December 12, 2003

That's it, I'm outta here.

Australian news media as well as the AFP have reported that Secretary of State Colin Powell has unofficially appointed James Brown US Secretary of Soul and Foreign Minister of Funk. In other news, I'm done. I mean, seriously. What else is left after this. Colin Powell. James Brown. Secretary of Soul and Foreign Minister of Funk. Really. Just... look, let's just all leave quietly.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:53 PM

There's a word for this

UN possibly pulling out of Afghanistan:

KABUL, Afghanistan - The United Nations may be forced to abandon its two-year effort to stabilize Afghanistan because of rising violence blamed on the resurgent Taliban, its top official here warned Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Lakhdar Brahimi said his team could not continue its work unless security improves. He called for more foreign troops to halt attacks that have killed at least 11 aid workers across the south and east since March.

"Countries that are committed to supporting Afghanistan cannot kid themselves and cannot go on expecting us to work in unacceptable security conditions," Brahimi said.

"They seem to think that our presence is important here. Well, if they do, they have got to make sure that the conditions for us to be here are there," he said. "If not, we will go away."

I wasn't alive during Vietnam. I know, however, that there are mixed opinions on whether or not we called the ultimate outcome of the war "losing." Personally, I go with that term, as it's the easiest way to describe the overall impact of the war. We sent it loads of troops to accomplish a goal, we failed at it, in the face of the opposition we pulled our troops out, our mission (to protect South Vietnam) failed. Long story short, we lost the Vietnam War.

According to this article, Afgnaistan is currently performing a mission of maintaining stability and rebuilding in the country now that the Taliban has been removed from power. According to this article, this mission is about to fail, because the UN is on the verge of pulling out in the face of... I think we might have heard this before... the overwhelming and underestimated force of the enemy.

I'm sure my saying this is diminished by the default assumption that being opposed to the war in the first place I'm somehow skipping with glee over the prospect of the Taliban returning to power. The basic fact that such an assumption is ridiculous, I'll make an analysis anyway of this news. Right now, in Afghanistan, the Taliban is rapidly gaining power and potentially threatening the presence of United Nations troops and workers in the country. Should they pull out, the Taliban will, given their intent, likely retake the country.

There is a word for this, should it come to be. It's called "losing." If the Taliban regains structured power in Afghanistan, forcing the pullout of UN and Western forces, then the United States will have failed its objective in the invasion of Afghanistan, that being the removal of terrorism sponsors from the area.

Even if Iraq becomes free and democratic tomorrow, Saddam Hussein captured and hung in the town square, schools built aplenty, with love and joy surrounding each and every Iraqi, the concept of Afghanistan returning to Taliban control will signify the greatest failure in U.S. military history.

Regardless of one's opinion of whether or not we're winning the war in Iraq, we are clearly in danger of losing the war on terrorism: something doubly ironic in the face of its intent to be everlasting.

Edit: South. South Vietnam. Yikes.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:17 PM

December 11, 2003

I want James Earl Jones to call and apologize personally

There's a possibility of little-to-no posting tomorrow as I'm using a borrowed computer to note how my phone line decided to die. Yes, it's been a whole two months since the last time this happened.

So, once again, the nice robot pretending to be a human as though I'm suffering a brain clot and won't notice it's a pre-recorded message and not an actual human being which doesn't help me but rather makes me even angrier yet I can't scream because it would intrepret an angered grunt as a response to its voice-command software has instructed me to expect a technician sometime between, and I quote the synthetic human here, 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM tomorrow.

To which, once again, I wonder why they don't just program the robot to just piss directly into my mouth through the phone line.

Update: Everything seems to work at the house now. Really, I can tell you were all crapping bricks over this.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:20 PM

Oh my!

You know, I was suprised by this but at the same time, amazed that it took so long to come. You'd figure that after at least eighteen months of being the warblogger's whipping boy about "Bush Hating" and "Moonbats" and whatever stupid term they came up with, Ted Rall would realize that the best way to respond to the bloggers pretending they'd actually touch him in their whiny declarations of how his ass should be kicked, would be to just tell them to fuck off right back:

In a follow-up to a dressing down of the Howard Dean campaign, in which Taranto attempts to smear Dean by depicting me as some sort of wacko pro-Osama com-symp, this fat little Nazi has the gall--and poor legal judgement--to insult me as "America-hating columnist Ted Rall."

I'm not a thin-skinned guy, Mr. Taranto, but anyone who dares question my patriotism or loyalty to the United States of America has crossed the line--no, he's leapt way the hell over it. I adore my country, I would lay down my life to defend it, and I'm willing to take the heat from neo-McCarthyite scum like him. When I speak out against the gangsters who have taken over Washington, subverted the Constitution and undermined basic American values like truth and justice, I am merely doing what anyone who cares about our country would do. Bush and his policies are destroying my country--which is why I am working as hard as I can to stop them.

It's one thing to counter an argument. It's quite another to impugn the patriotism of the person making it. People who resort to shutting their opponents down, which is the antithesis of the First Amendment which allows our democracy to function, swim in the gutter because they don't have a valid point of view. They are the true America haters.

Here, I'll make it easy for you, Jimmy: Unlike you Republicans, I don't HAVE an enemies list. While I wouldn't say that Osama has America's best interests at heart, I think it's also safe to say, as any thinking person would, that a treasonous "president" who subverts a national election by hiring Hitler Youth-like goons to invade an elections office, runs up $10 trillion in debt, starts two unjustified wars and opens a concentration camp at Gitmo is more dangerous to the United States than a sick old man hiding out in the middle of Kashmir. Osama may have killed 4,000 Americans in all (and we're still waiting for proof of what really happened on 9/11) and that's obviously horrible. But he's not American. He can't be expected to give a damn about us. Bush has killed hundreds of U.S. troops and tens of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis for nothing but his own greed and self-agrandizement--and he's one of us. Who do YOU think is the most dangerous?

As I mentioned a few times before, it's very easy to dislike the tone of Rall's work, yet at the same time it seems so easy for neocons and warbloggers to waste an afternoon talking about how they don't like him as if, you know, Ted cares.

I can't imagine what it must feel like to be someone who makes a living out of caring about how to make America better only to be told on a near-daily basis that you hate your country because you say it differently than they do. I'm glad to see that, albiet an extension of lengthy wordplay, Ted Rall has learned to respond to the ignorance of the "fuck you, Ted" crowd with "yeah, well fuck you too."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:58 PM

Joe Lieberman can stop talking now.

Joe Lieberman has spent the last three years delusionally believing that he was picked by Al Gore to be his running mate for any reason other than seperation from Bill Clinton. Following Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean, Lieberman has travelled even further down the spiral into an even more delusional rationale that, despite contrasting with Al Gore on roughly every damn thing imaginable, it's shocking, nay, a travesty, that Al Gore didn't endorse him for President.

Billmon will see no close challengers in the competition for the greatest analysis of this:

My, aren't we catty. But I'm not sure Joe is any position to whine about someone else's "loyalty." Leaving aside the transparent manuevering last fall -- when Lieberman made it clear he was just looking for the right moment to break his promise not to seek the nomination if Gore ran again -- there's also the small matter of Holy Joe's performance during the Florida fiasco.

You may remember that the GOP made an incredible stink about how the Gore people where challenging absentee ballots sent in by military personnel stationed overseas -- even though many of those ballots were postmarked after the deadline (or not postmarked at all) and even though several soldier-Republicans openly boasted about the multiple votes they cast for Bush.

You could argue (and I did at the time) that challenging military ballots was a mistake, if only because it was an unwinnable fight from a PR point of view. But Lieberman did more than that -- he went on national television and publicly disassociated himself from the actions of his own campaign!

In essense, Holy Joe cut and ran, leaving the troops to fend for themselves. Where was Lieberman's "sense of loyalty" then?

The truth is that Gore owes Lieberman nothing. His selection of Holy Joe for the 2000 ticket was an act of pure political expediency, on both ends. Lieberman's brand as the rabbi of Senate was medicine that Gore badly needed to fight off the Monica virus. The VP nomination was Lieberman's shot at the brass ring -- and judging by his dismal performance on the campaign trail this year, the only real shot he's ever likely to get. Holy Joe should consider himself lucky he made it as far as he did.

But if putting up with the holier-than-thou act for a little while longer is the price for watching the death of Lieberman's presidential hopes, I'm willing to pay it. The Gore giveth, and the Gore taketh away. Blessed is the name of the Gore.

To recap: as one of my own readers, Rob Strong, said to me the other day, can this guy please, please, PLEASE go away now?

Update: reader Philip Pangrac reminded me in an e-mail another important point about the 2000 election: a guy who refused to give up his Senate seat during the election doesn't really have much of a position to harp about having faith in their running mate.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:58 AM

(smack) This is for stepping out of line! (smack!)

I'm kidding, of course. But here's the e-mail to which I must respond:

I'm afraid that I have to break with my usual ideology, and think that Bush might actually be right with the decision to only allow coalition bids on the Iraq contracts. That really hurt to say. Really bad. I have to wash now.

The reason I say I would have to support this is that in the end, we are the ones plopping down the money to begin with. I am extremely against the war to begin with, and generally consider the humanitarian argument from the administration as total and complete crap. If GWB is so concerned with human rights, why are we not more actively supporting peace in Liberia, where both sides are ASKING FOR HELP! I side with those being spited in their arguments against the war, but unfortunately we no longer have the option to just abandon the effort. And with the EU member countries refusing to spend a reasonable amount of their own cash to fund the rebuilding effort, not the effort to rebuild from our bombs, but the effort to rebuild from decades of neglect and decay that came from the Heussain(sp?) administration, how can they cry foul on a humanitarian basis.

If they are so damned concerned with the people of Iraq getting humanitarian services, then where's the money that they need to procure these services? And I believe that they are aware of the fact that they are going to get smacked with that very same question, which is why they are approaching the situation by crying foul on the basis of trade law rather than on the "good of the Iraqi people" principle.

To turn the tables back around to the usual and personal favorite target, the administration is also poorly handling the situation by demanding troops for contract bidding rights. They need to be requesting funds. Anyone in their right minds would know that France and Germany wouldn't commit troops to this cause that they were blatantly opposed to from the get go. And to do so now would expose them as money grabbing whores. With funding from other nations thrown into the pot, we could relieve some of our nations burden, and consequently end up spending more to bring them up to speed faster, and get the soldiers back home.

The sad thing of this entire situation is that in the end it screws only the Iraqis. And they have had more government related screwing than all of the countries haggling this one out combined.

First of all, in regards to France, etc.'s alleged lackluster performance in support for the region, it's partiually due to exhaustion from their support in the NATO commitment to Afghanistan. Except, of course, for the United States, France has been the largest military contributor to the Afghanistan military operation.

Second, using the "EU refusing to contribute" argument is a bit erratic, as the United States at no point validated this war with its own implication of financial charity. Rather, the talking point from Day One was that the invasion of Iraq could be completely paid off with the Iraqi oil the gleeful liberated people would bend over backwards to provide us. We all know just how well that turned out. It goes hand-in-hand with why we didn't shed a tear for Liberia. That would have, you know, cost money and stuff. But where were we? Oh, right, the greedy French.

The United States has, of course, turned a humanitarian eye towards Iraq. For example, just today Bush and Company have asked the governments of France, Belgium, Germany, and Russia, as well as others they only 24 hours earlier banned from reconstruction contracting, to simply forgive the debts owed to them from previous investements in Iraq... investments that the United States now wants to dish out on the grounds that it "improves the lives of the Iraqi people." Apparently, though, because Americans can do it now instead of French. Right.

Now, of course, the easiest and most beneficial way to help the Iraqis rebuild would be to emply Iraqis themselves, but therein lies another problem, that being the Iraqi labor unions organizing to return to factories. The United States has been arresting them and replacing them with private-sector labor.

I think I'll stick with Josh Marshall's quote, which sums it up the best: "tell me with a straight face that these guys have any idea what they're doing."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:46 AM

December 10, 2003

New comic - "Premise Date"

Large Format - 800px, 100K

Small Format - 600px, 60K

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:56 AM

"What the Iraqi people want above all else is for us to really stick it to the French"

The U.S. will offer over $18 "with a B" billion in Iraq reconstruction projects that exclude from bidding any countries that refused to aid the "Coalition of the Willing."

America cites this "policy" as "national security reasons," which is of course, "bullshit."

If this war was, according to the "who said anything about imminent threats of nuclear waepons?" neocons, about liberating the Iraqi people and the best chances for improving the infrastructure of the country, then how is there any argument against allowing as many entities as possible the opportunity to improve the infrastructure of the country?

If a French firm charges less to rebuild a school, what does it say of the U.S. that they're not allowed to do it because Americans need their moral victory against the "Surrender-Monkeys?"

Sad and laughable at the same time how quickly one's argument can go from "it's worth any cost to remove Saddam" to "it's worth extra cost to screw Europe over." Golly gee, Iraqi civilians exploited as pawns to make America look and feel better. Wow, never seen that before.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:48 AM

December 9, 2003

Awwww, well glad that's all over

How nice of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Only a few weeks after he took office, promising to open an investigation into finding out if he's sexually assaulted numerous women (pesky beauracracy prevents the Governor from asking himself personally) and he's decided that it's time to put the past behind him (as opposed to just ignoring like he'd been doing for the last few years and all.)

Just weeks after vowing to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against him, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has changed his mind, saying it's "time to move on.''

More than a dozen allegations of harassment and groping surfaced against the movie-star-turned-politician in the last days of the recall campaign, prompting Schwarzenegger to acknowledge that he had sometimes "behaved badly'' on "rowdy movie sets.'' He apologized to anyone he may have offended, a mea culpa his communications director reiterated Monday.

"The governor, after consulting with legal counsel and advisers, has determined that an investigation would be rather pointless given the political nature that this has taken on,'' said Rob Stutzman, Schwarzenegger's communications director. "The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office has said it has no investigation and no complaint on which to act. And so, the governor has concluded, as we believe most Californians have, that it's simply time to move on so he can focus entirely on the job Californians sent him here to do. He remains sincere in his apology to anyone he has offended.''

Imagine. How sad it must be that massive multiple lawsuits against someone would end up being viewed as "political" just because the defendant in the accusation happens to be the governor of California.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:11 PM

December 8, 2003

"BEETRRRRRRRAAAAAYYYYY- OOOOOOOOORRRRRRR!"

"BEETRRRRRRRAAAAAYYYYY- OOOOOOOOORRRRRRR!"

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:48 PM

And justice for two dozen or so

A Federal review of the U.S.'s prosecution of captured terrorism suspects has revealed that among 6,400 arrests, 2,700 cases have been tried, in which only 23 people have been convicted of terror-related crimes of a severity meriting a sentence of over five years in jail. Over 800 "terrorism" charges have led to minor immigration infractions, as the report suggests "evidence that federal investigators have dramatically expanded the range of crimes they are willing to count as terrorism."

If my math's right, this means that roughly three-tenths of one percent of those the United States has accused of terrorism have been proven to be somehow linked to terrorism.

The fact that 23 potential terrorists are now identified is of course a great thing, but we're the most Advanced Nation on Earth, and the Washington Generals probably have a better success rate than this.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:13 PM

Please. Play with your weiner.

Like origami. Only, with ham.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:09 PM