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Thursday, March 17, 2005
 
Oh, my goodness.


This is something my Great Aunt Minnie would say when she really meant Holy Shit. I've posted occasionally about what I fear we have become; both as a military force and as a nation. I'm happy when I don't see news reports that stoke my fears.

I'm not happy now.

Suddenly, the count of prisoners dead in captivity is up to 108. Boy, that happened fast, didn't it? When I did my seven year hitch in the Navy, the gold standard for horrible, communist, totalitarian, non-Geneva convention deadly bastards who you never wanted to get captured by was the North Vietnamese.

They were happy if you died in your cell. They tortured. They hated. They abused just for perverse commie, Stalinist fun. They were the worst. Worse than Nazis, even, because the Nazis at least sometimes pretended to be civilized about POW treatment. The North Vietnamese didn't even pretend.

So how many American POWS died while captured by the insane and lawless North Vietnamese during the entire Vietnam war? One hundred and fourteen. From all causes. What killed the 108 (so far) reported in our custody?

Mostly "violent causes".

Maybe someone would like to explain WTF that means. I don't even want to try.

 
Monday, March 14, 2005
 
George Will is a moron.
As I read one of George Will's recent columns, I was struck by his highly selective recital of the "facts" surrounding the recent Supreme Court death penalty ruling. He refers to Justice Kennedy occupying "the seat that 52 Senate Democrats prevented Robert Bork from filling in 1987". He neglects to mention that six Republican Senators also voted against Bork, while 2 Democrats voted for him, resulting in a final tally of 42 for, and 58 against. He also fails to mention that Justice Kennedy was subsequently nominated by Republican President Reagan and confirmed. Additionally, he fails to mention that three of the five Justice majority in this recent decision were appointed by Republicans, and were considered conservative at the time of their appointment.

Republican presidents appointed seven of the nine current Justices. It is an interesting measure of how extremely far to the right one must be now in order to not be considered "left" by conservative columnists such as Mr. Will.

Mr. Will places the Bork nomination as the start of "the descent into the scorched-earth partisanship" of judicial confirmations that now rages in the Senate. This is certainly not true. That descent began in 1995 as Senate Republicans, with their new majority, began denying Clinton judicial nominees hearings and up-or-down confirmation votes. In the final two years of the Clinton Presidency, Republicans used "holds" and failed to give hearings to sixty percent of Clinton's nominees to the Federal bench. The vacancy situation was so bad that (conservative, Republican appointed) Justice Rehnquist even rebuked Senate Republicans in 1998, and told them to do their jobs.

In contrast, Senate Democrats have blocked only ten Bush nominees, while confirming over 200, for a refusal rate of only 3.4 percent.

Mr. Will derides the majority Opinion as written by Kennedy by taking small snippets and attaching his own context to them. Concerning international consensus, he writes, "...(Kennedy) considers it unimportant that the United States attached to one of the conventions language reserving the right "to impose capital punishment ... for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age."..."

In spite of Mr. Will's clever editing, Kennedy did indeed consider it important; after all, he included it in the Opinion-which Mr. Will notes-and he addresses it extensively, which Mr. Will fails to note. Will then dismisses the "other convention Kennedy cites" as never having been ratified by the US. That would be the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. He fails to mention, although Kennedy does, that only one other country on the planet has failed to ratify it. Who do we keep company with here? Somalia.

Will mocks Kennedy as a "Sociologist" then proceeds to prove his point by taking a few more snippets, totaling 40 words or so, from eight pages of Opinion which analyzes juvenile criminal culpability. I could apply the same standard and easily mock Mr. Will's column by extracting a three word quote and putting my own spin on it.

Finally, Mr. Will mentions Justice Scalia's dissent. Like Mr. Will, Justice Scalia is terribly skeptical of concepts such as "evolving standards of decency", "national consensus" and certainly "international consensus". Justice Scalia includes this little gem in his complaint:

"The Court ignores entirely the threshold inquiry in determining whether a particular punishment complies with the Eighth Amendment: whether it is one of the modes or acts of punishment that had been considered cruel and unusual at the time that the Bill of Rights was adopted...(T)he evidence is unusually clear that the Eighth Amendment was not originally understood to prohibit capital punishment for 16- and 17-year-old offenders... (T)he death penalty could theoretically be imposed for the crime of a 7-year-old..."

Using Scalia's standard of Constitutional interpretation, a Supreme Court is entirely unnecessary. A sixth grader with good reading skills could settle all constitutional issues for us.

It should be noted, as Mr. Will did, that Justice O'Connor wrote a separate dissent. It should also be noted, as Mr. Will did not, that she wrote it to distance herself from this sort of reasoning by Justice Scalia. Mr. Will writes that "If Kennedy represents the mainstream, it is time to change the shape of the river". The shape of the river that Scalia and Will would like would be one that flows directly back to the 18th century.
 
Shouting into the closet to inform and entertain the 10 people who actually read this thing. In our new format as an online magazine, we take pride in our reporting and opinions. Please leave reader feedback on our online magazine message board so that we can better serve you.

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz

Cost of the War in Iraq
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