There are so many reasons to criticize President Obama’s decision to allow his daughter to spend her spring break down Mexico way in the city of Oaxaca. Some of these reasons are depressingly ignorant, but others are refreshingly stupid. Not knowing anything about Oaxaca is a good place to start.

I’m afraid Malia Obama was just not having a Jenna Bush-style spring break.

Inquiring minds want to know precisely how much John Yoo was paid to offer his opinions to the Wall Street Journal. We can assume it was less than his rate at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, where he produced among the most toxic professional opinions in American history.

It was John Yoo, of course, who opined that the President was perfectly within his rights to have a child’s testicles crushed in the presence of the father, depending — and here’s where lawyerly nuance comes in — depending upon what the President intended by this act.

It has become impossible not to argue that the mainstream media is conspiring against the right wing. Charlotte Allen’s wondrous piece in the Washington Post  — arguing (mostly without irony) that women are “dumb” — clinches it. Most of us should have become aware of this pernicious conspiracy when the New York Times hired Bill Kristol.

Embattled White House spokesman Tony Snow distanced himself today from earlier remarks, by dismissing reports that he was “Tony Snow.” Yesterday, in the growing uproar over the US Attorney General’s widely perceived perjury, Mr. Snow found himself stressing that Alberto Gonzales’ lies were not “lies,” but truths which looked a lot like lies because they dealt with matters of national security that ordinary Americans were not allowed to know about and hence could not understand.

An astonishing piece in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only), offers noted academic Harvey Mansfield casually rejecting — believe it or not — the rule of law. He’s not arguing that we should all be able to act in blissfully lawless ways, of course — simply that the laws of the nation should not be permitted to rule over (and occasionally over-rule) the president.

This is an open letter to Andrew Sullivan:

Sometimes, when a man is consistently correct in his moral thinking, he is forced to change his language. Some words will no longer do. Believe, me, I admire the stance you’ve taken; I’d go so far as to say that I agree with ninety percent of what you say on your blog. You’ve held a merciless mirror to this administration, and it can’t have been boundless fun: you’ve predictably lost a few friends in the process.

From the LA Times:

“The son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor was indicted in Miami on U.S. charges of committing torture as chief of a paramilitary unit during his father’s regime…”…The indictment marks the first time a 12-year-old federal anti-torture law has been used, U.S. officials said.

CNN at last has the decency to acknowledge the good work I’ve been doing in Iraq:

“War has wiped out about 655,000 Iraqis or more than 500 people a day since the U.S.-led invasion, a new study reports.”Violence including gunfire and bombs caused the majority of deaths but thousands of people died from worsening health and environmental conditions directly related to the conflict that began in 2003, U.S.

The wages of sin are Me. In general, I get too little credit for my contribution to the Fall of Man. Kids, I was there in the garden; I was a major voice in the conference preceding the Apple Incident; I’ve done most of the grunt work when it comes to postlapsarian retribution. Before you get damned, you generally have to die, right? So it should be no surprise to you, especially if you’ve studied depth psychology, that I pretty much came up with the concept of sex.

Nothing so unnatural as “natural causes.” Look, I designed the whole system of demise, and I assure you, disease and old age were an afterthought. Ideally, men should kill men. I’ve been tweaking the man-killing-man scenario for millennia, and I’m not sure many of you recognize what I’ve had to go through to arrive at the current virtuosic state of affairs.

One of my favorite places in the second half of the twentieth century was a quaint, rustic torture complex in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh: Tuol Sleng Prison. Extinction without torture is like dessert without dinner (I am nothing if not an aesthete); death of the soul should precede – not accompany – death of the body. Let a man know that he is going to die, feel that state move in excruciating stages through his various gates of pain, experience the complete demise of happiness, hope, then dignity; and only then is his removal from this sphere a work of art.

How long did it take, I ask you, for my good friend Joe Lieberman to invoke Me in an effort to bolster his campaign?

Now, I must confess, I think he overplayed his hand: you can capitalize on Death without trivializing the Holocaust. (I know I’ve been accused of insensitivity, but even I do not treat this subject lightly.) Still, this does indicate how potent the reminder of Me can be in garnering votes.

Greetings, mortal Koslings.

I know that this site has some very powerful figures weighing in – senators, congressmen, and the like – but I suspect that I’m the first Eternal Force, Demonic, Ineluctable and Metaphysical, to grace your pages. And yes, I am a Republican, but I hope that you will welcome me nevertheless. (Not that anyone has ever had a choice in this matter.)

They say that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. What this quip fails to acknowledge, however, is just what an achievement the camel is. No mean feat to design one.

Wikipedia is a camel.

I’ve always been a fan of Wikipedia. Detractors argue that you have to double-check everything you encounter there. I see this as an argument in its favor: you should double-check any fact, encountered anywhere, but only Wikipedia comes with this useful caveat branded on its communal forehead. Britannica’s

Alito is a menace. Friends, this is no time to invoke the Powell Doctrine. Sometimes you have to enter a battle without overwhelming force and without the assurance of victory: that’s what’s known as “courage.” Conservatives are salivating for a reason: Samuel Alito’s succession to the court would render the Bush era permanent.

At last we have details regarding “special rendition” (or, if you prefer, “extraordinary rendition” — a phrase which is even more doubleplusgood). This is important. If you are mistakenly kidnapped and tortured by the CIA, it’s useful to know what to expect. The intrepid Dana Priest (WaPo’s new star, now that Woodward has become Dubya’s pet hack), has written yet another remarkable exposé of the Cheney/Bush reign of (t)error — Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake.

If you’re not reading Andrew Sullivan’s blog, you’re not fully aware of what this administration’s doing to untried prisoners in the name of The War Against Other People’s Terrorism. Some technical details:
“TORTURE AND WATER: One of the experts on torture, especially that practised in Iran, professor Darius Rejali of Reed College, emails an exhaustive account of the various techniques involved, including their gruesome nuances:


This specific water torture, often called the “water cure,” admits of several variants:

(a) pumping: filling a stomach with water causes the organs to distend, a sensation compared often with having your organs set on fire from the inside.

“He’s a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he’s been tapped by God to do very important things.”

No, that’s not an assessment of George W. Bush. It’s the beginning of the smear campaign against the prosecutor: the quotation is from a “White House ally… referring to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.”

I had a dream about Harriet Miers the other night. (Yes, yes, I know: Cooper, get a life.) The dream — not my narrative unconscious at its most exciting, I’m afraid — involved George Bush withdrawing her nomination. That’s all I remember. However — and here is where this transcends a dreary “I had a dream that had nothing to do with sex” anecdote — I woke up in a bad mood.

Remember when public figures were impressive? It’s a dim, distant memory, but not a nostalgic hallucination: once there were good men, and we’d occasionally elect them.

This desiccated memory crawled back to mind a few days ago, when John McCain rammed an anti-torture bill through the Senate. Now, there are those who would dismiss McCain as a foaming imperialist: James Wolcott in particular, whose reliable judgment seems to lose its compass whenever a pol or pundit refuses to insist upon an immediate retreat from Iraq.  

That Harriet Miers is a joke, we have no reason to doubt.  David Frum reports that Miers “once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met.” David — whatever you may think about his views; he’s a very swift guy — must have choked. I mean, it’s one thing to argue that Bush is the Right man, but I can’t imagine that David seriously considers him a Bright man.

Animal rights activists, opposed to the No Kill movement, recently threatened to kill Nathan Winograd’s beloved pet dog. The threat appeared on a Facebook page entitled “I Hate Dog Breeders.”

Nathan Winograd is of course the leading voice for the No Kill movement. His campaign to end the unnecessary killing of shelter animals has inspired all sorts of slurs, one of which is that he is in the pocket of the puppy mill industry.

Analogue photos from the nineties, poorly scanned. Much of this was for New York Magazine and various travel publications, meaning we’re talking about poorly scanned second-generation imagery. Which has its charms, I suppose. (This takes you to Dysmedia, which was the site I lived at many years ago.)