Friday, February 28, 2003

 

Hey, kids! How'd you like to be a credible evidence bearing economist?

The American Prospect's weblog Tapped had a great post the other day about the recent story of apparently no significance to anyone in the media- that 450 economists (10 of whom won the Nobel Prize) issued a statement condemning Bush's latest tax plan. The White House has responded with, as you'll see here, their statement entitled "250 Economists Endorse President Bush's Jobs and Growth Plan."

As Tapped pointed out, though, there's just on small problem with the numbers inflation: apparently anyone who endorses Bush's tax plan is now allowed to be called an economist. The list of 250 economists endorsing the plan include:

  • Horace Brock of Strategic Economic Decisions, Inc. - holds no doctorate in economics

  • Grover Norquist - head of the right-wing Americans for Tax Reform, holds no degree in economics

  • Jackson Brown - member of the American Dental Association - holds no degree in economics

  • Donald L. Luskin of Trend Macrolytics, LLC - never even graduated from college

  • Kevin Hassett - actually is an economist, used his economic prowess to write a book concluding that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would top 36,000 by the year 2000

  • Ben Stein - B-list celebrity, sounds smart and stuff

There's more that just Tapped pointed out, and I'm sure you'd find more if you scrutinized the list. But Tapped summarized it the best themselves:

Now, one needn't be a credentialed economist to have an opinion on the Bush budget. But traditionally, you don't get to call yourself an economist without that sheepskin. If the White House wants to play a credentialing game to even out the P.R. battle, it won't do to pad out their list of "economists" with assorted businessmen, investment bankers, high-rolling GOP donors, Wall Street analysts, political hacks, policy entrepeneurs and at least one resume-inflating comedian.

And I'm sure those Nobel Prize winners wouldn't object to being compared to such equal epochs of the study of economics, either. I mean, doctoral thesis... cable game show... same thing.
 

   

Thursday, February 27, 2003

 

Look....

I'm just going to be in a really crappy mood for the rest of the day now, so bear with me. This sucks.
 

   
 

And suddenly, a glimmer of hope...

...As the laughter of a young baby lights up the entire room.

Or, actually, the laughter of the White House Press Corps. Yes, from the White House's own transcript:

----------

Q: Ari, just to follow up on Mexico. Is it true that the administration is willing to give Mexico some sort of immigration agreements like amnesty or guest worker program, to assure the Mexican vote, as the French press is pointing out today and is quoting, actually, two different diplomats from the State Department?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, it's exactly as I indicated, that we have, on this issue, a matter of diplomacy and a matter of the merits. We ask each nation on the Security Council to weigh the merits and make a decision about war and peace. And if anybody thinks that there are nations like Mexico, whose vote could be bought on the basis of a trade issue or something else like that, I think you're giving -- doing grave injustice to the independence and the judgment of the leaders of other nations.

Q: The French press is quoting actually two different diplomats from the United States State Department that -- they're highlighting that the United States is giving some sort of agreements or benefits to Colombia -- and other non-members of the Security Council --

MR. FLEISCHER: I haven't seen the story. And you already have the answer, about what this will be decided on. But think about the implications of what you're saying. You're saying that the leaders of other nations are buyable. And that is not an acceptable proposition. (Laughter.)

MR. FLEISCHER: Thank you.

END 1:03 P.M. EST

----------

Yes. You read that correctly, and if you don't believe it you can watch the video here (the fun starts at about the 29:00 mark).

That is, for the eternal record, the Press Secretary for the President of the United States being laughed off the stage by the White House Press Corps.

(via Daily Kos, BuzzFlash, No War Blog, and everyone else who got to this before I did)
 

   
 

Trees were cut down to make the paper and money was spent to mail these

So I was watching old reruns of The Honeymooners the other day and they actually showed that rare classic episode where Ralph and Ed come up with yet another hair-brained scheme. See, they got their hands on this thermonuclear warhead, and Ralph figured that all they had to do was take out a huge insurance policy on their apartments, then Ralph would put the nuke on his bus the next morning, drive it into the Lincoln Tunnel, and set it off. Bingo. The policy pays off thousands for Ralphie Boy, and all they had to do was send a few thousand people To The Moon, Alice. Where, of course, they would be met by 69 virgins or something like that.

Of course, as you would guess, those crazy knuckleheads never did get the darn scheme to work... I mean, they never do, those lunkheads. But as you all remember during those horrid few years during the show's heyday, many a zealous fan would try and imitate Ralph's famous "nuclear explosion insurance scam" scheme, with the odd change here and there to "make sure it would work if you do it right." Thousands of lives and millions of dollars in damage later, none have actually pulled it off.

And how could they? I mean, it's only a TV show, stuff like that couldn't happen in real life. Well, maybe it could, because honestly, the crack-binge-induced hallucination of a non-existent episode of The Honeymooners suggesting that one could live through a nuclear explosion only to immediately worry about what their insurance will cover of all the things destroyed in the occuring holocaust is the only feasable rationale for why a legitimate profit-making company would actually have an official policy like this:

State Farm, the nation's largest auto and residential insurer, recently began mailing its California customers renewal notices explaining that it doesn't cover auto losses stemming from nuclear attacks.

Company spokesman Rudy Rodriguez said he didn't know why the clarification was being issued now, other than "to make sure we let our customers know what is covered and what is not."

Previously, State Farm's auto policies only said damage caused by "acts of war" were ineligible for coverage. Its homeowner's insurance already carried a nuclear-specific exclusion, an exemption that has been standard for most liability companies since the Cold War.

Such clauses were designed to release insurers from the responsibility -- and the cost -- of rebuilding whole towns, said P.J. Crowley, a vice president for the New York-based Insurance Information Institute.

The full article here.
 

   

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

 

Umm... what the hell?

Bruce Willis is guest hosting for David Letterman. He's currently interviewing Dan Rather in a serious discussion about his interview with Saddam Hussein on the Late Show set, which is covered with plastic sheeting and duct tape.

There is a slight chance that David Letterman is the most brilliant man who ever lived.
 

   
 
Newest comic posted - "Context at $2.99 for five nights."

On a side note, it occured to me that techincally about two weeks ago I passed one year since I put Blogger on this website. I don't really consider it a major feat, since I've been doing the comic (and its website) for well over three and a half years now, but there's no question that entering (to use netspeak, which I hate doing) the "blogsphere" has raised my hit count to fantastic levels, thanks mostly of course to the humbling support from Tom Tomorrow and others. It was definitly a large step from writing one rambling essay a month to two or three rambling posts a day.

When I started the blog, I was getting about five hits a day; now I'm averaging about 750. My bandwidth limit is holding strong enough to support at the very least double that, and I hope that I'll reach that soon to expand the mighty X&O empire. (Riiiiiight.) I've made a private deal with myself that when I start averaging over a thousand a day I'll start considering merchandising, even if that means just finding a way to (finally) sell you people the damn stickers. Let's face it, I'm no Penny Arcade, but the advantage right now is that having a small (but faithful) readership means I don't consume the resources just yet to start asking you all to contribute towards them. (And before you ask, no, visiting the site multiple times a day does NOT raise the hit count, so if you want the numbers to raise faster you'll actually have to tell your friends instead of just tricking me into thinking I have more.)

I'm behind, yet again, on responding to e-mail to the point of tragically having to ignore some of it, so forgive me if I fail to respond to all of your questions, comments, and romantic inquiries, the latter of which still amaze me... I swear, there are people who write me with the idea that writing a political weblog somehow earns me, to paraphrase a former classmate, more Tang than Buzz Aldrin. If only we lived in such a world. Or rather if only I; the rest of you seem to be doing just fine, and if not I don't want you hoarding in on my non-existant harem of nubile blonde 18-to-24-year-old swimwear model groupies.

That all said, I am insanely behind on classwork, which at least for the next three months still exists. So if you'll excuse me, I have to stop complaining about my social life to hundreds of strangers as a form of procrastination from doing long-overdue assignments now.

Update: Virtual Kudos go to Will Matthews for being the first to catch the ubiquitous Früvous reference. As for the video titles, most of them are in-jokes, which fall under the "you're never getting an explanation" category. You shouldn't be reading text that small anyway; it's bad for your eyes.
 

   

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

 

Sorry, just needed to remind you once again that this really is all about bringing democracy to Iraq. Yep. Sure is. Yessireeeeeeeebob.

----------

The Army's top general said Tuesday a military occupying force for a postwar Iraq could total several hundred thousand soldiers.

Iraq is "a piece of geography that's fairly significant," Gen. Eric K. Shinseki said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he said any postwar occupying force would have to be big enough to maintain safety in a country with "ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems."

In response to questioning by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the committee, Shinseki said he couldn't give specific numbers of the size of an occupation force but would rely on the recommendations of commanders in the region.

"How about a range?" said Levin.

"I would say that what's been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers," the general said.

----------

The full article here. Yes, when our fathers brought forth to this nation a new system of liberty, clearly they had always meant a massive standing army maintaing martial law over a foreign people.

You know, when I posted a week ago about the absolute flat-out bullshit that was the new claim that "this is about liberating the Iraqi people," I really think I did emphasize how it really would only last about a week. So please, tune in to CNN tomorrow when I'm sure the government will either A. explain to us how military occupation is good for the people of Iraq, or B. ignore any questions about it completely.
 

   
 

This could very well be the most frightening thing ever

Please keep in mind, as you read this, that this site is apparently real. If it's not, I'd be much happier, and for that matter in much stronger control of my bowels. The site's Gunther IV Disturbingness Quotient is a 0.5. 0.3 if it turns out to be just a really well-done yet sick joke.

----------

Recently, our family watched as our nation chose a president. Now that George W. Bush is in, I can only hope and pray that the scandals that happened to President Clinton will not happen to him. George W. Bush is a believer and carries our Father's reputation in the actions he takes. (I can only wish we had been doing this for President Clinton.)

It is because our heavenly Father is jealous for his glory (Exodus 20:5) that I write to you.

Recently I have felt the Lord speak to me (remember, I'm a conservative Presbyterian, I rarely use those words) that our President needs someone fasting for him every day in the office for his holiness. This will not only cover him through our prayers and fasting, but also give him encouragement (and accountability) knowing that there is someone (and hopefully multitudes) fasting for him each day.

----------

That's right. Interactive global fasting. For the benefit of George W. Bush. And according to the site, over thirteen thousand people with the comprehesive skills to use a computer are actually participating in this.

So... does fasting mean not eating, or just not keeping any of it in you? 'Cause I've been throwing up ever since I first read this- if that's fasting, count as me being inadvertently part of this now.
 

   

Monday, February 24, 2003

 

The President of the United States has gone completely insane, Pt. 7

Via the LA Times (again, just stop whining and fill out the damn registration form:)

The Bush administration is proposing to exempt the Pentagon's controversial missile defense system from operational testing legally required of every new weapons system in order to deploy it by 2004.

Buried in President Bush's 2004 budget, in dry, bureaucratic language, is a request to rewrite a law designed to prevent the production and fielding of weapons systems that don't work.

If the provision is enacted, it would be the first time a major weapons system was formally exempted from the testing requirement.

The proposal follows administration moves to bypass congressional reporting and oversight requirements in order to accelerate development of a national missile defense system.

Now. I'm no rocket scientist, but... umm... neither is the president. So the only thing I could think of to explain this is that this is another one of Bush's "faith-based" initiatives. As in "Golly, I hope that untested projectile warhead we've installed in Alaska works perfectly so it doesn't kill us all!" Clearly, there is no need for testing as the holy hand of Jesus Christ himself guides us and our missile radars.

Update: Yes, I am more than aware of the vast coincidence that Bush's deadline is literally within one month of the 2004 presidential election... I had assumed the sheer and utter (and, again, mind you, obviously coincidential) obviousness that Bush would be able to have a massive public spectacle celebrating a symbol of anti-terrorism Xenophobic military might laden with speeches about him and his administration's devoted pursuit of Defending All Freedom As We Know It during a campaign stop sort of went without mentioning.
 

   
 

And now, a quick check on the face of evil

Today's New York Times (oh quit whining, you can lie in the registration if it's that important) has a compelling story about the current drive by prosecutors to limit (or rather hinder) the ability to re-open the cases of convicted murderers just because of this pesky problem where they, you know, might not have actually been guilty. According to some advocates of this reform, as the article points out, suggestions include limiting case re-openings "to prevent additional trauma to victims' families" and restricting analysis of claims of innocence to- I am not making this up- clemency requests. (You may all grimmace ironically as you ponder how effective such a concept will be in states with an "X" in their name.) The first passage of the article pretty much sets the tone:

A prosecutor was trying to block a death row inmate from having his conviction reopened on the basis of new evidence, and Judge Stith, of the Missouri Supreme Court, was getting exasperated. "Are you suggesting," she asked the prosecutor, that "even if we find Mr. Amrine is actually innocent, he should be executed?"

Frank A. Jung, an assistant state attorney general, replied, "That's correct, your honor."

That exchange was, legal experts say, unusual only for its frankness.

So you can imagine how far downhill it all goes from there. Oh, what the hell, here's my favorite splatter of logic from the story:

Other prosecutors say that the criminal justice system has an interest in finality, and that executive clemency is the best mechanism for considering claims of innocence made long after the original trial. Retrying cases years later puts prosecutors at a disadvantage, they say.

"Society has a real and legitimate need for finality in answering the question of whether someone is guilty of a crime," said Jamie Orenstein, a former Justice Department official. "The justification for closing off innocence-based challenges is that eventually we reach a point where allowing them will prevent very few unjust executions, but will undermine the deterrence and retribution justifications for the death penalty by letting prisoners engage in endless delay."

Oh dear sweet lord Jesus, save us all from the threat of "very few unjust executions."
 

   

Saturday, February 22, 2003

 

Dear Pyra: screw you to hell

I'm having this problem with Blogger that I had a few months ago before it disappeared all on its own and I thought I could be happy again, but now it's back. For some reason when I make a new post it doesn't update the archive page unless I wait about three hours, go back and republish it again. You can check now, clicking the link tag goes to the archive page with the next-to-last post at the top. Basically, it means you can't get a permalink for the most recent post which, as one would guess, really sucks.

I, of course, wrote Pyra about this, since they have the most supportive and efficient tech support in the nation. [international hand-job gesture] So if this problem has been encountered (and fixed) by anyone else out there using Blogger, please feel free to let me know.

Oh, and before you do it, to all the people thinking about sending me an e-mail saying my solution is to "switch to Moveable Type" or something clever like that: please fold a frisbee in half and then shove it into your mouth. Thanks. Just some lingering resentment from a tech support guy who actually answered my Internet Explorer problem with "switch to Mozilla." No, fuck you!
 

   
 

Two on readiness

Some fun for the weekend: hot on the heels of Tom Tomorrow's link to the anti-Ready.gov site, Bill Dollinger sent me a link to his own "NotReady.gov" site.

In regards to the icons, I have been told that there are already sites selling the various icons on T-shirts a la CafePress. Personally, I think the government could pay off the debt just by selling the stupid "radiation symbol over Texas" one, but hey, that's just me.

Second, a letter from Mike Weaver, under the category of "one of the most brilliant observations I've ever heard:"

I introduced a friend of mine to the great humor that is Ready.gov and we stumbled across the area for making sure the air is clean (this is the
famous "plastic sheet and duct tape" area). It's listed as:

Other Barriers:

  • Heavyweight plastic garbage bags or plastic sheeting

  • Duct tape

  • Scissors

This brought us to conclude that Ready.gov was giving us a new game to play, should we be trapped in rubble or a nuclear shelter waiting for the radiation to subside. It is played like the traditional Rock-Paper-Scissors game but with different ingredients. Scissors (made with the same hand sign as the traditional game) can cut the duct tape. Duct tape (made by making your hand an "O"-sorta like a hollowed-out version of the traditional rock) can tape the plastic. Plastic sheeting (made by the traditional "paper" hand sign) trumps scissors because it is too thick for the scissors to cut.

I hope you and your friends enjoy the many hours of enjoyment this game can bring you. Until, of course, you notice that several large fish and birds have made their way into your office building and are now dead: a warning sign of chemical attack.

I have such creative readers.

Update: Blake has a site up too.
 

   

Thursday, February 20, 2003

 

Do. Not. FUCK. With your. Local. Independent. Bookseller.

Fresh off the miracle of the angry librarians who prevented the pulping and vanishing-into-the-ether of Michael Moore's Stupid White Men (which just happened to end up, you know, the best-selling non-fiction book of last year, not like that's significant or anything) comes yet another little heartwarming tidbit about how people devoted to the art of maintaining and distributing culture and information have decided to formally tell John Ashcroft to shove his duct tape and plastic sheeting when the threat level remains at "Code Green."

Some booksellers are troubled by a post-Sept. 11 federal law that gives the government broad powers to seize the records of bookstores and libraries to find out what people have been reading.

Bear Pond Books in Montpelier will purge purchase records for customers if they ask, and it has already dumped the names of books bought by its readers' club.

"When the CIA comes and asks what you've read because they're suspicious of you, we can't tell them because we don't have it," store co-owner Michael Katzenberg said. "That's just a basic right, to be able to read what you want without fear that somebody is looking over your shoulder to see what you're reading."

Funny, considering Ashcroft and Ridge want you all reading the ready.gov site right now. Frankly, I'm already reading that stuff without fear; in fact I'm flat-out laughing at parts of it.

(Mad props for the link to my homie back home representing tha Big-T old school. S to tha hiz-ZAY! No, none of you will understand any of that since it's meant to piss off just one specific person.)
 

   
 

This makes no sense at all

I'm watching CNN right now with their "Breaking News" about that poor girl who's heart surgery screwed up and now they have to do it a second time. While, of course, my sympathy goes out to this girl, I have absolutely no idea what CNN is doing right now.

They are currently interviewing.... some guy. And I can clearly see the microphone setup below him... yet apparently for some form of realism or "non-studio" theme, the entire interview is being done in some kind of diner. (Perhaps the hospital cafeteria. But still) This is couple by the fact that the man, apparently a spokesman, despite all his heartfelt intentions for this girl, is completely incomprehensible. He sounds like, with no offense intended, Ross Perot with lung cancer after being shot with an elephant tranquilizer gun.

But now that's all over, because we need to jump to some podium somewhere else, whee President Bush is now going to read a speech behind yet another backdrop labelled "strengthening America's economy."
 

   

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

 

Well, this one is weird too

Harrison Von Trout wishes to alert me that Mario is a communist.
 

   
 

Well, this one is just weird

Josh Orr wishes to alert me and all other website owners out there that a handy Terrorism Threat Level Warning Monitor is available for your own page. It's just like the one at the new Terrorism Readiness site, except instead of a simple scale it actually displays the color as the hue of John Ashcroft's head. Part of me wants the country to go red just so I can see this site's icon pop up everywhere.
 

   

 
Newest comic posted - "Thought-free targets in political commentary."

I'm sure more than one of these will be recognizable considering the news of the last few weeks. Read. Enjoy. Vote if you deem it worthy.
 

   

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

 

Yes. This site is real.

Ready.gov- from the Office of Homeland Security.

Shoot me. Shoot me now. I just can't handle the airplane manual clip art. Some of these things look like the prank they played in Fight Club.
 

   
 

Cleaning up after the last bull-feeding

The previous post I made about the spontaneous campaign on behalf of warbloggers needing a new excuse this week to justify invading Iraq needs a hell of a lot more clarification, since I didn't explain the context of how I found it mentioned in a thread on Metafilter the other day. Bits of this are from previous online argument, so bear with me if there's a grammar error or two in my fervent copy-and-paste activity.

The site was noted in the first place by Richard Bennet, who I recognized only because links from him had turned up in my site tracker over the last week or so: turns out it was because he linked to me noting my comments in the No War Blog debate. I'm listed under the "pro-oppression" bloggers. Truly, we have an adherence to the civility and rational discourse propted by the NWB debate here.

The Campaign for Democracy and Human Rights in Iraq, as noted in the previous post, is under the influence of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which I'm sure has an inordinately large list of links to right-wing pro-war think tanks just as a coincidence. But the blog-centric source to which this new pro-democracy campaign holds as its brainchild is that of Dean Esmay, who as the cheif initator of the linking and orchestrator of its publicity, has gone beyond the call of duty in proving himself to be a true and proper purveyor of a human-rights reform campaign.

Oooooooooooor..... not. Since evidence has been asked as to the lack of credibility of this humanitarian campaign,, all that is really necessary can be found in the words of Esmay and his corybantic verbal assaults against any and all who disagree with him.

In a recent post he exacerbates his outrage at anyone questioning this country's intentions of installing democracy in Iraq, even as posts within this very thread have noted news reports that question the actual veracity of fact to that concept. In addition, he solidifies the true compassion of a human rights campaign by labeling anyone who opposes his views as racist, anti-American, and of course, anti-George W. Bush. He asks "'Of course, there are those who say, "I support Iraqi democracy and human rights, I just oppose the war.' But how many of them talked about human rights and democracy in Iraq until now?" apparently never having heard of, for example, Amnesty International or NOW, which have for decades existed for the sole purpose of defending the rights of the oppressed. But why would he mention those organizations, as by opposing the war, Esmay would have to declare actual, credible human rights campaigns as "hateful" and "pro-oppression?"

The idea that "liberating Iraq" is a necessity out of concern for the Iraqi people is shattered by the thing that Esmay's rhetoric fails to provide that organizations like AI and NOW do: legitimate compassionate concern. It's beyond fascinating, now at the point of frightening how such a vicious little man can be so rabid and violent in expressing his central opinion of passionate concern for the Iraqi people. The rhetoric is tantamount to psychotic anti-abortion protestors who scream their love of the millions of babies they claim to be desperate to save as they pass off as "God's will" the most recent domestic terrorist attack on a clinic or one of its employees. And through this logic of promoting peace through hate, Esmay dares to call someone against a war "hateful:"

You stop with the bullshit you pre-programmed socialist shithead. You OBVIOUSLY can't think for yourself. After 8 years of believing the Clinton Administration, I can understand your confusion about LIES versus TRUTH but seriously - it's time to grow up now.

You want to stop the wholesale slaughter of Iraqi civilians?

Well then, YOU GIGANTIC SCHMUCK ...

STOP PROTESTING AGAINST THE LIBERATION OF THE IRAQI CIVILIANS THAT YOU ARE SO WORRIED ABOUT!

This is the leader of a movement to instill compassionate concern for people?

(I have recieved e-mails from someone going by Chris Grealy, by the way, so if it's the same person I can certainly vouch that he doesn't deserve treatment with that level of vitriol. Of course, for that matter neither do numerous convicted felons.)

The rhetoric that Esmay's site, and his campaign to promote democracy by labelling all opposition as anti-democratic, and a sampling of sites that have rapidly attached to it, has been spun to the exact opposite of the bloodlust that is blatant in the tone of dialogue they present: they are feigning a "human rights" campaign to use the invasion of Iraq as a reason to liberate the Iraqi people because what they truly desire is to use the liberation of the Iraqi people as an excuse to invade Iraq. The fact that they are so obviously manipulating this logic is the greatest sign that they know damn well they're doing it.

Esmay and the CDHR are pushing an illegitimate cause that fractures legitimate ones like Amnesty International. There is no doubt that out there, deep down, there are people who rationally believe in a military assault as a means of liberating the Iraqi people, and I hope that the debate on the No War Blog brought some of those views to light. But there is also no doubt that 99% of the people supporting this "movement" of Esmay's are suddenly touting the need to free the poor oppressed people of Iraq only because they can't use last week's excuse about the goddamn aluminum tubes anymore.

Just like those pathetic little orange icons on CNN and Fox News reminding us that there's an "advanced terror mood ring warning" or whatever the hell, those link-GIFs are going to disappear as soon as everyone gets bored and finds some new activity to instill war-promoting anger and fear into the country. And just like the Afghani women we exploited to bomb someone and make ourselves happy (Afghani women who, years before the September 11th attacks were highlighted by NOW of the oppression they had to endure, but again, I'm sure that's not relevant to the warbloggers,) the people of Iraq are still going to be impoverished and oppressed when the U.S. gets bored of making good military PR. Why? Because on the long list of things the United States has on its Iraq shopping list, actually giving a shit what happens to its citizens is right near the bottom, and there's no precedent in this current administration, or for that matter the former, to prove otherwise. Kuwait? Iran? Kosovo? There is a difference between an improvement and a success, and I don't see anyone on the pro-war side admitting the that the most a massive civilian-casualty-laden bombing campaign will produce is "an improvement."

This campaign is simply a lie, which is a thousand times worse than this being "just about oil." The rabid "who cares, it's hapening no matter what" war hawks care just about that- it happening no matter what. They don't want to free the Iraqi people. They want to go to war so they can tell us all they told us so. Nothing more, and it certainly can't be anything less.

Of course the people don't want war... But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same way in any country.-Hermann Goering


 
   
 

Oh, reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllly?

For those of you who, according to Tom Ridge, forgot that the principal problem with the country prior to the War on Terrorism was, of course, the alleged "lack of communication" between major government branches, you'll be pleased to know just how much the president and his cabinet have orchestrated their rhetoric. After a long weekend wait, we discover George W. Bush's true feelings about the massive global protests held on Saturday. As we all expected, it is the views of the president that a massive opposing opinion uttered by a significant portion of the electorate has, of course, no bearing on his personal individual beliefs (the true bearing of our appoinment of elected officials, you understand):

President Bush declared on Tuesday that he wouldn't be deterred by global protests against war with Iraq, saying "I respectfully disagree" with those who doubt that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace.

He said such a war remains a final resort, but "the risk of doing nothing is even a worse option as far as I'm concerned."

Amid heavy opposition at the United Nations and protests around the world, the Bush administration faced a decision whether to push ahead with Britain for a new Security Council resolution to support war to disarm Iraq.

Bush said that the size of the protests against a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq was irrelevant.

"Size of protest, it's like deciding, 'Well I'm going to decide policy based up on a focus group.' The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security - in this case - security of the people."

Okay, time to carve the president a new one. Let the record now show that George W. Bush thinks that treating a few million people as a focus group should have no bearing on reflecting the mood of the country. I mean, that's something that should only be saved for telling everyone to buy duct tape.

Last Friday, the five-stage alert system went from the third level of yellow, "elevated risk," to orange, "high risk." This past week's jitters, fed by the release of an audiotape purportedly by Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, helped fuel rumors that the administration had decided to raise the threat alert to the highest level--red, or "severe risk"--for the first time.

"That's gross speculation," said Ridge. "There has been no discussion among the people who would be responsible for making that recommendation to go from orange to red. That discussion has not occurred."

Still, rumors circulated in Washington on Thursday that the Senate would not convene Friday due to the terrorist threat. A Senate aide denied the claim.

Kayyem and Camper said Ridge and other homeland security officials should start appearing before the public on a more routine basis, especially after the threat level is reduced, to offer information and advice. That would help make their appearances seem more a normal part of life.

Experts said Americans needed to remember that the 2-week-old department is charting unknown waters, at least in the United States.

"You are seeing very publicly an incredible learning curve by the government," Kayyem said. "We don't know how to do this. We don't have a history of this."

Ridge appeared to acknowledge as much:

"As we roll out the broader communications strategy, [we] have done quite a bit of work with professionals around the country--who include focus groups--as a way to communicate the message that really helps people feel empowered and educated rather than alarmed. And again, time will tell whether we are successful or whether we've taken the right approach."

I guess 400,000 people in New York City wasn't a large enough focus group to communicate a message that, you know, educated anyone in Washington.

Update: Burt Humburg sent me this 2000 pre-election article from Slate noting how Bush decided to use the exact opposite argument when addressing his views on teaching evolution in schools. Apparently, impact has a higher personal standard when it's something you feel like listening to.
 

   
 

Oh, yeah, but... umm.... yeah.

A follow-up to the caring, kind-hearted warbloggers who this week care for nothing but the bringing of democracy to the Iraqi people. Turns out there's a small problem with their intentions. They face a sudden disagreement in policy by this pesky fringe group known as the United States government, who have decided that once again, democracy is great, but military-controlled puppet regimes supervising cost-recoup efforts vis-a-vis annexation of "liberated" oil fields is greater.

The US is abandoning plans to introduce democracy in Iraq after a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, according to Kurdish leaders who recently met American officials.

The Kurdish leaders are enraged by an American plan to occupy Iraq but largely retain the government in Baghdad. The only changes would be the replacement of President Saddam and his lieutenants with senior US military officers.

It undercuts the argument by George Bush and Tony Blair that war is justified by the evil nature of the regime in Baghdad.

"Conquerors always call themselves liberators," said Sami Abdul-Rahman, deputy prime minister of the Kurdish administration, in a reference to Mr Bush's speech last week in which he said US troops were going to liberate Iraq.

Of course, if it makes Mr. Abdul-Rahman feel any better, odds are by the end of February there'll be an even better albeit completely different reason to invade the country, and the fears of continuing the U.S.'s shining record of beneficial democratic regime change will fade away.
 
   

Monday, February 17, 2003

 

I hope it didn't look like that when you fed it to that bull

Kicking out the inspectors was proven to be a lie. We've proven Saddam isn't a current or future threat to his neighbors. And there's still no magical photo of Saddam and Osama holding hands at Disneyworld together.

So, it's on to the next excuse for war to feed in simple soundbites to the press: the war in Iraq is now about defending democracy. In counter to the unacceptably high (to the pro-war people, that is) outpour of protest this weekend, the warbloggers have started a link ring to suddenly forget all the other reasons to go to war that have been proven baseless and come up with a brand new one!

Forgive the overdose of condescending sarcasm, but the main problem with this campaign is just far too blatant: much as how Clinton's impeachment was "really about perjury" and the Confederate flag is "really about Southern heritage," the idea that people fervently supporting the bombing of a country because it's "really about the poor oppressed people there" leaves the familiar scent of bullshit when it rolls off the tongue.

I'd love to get some statistics from all the members of this webring (which suddenly enveloped after the previous excuse of an Al-Qaeda link fell dead in the water) in regards to how many of them maintained, and continue publicly to express, their outrage over the horrific oppression of Afghani women that we used as an excuse to bomb their country and then not care about anymore.

Tom Tomorrow did a cartoon a few months ago about this unique little trend of circling around to a new excuse when the old one runs out. All this is is throwing a new one into the circle. As soon as more awareness rises to the hypocrisy of countless other nations' human rights abuses that the warbloggers don't seem to care about (including, as mentioned before, Afghanistan) and the equal horrors of conflict that the U.S. plans to inflict on the Iraqi people we've taken upon ourselves to liberate using methods such as, for example, launching 600 missiles into the most populous area of the country, all those cute little image links are going to disappear as fast as the lower-left-corner "orange terror alert" emblems on CNN and Fox News will when everyone stops buying it.
 

   

Saturday, February 15, 2003

 

The piss off George W. Bush weekend continues

As the news has already been telling you, this is the most unexpectedly high turnout of anti-war demonstrators worldwide ever. They're saying it's over a million and a half people in London- the largest public rally in the country's history, and in Berlin, they're calling it largest political rally since the liberation of Nazi Germany. Roll those concepts through your head when you consider that this is for a war that hasn't even started yet.

The city of New York and John Ashcroft gambled big, and lost even greater, with their denial of the parade permit for New York today. In an attempt to stifle the blatant desire of what we shall now legally classify as "an assload" of people from doing that whole thing- what's it called again- oh, right- "peacably assembling and petitioning the government for a redress of grievances-" where do we naive leftists come up with garbage like that- the city ended up getting more than it could handle. Instead of a labelled, guarded parade route, what the New York Times is now (albeit reluctantly) confirming as around 400,000 people choked the entire Upper East Side to gather around the main stage of the rally. When my friends from my dorm and I got there, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st Avenue has already been either completely closed or cut down to one lane- not by property damage or barricades, mind you- but simply by an army of protestors amassing like moths to a gigantic lightbulb. This picture here, courtesy of my floormate Braden, is of 3rd Avenue and somewhere around 50th street. People were, literally, parking their cars and getting out.

I didn't witness any arrests or mass forcefulness of the police, though I later heard that obviously this happened. On the whole, both the police and the protestors seemed somewhat rational- at least in the scope of "shutting down a entire quadrant of upper Manhattan versus trying to prevent one from doing such." One lady even told a policeman as she walked by him that he "was doing a good job." This was, likely, not the same old lady who would later fall over my friend Javid as a riot patrol shoved her off the street, but hey, at least some of New York is friendly.

Life is not without its sense of insanely illogical coincidence, and as such it was only slightly amazing to me when, in the midst of (as mentioned before) participating in one of the largest public gatherings of New Yorkers in one unorganized, somewhat-uncontrolled swarm, I somehow ended up standing next to Tom Tomorrow for no logically explicable reason. Here is me and Tom in a photo that makes me look ten times better than the one he has of me on his site. As I told him earlier, logic continues with the obvious outcome that in the one photo documenting my participation in one of the most history-making outpourings of political protest in our nation's history, I would of course end up having my friggin' eyes closed. I'd say "oh well, maybe the next protest," but honestly... the real point of this one was to try and prevent the need for another, you know?
 

   
 

Have a yell and scream and piss off George W. Bush weekend

I'm gonna go with a few friends to the big protest tomorrow, and considering the range of options available across the planet you've nary an excuse not to yourself. The big issue with NYC has been the whole issue with the city conveniently deciding to refuse to grant the protest organizers a parade permit to march by the UN. As such, the basic goal for tomorrow is to get as many people as possible over there to, of course, collectively ignore this.
 

   

Friday, February 14, 2003

 

Oh yeah, that Afghanistan

Okay, now that I'm done being a cranky fart.... for now, it's back to being blindsided by the stupidity of the Bush administration. Yes, just for you, just for the weekend, they've outdone themselves again. Deep breath and brace yourself:

The United States Congress has stepped in to find nearly $300m in humanitarian and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan after the Bush administration failed to request any money in the latest budget.

Okay, that was this article's first sentence. There's more, of course, but for me, I need not say any. Only... wow.
 

   
 

Pffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft.

Screw you all and screw your stupid holiday. Now for the heartwarming.

Skye sent me this fantastic website of Valentine's Day cards. Not enough? Want more? Fine. Here's a Salon article for you that brings light to the fact that the chocolates you just bought your significant other were most likely made with child slave labor. I am a raging cauldron of anti-Valentine's Day hate!

Look, I'm sorry. I'll feel better later on, but Valentine's ay is combined with the fact that only a day or two ago marked 100 Nights Before Commencment at NYU, something which, ultimately, I'm not completely thrilled about. So, I conclude with a combination of the celebratory events of both this and Valentine's Day and note to you all this example of my anger: the closest I'll be to getting my hands on some pussy this holiday.

So it's a nasty joke. Piss off.
 

   

Thursday, February 13, 2003

 

Let's talk about bombing Iraq a lot

I'm a participant in the No War Blog, which recently moved to the next stage of "The Great Cross-Blog Debate." The rules of engagement were listed here. Basically, pro-war and anti-war bloggers collectively assembled a set of five questions for the other side, in which NWB participants were then encouraged to answer on their own sites.

I'll admit that, ultimately, this is probably futile, since most of these are so set on our beliefs that we're going to spit our A-material rhetoric at each other and declare that we're right, so there, but I figured I should go for this anyway, especially since I appear to have been a significant contributor to one or two of the questions presented by the anti-war team.

I'll post the questions asked by the pro-war side and my answers here, but before I do I'd just like to add that these are responses to a debate sponsored by No War Blog, not me. so if you have commentary or feedback on the questions, or my response, please, don't flood my inbox with them. Go visit No War Blog and its more-than-hospitable comments section. Thanks.

1. If you were President of the United States, what would be your policy toward Iraq over the next year? What advantages and disadvantages do you see in your proposed policies versus the current path being pursued by the Bush administration?

The policies towards Iraq have been ineffective not just because of President Bush, but because of the inactions of former President Clinton as well. The lingering resentment towards the United States, as well as the desire for Saddam Hussein to attempt a solidification of his prestige and power, is largely fueled by over a decade of sanctions that, on the whole, could be argued as ineffective by both sides. Those for war would argue that Saddam is violating the sanctions anyway and is using covert deals and terrorist ties to acquire weapons and other dangerous banned items, while those against UN sanctions of Iraq will point out the estimated half-million lives that have been lost in Iraq from sickness, starvation, and general lack of welfare as a result of basic human necessities being denied to the Iraqi people.

As far as the Bush policies have gone, the greatest error has been the removal of nay idea of a favorable solution for Saddam Hussein. I find it hard to argue that any of the U.S.'s rhetoric has suggested an end to the conflict with Saddam Hussein still in power. Saddam's lack of compliance can be tied to the fact that he sees no positive outcome. There is no way Bush will accept a plan that disarms Hussein, verifies his compliance with UN inspections, and as such removes the sanctions on Iraq. The advantage of making this an option, even an unfavorable one, is that it actually gives incentive to Hussein to care about what happens. As Bush's plans stand, Saddam likely sees no reason to be compliant: the U.S. is coming for him, coming to remove him, no matter what. As such, why should he bend over backwards to show them the few pieces of military equipment he might have left to defend himself when the U.S. comes for him?

Finally, the greatest and longest-running fallacy of the last three U.S. administrations in regards to Iraq and Middle East stability is the flat-out blindness to the issue of Palestinian statehood. There is, and let us make this perfectly clear, absolutely no way whatsoever stability will even reach the Mideast and terrorism will decline while the Israeli army occupies the West Bank. George H.W. Bush had the foresight, and for the matter the luck, to prevent Israel from going Nova on Iraq during the first Gulf War. Now, twelve years later, the tension is at a higher and more critical boiling point. Sharon is, whether you like it or not, as dangerous for the Israeli people as Yassir Arafat is to the Palestinians.

Whether it requires mandated buffer zones or flat-out international intervention of peacekeeping forces, acceptable statehood much be reached in the West Bank. It will not happen overnight, and it will not immediately cease terrorism. The irony is that we shrug the idea of a statehood deal now as something that would take years to actually show an effective in Mideast policy. To this I simply note: we could have done this twelve years ago, and if we did we might not be arguing the need to invade Iraq a second time.

2. Is there any circumstance that you can conceive of where the United States would be justified in using military force without the support of the UN Security Council --- or does the UN always have a veto against US military action for whatever reason?

Ironically, the last time this circumstance happened was before the UN was created. The right of the United States to actively engage in a military assault on another country without any approval or acceptance from the rest of the world is in the circumstance of a flat-out attack on the United States of America.

Many would argue that this indeed happened on September 11th, 2001. If so, then our "response" to the foreign invasion force has been a dismal and complete failure. after all, we were, essentially, attacked by a coalition of Saudi invaders led by a Saudi-born militant leader we have yet to capture or bring to justice in any way. Instead, we are over a year later paying homage to the very "I was under orders" excuses we reviled during the Neuremburg Trials in the process of grasping for an Iraq connection to the actions of an independent terrorist organization. To use the now-clichéd analogy, it's as if a group of Mexicans destroyed an oil refinery in Texas and we decided a year later to invade Cuba because we believe they harbor terrorists.

The argument "does the UN always have a veto" mentioned in the question gives way to a glaring hypocrisy, as the United States has already proven their ability to exercise veto power in light of a individual issue. It is unbelievable that the U.S. is openly claiming that there is now a "threat to credibility" of the U.N., or more recently NATO, because, using a procedure specifically allowed by the organizations in question, the United States is (gasp!) not getting what it wants. Meanwhile, the United States has used its own veto power on the security council to override countless resolutions and statements of rights violations against both the U.S. and Israel.

So in regards to the question "does the UN always have a veto against US military action for whatever reason-" my answer would have to be yes, if only for the reason that the U.S. has proven, and demanded, that the U.S. always have a veto against UN action. To argue an alternative would be a true "threat to credibility."

3. American and British military force has allowed Northern Iraq to develop a society which, while imperfect, is clearly a freer and more open society than existed under Saddam Hussein's direct rule. Do you agree that the no-fly zones have been beneficial to Northern Iraq --- and if so, why should this concept not be extended to remove Hussein's regime entirely and spread those freedoms to all Iraqis?

I don't think that's really a fair argument, because a shift in public recognition of policy does not mean a "freer and more open society." The actions of the U.S. in Iraq in 1991 lessened the chances of, for example, Iraq invading Kuwaiti oil fields again, but the phrasing of this question is akin to the false rhetoric of the "liberation of Afghanistan." Many on the pro-war side used a quote similar to "oh, they play on soccer fields that used to be used for public hangings." This ignores the fact that the hangings still exist; they've simply been moved and placed under the false pretense of kangaroo tribunals to make themselves look good in front of their U.S.-placed quasi-magistrates.

The U.S.S.R. was a "freer and more open society" under Kruschev than it was under Stalin; that doesn't mean it was a society one should take credit for creating. While the containment of Saddam and the removal of his ability to engage in spontaneous warfare against his neighbors is of course a good thing, the side effects of the no-fly zones are great, hindering both the U.S. and Iraq.

The media never mentions that technically the no-fly policy in Iraq has led to one of if not the longest military bombing campaign in global military history; at numerous points during the last twelve years we had on a near-weekly basis engaged in air-to-ground combat with Iraqi forces. These were attacks that, while killing civilians and unnecessary non-threatening infrastructure, also destroyed military equipment that were of no major threat, such as radar equipment and short-range artillery. Aside from the cost in the U.S.'s defense budget that could have easily been diverted to a Marshall-style humanitarian program for the Iraqi people, it has led to Hussein's desire to research and acquire more advanced technology to subvert the very no-fly policies he refused to agree to in the first place. In effect, the short-term benefits of the no-fly zones have been grossly outweighed by the fact that they partially inspired Saddam to seek the more advanced weaponry we now wish to attack him for.

It is not, of course, the only reason, but you must admit that the constant (what Saddam what consider) aggression of UN airstrikes purported by the no-fly zones are a reason why Saddam might have considered the diversion of funds from the same entities towards defensive weaponry.

4. Do you believe an inspection and sanctions regime is sufficient and capable of keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the Hussein regime --- and should this be a goal of U.S. policy? In what way is an inspection/containment/sanctions regime preferable to invasion? Civilian casualties? Expense? Geopolitical outcome?

To answer the first question: no. There's not really any spin to that, I'm afraid. There is no way the U.S., the UN, or any other entity can prevent anyone, including Saddam Hussein, from seeking weapons of mass destruction. The technological aggression of North Korea with their covert nuclear program and the psychotic ingenuity of Al-Qaeda and its capability of converting passenger airlines into bombs proves this.

Civilian casualties are a difficult issue in a standoff like this. The extreme, of course, is the idea that someone might actually deploy WMD, in which case the casualty estimate is both horrific and, frighteningly, unlimited. On the other end, an inspection process as an alternative to military intervention, assuming it could lead to the containment of threat, leads to absolutely no casualties of conflict at all. Using those two extremes, the argument doesn't really seem to have a conflict- a path leading to no casualties is obviously greater than a path leading to hundreds of thousands. Therefore, in the realm of inspecting and containing WMD, the true issue is not over possession, but rather the likelihood of their use.

The United States has thousands of nuclear warheads, yet few argue in rational debate that we would ever spontaneously desire to use them. We simply have no reason to. Our current dealings in North Korea have led the current regime to demand not an arms race or a military standoff, but a non-aggression pact. Ideally, no nation, the U.S. included, should possess WMD. But the threat of a nation that possesses one expressing desire to prevent another from having them is what raises the fear of the lesser nation to do just that- acquire the greatest of equalizers.

In the case of Saddam Hussein, it's illogical using all senses of U.S. intelligence revealed to us to suggest that Saddam would suddenly decide, if he had one, to launch a nuclear missile at the United States, or at Israel, or at Kuwait, and so on. The current global scenario indicates that if Saddam even did such an action he, and the whole of his country, would likely be literally vaporized.

The fact is, as mentioned in responses to earlier questions, that Saddam does not want to leave power. He does not want to stop ruling Iraq, and he does not want to do anything that would threaten his ability to do so. Currently, the U.S. stating that they want to prevent Hussein from doing just that is the greatest incentive for him to seek WMD as fast as possible.

The geopolitical issue I will link to my answer to the next question.

5. What, in your opinion, is the source of national sovereignty? If you believe it to be the consent of the governed, should liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime be U.S. policy? If so, how do you propose to accomplish this goal absent military action? (And if in your view the sovereignty of a state does not derive from the consent of the governed, then what is the source of sovereignty?)

The source, and the strength, of sovereignty is linked to the general desire of the people coupled with the quality of their life and desire to have their current life position changed. I have made this argument many times in the debate about the West Bank crisis: the fact that a majority of Israelis claiming their "right to exist" has absolutely no relevance to their actually ability to enforce this belief. In the United States, the consent of the majority of Southern state residents declared the desire to govern themselves; their claim of a "right to exist" was unenforceable against the Union army that disagreed with them.

In other words, the desire of the people, truly, is second only to the ability of the people to maintain that desire. In Iraq, the alleged desire of the people to be rid of Saddam is second to the issue of how it must be done: history seems to be proving that a U.S.-led military invasion is the only way to go.

The fallacy of this question, however, is exactly which section of the governed in Iraq should be construed as the sovereign goal? In the United States, the Confederate faction was overpowered by the Union faction; this situation is exponentially more difficult. Iraq currently contains at a minimum three major racial and religious factions, coupled with extreme fundamentalist groups on the borders and non-Arabic groups interested in claming a section of a destabilized Iraq for themselves. The only way to stave off a massive conflict with the non-electoral removal of Saddam Hussein is to leave a massive U.S.-led military force in the region. which I defy the pro-war side to claim is what "the governed" desire as their source of sovereignty.

Iraq does not just need a powerful force to enter the region, take over, and tell them how they need to live and who should govern them; this has been attempted in various degrees in the West Bank, in Afghanistan, and in the Serbian region. All such situations have led to a temporary ease in violence followed by a resurgence of resistance and military fear.

The invasion of Iraq will destabilize the region, and as such increase conflict and decrease quality of life (a subject which can be linked to the violence and strife in almost any nation at any level of development) in it's neighboring regions. The destruction and impoverishment of Afghanistan in the 1980's led to the takeover by the Taliban. Economic troubles and military fear were the primary excuse of the Nazi party in its eventual takeover of Germany.

This is, to go back to the West Bank, one of Arafat's fallacies. In his vision of a Palestinian state, little has been mentioned of its infrastructure. What will the department of transportation look like? What plumbing methods are intended? How fast will communications systems be upgraded? The education system? Cultural exports?

These are issues hardly, if ever, mentioned by the American media or the government in regards to Iraq. Instead, CNN and Fox News have done reports that already emphasize Iraq as some culturally-devoid entity that exists in our viewpoints solely for the one export is possesses: oil. As such, the only stable post-invasion plans U.S. groups have mentioned are how they considered the idea of using oil as "payment" for the costs of an invasion they have not even sold to the Iraqi people. Much is said of the protection of the oil fields, as it is "the lifeblood" of Iraq. That sounds very much like an argument that Iraq is only good to anyone for the oil. it raises the question as to what the real source of sovereignty in Iraq is. the people or what they can provide.
 

   
 

These are, to remind you again, the people who ran the winning election campaign

Bill Dollinger sent me this text taken from the RNC Team Leader Alert website mentioned a few weeks ago around other blogs:

Make sure Congress passes President Bush's fiscally responsible and pro-growth budget. Tell your Representatives and Senators how much President Bush's budget will help 198,000 of Washington, D.C taxpayers today.

Tell your Senators and Representatives how President Bush's budget will help the people of Washington, D.C by creating jobs, protecting America, and ensuring fiscal responsibility.


(Bill was quick to point out how the RNC might want to take a quick survey of the total number of Senators and Representatives in Washington D.C.)
 

   

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

 

Thank you for not reminding me it's Valentine's Day Pt. 1

What is WRONG with me? Why the HELL do I keep eating thse little candy heart thingies? You just look down and you realize you're eating another one... and it's not like you WANT one. I mean, they suck. They taste like dried toothpaste and would look like it too if they weren't orange and had "PAGE ME" written on them. "Page me?" I swear to god, I should be nibbling on tabs of Ecstacy. They're probably healthier than this crap.

I swear. It says "Page me." I'll scan it if possible later.
 

   

 
Newest comic posted - "Love meets Cubism in New York City." Oh, believe me, I'll be even more bitter by Friday.

Busy work day (and preceding night), so enjoy the funny (or anti-funny, whatever) and I'll try to give you some more angry words late tonight or something.
 

   

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

 

Face this

Diamond LeGrande sends me a link to a 2000 article by Noam Chomsky about the U.S. and "NATO's threat to credibility."
 

   
 

Of course, this means I actually have to watch the damn ceremony now

BooYah.

Also, as if to add some happy icing on the cake, the Academny actually noticed that Japanese people made animated films this year, and they decided for no reason whatsoever to nominate Christopher Walken for one of his least memorable roles ever. But whatever. With Columbine officially nominated, I'll embellish my ability to start whining again. For example, the fact that they're most likely going to give Eminem an Oscar. Marshall- we get it. You're white. Apparently you really do get a huge frikin' medal.
 

   
 

Ummm... it was supposed to be funny...

I actually alerted the WSN editor about the story that the Dell Kid was busted for pot the other night. To my defense, it was actually NYU-related news since Ben Curtis is actually a fellow student. I've actually met the guy- hell, Freshman year before he got the Dell gig I freakin' ate in the same cafeteria as him.

So, with my Dad over at the New York Times and the various online outlets providing me with copy, not to mention that as of this posting the headline making the front page of Yahoo! right under revalations about the Space Shuttle Columbia and NATO, for Christ's sakes, I've realized that we've officially made this way more than we really should have. I'm interested in it as a local issue; now it's gone from kinda funny to kinda sad.

It's noteworthy to print my own school paper's story, because that's really what it is. It's an NYU story. An NYU student got busted for having pot. But outside of that realm- i.e. local and/or personal- It's not front page news. I mean, Jesus, people. It's like AP is holding a stopwatch to see how fast they can destroy this guy's life.
 

   

Monday, February 10, 2003

 

Today's terror forecast is papal white

I'd like to report to eveyone that it's official: the Pope is with the terrorists.

(Please, no "like you didn't know that" jokes, m'kay?)
 

   
 

Shut up

I've noticed this recurring variation of the same idea, and it's time for it to stop. We can see it, we can spot it, and we can call on it now. Will the United States please stop declaring everything said against is a "threat to international credibility?"

I'm being whiny here, but seriously, the logic is pathetic. The United Stetes, a nation which in the last few years has demanded exemption from the International War Crimes Court, has demanded that the entire world follows it in lockstep or by default admits to supporting terrorism, has held a UN Security Council veto gambit allowing Israel to violate over... what is it now? 30? 40 UN resolutions?... pulled internationl funding for various projects, and, of course, withdrew or abstained from a few missle treaties one might have considered slightly important... is incessantly whining about how France or Germany disagreeing with them is a violation of credibility? Please.

I mean, Jesus. NATO is "facing a crisis of credibility." The U.N. is "Facing a crisis of credibility." The Venezuelan government is "facing a crisis of credibility." Next week: Condy Rice starts calling rival nations "poopieheads." You know what's really killing credibility here? The U.S. throwing these little diplomatic tantrums every time someone gets this silly idea that we don't, you know, control the entire planet.
 

   
 

And justice be done

Salon's got an article up about a story that I forgot to mention when it first broke out. Ed Rosenthal is a man who was recently convicted in Federal Court for drug charges. He now, as many have already noted, faces the possibility of more mandatory time in jail than the average convicted child molester.

What makes this story significant is that Rosenthal was arrested by Federal authorities after the city of Oakland, California declared him, under Prop 215, a legal distributor of medical marijuana. The judge in the federal trial specifically forbid the jury from being made aware of this. Because, you know, not like that little detail was important or anything. I don't do drugs. I'm not any kind of rampant supporter of using them. But this is, without a doubt, a mockery of justice.
 

   

Sunday, February 09, 2003

 

Bill O'Reilly is the world's most disgraceful human being and a pathetic excuse for someone who claims to be a journalist Pt. 2

Jeez, the title could be longer than the post. Brian Rea sent me this link to anyone who is interested in a video stream of the Bill O'Reilly tantrum.
 

   

Saturday, February 08, 2003

 

Bleh.

Bit of a bog-down yet again this weekend... for some reason what with it being my last semester of projects that's going to be somewhat of a trend. Rubin Hall, the dorm I live in, had its fire alarm go off last night at about midnight. Then it weet off again at about 12:30. And then again, at 12:45, while the firemen were still there packing up after arriving to not have to do anything for the 12:30 malfunction. Then, just to be really clever, the alarm went off- but only for ten seconds- just enough to wake everyone in the building up- at 6:30 and 7:15 AM, respectively. As such, I have labelled this one of the worst night's sleep since that time last summer I suddenly couldn't sleep for 70 straight hours, and have spent most of the day grogging around stopping only to consume scrambled eggs before pretending I'm going to do some work.

Work, however, must commence, such as the need to very quickly come up with a comic; likely the subject will involve how much I dislike Valentine's Day. Maybe not.

A side thingie though: those of you with the audacity to have actually bookmarked this site may want to consider re-bookmarking it, as if I did it right those of you with the more up-to-date browsers might be able to get a little icon of XQUZYPHYR in your address bar instead of the generic white thing with the blue thing in it. If it worked you'll know what I'm talking about. It's just one of those little things I do when I'm bored. Beats working; I'm far too cranky to do that.
 

   

Friday, February 07, 2003

 

Waiter? I'll have a double-order of hypocrisy, please

It's insane that the UK's evidence of Iraqi violations being a plagiarized report is getting little-to-no press in the U.S. It had a brief mention on the home pages of a few news sites, and is now being pushed aside for the breaking and virtually useless news that the National Mood Ring has gone to orange. (Many have also noted the giggle-inducing element of the major news networks actually adding a "ORANGE ALERT" icon to the top of their logos, along with the news scroll and the current time and weather. As if to say, "the country's gone orange now. Better cancel that doctor's appointment.")

Anyhoo, the government is reluctant to release their statement on what a... ahem... slightly pragmatic person such as myself might construe as, you know, the complete collapse of any credibility on behalf of the British government, so I guess, yet again, we'll have to resort to near-past statements, won't we:

Iraq's declaration even resorted to unabashed plagiarism, with lengthy passages of United Nations reports copied word-for-word (or edited to remove any criticism of Iraq) and presented as original text. Far from informing, the declaration is intended to cloud and confuse the true picture of Iraq's arsenal. It is a reflection of the regime's well-earned reputation for dishonesty and constitutes a material breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, which set up the current inspections program.


Well, I trust Condoleeza Rice on matters like that. Shall we start the bombing? (Thanks for the link to a handful of people over at MetaFilter)

Update: Argh. Well, not only did I copmpletely miss the fact that Atrios, like anything else remotely important, already had this one, he actually the same smarmy comment I did. I suck.


 

   
 

Oh, yeah. That thing.

I haven't said much about Colin Powell's report to the U.N. because most of the internet and media community has covered it in ways that I agree. My general comment on the report is that obviously it was worth a significant portion of Colin Powell's grade, as he really put that "A+ instead of an A" effort into the visual presentation. Tony in the back, however, is going to get in a lot of trouble this week though since Teacher caught him copying someone else's notes. Ooooooooooooooh! Someone's in trooouble!

In a media opinion sense, Powell handled the report masterfully. Basically, anyone who wanted to go to war with Iraq heard everything they needed to hear, while everyone against the war realized that, honestly, most of Powell's evidence raised even more questions than we had before, as Joe Conason raised in example the other day:

There was quite a lot of other pertinent information missing from Powell's address. It is hard to listen to him talk about Saddam's violations of human rights and his gassing of the Kurds, without wondering why those events didn't bother the Reagan and Bush administrations when they were actually occurring. (It's easier to understand why he omitted any reference to the American role in arming Iraq and the subsequent coverup under his old boss, the president's father.)

What was most noticeably absent from Powell's presentation, however, was any evidence that Iraq is a present threat to its neighbors or any other nation -- and thus must be invaded and subdued immediately. He showed that Saddam has sought an arsenal of mass destruction, and that his regime is still resisting disarmament. But he inadvertently made some arguments for continued inspections backed by force, rather than war.

"This effort to hide things from the inspectors is not one or two isolated events, quite the contrary," he said. "This is part and parcel of a policy of evasion and deception that goes back 12 years, a policy set at the highest levels of the Iraqi regime." No doubt true -- and yet the U.N. inspection team between 1991 and 1998 destroyed tens of thousands of tons of chemical and biological weapons, prohibited missiles and the Iraqi nuclear program in its entirety, despite Saddam's duplicity. What the inspectors are now trying to find is a small fraction of what their predecessors found and neutralized.

Powell also pointed to the documents found by inspectors in the home of an Iraqi nuclear scientist, an achievement he attributed to "intelligence they were provided." If sharing U.S. intelligence with the inspectors can locate documents in a private home, why not continue with that process?

His presentation about links between Iraq and al-Qaida included a satellite photograph described as a "terrorist camp" in northern Iraq where operatives are trained in the use of poisons. "You see a picture of this camp," he said. "The network is teaching its operatives how to produce ricin and other poisons ... Those helping to run this camp are Zarqawi lieutenants operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's controlled Iraq. But Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization, Ansar al-Islam, that controls this corner of Iraq."

If the United States firmly believes that its satellites have located an al-Qaida training camp in northern Iraq, why haven't our bombers, jets and missiles destroyed it already? On the ground, northern Iraq is friendly Kurdish territory, and the U.S. and its allies control the airspace.

Nothing Powell said proved that war is necessary now. He didn't justify the potential deaths of thousands of people and the unforeseeable dangers of an invasion by the U.S. and its coalition. He didn't convince the Security Council to change course in support of immediate war. What he did prove is that inspections ought to continue and intensify -- and if Iraq tries to frustrate them as the regime did in 1998, there will still be plenty of time for military action.


This is the major logical flaw that the administration has been avoiding... the complete lack of evidence supporting such a drastic change in time frame. How is it that for eleven years (or seven, technically, if you want to factor just the time of inspections) we posed no serious worry or fear of the ability of Saddam Hussein to inflict damage on the world, opting for a steady, and effective, policy of inspecting, locating, and disposing of his arsenal, and now suddenly require the Iraqi regime to do more in Bush's timeframe of three months than a complacent U.N. actively did in seven years? The first answer, of course, will be to blame September 11, 2001. But even more spin-worthy, (of course,) will be to blame the Clinton administration.

To solidify the strength of the Republican Party, and to set in stone the "look what Bushes can do that Clintons can't" legacy, Bush is going to need his war, and I think yet again Get Donkey! put the obvious truth in front of us already:

Alas, it really doesn't matter anyway. My questions and those of who knows how many others will go unanswered. This Administration doesn't feel the need to answer to anyone. This decision was made long before the first "No Iraq War" sign was ever painted and long before the President told us he was a peaceful man. No debating, no poll numbers, and no hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are going to do anything to change it.

As much as it pains me to think of the soldiers who may die, or how many Iraqi citizens may perish under the hail of bombs, I must admit that I am hopelessly resigned to this war. This war is going to happen, and there is nothing I or anyone else can do about it. Why bother arguing about it anymore?

I think this may be a strategy of this administration. It's a trick propogandists have long employed. Repeat something enough. Beat it into the ground enough. Shout about "undeniable patterns of behavior", "strong circumstantial evidence", "Weapons of Mass Destruction", "evil" enough, and people either will jump on board or will just start to become apathetic and tune it out. That's where I find myself now. I am in full tune-out mode. I don't know why I even tried to watch Powell's speech today. Somewhere in my gut, of all places, I knew what he was going to say before he even pulled out that vial or put up his slides.

I just hope this damn thing is quick and as bloodless as possible. I hope our soldiers have an easy time of it and come home alive. I hope few innocents have to die. I hope the economy doesn't suffer more than it already has. I hope that armies of new terrorists are not born from a protracted US occupation of the cradle of civilization.

Of course, the profane side of me, the part I don't want to listen to, harbors a dark thought that a botched war will surely taint this Administration. It's an awful and sickening thing to contemplate, but it's there, and the reason why it's there is because I fear it may be the only way people will wake up. Hardship may be the only thing that will slap the arrogant smirk off the faces of power-hungry hawks. It may be the only thing that makes some realize that "from one's gut" is not the best way to run the greatest and most powerful nation in the history of the world. It may be the only thing that makes some realize that partiotism means more than a flag-shaped lapel pin. Sadly, it may be the only thing to shake many of us out of our apathy.


 
   

 
Today's lesson in taste - sponsored by Reuters News Service


Screenshot taken from Yahoo! News.
 

   

Thursday, February 06, 2003

 

Bill O'Reilly is the world's most disgraceful human being and a pathetic excuse for someone who claims to be a journalist

Well. Forgive me for not finding a clever title this time, okay? Tom Tomorrow put up a transcript yesterday of a "conversation" Bill O'Reilly had on his show with Jeremy Glick, a founder of Not in Our Name. Live, and on-air, O'Reilly approached his disagreement with Glick, whose father was killed in the September 11th attacks, and his opinions that his father would not have wanted to be killed to persue a military agenda, by screaming at Glick to shut up before openly demanding that his mic be cut off.

First, the obvious that this post title already implied. Were Fox News a credible news channel, and were he actually be compared to the profession of people such as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite as an actual television journalist and not a mere talk show host, Bill O'Reilly would be out of a job this morning. Actual newscasters actually have to act "fair and balanced," unlike O'Reilly who simply gets to say he does. By allowing this, the most erroneous example of disgraceful televised journalism- actually berating and condemning an interview subject- and not ever giving it a passing thought, Fox News has officially endorsed their categorization of O'Reilly- this man is not comparable to Dan Rather. He's comparable to Ricki Lake. The only difference is the time slot and the lack of a live audience of inbred rednecks hooting at the prospect of giving today's guest a celebrity makeover. The professionalism, and the quality, of the host is identical. To be honest, I'm fine with that. I just want O'Reilly's fans to be aware of that as well.

Second, a lot of people, for example Atrios and the Hamster, have made their opinions about this, and provided their links to commentary and evidence of O'Reilly's outright hypocrisy. I, for one, will stick to this one quote I heard a while ago. It, like Glick's interview, is a statement of a victim of terrorism about the reponse to such a violent act against someone in their family:

Revenge would be easy, but it is far more valuable in my opinion to address this problem of terrorism with enough honesty to question our own responsibility as nations and as individuals for the rise of terrorism. My own courage arises from two facts. One is that throughout this ordeal I have been surrounded by people of amazing value. This helps me trust that humanism ultimately will prevail. My other hope now--in my seventh month of pregnancy--is that I will be able to tell our son that his father carried the flag to end terrorism, raising an unprecedented demand among people from all countries not for revenge but for the values we all share: love, compassion, friendship and citizenship far transcending the so-called clash of civilizations.


That quote is from a statement by Mariane Pearl, a mere few days after being made aware that her husband Daniel, a Wall St. Journal reporter, had been kidnapped and killed by terrorists.

And unless Bill O'Reilly decides to start saying that she has a "warped view of the world and the country," he is forever a hypocrite, and forever a disgrace to the institution of legitimate social inquiry.

Update: a couple of readers have been asking if there is video of the transcript available somewhere. Sadly, I doubt it, since I don't think Fox News is too interested right now in loaning that out to other networks for evidence in a discussion about the lack of credibility of their biggest star. Nevertheless, if anyone knows of a video of the Glick berating, please feel free to inform.

Second Update: No video, but Cursor has a link to an audio file here.
 

   

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

 
Newest comic posted - "Well, fine. I'll say it."

Eh, it's sort of a self-explanatory one. Lots of words, since everyone knows how much people love those in comics. No one took the initative to use "the line," so I settled my own bet. Either way, go enjoy the funny.
 

   

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

 

Mmmm, that's some tasty tinfoil

Umm, I'll take "conflict of interest" for a few million there, Alex:

former conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska.

Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election."

Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his hagel.senate.gov website says, Hagel "was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska."

What Hagel's website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company.

Charlie Matulka had requested a hand count of the vote in the election he lost to Hagel. He just learned his request was denied because, he said, Nebraska has a just-passed law that prohibits government-employee election workers from looking at the ballots, even in a recount. The only machines permitted to count votes in Nebraska, he said, are those made and programmed by the corporation formerly run by Hagel.

The full article is here. I look rather good in a pointy aluminum hat.

Update: Oh good lord.
 

   
 

Now that's how to run a news blog

An exceptional post from Get Donkey! which I shall take the liberty of reprinting below. Frankly, it's too good to not paraphrase at all, and even further... too... good... grammar lessons! to cut up. So here it is:

From an MSNBC.com article about the Orrin Hatch's push to confirm all of Bush's judicial appointees as fast as he can:

Tapia countered that Hatch was trying to be responsive to Democrats' concerns but believed it was necessary to move quickly because Bush's nominees had been waiting so long.

"We hope that there will be no further delays and obstructionist gimmicks," she said.

Seeking to get around time-honored tactics senators use to hold up controversial appointments, Hatch has changed the rules that allowed a single senator to block a nominee from his or her own state, a procedure Democrats used during Leahy's chairmanship to stall candidates in the first two years of the Bush administration.

Previously, both home-state senators had to submit blue slips of paper signaling their approval for a nominee to come before the Judiciary Committee.

Hatch said earlier this month that so-called "negative blue slips" would only be given "great weight" from now on and would not be considered vetoes.

Of course the article fails to mention that the rule that allows a single senator to blue slip a nominee was reinstated by Hatch himself during the Clinton Administration (UPD. In 1994 Hatch required two "positive" blue-slips to move the nomination forward, so having one "negative" blue slip would block the nomination) so Republicans could more easily block President Clinton's nominees. Orrin Hatch is a f|<'n hypocrite, pure and simple. And shame on MSNBC.com's Alex Johnson for making the single-vote rule seem to be a Democratic invention to block President Bush's nominees.


 
   

Monday, February 03, 2003

 

Ouch.

A perspective lesson from Thad Boyd, in regards to last Tuesday's Rall/Hellman catfight complaints:

Your comments about Rall and Hellman making you ashamed to be a cartoonist have resonated with me, even though I've a vastly different discipline -- this is a hard week to be an engineering major.

I suppose that if it's any consolation, at least when cartoonists make public asses of themselves, nobody gets incinerated.


Touche.
 

   
 

Well, that just about covers it

This post here pretty much ends the conversation for me on the Texas Tech science professor issue.
 

   
 

Yeah. Right.

Atrios, and I'm sure many others like MWO and the other biggies, are making their morning posts now about filibustering the rammed-through nomination of conservative judge Miguel Estrada to the Federal bench. To which I say with two years now of Bush administration experience behind me... that's adorable!

Look, I hate Bush. I hate most of the psychoic vengeful Republicans in the Senate right now. I am worried, beyond all sense of security, that Estrada has a personal agenda to further a conservative judicial policy which, according to most opinion polls in the country, generally contrasts the true desire of the nation. That said, do you all really think the Democrats are going to do anything about it? Why? Did the magic pixy dust suddenly wear off or something?

Even when the Democrats were in control of the Senate, you may have noticed that this is one of the most complacent governments in recent history. The Democrats have not publicly and openly filibustered anything in two years, and likewise Bush hasn't vetoed a single bill that's come to his desk. The biggest move Daschle made when in control was to block the nomination of Charles Pickering- who Bush has now re-nominated. I don't think a lot of you are willing to bet money that he's going to go down again, and you all know it.

I would be thrilled if Estrada doesn't get placed on the bench. But I would have been thrilled if John Ashcroft never became Attorney General, if the Democrats didn't vote for a massive tax cut, the Patriot Act, the "War on Terrorism," military action against Iraq, and so on and so on. I'm glad Atrios and others have this optimism, but I'm not optimistic, I'm insulted. I shouldn't have to remind my own party leaders what I stand for... they should be working for me.

I'm not trying to come off as some raving-liberal Naderite here, but I'm really sick of the Left mounting these futile campaigns to get the Moderates we're claiming to represent us to notice us. They haven't, and they won't. I am completely against the nomination of Miguel Esrada, but I have better things to do today than be ignored by my senator a twentieth time this year.
 

   
 

Oh dear lord not something about the cloned baby

A reader sent me this story, and I promise, the funny line in it is the only reason I'm talking about the freakin' Raelean baby. I don't want to talk about it, because I don't think anyone should be talking about it. I don't get how there are still four or five major news and media corporations in this country that still choose to do stories about these people. A cult claims to have a cloned child- I'm sorry, I believe they're up to two now- and after several weeks, they refuse in any way whatsoever to prove this. You know what that means? You stop reporting about it because you don't have anything new. I mean, Jesus! It's not like the cult had an affair with an intern that turned up dead. Now that's an eight-month news cycle. Really. Anyway, the article:

 

The baby girl alleged to be the first human clone is in hiding with her parents in Israel for fear that U.S. authorities would separate them, an Israeli spokesman for the religious sect behind the cloning claims said Thursday.

Clonaid chief Brigitte Boisselier has said the baby was cloned from an American woman, who remains unidentified. On Wednesday, she testified in a Florida court that the baby exists and is now in Israel.

The religious sect behind Clonaid, a group called the Raelians, believes life on Earth was created by space aliens.

The Israeli spokesman for the group, Kobi Drori, said Thursday that the baby was brought to Israel because the parents were Jewish and thus had automatic rights to arrive and even seek immediate citizenship here.

Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman Tova Elinson said she had no information on the claims, and without a name "there is no way to check."

Health Ministry spokesman Ido Hedari depanned that while cloning is illegal in Israel, airport authorities don't ask arrivals whether they were cloned abroad.

What?
 

   

Saturday, February 01, 2003

 

And speaking of a modicum of tact

The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.

May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue to bless America.

Said President Bush, apparently forgetting the 28% of the crew that wasn't born in the United States, or for that matter weren't Christians.

Granted this is nitpicking, especially at such a tragic time. But considering our current leader's position as the representative of the diversity of cultures of this fateful mission, plus his unavoidable tendency to invoke his personal Lord and Savior every time he opens his mouth without thinking about such, not to mention the overwhelming coverage of mourning in the homes of the Israeli and Indian-born astronauts- two nations that are prominent for the diversity and devotion to the multiple variations of their dominant faiths (including such dominant versions that, you know, don't even believe in the Western God and/or the concept of Heaven itself,) it's sort of a nit too big to avoid picking.

Maybe I'm just upset by the day's events, but it just seemed like Bush could have easily stopped before the last few passages of his statement and still reassured the world without reminding us how much he really, really loves Jesus Christ.
 

   
 
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Though they haven't announced it yet, simply what I'm seeing on TV right now is pretty much a giveaway that we just lost the shuttle Columbia and its entire crew. It's even more terribly tragic that only three days ago was the anniversary of the Challenger explosion.

One of the astronauts is (was) the first Israeli in space, and because of that, especially here on the local stations in New York, they've been highlighting the security issue and downplaying the idea that this was terrorism-related. Yes, it's fundamentally impossible for this to be somehow a result of terrorist actions, but I'm sure a lot of people are having 9/11 flashbacks. Either way, it really doesn't matter. This is tragic, horrible news.

Update: This is ridiculous. There hasn't even been a press conference yet, and NASA's own web site has already added the deaths of the Columbia astronauts as a statistic to the shuttle's timeline. They're not doing a very good job right now of alerting the world to the blatantly obvious with even a modicum of tact.

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