Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: February 2008 Page 1 of 4

From Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor to Witness for the Defense

This is an amazing story, I think, with the potential for extraordinary consequences:

Until four months ago, Col. Morris D. Davis was the chief prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay and the most colorful champion of the Bush administration’s military commission system. He once said sympathy for detainees was nauseating and compared putting them on trial to dragging “Dracula out into the sunlight.”

Then in October he had a dispute with his boss, a general. Ever since, he has been one of those critics who will not go away: a former top insider, with broad shoulders and a well-pressed uniform, willing to turn on the system he helped run.

Still in the military, he has irritated the administration, saying in articles and interviews that Pentagon officials interfered with prosecutors, exerted political pressure and approved the use of evidence obtained by torture.

Now, Colonel Davis has taken his most provocative step, completing his transformation from Guantánamo’s chief prosecutor to its new chief critic. He has agreed to testify at Guantánamo on behalf of one of the detainees, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden.

As outspoken as Col. Davis has been (remember, he’s the source for the story in which DOD Gen Counsel William Haynes blanches at the idea of a system that results in anything but a conviction), I suspect there’s a lot more to be heard.  And when might we hear it?

“I’m hoping at some point to retire, so I can say what I really think,” he said.

Push Back Against the Virginia GOP’s War on Women

Once again, Virginia’s House of Delegates is doing its damnedest to treat women as stupid chattel.  From a NARAL action alert email rec’d today, pointing out that the following bills are up for a vote tomorrow (Thursday):

HB894: Burdensome Regulations for Abortion Providers- Requires abortion providers to meet onerous and unnecessary architectural and other standards in an effort to regulate them out of business.

HB1126: Criminalization of Pregnant Women – Allows the state to prosecute pregnant women for causing harm to a fetus with the intent of causing a miscarriage or abortion.  [MB: This is a perennial VA GOP favorite.]

HB1315: Mandatory Ultrasound Requirement – Requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound even if it is not medically necessary.

If you live in Virginia, please call your rep. ASAP or use this link to email him or her.  If you don’t, well, make sure idiocy like this doesn’t creep up in your backyard.

Be Afraid! (Part 8127)

Just dropped into Slate.com for a quick read, and my the entire page gets blacked out.   White text comes up:

Sometimes a blackout is a blackout.  In the future, it could be a cyberattack.

Then the black retreats to an ad box saying that “It takes Air Force technology to defend a changing world.  Learn how.”  I presume it’s a recruiting ad, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to reward what has to be one of the most annoying ad ploys ever with a click to find out.

Arlington Tax Decal: Worth Repeating

The ridiculous Arlington tax decal that I noted a couple of weeks ago has started garnering some attention. I thought I’d reprint a comment by reader Kathy, left here last week. It got buried pretty quickly, so I wanted to give it the attention it deserved and reprint (with slight editing):

I just found out about this from the Sun Gazette, which carried a letter to the editor objecting to the sticker. This was the first I heard of the quote. I did indeed see the sticker candidates in the paper when the contest was announced, and indeed, I didn’t notice the quote if it was even legible in the printed newspaper at that time. None of the designs grabbed me and I didn’t bother to vote. Believe me, had I realized the content of this sticker design I would have been on the horn to the county right there and then.

Thee is no excuse for something like this even making it into the selected designs to be submitted for vote.

What is Mr. O’Leary thinking, to send out a quote touting obedience and “manliness” from a Confederate culture hero to Arlington’s many black citizens, let alone the entire half of the population, all races, that is female? I do not blame the student who designed the sticker; mature judgment is not necessarily to be expected from young people, but from our elected officials it is.

I would also point out that obedience is not particularly an American value. In fact, elevating obedience to high in the canon of virtues is distinctly un-American.

Had George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason and other heroes of the American revolution taken the above view on obedience, Arlington would still be part of an obedient colony to Great Britian, I daresay.

Had heroes like Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Roas Parks and the ev. Dr. Martin Luther King viewed obedience as a supreme value, black and female citizens would still be non-citizens in effect.

And I would mention, as did the author of the letter to the editor in the Sun Gazette, that Robert E. Lee himself broke his oath to obey duly constituted authority when he chose to go with the rebel cause.

Finally, while I have sympathy and compassion for the man and for many others who fought on that side, for my government to endorse Robert E. Lee as an authority on character is deeply offensive to someone whose ancestors also fought gallantly — to preserve the Union of which we are citizens today.

Offering gracious permission for us to remove these words is no compensation for our having parently paid our public servants out of our tax dollars to choose, print and distribute this offensive rubbish to every automobile owner in the county, bearing the county imprimatur. I am sure Mr. O’Leary is thinking of money, no doubt already spent. This is no time to throw good money after bad. There are times when officials make mistakes and need to admit it and need to do whatever is necessary to set the matter right. This is one of those times.

Mr. O’Leary’s office is an elected one, by the way. He has held it for so many years, usually running unopposed, that it may seem secure, but that could change.

It’s my understanding that O’Leary has already announced that this is last term, and I have to admit to wondering – when I first heard of this – if this was O’Leary’s way of thumbing his nose at Arlington on his way out.  No matter what petty politics may or may not have played a role, I think Kathy persuasively states a much larger case against the decal.

(Down to) The Wire

You’ve heard it a million times, and I’m just going to say it again – you should be watching The Wire.

(For those of you who, like me, thought the season started out roughly: come back and catch up.  Yesterday’s episode?  Damn.)

Overnight Music: North Sea

The 80s saw a lot of trips between our home in Fulda (Germany) and our family in Nottingham (England). This trip always involved an overnight ferry, often from Zeebrugge to Hull (occasionally returning Dover to Calais). We usually had a family cabin, and my parents fell asleep long before I was willing to call it a day. As a result, I often ended up in P&O’s casinos or at the edge of dancefloors I shouldn’t have been. This is (part of) the soundtrack of those nights.

Huckabee on SNL

That was brilliant.

It also touches on what I told friends about Huckabee last year – “He comes across *really* well, and you find yourself predisposed to whatever he’s saying. And then you realize what he’s saying.”

Ah well. Huckabee is, obviously, a complete religious nut. That said, I’d like more religious nuts like him, who realize that there’s more to that role than hating other people.

Update: Credit to Tina Fey for “Bitches get stuff done.”

Let Levi . . . market?

So, for any of you tempted to sign onto the “grassrootsLetLeviRide.com petition, I’ll point out that the domain is owned by Trek Bicycles, Inc.  You “sign” the petition with only your e-mail address.  Of course, nothing on the site indicates that Trek owns it or states what will be done with your email address.  But I would be shocked – shocked, I tell you – if it resulted in the biggest email marketing list that Trek has ever compiled.

Nice stealth marketing move, Trek.

(For my non-pro-cycling-interested readers.  I first tried to write up a bit of background on this, so it would make some sense.  Given that the controversy itself makes no sense, however, I’ll just leave it at offering up this link, which should take you down the rabbit hole that pro cycling has become.)

The Deed Is Done

And the crime covered up. For a nice set of photos of the crime in progress, check out Gwadzilla (whom I hope has learned his lesson about asking permission, first).


The xkcd comic has a somewhat limited (albeit fiercely devoted) audience, but I think most of us can appreciate this:

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