Month: June 2008

Court Cites Carroll in Uighur Gitmo Case. I would have Cited Kafka

The unclassified portions of decision by the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia regarding Uighur’s imprisoned at Gitmo has now been released. (Background here)

With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”

“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The unanimous panel overturned as invalid a Pentagon determination that the detainee, Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the ethnic Uighur Muslim minority in western China, was properly held as an enemy combatant.

The panel included one of the court’s most conservative members, the chief judge, David B. Sentelle.


Pentagon officials have claimed that the Uighurs at Guantánamo were “affiliated” with a Uighur resistance group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and that it, in turn, was “associated” with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.


The court said the classified evidence supporting the Pentagon’s claims included assertions that events had “reportedly” occurred and that the connections were “said to” exist, without providing information about the source of such information.

(emphasis mine)

When you lose David Sentelle on basic human rights, you are off the track. When David Sentelle signs of on a ruling that quotes Lewis Carroll, you are not only off track, you are off planet.

Polish Will Not Sign EU Treaty

I think that this will be in the long run a good thing for the EU. The behavior of the EU nations, particularly Sarkozy in France, suggesting that the Irish must re vote their referendum plays into all the worst stereotypes of the EU as a fundamentally anti-Democratic institution.

The fact that Polish President Lech Kaczynski is refusing to sign the treaty pretty much puts a stake in the heart of all these efforts, and makes it far more likely that other governments will take similar actions, because they now have political cover.

The point is very simple: If you want to forge a governance document, and what you come up with is so complex that literally no one in the world fully understands all of it, and your response to failed referenda to approve it is simply to restructure the agreement so that there is very little public input, you are being an idiot.

When your policy is rejected by the people that you ostensibly represent, taking the people that you ostensibly represent out of the picture is dangerously misguided.

On Olbermann’s Special Comment

Really, REALLY weak.

The logic was circuitous, and and the fire was just not there.

I believe that Charlie Pierce was right when he worried that Keith may be wearing out the batteries on hiss special comments.

While I think that it was accurate, it was just a realistic listing of what was going on politically, without any of the fire that you normally get.

on edit:

You can get a clip and a transcript of the special comment at Crooks and Liars. Interestingly enough, unlike most of his special comments, it reads better than it shows.

Our Broken IP System

Well, we are now finding that major technology players are forming patent cartels in order to defend themselves against patent trolls.

They have created Allied Security Trust, a non profit, that will aggressively buy up anything that might look like a valid patent to protect its members, currently, Verizon, Google ., Cisco , Ericsson, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard Co.

They throw a bunch of money in the pot, and they get a non-exclusive to whatever Allied Security Trust buys, and then the patents are resold.

It’s about a $5 million buy in.

As a start, congress needs to ban patents on software and business plans, which were never necessary, and on genes and species (though not gene splicing technologies) because it is unconscionable.

Additionally, they should change the law to allow people who think that a patent is invalid to file suit, as opposed to waiting for a suit to be filed, because, much like civil rights law, where a suit can be filed against a law without a complaint filed by the authorities, this allows people to fight the chilling effects of bad patents.

It would also help if the special patent appeals court were disbanded, as it has gone off the rails, which is why the Supreme Court is slapping it down on a regular basis now.

Economics Update

I’ve been saying this for a while, but as I am an engineer, not an economist, dammit,*, but still, I have to wonder why it’s taken so long for the Bank for International Settlements to see that the world economy is in serious trouble, with a possibility of a world wide recession.

When one considers spiking oil prices and a new record for gasoline prices, the news is not going to be good.

Given the dollar’s rather unclear future, along with increased Euro-Zone inflation, which implies more rate hikes, and hence downward pressure on the dollar, things are pretty twitchy out there.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager Index is up, to 49.6 from 49.1 last month, but any number below 50 still represents a contraction.

We can wait for tomorrow’s Institute for Supply Management’s June manufacturing survey to get a better picture.

*I LOVE IT when I get to go all Doctor McCoy!!!

Wes Clark Completely Owns John McCain

His statement on Face the Nation, “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president,” is both devastating and complex.

  • It plays into the views of most servicemen and ex-servicemen, that the “flyboys” are a bunch of pampered over appreciated folk.
  • It compares to JFK’s statement on his heroism, “It was unavoidable, they sank my boat”.
  • Clark’s position as a general and a soldier allows him to put McCain’s record on the table.
  • It raises McCain’s actual record, which is not so good, he almost made negative ace, which is now on the table.
  • It takes one of the central pillars of his public personae, and challenges it.

After all that, finding out that Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr accusing the Republican Party and John McCain of being lying jackals is sort of an anti-climax, but it’s nice to see him piling on.

Ron Arad as Olmert’s Political Tool

Well, it looks like the deal to swap swap child murderer Samir Kantar for the remains of two Israeli soldiers has hit a snag, Olmert is insisting that there can be no deal without the return of Ron Arad.

The first thing that I will say is that I think that these deals for hostages are counter productive, even moreso when the hostages are dead. Releasing Samir Kantar, who killed a 4 year old girl, for some bones is indefensibly stupid.

Bring Ron Arad into the question however, creates an entirely new dynamic.

Arad has been Israel’s Judge Crater, Amelia Earhart, etc., and his status, and there is some evidence is that he is still alive, has been a focus of public concerns for over two decades now.

If he stands tough and there is no deal, Olmert wins politically, because of the public interest in the Arad manner. If he stands tough and gets back bones, he wins politically for the same reason. If Arad comes back alive, Olmert wins the next election even if he is in prison.

It is a masterful political move.

Lousy statecraft, but very good politics.

Polish MP Says Missile Defense Deal Basically Done

Yep, with 6½ months to go in the Bush regime, it appears that Poland may have completed an agreement to place a US ABM system in their country.

As I’ve said before, it’s diplomatically disastrous and it’s poorly located to deal with the stated threat, Iran.

Bush and His Evil Minions want the missile site there because they want a hostile and threating Russia, because they feel that it benefits them politically.

Deleveraging: Defined as Getting Out of Debt Before Creditors Realize that You Are Broke

The major banks are deleveraging, reducing their debt to asset ratio.

They are worried that in the event or a run, they could go into Bear Stearns style meltdown, and that if Congress of the SEC start increasing margin requirements, that they will be caught flat-footed.

Additionally, the leverage that they retain is being moved to longer term loans, which insulates them from a panic, at the cost of higher interest rates.

We still have a way to go down as this all unwinds, but one consequence will be higher interest rates, as the availability of money decreases, and supply and demand drives the price higher.

You Know That Dobson Is Losing It When His Fellow Winger Evangelicals Call Him Out

Peter Wehner, a man who has been at the forefront of putting religion in the public sphere, just called out James Dobson as an ignorant twit regarding his recent rants regarding Barack Obama.

It appears that Dobson’s main beef is the phrase used by Barack Obama in a speech, “And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s?”

His motivation for his rant is largely because he is offended by being compared to Sharpton.

Still, I get the sense that, now that they see the Republican party heading into some very bad years, the Republican party Washington, DC establishment wants to start slapping down the most ignorant and arrogant members of the Christo-fascist community, particularly Mr. Dobson.

Your Late Nite Zimbabwe Update

Well, Officials: Mugabe has won his phony election, and has been sworn in.

It also that Tsvangirai has hardened his stance a bit, saying that there will be no unity government with the MDC as a junior partner.

Bush is calling for more sanctions, but they are not enough. If Bush were to threaten sanctions against banks with subsidiaries doing business in Zimbabwe, the cash that the ZANU-PF uses to reward loyalists, and Mugabe would be out in a week.

Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has declared that the “international community has the right now to override the sovereignty argument of the country.”

As a first step, he would shut down commerical air transport from Zimbabwe, which would mean that, “Mugabe and his sidekicks would not be able to — as they are now — escape the rigors of their own policies.”