Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sick/Snow Day

   On the rare occasions when I sleep until almost noon, it's usually because I have been sick the night before. Today is no different. Look for updates later today.

   But, briefly, we had a nasty snowstorm yesterday. I had to walk in it yesterday to attend an event and, for the first time in my life, experienced that painful headache commonly known as "brain-freeze" from the outside of my head.

More later.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Shaq Sworn as Miami Reserve Cop

Talk about giving back to the community:

Shaquille O'Neal was sworn in as a reserve police officer Thursday, with the Miami Heat center choosing to skip a public event in favor of a quiet, no-frills ceremony.

"Officer O'Neal is very considerate toward the other officers, and he was afraid if he was there he would have taken away from that moment for other officers," department spokesman Robert Hernandez said. "This is a very special time for them and their families."

O'Neal has said he is most interested in working with the special victims detective unit to help stop crimes against children.

"He made it clear when he decided to come to Miami Beach that he didn't want to just be a poster boy for photo ops, he wanted to get down and dirty and do the job," Hernandez said. "He's here to conduct investigations and to make arrests."

A lot of professional athletes should be taking notes.

When Lawyers' Hubris Runs Wild...

Judges break out the snark.

Every once in a while, an opinion like this is handed down. This is the stuff that gets forwarded around firms and law schools and gives students and lawyers alike something to laugh about (if at the expense of lawyers who have misplaced their self-awareness).

RINOs on the Weblog Awards

As I noted previously, lots of Raging RINOs are finalists for Weblog Awards.

Reaction is starting to trickle in:

Eric at Classical Values demurs to his own nomination and offers his strong recommendations for Best LGBT Blog.

Rachel at Tinkerty Tonk offers her endorsements -- RINO and otherwise -- in multiple categories.

Decision '08 has started a series of posts looking at individual categories.

Pigilito offers his thoughts, including a couple of tiebreakers in categories where he is splitting his vote.

Searchlight Crusade gives recommendations in what looks like every category and, in true RINO fashion, votes his conscience instead of a straight RINO line. I can respect that.

UPDATE: The World According to Nick checks in with his thoughts on the matter. His blog is the choice for "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs", bar none.

Keep checking back for more RINO reactions and remember: Vote every day until December 15!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Globe: MA Foreclosures up 35%

This isn't good.

The number of foreclosures filed through Oct. 31 was 9,459, compared with 7,003 in the same 10-month period last year, the report said. Essex County had the largest increase, at 50 percent.

Adjustable-rate and interest-only loans, which are riskier than traditional fixed-rate loans, are partly to blame. They've become popular because they cost less up front, but they require higher payments typically after a year or two.

A little ironic, no?

   That liberals who criticize President Bush's "you're either with us, or your against us" mentality sometimes use the same reasoning against opponents of the McCain torture amendment.

   Take this example from the Michigan Senate GOP primary race, still in its infancy: the three candidates split on the McCain bill -- two against it.

   This caused some concern on a forum for progressives in my former home state. One of the commenters called opposition to the McCain amendment "endorcing [sic] torture." Friends of mine have taken similar positions.

   Sorry. It isn't quite that simple. Just as someone can abhor terrorism while opposing the Global War on Terror (is that what we're calling it this week), one can abhor torture without endorsing the McCain Amendment.

   As a general matter, I am against torture of detainees and others in the custody and control of the United States military. I can't imagine anything that has the potential to damge our standing the world community more than would the torture of detainees in the custody of the American government. And yet, I am not convinced that the McCain Amendment is the best way to prevent this, predominantly because the Amendment, while saying some very noble things that I support in principle, isn't terribly clear as to what it is proscribing.

The language defining torture in the McCain Amendment is as follows:

Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined.--In this section, the term ``cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment'' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.

That's it. You would think that our personnel are required to observe the protections of the constitutional amendments named in the provision, except that its only incorporating the referenced United Nations Convention, which reads, in pertinent part:

The Senate's advice and consent is subject to the following understandings, which shall apply to the obligations of the United States under this Convention:

(1) (a) That with reference to article 1, the United States understands that, in order to constitute torture, an act must be specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering and that mental pain or suffering refers to prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from (1) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (2) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (3) the threat of imminent death; or (4) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.

The Convention is not terribly clear either. We can all probably agree that beating, shocking, and drugging detainees is forbidden. What about sleep deprivation? Or requiring a detainee to stand for hours on end? Or waterboarding? These are the questions in the grey area of a necessarily grim business and would produce a variety of answers from different people.

   The upshot? More lawyers writing more memos for future administrations, not necessarily justifying torture, but just trying to figure out what the Hell the law actually means to the soldier on the ground.

   If you think the McCain Amendment, as it is written, is the key to ensuring that Abu Grahib never happens again, you're kidding yourself.

   If you want to label a McCain Amendment opponent as "pro-torture," (most opponents, anyway) show me a McCain Amendment that at least attempts to describe explicitly what practices we as Americans will not tolerate from our own armed forces, in addition to leaving the ambiguities allowed under the Convention in place for closer calls. That's a McCain Amendment I could begin to support: one that sets a firm, even unflinching, tone.

   If we can't spell out in our laws the very worst forms of treatment that we will not tolerate, setting a tangible threshold of minimal decency, how can we even begin to examine with any meaningful standards those marginal cases that will come up in the future?

   If we want to indulge our national pride by how well we treat our prisoners, then maybe we should get serious about what torture means as a practical matter. As much as a number of politicians have come out against torture, not one has gone so far as to initiate any meaningful debate -- one that is desperately vital to this issue -- over which methods are acceptable, and which are not.

   Not even John McCain.

   Nevertheless, though the conversation about what constitutes torture is unsettling, and even nauseating, it is one that we need to have if we are going to prevent another international disgrace.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Defending the (Allegedly) Indefensible

Today, the Boston Globe has a fascinating profile of criminal defense attorney John Carney.

Morning Reads

Middle America Progressive: It's nice to see that Sully, having sold out to Time (by some accounts), has not sold out his principles.

News From Davison, MI: Fun game, but I need to wake up first. My first effort (a rehash of a previous edition of this game) resulted in a blank screen.

Don Surber: Don links my post and some others with content addressing aspects of the would-be "War on Christmas". Don't dare question our loyalty.

Cardinal Martini: A grammar lesson for Howard Dean.

More once the caffeine kicks in...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Spreading the *ahem* "Holiday" Cheer

Much has been made this year of the perennial "Happy Holidays" / "Merry Christmas" quandary, and other related issues.

I'm not going to say much on this issue, since I spend a fair amount of time railing about religion and society during the rest of the year. Instead, check out these links:

  • (via Classical Values) Eric thinks Foamy has it about right, and I'm inclined to agree. (Caution: Strong Language)
  • These guys have the highest-rated morning radio show back in Detroit; I almost spit out my coffee when I heard this offering.

Another Example of Radical Academia

From the battlefield, Kipper at Cardinal Martini (perhaps the finest new blog I've encountered in some time) discusses an incident in one of his classes at the University of Southern California.

I won't quote it here because it is worth reading in full.

Paradox for a Blustery Boston Morning

The very best -- and very worst -- mornings start with a Starbucks Triple Venti Depth Charge*.

*For the uninitiated, a Triple Venti Depth Charge is a 20 oz. cup of coffee into which three shots of espresso are dropped. This is not a drink for the faint of heart -- literally. Seriously, don't attempt this without working yourself up to it.

The Latest Edition of RINO Sightings...

is up at No Credentials! Thanks to Rose Nunez for hosting.

Recommended: A.J. Strata, enrevanche

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Steinbrenner Finally Pays the Piper

   This makes me happy:

The New York Yankees lost between $50 million and $85 million for the 2005 season, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.

Despite drawing more than four million fans, a payroll of $200 million plus an additional $110 million in revenue sharing and luxury taxes has left the Yankees in the red, according to the paper.

RINOs Abound in Weblog Award Nominations

Upon perusing the Weblog Award Nominations, I noticed a lot of Raging RINOs on the lists.

Best New Blog
Respectful Insolence
Decision '08

Best Humor/Comics Blog
Beautiful Atrocities

Best Conservative Blog
The Jawa Report
Say Anything

Best Culture/Gossip Blog
Llama Butchers

Best LGBT Blog
Gay Orbit
Classical Values

Best Military Blog

Best Law Blog
Professor Bainbridge

Best of the Top 250 Blogs
Dean's World
Balloon Juice

Best of the Top 251-500 Blogs
Ex-Donkey Blog

Best of the Top 501-1000 Blogs
Random Fate
Armies of Liberation
Digger's Realm

Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs
The World According to Nick
State of Flux

Best of the Top 3501-5000 Blogs
Letters from the Bostonian Exile

Congratulations to all and good luck!

MORE: Special thanks to The Commissar for catching a few links I missed earlier!

UPDATE: Sorry, Digger. Problem solved!


Letters from the Bostonian Exile is a finalist in the 2005 Weblog Awards in the "Best of the Top 3501-5000 Blogs" Category.

Voting opens tomorrow!

A History Lesson and Statuary Hall

   The President has suggested that the rules of the Capitol's Statuary Hall should be amended so Rosa Parks can be honored there. Cardinal Martini doesn't like the idea one bit; if you stick with him, he makes a fair point:

The system Rosa Parks fought against was racist, discriminatory, evil.

Yet, please consider this: not only will hers be a special and unique addition to Statuary Hall, Rosa Parks' statue will be the first of a black American in the Hall. Is she really the most important figure in the history of black Americans' struggle for civil rights? I think not. In fact, what is happening here is what always happens to us. We always prefer to honor recent figures rather than more deserving historical ones. And the reason is simple; people are nearly totally ignorant of our history.

People are idiots. What else can explain the Discovery Channel's list of the top 25 "Greatest Americans"? What are Bill Clinton and George W. Bush doing on this list, but not John Adams or Alexander Hamilton? Why is Oprah Winfrey on this list, but not Clara Barton, nor Susan B. Anthony, nor Abigail Adams. For that matter, what is Rosa Parks doing on this list but not Frederick Douglass?

(emphasis mine) Read the whole thing. He does recognize the work Rosa Parks accomplished in her lifetime, but makes a forceful case for why, if there is to be but a single African American honored in Statuary Hall (something, to my mind, which is long overdue), the honor should go to Douglass.

The Ninth Amendment, Revisited

Kevin McKague and I always seem to come back to this question, this time in the context of the death penalty.

For once we agree on a policy, but we are (naturally) at loggerheads over its constitutionality. Check it out.