Friday, January 17, 2003
Gimme a break
Expect a likely halt in posting and e-mail
responses for the next 36-72 hours as
I begin the process of packing up all
my crap and heading back to my dorm at
NYU for the spring semester. Though this
means you're deprived of new content for
a day or so, it does mean the sooner I
get back to NYU, the sooner new comics
start up again.
If you want something to read, go check
out the No
War Blog. An e-mail (and subsequent
but not-too-subtle removal of my site
from their link menu) from them reminded
me that I haven't made my required mention
of them in a while, so go read what several
dozen others have to say about the war
for the few days I won't be able to since
all the magic tools that allow me write
about it will be in the trunk of my car.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
Negative on Affirmative, Pt. 2
This one from Tracy Williams, which I'll
address right now as well for all.
I stand (well, sit) before you (well,
not really) as a black man, aged 25, college-educated,
who opposes affirmative action. I am not
a conservative by any means, and I clearly
don't feel that affirmative action ever
hurt me (although I honestly don't know
if I've ever benefitted from it; I like
to believe I did not.) I believe that
affirmative action has opened some doors
for black people who wouldn't have had
them opened otherwise; that being said,
though, I still believe that it is not
a just policy.
At the risk of sounding like a certain
ex-Senate Majority Leader, I don't believe
that diversity is, in and of itself, always
the most desirable thing. It leads to
a greater range of views and a greater
pool of varying experiences, which can
be a good thing if you have set out specifically
to find a great range of views and a great
pool of varying experiences. But if you're
simply out to provide education and you
have a limited amount of spaces for people
who want to get this education, it seems
to me that the only criteria for acceptance
should be high school GPA, test scores,
extracurricular activities and entrance
interviews -- that is, things that the
applicants had some control over.
Don't misunderstand -- I'm hardly
saying that colleges should do absolutely
nothing to attract more diverse student
bodies. They should recruit at black high
schools, they should attempt to have a
multicultural appeal (that is, studies
in various cultures and qualified professors
of many cultures and nationalities), they
should do everything possible to avoid
being exclusionary. But when it gets right
down to it, I feel that giving an automatic
consideration boost to all black applicants,
as I understand the Michigan policy does,
is racist in the exact same way that white
applicants used to get an automatic consideration
boost in the years before affirmative
action. The motive is different, certainly,
but the end product is the same.
Would ending affirmative action tomorrow
mean a less diverse student body next
semester? Hell yes it would. Would that
mean that college admissions boards are
actively slamming the door in the face
of minority students? No ... it simply
means that the minority students who didn't
make the cut without the automatic boost
will have to study harder and be better
so as to win on a level playing field.
It's the only fair way.
I don't really want to get into the
arguments about whether or not affirmative
action hurts blacks in the long run by
making people wonder if they came by their
success through their merits. I don't
really know if it's true, but more importantly
I don't think it matters anywhere near
as much as the basic fairness problems
I laid out above.
So I'm afraid I agree with W on this
one. You have no clue how much it pains
me to say that. But I can't see this any
other way. Trust me, I don't like the
company that this position puts me in.
I fully agree with you that a large amount
of people who rail against affirmative
action are closet racists (sometimes,
uncloseted racists.) But I hope that this
message from a Real Live Black Man Opposed
to Affirmative Action lets you know that
such a person can exist.
My initial response to Tracy is to read
my previous post, because I think it answers
a lot of his issues. But that said, there's
a lot more to, well, to be perfectly honest,
nit-pick with this one.
First of all, I'm just going to avoid
detailing the issue with "agreeing with
W" on this. Tracy appears to express logic
and sentiment in his reasoning for opposition
to AA, whereas my argument over Bush's
logic is the basic premise that he's
lying. Anyone who disagrees with that
is more than welcome to provide me one,
just one, significant example of George
W. Bush using executive power to address
what he feels is massive injustice against
black people.without claiming essentially
that "it's for their own good."
Just as I said how misfortune of whites
cannot be used as a specific example,
the fortune of Tracy can't be used as
the clincher to prove the fallacy of Affirmative
Action. The fact is, Tracy knows as well
as anyone that in the national scale the
fact that he is a 25-year old black college
graduate is an achievement. In agreement
with his letter, in no way should the
idea that his race merit the hard work
he obviously did to accomplish this. As
one who is (allegedly) graduating college
in a few months, I'll be the first to
say: it's hard.
I hate to Fisk, but to be honest I'm
running short on personal time and need
to address the two biggest problems I
had with Tracy's letter:
I feel that giving an automatic consideration
boost to all black applicants, as I understand
the Michigan policy does, is racist in
the exact same way that white applicants
used to get an automatic consideration
boost in the years before affirmative
The "automatic boost" is in fact a set
of points that rests among others such
as family legacy and athletic ability
as criteria for acceptance. And as far
as how "white students used to get a boost-"
the "years before affirmative action"
were years in which white students had
a "consideration boost" by being the only
students accepted to numerous colleges.
Affirmative Action, at least partially,
is compensating for the years in
which all the black students who met qualifications
to enroll in certain colleges still had
points put in their tally for admission-
only they were negative points. Say...
...it simply means that the minority
students who didn't make the cut without
the automatic boost will have to study
harder and be better so as to win on a
level playing field. It's the only fair
I'm very confused here. The point of
Affirmative Action is extra consideration
to minorities who meet the equal requirements
of whites. As such, the idea the blacks
should "have to work harder" to equal
the cultural, historical, and economic
advantages whites have over minorities
on the national whole is possibly the
most unfair situation for minorities
The only people who might possibly "hurt
blacks in the long run" by suggesting
AA allowed them to surpass their lack
of merit are the people who don't understand
how AA works. As I said before, AA does
NOT give less-qualified people advantages.
It uses an additional factor added to
the previously-met requirements of the
minority to help reach an unofficial goal
of racial parity.
That all in mind, I acknowledge there
are those who are not using racism as
a pretext for their opposition to Affirmative
Action. I still, however, disagree with
the opposition part.
I'm sure I'll get responses from a lot
of you on both of these e-mail response
posts. If I have the time later, I'll
put up any reader responses to these two
letters, or my comments on them, that
I find suitable. God, with all the responses
I'm getting on this subject you'd think
I'm talking about that damn billionaire
Negative on Affirmative
I just finished a long response to an
e-mail from reader Chris Gillum, which
I felt I should just put up here. Gillum's
letter reads as follows:
I think your quota argument regarding
affirmative action is flawed by definition.
According to dictionary.com, "quota" definition
3b a quota is: "A number or percentage,
especially of people, constituting a required
or targeted minimum."
Affirmative action is about targeted
numbers, not required minimums. But technically,
both are quotas.
I am an engineer. At the college I
went to we had on the order of 70% of
our faculty being non-white. This was
not due to grand progressive ideals on
the part of the administration, this was
due to the fact that for some reason all
we could hire for prof's were foreigners.
Every year they had a report in the student
paper about diversity in the university
and the engineering college always ended
up on top. If anything, the engineering
college was one of the more sexist organizations
on campus. Some of the prof's were openly
against females entering the field. In
my opinion, this seems a little silly
to say "look how diverse the engineering
college is, isn't that fantastic" when
in reality it was economic pressure that
was driving the diversity and not philosophy.
I feel the same thing goes for AA.
Successful affirmative action programs
will claim they are successful based on
percentages. Whenever percentage participaiton
doesn't match populations, someone will
claim that this is a problem that needs
And as for being white giving you
a "leg up" in the world, try growing up
white in Appalachia. Some of the poorest
people in this country live in Wild Wonderful
West Virginia, and everyone seems to find
fun at the expense of a bunch of backwater
hicks who talk funny. They get no preferential
treatment from anyone and are pretty much
left to themselves to rot in the hills.
Ever seen a rural ghetto? Come to Southern
Ohio, or Western West Virginia, or Eastern
Kentucky (where they ship trash in on
trains from New York City and bury it
in old strip mines) and I can show you
a few. Are these the same white people
as the white people who have benefited
from the oil industry, the Republican
party, globalism, et cetera? Affirmative
action says they are.
My response followed, which I shall now
also reprint verbatim, so keep in mind
the context of the grammar:
Using technicality is a great stretch
to the argument. Affirmative Action does
not penalize or implicate any institution
that attempts to reach goals in good faith.
The idea of a quota, and such a term that
is identified by any pundit opposing AA,
means the idea of a legally-bound target
that one is forced or required to obtain.
Unless mandated by a judge in penalty
for extreme cases of discrimination, AA
does not force or demand a "target minimum"
of any kind. It sets an obtainable goal
with a broad stretch of options and objectives,
most of the time which are re-established
on annual basises depending on the success
of last year's goal. Despite the right-wing
rhetoric, AA does NOT require the hiring
or selection of unqualified, or in most
cases even less-qualified, individuals
of color. AA programs obviously use percentages
and statistics as identification of success
or failure because A. they are setting
goals, and B. exactly what else does one
use to measure success of a program intended
for the sole purpose of increasing minority
The use of specifics to oppose AA is
also an argument that is manipulated in
numerous ways beyond the way you have
done so. AA opponents use examples of
black success (ex. Tiger Woods, should
a rich black kid get scholarships, etc.
and as you have given white failure to
oppose AA as a whole, which is a contrary
concept to the nature of AA, which exists
not because of individual injustices but
injustices done to an entire group as
a whole. Bush's and others' idea of selective
identification of individual injustices
and "fairness" is nearly impossible, and
even if so would be exponentially more
complicated than the current system to
enact and maintain. The fact is that on
the national scale, any success on behalf
of minorities is in spite of racial adversity,
not because of the benefits of AA that
succeeded it. You mention the fact that
there are poor white people- though tragic,
this is irrelevant. Despite the rhetoric,
it is as ludicrous to suggest that white
people in a selective area are lesser
off because minorities are given an attempt
to reach parity with them as it is to
suggest that minorities are all collectively
responsible from taking all the jobs from
white people away. Affirmative Action
has not stripped white people of any rights
whatsoever, and as such it is unfair to
accuse AA of taking away the ability for
anyone to succeed. All it has done is
given a previously-hindered group incentive
to do so. To argue against such is tantamount
to complaining that the abolition of slavery
made it "harder for white people to work"
because all the black people suddenly
had to get paid for their labor.
In regards to this specific case, there
are no injustices done to white students
and no quotas or targets mandated. There
is a goal of a general increase in black
student population, and therefore race
is made A, not THE, factor in addressing
specific benefits of selecting such a
student for entry. Athletic ability and
family legacy are also such point-bearing
issues in the college's admission policy-
examples that Bush hypocritically does
not seem to be making any outrage out
In full disclosure, I must give masive
credit in the AA examples to Liberalism
Resurgent, which has so many resources
on Left-leaning idealogy that the need
to point you all to it should be the final
straw in getting off my ass and finally
making a links page. Maybe after the weekend.
I'm sorry, what?
Israel is embarking upon a more aggressive
approach to the war on terror that will
include staging targeted killings in the
United States and other friendly countries,
former Israeli intelligence officials
told United Press International.
Another former Israeli government
official said that under Sharon, "diplomatic
constraints have prevented the Mossad
from carrying out 'preventive operations'
(targeted killings) on the soil of friendly
countries until now."
He said Sharon is "reversing that
policy, even if it risks complications
to Israel's bilateral relations."
A former Israeli military intelligence
source agreed: "What Sharon wants is a
much more extensive and tough approach
to global terrorism, and this includes
greater operational maneuverability."
Does this mean assassinations on the
soil of allies?
"It does," he said.
Ummm.... I'm no expert on international
diplomacy here, but isn't this... whaddaya
call it.... oh, yeah: murder? (The
full story here)
And speaking of executing children...
American and British forces sent to
Iraq may have to fight units of child
soldiers trained to mount ambushes, sniper
attacks and road blocks, according to
US military analysts.
In a recent briefing document, Peter
Singer, an analyst with the Brookings
Institution think-tank, said there were
up to 8,000 such child soldiers in Baghdad
alone. He said that as with the Hitler
Youth, which fought in the battle for
Berlin, the Iraqi child soldiers could
"operate with unexpected and terrifying
Rachel Stohl, an analyst with the
Centre for Defence Information, said the
first American casualty in Afghanistan
was shot by a 14-year-old. "Ultimately,
they have to be treated as soldiers,"
The full story here,
but as Cursor
will also point out, there's a great international
strategy to prevent Iraq from using children
and civilians in combat: telling
them it's against the rules. Oooh.
That'll do it.
Oh, cut the crap
Look, at least some
reporters will acknowledge it: there's
no guessing here. So will everyone please
stop pretending that John Lee Malvo possibly
isn't going to die?
I don't even care about the story anymore.
He's a tragically screwed-up pathetic
person who along with another man killed
eleven people. He's obviously a dangerous
criminal and outside of the greatest case
of perjury and evidence tampering in American
judicial history it's safe to say he's
guilty. Sane or insane, he needs to be,
and will in some way be, safely prevented
from harming another living person. Thank
goodness for that. If anything, it's one
of those things that keeps you up at night
over which could actually be worse: being
a 17-year-old and being killed, or being
17 years old and being told you will spend
the rest of your life in a 10-foot concrete
But the truth is, there's really no guessing
on this one. Malvo was specifically picked
to be tried in Virginia- the state which
is beaten only by George W. Bush's Texas
in executions. And, as the news has informed
us- he will be tried as an adult. There
is only one obvious reason for this, and
that is of course that "adults" can be
put to death.
In the long run, I don't see how this
is good. So a judge declared that Malvo
is "like an adult." Whoop-de-freaking-do.
That doesn't magically make him not
a 17-year old boy, and being "tried as
an adult" doesn't mean that
when the U.S. executes him we'll be among
such charming partners as Iraq and Yemen
in the handful of countries that still
My mom made an observation that I'll
pass on to you all: it's so very odd that
we use death as the sole excuse to remove
the barriers of age. You rarely hear about
statutory rape cases where the judge says
the 14-year old girl was old enough to
know what she was doing, and we don't
see casinos ever saying it's alright for
a 17-year old to win at slots there...
and we certainly don't seem to think children
can drink alcohol or drive cars earlier
than a set age in life if we're deemed
mature enough to do so. Yet we feel that
it's important to decide that a child
is old enough to die, becuase it's vitally
important that everyone is made to feel
better by killing him because he killed
It's because, you understand, we're the
most advanced nation on earth.
Right, pt. 2
I have a lot of difficulty when it comes
to discussing Affirmative Action. It's
one of those situations where you don't
want to analyze its reasons, its implications,
and certainly not what inspired its inception
in the first place. All three are delicate
elements, and frankly, as a 21-year-old
middle-class white man it's very hard
for me to claim any stake in the statistics
Therefore, I always look at stories about
Affirmative Action not in the context
of Affirmative Action itself, but rather
the debate over it. And when I look at
that element of the issue, it gets a lot
easier to establish a personal point.
And that personal point is quite blunt:
anyone who openly and actively opposes
Affirmative Action is lying their ass
off about why they oppose it.
Oooh. I can hear the e-mail programs
starting already. But seriously, I don't
have a choice because of the basic statistic
I will look at in this issue: virtually
every person I have ever seen, heard,
talked to, and argued with who opposed
Affirmative Action is a middle-to-upper-class
white person who, even if it's subconscious,
think they're being cheated. To which
I basically imply: relax, white person.
The issue at hand, of course, is Bush's
latest jaunt into shattering the fine
plate-glass shard of credibility the Republican
Party is now attempting to balance on
that is the believability of their commitment
to racial diversity. This week, he's decided
to announce his support for a lawsuit
to end Affirmative Action in college
admissions brought on by a handful of
white students who decided that it's the
fault of black people that they didn't
get into college.
Bush is droning that the system is "flawed"
because of a quota system that apparently...
what? Lets too many blacks into college?
The horror! Except, of course, as Rob
Humenik < a href="http://www.getdonkey.com/archives/000687.php#000687"
target="_blank">pointed out on his site
the other day, that's in no way what the
college is doing, and Bush is using the
flimsiest example and the stupidest of
lawsuits to make himself look good in
front of a bunch of politicians who don't
dislike minorities at all, no sir not
at all nope no siree noooooo.
So, back to my point about the white
people using code language to hide their
outright hatred of blacks succeeding.
You want to know how to end this discussion?
Here is the question that not a single
reporter has bothered to ask Bush. It's
the one simple question that would end
the entire debate and bring the administration
to its knees:
Mr. President, will your alternative
plan make it easier for more minorities
to get into college- in other words, do
you believe that a change to your initiative
will result in an even more diverse national
Deer. In. Headlights. That's what you'll
get, because you and I and especially
the president know that the answer is
no. That is the spin, and that
is the inherent racism that opponents
of Affirmative Action are trying to hide,
be it subconscious or openly exposed.
Anyone who is complaining that "blacks
have an unfair advantage" or that "it's
harder to accomplish so and so if you're
white" is trying to hide the true statement
that they are trying to convey: they
think there's too many black people here.
Affirmative Action has never
meant quotas. It has never meant "unfair
advantage" because the entire nature
of it is removing the unfair advantage
held over minorities. And yet a nation
of white people, who have benefited from
generations of "unfair advantage" and
preferential treatment find one or two
unique individual elements of America
where they feel blacks might have an advantage
over them, and announce that "in the interest
of true diversity," they want to make
it harder for the black people.
Getting rid of Affirmative Action and
replacing it with something a white person
calls "fair" has never led to a newer
paradigm of racial diversity... all it's
ever done is whiten the pool again. Funny
how no one seems to say it that
way, though, isn't it?
Update: Mikhaela Reid continues
her creative strategy of being more talented
than me in just about everything I consider
myself talented in with her notes on Bush,
race, and Affirmative Action. Go
to her site and read significnt portions
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
President Bush plans to challenge
a University of Michigan program that
gives preference to minority students,
telling the Supreme Court there are better
ways to promote diversity, administration
Yes, says Bush, there truly are better
ways to promote diversity in his opinion.
Like, you know, re-nominating Charles
The full article here.
We will reflect on the strange nature
of this alignment- you know, Bush joining
a lawsuit brought by white students because
they were victims of special preference
in Grad School selection while he himself
was, you know, a beneficiary of
special preference in Grad School selection-
as the day progresses.
Update: Barry Routh has pointed
out that Bush has in fact made this announcement
on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. Well, we're certainly aiming for tact
today, aren't we, Mr. President?
Okay, that's really hilarious
Screenshot from Yahoo! News taken from
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Where do you live near again? Did
you say the Crymeafucking River?
The convicted cross-burner at the center
of the Pickering re-nomination speaks
of the vast Left-wing Conspiracy out to
destroy his good nature.
Daniel Swan, the Mississippi cross-burner
whose potential prison sentence was reduced
by embattled Judge Charles Pickering,
says both he and the judge are victims
of political intrigue.
"Politics are hurting a good man like
Pickering and have put me in a real bind,"
Prosecutors had planned to ask that
Swan receive a seven-year prison sentence.
Under pressure from Pickering, they agreed
to ask for 27 months, which Swan served.
Publicity about the cross-burning
case, which had drawn little attention
- even in Mississippi - before Pickering's
nomination, has put Swan's small trucking
company out of business, he said.
Swan admitted at trial he had used
a racial epithet. But he says he's no
"I'm guilty of sticking the cross
up and burning it," he said. "But I'm
not guilty of all the hate crime things
they accused me of."
You heard him. He's not a racist, he
just uses racial epithets. He didn't do
a hate crime, he just... burned a cross.
Umm... forgive me for my outright East-Coast
Librulism, but isn't there just the slightest
chance that this guy is losing business
because he sounds too stupid to drive
The full article can be found here,
which was found via Atrios,
because, for some unexplicable reason,
just about every relevant political story
in the last three weeks has suddenly been
found at his site. It's actually quite
I really hate saying stuff like this,
because I fully acknowledge that I'm not
famous. I'm not relatively important,
and I certainly don't mark the cultural
landscape with my website considering
how few hits a day I actually get compared
to mainstream political writers/bloggers/cartoonists/etc.
So with that in mind, the stuff I hate
saying is the stuff that makes me sound
as if I'm much more important and powerful
than I really am.
That stuff is this- the flagrant negligence
of e-mail functions has officially pissed
me off beyond reproach.
I respect people e-mailing me. Hell,
I benefit from it: thanks to all of you
I have been given many mentions and been
alerted to many stories and important
things. Not to mention the compliments,
the advice, the grammar error reporting,
and the requests for sex. I am beyond
grateful for all of that.
The problem is that in my contact page
I have a very small, and I thought very
of requests for e-mailing me. They
make it easier for me to sort through
my excess of mail, and put me in a much
happier mood afterwards to do something
about it. Every single one of them
has been broken.
I have people trying to send me files,
people sending me e-mails where I can
clearly see the "cc" to about thirty other
people hoping that just one of us will
mention their website, people expressing
outrage that I didn't reply to them or
mention them as if I'm required by international
law to do so, and, of course, the most
offensive thing someone can do to my Inbox:
subscribing me to mailing lists.
It is with much regret that I say this,
because it's a line I never wanted to
cross. This afternoon I officially blocked
my first e-mail address. I just couldn't
deal with it anymore. Someone out there
subscribed me to some site's mailing list,
a mailing list which simply refused in
any way to let me remove myself from it
until I faked a legal threat, a mailing
list which then, literally within an hour
of announcing my removal from the list,
started sending me e-mails again.
Whoever did this has no excuse, and they
are no longer able to give me one, because
any e-mail sent from any prefix with his
site as the "@" section will now not even
reach me. Ever. I wish I could have taken
more time to address the implications
of this action, but I also wish spammers
and annoying e-mailers would understand
this quicker: you have no idea
how ridiculously easy it is to just press
a button and silence you forever. My site
host's e-mail blocking tools just simply
made it too easy for me to not
just block the address.
And to be honest, I regret it. I feel
bad that I had to, basically, outright
shun one of my readers. It makes me feel
very pretentious and very condescending.
The fact that you people are out there
and want to hear what I have to say is,
frankly, the only reason I enjoy saying
anything here. If you didn't want to read
my work, I wouldn't be putting it online.
But for once, I've decided to act superior,
and in the nature that is me, will spend
the next few days making myself into a
martyr for it. It's a line I finally crossed,
and I hope to hell I don't have to do
it again- though I can tell you for sure
that like most things, it only gets easier
to do it again.
I don't know how I can thank all of you
for reading while essentially saying that
you've all just been warned without sounding
like a complete and utter asshole. So,
I guess, today I'll be an asshole. I'll
do my best to avoid being one again anytime
Update: Well, that was quick.
I just checked my e-mail again and had
eight- that's right, eight- messages from
those "majordomo" servers that send out
e-mails informing me I've been removed
from their system. Apparently, the fear
of God is third only to the fear of being
threatened with a lawsuit and fearof being
summarily blocked from any chances to
spam you again, respectively.
It also, however, explains why my multiple
attempts to cancel the membership to the
mailing list the person put me on failed-
technically, they put me on about ten
or eleven of them. I can't even go into
lengths about how utterly stupid that
is, nor will I dwell on the oft-noted
statement that I will never buy anything
from an ad that is e-mailed to me, ever,
just on principle, you annoying bastards,
because that would be inappropriate.
So that's what the ridiculously
old little lady is doing there!
FAIR reports on the latest verbal spanking
of Ari Fleisher, courtesy of the 214-year-old
"At the earlier briefing, Ari, you
said that the president deplored the taking
of innocent lives," Helen Thomas began.
"Does that apply to all innocent lives
in the world?"
It was a simple question -- and, unfortunately,
an extraordinary one. Few journalists
at the White House move beyond the subtle
but powerful ties that bind reporters
and top officials in Washington. Routinely,
shared assumptions are the unspoken name
of the game.
In this case, Thomas wasn't playing
-- and Fleischer's new year wasn't exactly
off to a great start. His tongue moved,
but he declined to answer the question.
Instead, he parried: "I refer specifically
to a horrible terrorist attack on Tel
Aviv that killed scores and wounded hundreds."
Of course that attack was reprehensible.
But Thomas had asked whether President
Bush deplored the taking of "all innocent
lives in the world." And Fleischer didn't
want to go there.
But Helen Thomas, an 82-year-old journalist
who has been covering the White House
for several decades, was not to be deterred
by the flack's sleight-of-tongue maneuver.
"My follow-up is," she persisted, "why
does he want to drop bombs on innocent
On a dime, Fleischer spun paternal
and nationalistic. "Helen, the question
is how to protect Americans, and our allies
and friends --"
Thomas responded: "They're not attacking
you. Have they [the Iraqis] laid the glove
on you or on the United States ... in
Fleischer laced his retort with sarcasm.
"I guess you have forgotten about the
Americans who were killed in the first
Gulf War as a result of Saddam Hussein's
"Is this revenge," Thomas replied,
"11 years of revenge?"
The man in charge of White House spin
revved up the RPMs. "Helen, I think you
know very well that the president's position
is that he wants to avert war ... "
But the journalist refused to jettison
her original, still-unanswered question.
She asked: "Would the president attack
innocent Iraqi lives?"
The full exchange here.
Just so you know...
Time has an online
poll asking which of these three countries
is the biggest threat to world peace:
Iraq, North Korea, or the United States.
Hee hee hee.
Mom, don't read this
Attention residents of Georgia: you
may now fuck.
That is all, unless any female readers
from Georgia wish for me to help them
celebrate. In which case send a photo
and directions to your house. I'll stop
by after, you know, I go to Hell for pretty
much everything I just said in this post.
Well, who saw this one coming? When you've
screwed up relations with a nuclear-powered
volatile state, accused them wantonly
of being part of an "Axis of Evil" ("Axis,"
of course, meaning a coalition of three
countries despite their, you know, complete
hatred and/or complete lack of communication
whatsoever with one another) and cut off
their international aid to dismal, for
that matter possible apocalyptic results,
what's the best way to explain your errors?
Why, of course! Blame
A senior Bush administration official
suggested yesterday that the nuclear crisis
with North Korea was the predictable result
of a flawed 1994 agreement signed by the
Clinton administration with Pyongyang
that "frontloaded all the benefits and
left the difficult things to the end"
-- for the next president.
The new formulation of blame coincides
with a spate of accusations, some from
strong administration supporters, that
President Bush may have antagonized North
Korea by labeling it part of the "axis
of evil" and helped provoke the crisis.
That sentiment appeared to be echoed
by North Korean officials meeting Friday
and yesterday in Santa Fe with New Mexico
Gov. Bill Richardson (D). Sources involved
in those talks said North Korea's deputy
ambassador to the United Nations, Han
Song Ryol, had said the Bush administration's
tough policy toward North Korea was motivated
primarily by Bush's desire to do the opposite
of what his predecessor had done on foreign
In other words, the Washington Post is
doing it's journalistic job of being very
nice and cordial about stating the blatantly
obvious fact that Bush is knee-deep in
his own stink and acusing Clinton of passing
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Well, this certainly raises all eyebrows
A blogger named Alissa
Ann appeared in my link log today
with a post to this
site here. The article in question
has the great title of "The 50 Most Loathsome
People in America." And, after reading
it, I discovered that this article could
single-handedly offend just about anyone
who read it in some way, regardless of
race, religion, gender, and especially
political affiliation. Therefore, I suggest
you all go read it now.
Even more important, I suggest you read
the rest of the site hosting it, as it's
got some really cool and very well-done
articles and yes, cartoons. Which are
without a doubt drawn better than mine.
Whatever, the whole site seems pretty
well-put-together. It's very much like
SomethingAwful, only without making you
feel stupider for actually reading it.
My greatly commuted opinion
The truth is, I have very little to say
about outgoing Illinois Governor George
Ryan's actions. There's little to elaborate
on my reaction outside of the basic fact
that it's probably one of the greatest
and boldest political moves in the history
of this nation, and I applaud the decision
without any regret or doubt whatsoever.
The reasons for this feeling do not need
to be repeated, as every accurate and
valid point about the fallacies of the
death penalty were addressed by Ryan when
I watched him make his speech Saturday
afternoon. Instead of trying to understand
my ramblngs about it, I suggest you just
what he said, as I am very sure that
before I die the text of this will be
archived somewhere as one of the most
prolific public adresses of the 21st century.
I guess, if anything, I can only address
the voices that followed the speech, mostly
those of outrage that Ryan would do this.
I maintain the feeling I always have when
people talk like this: I for one simply
find it amazing that so many people can
be outraged that a complete stranger is
no longer going to die for killing a complete
stranger. Seriously, people make it sound
like this is a movie or something.
Friday, January 10, 2003
Weekend Mailbag! Intolerable italicized
text for all!
Happenings of dubious time-consumption
to commence this weekend, so let's cleanup
the Inbox while satiating your thirst
for new insight at the same time. As an
NYU student, I'm so into the Global
Village thing. (Sorry, In-joke)
From Diamond LeGrande in regards to the
earlier posts about North Korea's nuclear
First, the clear: North Korea has
no plans at striking the US with nukes.
This would be mad for the Kim Jung Il,
as the US would wipe him and the rest
of the North Korean government from the
planet so fast that we'd miss it if we
Same thing for Saddam Hussein and
the Iraqi Ba'ath party. Both these men
and the folks around them know this, and
even if Hussein or Kim were to go mad
and try this, the generals would hold
a coup and shoot their leader in their
drive to keep living. I do keep wondering
if the talking heads don't think about
this due to ignorance, arrogance or prejudice.
("Dammit, don't those slant-eyes and towel
heads know that the US will kill all of
them if they try to kill us?")
ZMag has a pretty good article
about all this. Even I wonder if the
writer is underplaying the threat of a
nuclear-armed North Korea a bit, and blasting
the US too much. That is a hard threshhold
to cross with me.
Anyhow, these moves are three parts
defensive, one part offensive. The three
parts defensive are the US, China and
Russia, all of whom either border North
Korea or are hostile toward North Korea,
all of whom have nukes. The one part offensive
is South Korea. Countries who have nukes
like to strike countries who lack nukes
without fear. The US (Afghanistan, Panama,
Nicaragua, Colombia, all of Indochina),
Russia (Afghanistan, eastern Europe) and
China (Vietnam) have done this for years.
Having said that, I doubt North Korea
will strike South Korea any time soon,
but I think they will threaten to strike
South Korea to gain something -- likely
the power agreements the writer wrote
in the above article, likely reunification
terms much better for North Korea (as
the talks have been held by South Korea
and its US patron, the terms have been
almost certainly better for Seoul).
This is an interesting article courtesy
of Aimee Woznick, who notes the following...
umm... let's say disagreements with the
painting of Richard Nixon as a staunch
advocate for civil rights:
As I am currently editing a book about
the Fair Housing Act and the policies
of HUD from the administrations of Johnson
to Reagan, I was shocked at this effort
to paint Nixon as an admirable vanguard
in the fight to achieve racial equality.
This forthcoming book, The Politics of
Suburban Segregation, by Dr. Charles Lamb,
argues (on the basis of a mass of evidence
from the archival collections of Johnson,
Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan) that
"Nixon's basic policy opposing federal
pressure to integrate the suburbs has
remained substantially intact at HUD over
three decades, across six presidencies,
including two Democratic administrations
holding power for a total of twelve years."
In other words, Nixon's staunch aversion
to housing desegregation lead to such
stagnation and powerlessness in the Department
of Housing and Urban Development that
a sharp separation of the races between
the suburbs and the cities continues to
perpetuate indefinitely. Of course, prior
to the election Nixon donned a compromising
exterior, supporting "nondiscrimintation"
in housing. A paradox is evident, however,
if Nixon's view of "Gee, people shouldn't
refuse to give blacks housing just because
they are black" is juxtaposed next to
his ideals that federal action should
not be used to enforce this concept and
public housing should not be built in
the suburbs in order to diminish this
Furthermore, the author of this editorial
attributes the success in ending school
segregation to Nixon, rather than mentioning
the countless individuals, schoolboards,
and Supreme Court justices who battled
unflaggingly to end these divisions. This
article has the same goal that Republicans
have when they make sure to appear at
photo shoots with a token African- or
Hispanic- American, the same objective
that Trent Lott has when he exhibits his
rapport with blacks by appearing on BET..
It aims to send the message that the party
represents all types of Americans, while
at the same Republican officials use covert,
underhanded maneuvers to prevent equality
not only between races, but between people
of different genders and sexual orientations.
It supports a facade that complacent Americans
will continue to take stock in, solely
because facing the painful truth requires
real, immediate action.
(Besides, why would any proponent
of the Republican Party hold up NIXON
as proof of the party's efforts to promote
We haven't talked about the Middle East
for a while, primarily since there hasn't
been much hope and/or improvement in the
recent past, but a reader caught something
on TV that I didn't see. According to
I was watching television just now
(WCVB, "New Hampshire's News Station")
and they were covering the recent dual-suicide
bomber attack in Israel. They were showing
Sharon saying his usual bit about how
terrorist attacks must stop before peace
talks can begin... However, the sign on
the front of his podium showed a large
blue (traditional) star above the words
As Lorell pointed out in his(?) e-mail,
you can't argue that a man with vision
like that really hopes for a shared Jerusalem.
Stephen Bates has strengthened my complete
lack of faith in Americans realizing that
SUV shoud be an insulting word with the
One consequence of Americans' love
affair with the SUV is that some manufacturers
are starting to call things SUVs that
really aren't, at least not by our standards
of the past few years. My girlfriend just
bought a Subaru Forester to replace her
dying '90 Accord. Last year, the Forester
was a compact wagon, not an SUV. This
year, it's designated as an SUV. No, there
do not appear to be very many design changes
from last year to this year; they just
decided to call it an SUV... possibly
to dodge one or another government reg,
but IMHO most likely simply to appeal
to more people who want to buy something
called an "SUV," though it is really more
like a medium-sized passenger vehicle.
Kevin Wohlmut sent me a link to this
article from Reason about former drug
enforcement men who now oppose
the War on Drugs. It's an interesting
set of interviews.
Finally, I won't quote the passagesbecause
the context is too hard to explain, but
I finished an e-mail exchange recently
with a reader who apparenty assumed that
my status as a cartoonist with a very,
VERY small-audience website earns me the
side benefits of... get this... women
fawning over me. It's not a political
issue, but I'm flattered and amused by
the very concept that drawing slightly
legible cartoons merits someone larger
chances with girls. If that's the case,
then I must be doing somethign wrong,
because outside of the occasional messages
of as-yet unredeemed promises of physical
affection as response to my art to which
I maintain a stolid "I'll believe it when
it happens" policy.... well, let's just
say I'm still waiting to be convinced.
The question was also raised to the level
of which I would prefer- a larger website
audience or more girls wanting me. And
then my brain just stopped for a while.
If I don't post again, have a great weekend.
I'll probably spend mine fighting off
all these groupies with a bat. Of course.
Thursday, January 09, 2003
For those of you you had the silly
belief that the resignation of Trent Lott
eliminated all racism on the planet forever.
Yes, both of you.
Whores Online, now active after their
winter vacation (which is of course a
good thing about 85% of the time. Just
The White House and the Republican
National Committee declined to comment
yesterday on a racial controversy involving
a Bush administration ally who is campaigning
to become chairman of the California Republican
Bill Back, the California party's
vice chairman running for the top job,
sent out an e-mail newsletter in 1999
that reproduced an essay that said "history
might have taken a better turn" if the
South had won the Civil War and that "the
real damage to race relations in the South
came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction,
which would not have occurred if the South
The controversial article that Back
reproduced in his e-mail newsletter was
written by William S. Lind of the Free
Congress Foundation, who posed the question:
"What If The South Had Won the Civil War?"
Lind's answer, in part, stated: "Certainly
Southerners would not be living under
the iron rule of an all-powerful federal
government, as we all do now. Northerners
might not be, either; a Union defeat would
have given states' rights a boost in both
countries. . . . What would my great-grandfather,
Union Army sergeant Alfred G. Sturgiss,
say to all of this? If he could see the
sorry mess the country he fought for has
become, I think he might sadly say that
he'd fought for the wrong side."
The full article here.
We hold these truths to be self-evident
that all men are created- Hah! Just kidding!
More than one of you have asked: yes,
I've heard. For the moment, words
sort of fail me on this one.
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
The war on drugs again being fought
by those with their little pesky points
I've drawn on the "drugs=terrorism" issue
before in the less-legible format (as
seen here in a February
2002 comic) but the issue of the stupid
and painful hypocrisy of the government
blaming drugs for terrorism with one hand
while stroking off the auto industry with
the other as they ignore any attempts
at increased fuel regulation remains.
We're addressing, of course, those pesky
For the record: on the whole, I dislike
SUVs not because of their existence, but
because of the abuse of their purpose.
According to consumer reports nearly 20
percent of American car-owners own (at
least) one SUV: a vehicle which, as the
ads for them all explain, is meant for
cross-country trekking, outdoor wilderness
exploration, mountain climbing, and if
really necessary full-on military assault.
SUVs are advertised as even more grunt-work
intensive then pick-up trucks, which usually
restrict their ads to mentioning the horsepower
of the engine, which apparently means
how much dirt or lumber can be dropped
in the back of the truck without crushing
the suspension. (Look, I'm not a car expert)
What these ads never seem to show is
what at least 90 percent of those 20 percent
are actually, and probably only, doing
with their SUVs- driving back and forth
to the mall, soccer practice, down the
block to drop off the mail, etc. As Dave
Barry once noted, the average SUV owner
would never dream of actually driving
it into the woods, because they'd be too
afraid that a squirrel would poop on it.
The point is, SUVs are really designed
not to fill some need which jeeps and
trucks filled a long time ago, but rather
fulfill a luxury desire- the problem,
therefore, that I have is that the government
refuses to place a luxury tax on this
luxury, so to speak. SUVs, though classified
as cars for pricing, licensing, and safety
regulations, are classified as trucks
for fuel consumption. The result is that
if Ford makes anything bigger than the
Expedition, which currently comes equipped
standard with its own escape pod, the
fuel requirements will be so great to
move the damn thing that you'll actually
need a hose running directly from the
gas tank of the car straight into a derrick
The issue of an SUV's general obnoxiousness
is one that will never be solved. Like
all other luxury goods, those who seek
status symbols will obtain them, hence
the existence of too-big houses, too-big
lawn art, too-big swimming pools, too-big
mammary enlargements, and anything else
that people with the extra cash deem worthy
to waste it on something that makes them
be recognized as an asshole even quicker
than I do most other Americans.
In other words, I know SUVs will never
go away. There's too many people who just
don't give a damn. With that in mind,
the issue is the oil. When someone buys
a bigger house, they pay more rent. When
they want to be fat, they eat more food.
The difference between their desire to
own a vehicle that the waste the essential
use of is that we don't need to (at least,
not yet) invade countries to secure cheap
access to rent and food that are, according
to most scientists, in very limited supply
when calculating the overall estimate
of length of human existence. Humanity
will always find a new source of food
and nourishment, the food chain guarantees
that. Oil, however, will eventually run
out, and the government is doing its damndest
ot prevent any alternatives from being
And, as Arianna Huffington has revealed,
they're scoffing at the reverse-logic
of those anti-drug ads. Ms.Huffington
recently started funding a
series of parody drugs=terrorism ads,
which again, I should point out is being
done well over ten months since, you know,
I did it. Not that I'm bitter, just that
if anyone tries to cash in on a "growing
your own weed doesn't help the terrorists"
before I do I will run them over with
a 2003 Escalade.
This is George," a girl's voice says
of an oblivious man at a gas station.
"This is the gas that George bought for
his S.U.V." The screen then shows a map
of the Middle East. "These are the countries
where the executives bought the oil that
made the gas that George bought for his
S.U.V." The picture switches to a scene
of armed terrorists in a desert. "And
these are the terrorists who get money
from those countries every time George
fills up his S.U.V."
A second commercial depicts a series
of ordinary Americans saying things like:
"I helped hijack an airplane"; "I gave
money to a terrorist training camp in
a foreign country"; "What if I need to
At the close, the screen is filled
with the words: "What is your S.U.V. doing
to our national security?"
Now that is flat-out brilliant.
That's why Arianna has the big bucks.
Okay, I guess it's also because of that
other thing. But I digress.
Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers,
said of Ms. Huffington, "Her opinion is
out-voted every year by Americans who
buy S.U.V.'s for their safety, comfort
and versatility." He said that S.U.V.'s
now account for 21 percent of the market.
Eron Shosteck. Shosssteeeeeeeck. He's
even got a name tht makes you want
to beat the hell out of him and take his
wallet. Mr. SmokeFromHisAss failed to
elaborate, in the article, on how the
"safety" of SUVs makes them the most dangerous
thing on four wheels, or what exactly
implies "versatility" in a vehicle most
people buy and don't even leave their
home state with.
But this has got to be my favorite passage
of the article:
The advertisements are to be broadcast
on "Meet The Press," "Face the Nation"
and "This Week With George Stephanopoulos"
in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and
But some local affiliates say they
will not run them. At the ABC affiliate
in New York, Art Moore, director of programming,
said, "There were a lot of statements
being made that were not backed up, and
they're talking about hot-button issues."
"Statements not being backed up?" You
mean, a paid advertisement that accuses
a direct action with inderect terrorism
funding? How is accusing car purchase,
instead of drug purchase, any more or
less of a "hot button issue?" Gosh, I
sure hope you're not trying to duck around
some ridiculous notion that the car companies
that are buying ad space are forbidding
you to run these now... that would just
totally disillusion me. I mean, it's not
like they've proven
how easy it is to buy the government
Gevaert sent me a link to this
little animated GIF here which apparently
shows that some people had the SUV ad
idea before Huffington.
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
That slope's kinda slippery what with
all the saliva samples smeared on it
LAFAYETTE - Based on tips from the
public about possible suspects, the
DNA of 50 to 100 people from Acadiana
will be tested in an effort to catch
a serial killer...
The canvassing of homes by investigators
in the areas where Trineisha Dené Colomb's
body was found and where her car was abandoned
could start later this week. Colomb's
car was found in Grand Coteau, and three
days later, her body was found in Scott
in a patch of woods near Renaud Drive
and Mills Street.
The people who refuse to have their
DNA tested will be forced to submit
by a court order, the sheriff said.
You can read the whole article here
while we all wait for the ACLU to show
up, we hope. But, let's sum up: because
a serial killer was believed to possibly
be driving a white truck, 100 people who
own white trucks will now be forced to
submit to DNA tests to find out if they
match "evidence" of the serial killer
on a woman's body. There are actually,
apparently, government officials in the
area who think this, you know, makes sense.
These people are not "volunteering" in
any way to help find the killer. No one,
at least according to this article, is
actively approaching police and submitting
saliva. What is happening is that
they're being approached at their homes
and "asked" to essentially prove that
they're not a serial killer. Those
who do not "volunteer" are then ordered
to. Because, as the article mentions,
a serial killer "may or may not own a
DNA is something that seems much more
effective in defense- this is a situation
where investigators are starting with
a pool of... well, everybody, and trying
to use DNA to whittle down. That's the
opposite of usual DNA evidence used to
prove paternity (one preson accused of
fatherohood) or judicial guilt/innocence
(one defendant proving they are not the
killer, prosecutors strengthening their
evidence against the accused suspect,
etc.) Turning DNA into the "glass slipper"
gives chance to a host of manipulative
actions that offset the entire widespread
procedure. If a serial killer knows everyone
in town with a white truck is getting
their DNA checked, what's to stop him
from grabbing a loose hair from the seat
of any white truck he passes by to plant
on a body?
That said, how is the sampling from such
a wide range a benefit either? This is
silly logic, but it's logic none the less:
if I owned a white truck but wasn't the
killer, how would the police having my
DNA get them closer to the killer? The
sole significance of the test would merely
eliminate me from the pool of every other
person in the area who could have done
it. And, as I said, were I the killer,
it would be very easy for me to fake evidence
if I knew, as this article displays, exactly
what the police were looking for. The
only thing this battery of... well, battery
seems to be proving is that a police investigation
can't find a killer and has resorted to
wasting lots of money to grasp at straws...
or, to be more specific, jam them into
And the results of the study which
could have been predicted by a 10-year
old child are in
A report commissioned by outgoing Maryland
governor Parris Glendening has found interesting
disparities in the death penalty:
although it appears the race of the defendant
is irrelevant individually in the application
of capital punishment, such is is not
the case when one weighs in the race of
the victim of a crime, in which the killing
of a white person by a black person nearly
doubles the likelihood of the defendant
receiving the death penalty, "primarily
because they are substantially more likely
to be charged by the state's attorney
with a capital offense."
And now, of course, for the money shot:
[Republican Gov.-elect Robert] Ehrlich
would not comment Tuesday morning on the
study, saying he had not had a chance
to review it. But he repeated his pledge
to end the moratorium when he takes office,
saying he will review death sentences
on a case-by-case basis.
Ah, yes. Because hey, let's not let that
whole "written proof of the racism and
fallacy of the death penalty" get in the
way of your campaign pledge to lift the
moratorium and get back to killing people
as soon as possible. Does anyone else
find this even slightly irritating? The
governor claims he will "review the study,"
yet his pledge to lift the moratorium
sort of implies... well, that he really
doesn't give a fraction of a rat's ass
about it, doesn't it?
Not that this means we think we're
guilty of preventing sick people from
getting healthy for the purpose of furthering
profit margins or anything evil like that
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has reached
a preliminary agreement to pay $545 million
to settle charges it blocked generic versions
of two of its best-selling drugs, according
to a source familiar with the negotiations.
Bristol-Myers became notorious among
consumer advocates for listing additional
patents on BuSpar the day before generics
were poised to enter the market in late
2000. The action spurred the creation
of a consumer coalition that has sued
numerous drug companies for similar actions.
Drug companies' use of loopholes in
the patent laws to maintain their monopolies
pushed the Senate last year to pass legislation
that would have revised the rules for
bringing generic drugs to market. The
law was never passed in the House but
late last year President Bush proposed
new regulations that would make it easier
for generic companies to compete.
The full story here.
Monday, January 06, 2003
Do we need a strategic soccer initiative?
The new president of Brazil announced
this week the cancellation
of a $750 million contract to build
jet fighters in favor of using that money
to feed the poor. Yes. Despite the contrary
actions of the U.S. government, effective
democracies can actually do that.
My opinion of this, really, is the entire
ego concept: Brazil, unlike the United
States, obviously doesn't need
to prove its military supremacy for a
basic reason: they are really, really
good at soccer.
Seriously, go with me on this: I know
little about sports. I'm not the competetive
type when it comes to athletics, a combination
of aforementioned lack of interest in
such coupled with my chronic affliction
of Throwslikemygrandmother-B. Brazil,
on the other hand, simply dominates
the planet in one of the few things that
has an even higher international impact
than global full-scale war: World Cup
I'm not advocating any actual shift of
funding towards soccer promotion in the
country, but it's just one of those little
things that makes you think, you know?
I mean, Brazil's got an army, nuclear
technology, commercial industry, nation-promoting
actors and models and other examples of
culture, close connections to Venezuela
and its hefty oil reserves, yet it doesn't
feel the need to declare half the wold
as enemies of the state and note the need
to destroy them all. I think the reason
is national mood: they've already secured
dominance on the soccer field.
Ding dong ding, the Swedish Christmas
From the San
The Christmas goat tradition was started
in 1966 by merchants in Gaevle, 90 miles
north of Stockholm. Since then, only 10
goats have made it through Christmas and
New Year's Day.
Most were burned -- some just hours
after being erected in the first week
The 1976 goat was hit by a car. In
1997, it was damaged by fireworks and
from 1998 to 2001 it was set ablaze before
the end of December.
During Christmas 2001, the goat was
torched on Dec. 23 by a 51-year-old visitor
from Cleveland. Lawrence Jones was convicted
of inflicting gross damage and spent 18
days in jail.
Triumph over the Will
I'm sorry, it was too good a title not
to use. Barry Routh sent me a link to
deconstruction of George Will's invoking
of Godwin's Law.
Will is apparently terrified that
the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq will
find nothing, and the lack of evidence
will slow or, even worse, stop America's
march to war. He invokes a "memory" of
how weapons inspections failed to eliminate
German militarism after World War I. He
goes on to imply that this failure helped
to pave the way for the rise of Hitler
by invoking another if somewhat tortured
memory of how the "semi-senescent" Paul
von Hindenburg, Germany's president in
January 1933, opened to door for Adolf
Hitler's rise to the Chancellorship. Will
makes his link up with the most amazing
contortion-by juxtaposing Hindenberg's
sleepy mental state of 1933 to a comment
Hindenberg appears to have made around
Will's ominous lesson of history is
the inference that Saddam Hussein is like
Hitler and therefore must be stopped before
he plunges the world into war. Yet all
of this is done without mentioning Hussein
or the American march to war.
Has Will gone over the top? Is he
being too clever by a half? Or are his
words and analysis the product of a deep
intellectual effort to enlighten the booboisie.
Not trusting my own semi-senescent,
overly-analogized mind to answer such
questions, I asked my good friend Dr.
Werther, an admirer of Goethe who is trained
in the continental tradition, and a frequent
contributor to the Blaster, for his analysis
of Will's sense of history. What follows
is his response-I urge you to read and
compare it to the wisdom dispensed by
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Look, I'm sorry. Maybe this
means nothing to you, but I just look
at it and feel uneasy.
No. No no no no no. This is just wrong.
Stop it. Stop it now.
That smell isn't burning coal, it's
My friend Josh is taking a break from
being a courteous host to play numerous
alcohol-related ping-pong games, so I'll
take a quick moment out to post this one...
and you all think I don't care.
In October 2001, Marriott paid $46
million for four synthetic fuel plants.
In this year's third quarter, ending Sept.
30, the hotel chain made $54 million more
than it would have made without federal
tax credits for producing synfuels.
Marriott International reported third-quarter
profits of $103 million, a slight increase
from $101 million for the same three months
a year earlier. Synfuel production served
to offset a travel slump that saw hotel
Federal synthetic fuel tax credits
were designed to encourage the production
of alternative fuels to decrease dependence
on foreign oil imports.
The act encouraged entrepreneurs to
make synthetic fuels from "unconventional
sources." Some companies began claiming
synfuel credits for producing ethanol
from corncobs or oil from shale deposits
in the West.
Then, beginning in the fall of 1999,
a handful of electric utilities and coal
companies began spraying already-usable
coal with latex, diesel and pine-tar sprays
to qualify for the credits.
The full article here,
but to sum it up: Mariott hotels, in order
to find a profit, bought coal, sprayed
it with fuel, and then called it "synthetic
fuel" which they sold at a loss. For this,
they made a massive profit in the
form of your tax dollars. That means the
majority of government interest in "synthetic
fuel alternatives" is really being devoted
to industries that are deliberately exploiting
the tax credit to do... pretty much absolutely
nothing. And you're all paying for it.
Sythetic fuel isn't being developed and
promoted by independent research groups
as a means of freeing the world from environmentally
and economically unfriendly petroleum
resources... it's being manipulated by
corporations like Mariott who call themselves
"entrepeneurs" to make a profit. Someone
mind explaining to me how we even remotely
might have been considered as asking
for our taxes to be wasted like this?
Oh, what the hell
I'm a political weblog, and... whatever.
It's a thrill just to be nominated, since
you'll probably all vote for Talking Points,
Tom Tomorrow or Atrios anyway. But, like
I said, what the hell.
Posts will be pretty much stagnant until
Sunday night or Monday morning, as I'm
leaving this afternoon to spend the weekend
with my friend Josh at his frat house
at Dartmouth. So, if any of you are on
the road for the next few days in the
New Hampshire area and almost get run
over by an incredibly reckless driver
in the green Thunderbird with the Darwin
Fish and the XQUZYPHYR & Overboard
sticker on it, it's probably me.
If you need something worthwhile to pass
the time in my absence, take a cue from
Tom and help
out some needy dogs. Trust me, it's
a worthwhile thing to do. You can also
pass the time making your head explode
over figuring out why an avowed non-drinker
such as myself has decided to spend four
days at a fraternity on the only college
campus in America where you can minor
in alcoholism. The answer most likely
involves one of two things: incredibly
attractive Ivy League girls, and New England
clam chowder. Perhaps both, and with any
luck at the same time. Excuse me, I have
to leave. Right now.
Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Chuck, you're nuts
one's been floating around, and I
have a mixed opinion about it:
A Democratic lawmaker said Sunday
he will introduce a bill in the next session
of Congress to make military service mandatory.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, said
such legislation could make members of
Congress more reluctant to authorize military
The Korean War veteran has accused
the Bush administration and some fellow
lawmakers of being too willing to go to
war with Iraq.
"When you talk about a war, you're
talking about ground troops, you're talking
about enlisted people, and they don't
come from the kids and members of Congress,"
he said. "I think, if we went home and
found out that there were families concerned
about their kids going off to war, there
would be more cautiousness and a more
willingness to work with the international
community than to say, 'Our way or the
So, here's the deal. I support Rangel's
intentions, but I also think he's very
irrational and illogical. Those of military
age who are fervently supportive of the
war are usually those who would, if finding
it necessary, volunteer, and likewise
those who would see this as a statement
of how horrible it would be to be forced
to serve in the military are likely among
those who are against the war already.
All that's left in the middle are the
armchair chickenhawks who support the
war but would, if asked draft or not,
find a way out of serving just like many
of them did in Vietnam when that sudden
outbreak of Athsma seemed to grip the
Rangel's "Modest Proposal" is a somewhat
Micheal-Moore-ish concept, which although
funny when coming from a filmmaker seems
obnoxious and resource-wasting as a legislative
proposal. Usually a congressman presses
for something like this as a "poison pill"
to kill existing legislation. This is
just on it's own, and serves no real purpose.
Truthfully, Rangel seems to be suggesting
this only as fodder for the CNN and Fox
News talk shows, and for the love of all
that is holy, people- so we really need
to create topics for that?
Outfoxed by that clever penguin!
me" by a half-hour again with noticing
the multitude of hypocrisies in regards
to our "handling" of North Korea, mentioning
NY Times article with the following
If we know the country has weapons
of mass destruction, or at least will
within months, and yet diplomacy is still
an option--well, it sure makes the rationales
for war with Iraq look even thinner. It's
almost enough to make you think that they're
not being entirely honest with us about
their motives for this thing (cough cough
But with the oil card already in play,
there's of course the other issue that
makes the United States different about
the apparent level of Evil North Korea
holds in the Axis, that which is revealed
in this companion Times piece: North
Korea is slapping us silly with this.
Even if the administration's strategy
of isolating North Korea works, at best
it would amount to a partial tightening
of sanctions against a country whose economy
is already moribund. The only additional
threat available is the denial of food
aid for the people of North Korea, an
act that would take the United States
into new moral territory.
The administration now is in the awkward
position of choosing to give war with
Iraq priority over the most serious threat
to stability in Asia since the last North
Korean nuclear crisis a decade ago. Moreover,
the North Koreans are moving to develop
their nuclear stockpile with such dispatch
that the administration's delaying tactics
appear to have little chance to succeed.
With the last of the international inspectors
ejected yesterday and the possibility
of a mothballed plutonium reprocessing
facility coming back on line in the next
month or two, North Korea is giving itself
the means to produce ever-greater numbers
of nuclear weapons, and no subsequent
agreement will be able to reverse that
There is still a lingering hope that
all this will turn out to have been an
attempt by North Korea to get the Bush
administration to make major concessions.
If that's the case, either the United
States or North Korea will have to give
way. Unfortunately neither of these scenarios
looks likely. And absent either outcome,
North Korea is on course to becoming a
nuclear power. The consequences of their
success are severe.
North Korea already is in a position
to provide nuclear technology to other
states or to terrorist groups. In any
event, we should expect that it will continue
to develop the ability to deliver nuclear
weapons by ballistic missile. And no long-term
comfort can be found from the relatively
limited capabilities of North Korea's
current missiles, which can still threaten
our allies, including Japan. What's more,
North Korean weapons engineers can gradually
develop longer-range rockets and lighter
warheads, giving the country true intercontinental
The point being that North Korea isn't
Iraq- putting aside the oil issue for
a moment, it's a basic fact that Bush
can't confess to the public: the United
States is simply incapable of going to
war with North Korea, and North Korea
not only knows this, but it laughing at
us over it.
It's the U.S. itself that created the
"Axis of Evil" status for North Korea
and flooded the airwaves with the rhetoric
that they might actually use nukes against
us. That's ridiculous. North Korea, unlike
a soon-to-be-attacked Iraq or a faceless
Al-Qaeda, is a (theoretically) stable
nation that will have a large handful
of people identifiable and capable of
receiving retribution should they ever
launch a nuclear weapon. North Korea is
smart enough to know they have something
very special for the U.S. that the former
enemies don't: a tangible target. If North
Korea launched a missile at the U.S.,
they would have to start making globes
with three-inch dents to revise the ensuing
alteration the U.S. would make to the
elevation of the South Asian peninsula.
What North Korea can do, however,
is gloat over the mini-Cold War they've
just created with the U.S., and cash in
on the threat of selling their nuclear
power to foreign terrorist entities- something
North Korea would not be above doing.
Right now, Bush isn't seeking for a "diplomatic
means" of stopping North Korea. He's realizing
the North Koreans called a military-threat-bluff,
and now the U.S. has to find a way to
bribe them out of becoming a nuclear superpower.
At least, as Tom had mentioned, of course,
until they discover oil there.
Ah, the brave backwards march of science
The National Cancer Institute, which
used to say on its Web site that the best
studies showed "no association between
abortion and breast cancer," now says
the evidence is inconclusive.
A Web page of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention used to say studies
showed that education about condom use
did not lead to earlier or increased sexual
activity. That statement, which contradicts
the view of "abstinence only" advocates,
is omitted from a revised version of the
Critics say those changes, far below
the political radar screen, illustrate
how the Bush administration can satisfy
conservative constituents with relatively
little exposure to the kind of attack
that a legislative proposal or a White
House statement would invite.
The full article here,
registration using false information required.
Thanks to James Wartell for the link.