Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I do not think the Holocaust Denial Conference means what you think it means

More stuff on how Pres. "Big A" Ahmadinejad of Iran isn't as evil as we've been led to believe.

Obligatory disclaimer: I not claiming he's a good guy. I'm not claiming he's peace-loving, US-loving, Jew-loving, or Israel-loving. He is part of an oppressive system of rule (allowing elections, true, but not really free) run by religious leaders who most agree are zealots and hostile to "The West."


BUT, even if Iran's oppressive government has distaste for us, Jews, and Israel, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are intent on our destruction (or crazy enough to attempt our destruction even though it would almost surely mean their own). People talk about Iran or some other prospective nuclear power giving nuclear weapon material to terrorist groups. I don't know of any proof they're likely to arm such groups with nukes to attack *us*. And indeed, they have no reason to think that doing so wouldn't bring the swift US sword of death upon them, considering our massive nuclear stocks and our intelligence-gathering abilities, which may have been shown not to be perfect, but nonetheless didn't do much to STOP us from bombing perceived enemies and their helpers (see: Taliban, Afghanistan, Hussein, Iraq).

As far as conventional arms, one may consider from their perspective, that supplying traditional weapons to fighters in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq one could see as not-unreasonable (COULD see) attempts to support these countries' fights for their own sovereignty. (One can argue -- correctly -- about the methods they choose, but one must admit all three of those countries -- well, Palestine isn't even a country yet -- are struggling over sovereignty.)

Anyway, point is, this article discusses the so-called Holocaust Denial Conference in Iran, and why it isn't what you think it is. I'll stop digging a hole for myself and refer you to there -- where the author points out he has yet to see any direct quote where Big A directly threatens preemptory action against the US or Israel, or *calls for* their destruction. The author claims Big A has *predicted* their destruction, à la someone making a paralell with the collapse, not annhilation, of the USSR. I'm not sure I'm convinced, but I have no more proof Big A is belligerent than that he's not, and I've got to say, last time we were talking about this, the US media largely got it wrong (achem: WMDs). Iran may not be friendly, or our friend, or not-dangerous, but they may not be an imminent threat (and PS, they're perfectly within their international rights to develop international power, and there's no direct revealed evidence that they are making nuclear weapons, which they couldn't complete for 5-10 years in any case if we did have proof of it.) So: Read, and think about it.

And then post a comment on my blog for goodness' sakes! I know everyone out there (all two of you) don't already agree with me, right? Tell me where I'm wrong...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A quickie on Global Climate Change (aka Global Warming)

Just a couple of centavos on Global Climate Change. For one thing, as the linked article points out, the GCC term (Climate Change) is a better one than "warming." The average temperature change isn't so much the problem as the increase in variability of weather and concommitant increases in severe weather events. So the arguments of former GCC skeptic Gregg Easterbrook, that most people enjoy warmer weather, where's the harm in that, don't hold water. Not that they ever did. While, in all fairness, Easterbrook has recently decided for himself that the debate over the existence of GCC is effectively over, he seems a bit late to the party for me. (But then again, he would.) He has the same annoying triumphalist, knees-bent, breathless giddy excitement over his own discoveries that blogger Mickey Kaus does (and no, I'm not going to link to freakin' Kaus), that their occasional protestations of "but maybe I'm wrong," don't dispel. (Imagine something in the vain of: "Your idol is an idiot, this other guy is a sleazebag, everything Paul Krugman says is wrong in some way, the Dems suck goat ass, and your Bible is a lie. But maybe I'm wrong." Though Easterbrook is a devout religious guy, so that last (James T. Kirkian) Bible thing is just for color.)

Easterbrook did take advantage to a tactical problem, George Lakoff-style, in the original phrasing of Global Warming: Warming sounds pleasant. It's also not a very complete picture of the problem, so there you are. Go forth and say only GCC my children! (Only you probably shouldn't just use the acronym without spelling it out for people first.)

My quickie note was on the factoid that many of my very intelligent friends have espoused, especially in response to Gore's "An Incovenient Truth (starring Al Gore, by Al Gore, on a topic discovered by Al Gore, featuring Al Gore, with Special Guest Al Gore)." That is the "natural cycles" argument, that the earth has large natural fluctuations in temperature and carbon fluxes. Ok, A) True. B) Mostly irrelevant. The human body has natural fluxes in temperature, too, but when an outside force is increasing or decreasing these fluxes, it's cause for concern, if not alarm. And people say, "well, the amount of carbon we're adding to the atmosphere is minimal compared to the natural fluxes." Even accepting that, the "natural fluxes" were closer to equilibrium before the human Industrial Revolution released bunches more. That is, about as much was released as was absorbed. And, as with human body temperature, a couple of degrees, which is what we're talking about as an average, can be very concerning and deadly -- especially when it's indicated that it's not going to stop. We don't understand the whole eons-long cycles of global temperature changes, but tell you what -- rapidly felling the forests of the world, huge carbon sinks, will only exacerbate the imbalance, and just as with the human body -- a small change can be a huge problem. Just food for thought, throwing it out there -- though most of the people who read this blog are my friends and already know this, so.... well, I'm not sure where to go with that. Tchau tchau...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Old Orwellian News

"Stay the course" means "dynamically change in response to new situations". Of course, as John Dickerson of Slate points out in the linked piece, the problem is that we HAVE changed dynamically, and cracking down, semi-flattening Fallujah, "standing down as they stand up," reducing our footprint, curfews, and "stand, hold, build," none of these have worked.

In other news, up is down, right is wrong, truth is a lie, lies are truth, and we are now and always have been at war with Eurasia.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Headline, January 21, 2009

I've just received this from Future J (a conceit I'm stealing from Marc Maron of the late, justly lamented Air America's "Morning Sedition").

Headline, Washington Post, Rush Edition, January 21, 2009


Ex-President Bush: "I told the American People that if they voted for Democrats, the terrorists would win."

In a stunning refutation of the yet-to-be-enunciated Democratic Agenda of the incoming Jack Johnson Administration, the warnings of his most recent predecessor have all come true in one fateful day.

The day after the inauguration of President Johnson, New York City was annhilated in a "nucular" holocaust, killing millions. The all-male crew of terrorists, who had strapped a nuclear bomb to a tanker headed into New York Harbor, were reportedly seen holding hands and kissing each other on the lips as they praised God and delivered their lethal package. Their nuclear weapon is thought to have been procured from Iran, and fashioned from radioactive Iraqi citizens.

These kissing brown men had taken the jobs, formerly held by good, hard-working white Americans, as crew on the hardy oil tanker, the SS Not Named After Condi Rice. It is rumored that matching gold bands were seen on each of the several terrorists' left fingers before it hit -- authorities think these may have been matching wedding bands. This apparently polygamous all-male married crew bears out the predictions of another recently defeated Republican: Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania. He memorably compared gay marriage to beastiality, sodomy, incest, and polygamy, insisting one would lead to the next.

Then-Senator Santorum was quickly and thoroughly ridiculed by press outlets on the Left, including Jon Stewart's parody news show, "The Daily Show." The Daily Show sketch included signage with symbols indicating two married men, an equal sign, and a mockup of a stick-figure man copulating with a turtle to indicate "man-on-turtle action." It's not yet known if any of the gay, male, brown, Allah-worshipping terrorists had actually married or had carnal knowledge of any poikilotherms.

President Johnson insisted that the incinerated former residents of New York City would still have supported his campaign bid had they known the costs. "Freedom is messy," he said, channeling former Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld. "And I had promised them more tax cuts."

In the past few hours, staff of ex-President Bush have publicly posed the question, "Is it truly a coincidence that these horrible men, these, these, married and GAY haters of America... [were] immigrants fluent in French and Mexican, two languages that [President Johnson] also speaks?"

President Johnson has said he has "No comment," on this question.


Preliminary evidence implies that the attackers entered the country illegally through Canada's Quebec province, posing as Mexican laborers and taking advantage not only of the "Immigration Reform" passed by the Democratic Congress, but also of education improvements in charter schools ushered in by "No Child Left Behind," a program with an until-now successful legacy under Mr. Bush. Although millions of children were left with no education as failing public schools closed and programs steeply slahsed at those remaining, thousands of rich children were "carried ahead" by the "Left Behind" program in what some have called a "qualified success." Several of the terrorists apparently attended an exclusive private Baptist school, one of many that sprang up with government funding during Mr. Bush's 2nd "lame-duck" term. These exclusive schools have consistently turned out excellent students, providing what many say is "complete vindication of the [NCLB Act]." But perhaps in this case, the question we must ask is rather, "Is our terrorists learning?"

President Johnson has also said this morning that he was calling for the summary and indefinite detention of all Mexicans, Arabs, and "funny looking peoples, you know with those hats, or wraps, or really dark skin". He has already signed a bill passed by Congress five minutes after the attack, allowing anything up to measures as seen in the movie "Saw III" to be used on potential terrorists for interrogation purposes. "That movie was sick," he said, "And so are the terrorists. The terrorists -- and the writers of Saw III -- will never stop trying to think of new ways to sicken, repulse, and terroriize the people of the United States. And neither will we."

President Johnson added, "We do not and will not torture. We will only 'Saw III'-ize illegal enemy combatants, which clearly falls within the Geneva Conventions as I interpret them, or at least the Cliffs Notes version I've read." Democrats on Capitol Hill widely applauded the move, admitting they had neither read the bill nor seen the movie, but pointed out that there is no specific prohibition in the Geneva Conventions about "Saw III-izing" illegal enemy combatants on Tuesdays and Thursdays of every month after 5 pm in technically sovereign countries whose land we rent for $1 a year under duress.

Meanwhile, the question of how the terrorists got hold of fissile material appears to have an unexpected answer: Iraqi nuclear stocks. Though it has become accepted conventional wisdom that the previous administration erred in its insistence that the Iraqis had a nuclear program, it appears that here again they have been vindicated. Apparently, Saddam Hussein had been collecting citizens and casualties from previous American assaults on Iraq. Many of these victims of "collateral damage" had apparently picked up enough radiation from exposure to American depleted uranium munitions to be useful as nuclear "starter kits". Reportedly, thousands of Iraqi civilians had to be processed to gather enough material for the bombs -- nonetheless putting lie to the idea that Iraq did not have nuclear capabilities.

Processing of Iraq's nuclear citiznes was carried out under the aegis of Brown & Root, through a contract Iraq had signed with Halliburton prior to the 1991 invasion, and sub-contracted to the Iranian government via the shell company "ChummyRummy and ZanyCheney's Happy People Processing Labs Initiative." President Johnson's staff has indicated that he may endorse another nuclear attack on Iran, "Just to be sure the rubble and bystanders left over from President Bush's War on Iran will never pose a threat to us. If we don't nuke them there, then we will have to nuke them over here."


"Every single thing my administration said, we meant," commented the former President Bush the Second. "Even the contradictory parts. But I can only hope that, maybe now, and I think they will, the Democrats will realize that the only way to win this fight is through resolve, relentless and indiscriminate killing of people in other countries, unlimited executive power, lying, lower taxes, lying, and not having to see gay men touching each other, or even think about it gay men touching each other."

"Only then," he said, "Will we truly be free."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Are they fucking me with this?

Oh, wait, they CAN'T be fucking me. Not yet, at least. They're promoting abstinence only contraception until THE AGE 29. Yeah. That'll work.

With this news in mind, I'm ready to conclude that elephants are smarter than the Bush Administration. (I have it on good intelligence that President Bush has mistakenly declared his own shadow an "unlawful enemy combatant." Twice.)

(Special note for the less J-saavy/more sane members of the audience, in the context of the title, "fucking" is acting as the word "kidding." See the informative history lesson on the versatility of the word "fuck" here.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mr. Bush, Tear Down That War

Keith Olbermann writes a fantastic piece, "The Beginning of the End of America", that everyone should read. It's so good... (How good is it?) I'm so glad you asked. It's so good, it made me quote Ronald Reagan in my title.

Ok, the Johnny Carson bit there was unnecessary and unfunny, but still, take my word for it, read Olbermann's piece. It's one that (I think) can speak to Middle America, something us lefties are too reluctant and too infrequent in doing.

(Bonus fake Johnny Carson bit from Emo Philips performing in Winnipeg, later channeled by Kevin Pollack I believe:

"It was so cold, last time we were here..."

(How cold was it?)

I'm so glad you asked. It was so cold, last time we were here we contracted gonorrhea, just for the burning sensation.

Rim shot! Ti-di-boom.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nota bene on Ahmadinejad

A couple of posts ago, I talked about Juan Cole and Virginia Tilley discussing how Iran's threat to us is far, far overblown. New J-friend S' (S prime, to distinguish from the heretofore unmentioned dear and good J-friend S) knows someone who is actually a refugee from Iran, who strongly feels the Prez IS a mad, anti-semitic all-around bad guy posing a threat to Israel, Iraq, and the US, and cites first-hand many instances of oppression against the Iranian people who, she says, are not in step with the extremist views of their leader but are kept from positive stances for the US by violent means. Even though I feel that anecdotal evidence is almost never conclusive evidence, I did want to make clear that I don't disbelieve that Pres. Ahmadinejad is an all-around scary or bad guy. I guess the two points I wanted to make were: A) I staunchly disbelieve the US media's portrayal of him, and doubt that they've taken him in context on many occasions, and B) that it seems at least possible given (A), that the characterizations of Ahmadinejad have been inaccurate. Of course, the true rulers of Iran (from what I understand), the Mullahs, certainly do not seem like nice guys or, you know, advocates of freedom or anything else I believe in. I think whatever the case, they're pulling Big A's strings (tired of spelling out his name), and whether or not he is truly so anti-semitic becomes somewhat moot seeing as how the true leadership may very well be -- and is certainly tyrannical. S' pointed this out, that even if it isn't Big A but the mullahs who are the crazy violent bad guys, does it matter in terms of Iran's threat? Thinking on this, the answer is of course no... even if Big A is actually and quietly the most liberal and open-minded person ever, but he's following their orders, well, the result's the same. BUT, as the Juan Cole article I linked to in my other post reinforces, there's not particular good reason to think that they'd pose a nuclear threat. For one thing, it's unclear if they even ARE making weapons-grade uranium rather than, as is their international treaty-ratified right, making power generation uranium (light water nuclear reactors have different enrichment needs than nuclear weapons). If they are, it seems almost certain their capacity is only such that they could make a weapon years and years from now. And even if they DID have "The Bomb," I think an important question is: are the mullahs REALLY crazier than Kim Jong-Il, the Cold War Russians, or the Pakistanis and Indians in regards to their feud with each other? I mean people said that we just didn't understand, Pakistanis and Indians hated each other so much, they were WILLING to face mutual annhilation, and so a nuclear attack WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. Just cuz it hasn't yet doesn't mean it won't, but... I simply do not believe that the mullahs, any more than Hussein, Kim, Gorbachev, Brezhnev, or Pervez care so little for their own comforts or lives that they accept mutually assured destruction, or even just the destruction of their country (where would they go to be dictator, ruler, and/or wealthy statesman?). They are, as our president calls them, irrational -- but only if you are so humanistic as to regard the intentional mistreatment and oppression of any person or peoples irrational. It is horrible and reprehensible, of course, but the fact is that they're getting material benefits -- it's not irrational. Causing (as they must know it would) the destruction of their power base, their home, their resources -- I have yet to see anything, anything that proves the mullahs or Ahmadinejad are on that road.

I rant inexplicably about free will...

In response to Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, here (or more accurately, his post here). I also saw many other lucid refutations, or at least, bones of contention, many of them more cogent than mine, or at least shorter...

As some have commented, this argument is somewhat futile, not necessarily because one cannot determine whether free will exists or not, but rather because if you accept personal responsibility as real (as Adams has it), then whether or not there is free will changes *nothing.* Nada. Zip. I've just been told that my sequence of actions, including writing this post instead of working on my dissertation was, I suppose, an inevitable result of the chain of events before it. But, for the purposes of living my life in a satisfying and orderly way, I cannot therefore use that as an excuse to never work again because I "can't help it." I suppose by Adams' reasoning, my previous experiences, my biology, etc. will drive me to spend (slightly) more time working than posting to achieve various things important to me.

BUT: despite this futility, I am compelled nevertheless to rebut a little bit of Scott's reasoning.

The more interesting (I think) rebuttal is that free will as Adams' describes it doesn't seem to be possible in a universe with rational laws (not rational actors, just laws of reality). He describes it as doing something breaking the chain of causal events before it. As I'm going to explain below, there's good reason to believe that many, many things in human society actually ARE indeterminate to some extent (based on the same finding in ecological systems). Meaning: if you wound history up somehow and replayed it, events might happen differently even with the exact same starting conditions. You could call this the vagaries of probability -- because behavior at least is, I think, probablistic -- a given person may choose differently in the same situation with, again, all the same starting conditions. That is, when faced with a big mac, a given person as a dieter may have a 95% chance of eating it, and a 5% of not. Or a newly-minted vegan a 50/50 chance. Mathematically, even given a complex model of decision making, the most you could get would likely be a probablistic answer. So is falling into probablity free will? I don't know. It doesn't break the chain of causal events...

...but then, really, what does? Adams' definition of free will requires people to act at random, it would seem -- that is, at odds with their own experience or circumstance. I guess it would be something like me getting up right now and killing myself -- when I have no reason to do so. Or does it have to be more crazy? A glass of water combusting? A person becoming a bird out of choice? If it is simply that I won't jump out a window because I'm a product of all the causal factors before now, well then, non-free will is a call for an irrational universe. I mean, given free will and all other things being equal, you'd think people would act according to their will in order to satisfy themselves the most in their lives -- monetarily, sexually, etc. So this system would seem to exactly emulate our system. The only way to have a system PROVING Scott's idea of free will would seem to be people running around setting themselves on fire, deciding to become a homeless person for the rest of your life, eating poisonous food for not reason, slapping your loved ones unprovoked -- I mean, only these things seem out of line of what a person with free will would choose, if you still assume people would want to make themselves happy. The only alternative I see is if you relax that assumption, and people don't want to make themselves happy nor successful. This, in turn, is very unlikely to happen in a universe with rational laws simply because such an population of entities without any sense of self-preservation would quickly become extinct. So, as Adams' defines it, free will is impossible unless the laws of the universe themselves are variable -- similar to my ex-girlfriend's believing that altruism isn't altruism if you enjoy, or at least feel emotional rewards for, helping people . One may define true altruism as only cases where you help people, at a cost to yourself, AND not liking it/thinking it's a stupid or horrible idea, but that's such a ridiculous definition as to not be useful. Same with this.

(now, the boring part... or at leat, MORE boring part)

For, though quantum mechanics do not, as a rule, trickle up into indetermination in the macro-world, chaos mathematics creates similar indetermination to quantum mechanics. There are two forms of chaos: determinate and stochastic. The second is easier to explain: it's "noise," it's all the bunches of little chances and changes that make, say, weather, hard to predict. But famous scientist (ecologist/theoretical physicist/mathematician) Robert May showed decades ago you could also have chaos from a simple equation and a time lag. To sum up, let's compare "conventional math" to "chaos math" -- in conventional math, the underlying assumption of ALL of it is that an incredibly small change in the "inputs" of an equation will lead to proportionally small change in the output -- or more precisely, that as the change in input goes to 0, the change in output also goes to 0. Chaos math turns that around, saying that in some systems, as the input change goes infinitely close to zero, the output can change unpredictably. It turns out that this can happen even in a simple mathematical system; imagine if you have bunches of these overlayed on each other? There simply IS no determinate result. There can be probabilistic results (as in quantum physics), and people may obey these as other systems do (i.e in a large enough sample, people will come out as the stats -- 70% doing A, 30% doing B). Is that free will? I don't know.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Massacring Civilians to save Civilians Merit Badge: Haditha Marine was recommended for a medal?

You know, it's funny to joke that the Bush Administration gives its highest honors to its most incompetent cronies. George Tenet, L. Paul Bremer and Gen. Tommy Franks were awarded medals of honor for their work in Iraq. That's right, George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, L. Paul "De-Baathification and a misplaced $9 billion" Bremer, and Gen. Tommy "We don't need any more soldiers on the ground, thank you" Franks, medals of honor. Greeeeeeat. Well, that's old news. New news to file under "WTF?":

The Marine Sergeant who led the Haditha assault where they killed two dozen Iraqi civilians was recommended for a medal for his heroism by the only Marine officer present, Lt. William T. Kallop. Sergeant Frank Wuterich has since been promoted to Staff Sergeant, and Lt. Kallop is now 1st Lt. Kallop. So even though it was only a "recommendation" (meaning it didn't get farther in the formal awarding process), both of them have been promoted since Haditha. And Kallop's description of Wuterich's "heroism" ignores, oddly enough, the entire issue of civilian deaths, instead focusing on the now-likely-to-be-fictional insurgent attack. ("There was no IED.") While established details may change as the investigations continue, it still sort of beggars belief that Wuterich was nominated for a medal, and the Lt. Kallop's report doesn't mention any civilian deaths.

At our current rate of rewarding incompetence, Clarence Thomas will be named King Regent of the World next.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Iran: Can't get fooled again?

Fool me once, shame on President Bush.

Juan Cole, U of Michigan professor and Middle East expert (and lightning rod for Rightist backlash against "experts" and their "facts") takes down the recent report on Iran's level of threat to the US -- pointing out, correctly, that there is no known evidence that they have the near-term capability to produce nuclear weapons, that many of those hyping their danger are, you know, the same types who hyped Iraq's dangers, and that the report misuses work from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which apparently said, as of last January, that "Iran has continued to facilitate access under its Safeguards Agreement as requested by the Agency, and to act as if the Additional Protocol is in force, including by providing in a timely manner the requisite declarations and access to locations." Not to mention that Iran has every legal right to enrich uranium for nuclear energy (not weapons), under treaties that it is still in compliance with (unlike the several nuclear treaties the US has opted out of under Bush II, and Israel, which has never signed the Nonproliferation Treaty -- Iran has).

Further, political scientist Virginia Tilley makes the argument that Iranian Prez Ahmadinejad hasn't been saying what you think he's saying. She makes the very believable argument that his comments on Israel and its destruction have been mistranslated and his aggressiveness towards that state and denial of the Holocaust therefore misrepresented. She cites Juan Cole, among other Middle East experts, and it is at least plausible, given that CNN did mistranslate him (and apologized for it) as saying that Iran wanted nuclear arms, when he in fact said nuclear energy. She also argues that his Holocaust comments are not denials of its existence, but rather that he has questioned its use as a rhetorical tool for Israel's aggressive "offense is the best defense"-ive reactions. Additionally, she says that knowledge on the Holocaust is less widespread than we might imagine, and that this is hardly unbelievable given, say, US citizens' ignorance (and occasional outrage) over the observably true fact that two million Vietnamese were killed in the Vietnam war -- certainly, a horrific event for the population of Vietnam, whatever you think of that particular inadvisable war. I'd also cite US ignorance over the thousands of Nicaraguans dead from Iran-Contra, the general repression of the US-supported Somoza regime there before that, Pinochet's crimes, and even our likely ignorance over the scale of the current crisis in Darfur. I, for one, can't name numbers -- only reiterate sound bites that it is/was a genocide and, you know, large and bad. So, point is, it is certainly plausible that Ahmadinejad has been nowhere near as militant as he's been portrayed. Soemthing never quite seemed right to me about the reporting on him, perhaps this is why. He's portrayed as a Kim Jong-Il type, but he really doesn't seem THAT kind of insane to me. I, as some of you, have a counter-reaction of "is she just an apologist for him, or at best taking the rosiest possible translations?" I mean, the broad point that we can't afford to underestimate dangers to us when the stakes may be substantially high is not invalid -- but we still need to have proof for things, imho. (None of the formalized insanity of the One percent doctrine for me, thank you.) So while I'm not capable of evaluating Prof. Tilley's evidence, I'm also not capable of providing any concrete evidence she's incorrect. Think about it -- is there any evidence Ahmadinejad is as militant as he's portrayed? Any proof he is crazy enough to want to attack countries that certainly can then wipe his country off the map? (I.e. the US or Israel.) Nuclear weapons have been in existence for decades, and still have only been used by... us, the US. We had our reasons (whose conclusions I question, but that's a different story). But nonetheless, in the issue of the insanity of destroying millions of people, only we have enaged in that. In the insanity of mutually assured destruction, well -- no one has ever engaged on that with nukes, and need we say that WE had the same posture on that as the USSR? Dr. Strangelove notwithstanding, we've not proved we're necessarily saner than self-concerned despots with nukes who refuse to use them so as to save their own hides. SO -- I'm just sayin', while it's too early to assume Ahmadinejad doesn't mean us harm and indeed is not the "Jew-hating, Holocaust-denying Islamo-fascist who has threatened to 'wipe Israel off the map'" he's been said to be, it's also way too early to determine he IS, barring the "truthiness" we feel of an Iranian head of state being antagonistic, messianic, anti-semitic, and dangerous. Just because we looked Iran up in our gut and found it under "danger" doesn't mean that we're on our path to not being fooled again...

Monday, August 14, 2006

"Even women can have tiny dicks."

What the hell? you ask.

This the hell. In an unusually light-hearted J-post, I point to this article by Slate Ad Report Carder Seth Stevenson. Apparently, Hummer is trying to sell to the tofu set. Seth reports that new TV spots from Hummer for its H3 are aiming specifically to say, "Feel wimpy because you're the dude at the supermarket buying tofu and tempeh instead of the Fred Flintstone Brontosaurus Prime Rib? Buy a big fucking car! Now, less fucking big than before!" (It's now-shrinkaged size is I guess a selling point to tofuers: destroy the world somewhat slower than otherwise! Buy a Hummer, you Dirty Hippy! It's GOOD for the environment cuz it's SMALLER!) Seth reasonably points out that calling attention to the "I have a small penis" aspect of Hummer pop psychology may not be the best of ideas. The "women with tiny dicks" (now there's a rock band name if there ever was one) line comes from one of Seth's readers who suggests that this is the (unifying?) message of the she-version of the commercial, where a mom doesn't stand up for herself and her kid when they're pushed out of line by another kid and obnoxious mom on the playground. What does she do? Goes to buy an H3! As Seth implies, this confusing vein of you-go-girlness has apparently failed to run afoul of feminist takes as of yet. This in comparison to the rather quick backlash, apparently, to the male version that originally ended with the tagline "Restore your manhood." (Now it's "Restore the balance" -- apparently tofu shrinks your penis, but the Hummer will pump it up again like SPAM-email Cialis. Balance restored. Without the direct implication that you're a short dicked man -- or woman.)

I don't have any idea what to think about this other than "Um... ok," but I think the reader's line "Even women can have tiny dicks, and the Hummer is the cure" deserves to be repeated.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sen. "Mentum" Lieberman: Using Bush'shit Dirty Tricks

I haven't seen much news of this in other places: Lieberman using DC Lobbyists to pose as average citizen-supporters. I found it thanks to Tom Tomorrow. Of course, MyDD's Matt Stoller (he of the first link) acknowledges that MyDD's Aldon got there first.

It has run in a story by Jennifer Manes in Connecticut's Record-Journal (at least a trial subscription necessary). As Stoller asks, will the mainstream media pick it up, though?

My guess: judging from the oh-so-extensive coverage of Bush's use of this tactic in 2000 (documented, according to journalist Eric Alterman in his book What Liberal Media?, in the Bush campaign's tax documents as they hired entertainment for their out-of-town "average Florida citizen" protesters), I'm gonna say... um, no.

Though, on The Coffee House, Nathan Newman points out that there's no particular guarantee that Lamont is a super-progressive member of Left Blogistan -- actually, there's significant evidence against this. He is, however, better tha Lieberman, and perhaps can be considered a minor good instead of lesser of evils (my words, not Newman's).

To wrap all this up, Billmon points out the Lamont still pretty much falls into the rest of the Dipshit Dems as far as the conflagration and tragedies in the Middle East, a disappointment in this area like Howard Dean, who recently took the opportunity with other Dems to chide the Iraqi Prime Minister over his critique of Israel's role in the conflict with Lebanon for insufficiently blame the Lebanese, who are rather busy getting blown up. (Hezbollah is of course acting criminally as well and busy blowing up swaths of Israel, but when 300 or so civilians have died on one side, and something like 12 on the other, well... my sympathies in general lie with the heavier civilian casualties, the people of Lebanon, who are seemingly being collectively punished by Israel. A scan of the linked document shows that both sides are perpetrators of war crimes, but the greater capacity of Israel to destroy and deprive civilian entities indiscriminately places, in my opinion, a greater burden on them -- this is a burden they themselves have taken on through their choices of targets. (Not to mention that it doesn't seem to be, you know, WORKING.) To synthesize Billmon and Newman, Lamont should be supported -- as I blogged earlier, NYT's endorsement of Lamont over Lieberman points out the nature of his actions antithetical to, in my opinion, democratic dissent and Democractic dissent -- but Lamont also should not be viewed as a great white hope. Which, you know, I don't.

If you want to be crazy, crazy like a fox, there's also the Green, Ralph Ferrucci.

Sigh. It's too bad the Greens imploded over 2004....

Sunday, July 30, 2006

JoeMo Lieberman: Even the Liberal New York Times Rejects Him

Even the Liberal New York Times has endorsed Ned Lamont, the Connecticut Democratic Primary challenger to Even the Liberal Joe "Mentum" Lieberman. While Lieberman, and many others in the MainStreamMedia and other outlets, characterize this as reasonable, moderate, respect-wielding Human Being aka Centrists, versus the angry, pitchfork-wielding half-feral villagers of Left Blogistan rising up against the spectre of their caricatured portrayal of "President" Bush as an evil undead monster (clearly they're one off) out of pure hatred and not, say, substantive and heart-felt moral and policy differences, the NYT lays out a series of good reasons, said in quiet tones, calmly, over breakfast with Grandma. Finally, the cowed, financially poor, set-upon Moderates can come out of hiding and return to the light of day from the heartless exile we in Left Blogistan have sent them into.

To whit, the Grey Lady says:
"As Mr. Lieberman sees it, this is a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party — his moderate fair-mindedness against a partisan radicalism that alienates most Americans... That’s far from the issue. Mr. Lieberman is not just a senator who works well with members of the other party. And there is a reason that while other Democrats supported the war, he has become the only target. In his effort to appear above the partisan fray, he has become one of the Bush administration’s most useful allies as the president tries to turn the war on terror into an excuse for radical changes in how this country operates... Mr. Bush continually tries to undermine restraints on the executive branch: the system of checks and balances, international accords on the treatment of prisoners, the nation’s longtime principles of justice. His administration has depicted any questions or criticism of his policies as giving aid and comfort to the terrorists. And Mr. Lieberman has helped that effort. He once denounced Democrats who were “more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq” than on supporting the war’s progress... this is no time for a man with Mr. Lieberman’s ability to command Republicans’ attention to become their enabler, and embrace a role as the president’s defender."

Let me just say: Damn straight! As quoted in the the Washington Post today, Sen. (joe)Mentum is approaching "...the final days before the Aug. 8 primary [by] summing up his message to voters this way: "Mr. and Mrs. Connecticut, I hope you'll respect me, even if you don't agree with me."

This is possibly the second-most inane thing Sen. Mentum has said. (Ok, maybe it's in a 3-way tie for third-most.) Why? BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE WANT TO VOTE FOR A SENATOR THAT AGREES WITH THEM. I respect my high school english teacher. I don't want him to be my Senator. That is to say -- it is of course important to respect your Senator, or, at least, it'd be nice to -- but to equate "respect" with "vote for" and imply that "agreeing with" him is unimportant to the voting for part... well, that's pretty fucking inane (where inane = stupid). Respect is an important first cut, but the list of people I respect is much longer than the list of people I'd vote for, and really, I neither trust nor respect nor would vote for Lieberman. He has taken many notable and important liberal positions, but his cravenness, ignorance, or megalomania -- whatever is pushing him to support Bush -- is completely unacceptable. As the NYT points out, bipartisan compromise is good and important, but in supporting a President whose policies are anathema to almost everything I stand for, he's not only compromised his values (in my opinion) but compromised mine, and those enshrined in our Constitution. I don't just disagree with Bush; I don't just really really really dislike Bush; I think he's bad for America. Respect is irrelevant to whether or not I think we're on a path to hell, pushing the rest of the world before us. I'm not a Connecticut voter, but nonetheless, let me say this: If Lieberman believes this path is the correct one and does not, in fact, lead to hell, in my opinion he deserves neither respect nor my consideration as a Democratic Senator. And by "my consideration" I mean "your consideration", assuming "you" are a "Connecticut voter."

For other Sen. Mentum-related critiques, try here, the sort of amateurish but mildly informative time-to-go-Joe here, and another NYT article about him outlining his cluelessness on how everyone DOESN'T actually like him and that he actually has to address the concerns of his Democratic constituency here.

Joe seems to have forgotten that the point of a primary is to pick someone you think has, in general, the right policies. He seems to think there's no possible reason not to vote for him other than irrational hatred of Bush. He clearly has forgotten what a small-d democracy is.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Farcical Take on the UN

A reposting from my Slate Fray alter ego, HopefulCynic. In response to an article by the usually good John Dickerson, Good Shit: Why Bush Should Swear More. Elaboration (and fixed links) to come. For now:
Mr. Dickerson should certainly already know that the UN is most often hampered by the large amount of influence the US exerts, hampering many good perogatives even as it pushes others. Bush saying "I should tell Kofi..." is a telling phrase. Kofi Annan was made to eat his hat in the matter of Haiti (the US, from a fair few reports, was not a purely helpful partner [] there, for penance in his opposition to the US' position on Iraq. (And indeed, the more cautious approach advocated by many in the UN (see, i.e., France []) seems to have been warranted given the aftermath, the foreseeable [] lack [] of threat [] and "WMDs" [].)

The UN can and should expect more monetary support and more from "Old Europe", but the fact is the US holds the pursestrings, and in many (but not all) cases, it essentially holds the UNs metaphorical balls in its hands. Clearly an intermediary between us and Syria and/or Lebanon would likely be advisable given our current popularity in the Middle East, but there was no implication given that the UN had rebuffed Bush's idea, but rather that he hadn't pushed it yet. And without the power of the US, the UN is a paper tiger (sadly, in that it depends so heavily on one country that isn't overly fond of it), so them telling Syria and Hezbollah to "cut this shit out" clearly won't happen before given the unambiguous imprimatur of the US, and likely some extensive pressure given the UN's (to my mind) more even-handed position towards Israel and its antagonists and attackers. (See my former avatar [] and AM-2's [] take on the UN and US rel'nship more generally.)

And it's disturbing, though utterly surprising, to me that Bush and Dickerson both failed to mention the very valid other side to this: Hezbollah clearly attacked and provoked Israel; Israel clearly has a right to defend itself, but: is any scale of response acceptable? And would it be in any other ally? Clearly, somewhere between "nothing" and "using the nukes it doesn't officially have" is where the most reasonable response for Israel lies. So those (like Bush and most of the media establishment) who brush off Israel's reponsibility for proportionality are essentially saying that anything between a nuke (or several) and nothing is ok. This utterly callous stance is a large reason we're not seen well in the ME, or indeed, in many other parts of the world.

Between our utter lack of concern for civilian lives in the Middle East, or more accurately, our utter lack of effective concern (saying you're trying hard is not the same as addressing failures and flaws in the trying), and the havok WE have created in Iraq, we have sent a clear message to the Arab and Muslim "street" that we don't care about their puny little lives in the scale of larger conflicts supposedly in their name, and that we will invade and occupy their states at will, our broken promises and unfulfilled visions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, that not only will armed resistance and, frankly, terrorism stymie us, but that it is perhaps the only way to stop us from doing what we will in their sovereign states or neglecting valid calls for help.

Hezbollah is not going to "cut this shit out", nor is the "street" in Lebanon going to stop supporting them, before they see some proof that collaboration with the US in this Bush era will bring some advantage, some hope, some lasting commitment, rather than forgotten promises, [] chaos, and death [].

Saturday, June 24, 2006

JoeMo Lieberman continues to vie for "Most Useless Person Ever"; plus, An Inconvenient Blogghorea!

See Joe fabricate and obfuscate the Karl Rovian way here, in an attempted take-down of his anti-war Democratic competitor, Ned Lamont. He accuses him of being against the Kerry Amendment before he was for it.

Not only Rovian, but apparently untrue. Sigh. What bullshit.


...kind of, that is. His former Presidential running-mate, more precisely.

Went to see the Al Gore biopic, I mean documentary, I mean concert tour film, An Inconvenient Truth, last week. Good to see a high-profile Global-Warming-is-Real movie out there, and to see Gore coming into his own. BUT, for dear goodness' sake: this movie is as much or more about Al Gore as it is about Global Climate Change (GCC for short). Fully half the movie is about Gore's personal journey to discovering the urgency of GCC. This might be an ok approach if Gore were an "everyman", or could even play one on TV. But he goes through anecdotes of college professors and scientist friends and personally traveling to Antarctica as part of his discovery of the facts of GCC. Even this could be palatable, if it were in a journalist-type style, that is, fact-finding and questioning of experts. But in this movie, AL GORE is the "expert." Which he is, of course, for a layperson and a politician. We get action clips of him interviewing people in Congressional Hearings about Global Climate Change from the 80s. Bally for him, well done, but two questions: 1) why don't we get to hear the actual climate change experts talk about or explain some of the science? As informed as Gore may be, he's not a climatologist, and to have a hour-and-a-half long movie with little or no direct conversation with the scientists who have developed the knowledge Gore uses -- it's immodest of him (his contribution is popularizing it, not discovering it, give the workers "in the trenches" a little screen time) and unnecessary -- why have Gore explain it in a documentary when the people who have done the work themselves could easily be interviewed? (Because the movie isn't about them, it's about Al Gore, plainly, but that doesn't make it any less annoying for being obviously at cross-purposes with his vision for the movie.) Question 2) Where are the clips of the crusading Gore from between Congressional Gore and Former Next President of the United States Gore? They seem to be not there; that is to say, I'm pretty sure that among the reasons I didn't vote for the Former Next President was because none of this passion, charisma, or more importantly, chutzpah was present during his campaign. If he had been the "Global Warming Candidate" in 2000, I almost certainly would've voted for him. If he'd been the Sound Environmental Policy candidate, or the Ending US Imperialism candidate (less popular but just as important in 2000, before the Iraq invasion), or the Reforming Government Candidate, or Helping the Poor candidate, or the Sound Foreign Policy Candidate -- any of these things! But his 2000 Campaign was near content-less, and like Kerry, we, progressive Democrats, were simply meant to understand he couldn't politically afford to come across as Progressive or strongly pro-environment during the campaign, but wink-wink, nudge-nudge, know-what-I-mean-guv, if we voted for him, once in office, SURE, he'd do these things, we had to trust that his triangulating pansy-ass campaign was a Kerry-like convenient lie. Like I said of Kerry in 2004, "Don’t candidates actual policies usually reflect a thin-gruel version or even a reneging on their [campaign] promises? Is that our hope, that in John Kerry’s case, his promises really are the opposite of what he plans to do?"

This brings me to the point I was really trying to make, that being STOP WITH THE DRAFT AL GORE BULLSHIT. Al Gore the environmentalist and passionate speaker seems a great guy. I'd be fine with this guy as President -- or at least hopefuly. BUT THIS IS NOT AL GORE THE CANDIDATE. Not only has he said he's not running, he's only become this "fiery" speaker 6 years after he last ran. He did start getting pretty kick-ass about 3 years ago in acting more progressive, but even that is a substantial remove from holding or running for public office. This is not the Al Gore we saw as Vice or as Candidate, the guy who had Joe "Mentum" Lieberman, recently a plausible choice for a SecDef successor, as his running mate. HE HAD JOE LIEBERMAN AS A RUNNING MATE. I'd almost forgotten that until he showed him & Lieberman in 2000 during the movie -- why remind us, Al? Geez, I was just starting to like you.

Bottom line, pesos'll get you dollars the Gore the Re-Candidate wouldn't be ANYTHING like Gore the Former Next President. Like I said, people who are running campaigns tend to embellish their stances and make promises they have little intention of keeping. What kind of follow-through would you expect from someone who is making promises while they're not even running? Sorry, I just don't buy that Gore was a stealth progressive in 2000, or would run as a true progressive in 2008. He runs again, I guarantee you, he'll be running away from An Inconvenient Truth as youthful folly or something.

(deep breath)

Ok, sorry, I just have ZERO confidence that Gore-the-now-Entertaining-Public-Speaker and Crusader is anything like Gore the candidate.

And lastly, in terms of my problems with the movie -- not only does Al not talk to any experts other than himself (with many clips of him greeting and welcoming cheering crowds worldwide), he uses his family farm to illustrate the tragedies of global warming. Now, the part where he talks about his family growing tobacco until his sister Nancy died (a skeptical take on this move here, but I'm going to give Gore a benefit of a doubt here anyawy) was a beautiful illustrative story about the hard choices "normal" people have to make in supporting a larger flawed commercail system. But when he keeps coming back to the farm, talking about how the river is going down, the effects global warming is having there... his transition to clips of Hurricane Katrina just makes all the more stark the spoiled, navel-gazing aspect of this part of the movie. That is, why show us your river going down? Why not talk to people of less material means than the Gore family about what their experiences are? When you talk about Katrina, why not ask Katrina victims what they think about global warming and the problems it may be causing them and others on the coast in the future? See if they see the connection, what they think of the proof? Why you talk about typhoons in Asia, why not ask Asians about it? And why not interview some people like those where I do my work, in Brazil, who have noticed that the rainy season is getting later and later and later in the year (it used to be expected to start September/October-ish; now, November/December is not uncommon, and the rains are less predictable. They tell me it was a record difficult year this year, with little regular rain between November and March, with not really so much a rainy season as a drought with heavy, sometimes-damaging downpour at unpredictable times. While not in the same league of tackiness, Gore's self-focused take on this smacks a bit too much of Bush's take on Katrina for me: "Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Oh yes, horrible tragedy, but I look forward to fixing the problems of rich people like my friend Trent Lott, who lost stuff in this disaster. 'cuz everyone there can afford to rebuild, right? My mom says they're better off this way.

Sigh. In conclusion, don't draft Al Gore. Nothing'll make him run away from being an outspoken national figure faster.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Something New This General Direction Comes...

Five points to anyone who recognized that horribly mangled quote, used really for the opposite of its original sense. (Hint: IV 1.45.)

That is, rather than wickedness, a general goodness is on its way in the form of my article getting published -- well, my group article, I'm fifth author. Still exciting. The title is "Can Organic Agriculture Feed the World?" (The short answer is yes. The long answer -- read the article.) It's in press, meaning god knows when it'll be in print. Look for it in your next issue of "Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems" (which despite the hippy title is a very well-established journal, formerly the American Journal of Alternative Agriculture. ISI puts its Impact factor at 0.595, which is in the top ten of its category -- "Agriculture, Multidisciplinary"). This may seem extremely arcane to the outsider -- and that's only because it is. Sort of. That is, this is not the type of thing one would stumble across as a lay person, but it's not an out-of-the-way journal, and a story of this importance (not to be aggrandizing) will hopefully be picked up by the MSM [mainstream media]. For those interested, it's already been mentioned prominently in an article in the May/June 2006 edition of WorldWatch Magazine by J-acquaintance Brian Halweil.

The fact that it's arcane to the layperson is, to me, one of the profound tragedies (and flaws) of academia. I seem to be one of the few quasi-aspiring academics who view it as an essential duty to reconnect their work to the actual community-at-large. Or, perhaps "few" is misleading -- vanishingly small percentage. Lots of us do see this essential, but not the vast majority. As my friend Dan and I once commented, if Chemical Engineering professors were forced to explain their work clearly to lay people on a regular basis in order to continue receiving support, they'd have to kill themselves. Chemical engineering is arcane to chemical engineers. It seemed to be a truism in undergrad ChemE that it required a graduate level understanding of chemical engineering to understand undegraduate chemical engineering. That would seem to me to be a pretty profound pedagogical failure...

Anyway, future rants on academia notwithstanding, I'll let it be known when our article is actually published by giving forth a great hue and cry of wonder and delight. And, by adding a blog entry.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Well, that's good. Er, bad. I mean, good... No, ok, definitely bad.

So it appears that a Yale study forthcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Economics finds evidence that White Republican voters are 25% more likely to vote for a Democratic Senatorial candidate when the Republican candidate is black, assuming, of course, that the Dem. candidate is White, too.

At first glance, I was like, "Well, good! If you're going to be seemingly racist, it's best that this at least helps the party I marginally prefer!" Of course, thinking about it further, I think if I had all-powerful choices over time, space, and reality, that I would choose instead to live in a world where they were, seemingly, 0% more likely to vote for white Democratic guy or gal just because, they're, you know, white. This tendency strikes me as a bad thing.

And to stop me from taking any kind of schadenfreude from this, "In House races, white Democrats are 38 percentage points less likely to vote Democratic if their candidate is black," the Washington Post story says. Wellllll, I'm not seeing any upside for any part of society here, except perhaps the Prussian Blue sisters.

(P.S. The Prussian Blue sisters: Geeeeeeaaaaachhhh. Fucking disTURBING.)

Meanwhile, on page two of the WaPo story, apparently Las Vegas is a haven for sexual de-humanization of women. Who knew? But seriously, this article sounds much more troubling with the use of the word "decapitation"...

Which would be much more troubling in its classic meaning, but in this case (and still troubling, just, less so) it refers to the practice of portraying scantily clad women on billboards as headless bodies -- that is, their head is "off-screen" off the top of the billboard I imagine, so they become only some tits and an improbably flat stomach. And my quasi-namorada (yes, another J-quasi) here thought sexism was mostly gone in the US... Of course, besides any other methodological hitches, it may be that Las Vegas is not the best representative, generalizable sample pool, given its being home to the most excessive of American excess.

Meanwhile, apparently Republicans have gotten ensared in another dust up where the White House is seemingly involved in illegal chicanery. Apparently, a Republican operative who played a key role in jamming the phones of a Democratic call center and an (assumedly) non-partisan Firepersons get-out-the-vote mission during elections in New Hampshire in 2002, also made a flock of phone calls to President Por Vida, Herr GW Bush. The Rep. National Committee (RNC) is paying for the legal bills for this guy, James Tobin, even though it has no technical obligation to. RNC Chair Ken Mehlman says that it wasn't on his watch that this shady decision was made, but he does feel the honorable thing to do is to continue paying the bills. It's unclear from the WaPo article exactly who did what, but it seems that the Regional Director for the RNC has already been convicted of something, and this Tobin fellow and two others have already plead guilty in the case. It's also unclear whether or not this was a felony case (a Democratic attorney implies it is, but this is not the best-written article I've ever seen).

What IS clear: Ken Mehlman's standing up for this pack of convicted and admitted criminals. What a mensch.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


It's hard to believe this many US ex-generals are chewing Rummy out, and seemingly publicly.

Of course, this, and the continued revelations about Bush and him being a lying scumbag apparently still isn't enough to convince politicians other than Russ Feingold, or a majority of Americans, to consider impeaching Bush (though a majority do now support censuring him in some way, according to WaPo). (Washington Post.) Sweet goodness and light, preserve the fuck out of us.

In other news, in my continuing "Where da ladies at?" series, featuring shout-outs to countries who've actually managed to achieve statutory equality to the point of electing a female head of state, big ups to South Korea, though apparently, I'm somewhat unique in, you know, giving a shit about this, judging from the number of big news organizations popping up in my Google Search. (In-post correction lazily made instead of changing post: Seemingly, Ms. Han has only been nominated and is not yet confirmed as PM, though she is expected to be. I'm sure that explains the lack of news splash in the MSM...)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Now the US is just looking ridiculous.

Liberia has its first elected woman head-of-state, Chile this year, too, and of course countries like the UK, Ireland and India (off the top of my head) have had us beat for decades.

What set me off on this again? Yah, mon, it's Jamaica.

Hopefully she's not actually an evil corporatist -- the predominant identification of Jamaica's past PMs, IMHO.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I've got your Muslims condemning violence RIGHT HERE. No really, I do.

Thanks to everyone in reader-land who kept the faith and has checked this poor, benighted blog. Understandably, "ratings" have slumped -- no more of the heady days of over 100 people per month for me!!! -- but I welcome you back to the teeniest of a tidbit, hopefully, the beginning of, you know, more posting in the future.

Viva la Revolución!

Now, read this, cited most excellently and with my thanks, to this.

This stems from an excellent article by Amartya Sen on Slate (link to come) and many idiots (and a few thoughtful-but-wrong people) and my responses during what should be ant identifying time.

Ta everyone! Happy Pagan Renewal Festival! I mean Easter!


Monday, January 30, 2006

US, what's that behind your back?

"Oh, it's Haiti and a number of other countries..."

Wow, even the liberal New York Times has reported about the US shenanigans in Haiti now ("Mixed US Signals Helped Tilt Haiti to Chaos"). Democracy Now carried a similar story not too long ago on how Canada and the US had no intention of helping support democracy in Haiti, and certainly not an Arisitide-headed democracy, and therefore helped push that government off the cliff.

What's shocking (in the since of moral outrage, not in the sense of surprising) about all this is not so much that US talk of fostering democracy is bunk, and doesn't even extend too far beyond our own southern shores into the Carribean, but that the continued outrages and failures of Haiti are the epitome of the fault of the colonial empires. It was the second country in the Americas to declare independence from colonial powers, after the US. Yet did we help our poorer, blacker partner in the principles of liberty? Did we support their attempts at self-rule then? No, of course not -- they remained politically isolated for decades, in an attempt to kill and quell the independence of a predominately-black nation. The first and oldest free black nation in this hemisphere, and it is also the poorest, the most downtread and mal-used.

Haiti deserves so much more from each and every one of us -- and more attention by the Black American Cogniscenti, too. It followed us in independence, and we tried to starve, drown, dominate, subjugate, ignore, and now subvert them. It's shameful if unsurprising that the US wouldn't support a free black nation in the centuries past. It is shameful and horrible and a betrayal of our supposed principles beyond belief that we do not truly do so today. It is our closest sibling in independence; we treat it like our bastard Negro step-child on a plantation of old.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Also in keeping...

...With last year, we present a bouquet of non-resource intensive atypical non-clichéd flowers for L's birthday.

Aka: reposted web flowers.

Flowers are from (respectively):
Stellenbosch writer Jim Holmes and Monique Twine, © Jim Holmes

Ian Leslie Harr from Exotic and Ecologic Photography

Vivian and Erhard, from a German webpage of the same name

Dorothy Berg of the Florida Council of Bromeliad Species

Rhett Butler of his Brasil section of

And, this last beautiful shot which is not a flower at all, from Sue Wren at

Happy Belated B-Day. I wasn't on time, but I'm putting my heart into it.

A Post for An Audience of One, Part Two

Following in the steps last year's belated birthday wish for J-Friend L, this year we wish to offer a happy birthday to dear L a little less belatedly, though nonetheless inadeuqately punctually. That is to say: I am an ass.

Happy Birthday!!!!

This year's happy stuff (as opposed to last year's post-MLK day MLK information): Violence in the world is down. This being a trend of the past couple decades, as large regional conflicts are ceding way -- perhaps the UN really IS successful, contrary to all the naysayers????? Exciting thought -- I have absolutely no proof, but it can't hurt that it's more fully dedicated itself to peacekeeping and humanitarianism of a different type and region since post WWII reconstruction, and for the last two decades, exactly the type of large scale wars the UN is (in theory) meant to prevent are declining.

Also, of course, evolution & science won in Dover.

Jon Stewart will host the Oscars. (This may end up not being a good thing, but for the sake of attempting to find mitigating cheerfulness to counter recent J-assishness, we'll ignore that and assume he'll be scathing, topical, humble, and correct, and a dazed Hollywood will find itself caring about something besides itself on Oscars night.)

The whole Citgo/Venezuela thing where Hugo Chavez (prez of Venezuela) has been donating heating oil to our nation's poor.

Um, and, oh yeah, the Colbert Report (finally viewed on J-Parents' overpriced cable rather than the overpriced home cable J refuses to pay): funnier and much more well-directed than expected; completely as scathing as expected. Nice.

Oh, and last, school vouchers were deemed unconstitutional in Florida. Assuming L shares some of J's distaste for vouchers, then yay.

Soooo... these are no MLK kick-ass quotes for the 2006, but they're somethin'.

Happy Birthday, dear friend.


Friday, January 06, 2006

David Letterman Teabags Bill "60% Crap" O'Reilly

Calloo, callay, take a look at this today (requires RealPlayer; general Late Show clippage here). From David Letterman's Late Show, the apolitical sarcastic ass of a host (I mean that in the nicest possible way) gets fed up with the partisan, unintentionally ironic, literal-minded conservative ass (I mean this in the viciousest possible way), Bill O'Reilly. (And if you want a link to O'Reilly's stuff, go find it yo dayyam self.)

You have to give this to O'Reilly: in this case, he reacted much better to criticism than, say, against Al Franken (or to B-O'R, "Stuart Smalley") or Jeremy Glick.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Feliz Ano Novo, Feliz Ano Nuevo, Happy New Year!

Hey All,

Sorry to end last year on a bit of a down note -- though it's really good that violence in the world is down, really really good! Even if I was smart-assedy about it and used it to explore the Bush Administration's continued Iraqi * pogrom.

So some news in a similar vein -- some profound quotes from J-fave 2 Political Junkies. The first is from atrios via 2PJ, concerning our new democracy under dear leader GW:
2005 was the year that the president of the United States declared proudly that he had broken the law repeatedly and with full intention, that he had the power to do so whenever he wanted to, and that he would continue to do so whenever he determined it to be desirable. This declaration was met with basic approval from much of the beltway chattering classes, prominent libertarian bloggers, and just about every small government conservative... By conferring dictatorial authority on himself Bush has declared that this is, in fact, a dictatorship even if he hasn't (yet) bothered using such authorities to the fullest of his claimed ability... 2005 was the year the president declared he was the law, and few of our elite opinion makers and shapers bothered to notice, or care.

Second, a nice bit by Kurt Vonnegut on 2PJ:
... I am a man without a country, except for the librarians and a Chicago paper called In These Times.

Before we attacked Iraq, the majestic New York Times guaranteed that there were weapons of mass destruction there.

Albert Einstein and Mark Twain gave up on the human reace at the end of their lives, even though Twain hadn't even seen the First World War. War is now a form of TV entertainment, and what made the First World War so particularly entertaining were two American inventions, barbed wire and the machine gun.

Shrapnel was invented by an Englishman of the same name. Don't you wish you could have something named after you?

Like my distinct betters Einstein and Twain, I now give up on people, too. I am a veteran of the Second World War and I have to say this is not the first time I have surrendered to a pitiless war machine.

My last words? "Life is no way to treat an animal, not even a mouse."

Napalm came from Harvard. Veritas!

Our president is a Christian? So was Adolf Hitler.

Ok... not so cheery... but profound.

Go with Goodness, my friends. With God, with Good, or whatever you believe in, go with righteousness and humility, compassion and reason, humanity and activism, into the new year, dear fellow travelers.