iraq would stir up a hornet’s nest. The administration strongly disagreed and here’s what Vice President Cheney had to say in August 2002.

CHENEY (VIDEO): I believe the opposite is true. Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region, extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad, moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli/Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Extremists now appear to have been emboldened. The moderates appear to be in retreat. There is no peace process. There is war. How do you answer administration critics who say that the administration’s actions have unleashed, have helped unleash the very hostilities you hoped to contain?

RICE: Well, first of all, those hostilities were not very well contained as we found out on September 11th, so the notion that policies that finally confront extremism are actually causing extremism, I find grotesque.

If good stuff happens, we can credit invading Iraq. If bad stuff happens, blaming the invasion of Iraq is "grotesque." Such is the kindergarten thinking offered with a straight face by the astonishingly out-of-her-depth Secretary of State.

The end result of this funhouse is the unrestrained saber-rattling of Kristol and his ilk. Osama wanted to ensure the continued conflation of Israel and the US, and Kristol eagerly puts us exactly where Osama wanted us to go.

I heartily recommend visiting the Whiskey Bar for some excellent analysis of the rapidly (d)evolving situation.

1 comments on this post
Monday, July 10, 2006
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:16 PM
I'm on a fact-finding mission for the Fiddle this week, so posting will be light. Here's my current view:

I have golf with Tom DeLay tomorrow. It's hard work, but I love my readers.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006
Feeding frenzy
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:09 PM
The only time you'll see all four of them this close together is at the thrice-weekly Dispersal Of The Treats. It is much-anticipated.

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"Moral values" on display
Posted by neros_fiddle at 1:08 PM
There was a lot of discussion after the 2004 election about the "moral values" voter, which the exit polls indicated made up a large portion of the vote for Bush. Though at the time I assumed that this was just code for "homophobes drawn out to vote by the presence of gay marriage bans on the ballot," it seems that I was yet again thinking on far too small a scale.

We already knew that radical-right Christians hated gays (though the more disingenuous among them professed to "love the sinner and hate the sin," which I'm sure was great comfort to gays as they watched their rights being stripped away), but I wasn't aware of the deep reserves of enmity they held for the Jews (considering most of them seem to be staunchly pro-Israel). Unless Sussex County, Delaware is an enormous statistical anomaly, these people are even scarier than I thought.

A Jewish family there recently had an unpleasant experience at their daughter's high school graduation:

Among numerous specific examples in the complaint was what happened at plaintiff Samantha Dobrich's graduation in 2004 from the district's high school. She was the only Jewish student in her graduating class. The complaint relates that local pastor, Jerry Fike, in his invocation, followed requests for "our heavenly Father's" guidance for the graduates with:

"I also pray for one specific student, that You be with her and guide her in the path that You have for her. And we ask all these things in Jesus' name."

In addition to the ruined graduation experience, the Dobrich-Doe lawsuit alleges that:

  • The district's "custom and practice of school-sponsored prayer" frequently imposed ... on impressionable non-Christian students," violating their constitutional rights.
  • The district ignored the Supreme Court's 1992 Lee decision limiting prayer at graduation ceremonies -- even after a district employee complained about the prayer at her child's 2003 graduation..
  • District teachers and staff led Bible clubs at several schools. Club members got to go to the head of the lunch line.
  • While Bible clubs were widely available, student book clubs were rare and often canceled by the district.
  • When Jane Doe complained that her non-Christian son "Jordan Doe" was left alone when his classmates went to Bible club meetings, district staff insisted that Jordan should attend the club regardless of his religion.
  • The district schools attended by Jordan and his sister "Jamie Doe" distributed Bibles to students in 2003, giving them time off from class to pick up the books.
  • Prayer -- often sectarian -- is a routine part of district sports programs and social events.
  • One of the district's middle schools gave students the choice of attending a special Bible Club if they did not want to attend the lesson on evolution.
  • A middle school teacher told students there was only "one true religion" and gave them pamphlets for his surfing ministry.
  • Samantha Dobrich's honors English teacher frequently discussed Christianity, but no other religion.
  • Students frequently made mandatory appearances at district board meetings -- where they were a captive audience for board members' prayers to Jesus.

The Dobriches said the prayers to Jesus' ruined the graduation experience for Samantha. Mona Dobrich, Samantha's mother, repeatedly called district officials to complain. A board member told her she would have to get the matter put on a meeting agenda -- then refused to put it on the agenda. The school superintendent slipped the topic onto the agenda and then told Mona Dobrich she would need to raise it during the public comment period.

After the sort of bureaucratic runaround that would cause most people to give up, the persistent Dobrich finally got her complaints in front of the school board.

The district board announced the formation of a committee to develop a religion policy. And the local talk radio station inflamed the issue.

On the evening in August 2004 when the board was to announce its new policy, hundreds of people turned out for the meeting. The Dobrich family and Jane Doe felt intimidated and asked a state trooper to escort them.

The complaint recounts a raucous crowd that applauded the board's opening prayer and then, when sixth-grader Alexander Dobrich stood up to read a statement, yelled at him "take your yarmulke off!" His statement, read by Samantha, confided "I feel bad when kids in my class call me Jew boy."

A state representative spoke in support of prayer and warned board members that "the people" would replace them if they faltered on the issue. Other representatives spoke against separating "god and state."

A former board member suggested that Mona Dobrich might "disappear" like Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the atheist whose Supreme Court case resulted in ending organized school prayer. She disappeared in 1995 and her dismembered body was found six years later.

The crowd booed an ACLU speaker and told her to "go back up north."

In the days after the meeting the community poured venom on the Dobriches. Callers to the local radio station said the family they should convert or leave the area. Someone called them and said the Ku Klux Klan was nearby.

Classmates accused Alex Dobrich of "killing Christ" and he became fearful about wearing his yarmulke, the complaint recounts. He took it off whenever he saw a police officer, fearing that the officer might see it and pull over his mother's car. When the family went grocery shopping, the complaint says, "Alexander would remove the pin holding his yarmulke on his head for fear that someone would grab it and rip out some of his hair."

The Dobriches refinanced their home so that Mona and Alexander could move to Wilmington, away from a situation that had become untenable, while Marco stayed behind because of his job, according to the complaint.

Ultimately, it continues, the expense of two households forced the Dobriches to sell their home. And Samantha was forced to withdraw from the joint program she attended at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is being treated for depression.

The lawsuit states that the Doe family wants to remain anonymous in order to avoid the retaliation experienced by the Dobrich family. Jordan and Jane Doe are also suffering from depression related to their opposition with the Indian River School District's religion policy.

If just being Jewish causes these good citizens to bring out the pitchforks, one shudders to think what they'd do faced with a Muslim, Buddhist or (gasp) an atheist.

Much of the harassment of the Dobriches was enabled by the publishing of their home address and phone number by a right-wing anti-ACLU group that advertises widely on right-wing blogs:

I realize it's difficult to fathom how the right threatens reporters and photographers for the New York Times with execution for treason for talking about the publicly-known vacation homes of the most well-protected men on the planet (with the permission of those men and their protectors), but eagerly points unhinged religious crusaders (who advocate dismemberment for non-believers) at defenseless ordinary citizens. (I suspect they would just like to see those who don't agree with them die in one way or another.)

These people have nothing to do with the ideals of Christ and even less to do with the ideals of America. They are repugnant and their hate is not worthy of a national platform, let alone worthy of being eagerly courted by Karl Rove and the GOP.

1 comments on this post
Stevens: I'm against net neutrality because my e-mail is slow
Posted by neros_fiddle at 11:39 AM

Here's Senator Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens (not pictured above) explaining how the internet works on the floor of the Senate:

There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service is now going to go through the internet and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

So you want to talk about the consumer? Let's talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren't using it for commercial purposes.

We aren't earning anything by going on that internet. Now I'm not saying you have to or you want to discrimnate against those people [...]

The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says "No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet". No, I'm not finished. I want people to understand my position, I'm not going to take a lot of time. [...]

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense internet now, did you know that?

Do you know why?

Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can't afford getting delayed by other people.


Now I think these people are arguing whether they should be able to dump all that stuff on the internet ought to consider if they should develop a system themselves.

Maybe there is a place for a commercial net but it's not using what consumers use every day.

It's not using the messaging service that is essential to small businesses, to our operation of families.

The whole concept is that we should not go into this until someone shows that there is something that has been done that really is a violation of net neutraility that hits you and me.

Rest assured that legislation designed to funnel huge amounts of money (perhaps using "tubes") into the accounts of telcos is being considered by those well-acquainted with the technical issues involved.

Seriously, anyone reading this blog probably knows more about how the internet works than Ted Stevens does. He's like any number of executives I've known who can only (mis)understand the internet in terms of their personal e-mail (or, more accurately, the e-mail their secretaries receive and print out for them). Of course, they never let their lack of knowledge get in the way of making decisions.

So, everyone, let's all get together and let the telcos and cable companies decide what parts of the internet we should be able to access, so that semi-sentient senators can get their "internets" in a timely manner. Lobbyists everywhere thank you.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006
The Bauer Doctrine
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:08 PM

One of the observations people made while gazing numbly at their televisions on 9/11 that has entered the collective consciousness was that "it looks like a movie."

And while there's truth there -- the specter of fireballs bursting from the instantly recognizable twin towers almost looked more like CGI than real flames burning real people to death -- what that statement also indicated was that for most Americans, thankfully, such scenes of violence were only to be found at the multiplex, not real life. The only context they had for understanding such things were those offered by familiar Hollywood narratives and archetypes.

Which perhaps explains why so many people persist in trying to apply the Hollywood template to the events following 9/11 continuing until today. For example, we have various "mainstream media"-hating right-wing types (who clearly are on their way to becoming the new mainstream media) taking the lead offered by the White House in attacking the New York Times' reporting on the SWIFT program to broadly monitor financial transactions in an attempt to root out terror activity:

On Monday, President Bush said it was "disgraceful" that The New York Times and other media outlets reported last week that the US government was quietly monitoring international financial transactions handled by an industry-owned cooperative in Belgium called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Communication, or SWIFT, which is controlled by nearly 8,000 institutions in 20 countries. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal also reported about the program.

The controversy continued to simmer yesterday when Senator Jim Bunning, a Republican of Kentucky, accused the Times of "treason," telling reporters in a conference call that it "scares the devil out of me" that the media would reveal such sensitive information. Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, requested US intelligence agencies to assess whether the reports have damaged anti terrorism operations. And Representative Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has urged Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to pursue "possible criminal prosecution" of the Times, which has reported on other secret government surveillance programs.

We'll set aside for a moment the question of whether exposing violations of civil liberties committed in the name of safety is a valid function of a free press. Unsurprsingly, I think it is, and complaining about reporting on SWIFT is akin to complaining about CSI helping murderers better avoid forensic detection:

Victor D. Comras, a former US diplomat who oversaw efforts at the United Nations to improve international measures to combat terror financing, said it was common knowledge that worldwide financial transactions were being closely monitored for links to terrorists. "A lot of people were aware that this was going on," said Comras, one of a half-dozen financial experts UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recruited for the task.

"Unless they were pretty dumb, they had to assume" their transactions were being monitored, Comras said of terrorist groups. "We have spent the last four years bragging how effective we have been in tracking terrorist financing."

What we're really dealing with here, I believe, is indignation over the image of the big secret government safety net being drug into the light by the hated "liberal" Times. For where were the threats to prosecute the conservative Wall Street Journal, which also reported on SWIFT? Nowhere. That didn't fit the narrative of the freedom-hating liberal media frustrating the dangerous work of noble spies and operatives like the ones on 24. (Why, they're probably the ones who got the bad guy in Dirty Harry off on a technicality!)

And once that narrative takes hold, it becomes more compelling than reality. (Why watch the news when you can learn about terrorism from Jack Bauer and James Bond?) Having barely finished chewing on the SWIFT story like a rawhide bone, the right's attack poodles sunk their teeth into fresh treason... in the NYT travel section.

This frothy piece on the playground of the Washington power elite drove 24-addled observers like David Horowitz to red-faced raving:

In an apparent retaliation for criticism of its disclosure of classified intelligence to America's enemies, the New York Times June 30th edition has printed huge color photos of the vacation residences of Vice President Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, identifying the small Maryland town where they live, showing the front driveway and in Rumsfeld's case actually pointing out the hidden security camera in case any hostile intruders should get careless.

Make no mistake about it, there is a war going on in this country. The aggressors in this war are Democrats, liberals and leftists who began a scorched earth campaign against President Bush before the initiation of hostilities in Iraq. The initiators of this war were Al Gore and Jimmy Carter who attacked the president's attempt to rally the world against Saddam's defiance of international law in September 2002 just after his appeal to the UN General Assembly.

In Horowitz's TV-land reality, the New York Times travel section is part of a conspiracy with Al Gore and Jimmy Carter to keep the United States from successfully invading Iraq while endangering the most well-protected men on the planet by revealing the publicly-known location of their vacation homes. One can picture a bearded, robe-wearing terror cell eagerly cracking open the Sunday Times, having been unable to locate the infidel Rumsfeld's location through the mere use of Google.

(As is usually the case in such right-wing rage-fests, the actual question of whether Cheney and Rumsfeld themselves had any issue with the article was ignored. They didn't, and Rumsfeld approved of the photo of his house.)

But in the dramatic battle between the enemies of freedom and photogenic counter-terror agents, you never know where the next attack might come from. Doing his best interpretation of the grizzled head of MI-5 grinding his teeth with rage at the latest interference from the ignorant bureaucratic nitwits, leading pro-torture theorist John Yoo reacts to the Supreme Court:

John Yoo, a principal architect of the Bush administration's legal response to the terrorist threat, sounded perplexed and a little bitter. The Supreme Court had methodically dismantled the legal framework that he and a few other administration lawyers had built after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"What the court is doing is attempting to suppress creative thinking," said Yoo, who now teaches law at the University of California at Berkeley. "The court has just declared that it's going to be very intrusive in the war on terror. They're saying, 'We're going to treat this more like the way we supervise the criminal justice system.'"

Of course, fighting criminals is a lot less fun than fighting terrorists because of all those pesky Miranda laws and due process and other buzzkill regulations (not like the "creative thinking" Yoo likes, perhaps a little too much). Faced with not being able to continue living out the fantasy of torturing the location of the deadly virus bomb hidden in downtown L.A. out of a swarthy terrorist mere seconds before detonation (then running in and snipping the correct wire as the clock blinks 00:01), Yoo can only stamp his feet and complain... to the New York Times.

What to do? Why, we need a conference! A conference sponsored by the Heritage Foundation! We could get the creators and writers (and, why not, the stars!) of 24 to tell us how to fight terror and the liberal media! We'll get Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff to attend and learn along with us! And (oh boy!) we'll get Rush Limbaugh to be the moderator! Damn, won't that be great?

And, dear readers, you probably already know that I'm not making any of that up.

EDIT/UPDATE: Turns out that after the conference, Limbaugh and the producers of 24 (and two other men) headed to the Dominican Republic on Limbaugh's network's private jet. As everyone in the world now knows, Limbuagh returned with 29 100mg Viagra tablets. How many he left with is an interesting question...

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