Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tis The Season

I know, I know. You have finally taken the required safety courses and purchased your large firearm, and already the season is ending. Yes, today is the last day of Hurricane Season. In case you rush out looking to land that hurricane on the last day, some rules to remember.

You may shoot only hurricanes. If you come across a Tropical Storm or Depression, even though it may be named, you cannot shoot it until it becomes at least a Category 1 hurricane.

Only one hurricane per season. Though the quantity of hurricanes has risen in the last decade, officials have not yet approved raising the limit per hunter. That may happen next year if hurricanes appear to be as over populated as they were this season.

You cannot shoot a hurricane after today. Yes, there is a named storm in the Atlantic right now that may become a hurricane. But after today, you have have to just let it go.

Finally, do not despair. If you purchased a lifetime license, you will have plenty of hurricane hunting opportunities in the next decade. Besides, landing that first hurricane always catches people off guard. Especially the cleaning and cost of preperation.

Also, in just a few short months, you have a hunt in which to participate.


P.S.: Please remember your gun safety.

For example, do not shoot at apparently unoccupied out houses.

Also, do not shoot at an animal standing between you and your kid. You may shoot your kid instead.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

News In Short Paragraphs

Your fat ass won't make you sick, but it will prevent you from getting better.

Fatter rear ends are causing many drug injections to miss their mark, requiring longer needles to reach buttock muscle, researchers said on Monday.

Establishment Clause used to stop Religious Liberty Clause: Private Bible study by R.A. must be stopped.

University of Wisconsin -- Eau Claire (UWEC) banning resident assistants (RAs) from leading Bible studies in their own dormitories . . . . An UWEC official sent RAs a letter forbidding them from leading Bible studies because students might conclude that such RAs were not "approachable."

Every one of our 2,000 soldiers in the war on terror were special. A different milestone entirely is about to reach 1,000.

Ohio carried out the nation's 999th execution since 1977 on Tuesday, putting to death a man who strangled his mother-in-law while high on cocaine and later killed his 5-year-old stepdaughter to cover up the crime.

John Hicks, 49, was put to death a day after Eric Nance was executed in Arkansas for killing a teenager by slashing her throat with a box cutter.

The 1,000th execution since the death penalty was reinstated is likely to come as soon as Wednesday, when Robin Lovitt is set to die in Virginia for fatally stabbing a man with scissors during a pool hall robbery.

What a shame our country resorts to such barbarianism. These people just needed a little understanding.

A liberal vocabulary test lands Vermont teacher in deservingly hot waters.

Bret Chenkin, who teaches . . . English at a high school in Bennington . . . asked students to choose the right word to complete a sentence. One question was on the meaning of the word "coherent." Answered correctly, it read: "I wish Bush would be coherent for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes."

The school superintendent said such practices are "absolutely unacceptable."

This is not the girl you want to take to an expensive restaurant. Maybe a buffet.

Weighing all of 100 pounds, Thomas once again showed the big boys a thing or two during a pre-Thanksgiving turkey-eating contest in New York.

In 12 minutes, Thomas ate 4 pounds, 3.1 ounces of bird, which won her the $2,500 first prize.
It's the latest feather in the cap for Thomas, of Alexandria, Va.

On July 4, she was in New York for the annual Nathan's hot dog eating contest, where she finished second, but set an American record by gobbling 37 franks in 12 minutes.

Man in West Virginia has 5,000 channels from 12 satelite dishes. Complains that nothing good to watch is on.

The last time he counted, he received more than 5,000 channels. He has stopped counting since.Now, he picks up local stations from Wyoming, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee and Ohio, he said.

Soon, he plans to add a 13th dish to his collection, he said. He may later get a “fancy” satellite dish that is basically like 16 dishes in one. This could eliminate some of the dishes outside his house — or enable him to get even more channels.

Finally, a shocking revelation.

Former king of pop Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe has revealed to an Irish newspaper that he is not the father of their children Prince Michael Jr and Paris.

No kidding.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Media Photographs Lonely Woman

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan waits for people to show up at her book signing near President Bush's ranch on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 in Crawford, Texas. And waits. And waits.

What if you held a book signing and no one came?

Happy Holidays, With Your Holiday Trees and Holiday Presents

Lowe's apparently believes that other groups and religions celebrate something in December with a cut down tree.

I mean, really. Who uses a "Holiday Tree?" Do Jews celebrate Chanukah with a tree? No. Do Muslims celebrate whatever they celebrate this time of year (is it Ramadan again?) with a tree? Helk no!

It is a Christmas Tree. Not a Holiday Tree. It isn't covered in Holiday Ornaments. It is covered in Christmas Ornaments. It doesn't have holiday lights on it. They are Christmas Lights. And it isn't covered in Holiday Tensil. In fact, it isn't covered in tensil at all, because I hate that stuff. It is so annoying to seperate and then take off, if you are inclined to do that. Besides, my 55 lb. puppy thinks that any dangling things on the tree is an invitation to fetch it.

And another thing. Notice the Spanish on that sign? Guess what that sign says in Spanish.

Go ahead.

That's right. Navidad means "Christmas." The trees are "Holiday Trees" in English, but "Christmas Trees" in Spanish. Not need to worry about Jewish or Muslim hispanics I guess. You can tell them the truth. They are Christmas Trees.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Three Months Later: The Reality of this Environment

We have a great deal to be thankful for - as I run around doing errands this morning in 18 degree weather, trying to keep ahead of the snow that's expected this afternoon - I'm starkly aware of how my home and car's heater and the nice coat and sweaters I have keep me from feeling the reality of this environment.

The Washington Post writes about the struggle people along the Mississippi Gulf coast are having, left over from Hurricane Katrina.

Fifty thousand homeowners lack federal flood insurance and cannot rebuild. The casinos, which employed 17,000 people, won't begin to reopen until next year, and the unemployment rate has quadrupled, now topping 23 percent in the coastalcounties.

Half a dozen towns, Pass Christian among them, are borrowing millions of dollars to pay bills, and some officials are talking about surrendering charters and becoming wards of the state.

"FEMA continues to be able to mess up a one-car funeral -- we don't begin to have enough money for major reconstruction," said Rep. Gene Taylor (D), who lost his own home in Bay St. Louis. "We're going to have a lot of defaults and bankruptcies.

"The federal response, from highways to housing to trailers, is completely unacceptable."

The personal shock of it all hasn't subsided. Locals say it's not uncommon to hear perfectly rational people talk of suicide.

When will the government begin to actively encourage the work parties that need to gear up in earnest and be paired with towns? Big brother could use tax incentives for work time paid to people who go help with rebuilding, as well as tax breaks of donated time to individuals, in order to encourage private response.

I suspect that what the government should be able to do - map the devastation and need and coordinate with private agencies to meet needs through identification and matching - it can't do, for the same old usual bureaucratic reasons: It's unprepared, unmotivated and unable to think outside its limited box.

So people sit in the cold in tents and have no idea what they will do when things get worse as they wait for FEMA to show up with trailers. As if FEMA doesn't have some idea RIGHT NOW how many trailers it can provide. And that stopgap, which will be too little too late, expends effort in poorly chosen ways: "the federal government, which expects to spend close to $2 billion on temporary trailers, has not offered a dime to rebuild public housing."

Instead of grandstanding about pulling out of Iraq or after-the-fact questions about intelligence that's long since been acted on, or any other armchair-warrior politically motivated stance our reps are taking, they should be extremely concerned about harnessing the resource we have - willing people by the millions - to do what it can't - help the millions in need of homes, towns, goods and services of the most basic kind. Again and again, interviewees of the WaPo article bemoan the failure of the government's response.

If our reaction doesn't change - and I don't mean simply more dollars to charities - the cost of Katrina will be even greater. Quicker recovery of buildings, businesses and roadways will get people hopeful instead of apathetic and despairing, and earning instead of waiting for the government to show up and rescue them, three months later.

One Mississippian hits the nail on the head.

"You figure it ain't happening to me," he said. "Well, time to cowboy up. That's all you can do because you sure as hell ain't rebuilding. It's like a nightmare you can't wake up from."

Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has asked FEMA to let Gulf Coast area residents buy flood insurance retroactively if they pay 10 years of premiums, or about $3,000. But FEMA lacks the money even to pay existing claims.

It is waiting for Congress to appropriate more.

Don't count on Congress to accomplish things they never have. Do expect them to return to the standard responses they've given to virtually every problem they ever encounter - taxpayer dollars, and they'll need more. A lot more.

We need someone who can make political hay out of very publically organizing teams and businesses from every state to target the devastated towns, go in and help rebuild. We need sister cities in a meaningful way - Katrina sister cities.

If we fail to act on our behalf, and wait for the government to handle it, we can expect a significant economic downturn for the rest of the decade from the loss of hundreds of productive towns and thousands receiving unprecedented tax relief.


Happy Thanksgiving

I made it to Wal-Mart to fight the 5a.m. crowd to help my relatives get a $398 computer. Mission accomplished. The KJ flank also secured certain Barbie Pegasus toys at Wal-Mart, then other goods at Sears (including a $10 gift card for being one of the first 200 in line) and Lowe's. The Mrs. KJ batallion secured teritority at Kohl's and Target.

All missions accomplished. Just another total victory for KJ.

As for Thanksgiving day, we had quite a crowd. Before dinner, I read the below proclamation before the feast I hosted (22 guests of friends and family) and thought I would share it.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday.

Proclamation of ThanksgivingWashington, D.C.October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

In honor of turkey day, here are a few tips on roasting that bird:

1. Time-saving tip: combine dinner and hors d'oevres -

One of the more unusual questions handled by Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line (which the company has operated since 1981) comes from those who have mistaken a well-traveled joke for an actual recipe: They call to ask if they can pop popcorn in the turkey's cavity during the roasting process. (The joke's punch line is: "You know the turkey is done when the popcorn pops and blows the rear off the bird.") And no, you can't.

2. Creative stuffing ideas:

Then there was the young mother who failed to notice her children playing near the oven-ready bird. The kids decided the turkey's cavity was a good place to park toy cars. Their mom didn't discover Ol' Tom was doubling as a garage until after the turkey had been roasted.

Butterball turkey experts still talk about the Kentucky woman who called in 1993 to ask how to get her dog out of her turkey. It seems the woman's Chihuahua had dived into the bird's cavity and become trapped there. The woman tried pulling the pooch and shaking the bird, all to no avail. A Butterball economist finally suggested the woman carefully cut the opening in the turkey wider to release the captive canine.

3. Cleanliness is next to impossible:

Another confused cook called the Butterball line after cleaning her turkey because she wanted to know how to get the metal pieces out. "Apparently," said one of the Butterball economists, "she had scrubbed her bird with a steel scouring pad." A West Coast woman who had taken anti-bacterial precautions too far called Butterball to find out how to get the bleach she'd used off her bird.

4. On saving energy, it's hard to beat the call from a trucker who planned to cook his Thanksgiving turkey on the engine of his truck ("Will it cook faster if I drive faster?"):

The Reynolds Wrap Turkey Tips Line (800-745-4000) took a query from a woman who wanted to know if she could cook her turkey by placing it in a Reynolds Oven Bag, putting it in the window in the back of her car, and letting the heat from the sun bake the turkey. (She was told that would be an uncontrolled heat source and was instructed to use an oven instead.)

The folks at Butterball have also dealt with cooks determined to roast turkeys on the back ledges of their cars. And they've had people call to ask if they could cook their holiday birds on radiators. Then there was the bride who had a small, apartment-size range and was worried the turkey would get larger as it cooked (similar to a loaf of bread rising) — she was fretting she wouldn't be able to get it out of the oven after it was done.

5. Be sure to cook it long enough:

There are those whose problems are not how to get the turkey out of the oven, but when. Said Nancy Rodriguez, coordinator of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line in 1985, "One lady in Arkansas had her five-pound turkey in the oven 24 hours — did we think it was done? Another caller wanted to know the best method for reattaching the thighs and drumsticks when they fall off. His 12-pound turkey had been in the oven since 8 a.m. the day before."

The self-cleaning option offered on a number of ranges has caused its share of Thanksgiving troubles when confused cooks have inadvertently started its cycle while their birds were in the oven. Others have different range-related questions, such as: "Your directions say to roast the turkey, but my oven says only bake or broil; how do I set it?"

6. And finally, if you're from Virginia, you may need "extra help":

* Taking turkey preparation an extra step, a Virginian wondered, "How do you thaw a fresh turkey?" The Talk-Line staffer explained that fresh turkeys aren't
frozen and don't need to be thawed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Heh. This is the Cheese's 500th post, and it's mine all mine.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Good News -- The Bad News

First, The Good News. I am not dead, nor am I suffering from low self esteem. In fact, nothing gets the lawyerly juices flowing like the sweet smell of victory in the mid-afternoon.

Yes, after 6 days of trial and 3 hours of jury diliberations, The Man was returned a defense verdict in a wrongful death trial. The Man was protected. The status quo was maintained. The only check to be written will be to cover my fees.

As Nuke LaLoosh said in Bull Durham: "I love winning, man. You know, like its better than losing."

All is right in the legal world.

The Bad News, of course, is that I'm back. I feel like that guy in the Account Temp commercials. It sucks when the temporary help makes the full time employees look bad.

I have read and enjoyed the posts here each day in between my 18 hours of working, and I cannot believe how good the site has been in my absence.

Thank you Cassandra and tee bee for making No Government Cheese so good the last 10 days or so.

I have seen commentors here that I had not seen before. I hope you come back and give me a chance to keep your interest. I will not get geared up in volume until after Thanksgiving probably, but I will try to post each day until then.

Great job.

I'm back. Sorry.

Clapping for Tinkerbell?

Most of us are familiar with the ending of Peter Pan, when the audience is called on to bring Tinkerbell back to life by clapping. Apparently, fairies aren't the only ones who need a little encouragement to keep going:

"Lawyers, though never popular, have hit an all-time low in public esteem," Stanford University law professor Barbara Allen Babcock wrote recently. "Books and bar speeches abound on failing faith and lost lawyers. Needless aggression and soulless unconcern about societal consequences - such is the indictment from the outside. Internally, the complaint is that our learned profession has become a bottom-line business."

A peculiar aspect of this loss of public standing is a declining influence in politics, and the California Legislature is a case in point.

At one time - a few decades ago - lawyers made up nearly half of the 120-member Legislature and dominated its most powerful positions.

Similarly, a few decades ago, farmers made up the majority of the legislature here in the cheese state, but now they don't. I think it's got something to do with the pay and the work hours, and writing silly laws about regulating cows and corn, but, um, where was I? Oh yeah.

It got me to thinking about a certain someone's absence from the cheese blog. Could it be the result of one too many lawyer jokes, like the one that opened the above article: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? Three - one to turn the bulb, one to shake him off the ladder and a third to sue the ladder company.

Or could it be the long hours of lawyerly blogging, which then must be rewritten into words, phrases and the occasional farm analogy that the masses, in their less-edified condition, require? One might well wilt under such trying circumstances. Perhaps KJ has wilted, and needs to be revived.

I know how we can help him, we can let him know how much we appreciate him. Clap, people, clap! Clap your hands and bring him back to life!

Thanks :)

I think my services are no longer needed here. I appreciate KJ and tee bee giving me the chance to bore all of you beyond belief, and want to thank everyone who read and commented this past week.

10 Most Inspiring Movies

John Hawkins over at RightWingNews has his list of the 10 Most Inspiring Movies up.

Go look at his selections and let me know what your picks would be in the comments section.

I would have selected the following right off the bat:

1. Gettysburg - I can never watch Pickett's Charge without crying
2. Henry V
3. Sands of Iwo Jima
4. Bridge on the River Kwai
5. Ben Hur

I would have to think about the rest.

Can you guess the following (no peeking)?

1. Most represented male actor on the ballot.

2. Most represented female actor on the ballot.

3. Most represented directors on the ballot.

4. What year (let's say within 5 years) had the most nominated movies?

Rep. Murtha's Feelings

Zdravsbuite, tovarishi! It is a glorious new day in our nation's capitol!

Once again the murmurings of decadent anti-social persons lacking in proper patriotic ardor are to be vanquished and a proper understanding of history restored. Via the People's Organ, we are treated to a culturally-correct version of last week's showdown on Capitol Hill.

As it turned out, the suggestion of the "pro-military Democratic lawmaker condemned by the White House last week for turning against the war" was voted down by the House by a vote of 403-3; a fact which [yawn!] the Post found just too trivial to mention. Now Rep. Murtha's proposal, put up for a yes-or-no vote by House Republicans, has gone down to a resounding defeat and House Democrats are claiming Murtha never called for an immediate withdrawal. Moreover, they are concerned about his self-esteem in the face of mean-spirited attacks on his character. Pravda The Post struggles mightily to spread the meme:

Perhaps the most striking moment came after Murtha's proposal. The White House assailed Murtha, likening him to liberal maverick filmmaker Michael Moore, characterizing him as a newfound ally of the "extreme liberal wing" of his party and accusing him of wanting to "surrender to the terrorists."

Such a direct attack on a member of Congress is more typically delivered by the Republican National Committee, not on White House stationery, and the tone only grew angrier the next day on the House floor when a freshman Republican suggested Murtha was a coward.

First of all, the stated goal of the terrorists is to compel US forces to leave Iraq. On what planet, then, would leaving Iraq immediately not be construed as "giving in" to their demands?

Since Rep. Schmidt's remarks are never cited in the Post account (a puzzling omission which makes it conveniently hard to refute the implied imputation of cowardice) we consult an actual news article to see what the "freshman Republican" actually said:

At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"He asked me to send Congress a message — stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message — that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said. Murtha is a 37-year Marine veteran and ranking Democrat on the defense appropriations subcommittee.

Hearing the words of one of our men in uniform, Congressional Democrats fell all over themselves in their hurry to show how they "support the troops":

Democrats booed and shouted her down — causing the House to come to a standstill.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that Republicans were making uncalled-for personal attacks. "You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!" yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.

House Democrats then tried to have the Colonel's message stricken from the record and Rep. Schmidt punished for forcing them to listen to the words of one of those troops they support so fervently:

Instantly, two dozen Democrats shot to their feet and demanded her words be "taken down," a precursor to House punishment, because she insulted Mr. Murtha. Rep. Vic Snyder, Arkansas Democrat, said the use of Mr. Murtha's name and "coward" were in "too close a proximity" to let the matter go.

How interesting. A Marine asked his Congresswoman to pass a message to Congress. This is, after all, the job of a Representative: to be the voice of the people in Washington. His message was crystal clear:

It would be a cowardly act for Marines to cut and run from Iraq. Marines do not behave that way.

Given that Rep. Murtha is not presently in Iraq there is no possible personal imputation of cowardice; but even had there been, the imputation would have come from one fighting man to another, not from Rep. Schmidt. The words were not hers, but those of an American, a Marine officer, and presumably a voter. Moreover, he did not call Murtha a coward, but simply objected to Murtha's suggestion that the Marines should act in a cowardly fashion.

John Murtha did, after all, suggest that his fellow Marines adopt a course of action which they (rightly) consider dishonorable and in conflict with over 200 years of Marine Corps history. In response, a Marine Colonel, who has every bit as much right as Rep. Murtha to be heard in Congress, rejected that suggestion and reminded the Congressman of what Marines stand for. Unless Rep. Murtha's fellow Democrats mean to suggest that the words of their constituents and the United States Marines should be barred from the debate over the war, I see nothing improper in Rep. Schmidt's remarks. They may have made for unpleasant hearing, but Rep. Murtha's feelings are not at issue here.

Even given the emphasis on producing a kindler, gentler military, one is astonished at the suggestion that Rep. Murtha - a combat veteran - is so delicate that he must at all costs be protected from the words of a fellow Marine, or from the reaction of the American people to a bill he introduced. No such tender care was extended to the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan by Congressional Democrats. No one, least of all Rep. Murtha, worried about how Marines in combat right now might feel, when they heard a Marine state that the American people don't support what they're doing, the Iraqis want them to leave, and that they are losing the war.

As to the charges that Murtha's bill has been misrepresented, they are utterly false. Democrats have said the two measures were not equivalent because Murtha's called for withdrawal "in an orderly fashion" and the Republican bill called for "immediate withdrawal". No serious person can imagine the military would withdraw in anything but an orderly fashion, or that the withdrawal of over 130,000 troops and equipment would take place over anything less than an extended time frame. According to Rep. Murtha's own press conference, this is what he asked for:

MURTHA: I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid-December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice: The United States will immediately redeploy -- immediately redeploy.


Setting an exit strategy with some kind of event-driven plan doesn't work, because they always find an excuse not to get them out.


QUESTION: Mr. Murtha, you say that -- your first point about bringing them home, consistent with the safety of U.S. forces. You know about these matters. What is your sense as to how long that would be?

MURTHA: I think that you get them out of there in six months. I think that we could do it -- you have to do it in a very consistent way, but I think six months would be a reasonable time to get them out of there.
We've done our job militarily. It's time for us to get out.

QUESTION: So you're effectively saying that this war should end, beginning as soon as possible and that all these troops can be brought home within six months, or that's your hope.

MURTHA: I say, they could be brought back -- I'm saying, within -- the safety of the troops. But I project it could be six months.

QUESTION: Six months to start it or six months to have them all back?

MURTHA: I think, in six months, you could have them all back.

If getting 130K plus men and women with all their equipment home in six months is not "immediate" then I cannot imagine what is. I never thought to agree with John McCain on anything, but in this instance I find I cannot quibble with him:

The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.

We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.

Americans may not have been of one mind when it came to the decision to topple Saddam Hussein. But, though some disagreed, I believe that nearly all now wish us to prevail.

Because the stakes there are so high — higher even than those in Vietnam — our friends and our enemies need to hear one message: America is committed to success, and we will win this war.

Serving in the military - or in combat - does not exempt any citizen from just criticism of his words or deeds. It confers no unique legitimacy to his opinions, nor does it grant him unbridled license to act irresponsibly. We have a First Amendment so that we may freely debate important ideas in the public forum. John Murtha did not scruple to insult the Vice President earlier this week, so he is apparently no stranger to the ad hominem attack. In point of fact, if there was any imputation of personal cowardice here it was Rep. Murtha's invocation of the infamous chickhawk meme directed at the Vice President:

"I like guys who got five deferments and (have) never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done,"

Mr. Murtha's use of such a tactic suggests he finds the method not entirely unreasonable.

That a military man should suggest civilians have no voice in the conduct of the war is preposterous. Military men have fought since the dawn of this nation to defend the Constitution. The Constitution dictates civilian control of the military. For Rep. Murtha to suggest that lack of combat experience somehow disqualifies Mr. Cheney from carrying out his Constitutional duties is therefore doubly perplexing.

And regarding Rep. Murtha's feelings, if one fighting man expresses the opinion that reneging on our promises - turning tail and running out on our allies - would be the act of a coward, that point is justly made; even if it makes for difficult hearing. The proper response for House Democrats is not to censor the words of their fighting men, but to listen to them with an open mind, as one hopes they would to the words of any voter. They are not paid to have tender feelings, nor to shut off legitimate debate on matters of national importance.

They are paid to listen to the American people - even when they don't like the message.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Alito, Abortion, And Precedent

I am thrilled that the WaPo has brought Michael Kinsley on board. I don't always agree with him, but he's usually worth reading regardless. His recent piece on abortion...err...stare decisis was right on the money in some respects, and typically, off-base in others. Kinsley starts off with a bang:

In a 1986 case called Bowers v. Hardwick , the Supreme Court ruled that state laws against homosexual sodomy do not violate the Constitution. In a 2003 case called Lawrence v. Texas , the court ruled that, on second thought, anti-sodomy laws do violate the Constitution. Liberal politicians cheered this rare and unexpected admission of error by the court. They did not express any alarm about the danger of overturning precedents. Plessy v. Ferguson , upholding racial segregation, was a major precedent when the court overturned it and ended formal racial segregation with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Liberals did not complain.

These days, the vital importance of respecting past Supreme Court rulings is an urgent talking point for Democratic operatives, liberal talk-show hosts and senators feeling their way toward a reason to oppose Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Olympia Snowe, a liberal Republican from Maine, said Wednesday that Alito's respect for precedents will be "the major question" in her decision on whether to support him.

The major question for Snowe and other liberal senators actually is not respect for judicial precedents. The major question is abortion. They want to know whether Alito would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. But by the absurd unwritten rules of these increasingly stylized episodes, they are not allowed to ask him and he is not allowed to answer. So the nominee does a fan dance, tantalizing the audience by revealing little bits of his thinking, but denying us a complete view. And senators pretend, maybe even to themselves, that they really care about precedents and privacy in the abstract.

First of all, the rules are not unwritten. But it is definitely true that the abortion non-debate is rife with hypocrisy and hyperbole -- on both sides. Apparently no argument is immune from being taken to the illogical extreme in this overheated and often unfair dialogue. This leaves people like me, who believe that abortion takes a human life and that abortion is a matter best left to the states, but who also find the implied right to privacy found in Griswold fully consistent with the Founders' intent to keep government out of our personal lives, somewhat perplexed. It is the application of the Griswold reasoning to abortion and the subsequent removal of that issue from public debate that distresses. Surely the life of a child and the rights of the father present a compelling interest to balance the all-important "reproductive rights" that only women seem to possess in this country.

Kinsley rightly ridicules the preposterous Thousand Prostrations 'pro-choice' advocates ritually perform at the slightest mention of stare decisis: only in case mere precedent isn't good enough, we now have super-precendent, super-duper-precedent, and New, Improved Ultra-Precedent - Now With 20% More Binding Power. The reason for all these machinations is simple for those who haven't noticed that during all this Senatorial arm-waving, at no time do Arlen Spector's fingers ever leave his hands: precedent is not meant to be binding on the Supreme Court . In fact, it is the primary job of the Court to review both the rulings of lower Courts and its own prior rulings to ensure that they do not conflict with the Constitution, not precedent. During this process, precedent may be used, if applicable, as a guide. But if prior decisions can be demonstrated to be wrong, they are hardly sacrosanct.

Kinsley departs from the Path of Righteousness towards the end of his otherwise admirable essay:

While Roe defenders play this double game, ostensible Roe opponents, especially those in the White House, may be playing a triple game. Their public position is (a) Roe is a terrible decision, responsible for a vast slaughter of innocents; (b) legal abortion is deeply immoral; and (c) we ignore all this in choosing Supreme Court justices and you ( Roe defenders) should, too.

It doesn't make sense, and it's not believable. The natural assumption is that President Bush is trying to con abortion-rights supporters. Only an idiot would squander the opportunity to rid the nation of Roe because of some fatuous nonsense about picking judges without finding out the one thing you most urgently want to know. But Machiavellians of my acquaintance believe that it is the antiabortion folks who are getting conned. The last thing in the world that Republican strategists want is repeal of Roe . If abortion becomes a legislative issue again, all those pro-choice women and men who have been voting Republican because abortion rights were secure would have to reconsider, and many would bolt.

Nonsense. First of all, Kinsley is naive in assuming that abortion is an important enough issue to cause pro-choice Rethugs to jump ship in significant numbers. We don't think the same way Democrats do - that's why we vote Republican. And most of us are rational enough to realize the debate would simply move to the states, and few states would outlaw abortion outright. I for one would welcome this outcome. Abortion is far too important a decision for society to make without talking about it.

Another defining characteristic of many conservatives (and the reason we land in the Republican tent despite our sometime lack of proper Reich-wing ardor) is that we understand that a just process does not always guarantee a desireable outcome and moreover, we accept this. Whereas many if not most liberals continue to make the argument that the end justifies the means. I know what I think on abortion as well as several other issues. I just don't happen to think I have the right to issue-shop my Supreme Court justices.

I want someone on the Court who sees his or her duty as being to the Constitution, whether or not they agree with me in the particulars. I want justices who believe in a limited role for the Court - who understand that they are not a third unelected super-duper legislature who can never be voted out of office and whose decisions can never be overturned because they form some kind of super-duper precedent never again subjected to national debate. I don't want them using Jacques Derrida to deconstruct what the Founding Fathers could possibly have meant by the Public Use Clause, which was written in plain English even a junior high school student can read and understand.

This isn't brain surgery.

It's time we did have a national debate about abortion. Even more importantly, it's time we had a national debate about the role our courts are taking in making law. But this will be impossible as long as our lawmakers pussyfoot around the subject with silly euphenisms designed to obfuscate the issue.

How about some plain English?

In The News

Whole Paycheck is moving towards a kindler, gentler crustacean policy...

Whole Foods Market Inc. may stop selling live lobsters unless it can find a more humane way to treat the crustaceans in their journey from sea to stockpot.

If more compassionate standards are not implemented by that date, Whole Foods Market will discontinue the sale of live lobsters," the company said in a statement. It also plans to review tank conditions in its stores, with an aim "to mimic conditions of a lobster's natural habitat."

The supermarket's co-founder and CEO John Mackey said, "We are viewing the lobster as a live creature rather than a commodity that deserves no concern."

"We're certainly not inhumane to our lobsters nor would we ever be inhumane to any animal," he said.

Now if they could just do something about the temperature of those little hot tubs people insist on putting them in once they get them home.

It's the perfect Christmas gift.

#1 sign you may not be totally objective:

"It would be nice, fitting and pretty close to sexually exciting if Bush somehow acknowledged his mistakes and said he had learned from them,"

At least he's not writing about horses.

More shocking news of the appalling legacy of Hurricane Katrina. May God have mercy on their souls.

How's that again?

Four state legislators in Massachusetts have introduced a bill that would soften the crime of bestiality, a move pro-family activists say is a natural progression of the state's legalizing same-sex marriage.

You're not doing yourselves any favors here, people.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door:

These are no ordinary shoes.

A compass and flashlight dangle from one shoelace. The pocket in the tongue is for money or pain relievers. A rough map of the border region is printed on a removable insole.

They are red, white and green, the colors of the Mexican flag. On the back ankle, a drawing of Mexico's patron saint of migrants.

The high-top sneakers cost $215 at a San Diego boutique, but the designer is giving them away to migrants before they cross to the United States.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

There Goes My Weekend

File under "Scientists are such a buzz kill"...

Oral sex linked to mouth cancer?

And the money quote:

"We have known for some time that there is a small but significant group of people with oral cancer whose disease cannot be blamed on decades of smoking and drinking, because they're too young,"

Excuse me. I'm going off in search of strong drink.

The Outrage!

What a traveshamockery. WaPo staff are outraged...OUTRAGED, I TELL YOU, that some of their internal discussions have been... [gasp!] leaked to the NY Times.

How can this be, I ask you? Is there no honor among thieves?

Revel in le snitte journalistique:

"I hardly see any point in having critiques and comments if they are to be publicized outside the paper. How can we write candidly when candor merely invites violations of confidentiality? Many readers say they distrust us. Well, now I find myself wondering if we can trust each other," the Post's Jonathan Yardley writes.

Betsy Newmark comments:

Savor the moment. Someone leaked an in-house discussion at the Washington Post about Bob Woodward to the New York Times. And they're very upset. How dare someone leak about them? Maybe they have an inkling how countless politicians feel every day when they read the Washington Post.

Exactly. What is even more funny: these were professional journalists commenting on an electronic bulletin board. There was no illusion of privacy or confidentiality.

It would be lovely if we lived in the kind of world where people always respected a confidence, but even if you are sitting in a room talking with a few close friends, once words leave your mouth, anyone can repeat what you say to anyone else and there is nothing you can do to stop them. It's worse with email, chat rooms, and the Internet because your words have a physical representation and they can be gunned out to thousands of people in an instant. This is why, if a friend or business associate sends me something truly sensitive, I generally delete it from my machine as soon as I've read it. I don't even keep a list of email addresses in Outlook. I don't want to be responsible for the chance that someone else might gain access to my machine and its contents.

It is literally stunning that a group of "professionals" who constantly insist on transparency in both private and public institutions and assert their "right" to squeal on literally everyone around them would get on their high horse when the tables are turned on them.

You know what they say about payback, don't you?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fun With Analogies

For those interested in more on the Bush intelligence meme, you may check the soundness of my thwacking in my post at BBA, "Bush, Saddam, Intelligence and Aunt Millie."

That is all.

"A Time To Run" Contest

Have you ever wished you could be a United States Senator? Whine and dine in tony Georgetown eateries, filibuster dangerously extremist nominees who, if confirmed, would turn the clock back on 30 years of important civil rights victories for women and minorities? Sponsor bills to abandon our allies in Iraq when the political wind shifts?

Well, most of us will never get that chance, my friends. But we just might get the chance to be world-famous authors like Barbara Boxer, who sounds like she's been spending a tad too much time on How about a little Friday contest? I'm sure some of us can improve on the likes of these immortal lines:

That was a defining moment, when Ellen knew how she'd spend the rest of her life — that she'd been put here on earth to save its endangered children.

"She's out pounding the pavement doing good works while you just hang out at home dissing the President."

Town Hall for Kids was a project close to her heart, a planned forum in which young people might meet both with her and with selected public officials to discuss, in safe and neutral surroundings, not just the street problems confronting them every day, such as drugs, gangs, and the proliferation of guns, but ideas on how to make their town a better place to live. "Talk to us!" she'd urge. "Work with us and get involved. Let's find solutions together!"

Greg's naked body was long and elegant, his embrace enveloped her utterly, and they meshed with ease and grace. He smelled good too, faintly and astringently of aftershave. He was clinging to her as if he'd never let her go, it was all so easy and right.

The bed was huge and soft with a blue and white comforter. He didn't notice Jane taking her clothes off but suddenly she was naked: long legged, lithe, and bronzed. The sheets were cool, her body warm, her limbs strong and supple, and they meshed with his just as he remembered. "Oh Greg, dearheart," she whispered in his ear, "I've missed you so. Welcome home."

Her skirt was very short, and Josh found himself mesmerized by her perfectly shaped, silken legs with kneecaps that reminded him of golden apples — he couldn't remember having been captivated by knees before — and her lustrous thighs. He tore his eyes away from Bianca's legs with the utmost difficulty

Go ahead. I dare you. Give it your best shot in the comments section. The coveted stuffed marmoset goes out to the winner.

Friday Morning Must-Reads

Sacre Bleu! C'est une media bombshell!

Senator John Kerry says losing last year's election hasn't soured him on wanting to be president. Asked if he wanted to run again in 2008, Kerry says it's too early to say. But he added: (quote) "Would I like to be president? Yes, obviously."

The windsurfing Senator from Massachusetts also announced that if he had it to do over again, he would vote differently on the authorization to use force in Iraq. We officially pronounce ourselves shocked at this totally unforseen turn of events. If stalwart men like Senator Kerry go wobbly in the GWOT, then all is lost.

UPDATE! Zut alors! The Junior Senator was misunderstood! We knew it!

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said on Monday he would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing force against Iraq even if he had known then no weapons of mass destruction would be found.

Taking up a challenge from President Bush, whom he will face in the Nov. 2 election, the Massachusetts senator said: "I'll answer it directly. Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it is the right authority for a president to have but I would have used that authority effectively."

So, mes amis, those mean-spirited, partisan poopy-heads can just eat crow until the cows come home! How dare they question Senator Kerry's patriotisme? He, too, would have sent our brave troops into harm's way without any funding: 2003 he voted against the $87 billion Bush requested for continued funding of the Iraq operation, one of only 12 senators to vote “no.”

He just would have done it effectively, without the aid of Germany and France.

We're so glad this little misunderstanding has been cleared up. We shall speak no more of this matter.

Absolutely the best send-up of the Wilson-Plame brouhaha yet:

If all this strikes the average American who actually has a life as a lot of stuff about not very much, he's excused. That's what Mortuary Bob thought, too, and that's what his newspaper and other organs of the bag-Bush-at-any-cost movement are unlikely to forgive. Mortuary Bob apologized to The Post for not coming forward with his admission until now. The editors put the apology on Page One, taking up space usually reserved for sad stories about helpless gay, black, female victims of our dirty, rotten, no-account society where the sun never shines, children never smile, lovers never woo and the river never runs smooth to the sea.

Mortuary Bob repented, The Post reported, "even as an investigation of who disclosed [Valerie Plame's] identity mushroomed into a national scandal." Of course it's a national scandal. Doesn't everybody from Pottstown to Yuma get up every morning eager to know what's going on at The Washington Post?

The irony is that this investigation into the fluff from an airhead's navel came about because first the New York Times and then The Post demanded it, nurtured it and gave the story mouth-to-mouth resuscitation every time it began to fade into the mist along the Potomac. And to think that only yesterday Scooter was on his way to prison, Karl Rove was about to be flung into hell, and George W. Bush was looking for impeachment lawyers. Now all we've got are a gang of media stars with hot notebooks.

Go. Now.

Lest you feel the inexplicable urge to read Babs Boxer's new novel... let me suggest you let discretion be the better part of valor. There is a time to read and A Time To Run. Fortunately, NRO's John Miller has bravely thrown himself on that grenade (via James Taranto). My fave:

A ton of finely tuned muscle, hide glistening, the crest of his mane risen in full sexual display, and his neck curved in an exaggerated arch that reminded Greg of a horse he'd seen in an old tapestry in some castle in Europe Jane had dragged him to. The stallion approached, nostrils flared, hooves lifting with delicate precision, the wranglers hanging on grimly. ... The stallion rubbed his nose against the mare's neck and nuzzled her withers. She promptly bit him on the shoulder and, when he attempted to mount, instantly became a plunging devil of teeth and hooves. ... Greg clutched the rails with white knuckles, wondering, as these two fierce animals were coerced into the majestic coupling by at least six people, how foals ever got born in the wild.

Sadly, unless Babs manages a Congressional boondoggle to Chincoteague Island, we may never know.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What We Owe Them

"The kid was scared this time," said his father, David Schiavoni, formerly of Haverhill and now of Ware. "He was burying his friends ... They were getting buried all around him."

He was due to return home in February.

The family plans to hold a funeral service in Haverhill when Schiavoni's body is returned, which should be in about 10 days, family members said. Funeral plans are still incomplete because the family does not know exactly when the military will return the body.

Schiavoni earned a Purple Heart on his first deployment last September when a bomb exploded near him and sent shrapnel into his elbow.

His father remembers his son smiling earlier this year and saying nonchalantly: "Hey, dad, I get free license plates for the rest of my life."

"I said, 'Yeah, but you put your life on the line for that,'" he said, breaking into tears. "The poor kid."

The article that describes Marine Lance Corporal Nickolas Schiavoni's life - and death - is simply titled: Fallen marine returned to Iraq 'for his country'.

Lance Corporal Schiavoni was afraid to go back, but he went back anyway. There is no shame in fear. The only shame lies in giving in to it. In the face of horror the reasonable man is right to be afraid. But the honorable man straightens his shoulders, stiffens his spine, and carries on. You see, there was a job that needed finishing. America gave her word, and there was once a time when that counted for something in this world.

Doing your duty isn't always easy. I don't know whether Lance Corporal Schiavoni was afraid all of the time, or only in the still of the night. Or perhaps, only when he held his children tight in his arms. It must have been hard saying goodbye that second time. So often, even when things turn out perfectly fine, we have premonitions of disaster. I hope he was able to enjoy some time at home with his family. He was owed something, for the brave service he gave us.

And he and his family, and the families of over 2000 American service men and women are owed better than what they have received at the hands of Representative John Murtha. They must find his lack of faith in them disturbing:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

John Murtha is a former (and I do mean former) Marine reservist. It is oft said that there is no such thing as a former Marine. The Marine Corps may well wish to rethink that old adage. Mr. Murtha has heaped shame upon over 200 years of Marine Corps history with his defeatist diatribe and while I honor his Vietnam service, I deplore his sentiments with every last breath in my body.

John Murtha has introduced a bill in Congress calling for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq. The significance of this act, by a former Marine, is almost impossible to overstate.

It is an absolution declaration of complete and unconditional surrender to al Qaeda.

It is an abandonment of the Iraqi Kurds, an ethnic minority who were brutally slaughtered by Saddam Hussein and will almost certainly be targeted in the ensuing violent breakup of Iraq.

It is a betrayal of the coalition nations who bravely stood with us when no one else was willing. Never again will we be able to ask nations such as Britain, Poland, and Australia to stand with us. Why should they? We cannot be trusted.

It is an admission that we lack the political will to see our foreign policy objectives through, and the end of the US as a global superpower.

It is the final act of Mogadishu.

And perhaps most gratifyingly, Senate Democrats will finally be able to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that BUSH LIED when he said he would bring democracy to the Middle East. Because he didn't bring democracy. And so very, very many people died to make that happen. Those people: they died for a dream America once believed in: the belief that people have the right to determine their own destinies by peaceable means. The belief that democratic, representative government is the way of the future: that it can work for everyone - not just white Anglo-saxon Protestants of European descent. People of all faiths, colors, nations, and political beliefs died to make that dream a reality.

People like Lance Corporal Nickolas Schiavoni, United States Marine Corps, who went back to Iraq, and served bravely, and ultimately died for his country.

Corporal Jason Dunham, United States Marine Corps:

Lance Cpl. Dean told those assembled about a trip to Las Vegas the two men and Becky Jo Dean had taken in January, not long before the battalion left for the Persian Gulf. Chatting in a hotel room, the corporal told his friends he was planning to extend his enlistment and stay in Iraq for the battalion's entire tour. "You're crazy for extending," Lance Cpl. Dean recalls saying. "Why?"

He says Cpl. Dunham responded: "I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive. I want to be sure you go home to your wife alive."

Sergeant Rafael Peralta, United States Marine Corps

"I was just doing my homework and there was a knock on the door," said Ricardo Peralta, 14. "The moment I saw them, I knew."

In his letter to Ricardo, Rafael said he was doing something he had always wanted to do. He asked Ricardo to be proud of him because the Marines were making history in Iraq.

And Corporal Jeffrey Starr, United States Marine Corps:

"Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

These men will flank you when you make that long, final march on the Judgement Day, sir. Perhaps you will be able to explain to them why they paid the ultimate price for a country that does not honor its promises? A nation that no longer believes those fancy words about democracy and freedom are worth the paper they are written on?

Because for the life of me, sir, I cannot. I should be ashamed, even to try.


While I'm searching for words....


This is so me in a few years. Via Cat.

Hey Judy: Kiss My Aspens

The WaPo must be so proud of Bob Woodward. Little Mr. Run Amok didn't even have to spend 85 days in jail to get his book deal... but then second children always learn so much from their older siblings' mistakes.

All Washington is abuzz with Bob Woodward's revelation that an as-yet unnamed administration source revealed fave secret squirrel Val Plame's covert identity to him well in advance of Scooter Libby's little err... indiscretion. As we've come to expect with L'Affaire Plame, the latest plot twist has both sides contorting themselves into rhetorical pretzels to justify their respective positions. Liberals now deem their former hero a traitor and a dirty rotten liar, and conservatives all of a sudden find that untrustworthy journalistic scum to be an altogether admirable fellow of unimpeachable integrity.

As usual, the truth is getting lost somewhere in all the hype.

First of all, Bob Woodward's little "revelation" doesn't get Libby off the hook, for the simple reason that Mr. Libby is not being charged with the crime of revealing Val Plame's identity. Some people may naively have thought that was what this whole silly affair was about, but if so they were sadly mistaken.

I. Scooter Libby (why do I think of I, Robot every time I see that?) is being charged with making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation, and on that charge Woodward is relevant, but only tangentally. Kate O'Beirne has some interesting observations:

According to the Washington Post story this morning, Walter Pincus and Bob Woodward have different recollections about a possible conversation about Joe Wilson's wife and Woodward has a faulty memory about whether he might have mentioned Wilson's wife to Scooter Libby, and we know that at the NY Times Judith Miller and her editors have different recollections about her desire to pursue the Wilson/Niger story. Why is Scooter Libby the only one with a different recollection than others to be indicted? And, was the Administration official who recently told prosecutor Fitzgerald about a conversation with Woodward not interviewed previously? Who else with knowledge of Plame's employment before it was publicly disclosed wasn't interviewed during a two year long inquiry? Fitzmas is beginning to look like Fitzmissing.

All very good questions. In addition to those, here are a few other things to think about. Judy Miller also has another source whose identity she still has not disclosed. Judy Miller failed to disclose her earlier conversation with Scooter Libby even though she had a record of it in a notebook. Apparently she, too, either made earlier false statements to the special prosecutor or her memory is faulty as well. No charges. In fact, Fitzgerald made a deal with her that allowed her to escape further prosecution at his hands and to protect her other source. Now why is that, I wonder?

Regarding the charges against Mr. Libby, Jeffrey Rosen at the New Republic finds the Libby indictment indefensible:

Fitzgerald's main justification for bringing the perjury and obstruction charges was that Libby's alleged lies made it harder for the special prosecutor to know whether a crime had been committed. "What we have when someone charges obstruction of justice is the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes," Fitzgerald said, using a labored baseball metaphor. "He's trying to figure out what happened, and somebody blocked their view."

The metaphor, however, is unconvincing: "It's more like criminalizing someone for arguing with the umpire's ball or strike call," says Harvard Law Professor and tnr contributor William J. Stuntz. Libby's alleged obstruction did not block Fitzgerald's ability to decide whether he violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act; Fitzgerald could have concluded months ago that there was no violation. To breach the meticulously drafted law, a person with access to classified material who learns the identity of a covert agent has to intentionally disclose information identifying the agent, knowing that this information will blow the agent's cover and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal the agent's identity.

The interesting thing here is that to all appearances, Fitzgerald took almost no measures to determine whether the CIA ever took affirmative measures to conceal Ms. Plame's identity. Given that the burden rests on the prosecution to prove the elements of the crime, this looks a bit suspicious - even the most inept prosecutor should foresee that Libby's attorneys would raise this as a defense and be ready to counter it. And in point of fact, there is copious circumstantial evidence that the CIA was not protecting her identity, as Victoria Toensing, one of the authors of the IIPA Act, notes. Rosen continues:

In their exemplary brief filed in March 2005, a consortium of news organizations argued that there were serious questions about whether Plame qualified as a covert operative under the law. She was working at a desk job in Langley in July 2003, when Robert Novak first revealed her name, and arguably had not been assigned to duty outside the United States in the past five years, as the law requires. Moreover, there was little evidence that the government was taking "affirmative measures" to conceal her identity. Given the continuing uncertainty about Plame's status, it's unlikely that Libby both knew she was a covert agent in 2003 and disclosed her identity intentionally. (As Fitzgerald noted at his press conference, negligent or accidental disclosures are not illegal.) And, even if you assume the worst about Libby, it's hardly obvious that the question of who first told him that Plame worked for the CIA--was it, in other words, his government colleagues or NBC's Tim Russert?--would cast much light on whether he broke national security law.

In his press conference, Fitzgerald abruptly shifted gears when questioned about why he brought perjury and obstruction charges without finding an underlying violation of the law. He suggested that it didn't matter what law Libby violated. "When you do a criminal case, if you find a violation, it doesn't really, in the end, matter what statute you use if you vindicate the interest ... of the public in making sure he's held accountable," he said self-righteously. This is the usual last defense of the special prosecutor, but Fitzgerald suggested that he was doing what ordinary prosecutors do all the time. "When I got to Chicago, I knew the people before me had prosecuted false statements, obstruction, and perjury cases," he said at his press conference.

Contrary to Fitzgerald's claim, charges of perjury, obstruction, and false statements are relatively rare in federal criminal prosecutions. In 2004, federal prosecutors launched 80 perjury cases out of 70,397 criminal cases. "Ordinary prosecutors rarely indict people for perjury and more often indict people for false statements, but almost always as part of a broader indictment including more serious charges," Stuntz says. A review of Fitzgerald's record as an ordinary prosecutor suggests he has presided over more perjury, obstruction, and false statement cases than most. But, when he has issued indictments on those charges alone, it's usually been for bit players covering for people indicted for major crimes. It's special prosecutors who are known for indicting suspects for making false statements alone, without charging anyone with any other indictable offense.

I'm not sure I entirely buy off on Mr. Rosen's analysis. While I couldn't agree more that Mr. Libby is perhaps unfairly being singled out for selective prosecution, his case is akin to the Sunday speeder who "just happens" to get caught. If it can be proved (and this is still in doubt) that he intentionally lied to federal prosecutors and obstructed the investigation then he deserves to be prosecuted. Period.

Yes, it's unfair. Yes, no one else remembers what they did a year, or two years ago. That is very likely why Mr. Libby will not be convicted, and why this particular indictment was unwise. But let Mr. Fitzgerald make his case. He is welcome to try and prove intent to mislead. I suspect he has his work cut out for him. The Washington Times raises an objection along these lines in light of Woodward:

Although Mr. Fitzgerald was exempted from the normal Department of Justice regulations governing the conduct of a special counsel, he should nevertheless follow the requirements of the U.S. Attorneys Manual, which provides that "both as a matter of fundamental fairness and in the interest of the efficient administration of justice, no prosecution should be initiated against any person unless the government believes that the person probably will be found guilty by an unbiased trier of fact." Mr. Fitzgerald may well have believed this standard met when he sought the indictment; he should now reconsider.

The core of this case is the claim that Mr. Libby misled investigators, and the grand jury, about having been told of Mrs. Plame's CIA employment by journalists. In particular, the indictment alleges that Mr. Libby claimed to have been informed of Mr. Plame's status by NBC's Tim Russert in July 2003, and that he later told both Time Magazine's Matthew Cooper and The New York Times' Judith Miller he had heard this fact from other reporters. Evidently, each of these journalists remembers things differently, and that is the foundation of Mr. Fitzgerald's case against Mr. Libby.

Enter Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize-winning (for reporting the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein) assistant managing editor of The Washington Post. Mr. Woodward has told prosecutor Fitzgerald that he was informed of Mrs. Plame's CIA connection by another government official in mid-June 2003 ("the reference seemed to me to be casual and offhand, and it did not appear to me to be either classified or sensitive"). Moreover, Mr. Woodward has also stated that he met with Mr. Libby on June 27, taking with him a list of questions which included references to "yellowcake" and to "Joe Wilson's wife." Mr. Wilson, of course, was sent to Niger by the CIA (evidently at his wife's recommendation) to investigate whether Saddam Hussein tried to buy nuclear weapons (yellowcake) material there. Responding to Mr. Fitzgerald's questions, Mr. Woodward also stated that it was possible (although he does not recall) that he discussed Mr. Wilson or Mrs. Plame with Mr. Libby.

The Times goes on to point out that a perjury conviction requires a jury to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Libby intentionally lied about a material fact.

This is critical. Proving, in a confusing case where so many of the players seem to have conflicting memories, that Libby lied vs. dis-membered is going to be tough. Convincing a jury that it matters WHICH media source told him (Woodward, Cooper, or someone else?) is another hurdle that will have to be overcome. And the biggest material fact of all is this: if no crime was committed and Mr. Fitzgerald never even attempted to find out whether the CIA took affirmative steps to conceal her identity, what on earth was so material about the disclosure of it, much less the timing thereof?

All questions a jury may well find troubling.

Women R Peepul 2

Sometimes I am literally stunned by the idiocy of things I read:

The campus of Framingham State College is roiled by reports women are being groped, pushed to have sex or are too drunk to even recall if they had intercourse.

The coeds say a feeling of “shame” keeps them from going after their alcohol-pumped male counterparts.

Let me just take a wild stab in the dark here. As is so happens, I'm not particularly naive about this sort of thing. I went to a college with a reputation for out-of-control drinking (the movie Animal House was modeled on it). There were 3.5 guys for every girl when I was there. There were no sororities on campus so the only place I usually went, other than a very overcrowded little tavern called Peter Christian's and the odd small gathering at someone's place, was to frat parties.

Could it possibly be that just maybe these ladies need to practice some situational awareness?

Is it just possible that if you show up in Babylon and drink yourself into a stupor, people naturally tend to assume you're there for the ensuing fun and games?

“I was kind of shocked,” senior Kelley Donley of Millbury said yesterday of the sexually charged atmosphere exposed in the college newspaper.

“In a school like UMass, it is definitely something you expect,” she said, “but you don’t expect it here at a small school.”

If a senior at the college is "shocked", then apparently she has managed to avoid these types of situation herself for almost four years. That certainly suggests that it might still be possible to engage in social (not sexual) intercourse in relative safety.

The article tells nine stories from anonymous female students about the unwanted sexual minefield come party time.

One woman said she became so drunk at a party that she could not remember whether or not she had intercourse with the guy she was with. Other women tell of being grabbed and pressured to have sex.

At the risk of seeming heartless, unless someone else has spiked your drink or held you down and poured liquor down your throat, becoming "so drunk you cannot remember whether or not you've had intercourse with the guy you're with" is entirely a voluntary act. The odds are the guy who "grabbed you and pressured you to have sex" was drunk too.

Both voluntary acts. As far as I'm concerned, that fits the textbook definition of consensual sex. It's interesting how being drunk is viewed as an exculpatory circumstance for these young women ("I couldn't help it! I was so drunk I didn't know what was happening!"), but not for the young men who they had sex with ("I couldn't help myself! I was so drunk I didn't know what was happening!"). Rape is a serious crime and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but women who engage in this kind of victimization politics just make it harder for legitimate rape victims to obtain justice.

Should men take advantage of an intoxicated woman? Of course not. But on the other hand, a woman should be adult enough to realize that if she chooses to become so drunk that she can't object (or even remember) having sex, and regularly socializes with men whose inhibitions are similarly impaired, human nature is going to take its course, with entirely predictable results.

The only crime here is stupidity. Perhaps that explains that feeling of shame.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Conclusive Proof...

...that there is no intelligent life on Planet Earth:

The concepts I worked with are "pee" and "poo". My objective was to find out whether these two words could act as a starting point for creating soft toys with a sense of soul, of life. By letting the fabric be my source of inspiration, I used a reverse process to achieve something unexpected and unique, asking myself where the material might lead me - and what could I make from it? It led to two cuddly toys, Pee&Poo. I wanted to explore whether these, in many eyes, taboo-charged body functions could withstand being translated into the form of cuddly toys.

Dear, sweet merciful God in heaven, it goes on.

And I wanted to find out what it took to breathe life into inanimate objects like pee and poo and, at the same time, create cuddly toys that do not disgust or shock people, but attract and tempt them.

I also put a great deal of thought and effort into the way they were to be made into a pair, belong together, in terms of design and shape.

Wanna Bet This Won't Help Scooter?

Wizbang is reporting that Bob Woodward is another hole in the seive entrusted to guard Valerie Plame's possibly covert (or not) identity. From the Washington Post:

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.

Fitzgerald interviewed Woodward about the previously undisclosed conversation after the official alerted the prosecutor to it on Nov. 3 -- one week after Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted in the investigation.

Don't expect any indictments over leaking Plame's name, but it might be a safe bet that there will be more indictments for fudging to Fitzgerald. You might think it reasonable to ask, "Why did Bob hang back on this one? Surely a newsman like him would have been following the case, done some date-checking, and sent a message to Fitz earlier, like, say, before someone got indicted for perjury."

Simple, simple reader. Clearly the point of this story is that there is an official in the Bush administration who told Bob about Valerie, and who now must also pay the penalty for speaking the name of Plame!

PS Cassandra's had some of the best Plame commentary and coverage to date, so expect more on this.

Free Joe Lieberman

Mein Gott Im Himmler!

When I arose from the marital bed this morning, I had to close my window to shut out the crunching of hob-nailed boots from Der Fuhrer's UberUnterReichsTroopers . You know -- the ones who've been goose-stepping all over the Joooooo-detenLand ever since our fearless leader's KrystallNacht speech.

I agree with the Professym 1000%:

A true leader who cares about the American People would be just as anxious to learn the truth as democrats are. He’d want to know exactly how he falsified intelligence in order to justify an illegal war for oil, and how his failed policies led to the hopeless quagmire that Iraq has become. He’d demand to know if he used his close ties with the Bin Laden family to carry out the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and if not, why he simply allowed them to happen while he read a book to a goat. Most importantly, he’d present Senate Democrats and Al Zarqawi his plans for an immediate withdrawl from Iraq, in a typewritten play manuscript with detailed stage directions and sound effects cues. But rather than cooperate fully with Democrats like a moderate Republican would, the extremist Shrub has done nothing but defend himself since the day he stole the office.

And thereby do we know his guilt - after all, if Herr W hasn't done anything wrong, why should he feel the need to defend himself? Res ipsa loquitur, I always say.

But it's not enough for The Twig to have his jack-booted thugs all over the greater DC metropolitan area. Now the duplicitous bastard has used lethal Pentagon mind-control rays to seize control of poor Joe Lieberman:

It is no surprise to my colleagues that I strongly supported the war in Iraq. I was privileged to be the Democratic cosponsor, with the Senator from Virginia, of the authorizing resolution which received overwhelming bipartisan support. As I look back on it and as I follow the debates about prewar intelligence, I have no regrets about having sponsored and supported that resolution because of all the other reasons we had in our national security interest to remove Saddam Hussein from power – a brutal, murdering dictator, an aggressive invader of his neighbors, a supporter of terrorism, a hater of the United States of America. He was, for us, a ticking time bomb that, if we did not remove him, I am convinced would have blown up, metaphorically speaking, in America's face.

I am grateful to the American military for the extraordinary bravery and brilliance of their campaign to remove Saddam Hussein. I know we are safer as a nation, and to say the obvious that the Iraqi people are freer as a people, and the Middle East has a chance for a new day and stability with Saddam Hussein gone.

We will come to another day to debate the past of prewar intelligence. But let me say briefly the questions raised in our time are important. The international intelligence community believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Probably most significant, and I guess historically puzzling, is that Saddam Hussein acted in a way to send a message that he had a program of weapons of mass destruction. He would not, in response to one of the 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions that he violated, declare he had eliminated the inventory of weapons of mass destruction that he reported to the U.N. after the end of the gulf war in 1991.

Oh! Stop! Stop already! Can anything be more pitiful than the spectacle of a man broken on the wheel of a fascist mind control regime? I mean, just because these people vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the planet - just because they refuse to disarm in the face of 12 years of international pressure from the UN - just because they continue to openly fund and train terrorists - is no reason for alarm!

All Senate Democrats like John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Harry Reid want is more answers. It is vitally important that even though we've had four investigations into the intelligence leading up to the war, all of which have concluded that there was no manipulation or pressure on the CIA by the White House, they desperately need to REMEMBER why they voted the way they did back then.

Of course there are no do-overs, so if they can prove they were misled, it wouldn't change a single thing about our present situation. Nothing would get better, as a result of this insistence on more answers.

The President would, of course, have to be impeached. Think of the positive effect that would have on the nation, on the troops over in the Gulf and in Afghanistan, and above all, think of the immense morale boost for Al Jazeera and al Qaeda of merely having an impeachment trial, regardless of the outcome! The distraction factor alone would be a priceless gift to the enemy!

And if, by some miracle, it were proved that there were malfeasance and the Shrub were removed from office, and suppose Cheney fell with him, that would leave.... who in command? Dennis Hastert? Now there's a net positive for the nation. It's easy to see that Senators Kerry, Kennedy, and Reid have only the nation's welfare at heart. And what of Iraq?

As Senator Levin said, no matter what anyone thinks about why we got into the war and whether we should have been in there, it is hard to find anybody around the Senate – I have not heard anybody – who does not want us to successfully complete our mission there. I feel that deeply.

If we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, there will be civil war, and there is a great probability that others in the neighborhood will come in. The Iranians will be tempted to come in on the side of the Shia Muslims in the south. The Turks will be tempted to come in against the Kurds in the north. The other Sunni nations, such as the Saudis and the Jordanians, will be sorely tempted, if not to come in at least to aggressively support the Sunni Muslim population. There will be instability in the Middle East, and the hope of creating a different model for a better life in the Middle East in this historic center of the Arab world, Iraq, will be gone.

If we successfully complete our mission, we will have left a country that is self-governing with an open economy, with an opportunity for the people of Iraq to do what they clearly want to do, which is to live a better life, to get a job, to have their kids get a decent education, to live a better life. There seems to be broad consensus on that, and yet the partisanship that characterizes our time here gets in the way of realizing those broadly expressed and shared goals.

Even with that tinfoil hat on his head, Senator Lieberman is starting to made some sense. I'm going to have to have my BioShields checked.

I'm afraid the Pentagon Death Rays are getting through my defenses.

So exactly what do Senate Democrats hope to accomplish with their "Bush Lied" campaign? Ostensibly, the only reason for making an accusation like that is that one hopes to be believed. If these Senators persuade enough of the right people to believe them, the only two possible logical outcomes are these:

1. Impeachment
2. Withdrawal from Iraq

These are both outcomes they have publicly retreated from. So the question remains, what do they hope to accomplish?

Sadly, we will probably never know. The BushReich's UberUnterReichsTroopers will no doubt be planting rose bushes over their rapidly-cooling corpses in no time flat. You remember what happened to Walter Pincus and Matt Cooper when they squealed in the Plame matter.

John Ashcroft's Amerikkka marches grimly on.

Women Want It Both Ways On "Choice"

Grim makes a good point on the Alito nomination:

The nomination of Alito has been a good thing for the country, if only so we could have this debate. The question is, "We've come to something of a settlement on a woman's rights. Now, what rights does a father deserve, and how do we balance the two?" The de facto answer is that we don't: the father's sole reproductive right is to keep his pants on. After that, the woman alone has the choices.

Silly man. Abortion is a women's issue - did anyone ask him for his opinion?

The casting of abortion, or stare decisis as it is euphemistically referred to on Capitol Hill, as "pro-choice" could not be more misleading, for in this debate only one of the three parties concerned (man, woman, and child) has the slightest semblance of a choice. Only slightly more honest is the strident call of abortion advocates who swear to defend a woman's right to choose to the death. Pro-choice lobbyists strain our credulity by beating beleaguered district attorneys over the head with it when they try to prosecute sexual predators who prey on ten and eleven year-old girls. No "woman" chose to have sex with those monsters, or to end the tragic new life that began and ended shortly thereafter as a result of that crime; but so jealous are these activists of their "privacy rights" that they'd rather see criminals go free than allow the courts access to records of abortion clinics that practice illegal late-term abortions. After all, we're talking about the woman's right to choose here. It's in the Constitution.

As we are constantly reminded, the abortion debate is all about something called reproductive choice. Of what does this reproductive choice consist? If a man and a woman, married or unmarried, conceive a child together, both are on the hook financially to support that child until he or she is grown. But there are rules. If the woman decides to rid herself of a fetus that she does not want, but the man does, she may kill it and this is perfectly legal. If the man decides to rid herself of a fetus that he does not want (perhaps by slipping her an abortifact that does not otherwise harm her), but the woman does, this is murder and he will go to jail.

Thus, two utterly contradictory things occur at the moment of conception:

Legally, from the point of view of a woman: the fetus is a lump of tissue which may be excised at will if she subsequently regrets having conceived a child. It imposes no obligation or legal duty unless she chooses to accept it.

Legally, from the point of view of the man: the fetus is a human being which must be allowed to live, even if he subsequently regrets having conceived a child. It imposes an absolute and irrevocable legal duty, regardless of his wishes in the matter.

In other words, if you have a y chromosome you have no reproductive choice. Except, of course, to pay at least a half-share of whatever "choices" your sexual partner may make, whether you are married or single - it makes no difference. When one considers that women can have multiple orgasms (and that ours generally last longer), something tells me men are getting the short end of the stick.

The following story makes that crystal clear:

...a lesbian couple wished to have children. An understanding and liberal-minded male friend agreed to donate his sperm, and three children were born to one of the two women between 1992 and 1996. But then relations between the two women deteriorated, and they split up.

The mother of the children found herself alone and in difficult straits. Who would support her, in her—and her children’s—time of need? Her former lover was unwilling, because—after all—she was no relation of the children. The sperm donor had made it clear from the first that he had no wish to be a father in any but the most literal biological sense; he thought he was merely doing the couple a favor. He therefore felt no moral obligation to support the children, and his conscience was clear.

You can probably guess where this is going:

Nevertheless, the government’s department of social security—the potential surrogate parent of every child—sued to force the sperm donor to pay. After a case lasting four years, he found himself obliged henceforth to support the mother and children financially.

The president of the Swedish Federation for Sexual Equality declared the legal decision an outrage. “It is scandalous,” he said. “The man has been condemned to be a father even though he did not take the decision to have the children. Above all, one of the women who took part in that decision has been absolved of all responsibility. If one desires equality of rights for lesbians, it is anomalous that it should not be she who was obliged to support the children financially.”

This is an interesting case for many reasons. The knee-jerk reaction is to say, "Well of course: the poor man did nothing but deposit his sperm into a cup. Why should he pay?"

In truth, several social institutions are shown to be foundering here. Marriage itself, so fervently desired by the lesbian community, as well as child-rearing, does not come off well. Four years? Hardly a serious commitment to making a relationship work. My sons both dated their girlfriends longer than that - they have shown more maturity in their teens and early twenties than either of these women. Not that the heterosexual world is doing a bang-up job at marriage either (mind you) these days. But two people stood up, presumably, and promised to love and honor each other "'til death do us part"... or until they tired of it, whichever came first.

The concept of family as an unseverable bond is another. Divorce happens, but children are forever. Only one half of this "couple" walked away from that. When she took wedding vows and decided to take on the responsibility of having three children in four years, that responsibility did not end when she tired of the relationship.

But what is in danger of getting lost here is the role of the sperm donor. On the one hand, I completely agree that his responsibility should be by far the least of any party involved in this. But there is still something unseemly in the Swedish President's use of "condemned to support the children", for without his intentional act those children would never have come to be. Did he never give a thought, when he deposited his sperm in that cup, that living, breathing human beings would one day walk the earth?

That they might, one day, wonder who their father was? That they might need him? Theodore Dalrymple comments:

If women have a “right” to children, in the sense that not having them if they want them is an infringement of their rights, then of course lesbian women can no longer accept childlessness as the natural consequence of their condition. Let it not be said that new medical technology is responsible for this change in attitude, incidentally: the kind of artificial insemination offered in a domestic setting by the sperm donor has been possible for a very long time. No, the culprit here is the idea that the fulfilment of our desires, no matter what our condition, is a right. As for the well-being of the children in this case—beyond the provision of sufficient financial support for them—that seems to have entered into no one’s thnking.

And that is the whole problem with the abortion debate: everything is cast in terms of the woman's rights.

Has a man no reproductive rights? Why don't we ever ask that question?

Yes, gestation takes place solely within the woman's body, but it could never take place without the man's unique and special contribution, and while not all men care about their progeny, some men do want, and love, and very much desire to protect and nurture, the children they conceive. In a rather caustically-worded excerpt at Protein Wisdom, Jill from Feministe said:

Alito distanced himself from previous Supreme Court views on undue burden, writing that “an undue burden may not be established simply by showing that a law will have a heavy impact on a few women but that instead a broader inhibiting effect must be shown.” So if a particular requirement which infringes on the right to privacy — husband notification for abortion, for example — only has a detrimental effect on some women, that isn’t a good enough reason to disallow it.

Hmmm... since she disagrees with Judge Alito's dissent, if abortion without the consent of a woman's partner only has a detrimental effect on some men, isn't that a good enough reason to disallow it?

Grim comments:

...feminists insist that abortion be seen as a medical procedure that is the woman's business and no one else's. The child has no rights that ought to bind her, because the advocates for the woman's position in our law insist on that point. The masculine understanding, however, holds that the man's rights are overwhelmed by his responsibility for the child. The men who have ruled the discussion, men like me, feel that fathering a child is an awesome duty and one that ought to bind you. The compromise position gives both sides what they want: the leading thinkers of the women's position have demanded freedom for women; the leading thinkers among men have demanded responsibility for men.

The feminist position on "reproductive choice" closely resembles the Rad-feminista position on many other issues of the day: so-called "equal pay for equal work", Mommy-friendly workplaces, flex-time, and cries of gender discrimination in math and the sciences: they want freedom without tiresome responsibility. It is a childish and petulant stance, unbecoming to 'liberated' women. There is enough genuine discrimination in the working world to combat without tilting at strawmen.

If we ever hope to be equal with men then we must, with our "equal rights", accept equal responsibilities. It is, truly, that simple. And if women ever, by and large, come to do so and quit the silly whining that occupies so much of the airwaves, they will very likely find that a great deal, though by no means all, of the 'discrimination' they experience will vanish into the ether like a bad dream. Life is never going to be a level playing field for women, but then it's not a level playing field for anyone. We all bring different talents, different strengths, and if we are honest, different aspirations to the table. The one inescapable fact of life however, is that there are always tradeoffs.

The sad thing about the abortion debate is that by simply exercising a tiny amount of responsibility before conception, grown women could easily avoid a situation where they inflict the results of their own negligence on their partners, while depriving them of the "reproductive choice" they so ardently defend for themselves.