Monthly Archives: November 2004

Setting Ourselves Up for an Ass-Kicking

From Holden:

William S. Lind (Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation) shakes his Magic Eight Ball and it comes up “Iran”:

What I had predicted as a likely “October Surprise” may instead be a Christmas present: a joint Israeli-American air and missile attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Amazingly, Colin Powell already has launched a repeat of the same strategy that led us to war in Iraq. Based on a single, unvetted intelligence source, he last week accused Iran of attempting to weaponize nuclear warheads to fit on ballistic missiles. It is improbable Iran has any nuclear devices to weaponize (though it is certainly trying to get them, for obvious reasons). But apparently just an accusation is enough to justify preemption. And we recently sold Israel several hundred deep-earth penetrator bombs. It is safe to bet they are not for destroying tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

We may, of course, officially deny any role in a strike on Iran, leaving Mr. Sharon to take full credit. But Iran, which expects such an attack and has prepared for it, already has said it will hold the U.S. as accountable as Israel.

Knowing nothing about war, the neocons probably expect any Iranian response to be symmetrical: an air and missile counterstrike. But Iran cannot do much that way, and surely knows it. Why shoot a few ineffective missiles at Israel when you have two juicy targets right next door, in the form of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

An Iranian riposte in Afghanistan probably would come slowly, in the form of a guerilla war in that country’s Shi’ite regions. That might also be Iran’s response in Iraq, where it already has Revolutionary Guard troops in Shi’ite areas. But there is another possibility. Under the cover of bad weather, which winter often provides, Iran could strike suddenly into Iraq with several armored divisions. Our forces are scattered throughout Iraq, and they cannot mass rapidly because Iraqi guerillas control the roads. With skill that is not beyond what Iran might manage (the Iranian army is better than Saddam’s was) and a bit of luck, they could roll us up before American airpower could get the clear weather it needs to be effective. America would not only lose a war in Iraq; it would lose an army. [emphasis added]

Incurious George Goes to Canada

From Holden:

Jeebus. Can it get any more embarrassing?

Start with arrogance…

Q: In the days after September 11th, thousands of Canadians went to Parliament Hill to demonstrate in solidarity with the U.S. and in fact, in cities across the country. Yet public opinion polls and other evidence suggests that now, today, our peoples are in fact diverging; that in fact our peoples are drifting apart. Why do you think that is? And do you have any responsibility for it?

PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, I haven’t seen the polls you look at. We just had a poll in our country where people decided that the foreign policy of the Bush administration ought to be — stay in place for four more years.

Throw in a strawman…

PRESIDENT BUSH: Now look, I fully understand there are some in my country, probably in your country and around the world that do not believe that Iraq has the capacity of self-government, that they’re willing to sign those people up for tyranny. That’s not what I think. And that’s not what a lot of Americans think, and they believe that democracy is possible in Iraq.

And that’s a legitimate point to debate, but I’m the kind of fellow who does what I think is right and will continue to do what I think is right. I’ll consult with our friends and neighbors, but if I think it’s right to remove Saddam Hussein for the security of the United States, that’s the course of action I’ll take. And some people don’t like that. I understand that. But that’s a good thing about a democracy; people can express themselves freely.

Add a measure of cluelessness and a touch of inappropriate laughter…

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Are you prepared to take Iran to the Security Council over its nuclear program, and are you disappointed the IAEA did not take a harder line yesterday?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The Iranians agreed to suspend but not terminate their nuclear weapons program. Our position is is that they ought to terminate their nuclear weapons program. As — I viewed yesterday — decision by the Iranians is a positive step, but is certainly not a — is certainly not the final step. And it’s very important for whatever they do to make sure that the world is able to verify the decision they have made, and so we obviously got more work to do.

Well, I — you said I sound skeptical. I’m — this is — it’s taking a long time to get to the stage where Iran is willing to suspend. (Chuckles.) I mean, think about all the hours of negotiations that our friends, the French, the German and the Brits, have used to get ’em to suspend a program. What we’re interested in is them terminating a nuclear weapons program in a verifiable fashion, and we’ll continue to work with our friends.

And a revealing flashback…

Q My question is to President Bush. After September 11th there were complaints that the Canada-U.S. border was too porous. Since then there have been many changes, but can you please expand on your vision of the border in the future? Does North America need a common security perimeter? And as an aside, how do you think Canada decriminalizing marijuana would affect the border?

PRESIDENT BUSH: (Laughs, laughter.) It’ll probably affect those who use marijuana a lot more than it’ll affect the border. (Chuckles.)

And what you get is another international embarrassment. Thanks a heap, moral values voters.

A Little Caption Contest

From Holden:

Chimpy:

“D-A-W-G… no. D-O-J… no. Hell, let’s just see what Laura got for that one.”

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle – Torture Edition

From Holden:

Little Scottie tortures the language in response to the Red Cross’ accusations:

Q The International Red Cross says the U.S. military has used coercion that says is tantamount to torture on prisoners in Guantanamo. You know anything about that? Do you have a response?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, a couple things. One, we work very closely with the international committee for the Red Cross on detainee issues. When the International Committee for the Red Cross raises issues, we work to address those issues. There are times when we agree and there are times when we disagree. The President’s policy for the detainees in Guantanamo Bay is very clear. It’s a policy that states that detainees are to be treated humanely and consistent with the Geneva Conventions. And we have every reason to believe that our commanders are following that policy. We would strongly —

Q This isn’t the time where we disagree?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we would strongly disagree with any characterization that suggested or implied that the way detainees are being treated at Guantanamo Bay are inconsistent with the policy that the President outlined. I’m not going to get into discussing specific reports by the International Committee for the Red Cross. These are confidential reports that are provided to the commanders on the ground — and the incidents you’re talking about, it would be to commanders in Guantanamo Bay. And we stay in close contact with the Department of Defense on these matters and issues that are raised, and to make sure that the Department of Defense is following up, or following through on those issues that are raised.

Q So when you say when the IRC raises issues we work to address those issues — not in this case, because you don’t agree with their finding?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are times when we disagree.

Q Is this one of those times?

MR. McCLELLAN: [Working closely; agree and disagree.]

Q But there’s no negotiation over this finding?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, like I said, we work — [Working closely; agree and disagree.]

Q Scott, in the past we’ve seen examples in Iraq, in particular, where detainee treatment has not been consistent with guidelines, policies from Washington. So are you not even looking to make sure, at this point, that they are?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, you’re talking about two — a separate matter. We’re talking about Guantanamo Bay here —

Q No, I know, but how do you know that —

MR. McCLELLAN: — but in terms of Abu Ghraib, I mean, the President made it very clear that he expected people to be brought to justice for any abuses that occurred. And the Department of Defense has moved quickly to hold people accountable and bring people to justice for any abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib.

Q What is the administration doing to make sure that the treatment in Guantanamo is consistent with the policies —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that’s what I said, we stay in close contact — [Working closely; agree and disagree.]

Q But don’t you want to know —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I just said, we strongly disagree with… [Working closely; agree and disagree.]

Q Doesn’t the President think that this might merit further investigation, though?

MR. McCLELLAN: These are — no. What might — wait, what might —

Q The findings of the Red Cross.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I’m not getting into any specific reports… [Working closely; agree and disagree.]

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle – Canadian Edition

From Holden:

The press corps needled Little Scottie just a tad over the Chimpster’s trip up north today.

Q Scott, there was a — the recent poll in Canada that said about two-thirds of Canadians say their opinion of America has declined over the past four years under the Bush administration. Why do you think that is? Why do you think Canadians dislike President Bush, dislike the President’s —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don’t necessarily agree. I mean, that was just one poll and I’m not sure that —

Q Well, there was something like —

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, we have a lot of shared challenges that we face, Canada and America, and the President will be talking directly to the Canadian people tomorrow in Halifax. And he’ll be talking about some of those shared priorities that we face and the importance of working together to address those priorities, and how he’s committed to continuing to strengthen our relations with Canada. There are a lot of ways that we can work together to address the challenges that we face in this 21st century, and this visit is an opportunity to build upon what is a good working relationship.

[snip]

Q Why isn’t the President addressing the Parliament? He was invited to do so by the Canadians, and they’ve said that the White House declined that invitation.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President is going to be speaking directly to the Canadian people tomorrow, from Halifax. I pointed out the significance of Pier 21, where the President will be speaking from tomorrow, yesterday in the briefing. And these are always — in terms of the details of the trip, these are always matters that we discuss with the host government, and the President looks forward to going to Halifax tomorrow and speaking directly to the Canadian people.

Q Was the U.S. worried about being heckled in Parliament?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I mean, these are issues that are discussed with the host government, in terms of the schedule, the President’s schedule. And I think everybody agreed it would be a great opportunity to speak directly to the Canadian people from Halifax.

Maybe he’s not afraid of being heckled, maybe he’s afraid that they might throw him in jail.

Ridge Out

From Holden:

Damn!

Tom Ridge is gone and I never decided which image depicted him with the most accuracy.

The Blockhead from Gumby certainly descibes his mentality…

But he looks like Big Boy.

Oh, well, it will be interesting to see who Chimpy taps to replace him at the Dept. of Fatherland Security. Based on recent history I would expect him to choose either an Hispanic or a suck-up.

Cornering the Market on Stupid

From Holden:

While cruising the right side of the blogosphere to see what latent-homosexuals think about the SCOTUS taking a pass on Massachusetts’ same-sex marriage I ran into a post by The Corner’s John Derbyshire. I found it interesting, but not for the reason that the author intended.

A LIE CAN TRAVEL ROUND THE WORLD… [John Derbyshire]

…while Truth is lacing up her boots. Thus spake Mark Twain, and he never said a truer thing.

Case in point: The famous chart purporting to show IQ by state, with states that voted Gore in 2000 ehibiting a higher IQ than Bush states. The chart was a hoax, though even The Economist (yes, I know, some people would dispute that “even”) was taken in by it. Steve Sailer, the best Satanaut on the Right, expertly and thoroughly debunked the whole thing.

“The best Satanaut on the Right.” ?!?

Hmmmm. Steve Sailer the Satanaut, eh? I would think that a Satanaut would look something like this:

And, darn it, I could picture Steve Sailer in that get-up.

Fortunately, Derbyshire (who other Cornerites often refer to as “The Derb”, or more accurately “The Turd”) cleared up all the confusion in a subsequent post:

TYPO [John Derbyshire]

I am sorry I called Steve Sailer a “Satanaut.” I meant, of course, “Datanaut” — i.e. one who is expert at navigating his way through great oceans of data.

“Satanaut” would be… what? This is one of those typos that you can’t help thinking OUGHT to be a word. Posted at 12:32 PM

Call it a Freudian typo.

Today on WaPo’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

The Post’s Dan Froomkin, citing the Post’s Dana Milbank, on my good gaggle-buddy Les Kinsolving:

“Want to end the briefing by turning the whole thing into a circus? You might choose Russell Mokhiber of the Corporate Crime Reporter (he’ll launch into a tirade about greed), or Baltimore radio personality Lester Kinsolving (he’ll ask about how ‘the Reverend Mr. Jackson impregnated his mistress and used tax-exempt contributions to get her out of Chicago’). Within seconds, the wire service reporters in the front row will beg for an end to the briefing.”

Yesterday, however, McClellan actually slapped down Kinsolving after two long-winded and rhetorical questions about the Boy Scouts and the Palestinian leadership.

McLellan, from the transcript: “If you’re going to make comments, that’s fine — you’ve heard the President’s views on this, Les. We can sit here and shout over each other, or you can ask the questions, and I can give you our response. I’m going to keep moving for now.”

So does that mean he’ll stop calling on him?

How to Charge George Bush with War Crimes

From Holden:

A guide for Canadian citizens. If you live north of the border, click, read and act.

Bush in Canada

From Holden:

Dude, lay off the Cialis.

Iraqi Health Care Deteriorates Under U.S. Occupation

From Holden:

Further evidence that the people of Iraq were better off under Saddam is provided by Medact:

War in Iraq (news – web sites) has caused a public health disaster that has left the country’s medical system in tatters and increased the risk of disease and death, according to a report released Tuesday.

Medact, a British-based charity that examines the impact of war on health, said cases of vaccine-preventable diseases were rising and relief and reconstruction work had been mismanaged.

“The health of the Iraqi people has deteriorated since the 2003 invasion,” Gill Reeve, the deputy director of Medact, told a news conference to launch the report.

“Immediate action is needed to halt this health disaster.”

[snip]

“The 2003 war exacerbated the threats to health posed by the damage inflicted by previous wars, tyranny and sanctions. It not only created the conditions for further health decline, but also damaged the ability of Iraqi society to reverse it,” it said.

[snip]

One in four people in Iraq still depend on food aid and more children are underweight or chronically malnourished than in 2000, the report added.

A Consuming Lack of Confidence in My Bush Boom

From Holden:

The Consumer Confidence Index falls for the fourth straight month:

Consumer confidence declined in November for a fourth consecutive month, a private research group reported Tuesday, reflecting doubts about the economy once the holidays are past.

The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 90.5, down from a revised reading of 92.9 in October, defying market expectations. Analysts had forecast the index would rise to 96.0.

The November figure marks the lowest point in the index since March, when it registered 88.5. The closely watched gauge of consumer sentiment has been in decline since peaking in July.

“With consumers’ assessment of current conditions holding steadfast and intentions to spend for the holiday season up from a year ago, the outlook for retailers is mildly encouraging,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “But looking beyond the upcoming holidays, the continuing erosion in expectations suggests consumers do not feel the economy is likely to gain major momentum in early 2005.”

[snip]

Meanwhile, their appraisal of the future continued to cloud. Those who expect business conditions to worsen in the next six months increased to 11.9 percent from 10.5 percent. The number expecting an improvement declined to 19.3 percent from 20.7 percent.

The number of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead rose to 19.7 percent from 18.3 percent, while those who expect more jobs was essentially unchanged at 16.8 percent.

Rumsfeld and Tenet to be Charged with War Crimes in Germany

From Holden:

War Crimes charges, they seem to be all the rage these days.

The Canadians are itching to file charges against Chimpy this week, the Humanitarian Law Project has petitioned the Organization of American States to investigate the war crimes of one of its member states (the U.S.), the top human rights official at the UN has promised that those responsible for war crimes in Iraq will be brought to justice, and head of the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Commission has accused U.S. forces of war crimes in Fallujah.

Now Don Rumsfeld and George Tenet are to be charged with war crimes today in Germany:

Lawyers acting for a U.S. advocacy group will today file war crimes charges in Germany against senior U.S. administration officials for their alleged role in torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“German law in this area is leading the world,” Peter Weiss, Vice President of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights group, was quoted as saying in Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper’s Tuesday edition.

According to the group, German law allows war criminals to be investigated wherever they may be living.

Those to be named in the case to be filed at Germany’s Federal Prosecutors Office include Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, former Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet and eight other officials.

More Fodder for the Gonzales Confimation Hearings

From Holden:

Just in time for Alberto Gonzales’ confirmation hearings next month, a June Red Cross report charging the U.S. with torturing detainees in GITMO is published in the Times:

The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion “tantamount to torture” on prisoners at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba.

[snip]

The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also asserted that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantnamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in what the report called “a flagrant violation of medical ethics.”

[snip]

The report of the June visit said investigators had found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners at Guantnamo, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through “humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions.” Investigators said that the methods used were increasingly “more refined and repressive” than learned about on previous visits.

“The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture,” the report said. It said that in addition to the exposure to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold, detainees were subjected to “some beatings.” The report did not say how many of the detainees were subjected to such treatment.

[snip]

The conclusions by the inspection team, especially the findings involving alleged complicity in mistreatment by medical professionals, have provoked a stormy debate within the Red Cross committee. Some officials have argued that it should make its concerns public or at least aggressively confront the Bush administration.

No January Elections in Iraq

From Holden:

Georgie is counting on Iraqi forces to provide security for all 4,000-plus polling places in the election to be held January 30. Which is why there will either be no election, or if an election is held it will lead to chaos.

Iraqi police and national guard forces, whose performance is crucial to securing January elections, are foundering in the face of coordinated efforts to kill and intimidate them and their families, say American officials in the provinces facing the most violent insurgency.

[snip]

In the most violent provinces, they say, the Iraqis are so intimidated that many are reluctant to show up and do not tell their families where they work; they have yet to receive adequate training or weapons, present a danger to American troops they fight alongside, and are unreliable because of corruption, desertion or infiltration.

Given the weak performance of Iraqi forces, any major withdrawal of American troops for at least a decade would invite chaos, a senior Interior Ministry official, whose name could not be used, said in an interview last week.

South of Baghdad, where American troops are still trying to drive out insurgents after the recent offensive in Falluja, American officers warn their own troops to be prepared to “duck and cover” to avoid stray shots fired by Iraqi recruits.

In the northern city of Mosul, almost the entire police force and large parts of several Iraqi National Guard battalions deserted during an insurgent uprising this month. Iraqi leaders had to use Guard battalions of Kurdish soldiers to secure the city, kindling ethnic tensions with Arabs. Police stations in western Mosul have perhaps several hundred officers in an area that is supposed to have several thousand.

For those brave enough to come to work, “right now, all they’re doing is looking out the window and making sure the bad guys aren’t coming to get them,” said an American military official in Mosul, who did not want his name to be used.

[snip]

Marine officers here maintain that the police are improving. In the current military sweep, called Operation Plymouth Rock, an Iraqi SWAT team was given credit for a series of raids that rounded up numerous insurgent suspects.

But a different assessment was disclosed in a slide that one of those Marine officers presented at a daily briefing just as 150 new Iraqi police recruits were due to arrive by helicopter at an American base at 9 p.m., or in military parlance, 2100 hours:

“2100: Clown Car arrives,” the slide said, referring to the helicopters. “2101: Be ready for negligent discharges,” the entry continued, warning of accidental shots from the AK-47’s carried by many of the recruits. “Recommend ‘Duck & Cover,’ ” it concluded.

Lt. Col. Mark Smith, commanding officer of a Marine task force here, said the slide was a product of frustration among marines over the slow pace of training the police. “You just have to lower your expectations on the timetable on when they’re going to get things done,” he said.

[snip]

There is still little police presence amid the devastation in post-invasion Falluja. Down the road, in Ramadi, an American commander said the police had proved useless. There, American troops with the First Battalion of the Army’s 503d Infantry are briefed to be just as cautious in dealing with the Iraqi police as they are with anyone else.

The police “are clearly intimidated to the point where they don’t want to come to work,” said the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Justin Gubler.

He said the Iraqi National Guard, known as the I.N.G., has only a “little bit more training.” They also have serious problems of loyalty and competence. Just a few months ago, he believes, the local National Guard force was complicit in the abduction and killing of its own battalion commander west of Falluja.

“That’s what you get out of the I.N.G.,” Colonel Gubler said. “They gave up their battalion commander, laid their weapons down, and 23 cars and trucks and massive amounts of ammunition went to Falluja. It’s just pitiful.”

Link.

The “clown car” slide described above points out yet another problem with our effort in Iraq: Americans in Iraq have no respect for Iraqis. They invaded Iraq thinking that Iraqis were inferior, that they had to be rescued from Saddam and instructed in the intricacies of American-style democracy, that their own intstitutions were of little use. That’s one reason why we are failing there.

‘Even More Don’t Like Congress’

I think what has me feeling the best about the SCOTUS decision vis-a-vis gay marriage is not the meltdown they’re doubtless having about it over at Freeperville, nor how fucked the Family Research Council has to feel right now. I take joy in those moments of discomfort the forces of goodness and light may cause them, but that’s not my favorite part.

It’s this: Merita Hopkins, a city attorney in Boston, had told justices in court papers that the people who filed the suit have not shown they suffered an injury and could not bring a challenge to the Supreme Court. “Deeply felt interest in the outcome of a case does not constitute an actual injury,” she said.

Let’s reiterate that for those among us who are stupid or have been deafened by the constant cry from the right that anything they think is icky should be outlawed: Deeply felt interest in the outcome of a case does not constitute an actual injury.

Aaron Sorkin said it best in The West Wing, referring to the NEA but making essentially the same point: I don’t know where you get the idea that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for anything of which they disapprove. Lots of ’em don’t like tanks. Even more don’t like Congress.

You don’t want to see men kissing at National League baseball games? Guess what? You have to see that whether you want to or not. You don’t get to make laws against stuff because you don’t like it. You don’t get to deny those two guys who are making out during the Astros game legal protection. This is America. You pay your taxes, and you get to see all manner of shit you don’t want to see.

Same goes for me. I continue to live here, pay my taxes, I get to see George W. Bush sworn in for a second term. I get to see killing done in my name and the name of my family. I get to see our legal rights usurped, our voices muffled, our passions muted. I get to see Wal-Mart economics, Pink Panther law enforcement, and Christmas music in September. I may even, on occasion, have to see the Packers lose.

That’s the price of living in the land of the free.

There’s a large part of me that believes the reason many voters cast their ballots against gay marriage one month ago is because they believed that this, this issue of personal behavior and private belief, was all they could control in the world. Think about it. Four years ago the more oblivious among us were hit over the head with the concept that the world was a dangerous place, that not everybody liked us, and then for the next 48 months all they heard was that there was nothing they could do about it.

In the best of times, as a citizen of this vast, vast country it’s hard to feel that you have a voice in foreign policy. In this age of disconnect between not only politicians and citizens but citizens and information critical to the operation of their democracy, it’s easy to wall yourself off, to confine yourself to doing all you believe yourself to be capable of, making your four walls, your driveway, your lawn, your job and your kids and at most your neighborhood the best you think it can be. You come to believe that all you truly can control is the personal, so you make the personal political, and you turn to hate as a weapon, because you have nothing else you can control. Nothing else you can do.

But these are people in love, and if we’ve all read our Shakespeare we know what happens to those who interfere in love. If we’ve all read our history we know what happens to those who interfere with the cause of the just over the unjust. Sometimes I find it hard to believe it’s still so unclear. Those marriages in San Francisco showed me something. I’ve never considered myself prejudiced against gay people, but I never really understood that kind of love either, as a straight girl. I always thought of it as “other,” strange. Those faces on the city hall steps, those roses, those shouts of joy and kisses, showed me in a way that was very humbling just how little I really understood love of any kind.

There’s a reason these things, these fundamental questions of humanity, these tests of civil rights, are decided in places like courts of law and family dinner tables. The ballot box would not work, and if you need further proof of that, read Backslider’s account of how one state still can’t vote down segregation.

But this is America, where the rights of the least in the court of public opinion are still protected in the courts of law. This is America, where those who fight for right are respected. This is America, where we were crushed but not conquered, bruised and battered but not, not, not bowed. This is America, the land of the free, and love still matters.

For the first time in a month, this country I live in feels like America again to me.

A.

Oooh, This is a Sweet Win

From Holden:

Court delivers a slap in the face to war mongers and gay-haters with one blow:

A federal appeals court Monday barred the Defense Department from withholding funds from colleges and universities that deny access to military recruiters.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a federal law known as the Solomon Amendment infringes on the free speech rights of schools that have restricted on-campus recruiting because of the military’s ban on homosexuals.

Ruling in a lawsuit brought by students and professors at New Jersey law schools, the three-judge panel said that by threatening to withdraw federal funds from schools, the government is compelling them to take part in speech they do not agree with.

“The Solomon Amendment requires law schools to express a message that is incompatible with their educational objectives, and no compelling governmental interest has been shown to deny this freedom,” the court wrote.

Canada Prepares for Chimpy

From Holden:

Give him hell!

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today I am extremely happy to welcome Helen Thomas back to my obsession:

Helen, go ahead.

Q Why are we killing people in Iraq? There are many men, women and children being killed there. I mean, what is the reason we are there, killing people, continuing. It’s outrageous.

MR. McCLELLAN: The reason we are there is the same reason the international community is, is united in helping Iraq — the international community is united in helping Iraq move forward on a free and peaceful and democratic future. I think you can look to the recent commitments from the United Nations, from the European Union, from the recent meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh last week, there is a united front from the international community in working together to help the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future. There are terrorists and other Saddam loyalists who continue to seek to derail that transition to democracy, but they will —

Q They are fighting for their own country.

MR. McCLELLAN: — they will not prevail. And we are there to partner with the Iraqi people as they work to realize a better future, one that stands in stark contrast to the past of Saddam Hussein and his brutal regime.

Ah, Helen, like a breath of fresh air.

Now, back to Hating Queers! The preznit has a nuanced position. He wants to allow voters to decide with what level of intensity they would like to Hate Queers, rather than those activist judges in the Supreme Court, their own legislatures, or any future referendum:

Q The United States Supreme Court declined to take the appeal from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruling that allowed for same-sex couples to get married in Massachusetts. What’s the President’s reaction to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that the President continues to emphasize the importance of moving forward on a constitutional amendment that would allow the people’s voice to be heard and not allow this issue to be decided by activist judges or local officials who seek to redefine what is a sacred institution. The American people strongly support protecting the sanctity of marriage. I think you can look to the recent elections in 11 states to see the kind of broad support there is for protecting the sacred institution.

And the President remains firmly committed to moving forward on a constitutional amendment that would allow the voice of the people to be heard and involve states in this process. And that’s different from allowing the activist judges to redefine this without the people’s voice being heard.

Q But the activist — the judges of the United States Supreme Court, the Justices just said this is something for the states, that we aren’t going to get involved in this. And 11 states are doing it. Why does the President want —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think — I don’t think that they were looking at it from the federal law perspective, but looking at it from the state law perspective of the Massachusetts court. So we need to separate those out. You do have the Defense of Marriage Act in place, which the President strongly supported. There is some question of whether or not that will be upheld over time. And the President believes that this is an enduring institution in our society. That’s why he has fought to move forward on a constitutional process that would allow the states and the people in those states to be involved in this decision.

Q But I’m just wondering why the President thinks that federal judges are going to overturn, or “federalize” the Massachusetts decision to allow same-sex couples to get married. One of the arguments the President made was that a federal court might get involved. Isn’t this a strong signal from the highest federal court that this is a matter reserved to states?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t think I would necessarily look at it that way. Again, I think they were looking at it from the state law perspective, not the federal law perspective. It was not something brought under the Defense of Marriage Act.

Q And so the President’s position — just to get this right — is that if a state wants to decide through a majority vote that it will allow for same-sex marriages, the President wants to have the federal government smash that down and make sure that no state can decide that, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think that you’re talking about what activist judges are doing right now. The activist judges are seeking to redefine marriage for the rest of society, and the people’s voice is not being heard in this process. That’s why the President is committed to moving forward with Congress on a constitutional amendment that would protect the sanctity of marriage and allow the people’s voice to be heard in this important debate facing our society.

Q But it would only allow — it would give victory to the people who support that definition of marriage, wouldn’t it? Because if the state —

MR. McCLELLAN: There are 11 states that recently voted on this very issue, and they voted to ban same-sex marriages overwhelmingly in those states. And I think if you look at any number of indications, there is overwhelming support across the United States for protecting the sanctity of marriage.

Q Just to get this straight. The President does not want to allow the people of a state to decide to allow for gay marriage. In other words, he wants a federal constitutional amendment that would stop a majority in the state —

MR. McCLELLAN: He supports the constitutional amendment —

Q — from voting.

MR. McCLELLAN: — and the constitutional process would allow the state’s voice to be heard.

Hey, Scottie. You may not want to harp on this issue too much. There just might be a relationship from your past that you would not like to see drug into this debate.