Saturday, April 09, 2005

C-SPAN's slice of culpability

While you're thinking about what to think about the way C-SPAN tried to "balance" historian Deborah Lipstadt with a speech by Holocaust denier David Irving, factor this in: right now (11:05pm EST on Saturday April 9th), C-SPAN 3 is showing, under the general rubric of "U.S. History," a bookstore appearance by Laurie Mylroie recorded on 2/2/01, and think about what that means -- of all the things they could show right now, a 3 year old speech by someone who got basically everything wrong about Iraq is the best thing they could come up with.

And, while you're pondering, think also about the legitimacy that C-SPAN has provided to numerous other right-wing crackpots and ideologues by showcasing their opinions as if they were nothing out of the ordinary, simply a regular part of the give and take of American politics.

If the new radical right-wing establishment is out of control (and abundant recent evidence shows that it is), C-SPAN has certainly played a supporting role in its syndrome of overreach -- not necessarily because the network is deliberately biased (although I don't reject that possibility outright), but because its search for "balance" accepts that dangerous and obnoxious radical (indeed, in some cases, unAmerican) ideas generated and sustained by the right's policy and political philosophy infrastructure are legitimately mainstream ones. The Lipstadt/Irving case is only an extreme example of how far they will go in allowing these ideas to slip into the political bloodstream without serious consideration of their rank and putrid nature.

I know, of course, that a complaint such as this is going to be shrugged off as merely partisan bitching, but there it is. The mainstream media has been extremely slow to realize how thoroughly it has been (and continues to be) gamed by the right, which uses the media's mechanisms and methodologies of "objectivity" and "balance" to its distinct advantage. Perhaps C-SPAN is simply yet another unwitting bunch of media dimbulbs being manipulated by the sharpies of the right, but the holes that the right manages to dig for itself fairly frequently makes me rather suspect that they're really not all that sharp after all, and therefore that some degree of collusion might well be involved.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/09/2005 11:03:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Alberto Two-face


Eric Rudolph led authorities to a hidden stash of dynamite in the North Carolina mountains as part of a plea deal allowing him to avoid the death penalty for a series of bombings, including a deadly blast at the Atlanta Olympics.

The Justice Department said Friday that the alleged anti-government extremist will plead guilty to the 1996 Olympics bombing and three other blasts as part of the deal. Two people were killed and more than 120 injured in the explosions.

"The many victims of Eric Rudolph's terrorist attacks ... can rest assured that Rudolph will spend the rest of his life behind bars," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in a statement from Washington.

How ironic, considering that as Governor George W. Bush's counsel in Texas, tasked with the job of evaluating clemency pleas from death row inmates, Gonzales didn't break a sweat about it:

As chief legal counsel for then-Gov. Bush in Texas, Gonzales was responsible for writing a memo on the facts of each death penalty case – Bush decided whether a defendant should live or die based on the memos. An examination of the Gonzales memoranda by the Atlantic Monthly concluded, "Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence." His memos caused Bush frequently to approve executions based on "only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute." Rather than informing the governor of the conflicting circumstances in a case, "The memoranda seem attuned to a radically different posture, assumed by Bush from the earliest days of his administration—one in which he sought to minimize his sense of legal and moral responsibility for executions."

In all but one out of 150 cases, Bush allowed the execution to proceed, and the first 57 of those were based on Gonzales' information.

Apparently, being an radical anti-government right-wing terrorist, Rudolph merits a certain modicum of consideration and compassion that all those other murderers didn't deserve.

But, then, law enforcement officials seem uncommonly attuned to Rudolph's particular likes and dislikes:

AP: That may be the harshest punishment of all for a man who thrives in the outdoors, said Charles Stone, a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who helped oversee the bombing probe.

"He'll be caged for the rest of his life, and from a retribution aspect, that's probably worse than a death sentence for him," Stone said.

I guess all those Texas murderers Bush allowed to be put to death all really enjoyed living indoors in a small cell, and wouldn't have been sufficiently punished if they weren't killed by the state.

Maybe Gonzales was influenced by some of Rudolph's finer points:

AP: Rudolph, believed to be a follower of a white supremacist religion that is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic, was charged with carrying out bombings in Georgia and Alabama over three years ending in 1998.

Anyone who's anti-abortion and anti-gay is surely part of the culture of life, and can't be all bad. I'm sure he richly deserved any special consideration he may have received from our Attorney General.

I suppose opponents of the death penalty should be heartened that the AG has apparently joined their cause, except that only a fool would look for any moral consistency from Bush's bunch of two-faced hypocrits.

As usual, there's a political consideration at work:

AP: The former soldier and survivalist evaded capture for more than five years, hunkering down in the woods of North Carolina and living off the land as federal agents carried out a massive manhunt. ...


After the bombings, someone sent letters claiming credit for the blasts on behalf of the "Army of God," a shadowy group that opposes abortion. Two witnesses spotted Rudolph's truck in Birmingham after the clinic bombing, but authorities couldn't find him until 2003.

In the interim, Rudolph became an almost mythic figure to some residents of the region. A search across 550,000 acres of Appalachian wilderness at one time involved 200 agents.

Yet many mocked the government's inability to root Rudolph out, and he inspired two country-western songs and a top-selling T-shirt that urged: "Run Rudolph Run." A $1 million reward offer from the government went unclaimed.

Investigators suspect sympathizers may have assisted Rudolph during his time on the run, but no one was ever charged.

Can't expect the administration to alienate those "sympathizers" now, can we?

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/09/2005 05:31:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Looks, sharp

According to The Week, last week was a bad one for stereotypes,

after a Slovenian TV program discovered that a fashion model was a genius. The show’s producers intended to mock model Iris Mulej by filming her as she took a series of intelligence tests, but found that her IQ was 156—higher than the nuclear physicist who took the same tests.

The producers obviously need to take a refresher course on how to make "reality" programs. They don't work as well if you don't ruthlessly control all the variables, leaving very little to chance. If you overlook something, actual reality might intrude and stick you with something unexpected, such as a mastermind mannequin.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/09/2005 12:35:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Friday, April 08, 2005

Before the circus

[Let's see if Blogger is working any better tonight -- here's the post I attempted to put up many times last night. -- Ed]

General attention in the broader Schiavo affair has turned now to the infamous Republican talking points memo, but it's worthwhile remembering that a flesh-and-blood family was torn apart over the wrenching decision which was at the core of the whole thing. Anita Kumar of the St. Pete Times says she was the last reporter to see Terri Schiavo "Before the circus":
The courtroom was mostly empty Monday, Jan. 24, 2000. The quiet wasn't remarkable that morning, but five years later, the quiet is what I hear.

A handful of Terri Schiavo's immediate family members and a few close friends sat in the first few dark wooden benches. I was the only reporter there.

There were no cameras, no curious spectators, no protesters.

Nobody accused Michael Schiavo of abuse.

Nobody appealed to the Pope.

Nobody proclaimed that Terri was trying to talk.

No politicians were grandstanding, no special interest groups were shouting, nobody was invoking God's will.

The once-close family had battled about what to do with Terri for years. That's why they were in court, to ask a judge to determine what someone they all loved would have wanted. But no one disputed that they all loved her.


Back then, both sides were civil to one another. No one disputed that Terri was in a persistent vegetative state and had been for a decade. Or that an eating disorder probably had led to Terri's cardiac arrest and collapse, not physical abuse by Michael as some now contend.

Nobody was a murderer, an abuser, an adulterer, a fanatic, a liar. They were just family, trying their best to do right by their daughter, wife, sister.

Once the spotlight shone upon them, they started Web sites. They became regulars on national TV. They lobbied the governor, Congress, the president.

Both sides talked about what was best for Terri, but it seemed winning had trumped all.

After all these years, what haunts me is something Terri's brother once said: "If Terri knew what this had done to this family, she would go ballistic."

Excerpting it doesn't do justice to this nice little essay, so be sure to give it a full read-through.

I got to the article through Matt Conigliaro's Abstract Appeal blog, which was a central source for unbiased information on the Schiavo legal case. He's got a good post on the "inexcusable myths" connected to it:

For years now, the most popular myth regarding the Schiavo case was that Michael Schiavo decided what should happen to Terri, and the court system simply enforced his right to make that decision. If you're reading this post, you hopefully know that nothing of the sort happened. (Otherwise, please review this site's Terri Schiavo Information Page, particularly the Q&A section.)

Over time, most of the major media figured out that a trial was actually held between Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers. Most. Not all.

Yet even as much of the country learned that a trial had been held and the judge found the evidence clear and convincing that Terri wished not to receive life-prolonging medical care in this sort of situation, another myth began to emerge. And this one never went away. It did not overtake everyone, but host after host, national news channel after national news channel, editorial board after editorial board -- an astounding number of media figures -- seized on, criticized, lamented, praised, or otherwise discussed something that never, ever happened:

That the clear and convincing evidence of Terri's wishes was just Michael Schiavo's word.

There was talk of how a spouse could be expected to know these things, but then how this spouse could not be trusted. There was talk of how spouses should be believed, but then how "hearsay" testimony from someone with something to gain should be ignored. There was talk of, well, lots of talk. About Michael.

How is it possible that none of these people -- or at least the folks who feed them information -- ever read what the trial judge actually said about the evidence he relied on?

More here.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/08/2005 08:51:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Bloggered again

Mondo Blogger problems tonight -- this is a test post. (I don't want to waste any more effort on writing posts that are going to disappear into the Internet aether.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/08/2005 01:16:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Carrot and stick

This is classic. From Variety:

Debuting in his new role as chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin told cable operators Tuesday that it could avoid greater indecency regulation by policing itself.

Speaking at the National Cable Show, Martin said, "The cable industry has an opportunity to voluntarily step up" before Congress or the agency acts to extend the FCC's regulation of indecency to cable and satellite services.

The comments in front of a cable industry audience seemed to signal a softer line on indecency than Martin took in the past, when he was often harshly critical of edgy content on the airwaves and over cable.

Asked point blank if he planned to be "proactive" in expanding the agency's role on indecency, Martin said the commission has only the power to react to complaints it receives from the public -- complaints that in number had grown to "a million."

"At bottom, the commission is a creature of Congress," Martin said. "Congress will have to determine whether indecency rules should be applied to cable."

On Monday, House Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) took a much harder line, advocating the use of criminal statutes to go after indecency. "For people who are in flagrant disregard of the rules, I think the criminal process is a better approach than the regulatory process," he said.

Sensenbrenner declined to elaborate on how criminal statutes could be used to police indecency. "It's better to aim the cannon directly at the bad actors, without taking a sort of blunderbuss approach with new regulation that will also affect people who are trying to do the right thing."

I wonder under what theory they'll insert themselves into regulating cable, considering a little thing like the First Amendment, and especially when they've been fairly rigorous about unregulating other industries.

But, of course, one shouldn't really expect consistency or even adherence to any particular theory of governing from these folks -- except to the extent that they're consistently corrupt or will consistently pander to the more radical elements of their base. Mostly, they have no overall theory of how to govern, they operate on a strict "need to punish" basis, sort of like organized crime.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/07/2005 10:34:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Abuse of power

A nice post by Publius on why conservatives should be concerned about the meaning of the Schiavo Law:

Throughout history, one of the first tell-tale signs that a regime is growing corrupt is when it attempts to eliminate that which checks its power. It’s a principle as old as Henry II (“Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”) and the neutering of the Roman Senate. It’s also as recent as Animal Farm and Putin’s authoritarian expansion of power at the expense of local government. Unfortunately, it’s also a pattern we’re beginning to see in the era of DeLay.

From an old-school conservative perspective, one of the most troubling aspects of the DeLay era is the leadership’s tendency to lash out at anything that restricts its power. More troubling is the fact that these assaults are not limited to Democrats or the press, but to some of the most basic laws and traditions of our government.

Consider the pattern we’ve seen: (1) The ethics committee chooses to enforce certain ex ante agreed-upon rules that restrain DeLay’s fundraising. So the leadership purges the committee and changes the rules; (2) The Medicare bill doesn’t have the votes, so DeLay – in an unprecedented break with House tradition – prolonged the vote until the very second he had a majority and then closed it; (3) In Texas, DeLay couldn’t get Republicans elected to Congress under the current districting, so he broke the law and tradition to redistrict the state; (4) In the Senate, the GOP leadership can’t get a tiny fraction of its judges approved. For this outrage, they threaten to upend nearly a century of Senate tradition – and one that has protected minority rights (for good or bad) from majoritarian passions for a very long time.

But it’s not just DeLay. The pattern repeats itself in the international realm as well. For instance, the world and the United Nations opposed our war, so we ignored it (along with international law) and invaded anyway. Similarly, the Constitution limited our detention policies, so the executive branch tried to claim that it was above the Constitution and could not be checked. Both of these positions rely on trust. We must trust that America will use its unchecked war power (or detention power) humanely. But trust is precisely what conservatives have (wisely) never had. Unchecked power leads to abuses. It always has, and it always will. That’s the nature of man – that’s why we can’t take the ring to Mordor.

As he points out, we have our system of checks and balances to keep the government in line, but it's clear that when one party controls all branches of the Federal government, and the other party seems (or seemed) not to understand that its role has changed from a partner in bi-partisan governance (either as a senior or junior partner) to being a necessary check on runaway power, you've got a situation ripe for the kind of abuse we're seeing now.

This is why it's vital that the Democrats continue to manifest the spine they've been recently displaying, and why having strong and firm party leadership is so important. It's not just a party matter, or a merely partisan concern either -- a united Democratic party standing in resolute opposition is absolutely necessary for maintaining any semblence of our government's intended balance of power.

If more conservatives saw that, on the basis of experiencing the abuse of power manifested in the Schiavo law, there may actually be some hope of pulling back from the precipice.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/05/2005 04:19:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


They'll be making a list

Kos has the details on a proprosed San Francisco ordinance which would require bloggers to register. Unconstitutional on the face of it, of course, but very disturbing nonetheless -- will we next be required to get a license from the government to express an opinion over the telephone (which, after all, is a government-regulated utility)?

Why do these bozos insist on passing laws that will not stand up to constitutional muster, even with a court as conservative as Rehnquist's?

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/05/2005 12:28:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, April 04, 2005

T-shirt story

The other day, when I went to pick up my kindergartener from the public school he attends here in Manhattan, I passed a girl on the stairs who was wearing a t-shirt with something written on it. I have to confess that I don't recall precisely what it said, but it was something on the order of "It's not a crime if you don't get caught." Since the school goes up to 5th grade, the girl was probably 11 or 12 at the most.

I try pretty hard not to be a complete fuddy-duddy, but I have difficulty understanding why a parent would allow a child to wear a t-shirt with that expression on it, and some difficulty too with the school allowing it. (Assuming they did.) I don't think teaching a kid to lack a conscience is terribly helpful in building a stable civil society.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2005 11:57:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Choice not allowed

The AOL News headline says "Catholics Face Crucial Choice" -- but, in reality, it's not "Catholics" in general who will choose the Pope. As Julie Saltman points out:

[T]he pope isn't actually elected, or at least not by the people. He's selected by a small group of elites with lifetime tenure, most of whom the previous pope appointed. This would like if the president of the United States were selected by the Supreme Court. Oh wait…


Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2005 09:30:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Public Law 109-3

The American Constitution Society blog has a short but informative piece on whether Tom DeLay's Schiavo Law is constitutional or not, featuring the opinion of a conservative judge appointed by George H.W. Bush.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2005 05:15:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


A tiny quasi-Shavian story of words

I recently had reason to conduct an e-mail correspondance concerning refrigerators. Shortly into it, both parties tired of writing "refrigerator" and resorted to a shorter version. I opted for "fridge", using the model of "ridge", "midget" and "widget" as well as "fudge", "pudgy", "sludge" and so on, while she chose to use "frig", presumably on the model of "frigid", "Frigidaire" and "refrigerator" itself.

The problem was, even in the specific context, it was next to impossible for me to see "frig" and hear the sound of "frigid" and "refrigerator". I heard (in my mind's ear) the equivalent of "pig", "rig", "twig", "big", "fig", "gig", "jig", "niggle", "wig" and "zig-zag". That's what "frig" looks like to me. "Fridge" looks like "ridge" etc.

I didn't want to make an issue of it, so I didn't try to correct my correspondant(although a couple times when responding to her e-mail I changed the subject from "Re: frig" to "Re: fridge", hoping she'd take the hint), and, besides, as wrong as "frig" looked to me, I wasn't absolutely certain I was right.

True, the dictionary on my computer (part of Microsoft Bookshelf 98) defined "fridge" as "informal a referigerator" and "frig" as "vulgar slang to have sexual intercourse with", but I wasn't about to tell the person I was writing to, on a business matter, that she was using a euphemism for "fuck" in her notes.

In the end, the business got taken care of, and the matter dropped.

Ghok et.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2005 03:26:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


No go non-bloggo

I'm very sorry to say that Publius' intended retirement from blogging seems not to be working out very well, and has now become something more like a trial separation that didn't take.

So, I guess you'd best put Legal Fiction back on your active blogrolls again. *Sigh* -- why do these things never seems to go as planned?

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2005 01:00:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The way it should be


            W   L   PCT   GB
New York 1 0 1.000 --
Boston 0 1 .000 1

The Yankees beat Boston in the season opener at Yankee Stadium, 9 to 2. The game featured good pitching from Randy Johnson, a run balked in by David Wells, a home run by Hideki Matsui, a costly bobble by Johnny Damon, and excellent defensive plays by Matsui (denying the BoSox a two-run home run) and Tino Martinez (in his first inning back in the Stadium in a Yankee uniform).

At least in one arena, all's right with the world.

P.S. My other home town team, the Mets, opens on the road, against Cincinatti, tomorrow afternoon.

I am one of those rare New Yorkers who has no intrinsic preference for either team, having started in my barely-remembered youth with the Tom Tresh-era Yankees, then being seduced by the antics of the "Can't Anyone Here Play This Game" Amazing Mets, and subsequently switching my preference back and forth several times since (not to mention a couple of short periods when baseball just didn't interest me at all).

I'll watch whichever team is playing good entertaining -- and winning -- baseball, although, given the Yankees' record, that means I've ended up watching more of the Bronx Bombers than the Mets in recent years, as the Mets slowly drifted (or precipitously sank) out of contention. I'm hopeful that under Willie Randolph, one of my favorite Yankee players, the Mets will do better this year.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/03/2005 11:31:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Perception and reality

From one of my favorite science fiction authors, C.J. Cherryh, who writes exquisite space operas (including some of the best rendered and consistently alien alien species of any practitioner) this quote, quite pertinent to our situation, from one of her latest books:

He was starting to think again ... in the dirt and sweat world of detailed politics and the knack of leaving an enemy looking less successful, while one's own tattered cause emerged looking as if it had won something.
C.J. Cherryh
Destroyer (2005)

(It was, in fact, reading this last night that jogged me into realizing that I had made an error in criticising Lautenberg's remark about DeLay -- see below.)

So much of the way the world works is about people's perceptions -- certainly in politics and on Wall Street, meeting, beating or missing the expectations set out for a politician or a business is a major part of their success. At some point (such as when the dot com bubble burst) harsh reality must enter the picture, but people (some people at least) seem to actively avoid making hard real-world evaluations for as long as they can, preferring to hold on to their comfortable preconceived notions about the way things are and how they work. In the space that's frequently available between expectations and reality, canny and talented --and deceitful -- people can arbitrage their way to success on the basis of nothing more than manipulation and fantasy; image, persona, expectations, charisma, longing and desire all worked into a lather with deft sleight of hand.

All politicians do it to some extent, since it's part of their survival skills, but we must start doing it better than we do now, because the right has perfected the techniques involved and made of them practically an artform. Still, there's danger there if one doesn't have the goods to support the fluff once the door to the real world is opened, and one's mistakes start to have repercussions and blowback.

Fortunately, we do have the goods: a methodology of dealing with the world that's based on empiricism guided and softened by humanistic values ("the scientific method turned to the social and political world," as my friend Roger Keeling has memorably written), while the right, when exposed by the pure white light of reality, has nothing but dogma crusted over with the greed and excess of the rich and powerful.

That's why DeLay will fall, eventually, and that's why in the meantime (if we're lucky) we'll be able to utilize him to help undercut the carefully grown and maintained facade of the right and expose the dirty reality that lies beneath it.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/03/2005 08:07:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Schiavo synopsis

The current issue of The New Yorker has what I think is a good brief summary of the Schiavo morass, written before her death. I don't agree with everything the writer says, but it seems to me to be, overall, quite fair.

Terri Schiavo’s life, as distinct from the life of her unsentient organs, ended fifteen years ago. But that did not prevent her from becoming the star of an unusually morbid kind of reality TV show. The show was made possible by two factors. The first was a bitter struggle between Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, who wanted to allow her body to die in accordance with what he said, and what an unbroken series of court decisions has affirmed, was her own expressed wish, and her parents and siblings, who wanted to keep her body alive at all costs. The second factor was a set of video snippets, provided by the Schindler family and broadcast incessantly by the three cable news networks—CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC—which are themselves entangled in a desperate struggle for dominance. Sometimes the snippets are identified by the year of their taping (2001 and 2002); sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are accompanied by inflammatory captions (fighting for her life); sometimes the captions are merely dramatic (schiavo saga). They show Terri’s blinking eyes seeming to follow a balloon waved in front of her; or her mouth agape in a rictus that could be interpreted as a smile; or her face turned toward her mother’s, with her head thrown back, Pietà-like. As neurologists who have examined her have explained, the snippets are profoundly misleading. A few seconds of maximum suggestiveness culled from many hours of tape, they are more in the nature of special effects than of a documentary record. Without them, there would have been no show—and, most likely, no televised vigils outside her hospice, no cries of “murder” from Tom DeLay, the egregious House Majority Leader; no midnight special sessions of the House and Senate; no calling Dr. Frist for a snap video diagnosis; no visuals of President Bush returning from Texas to land on the White House south lawn, striding dramatically across the grass as if it were the deck of an aircraft carrier.


Terri Schiavo has become a metaphor in the religio-cultural struggle over abortion. This—along with the advantages of demonizing the judiciary in preparation for the coming battle over Supreme Court nominees—explains the eagerness of Republican politicians to embrace her parents’ cause. Her lack of awareness actually increased her metaphoric usefulness.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/03/2005 05:36:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Correcting myself

In connection with this discussion on MyDD, I have a correction.

To begin with, Tom DeLay said:

Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today.

Senator Frank Lautenberg responded to this with a letter to DeLay which said:

"You should be aware that your comments yesterday may violate a Federal criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. §115 (a)(1)(B). That law states:

"Whoever threatens to assault.... or murder, a United States judge... with intent to retaliate against such... judge.... on account of the performance of official duties, shall be punished [by up to six years in prison]"

"Threats against specific Federal judges are not only a serious crime, but also beneath a Member of Congress. In my view, the true measure of democracy is how it dispenses justice. Your attempt to intimidate judges in America not only threatens our courts, but our fundamental democracy as well."

My comment on this was:

DeLay's comments are disturbing, but I very much doubt that are in violation of the law as Lautenberg is claiming.

For the judges involved to "answer for their behavior" could mean any number of things, including impeachment, popular pressure to resign (stoked by the right, of course), or even their ultimate judgment at the Pearly Gates. There's no way that such a vague statement can be construed as definitively threatening murder or assault, so Lautenberg is either reaching, or attempting a purely rhetorical thrust at DeLay.

Let's keep focused on the real evidence against DeLay, and not get sidetracked by rhetorical give and take.

Of course, I was right and wrong at the same time, but, more to the point, I completely missed the point.

Lautenberg's charge, I now realize (or assume, I guess) wasn't a serious assignment of law-breaking to DeLay, but merely following my own prescription of just a couple of weeks ago, when I wrote (following Chris Bowers' lead):

Democrats should take advantage of Tom DeLay's continuing (and growing) ethics and legal problems by using him as the exemplar of all that's bad about the GOP, and in this way nationalizing Congressional campaigns by creating a foil to work against. After an ad campaign to soften up the opposition and raise DeLay's national ID, we should use all the techniques that have worked so well for the right-wing (morphing the local candidate's face with DeLay's, using grainy footage and the least flattering photos available, etc.) to demonize a man who well deserves that fate.

So, here's the correction: I was wrong to criticize Lautenberg, even by implication, when he was just doing his bit to raise the public's awareness of Tom DeLay's attributes: his love of threats, his corruption, his bloated ego, his lack of ethics, and his big fat mouth.

My apologies to Senator Lautenberg, who did good.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/03/2005 06:17:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

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Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

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I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
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the proud unfutz guarantee
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.

If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.

(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)

Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


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