A Man with a Flashlight

New York firefighters on Giuliani
July 14, 2007, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Politics, The War on Terror

It seems some of them don’t like him.

I’ve gone off on Giuliani before and I’ll probably do it again, but I want to say that I actually admire his aggressiveness about fighting terrorism. Immediately following 9/11, his black and white mind was a reassuring presence. But some things have happened between now and then, like Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, secret rendition to torturing regimes, the President’s unilateral, extralegal wiretapping of US citizens, and the occupation of Iraq, which we fumbled in front of the whole world – after the whole world had told us not to do it. So while Rudy does seem like a good guy to have around, I just can’t allow myself to vote for someone who doesn’t even seem to view these as major problems, someone who just wants to keep on chooglin’. We’ve had enough monarchy for a while. It’s time to elect a President.


Gravel calls bullshit on Hillary, Obama, Edwards, and the HRC
July 14, 2007, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Politics

You gotta love Mike Gravel. A, because he establishes some pretty mean credentials in the stand against the politically expedient homophobia Bush and Rove contributed to the national debate. And B, because like Ron Paul, Gravel seems to take pleasure in staking out positions that are well out of the mainstream, but eminently sensible. Edwards, Clinton, and Obama must view him with envy and annoyance.

For the record, all the Democratic candidates say they would change Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, though Gravel claims that Hillary still defends it as a good policy at the time it was created. Only Gravel and Kucinich support gay marriage. (See the HRC scorecard – and why aren’t they letting Gravel come to their debate again?)

I have no idea how self-identified conservatives can oppose gay marriage. Isn’t a central tenet of conservatism (and one with which I agree) the idea that the government governs best which governs least? And how is the relationship between two people the business of any prince or legislature?

2007: Year of the grumpy old men. Let’s hope 2008 finds them even grumpier.

Contempt of Congress
July 13, 2007, 1:08 pm
Filed under: Politics, The War on Terror

At yesterday’s press conference, Bush was asked how he would win Republican legislators to the cause of staying the course in Iraq. His answer was simple: he didn’t have to. Congress has no business making war policy.

I respect those republicans that you’re referring to, I presume you’re referring to friends of mine like Lugar, or, Senator Lugar, Domineci, yeah. These are good honorable people. I’ve spoken to them, and I listen very carefully to what they have to say. First of all, they share my concern that a precipitous withdrawal would embolden Al Qaeda. And they also understand that we cant let al Qaeda gain safe haven inside of Iraq. I appreciate, you know, their calls. And I appreciate their desire to work with the White House to be in a position where we can sustain a presence in Iraq. What I tell them is this, just as I’ve told you, which is as commander in chief of the greatest military ever I have an obligation, a sincere and serious obligation, to hear out my commander on the ground. And I will take his recommendation and, as I mentioned, talk to Bob Gates about it, as well as the Joint Chiefs about it, as well as consult with members of the Congress, both Republics (sic) and Democrats, as I make a decision about the way forward in Iraq. And so, you know, I value the advice of those Senators. I appreciate their concerns about the situation in Iraq. And I will continue listening to them.

Note how radically his language would limit the power of Congress: I listen very carefully to what they have to say (no mention of Congress actually, you know, making law). As commander in chief I have an obligation. As I make a decision about the way forward. I will continue listening to them. The corollary, you see, of the Unitary Executive, is the Advisory Congress. Call it America 2.0.

Bush used 9/11 to create a war with no geographical limit, which can be prolonged indefinitely. He may be losing against al Qaeda, but he has racked up a series of stunning victories on the front of expanding government power and attacking American liberties. Ask yourself how much of that agenda could have been achieved without the favorable environment of the “war on terror”? Welcome to the permanent emergency. And check out a Republican presidential candidate with a different view.

Remember when the power to begin – and end – war lay with the Congress? To borrow a line from Star Wars, those were the days of the Old Republic – before the Empire came.

July 13, 2007, 10:21 am
Filed under: Drug Prohibition

That’s the number of people arrested in America for cannabis offenses so far this year, or a mathematical estimate based on 2005 statistics. See Drug War Clock for more.

Super typhoon Man-yi
July 13, 2007, 9:57 am
Filed under: The East

9:49am: The wind stops. Rain continues, but the continuous howling of the last eight hours goes completely silent. I think it’s the eye.

9:55am: Starting to gust again, but still not like before.

10:25am: Blows hard for a few minutes, then dies down again. Could be the feeder bands passing overhead.

Super typhoon Man-yi
July 13, 2007, 9:38 am
Filed under: The East


When Ayako told me typoons were bigger in Okinawa than the ones I’d seen in Taipei, I thought maybe it was a case of hometown pride. Wrong!

Friday, 9:23am: winds gusting pretty hard all around our apartment – 155 miles an hour, gusting up to 190, according to the weather underground. What that looks like, from my desk looking at our balcony, is like the balcony railing is the side of a boat and we’re in rough seas. Buckets of water are being dumped on the balcony every minute. Luckly our place seems tightly sealed, and pretty well designed – a bit of water gets blown in around the edges of the windows, but it drains through the bottom of the window frame, leaving the sill dry.
At 2 am last night I drove Ayako home from an Izakaya. Walking from the car to the apartment, some scary sounding wind was going over us, but otherwise things were okay. Right now if I left the apartment, I wouldn’t expect to make it to my car – it’s at least a hundred yards away. Odds are the wind would either take me down before then, or I’d get taken down by flying branches, rocks, or signs blown off buildings. But my money would be on getting picked up and flown – this wind looks every inch capable of picking up a man. If Okinawa had cows we’d probably be seeing some right now.

This clears up the mystery of why concrete is such a popular building material here. We’re on the third floor of a concrete apartment building that’s new and solidly constructed, but when the large gusts come the building does vibrate.

I’m going to try to make the most of this one, as much as I can without leaving the apartment. Probably my last typhoon before heading back to California.

July 11, 2007, 10:03 am
Filed under: Politics

I second Andrew Sullivan’s call to impeach Cheney. I mean, what’s the man’s next act? A press conference featuring him, a copy of the Constitution, and a lighter?

Decision time. Will we turn back towards the path of a nation of law? Or slide further into political hackery, secret government, and rulers to whom no law applies?

A nice TPM post on this topic from last year.