Saturday, June 29, 2002

A few from the mailbag and one from the malebag.

I had a worse line than that title. I just felt like saving it for the end. Anyhoo, a weekend cleanup of the Inbox leads to a few noteworthy mails.

Several of you have written to me to comment, and in some cases outright chastize me, for exposing them to Free Republic. Some people just have too tender emotions or something. From Emily Romund:

I realize that Freepers represent the most reactionary of the reactionaries and that even the right wing tends to distance themselves from these sideshow morons. (sorry, all you Sideshow Morons) In retrospect, I guess you of all people didn't need an illustration of the Freeper mindset. But I think I am slightly more pessimistic than you when I say that random arrestations due to the holding of unpopular views is not too far off in the future. (See recent raids of leftist activist centers, interrogations of citizens based on politic-talk at the local gym, and various other spook-related events) The thing that might save us is the increased power given to the formerly passive boob-tubed citizen by the internet and other info-outlets, as well as the increased politicization of the formerly apathetic far left. But, this might be the undoing as well, as the increase in the exchange of ideas also gives more fodder to the spooks, who every day have more and more spying capabilities for their War On Dissent. Who knows what will happen? I sure as hell don't. I can't wait to get back to the States, though. For the first time in my life I feel like my country needs me.

Dave Stumpf has some issues with my post about Bush's contingencies on the Palestinian elections I talked about the other day:

I really don't get your June 27th post. You are implying that the idea of consequences is a bad thing somehow. But it's just common sense. If a democratic people elect a leader who pledges to go to war with some country, the consequence of that action is a war. And the other country will fight back.

Similarly, if a country elects a leader who another gov't (say, the US) does not support, it's not unreasonable for the other gov't to withhold financial support.

Now, in the broad scheme, I agree with Dave, but this is an over-broadening of the issue. My point is that it is hypocritical of the United States to say that the important step for the Palestinians is to have free and open elections, then say that those free and open elections are not free and open, as specific people are not allowed to be involved with them.

And yes, it is unreasonable for the United States for say both of these things at the same time. This is not similar to other U.S. foreign leader relations, despite all those having problems as well. In Yugoslavia, the already defeated and indicted former leader was turned over after threats of U.S. embargo. In Cuba, the U.S. claims opposition to the leader is a result of said leader's refusal to allow open elections. Neither of these is the upcoming case in Palestine; rather it is the U.S. openly saying that if the Palestinian people openly and fairly elect the leader of their choice, despite his infeasiblity to negotiate with the U.S., then the U.S. will refuse to allow further democracy to the region. How does threatening to hinder democracy promote it?

Keep in mind as well that this is coming from the U.S.- a nation that in no way has agreed to equal democracy in the global scale in its own right- exemplified by such cases as demanding that the U.S. is solely exempt from the International Criminal Court or its earlier attempt to withhold funds from the IMF in protest of its temporary removal from the UN security council.

Of course, there is the entire issue of the U.S. fear that Arafat's election would lead to a continuation of the deadlock in the peace process, which frankly leads to another debate we have both already discussed and that I don't want to discuss again at three in the morning after one too many rounds of Asshole in my best friend's basement.

Finally, I have to paraphrase a bit of this e-mail, as the writer (identified only as "Dimm") originally sent it to the fouders of the lesbian sperm provider website I wrote about earlier in the week and cc-ed it to me:

...I support completely what [they're] trying to do with this site but.... [the] web site name and logo are offensive. Not more so than certain pornography sites, but still there is nothing about those web sites that tries to be legitimate.

Not that sperm defines a man [an arguable point I'll grant] but that liquid undoubtedly comes from a man - [the] donors that [they] want to pre-register. The man is included.

I would not like to think - and know it to be false - that lesbians can be considered "man-haters." It is also fair to say that at least half of the babies born
through [this] service will be boys and they will, most likely turn into MEN. The tone of the logo and URL is not fair to them. [The] site of course is not about politics, but the logo and name make it so in the minds of many - including me.

In other words, the writer is upset that a website promoting sperm provision to lesbian couples is called "," in sense that by providing women with something that can, biologcally, come only from a man, as well as the ultimate utilization of the sperm possibly yielding a male birth (thus making a man included in the process,) the entire service defeats the title of the company. As for the issues of man-hating, I don't know where that concept comes from, but as a straight man, I don't see how anyone, straight or not, male or not, can be offended.

The way I see it, this writer is getting very upset over semen-tics.

I warned you.


Friday, June 28, 2002


Bush to undergo surgery requiring sedation; will temporarily transfer Presidential powers to Dick Cheney.

See, it's important to get past the easy material to find out the real problem in the story. I'll give you all your damn colon jokes later, okay? Sheesh. I'm wetting my pants here.

Well, that's just neat

From the science department: apparently Wilhelm Reich was right all those years ago. No, not about the universe being powered entirely by the invisible energy generated by sexual orgasm (unfortunately) but about the whole concept of "Orgone Accumulators-" the energy potential of layering organic and inorganic material into panels. No, I'm too tired to look up a link for you. Read a book, for gosh sakes.

Anyway, there's sort of a discovery related to this: layering wood and magnetic metal makes cell phones go splat.

You heard me. Okay, granted, "make cell phones go splat" isn't the accurate scientific terminology, but still. If something like this goes on the market, you can actually physically disable people's ability to use a cell phone inside a restaurant, or a movie theater. Imagine if they still wood-paneled cars: think of the reduction in accidents because none of these schmucks can use their cell phones anymore while driving into a small cluster of children as a bus stop. It's a beautiful world after all.


Thursday, June 27, 2002

A quick update from the Land of the Free

Okay, just so I can get all these straight.

You're perfectly free to refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance, just remember that if you do half the teachers in the country might discipline you anyway and the entire nation's Congress will denounce your attitude. You're perfectly free to choose whatever school you want to, just remember that there's a 99 percent chance it will force its religion on you.

And now, the latest for the people of Palestine: you're free to choose whatever leader you want, just remember that if you choose someone we don't like, we'll cut off all your funding:

Without mentioning Mr. Arafat by name, Mr. Bush told reporters today, "I've got confidence in the Palestinians, when they understand fully what we're saying, that they'll make the right decisions." But then he warned, "I can assure you, we won't be putting money into a society which is not transparent - and corrupt - and I suspect other countries won't either."

Within hours, a senior administration official briefing reporters by telephone from the meeting site, in Kananaskis, took the warning a step further, saying that while the Palestinian people were free to re-elect Mr. Arafat, they should know that it would cost them significant aid.

"We respect democratic processes," the official said, "but there are consequences."

So tune in next time for our latest report from the Land of the Free, where you should always remember: democracy has consequences.


Ahh, the honeymoon's over

With everyone having a good night's sleep (or, to many ultra-conservatives, a good night's cry,) the whole "striking down of the Pledge of Allegiance" thing can be looked at a little more rationally.

First, as was expected, the man who brought the lawsuit in the first place is receiving so many death threats that he, and I'm not making this up, had to put in a second phone line to handle all of them. Strange.

But what's more interesting about it is that most of the people I've heard from and have now been seeing on the free-from-guilt-in-anything-you-say message boards have toned down their talk and are willing to concede the inappropriateness (if not outright condemn) the actions of anyone who thinks it would be okay to assault, physically or verbally, the man who started this.

Even more in condemnation is the proposal by Joe Lieberman, as reader Monetta Slaybaugh pointed out when I asked in regards to his potential reaction, among other Senators, to actually draft an amendment to the constitution- apparently in the minds of most of our elected officials as the simple solution to changing multiple laws when they make you mildly unhappy. Or when there's an election in a few months and you really, really think you have a snowball's chance in hell of becomming president someday. Suggestions from the right have, again in all seriousness, included a proposal to make a two-for-one "Pledge-of-Allegiance-slash-Anti-Flag-Burning" amendment, as if permanently altering the fundamental rights of our citizens is tantamount to some form of sale at a used car lot.

People like Gingrich and Buchanan have made their rounds at places like Talkback and Hannity & Colmes (who took the cake last night in the syrupy garbage department by digging up a Red Skelton album praising the Pledge and playing it live on the air with slow flowing flag backdrops. I am not kidding) and succeeded in their blatant attempts to, as always, convince the American public that this has more ramifications that it actually does. The leading contenders include the following mistruths:

The court rendered it illegal to say the Pledge. No it didn't. It said that with the words "Under God" it would be illegal to say in a public school, a government-overseen entity that, therefore as part of the State, must be separated from the church.

What's next? Removing 'In God We Trust' from our money?" Well, actually, that both makes sense and actually is the next step the man who won yesterday's lawsuit claims to do. What's puzzling about this is how by asking this question with a forceful tone of voice, it makes it sound somehow as if it's a problem. It's not like it's not money.

So what if they do change the money? Is all my money illegal now? Wow, you really are braindead, aren't you? When, at any other point in history, has the government changed the way money looks and then made the old version illegal or invalid? All they do is stop re-circulating it, just like when they brought out the new "Monopoly-Money" style $20's and $10's.

Oh, and while we're on the subject: that joke? You know, the one that involves "So if your money's illegal now, send it all to me! LoL RoFlLmAo 3l33t har har" or something like that? Yeah, we've all heard it. A hundred times. You're not funny. Or clever. Or original. Or unique. Please go away.

The atheists are forcing their beliefs on us now! It's just reverse discrimination! Okay, if the whole money thing didn't prove you're an idiot, you've taken the prize with this one. First of all, by definition atheism is incapable of forcing anything on anyone. Atheism is the belief that there is no God. so at what point was there every a ruling that said people are forced to not believe in God? Gosh, that would be NEVER! Was the entire country by atheists prior to 1954 or something? Stop making this sound like the godless commies are trying to destroy the American resolve (which was the actual excuse for putting the words into the Pledge in the first place) and go home and pray as much as you want. Lord knows you need some form of guidance with all the crap you've been hearing on TV in the last 24 hours over this.

So anyway, that's just about it. The latest fad story has erupted, this will with no doubt be used as a talking point for both sides throughout the next election cycle, and within the next six months some court will strike this down anyway.

Meanwhile, I look on the bright side. Thanks to the ultra-right fanatics going on TV to decry this as "unnecessary" because "children can refuse to say the Pledge anyway," more Americans that ever before have actually learned that this is true. Next school year, there's going to be twice as many students saying they don't want to say it. Count on it, and remember to thank a conservative.

Now let's see if anyone in the Senate who jumped over themselves to call the ruling any sort of demeaning and violent names are going to come out today and condemn the actions of the god freaks who harassed this guy and his eight-year old daughter. Why am I not holding my breath on this?


Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Join me, fellow liberals, as we bow to our almighty lord, the archangel Uriel, for his demonic possession of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and our latest victory to destroy the country from within!

Okay, I never thought I'd link to a website like this, but I can't hold back any more. Free Republic. Go there. Right now.

That's right. The most virulent, psychotic right-wing message board on the internet. Go. Observe. For it is a rare moment in your life where you can stare at the messages in regards to the long-overdue decision that mentioning God in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional and actually watch, in a digital format, people going completely fucking insane.

I swear, this is some of the funniest stuff I've ever read in my entire life. The symbolism of God and the American flag shot down in one ruling? Oh my, you can just imagine how stinky the shit is that they're throwing at the fans right now.

Speaking of said hurled shit. what a strange thing to say. But anyway, one of the right-wingers did point out something important- that Republicans have already taken the steps to capitalize on this for the 2002 Congressional elections. Wow. That only took, what, two hours? And come one, what makes better campaigning than "defending God and the American Flag?"

So remember folks, it official: the godless liberals have taken religion away from your schoolchildren, and the only way to save America from Satan is to vote Republican in November. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go watch Joe Lieberman's head explode into several tiny pieces as he tries to figure out what side to take.



WorldCom Finds $3.8 Billion Error, Fires CFO. Seriously, that's the actual headline.

You know, folks, I'm no expert in the business world and all it's edu-ma-cated mumbo-jumbo, but I'd think that mistakenly reporting the gross national product of, oh let's say Ghana, is a little more than a freakin' error, wouldn't you?

Pre-emptive update: And yes, I'm aware that the story points out who WorldCom's auditing firm is. The reporters for Reuters did too, apparently.


If only I could stop

This evening a close friend told me I should think of other topics to talk about other than the Middle East, to which I replied that I would love nothing more than for there to be no new reasons to write something about it... at this point in time, it seems like no news is good news at the rate that any chance of peace between these two sides is crumbling.

In regards to Bush's speech, I can't say much more than you'd expect: Bush accomplished absolutely nothing, and as a result nothing will be accomplished in Israel outside of Sharon using miltary force to justify the "defensive" acquisiton of more land that just happens to coincide with his bastardazing view of Jewish dogma, followed by Yasser Arafat a.k.a. the only world leader more politically screwed than Ariel Sharon, being completely and utterly unable to control the actions of any group that will eternally hate the Jewish people as long as they exist, knowing that anything they do will be blamed on the guy they don't plan on ever listening to anyway. I left most of my arguments, as I said earlier, to my discussion with Jeff Cohen, whose comments on MSNBC I agreed with wholeheartedly (and for the first and only time in my life, most likely, I somehow ended up being able to tell him at dinner six hours later.)

So, I'm not sure how I'll stomach the next round of whatever stupid thing develops in the Middle East, but I'll leave you with these two links to soak in for the next few days:

This is from a blogger who apparently belongs to a link-ring of other Jewish bloggers (who will probably end up attacking me and all I stand for once the backlogging ensues): Israel has more to worry about than terrorism.

And, from Slate, more on how Bush said a whole lot o' nothing.

Later today or tomorrow: more musings about something.... anything else.


Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Oh, and another thing

CNN is now giving reports about the Arizona wildfires that have burned 300,000 acres of land and destroyed the homes and lives of thousands with the clever, compassionate title "Blazing Arizona." Does anyone else find that at least mildly tasteless?



Some battles you just stay out of...

Online sperm bank for lesbian couples draws outrage. Wow, who saw that coming.

As a straight male, this is one of the few subjects I feel I have no right to establish a based opinion on, other than two simple points: the issue of lesbians wanting to raise a family is pretty much none of my damn business, and this sperm bank has a great web site address. Sadly, what else must I say except "we report, you decide?"



Oh what a night, late June in '02

I'll be brief because I'm tired, and I don't want to talk too much and potentially upset other involved, but I just came home from a very fun evening involving both seeing the cartoonists at the panel I was talking about earlier, and then actually hanging out with them at a restaurant afterwards.

To start, I have a whole lot more autographs now, including those of Ted Rall, Tom Tomorrow, Peter Kuper, Jen Sorensen, Stephanie McMillan, Joel Pett, and Matt Wuerker, all of which will be scanned and displayed in my archives sometime in the new future (i.e. whenever I get off my lazy ass an unpack the scannerm form when I moved back home for the summer in. Christ. in the first week of May, for fuck's sake.)

Second, to anyone who doesn't know who all those names are, pick up a copy of Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists, edited by Rall, and collecting the work of all the people mentioned above. (Except Pett, who was only there for the conference, but more than made up for it by giving us a basic lesson in caricaturing the entire Bush family, which I will also explain via the archives in the near future.)

Third, I will state that I am more optimistic about becoming a professional cartoonists because of another apparent perk: cartoonists, believe it or not, end up with really good girls. Ted and Matt's wives were two of the most interesting and insightful people I talked to during the night, and were very gracious given the unmitigated strife that being married to a "Subversive Political Cartoonist" must entail. Especially Ted's wife, given the whole "O'Reilly demands Rall's gonads on a platter" incident a few months ago. I hope to someday have a significant other to worry about all the death threats I'm getting. I mean it. I think it'll make for good bonding.

Finally, my very strange moment of the night. Sometime today or tomorrow I'll have to address the Middle East again, given the latest statement by Bush. I listened to the speech on MSNBC and the point-counterpoint analysis afterwards right before I left to catch my bus into the city for this shindig. Weighing in some interesting points was MSNBC analyst and Co-Founder of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, Jeff Cohen.

Wait, this is funny. See, the reason I can, hours after the fact, remember the specific name of the correspondent on MSNBC weighing his analysis on the speech Bush made was because after the conference I attended, sitting at the restaurant among many a professional cartoonist, I realized suddenly that I was, in fact, talking to him.

And frankly, the fact that something like having a political discussion with someone who only three hours earlier you were watching on TV having a political discussion happens so rarely to anyone in life merits mentioning it here. So there you have it. I'm still very confused. Nice guy, though.

Later: back to stuff about things not involving stuff I was actually involved in.


Monday, June 24, 2002

Update on the going to the event thingie... I just found out that the address of the event is, literally, directly across the street from the Empire State Building, so if you are attempting to drive and find parking near the event you are completely insane. God, why do the cool city events always happen when I'm not living in it?



Hey New Yorkers! Want a free sticker?

A special note to any fans in the New York City area, primarily fellow NYU students who actually know who the hell I am. I'll be somewhere in the city tomorrow evening to hand out a free XQUZYPHYR & Overboard sticker to anyone who wants one.

Here's the catch, but it's a good one: I'm attending a lecture hosted at CUNY entitled "Mightier than the Sword: Kick-Ass Cartoonists and the Art of Political Subversion." Yeah, that does sound like something I'd love to listen to, doesn't it? Well it must sound even better to Tom Tomorrow and Ted Rall, who will be two of the panelists at the lecture. Click the link for all the information.

I'll update if I find out, but I'll point out for now that I called in a few days ago to reserve my spot. I don't know if seating is still available. As it is I'm going there tomorrow to see if I can actually attend the pre-lecture gathering without having to pay the extra ninety bucks that I am pretty sure I don't have. Such is life of starving cartoonist.

Anyhoo, if there's anyone out there who already knows they're definitely going to the conference, drop me a line via the usual channels and I'll make sure to save a sticker for you. I enjoy spreading the love.

Special note to stalkers and anyone interested in hunting me down and killing me, possibly harvesting my skin for sustenance or warmth: please ignore this entire post.


My future is saved

Seriously. John is doing his happy dance.

I've mentioned in previous posts about my desire to not only be an animator, but to continue the art of animation in the traditional, two-dimensional, Chuck Jones / Nine Old Men / Bruce Timm style instead of sacrificing costs to the visually stunning but emotionally lifeless 3-D format that is dominating the animation box office.

Rogert Ebert wrote one of the best editorials of his career this week about the newest Disney film Lilo & Stitch, which I am excited to see and will head off to the theater to do just that the moment I can find a girl to take so I don't look like a perverted psychopath sitting there alone in the theater among the five-year olds and their parents. Anyone interested may look to the 1999-2000 strips for various suggestions on what I look for in a woman. I'm only partially kidding.

But I digress. I am very happy that Ebert was wrong. Scooby-Doo did not dominate the box office. Not only were American parents smart enough to take their kids to the Disney movie instead of the aforementioned piece of shit, but they very well may have knocked the Steven Speilberg-directed, Tom Cruise-starring summer blockbuster into #2. All because of a 2-D cartoon.

So yes, with both my career and my faith in American temporarily intact, I urge others to go see the movie. Then go rent The Iron Giant, simply because it's one of the finest animated movies made in the last ten years.


Sunday, June 23, 2002

The world's policeman, prosecuting attorney, and holder of diplomatic immunity

Again, one of those stories where you can't tell if it shoud be called "irony" or "being complete and total assholes:" U.S. threatens to pull out of UN peacekeeping. You read that right.

Washington will stop supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations unless Americans taking part are given immunity from prosecution by the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

Most countries back the new International Criminal Court (ICC), scheduled to begin its work July 1, but the United States has refused to endorse it - arguing its citizens may face politically motivated prosecution.

American diplomats have presented the UN Security Council with a draft resolution demanding guaranteed immunity at the ICC.

Okay. So the U.S., the nation that just decided anyone in the world, including, apparently, its own citizens, can be labelled as "enemy combatants" and held indefinitely as well as sentenced to imprisonment without a trial, is still declaring that the U.S. should be exempt from its citizens recieving the same treatment because of a possible "political bias" against the U.S.

Which, of course, we have no idea how that bias could have been caused by.

And furthermore, exaclty what in the U.S. War on TerrorismT isn't "politically motivated prosecution?" How is labelling people as enemies of the state not political? How is putting them before government-operated tribunals not political? How is threatening to stop helping other countries because you're worried 220-something years of generally being the biggest dick in human history (with the exception of maybe Britain and the occasional German Reich) not fucking political? What other term is there for it?



Friday, June 21, 2002

Let's talk about the Middle East, pt. 10

What people don't understand is that it doesn't matter what anyone wants in this situation, it's what they think everyone else wants. And right now, both sides have now convinced the other that their true goal is complete destruction of their rival state (or state-to-be.)

There is a dismal irony, given today's military actions into the West Bank, that the massive fear that the Arabs want to "push Israel into the sea" is the leading motivation for Israel to push the Arabs as far away from it as possible. And do not get me wrong on either ends here: it is obvious that a majority of Palestinians desire the ludicrous concept of Israel somehow disappearing from the face of the earth. It is equally obvious, and has done nothing but become more obvious, that Sharon shares an equal desire for the future Palestinian state.

As proposals for statehood have shown, the Israeli dream of a Palestinian state has always been one of de facto subjugation. Even the infamous "Barak offered 90% of the West Bank" rhetoric is a watering-down of the true proposal given to Arafat: 90% of the West Bank in which the remaining 10% consists of Jewish-only roads and security checkpoints to connect settlements, all the while preventing West Bank towns from being connected themselves.

There is this constant idea that the whole of the West Bank is the extreme end of the Palestinian demands list. This is not true. The extreme demand for most Palestinians, as we have discussed before, is the complete destruction of Israel. Full control of pre-1967 land is the middle ground where Israel and Palestine need to meet. I know that's a horrific glorification of Arab demands, but it's the truth.

The perverse logic is already being put into motion: settlements in the West Bank are in danger because of the Palestinian presence that makes them vulnerable to terrorist attacks. In response to said attacks, the Israelis will now invade and hold the land connecting these settlements to Israel proper. Down the road, it will be established, QED, that Israel holding this land makes the settlements there safer, therefore it is the strategic interests of Israel to not return this land, ever. And while we're at it, lets expands the settlements here while we're at it.

Maybe this won't happen, but I highly doubt there is a single Palestinian who hasn't thought about this setup in their head and realized how amazingly convenient it is for the Israelis.

And now I will reflect on another irony: this was part of the post I was going to put up just the other night before Blogger shorted out on me for some reason. And now, with the new and very significant news that Arafat apparently will accept the Clinton proposal, I have to pause for a moment and realize that all that stuff up there doesn't really make that much sense.

The Arafat announcement is very interesting because there are two very believable rationales for it:

1. Yasser Arafat is scared to death. Two years down the road, Arafat has suddenly realized something most of us realized a while ago- that there is no way Palestine will ever be liberated through sheer military force. No other Arab nations are willing to militarily support Palestine in defense against the Israel invasions, and Palestinians are dropping at a 3-to-1 rate against the Israelis.

Arafat's mention of "outside forces exploiting" Palestinians has got to be a reference to Iraq. In other words, Arafat is suggesting not only peace, but a condemnation of a country the U.S. is itching to get as many Arabs' approval towards attacking. Granted, Iraq and the PLO were supposed to be somewhat allied, but hey, Arafat isn't exactly the most reliable man in the world now, is he?

2. Yasser Arafat is more defiant than ever. This is, in my opinion, the more likely rationale of the Arafat statement. There's only two reasons Arafat would propose this: George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon. For either one of these men to accept such a deal would be political suicide. Sharon was the man who came to power over the fact that this deal was allegedly too nice an offer for the Palestinians in the first place- his defeat in the next election would be sealed if he decided to accept something that he vehemently opposed of 2 years (and 600 dead Jews) earlier as the main crux of his election campaign.

For Bush, the reason lies right there in the headline: "accepting the Clinton plan." Arafat, on rare occasions such as this, can perform political maneuvers of Machiavellian levels. He's smart enough to know what the political fallout would be in the Bush white house if Mideast Peace was solved based on a plan that Bush had absolutely no involvement in. Watch the news, especially the Arab news, about this. I guarantee you this is not going to be referred to as the "Camp David Plan," or the "1999/2000 Plan." There is a reason that Arafat wants Clinton's name on this: so that Bush can never, ever accept it. And while all of this happens, both leaders become the bad guys again as the peace-willing Palestinians are run over by American and Jewish tanks.

There is a logic and an understanding to both of these rationales. And right now I'm leaning towards the second one, but not enough to stand firmly on it. There are a lot of questions and concepts still left loose.

For example, the question of how Arafat can suddenly say he had no problem with no right of return and the checkpoint roads throughout the West Bank. Perhaps it is his realization that with Israel now invading the West Bank, the Israelis will have military control over the regions around the settlements either way. Perhaps he knows hands-down he's going to turn on the Israelis in the future and try to get rid of the roads later on anyway. I don't know.

What I do know is that the leading reason I'm not sure on the second rationale is this: now that he's offered it, he's stuck with it. With Arafat openly willing to accept the 200 deal, he has pretty much killed any future suggestion of right of return for the foreseeable future. How can Arafat come to the bargaining table within the next year and open with a demand for something greater than he told the world media he would be happy with? You can't tell the world you'll take a job for $40,000 a year and then tell your boss at the interview you want $60,000. It's not going to happen. Arafat has publicly admitted his deal line, which in a bargaining situation as great as this- they're trying to make a country, for chrissakes- that seems to be a very bad move.

That all said, much of what I said in my original until-now-unpublished post still stands: most Arabs are still going to see the current actions as an Israel invasion, and the equivalent of an all-out declaration of war. Arafat has made a stunning play by endorsing a deal that right-wingers have spent two years bragging about how good it was. How many times have you had to deal with the "Arafat was offered 90%" whine. what's the rhetoric going to be now?



Thursday, June 20, 2002

Now this is what good journalism is really about

Baltimore Sun reporter recieves journalism award for exposing Geraldo as full of shit (not the paper's wording, sadly.)

The Center for Media and Public Affairs has chosen Sun staff writer David Folkenflik as the winner of the first Paul Mongerson Prize for Investigative Reporting on the Media.

Folkenflik, The Sun's television writer, will be cited in Washington today for his stories discrediting a report by Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera on a "friendly fire" incident in Afghanistan.

"Everybody criticizes the media, but almost no one makes the effort to critically examine the flaws in particular news stories," said Robert Lichter, director of the center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that studies news and entertainment media. "This prize was given not for media criticism, but for old-fashioned investigative reporting."


Oh, this just gets better and better.

We're are so totally screwed here. The U.S. government is suing to prevent declared "enemy combatants" from having any judiciary rights.

The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a federal judge in Norfolk, Va., allowing Yaser Esam Hamdi - a U.S.-born Saudi suspected of being a Taliban member - to meet with a public defender.

"There is not right under the laws and customs of war for an enemy combatant to meet with counsel concerning his detention," the Justice Department wrote in a 46-page document filed yesterday.

"This is really an astounding assertion of authority," David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor, told The Washington Post. "It's not just that you have no right to a lawyer, it's that you have no right to even have a hearing," he said. "If that is true, then there is really no limit to the President's power to label U.S. citizens as bad people and then have them held in military custody indefinitely."


Hey, I get letters!

From reader Kim Korht-Clark about Israel's new policy (which means yes, she made the effort to write about it before I did):

By instituting this policy Sharon is beating his chest like a Silver-back. Urgently screaming for what he cannot attain. Desperately trying in his failing years to claim dominance over other individuals by force. In doing this he strikes me as a child crying for a toy that has been taken away. In my humble opinion this, like the wall, is only going to cause more suicide bombings and further escalate tension in the Middle East.

While both sides are guilty of terrorism, the Palestinians really have no army and no money. All they have are themselves. While this is not justification I do think it represents how desperate the situation really is, or how desperate they believe it is. However desperate the situation may be violence is not the answer and as long as there are suicide bombings Sharon will feel his actions are justified. There was a photo essay on last week that had a picture of a Palestinian mother who made a suicide bomber costume for her son. He's 12 I think the article said and he can't wait to blow himself up when he's 14 or 15. This is truly sad. If the United States were to pump as much money into humanitarian aid as we do in military aid to Israel and selling weapons to other countries we could change the world. The Israel/Palestinian conflict has proven how powerful belief is. One belief can change the world, either for better or worse. Sadly, right now that belief seems to be to see how much money can be gotten at any expense. There are many examples of this in our foreign policy, too many for me to list here. Look at East Timor, Latin America, read Chomsky. We live in a country where we truly do have the power to change the world if we only would take the initiative and sum up the courage to do so.

From reader Kevin Wohlmut about Bush and our bass-ackwards military policy:

An American citizen is arrested for allegedly planning a "dirty bomb" attack. This would be a very small conventional explosive that scattered a small amount of radioactive material. Presumably this bomb would be set and placed somewhere, by the terrorists, by hand, from inside this country.

So... Resident Bush proposes to fight this new scourge by... Construction of the Star Wars missile defense system will begin, at great cost, on Saturday the 15th, come hell or high water, despite no more convincing test successes than the ones that were faked last summer.

To top it all off... if you were a terrorist, and you wanted to obtain radioactive material for a dirty bomb, where's the first place you would inquire? Probably Russia, right? Huge stockpiles, poor security, desperate for money - practically a K-Mart for terrorists, one would think. So Bush signs a treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear armaments. But wait - the treaty doesn't require either side to actually destroy any nuclear warheads, merely mothball them.

The idea of an arms treaty that "mothballs" warheads instead of destroying them could well be the subject of an entirely separate diatribe. After all, even the most hawkish right-wing military think-tanks in Washington have realeased statements that say, if the U.S. finds itself in a situation where we have to start breaking warheads out of mothballs after firing off all of the 2,200 nuclear missiles which the treaty lets us keep... then there is something seriously, fundamentally wrong about our military strategy leading up to that point.

So thanks to Bush, there will be a lot more nuclear material lying around in Russia, with funding for its security cut, at the same time that terrorists are looking for it... and we're wasting tens of billions on a Star Wars system that won't defend us from such terrorism; it would only defend us against ballistic missile programs which everyone in the intelligence community realizes don't exist in any hostile country on Earth and won't for several decades if ever... and it would only defend us against those future threats if it actually worked, which it doesn't.

Well the one bright spot is that the movie "Real Genius", also about a space-based weapons system, has finally been released on DVD.

Indeed. So in short, Sharon is a dick, Bush is a schmuck, go buy funny 80's movie.


Wednesday, June 19, 2002

The sum of all idiots

First of all, Ariel Sharon is a goddamn lunatic. But I'll do a whole post about that later.

I've got to get this off my chest, because after finally seeing The Sum of All Fears with my friend Rodney on Monday night, a weird thought has been rattling through my brain. Yes, I mean aside from the usual weird thoughts rattling through my brain. But I digress.

The thought was enhanced by two articles I came across last night: one about the lunacy of Bush's open proposal to have Saddam Hussein assassinated, given the U.S.'s not-to-perfect record of covert leader elimination tactics. The second was a critique of our Defense Budget, one which gave a few numbers next to each other in a way I never saw before: the U.S. spends, or wants to spend under Rumsfeld's wishes, $400 billion in defense. The "Axis of Evil" nations of Iraq, North Korea, and Iran have an annual defense budget of $12 billion. Combined.

That means, essentially, at a cost to our education, medical, and humanitarian resources budgets, the United States apparently needs to spend roughly 33 times that of the enemy to equip itself with technology and weaponry that is utterly useless against terrorist attacks.

So these two concepts melded together to solidify the aforementioned rattling thought, which finally released into my full attention after seeing the movie: we must have, without question, the stupidest military in the history of human civilization.

Now, right off the bat, I will forcefully explain that this is in no way an attack on the brave and honorable members of the armed forces. I have said and will continue to say that despite my total disagreement with numerous policies and directives of their superiors, soldiers, like policemen, firemen, teachers, public works employees, and on and on all the way to McDonald's employees are people who all deserve various levels of respect and admiration for the intense amount of shit they have to deal with. I have never blamed a soldier for living in a world which inspired him to want to become a soldier, nor have I ever said there haven't been times when soldiers have been necessary for some reason. Eisenhower deploying the National Guard comes to mind.

That said, in the grand scheme, why is our army intelligence so un-goddamned-intelligent, both in real life and in fiction?

A brief synopsis of The Sum of All Fears makes it sound very similar to a lot of other films: a covert overseas group of anti-Democratic elitists secretly acquire a nuclear warhead, which they plan to detonate in the United States as part of a plan to make Russia and the U.S. go to war against each other. This is a concept we have seen in many James Bond stories, many Tom Clancy stories, and many, many bad college writing class papers. September 11 proved something about these plots: this can actually happen. A small group of anti-American elitists, though rich but still not nearly as rich as the United States, acquire the basic tools to make a massive strike against a U.S. target.

This always seems to happen, doesn't it? Even before the horror of 9/11 occured, why was it so believeable and morbidly entertaining to see how the ultra-funded U.S. military system getting bested by a couple of super-villains with a loose bomb or two? The most heavily-funded military in the world apparently has the worst record for military effectiveness! What I'm saying is that how, with such a huge budget, does the U.S. allow something to happen that Sci-Fi novelists have been talking about for decades now? And how does increasing the funding for more weapons that proved ineffective the first time reduce the risk? I guess the answer would be to sell a few nuclear subs and build a few more schools, just to make everyone a little bit happier before our grossly over-funded military allows another one to slip through the missile shield.

The answer, of course, may also just be that I fucking hate Ben Affleck and I'm not exactly sure why.

(P.S. Tom, I swear this movie-related rant has nothing to do with your Minority Report Analogy Quest. But I'm keeping my eyes open for you on that, too.)



Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Viacom is so brave for taking a loss on running this against the 78th Osbournes rerun this week

Yeah, all kidding aside, good show to Nickelodeon for finally having the cajones to put this out. Now everyone out there make sure you get your local Neilsen family to watch it, okay?

Nickelodeon to Air Gay Parent Special

Despite a staggering 100,000 e-mails and phone calls in protest, Nickelodeon will telecast a special for children about same-sex parents on Tuesday night.

The half-hour report, produced by Linda Ellerbee and featuring Rosie O'Donnell, includes comments from the Rev. Jerry Falwell - who later joined conservative activists in urging Nickelodeon not to air it.

Ellerbee, in the show's introduction, says, "The following program is about tolerance ... It is not about sex. It does not tell you what to think."

Ellerbee, who won a Peabody Award for a Nickelodeon special that delicately dissected the Monica Lewinsky scandal for children, said she conceived of this show upon reading that the word "fag" had become the most common schoolyard epithet.

(The program airs at 9:00 PM tonight on Nickelodeon, for those of you interested, and hopefully that's at least some of you.)


Monday, June 17, 2002

Psychotic Religious Injustice League, Assemble!

Conservative U.S. Christian organizations have joined forces with Islamic governments to halt the expansion of sexual and political protections and rights for gays, women and children at United Nations conferences.

The new alliance, which coalesced during the past year, has received a major boost from the Bush administration, which appointed antiabortion activists to key positions on U.S. delegations to U.N. conferences on global economic and social policy.

But it has been largely galvanized by conservative Christians who have set aside their doctrinal differences, cemented ties with the Vatican and cultivated fresh links with a powerful bloc of more than 50 moderate and hard-line Islamic governments, including Sudan, Libya, Iraq and Iran.

"We look at them as allies, not necessarily as friends," said Austin Ruse, founder and president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a New York-based organization that promotes conservative values at U.N. social conferences. "We have realized that without countries like Sudan, abortion would have been recognized as a universal human right in a U.N. document."

The rest of the story is here, but I'm too busy vomiting. I've said stuff like this before, but I'm 100% serious this time: this is the most disturbing news story I have ever read in my life.

What you have here is a brilliant example of how fundamentalism exists on all sides. All the people you live with and listen to on a daily basis talking about how horrific and oppressive the extreme doctrines of Islam are? Well here's a nice group of Christians, hand-picked by the president, who not only agree with the religious leaders of the "Axis of Evil," but openly thank them for their brutal human oppression that otherwise would have led to (gasp!) a peaceful and more understanding world.


Let's talk about the Middle East pt. 9

A Two-hundred mile fence.


Say. Here's a brain-teaser. After instigating the bloodiest and most violent uprising in the history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict by entering a Muslim holy site with a platoon of armed guards in an obvious display of Israel's ability to overpower and humiliate a people who, if known for only one thing in the world, are known for their amazing ability to immediately over-react to any possible instigation of their inferiority to the Jewish people, what would be the best way to calm those feelings down after, oh, say about two years of using military force to drive that feeling of military superiority into their skulls at the cost of several thousand lives, including those of hundreds of your own people- people who have died at the hands of the hair-trigger temperament of the impoverished, futureless refugees you refuse to negotiate with because they, for some strange reason, don't seem to like you very much?

What's that? Build a gigantic symbol of division and military superiority through the middle of disputed territory? Wow! That's almost the most wildly idiotic move in the entire reign of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister of Israel! Good job!

Okay, I'm being overly snotty there, but I'm in a bad mood. And it has nothing to do with Scooby-Doo taking in $56 million dollars, thus continuing my theory that the United States is completely devoid of anything remotely resembling culture and/or intelligence. More likely it has to do with the stupid comment I had to hear from someone about this when I was talking to them about it.

I'm sure I'm not the first, and I doubt I'll be the last, to point out that the most obvious comparison to this latest move by Israel would be to that other fence built a little while after World War II to maintain security and protect the interest of two politically divided sides. It was with this discussion that I had to deal with this comment: "The Berlin Wall was built to keep good people in. The Israelis are building this fence to keep bad people out."

As I type this, I yet again want to go smack the person I was talking to. I'm actually considering calling them up and yelling at them some more.

The relations to the conflicts and problems the Berlin Wall caused- hell for that matter, the ones that the Great Wall of China caused- are just some of the reasons that building the fence, the way it is and where it is, are going to be more harm than good.

And strangely, I'm revising my post in the middle of updating it. I realized that I was about to list the reasons why feasibly this fence is going to cause more tension politically that will disrupt the peace process; I can change that to sum it up in one statement: this is yet another stirring example of Sharon's determination for a Palestinian state to never, ever exist. And it comes as a twisted irony considering that Sharon's alleged excuse to prevent the Palestinian state from existing is the belief that every Palestinians wants the state of Israel to not exist.

As we've proven in previous posts about this, the concept of Israel and Palestine having the right to exist are solidified by only one thing: force. Israel exists because several million troops, $3 billion in international funding, and a stockpile of nuclear weapons say so. Palestine doesn't exist because it has none of that.

The political means of this fence is the same as Sharon's infamous visit to the Islamic holy sites two years ago that started the intifada. Regardless of any true intentions, it will be seem by the Palestinians as a symbol of Israel's decision to dominate the Arabs in any way they see fit. There were no negotiations about this fence and where it would be built: Sharon and the Israel cabinet, therefore Israel and the Israel entity, decided all on their own what constituted "Israeli land" and put up a border.

And don't mince words here about that subject- it is a border. And the fact that it is not along the pre-1967 "Green Line" means in the eyes of the Palestinians who, frankly, don't all exactly have the greatest resources for intellectual education and philosophical reasoning and insight right now, Israel has just officially seized more land. Yeah, that's going to reduce the bombings.

That leads to the next subjects- the cost-expense of bombings to occur once the fence is up. Israel has enough trouble financing the defense and guarding of living, moving, and in most cases, armed and defended human beings. I'm not a military expert here, but it seems to me that the Palestinian terrorists might have a slight military edge over a stationary fence. This means, of course, that even more money will have to be spent to hire more military officers to guard the fence.

In addition, the fence does absolutely nothing to protect the 200,000 settlers within the West Bank. Which means once again, the plight of 200,000 Israelis will lead Israel to spend more money at the whim of several million Israeli and American taxpayers. Not only that, but if the fence, once built, is totally effective in keeping out terrorists from Israel proper, won't it mean the settlers within the West Bank, as a much closer and easier target, will be ever more greatly exposed to terror attacks?

As always, of course, having the two sides sit down and discuss this has been eliminated as an option. It's just that this time one side is actually constructing a wall to prevent the two sides from ever coming together.


Friday, June 14, 2002

Students threatened with expulsion if they don't cheer for Bush

This nice happy article about Bush's commencement address at Ohio State University doesn't really reflect the story's final paragraph:

Bush was invited to speak at the Ohio State commencement by representatives of the graduating class. But immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a "thunderous" ovation.

A student threatened with arrest at the ceremony tells her story here.


The Barr keeps getting raised here

Okay, so it's a lousy, lousy joke. But I digress. This is very funny, kind of: Tom asked me about how I could find all that stuff about Bob Barr for the previous post. I told him that not only was it easy to find, but people have been e-mailing me to tell me stuff I missed. Apparently, tearing Bob Barr a new one is one of America's favorite pastimes... so everyone better start getting defense lawyers, I guess.

The most common update: Barr's demands for a full investigation into the alleged "trashing of the white house offices" in January of 2001 led to an assessment this week of only a few thousand dollars in damages... as reported in the GOP's $200,00 - $400,000 report (depending on whatever source you pick, but at a cost of 200 grand, does another 200 even matter.) Not like we could have spent that money in mid-2001 investigating anything important or anything. This means, of course, that Bob Barr has actually made himself look like an ass in a whole during way within the twelve hours since my last post. Way to go, Bobby!

Mark Geralds has also pointed out to me another important tidbit: Despite this $30 million lawsuit, Bob Barr is one of the leading legislators pushing for a limit on personal damage lawsuits to $250,000. I'll let that one soak in for a while.


Thursday, June 13, 2002

This depressingly ridiculous story brought to you by Cool WhipT- the choice dessert topping of hypocritical adulterers

There are cases that make you question the veracity of the American legal system. Even more so, there are incidents in which you can hardly fathom the extent of just how pathetic and small the human being can be. On both examples, such a case can be found in Bob Barr.

The congressman who demanded the impeachment of Bill Clinton. before Ken Starr released his report, who mocked the defeat of revised drug laws in D.C. because they were all "liberals who loved Marion Barry," and who took every opportunity to mock gays and minorities for the silly notion of wanting equal rights, has decided that he's upset about the way people are treating his superior character.

So the man who made a career out of humiliating the President is now filing a $30 million lawsuit for "loss of reputation and emotional distress and injury in person and property" at the hands of Bill Clinton, James Carville, and, of course, Larry Flynt.

The lawsuit, which in no way has anything to do with the difficult re-election Barr might be facing, has the most veracity towards Flynt, whose "Flynt Report" gathered a wealth of information about Barr during the Clinton Impeachment trial to expose the congressman's hypocrisy. Barr, apparently, feels he has been damaged by the revelation of all the incriminating evidence about his social life, which I will now list because I hate him.

Barr was a champion of the "Family Values" wing of the Republican Party, meaning the subtle idea that the queer-lovin', bible-hatin Democrats led by their adulterous baby-killing Bill Clinton were the spawn of the devil, vote GOP in 1998. However, Barr never told the people, primarily the voters of his district, that the rules of GOP Family Values didn't apply to him, which he proved by doing the following:

  • Secretly arranged and paid for his wife to have an abortion in 1983

  • Divorced his wife

  • Divorced his second wife

  • Had an affair with his future third wife while still married to his second wife (to his credit, he married her a month after his second divorce)

  • Was sued multiple times for failure to pay child support for children of previous marriage

  • Was photographed in 1992 licking whipped cream off the naked breasts of two women

  • Served as a guest speaker at the Council of Conservative Citizens along with KKK Grand Wizard David Duke

  • Was confirmed by the Federal Election Commission to have received undisclosed campaign contributions, then deliberately concealed the source of the funds in violation of federal election laws

I want everyone to reflect on this as they go over that list once more: it's all true. Bob Barr helped lead the charge to expose the entire private life of the president and convince the world that he needed to be kicked out of office. For some strange reason now, he doesn't believe that the same events can apply to him. He is not refuting that he is a liar, a philanderer, and a repeated hypocrite. He is complaining that three people, one of which he tried to legitimately destroy, offered a fraction of the opinion about his private life that he held to one of theirs. Like the alcoholic who refused to admit his problem, Barr is gasping for air as he tries in vain to validate the aforementioned stream of fuck-ups that is his adult life.

So Bob, if this ever gets to you in some way, heed my advice: you need help. You are a small and pathetic little man, and you are obviously upset with the way you have run your own life. Go find whatever it is you need to be happy again, because at the rate this is going, I'm not even worried anymore about whether or not this stupid publicity stunt of yours will get you re-elected. I'm just amazed that you haven't put a gun to your head with all the failure that's been exposed in your life. and what you're going to do when this next attempt to make yourself look significant crashes and burns.


Bush's "Titanic war on terror"

Robert Fisk is rapidly becomming one of my favorite columnists, and his latest piece on Bush's anti-Arab policies is just another example of how good his writing is. Check out his stuff before John Malkovich kills him. I'm serious.

New American "security" rules will force hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims from certain countries to be fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated when they enter the US. This will apply, according to the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, to nearly all visitors from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, most of whom will not get visas at all. The list is not surprising. Iran and Iraq are part of Mr Bush's infantile "axis of evil". Syria is on the list, presumably because it supports Hamas' war against Israel.

It is a political list, constructed around the Bush policy of good-versus-evil. But not a single citizen from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan has been accused of plotting the atrocities of 11 September. The suicide-hijackers came principally from Saudi Arabia, with one from Egypt and another from Lebanon. The men whom the Moroccans have arrested - all supposedly linked to al-Qa'ida - are all Saudis.

Yet Saudis - who comprised the vast majority of the September killers - are going to have no problems entering the US under the new security rules. In other words, men and women from the one country whose citizens the Americans have every reason to fear will be exempt from any fingerprinting, or photographing, or interrogation, when they arrive at JFK. Because, of course, Saudi Arabia is one of the good guys, a "friend of America", the land with the greatest oil reserves on earth. Egypt, too, will be exempt, since President Hosni Mubarak is a supporter of the "peace process".

...[W]hy ... should any Arabs take Mr Bush seriously right now? The man who vowed to fight a "war without end" against "terror" told Israel to halt its West Bank operations in April - and then sat back while Mr Sharon continued those same operations for another month. On 4 April, Mr Bush demanded that Mr Sharon take "immediate action" to ease the Israeli siege of Palestinian towns; but, two months later, Mr Sharon - a "man of peace", according to Mr Bush - is still tightening those sieges.

It was almost inevitable, of course, that someone in America would be found to explain the difference between "good terrorists" - the ones we don't bomb, like the IRA, Eta or the old African National Congress - and those we should bomb. Sure enough, Michael Elliott turned up in Time magazine last week to tell us that "not all terrorists are alike". There are, he claimed, "political terrorists" who have "an identifiable goal" and "millenarian terrorists" who have no "political agenda", who "owe their allegiance to a higher authority in heaven". So there you have it. If they'll talk to the Americans, terrorists are OK. If they won't, well then it's everlasting war.

The full article here, via the Independent.



Wednesday, June 12, 2002

The never-ending cycle of racism and stupidity

The subject of hate crime laws is an interesting one to me because there is apparently no subject in modern politics in which such a vast majority of people are so hideously ignorant about- self-proclaimed Democrats and Republicans alike.

One of the reasons I post links to news stories published on Yahoo! all the time is that the bottom of the page contains the ever-astonishing message board the site provides the readers, in which people from across the world can take gross advantage of cowardice and anonymity to say the most disgusting things in the world that they would never say in public. But when it's about a story such as today's- that the GOP has once again blocked attempts to pass an addition to the Hate Crimes Act to include gender, disability, and sexuality- the messages and opinions are all ones that are surprisingly heard openly in the mainstream:

Hate crimes are wrong and unfair! Hate crimes. are racist! Good lord. This is coming from what's supposed to be the most civilized country in the world.

So please, I am asking people who already understand this to run it by the overly large masses who don't, be it their inherent racism or their belief that watching the episode of South Park that made fun of hate crime laws makes them experts on the subject, the most common misunderstanding about hate crime laws. Gather them and bring them to the screen so they can all read this. Ready?

Hate crime laws do not unjustly punish people just for killing a person of a different color. Conservatives and, frankly, just plain assholes, have propagated this obscene notion that if a white man kills a black man it's automatically a hate crime. There isn't even room do debate the semantics here with someone who says that. They're a goddamn idiot for thinking an obviously unconstitutional law like that actually exists.

A hate crime is NOT a white man killing a black man. A hate crime is a white man killing a black man BECAUSE the man is black.

And yes, it works the other way around. how sad is this country that people need this explained to them? There are a vast number of Americans. decent, hard-working people. who think hate crime laws means black people can do things white people can't. You know, like maybe throw a white guy into a bathroom and sodomize him with a plunger. Or shoot him 41 times. Or beat him with six other black guys within an inch of his life.

But that wouldn't happen. right? I mean, those pesky over-reaching hate crime laws lets the blacks get away with everything.

Sarcasm somewhat subdued now, I address the most oh-fuck-you statement in the debate, the "mock-love mantra:" when a conservative with no qualms about mass executions and random carpet bombings suddenly weeps "why isn't all crime called a 'hate crime?' A man kills a man because he hates him, doesn't he?"

Oh, Puh-fucking-leaze.

First of all, not all killing is a crime of hate. When a robber holds up a store and kills a cop fleeing, he isn't doing it out of hate for the cops. Sure, he might hate cops, but he did it to ensure his own survival. That he was breaking the law in the process of committing this new crime is after-the-fact. In relation to his initial crime, the only hate the robber exuded was his hatred of not having money. When the two kids who shot up Columbine High School pulled a girl from the crowd, asked her if she believed in God, and killed her when she said yes, they did it out of hate. They sought out a person to violate of their rights because of that person's specific religious belief.

We live in a nation founded by white Christian men who held their power for most of the nation's existence by convincing anything that wasn't a white Christian male that they were inferior- be it physically, mentally, morally, or economically. Over that time, the idea has set into so many people that it gives them the motivation to act out their claims of superiority with violent force: beating a gay man to death to prove your masculinity. Raping a woman to prove your masculinity. Burning down a synagogue because it offends God. And when all three of these criminals are dragged to jail, there's never a debate about how horrible they are. There's never a question over whether or not they hated who they just abused and tortured. And I certainly don't hear any conservatives rationalizing the murder of four black girls in a church in Alabama by saying how hard it is to be white in America.

The country, primarily it's white, Christian majority, needs a serious amount of education about the true nature of hate crime legislation in this country. There's not a decent citizen of this country who would be against it if they knew what it actually does. Frankly, the only people who would still be against it are to stupid and too ignorant to ever have their minds changed. but they'll never be seen beyond their precious anonymity of the Yahoo! message boards.


Nice ex-roommate gives good link to good site. Yay!

Clear Channel Sucks. Well, duh.

(Link via the as-always awesome Do You Feel Loved.)


Tuesday, June 11, 2002

The President of the United States has gone completely insane, Pt. 4

The Bush administration is developing a new strategic doctrine that moves away from the Cold War pillars of containment and deterrence toward a policy that supports preemptive attacks against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, the Washington Post is reporting.

Essentially, the administration touts the change in policy as a result of the most unprecedented event in U.S. history- someone else actually having the gall to attack us. And since it was an attack from a group of guys who we're not sure where they were all from, we couldn't just obliterate them and be happy. And since the "let's waste a country because people from an allied country attacked us" policy didn't exactly pull the heartstrings the American populace, something new, something exciting, something. action-packed must be added to make war entertaining again.

So, of course, we haul out the nukes.

Yes, what the one-sentence summary from the Post doesn't mention is how nuclear first strikes are being considered as a possibility in the new U.S. "Defense" plan. Such an example is for cases of biological weapons, in which the Pentagon said with a straight face that the best way to handle those is the "extreme heat of a nuclear blast." These people have guns. I'm serious.

Michele Flournoy, a former Pentagon proliferation expert now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that to be effective, the United States will need to strike preemptively before a crisis erupts to destroy an adversary's weapons stockpile. Otherwise, she said, the adversary could erect defenses to protect those weapons, or simply disperse them.

But Flournoy said she favors moving toward a doctrine of preemption given the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons among states supporting terrorists. She said the policy may offer the best of a series of bad choices.

"In some cases, preemptive strikes against an adversary's [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities may be the best or only option we have to avert a catastrophic attack against the United States," she said.

So as long as that makes sense, let's go for it. The new plan is a follows: we have nuclear weapons, but others might be building them. So we should nuke them before they finish building their nukes so they can't nuke us. which honestly they most likely would never do unless, oh, say. we nuked them first... which we would have just done. So make sure you're thorough.

Oh, yeah, this is so much more sensible than diplomacy.


Monday, June 10, 2002

And now, the most frighteningly stupid thing your government could possibly do... this week

The federal government spent $62 million on a building to store and treat low-level radioactive waste at a California nuclear weapons laboratory, then decided the structure wasn't secure enough.

So where is the waste kept now? Under tents.

Hundreds of bright yellow, 55-gallon drums are stacked under the tents outside the building at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, east of San Francisco.

Read the rest of the story here.



Saturday, June 08, 2002

All-American Osamas

Another great one from the GunGuys, but one I've been reflecting on for some time now: the idea that attacking and detaining all the Arabs in this country will somehow protect us from terrorists. Why bother when we can find as many terrorists we want all in our own land?

Mr. Burgert, a 38-year-old who last made a living renting out snowmobiles here in this spectacularly beautiful nook of northwestern Montana, had a terror plan that made Osama bin Laden's look rinky-dink. Not content merely to kill a few thousand people, Mr. Burgert's nine-member militia was planning a violent revolution and civil war to overthrow the entire United States government.

In Michigan, militia members planned to bomb two federal buildings. Missourians planned to attack American military bases, starting with Fort Hood, Tex., on a day it opened to tens of thousands of visitors. California militia members planned to blow up a propane storage facility. Most unnerving, a Florida militia plotted to destroy a nuclear power plant.

If these were Muslims who were forming militias and exchanging tips for making nerve gas, then we'd toss them in prison in an instant. But we're distracted by our own stereotypes, searching for Muslim terrorists in the Philippine jungle and the Detroit suburbs and forgetting that there are blond, blue-eyed mad bombers as well. We're making precisely the mistake that the Saudis did a few years ago: dismissing familiar violent fanatics as kooks.

Rest of the article here. (Via New York Times, as always, free registration required.)



On Arab and Israeli minds

From the New York Times (free registration required,) the story and interactions of Zaydan Zaydan, failed suicide bomber. Please reflect on how interesting it is that two people from different sides managed to stop talking about how they wanted to kill each other for a minute through the rarely-used art of sitting down and taking to each other. Hmm.

In a conversation that lasted more than two hours tonight, the bomber, Zaydan Zaydan, gave a rare glimpse into the blend of religion, desperation, low technology and cruelty that can produce suicide bombers. He described his ease in evading Israeli tanks and checkpoints, and a bomb that reeked so badly that he doused it with cheap perfume as he walked toward his chosen killing ground.

Mr. Zaydan, who is 18, spoke of his hopeless search for a job, of long days spent in pool halls before he found his way deeper into Islam, and of how his recruiter composed his last, videotaped statement for him, because, as a fifth-grade dropout, he can read but not write.

He said he was "pushed" to make his attack not by Israeli action or a terrorist group, but by "the love of martyrdom." He added: "I didn't want revenge for anything. I just wanted to be a martyr."

"He's also a human being, despite all of this," Sergeant Levi said of Mr. Zaydan. "That's the difference between us and them, at least in our thoughts. I don't believe if something like this happened on the other side, they'd be giving this kind of treatment. Just the opposite."

Mr. Zaydan expressed gratitude for his treatment, even by his immediate captors. "This Jewish policeman is better than many, many Arabs," he said, indicating one of his monitors.

"I know Israel," he said, recalling his six years as a peddler here. "I know that the individual Israeli citizen is innocent like us. Unfortunately, we are victims of our leaders, sitting on their chairs."

Mr. Zaydan, who has been interrogated by the Israelis and is expecting to be prosecuted, said bitterly that he knew he would be jailed for life and remembered only as a terrorist.

"I feel sorry, because it was a mistake," he said. "But as a human being, I should live like others. The way there is an Israeli state, there are people living in this state, enjoying life, having someone protect them. I don't live in this situation. I don't feel I'm secure."

Soldiers could enter Jenin at any time, he said, and he constantly feared being arrested. "As long as life continues like this," he said, "you will have people who think like me."


Friday, June 07, 2002

Another idea goes kaboom

An update to the story about the Nevada mushroom cloud license plate, for the five of you who still remember and/or actually care about it: it appears as though the Nevada DMV has now decided to cancel the plate. According to supporters of the plate, foul politics are afoot.

You know what? I'm gonna go look at the cute puppy some more.


Just because I want to say it before you hear it on "Crossfire"

President touts Farm Bill and Estate Tax Repeal... at a "Pork Festival".

Believe me, people like Paul Begala are laughing their asses off over that one.


Yes, I've seen Seamus. And yes, he's freaking adorable.


Well, at least they're not giving any of the Osbournes more airtime

The article about this is here, but I would recommend reading the much more insightful analysis about it from The Suburban Limbo:

...Carol Martin, an award-winning journalist, and her two Chicago-based producers did not have their contracts renewed by 60 Minutes II... CBS News chief Andrew Heyward told US Today last February "[They] just became a luxury we can't afford. Times are tight."

Luckily, Heyward did manage to find a million dollars in his tight little budget to hire Lara Logan as a contributing correspondent for the show. Heyward called Logan "an intrepid journalist with tremendous curiosity, determination and a keen eye for good stories," then added, "She will add even more depth to our stellar cadre of international hard-news reporters."

Oh, right. And what happy coincidence! Logan, 32, a former swimwear model, is known in the British press by her nickname - 34D Lara. While covering British and American troops in Afghanistan earlier this year, she was reprimanded for wearing "low-cut tops" and "skimpy outfits" and for "shamelessly flaunting her gender." Yeah, I smell credibility all over this move. it so hard to tell the truth? Especially when you're in the news biz? Why not just say, "This isn't about journalism. It's about who looks good on camera. With the old broad, we'd break news. With the hot babe, we'll attract male viewers. Do the math and you'll see why we made the switch."

For God's sake, just say it. Everyone knows it already.


Thursday, June 06, 2002

Another senseless shooting in Lebanon

This story came to me from the ever-hysterical antagonists of the pro-gun fanatic movement over at GunGuys, who I think I'm going to be checking out more frequently now. In Lebanon, Missouri, a man was sentenced to two years probation for killing another man.

Oh, but wait, here's all the things that make this such a heartwarming story: the killing took place in November. Of 2000. That's right. It took over a year for a man who fatally shot another person to actually even be charged for any crime whatsoever, let alone acquitted of the charges. And what rational excuse did the man have to get him off? Because he was hunting, of course. And apparently, as the article explains, when you take a high-powered rifle and discharge it into a bush because something was moving behind it, it's not murder if it just happens to be another human being. Furthermore, apparently as a hunter you are also looked at as one with higher reasoning of perception, as the court found that despite the hunter's consumption of half a six-pack prior to killing someone, that couldn't have had any affect whatsever on his rationale that the man he murdered was, in fact, a wild pig. That was wearing camo gear. And a hat.

So let's just run by this again. In the state of Texas, a man with a criminal record can be executed simply by having someone without a criminal record saying they saw the first man kill somebody. But in the more refined state of Missouri, a man can actually kill someone and admit to it, but all he has to do is say he thought it was a wild pig and he has to suffer the inabilty for 24 whole months to not be able to go out and do it again.

So could a legal expert explain to me why this can't apply to just about any other incident in life now? "Well, your honor, I didn't mean to empty the handgun into that mailman, it's just that I thought he was the rabid dog the police reported was loose in the area."


Hours of cartoon fun for everyone

Had to let the world know of this one... or at least the few hundred or so of it's residents who view this page: custom-build your own South Park character. My crude attempt at the president (during, of course, the boil era) shown at right. Good luck with your own attempts, kids.


American soldiers may have "been helping terrorists." Or at least that's what the teevee tells me

The pilots that accidentally bombed Canadian troops were improperly prescribed amphetamines. Oops.

In the meeting, held in the week before Canadian soldiers were shelled by American bombs in Afghanistan, at least one F-16 pilot complained that requirements for crew rest were not being observed and that many of the pilots were overtired. The pilot was told, however, that further questions about crew rest would not be looked on favourably by the wing command.

Instead, pilots were advised to speak to a flight surgeon about so-called "go/no pills" -- amphetamines used to help stay awake on long missions, and sedatives to help sleep.

Then, on April 17, a fighter from the 183rd flying a patrol mission accidentally bombed Canadian troops conducting a live-fire exercise south of Kandahar. Four soldiers from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry were killed and eight injured.

Pilots are supposed to get 12 hours of rest between missions, but that can be changed when the unit is in a state of alert. The 183rd has been flying missions in the no-fly zone since March. Although U.S. air force rules allow flight surgeons to prescribe dextro-amphetamine (dexe-drine), the drug is supposed to be used for long transoceanic transport flights, not combat missions.

Remember kids, Uncle Sam says: drugs are bad and support terrorism... unless it's really, really important.


Wednesday, June 05, 2002

It starts, and let's hope it keeps coming

Civil rights groups filed lawsuits against four major airlines on Tuesday, alleging discrimination against five men who were removed from flights after the Sept. 11 attacks because they looked Middle Eastern.


This story involves two of the favorite things for ignorant Americans to complain about because they're, well, ignorant: giant lawsuits against huge corporations and the American Civil Liberties Union. So, as a huge fan of both of those, I'm not letting this one go by without a mild fight.

The most important aspect of the article is the mention that of the five men in the lawsuit, who claim they were kicked off of flights because they looked Arab, three of them are not Middle Eastern, and all of them are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents. That in itself is enough to end the issue right there: Americans don't get picked on because they're brown.

But since a lot of people are stupid and racist, and become even more of both when they're online and anonymous in the message boards attached to the article, it's important to point out that even their stupid and racist argument that "Arabs caused 9/11, Arabs need more scrutiny" has no logical validity. Do they believe white men need to be overly profiled at security checkpoints for federal buildings? Should all people that "look 17" be pulled aside and searched outside events held in any high school?

The truth, of course, is the racism itself- Arabs and people who "look Arab" are easy to profile and rob of rights because, for now, they are a limited group. They don't control the vote in any way, they don't have celebrity advocates for their rights the way other races and religions do. And it's kind of a funny irony that the government wants to make it harder and harder for this group to come to the United States under the same guise of "national security." Maybe they know deep down that after you piss off an entire select group of people, you need to make sure they can never get together and vote you the hell out of office.


"Run, Cletus! They're coming to take our logs away!"

Akin to the now-famous Town That Banned SatanT story, an interesting act by the townsfolk of John Day, Oregon, who this week voted to ban the United Nations from the county.

The townspeople have a rising anti-government sentiment, apparently stemming from their anger over the federales' oppression towards their desire to cut down just about anything that grows up from the ground- as emphasized by their additional provision to the vote that allows them to ignore federal regulations against logging, outside of the fact that they can't do that.

Listen, I'm trying to not take sides on this one, because I think that government control of the town's job market or not, any entity that causes a 13% jobless rate needs restructuring. But when I listen to statements like this:

Bud Trowbridge, whose grandfather settled in John Day in 1862, said he's ready to use force to protect his property from the United Nations. "We're trying to avoid a fight. But we still got our guns," he said.

The only thing I want is for UN troops to invade the backwards land and convert the residents. I'm sure the ultra-conservative anti-Federal Ann Coulter would approve?


Look, a free-market fuck-over that doesn't even need NAFTA to work

E-mail spamming company sues man who rejects their service for loss of profit. According to the defense, a victory for the spammers will set a precedent making companies of the like completely invulnerable from attempts to prevent them from flooding inboxes across the planet.

Of course, the seemingly-never-mentioned obvious answer- that e-mail should be treated like snail mail and the cost placed on the sender, not the recipient, by means of charging for bandwidth used to send rather than recieve- is still lost amidst the ether. or maybe it's all the porn ads in the way or something.


Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Why, oh why do they tempt me with headlines like this?

Look, I don't write 'em. I just laugh at the people who do.


Monday, June 03, 2002

"Idiot," Chris. Look it up.

Chris Matthews, or more likely one of his interns, decided to use his newly-opened MSNBC weblog (you heard me) to condemn an Arab Harvard student who used the word "Jihad" in his commencement speech. The MSNBC article Matthews (or more likely one of his interns) links to strangely fails to mention how Matthews handled this story on MSNBC- by declaring to the kid on air during his show that he was "a kid known to have been a fundraiser for Hamas."

As this more detailed and much better-written story from the Harvard Crimson explains (how great is it that the journalism students are better journalists than alleged professional journalists?) that Matthews was oafishly (and ignorantly) referring to the student's affiliation with a student group that once held a fundraiser for a different group that was found to possibly be linked to Hamas... after the fundraiser had been held. Funny how Matthews failed to notice that... I guess he was too busy writing a weblog.

The article (the good, well-written one) also notes that virtually none of the students from what Matthews himself claims to be a "great school" that are protesting against and in some cases mailing death threats to this obviously evil and murderous foreign brown person for the horrible crime of using a touchy word in his speech have actually read the text of the speech, and much like the protest of any religious-themed movie or controversially-titled television program, or Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men, is branded as offensive before it is even shown to the public. Ironically, the article Matthews linked to even mentions the true nature of the student's message, which "focuses on the meaning of "jihad" as struggle both for personal growth and for wider peace and justice. The speech condemns Muslims and non-Muslims who have abused the word and uses Sept. 11 as an example." Funny how Matthews failed to notice that too.


Well, that peaceful night of sleep is over

...Simply because I wake up and deal with crap like this. First of all, for anyone who just needed a little bit of convincing that the world is a cruel and horrible place to live in and that this alleged post-9/11 baby boom is the exact opposite of the way to better society, I would like to point out that in Santa Cruz, California today, a man bled to death in a convenience store from a gunshot wound to the head while other customers stepped over him to pay for their merchandise.

While the main thought going through my head while reading this was somewhere around the lines of "the only way I will ever be convinced God actually exists right now is if every single customer in the store who did that then had their lives ruined, preferably by the same robbers who shot the guy in some bizarre allusion to Spider-Man except they don't get to become super-heroes in the end and instead live out the rest of their lives with horrific, physical evidence of their complete lack of a soul, and maybe the loss of vision and/or sense of smell for good measure," I also had other ideas going through my head due to my own trip to 7-11 this morning.

I was, after seeing it on the newsstand myself, wondering if any of the customers were in such a rush because they needed to get their hands on the newly released first issue of Gene Simmons' magazine Tongue. That's right. The leader of Kiss has made his next foray into his ever-growing world of whoring his name, his band, and his image out to the throngs of pre-pubescent males who are to young to do either of the following: 1. Buy Playboy, 2. actually have heard a Kiss album. Now I like Kiss just as much as any other person with utter contempt for 90% of what passes as music in today's society, but I'm getting a little bit sick of Gene Simmons happily milking the fact that he's a sexist opportunistic pervert. (A quick scan of any interview he's ever done can allay this fact. At least Eminem is pretending to treat women like lesser objects.)

Maybe I'm being to harsh on Gene. Maybe I'm being too cantankerous is suggesting that a society that allows yet another pointless immature "men's magazine" onto the stands is, understandably, the kind of society that could care less about a man bleeding to death in the store where they can buy a copy of it. Maybe this guy isn't desperate to preserve the image of his long-has-been band by allowing his painted face to be re-painted over anything he can think of. But hey, if you think all that, then I'm sure you'll trust good 'ol Gene to give the the best in sexual satisfaction:

Oh yeah, supply and demand. Somebody shoot me too.


Sunday, June 02, 2002

And one more to make you go to sleep happier tonight

Forgot to throw in this one. Admittedly, it comes from BuzzFlash, which if was any more openly supportive of the Democratic Party would be personally appointed by John Kerry's wife to help measure for the new drapes; nevertheless, it's one of the most interesting analyses of the true impact of the NRA I've ever read: ran an article, featured prominently on the NRA's web page, titled "Pa. Democratic Primary Focuses on Guns." On May 16, 2001, five days before the primary, one Pennsylvania paper, The Morning Call, featured a story titled, "NRA ads could help give Casey the edge, political analysts say." Instead, Rendell thumped the NRA-backed candidate, Bob Casey, by a wider than expected margin: 56 percent to 44 percent. This in a state where the NRA boasts membership that is second only to California. But looking back, the NRA claimed they would deliver Pennsylvania for Bush too in 2000-but they didn't.

In New Jersey, often defined as the quintessential suburban state, the gun control issue was one of the key reasons for the defeat of Republican Brett Schundler who lost badly to Democrat Jim McGreevey in the 2001 gubernatorial race. Almost every analysis of the contest mentioned gun control as one of the defining issues in the race that led to McGreevey's huge margin of victory. Schundler is a textbook case of misunderstanding the power of the gun issue in a state with a strong bipartisan history of gun control.

In California, the campaign of Gray Davis is quite happy to face the strongly pro-gun Bill Simon in the race for governor. Simon is trying to avoid the gun issue during the campaign but, like New Jersey, his record will work against him.

[T]he Democrats should remember that the NRA poured millions of dollars into the 2000 campaign, but the top four recipients of their funds lost the popular vote. Ashcroft lost to a dead man, Spencer Abraham lost to a living woman, and George W. Bush lost the popular vote by 540,000 votes.


The ritual

Well, that's done. Sorry for the lack of posting, but I just finished a grueling few days. For some strange reason, both computers in my house decided to have their modems break at the same time, requiring two trips to CompUSA, off Rt. 17 (aka Hell at 2 PM on a Saturday) to buy two of the same modem. But of course, while my computer (aka my first-born male child) was easy to fix, the family computer, which is 5 years old, thus making it too old to be of any use but not old enough to be nostalgic like my Atari systems or the old Tandy in the attic, decided once again it was time to take up my entire day.

It's still broken, so to speak, the current problem being that it's web browser now crashes whenever you- get this- connect to the internet. Whoopie. My mother of course carries on the grand tradition of the Pollak/Johnson bloodline which is that no mechanical object can ever, EVER be replaced while it can still be moderately fixed. Hence buying a 5-year old 233-Pentium with 32MB of RAM a new $30 modem instead of, say, using it to keep doors open and buying a new one. The Tandy I mentioned before, which was purchased in 1987, was the family computer- the ONLY family computer- for 11 years. This is why unlike all my other friends I am not as computer literate as I want to be; because until 1998 I had a home computer that didn't even have a hard drive, let alone an active operating system to run on it. Do to this, however, I am possibly the only 21-year old in the world who can fully operate any computer system without actually needing to use a mouse- I can play Minesweeper without the mouse, for fuck's sake. My siblings and I are also the uncontested masters of The Oregon Trail, simply by inference of it being the only computer game able to run on our computer for half of our lives. Ironically, I never learned how to type.

My hope is to get picked up by a syndicate over the summer, get a huge advance, and be able to buy my mom a new computer before I go back to school so I don't feel guilty about leaving her at home all alone with a computer that has the modern-day technological matching of an Etch-a-Sketch, including the whole requirement of shaking it violently for five minutes as the only way to reset it.

And hey, that makes a perfect segue, because the other main occupying activity of my weekend is/was the first round of the annual submission packages. This is where I take the 20 best comics I did during the year (which isn't hard seeing how I only drew 24, plus the Christmas Special, which I never submit because it contains way too much violence and filthy language. I MUST make a summer comic for all you guys to show that darker side of XQUZYPHYR & Overboard) and mail them to the six major American comic syndicates, as well as a few single publications like the Funny Times, the Nation, and the American Prospect. The whole ritual takes all day to do, because it involves lots of time at the copy center, lots of time at the post office, and lots of time collating and sorting.

It's very time consuming, and with all the postage and copying it's somewhat expensive. I'd be more enthusiastic, but as I've been doing this for three years now I know of the stats: King Features, the largest syndicate, receives 6,000 submissions a year. They give contracts to 2 or 3 new artists, of which only one in a few years maintains enough popularity to keep going for a few years more. The fact that the old-timers which fill up the mainstream papers simply refuse to retire and/or die adds to the lack of demand for my work. not to mention that other slight problems that editors reflect on my work, which can be summed up in the words of Fred Schecker, the Creative Director of News & Features at Tribune Media Services, who to this date holds the title of "greatest comment I have ever received about my work, ever:"

"August, Some of these made me laugh and you are obviously talented, but the content and presentation here is inappropriate for a newspaper audience."

If that's not a summary of mainstream newspaper comics, I don't know what is. Let's hope Fred like's this year's batch, because according to him he's the only one at the office who's gonna be reading them. I love my sense of youthful optimism.

Now I sleep, for in the morning I must rip out the hard drive of my mom's computer and soak it in warm soapy water for six or seven minutes.