All the girls are wise

and all the boys are indomitable,

and it goes without saying that all the children are above average,

at Marin General Hospital, where the two most popular baby names in 2006 were Sophia and Alexander.

And let's hear it for that great group, Bernard Knox and The Oldest Dead White European Males.

O Canada! O Falafel!

Do not miss the show currently playing at Falafel Sex. (Office safe, unless your office has a rule against raucous laughter.)

I should perhaps mention that experiments of this nature have been performed not just recently, as stated in the report, but starting about 50 years ago. The results, however, were rather different.

What part do you still not understand?

Postings Just say no to torture; Or, What part of No exceptional circumstances whatsoever don't you understand? and Horse: I'm not dead yet are incorporated in this document by reference.

Naturally, the real officers who make policy for real soldiers fighting an all too real war do understand it perfectly well.

Perhaps all the blogs in the world covered this on the couple of days I had the flu, and if so, I apologize for the waste. Anyway, the current (February 2007) issue of Harper's has an excerpt from the new edition of the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, prepared by the United States Army and Marine Corps and released in December, after 20 years in which the previous edition held. (The new issue is not up on the site yet, oddly enough; but the text would be firewalled anyway if it were.)

During the Algerian War of Independence, French leaders decided to permit torture against suspected insurgents. Though they were aware that it was against the law and morality of war, they argued that this was a new form of war and these rules did not apply. Illegal and immoral activities made the counterinsurgents extremely vulnerable to enemy propaganda inside Algeria among the Muslim population as well as in the United Nations and the French media. Torture is never a morally permissible option, even in situations where lives depend on gaining information. No exceptional curcumstances permit its use. In the end, failure to comply with moral and legal restrictions against torture severely undermined French efforts and, despite a number of significant military victories, contributed to France's defeat.
If you are of high moral standards, you will be offended by the mix of moralizing with pragmatic war-winning policy. Be my guest. Please excuse me from joining in. But they do understand No exceptional circumstances.

By the way, now that Lewis Lapham has retired, the Notebook apparently is written by a rotating group of editors; so far it has not suffered. This month, Barbara Ehrenreich, no less, writing agains Hope and positive thinking. The passage that almost covered my nice new issue with stains of spluttered tea:
Cancer? See it positively, as a "growth opportunity," and hopefully not just for the tumor.
The rest of it is up to that standard. And don't miss the sidebar "Paper Jam" on page 22, which it would be too hard to explain.

When the most dignified person... an execution is the mass murderer, you know something isn't going well.
[that guy on the Daily Show, quoted approximately, because I can't find a transcript.]

But the quote that's so obvious that everyone must have been citing it, and only an international conspiracy can account for my not having seen it mentioned once in the masses of commentary, is

Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it.
[Macbeth, Act I scene iv]

However, Ms Four Sigma, whose wisdom in these matters is sometimes delayed by the salutary practice of avoiding the news, noted another text:

Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven,
And so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd.
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
[Hamlet, Act III, scene iii]

Fortunately, we don't share those old superstitions about the moment at which a person is killed. Does Moqtada al-Sadr?

"He is out of touch with his cruelty."

The competition for statement of the year looks to be tough right out of the gate. This one is from Justin A. Frank, MD, in an interview at Buzzflash, cited at length in the News Blog.

To save you troubling in guessing who the subject is, a little further text:

He is unable to think clearly when presented with new information. He cannot do it. He cannot read. He cannot pay attention to the Baker-Hamilton Report. He never looked at that report. He looked at the opening title, about a new way forward or something, and that’s what he’s been using as his slogan now. He is not able to process information.

I think Cheney, as much as he is malevolent and destructive and greedy and self-interested as an oil executive and wants absolute power, he’s out front about it. I think that he would have to negotiate in a way that’s different because he can’t not think, whereas Bush doesn’t think.

Spitzer-Obama: Still a good ticket for '08

Franklin Fiorello Spitzer barged into office without too many niceties: took his oath first thing in the morning on Jan. 1, started signing a bunch of executive orders for ethics rules, and was heard to say, "Don't need no stinkin inauguration." Well, not really the last; I understand he took time off that afternoon to speak at the ceremony.

I give him his honorary nicknames as a reminder of how and from whom people can learn to be Democrats; and how the models don't have to be actual Democrats.

What rankles is the reminder that they tend to be from New York. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, whom we love and admire and support and who we hope will not betray us too badly, is doing a four-day whirl of celebrations that has Jon Carroll fuming righeteously this morning. OK, Speaker of the House, that's one thing to celebrate; and the first female Italian-American from California, three more; but can't we economize a little bit in these times of National Sacrifice? Oh, I forgot. If we sacrifice, the terrorists will win.

And whatever Barbara Boxer has been doing, it's not attending to business or paying attention to her consituents. Well, seems I'm not gonna give you a link here about her knuckling under to the recent campaign by various fuming raghead-haters against CAIR, which I saw in some good blog this morning, because I can't find it, and a quick Google News search gives me just one trivial item other than link after link after link to neocon bs. Like, we all know Google isn't biased and all that, so it shows that the fascists still dominate the ranking algorithms, and the info you get if you want data on a current story is still wildly weighted (by objective algorithms) toward dangerous malicious nonsese, so stop celebrating the collapse of the influence right blogophere, and gosh, do you think this could be a problem in getting across to the public?

But my proposal two years ago for a 2008 ticket looks at least as good as ever.