02 July 2015

This Week in Water

The BIG news this week has to do with Groundwater Crises around the world: The World is running out of water!

Let's focus on that:

According to satellite data compiled by NASA, more than half of the world's 37 largest aquifers are losing water. That is to say, they are being depleted faster than they are being replenished. Population and climate stresses are frontline causes for the planet's water tables to be dropping so precipitously.

Border wells are seen to be drying up in the Juarez Valley, Mexico, and the historic California drought is beginning to kill the ancient Redwoods.

Where does all this aquifer water go? Scientists have, for the first time, traced water from several aquifers and determined that it is not being used sustainably.

Some see this crisis as an opportunity—and not just to exploit the powerless and poor.

The Guardian has a terrific and important article mapping world-wide access to clean water and sanitation. According to longitudinal data from the WHO and UNICEF, not everyone has clean water and indoor sanitation. Cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid result.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced new rules clarifying the types of water bodies the federal government can protect from pollution. Or, as The Hill spins it, "President Obama Asserts Power Over Small Waterways." And, right on cue, conservative-led States have filed suit to prevent the Federal government from stripping them of their jurisdiction over waterways and riverine systems that happen to pass through  or lie within their boundaries. So far, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin, Ohio, and West Virginia are challenging these standards.

26 June 2015

Justice Antonin Scalia's Very Bad, No Good, Terrible Week

Two fairly significant Supreme Court cases came down today and yesterday. Yesterday, SCOTUS held by a 6-3 vote that the Obamacare statutory scheme survives technical challenges to drafting errors in its language that would destroy everything the act sought to do, to wit provide healthcare. Today, by 5-4 vote the Court declared that marriage is a fundamental Constitutional right and that the laws of the individual States cannot abridge or curtail the equal exercise of those rights by anyone, gay or straight.

One thing that has emerged more clearly in these two decision is the descent of Justice Antonin Scalia from a principled conservative Justice to a casuist, radical partisan hack. There was a time when an opinion or a dissent by Justice Scalia deserved the attention of lawyers and judges whether they agreed with him or not. His decisions were grounded in sound conservative legal principles. But these two cases have exposed his evolution into an ideological determinist.

[Set aside Chief Justice Roberts's dissent in the Obergefell gay marriage case in which he claims, absurdly, that marriage is not a fundamental right recognized under the U.S. Constitution and that equality of rights is not something the Court should police when the individual States violate it. Huh?]

After a lifetime of arguing—fairly consistently and not entirely unreasonably—that decisions regarding statutory language should take into consideration the entire statutory scheme, Scalia took the position in the Burwell case that four words inartfully drafted should invalidate the entire Obamacare statutory scheme that has brought health insurance coverage to millions of Americans. He abandoned his own lifelong, vehemently defended principle of judicial decision-making and produced a dissenting opinion that coincided with his partisan political beliefs.

In the Obergefell case, Scalia called the majority opinion which recognized marriage as a fundamental liberty a "Putsch"—a deliberately chosen word associated with Hitler's and the Nazis' rise to power in Germany and their curtailment of fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of that country and the countries they conquered. He also called the reasoning of the majority "mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable". He calls its language "pretentious" and its content "egotistic". He implied that Justice Anthony Kennedy should be ashamed for agreeing with a decision that claims "The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach" and should "hide [his] head in a bag." He impugns the integrity of the Court as an institution by implying that it has "descended ... to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie." He intentionally misinterprets the majority's decision, ridicules it, demeans it, and says it might as well "Ask the nearest hippie" for its principles.

He called the Burwell case "interpretive jiggery pokery," "SCOTUScare," "pure applesauce." Name-calling and rhetoric, while making for good political sound bites, can never substitute for sound judicial decision-making. And the vehemence shown by Scalia can only be seen as intemperate.

This use of incendiary rhetoric from Justice Scalia emphasizes his own inability to maintain his conservative decision-making principles when they conflict with the recognition of Constitutional liberties for people he clearly despises—namely, gays—and his willingness to discard his own long-held and reasonably consistent principles of judicial decision-making when it might work to the benefit of those to whom he feels superior—namely, liberals who want to provide social protections to the less fortunate among us.

One other note on Justice Scalia's bad week: Scalia is a Roman Catholic and is widely believed to adhere to a radical conservative theological doctrine called Dominionism. It is a theocratic view, grounded in two Biblical passages:
Genesis 1:28: 'And God blessed [Adam and Eve], and God said unto them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."' 
Romans 13: 1-2: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."
Dominionists take two fundamental tenets from these verses: anti-environmentalism and theocracy. God has granted humankind dominion over the earth to do with as we please, including rapine and plunder at the expense of the poor and other species, even unto extinction. We cannot defile the earth no matter what we do because it is God's creation. This justifies their belief that climate change, or global warming, can never be caused by human action and that, by implication, market forces are always morally and theologically right.

A further tenet of this view, and one that Scalia has repeated on several occasions, is that the U.S. Constitution is a "dead letter" and its rights and liberties only extend to those whom the original framers intended them to encompass. It is not a living document. To Scalia, God ordained the Constitution and the governmental powers it authorizes. This latter view is a species of fundamentalism, the Protestant doctrine that holds that the Bible is literally true and unchangeable and is ultimately determinative of what is right and wrong forever. The Constitution is inerrant and must be literally interpreted (or constructed) according to its founders' original intent. Thus, when the Supreme Court recognizes a right under the Constitution extends to citizens who had no voice in the late 18th Century, Scalia bridles.

This week, Pope Francis I issued the encyclical Laudato Si' which calls this environmental Dominionism entirely wrong-headed. "Our ‘dominion’ over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship." Further, "The Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures."
"Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to ’till and keep’ the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15). ‘Tilling’ refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature."
This is a huge blow to the first tenet of Scalia's Dominionist view, root and branch. Pope Francis condemns the deification of the market—a further view held by Dominionists and derived from their two tenets. "Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals."

Scalia simply cannot reconcile the Pope's doctrinal teaching to his own radical, fundamentalist—possibly theocratic—views about markets and the environment without doing violence to his own principles of judicial decision-making. And we have seen that same descent in his hysterical, rhetorical outcries in dissent to the two Supreme Court decisions that came out this week.

Simply put: Justice Scalia is coming unhinged. Justice Scalia is a casuist, not a principled conservative.

Indeed, it was a very bad, no good, terrible week for one of America's most vocal Supreme Court Associate Justices.

Edit and Update: It bears noting that Justice Scalia's derangement evidenced itself glaringly last year when he mischaracterized his own 2001 ruling in the American Trucking case in his vociferous dissent to last year's SCOTUS decision about U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's clean air policy. It was an enormous embarrassment to a distinguished jurist and even more to the institution of the Court. Again, to prevent EPA environmental regulation, Justice Scalia blatantly lied about a Court precedent which he himself had authored.

18 June 2015

It's Mourning in America

And mourning in the South. Charleston, SC, is one of the loveliest and friendliest cities in the United States. Last night, a horrible act of racist terrorism took the lives of 9 African-Americans attending a prayer service at a historic church. We grieve with the families and friends of the innocent victims massacred there.

How could such a thing happen in 21st Century America, you ask? I do not understand hate. I'm writing about it in my new novel, but the work is difficult.

The capitol of the State of South Carolina proudly and unironically flies the battle flag of the Confederacy. Despite many calls and protests, they have refused to take down this symbol of treason and slavery. Does that explain or somehow encourage such "lone wolf" or stochastic terrorism? I don't know. But it certainly doesn't help.

UPDATE: This one hits home for me in a very visceral way. I was born in SC and grew up in Shelby, NC, where authorities caught the perpetrator this afternoon. After 20 years up North, I now live in Atlanta, 4.5 hours drive from Charleston. I know from painful first-hand experience the ferocity of the racism and hatred that rumbles around just below the surface in this part of the world. The novel I'm working on now, my second, focuses on hatred in the contemporary South, racism, organized anti-governmental politics, militias, stochastic "lone wolf" terrorism, etc.

Shortly after posting, Nikki Haley, the current Governor of the State of South Carolina, came on TV and, crying, claimed that the heart and soul of SC was broken. No, Governor, the heart and soul of SC flies proudly and unapologetically in front of your office building (see above). It encourages and emboldens the sort of mindset that leads people to do such xenophobic, terroristic violence. Will you fly your treasonous flag at half staff to honor the dead?

12 June 2015

RIP Ornette Coleman

I moved to NYC on January 1, 1985. One of the first truly downtown 'cultural' events (besides a Sun Ra concert) I attended there with Wisdoc was the premiere of this movie:

Shirley Clarke's 1985 documentary "Ornette Coleman: Made in America." If memory serves, we also saw him perform with his son, Denardo.

At the premiere, Wisdoc and I were standing in the lobby talking and waiting for the show to begin, and I said something like, "Don't look now, honey, but he's standing right behind you." And he was! In a shiny white[?] suit, smiling, talking, heading into the show. We both had Coleman records—lp's yo—in our collections when we first met and instantly recognized him. He seemed so friendly and engaged with all the folks clamoring around to shake his hand.

Coleman passed on yesterday at the age of 85. Yep, Ornette, it's "Checkout Time." Godspeed.

02 June 2015

"A lot of notes..." Wisdoc

Saw this man, Yefim Bronfman, perform this piece, Prokofiev, Sonata No. 7, opus 83, III. Precipitato (1942) as a worthy encore to a wonderful Beethoven Fourth Piano Concerto. If the word 'virtuoso' ever applied... One of the most magnificent performances of anything I have ever seen. Four minutes of jaw-dropping, show-stopping brilliance. A piece designed to dazzle. I urge you to listen. And check that rumbling left hand at about 2:22!

Wikipedia says this about the piece:  "The Precipitato finale, once described as "an explosive burst of rock 'n' roll with a chromatic edge",[6] is a toccata[7] which boldly affirms the key of the sonata through a more diatonic harmonic language than found in the first movement. This is obvious from the very beginning, with simple B♭ major triads repeated over and over again. Despite a wide range of performance tempos chosen by different pianists, the effect is nevertheless imposing and exciting. The toccata culminates into a furious recapitulation of the main theme, taxing all ten fingers to the utmost, until the piece finally ends triumphantly in a thundering cascade of octaves."

26 May 2015

This Week in Water

This week we focus on the continuing degradation, depredation, and disintegration of our planet's most precious resource.

"Absolutely massive" flooding hit central and east Texas after upwards of 12 inches of rain fell on the sea-level flat region. Oklahoma, too. A couple weeks earlier, a once-in-a-thousand year rain dumped up to 11 inches of rain on parts of Nebraska.

A "blob" of remarkably warm water in the Pacific Ocean off the U.S. coast of California may be responsible for the unusual western drought conditions and unseasonably wet eastern weather the last couple of years.

California's drought has killed approximately 12 million trees over the last year in its national forests. And there's more to come.

Lake Powell, America's second largest water reservoir, is drying up.

The Western snowpack, main source of California's water supply, was low again this year and melted early.

Nestle Corporation continues to bottle California water for sale. Likewise Walmart is profiting from California's drought by selling bottled water taken from municipal supplies.

Drought conditions near Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, are becoming increasingly drastic. Cases of dengue fever in the region have soared as a result.

The largest ice shelf in the Antarctic peninsula is thinning as a result of warming seas and climate and could break up with potential catastrophic results for world-wide sea levels.

Two hundred feet of North Carolina Highway 12 near Kitty Hawk broke off and washed into the Atlantic Ocean during a full-moon high tide. Meanwhile, the Republican legislature in that state is denying that rising seas are a result of climate change.

Likewise, Florida is facing the threat of rising seas and has no political plan to deal with the issue.

NOAA scientists have discovered a vast "dead zone" in the Atlantic Ocean spreading from the east coast of South America to the west coast of Africa. This lack of oxygen, or 'hypoxia', threatens all life because it effects the food chain there.

Santa Barbara is still reeling from the worst oil pipeline burst in decades off the coast of California. Estimates are than more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into pristine waters off undeveloped beaches.

Lake Erie is turning green (and not in a good way) from toxic algae blooms coming from farm runoff and septic spills from Michigan, Indiana, and Canada.

Duke Energy subsidiaries have pleaded guilty to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act in relation mainly to the massive coal ash spill in the Dan River, North Carolina, though other violations were found at other facilities. Fines and wetland mediation were the company's agreed-upon punishment.

Fish in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River are turning up with rare malignant cancerous tumors.

A USGS study has shown that well water contaminated with hydrofracking runoff could prove hazardous to human health.

Certain microbial bacteria in wastewater treatment plants may be reconstituting pharmaceutical pollution that had been previously broken down.

China is building islands on disputed reefs and shoals in the South China Sea for use as military bases.

Water scarcity in the Middle East may be contributing to the increasing political unrest and radicalization there.

[Edit Update: Thanks to thunder for the following link] The Obama administration has given conditional approval to allow Shell to start drilling for oil off the Alaska coast this summer. This comes on the heels of the Dept. of the Interior opening up a portion of the Atlantic Coast of to offshore drilling. The perils of such an operation have been pointed out many times in previous editions.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, a "flotilla" of kayakers and canoers protested the port's decision to host Shell Oil's Arctic oil drilling fleet.

15 May 2015

The Week in Water

Wondering what's going on this week in the world of water? Look no further! This week we focus on the positive, science-y aspects of our planet's most precious resource.

Did you miss the 7th World Water Forum in South Korea? Don't worry, there was a blogger there.

Water is "the weirdest liquid on the planet."

British scientists have revealed the molecular structure of water's liquid surface.

Astrophysicist have shown that water could have been abundant in the early universe.

NASA has found evidence for water ice at Mercury's poles.

What role did water play in the chemistry that led to life on Earth?

Seaweed might have the chemical super-power to counteract the increasing acidification of the world's oceans.

Scientists believe there exists an entire, virtually unknown world of microbial life under the surface of Antartica.

MIT scientists have developed a portable, solar-powered water desalination machine. Portable. Solar-powered. Desalination. This is the sort of game-changer I've been going on about since before I started this little shebeen. Here's another, smaller distiller.

Oak Ridge (Tennessee) scientists have developed a graphene-based desalination membrane. Scalability appears to be the next challenge.

Britain is planning a wind farm some 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast at a submerged island on Dogger Bank.

Want to see a video of the formation of a new island near Tonga resulting from an underwater volcano? Here you go! You're welcome.

30 April 2015

Because I Love You...

Here's two and a half minutes of pure power pop perfection from Unlikely Friends' "Solid Gold Cowboys." Terrific album from the Seattle combo—think Teenage Fanclub + Guided by Voices + Beat Happening (aka Calvin Johnson). Seriously, do yourselves a favor.

"I've been making my mind up...I've been making my mind up...twice."

24 April 2015

This Week in Water

A quick thanks and tip of the cap to BDR and Thunder for contributing links to this belated TWIW!

A severe lack of clean water is killing indigenous children in Colombia.

Residents near Duke Energy's ash ponds have been warned not to use their well water.

Yes. It's been confirmed. Hydraulic fracking has been causing all those earthquakes in Oklahoma. But readers of WoW's 'This Week in Water' knew that already, didn't we!

Don't kid yourself: U.S. politics plays an important role in water regulation and distribution.

Sanitation workers in Rio de Janeiro have cleared 32 tons of dead fish from the lagoon where Olympic rowing events are scheduled to take place next year.

Scientists at Ohio State University have developed a mesh with enormous potential for cleaning up oil spills. It captures oil while allowing water to pass through.

Brazil, which has been experiencing severe drought, wants to build a 350MW floating solar power plant.

Mining concerns want to build floating nuclear power plants in the Arctic Ocean to power the developing mining industries there. Eh? What could go wrong?

With all the melting ice, giant waves have been observed forming in open Arctic waters for the first time.

Will oceans continue to rise? Will this rise become exponential in the near future? Some think so.

Evidence strongly indicates that the Gulf of Maine is warming.

The Gulf Stream which, among other things keeps Britain from freezing over, is slowing down faster than ever. This is due, in part, to melting ice cap in Greenland.

A Monster Kelvin Wave, a warming of sub-surface temperatures stretching along equatorial Pacific waters, is raising concerns about a potential Super El Nino.

A rare Easter typhoon struck the Philippines. Flooding in Chile killed 107.

A mysterious blob of warm water, 2000 km wide and 100 meters deep stretching from Juneau, Alaska, to the Baja Peninsula, has changed water circulation patterns and weather patterns and is contributing to California's lingering drought.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has called for a mandatory 25% reduction in consumer water usage.

Due to drought, entire cities in California are sinking as the underground aquifers dry up.

To deal with the on-going historic drought, Los Angeles and other cities in California are developing technologies for capturing rainwater runoff, restoring the L.A. River, and curbing excess demand.

William Shatner wants to build a $30 billion pipeline to bring water to Southern California from Washington State and plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise the cash. Better that than tar sands oil from Canada.

The four-year-old California drought is only a symptom in a larger, global water crisis.

Here's a survey of the primary obstacles to desalination of seawater.

Much of this country's fruits and vegetables are grown in California. But, due to its arid nature, the U.S. West may not be the most propitious place to concentrate the country's agricultural food production. The South, e.g., which has a surplus of rainfall traditionally, could convert a portion of its cotton-growing land.

17 April 2015

Jon Stewart Outs Cheney as an Iranian Double Agent and War Criminal

This is why Jon Stewart deserves a Peabody Award for journalistic excellence and why I, for one, am going to miss him when he leaves 'The Daily Show':

On Thursday night (04/16/2014), Stewart demonstrated why the Beltway Press should never lend credence to anything former Vice President Dick Cheney says, particularly about Iraq or Iran.

Here's my own transcribed transcript of the segment.

Cheney (on Iran):  "This is a totally radical regime; that is the premier sponsor of state terrorism in the world, and Obama's about to give them nuclear weapons. It's a...I can't think of a more terrible burden to leave the next president than what Obama's creating here."

Stewart:  "Really? You can't think of an administration that left a more terrible burden? Think hard. [Pictures of George W. Bush and Cheney on the screen] No wait. Think, if I can ask you, harder. Maybe you need a visual aid. Can you think of an administration that left?...can you?...all right.

"But that wasn't the worst thing he had to say."

Cheney:  "...if you had somebody as president who wanted to take America down, who wanted to fundamentally weaken our position in the world...reduce our capacity to influence events, turn our back on our allies, and encourage our adversaries, it would look exactly like what Barack Obama is doing."

Stewart: [mocking Cheney in a Burgess Meredith as 'The Penguin' voice from the old "Batman" TV series]: "Wah, wah. Is Barack Obama a traitor? Wah. I don't... Wah. I don't know if he's a traitor but...Wah...but he does a great impression of a traitor. Wah.

"But basically the vice president's point appears to be this: Anyone who strengthens the strategic position of Iran is, by definition, working to weaken the United States of America. So, I guess the formulation would be whoever strengthened Iran more would be the greater threat to America.

"Using Dick Cheney's own metric as our baseline can we uncover a greater threat to America than even Barack Obama? Well, we find out in tonight's installment of: 'The Jon Stewart Mysteries Presents The Case of the Iranian Agent!'

"Thank you for joining me in the library Mr. Vice President, represented here by a balloon with a frowny face painted on it.

"Vice President Cheney, you leveled some serious charges that Barack Obama has strengthened Iran. Is there anything else you can think of over the last, say, I don't know, 12 years and 28 days that could also be seen as fundamentally strengthening Iran's position in that region?

[Video clip of Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary]: "One of the consequences of that invasion of Iraq was ultimately to strengthen Iran's role and influence in the region."

Stewart [in Sherlock Holmes-style deer-stalker hat with Meerschaum pipe]: "Well, and who, sir, was responsible for that invasion? Who, sir? Here, let me look it up in my history books. [mumbles] ... By gum, it was you! [pointing at the Cheney balloon] It was you!"

"I take your reddened face as embarrassment. And if invading Iraq not only removed Iran's closest foe but complicated America's ability to actively countervail Iran's nuclear program [headline from 08/10/2005 Philadelphia Inquirer "...the Iraq quagmire has deprived the United States of the option of bombing their nuclear facilities."], well, in fact, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, by the end of your administration, Vice President Cheney, Iran had 20 times the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges as when you came into office. And that...could that not be considered handing Iran a nuclear weapon, sir? A conclusion so damning it could only be spoken through two different oral affectations.

"I see the smile and lines and topography has gone from your face.

"Yes, Dick Cheney, you took out Iran's enemies while giving Iran time to build up their nuclear program. But surely you could course correct this by just installing in Iraq another strong anti-Iranian government to take Saddam Hussein's place. As any America-loving vice president would do. What was your move, sir?"

[News footage from 07/29/2014 "Frontline"]: "In Baghdad, with violence growing, the Bush team began urgently looking for an Iraqi leader to unite the country and stop the fighting. A CIA officer at the embassy had a suggestion: a relatively unknown Shiite member of Parliament, Nouri Kamil al-Maliki."

Stewart [in Sam Spade-style fedora]: "And that's when Maliki walked in, and I decided to shift genres. Maliki, he was a heart-stopping dame—actually, a middle-aged Iraqi man—who called himself al-Maliki. He had a pair of get-away sticks that went all the way up from the floor to his pelvic region like a normal adult. Who was this brave future enemy of Iran?"

[clip from 06/25/2014 "The Lead with Jake Tapper", with Fareed Zakaria]: "For 25 years, this guy's been a hard-line Shiite sectarian politician. When he was in exile from Saddam Hussein's regime, he lived in Iran. He was funded by the Iranians."

Stewart: "For an American administration to replace Saddam Hussein with a man emboldened and indebted to our greatest regional enemy, according to Dick Cheney's own logic, anyone who trusted Maliki would have to be naive or deliberately trying to weaken America."

[07/29/2007 clip of Cheney on CNN's "The Situation Room"]: Wolf Blitzer: "Do you trust Nouri al-Maliki?" Cheney: "I do. At this point I don't have any reason not to trust him."

Stewart: "Do you? Well, it seems you're getting sweat on your brow. [misting balloon] It seems you're getting a little hot in here isn't it, Mr. Vice President. Strange! I find the temperature quite mild.

"Still not gonna' confess your disingenuous, utterly lacking in self-examination, ironic attack on the Obama administration? Well, I guess I'll have to give up. Guess I'll just have to go back and report to my superiors that I couldn't crack the case. Eh, what're you gonna' do?

[Stewart now doing a "Columbo" impression]: "I got just one more thing. One more thing, Mr. Vice President. I just can't get it out of my mind. You mentioned earlier there's a reason why you would never want an American president to deal with Iran, and you've thought so for quite some time. Isn't that true?"

[03/07/2006 C-SPAN clip of Cheney]: "Iranians have endured a generation of repression at the hands of a fanatical regime. That regime is one of the primary state sponsors of terror."

Stewart: "Wah. State sponsors of terrorism? So, you yourself would never do something or engage with a regime such as that for their benefit or perhaps yours even when, let's say, in 1998, you were CEO of a giant oil services company. What was the name again? Ah, wah, Halliburton was what it was called. Halliburton."

[06/23/1998 clip of Cheney with subtitles]: "We find ourselves these days, American firms, cut out of the action, in terms of anything that develops with respect to Iran. ... Unfortunately, as has been point out repeatedly in recent weeks, our government has become 'sanctions happy.'"

Stewart: "Wah. Very interesting. You, sir, were arguing for the United States to life sanctions on Iran so your company, Halliburton, could get contracts with this radical regime. Contracts worth millions of dollars. And pardon me if I'm impugning your character—I hate to do it—but what would you make of a man whose final act in the business world before joining the American government as vice president would be to enter into contracts with the number one state sponsor of terror just before leaving to become Bush's running mate. [on-screen screenshot of 10/09/2004 newspaper: "...before Cheney left Halliburton to become Bush's running mate...Halliburton Products & Services...opened a Tehran office in early 2000..."] Contracts that were only legal because you did them through a foreign subsidiary, Mr. Cheney.

"And then once you were in office, in gratitude for Iran's money, you hand Iran the greatest prize of all...Iraq.

"Isn't it you, sir, who is the double agent determined to bring America down? Isn't it you...[balloon releases]...He's getting away!...Damn you, Dick Cheney!"

This, my friends, is utter brilliance. Satire of a like that would make Juvenal or Swift proud. There's no one else (now that Steven Colbert's gone and excepting, perhaps, John Oliver) out there that can do this with such authority and humor. It's funny! And, frankly, it puts the Beltway media's journalism, which report Cheney's critical words about Obama but do little to put them in proper context, to shame.

And, yes, it sounds like a war crime!

I did the transcript for my own future benefit and for those of you who would rather read than watch a video. All its flaws are mine. For the rest of you, here's the full 10 minute clip. It's worth a watch.