Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Tantamount to Torture

Via This Modern World, a report in the New York Times, Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantánamo.
The report of the June visit said investigators had found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners at Guantánamo, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions." Investigators said that the methods used were increasingly "more refined and repressive" than learned about on previous visits.

"The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the report said.
The ICRC stated that they "will not publicly confirm or deny whether the quotations in the article... reflect findings reported by the ICRC to the United States authorities".
Nevertheless, the ICRC remains concerned that significant problems regarding conditions and treatment at Guantanamo Bay have not yet been adequately addressed. The organization will pursue its discussions on these issues with the US authorities.

RoTK Extended Edition Preview

Yowza! Just watched the regular edition a couple of weeks ago, and every part for which I said, 'they skipped something, I hope it's in the extended version' seems to be in there. Fifty more minutes of tasty goodness, including but not limited to
  • final confrontation with Saruman
  • the Mouth of Sauron
  • Faramir and Eowyn in the Houses of Healing
  • Aragorn revealing himself to Sauron in the Palantir
  • more of Aragorn through and beyond the Paths of the Dead
And much much more! Plus "more than 20 hours of all-new bonus material" - hell, this trailer itself is more than six minutes long! Available Dec. 14.

RvB Thanksgiving PSA

Extremely funny new public service announcement from Red Vs. Blue: Indigestion 2004.
Cool! I get a wing!
I call the turbine!
Hey Griff, what kind of meat do you like? First class, or coach?
You know, if we cook this thing at 350 degrees, at ten minutes a pound... it's not gonna be done for 11 years.
That's why we're going to deep-fry!

Monday, November 29, 2004

The U.S. As Microsoft

Note: This is an old post from a weblog that lasted about 3 posts back in 2001, called "TIX3". In the interest of keeping all my online ramblings in one place, I'm going to move it here. As Arlo Guthrie says in Alice's Restaurant, while disposing of some garbage: "at the bottom of the cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile was better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we decided to throw ours down." Anyway, here it is; sometime soon I'll comment on it's current applicability & shit. - Ed.

The following is from Dave Winer's Scripting News (http://scriptingnews.userland.com/backissues/2001/09/13):

Most interesting idea heard today, from Lee Thé at Fawcette. Even though Americans were victims on Tuesday, as soon as we get over the initial shock and pain, let's find out what we're doing wrong, and fix it. The US is the Microsoft of the world. We look to the left and right and see good people and don't understand that there's something wrong at the top. That's what the rest of the world has to deal with. It does matter who leads us. When we vote we don't use our power.

That's it. That's the statement that captures how I feel. It's easy, fun and politically correct to demonize Microsoft. They're bastards, after all. However, it is a company of 45,000 people - they can't all be evil incarnate. The way the organization behaves is reprehensible, but that certainly wouldn't justify beating the crap out of every random Microsoftie that you run into. Ask yourself how much control you have over your company's business decisions, be they brilliant or brain-dead; in my case the answer is easy: none.

And it's easy to say "well, if those 45,000 people had any integrity, if they're not evil incarnate, then they shouldn't work there!" But as someone who has seriously weighed the costs and benefits of leaving a company in which one has no pride, I know it's not that simple. The people that work there are just like you, and they have lives: they have spouses, little babies, kids in college, mortgages. They're comfortable. They probably love the daily work they do, whether or not they're happy about the company's leadership.

So the analogy is: there's lots of people in the world that hate the U.S. the same way. And some small number of them, like the terrorists who attacked us Tuesday, do think we're all evil incarnate. And they hate us enough to translate that into action.

What if there were an analogous attack on Microsoft? Not a terrorist attack with explosions and crumpled buildings and dead bodies, but an "in-kind" attack. Say someone hacks their XP licensing system so that everyone could get it for free and not get caught. How would you feel? I know how I'd feel: I'd cheer! Stick it to them! Ha-ha! The jerks deserved it!

Now imagine a Microsoft response; call it "Response A". They prosecute a bunch of people under the DMCA and send them to jail for a long long time. They crack down on piracy with an iron fist, giving no quarter, resulting in fines, penalties, and possibly more jailtime for more people. They start using whatever patents they hold to crush even more competition. And, they lobby successfully for some legislation that protects them from similar "attacks" in the future, never minding (in fact probably trampling) user rights and developer options. Their position as martyrs, as victims, gives them more power than ever.

Would you hate them less? Of course not - you'd hate them more! You'd cheer even louder the next time someone successfully "attacked" them in some other clever and crippling way.

But imagine a "Response B". They track down and prosecute those responsible for the "attack" (of course they do, it's only fair, even I can't imagine a response where they didn't). But then, suppose they're enlightened enough to consider the bigger picture, the one that includes thousands of people like me who hate them. Suppose they change some of the ways they do business. Suppose they back down from their "win every goddamn time at all costs" philosophy. They're still trying to be successful, of course, we all are, they're just not abusing their dominance to do it.

And that's the point. That's what I want my country to do. Yes, yes, track down and punish the motherfuckers who attacked us, and increase security to prevent it from happening again. But even more importantly, we should change how we act as a member of the global community. We should still try to be successful, of course, but we should stop abusing our dominance to do it.

Sept. 14, 2001

P.S. This analogy is good. I believe in it. But it depresses me, because I can't really imagine Microsoft changing their nature enough to even consider a "Response B" in the scenario above. So, scaling up to the other side of the analogy of the U.S. as the Microsoft of the world, I don't see how my country will be able to either. Certainly not soon enough.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Onion vol. 40 #47

Pabst Still Coasting On 1893 Blue Ribbon Win

For your chuckle chuckle, ha ha pleasure, this week's Onion.
  • White House Thanksgiving Turkey Detained Without Counsel
    "Cousin Wattle's conduct prior to the pardoning ceremony prompted Justice Department officials to authorize the bird's detention as an enemy combatant," McClellan said. "He exhibited hostile, potentially seditious behavior that could endanger the safety of the president or other government officials."

    "This is an outrage," lawyer Jeffrey Alexander said. "The pervasive anti-turkey sentiment in this country is the only reason this shocking deprivation of basic freedoms is allowed to continue. If a Labrador retriever were being treated this way, the outcry would be deafening."

  • What Do You Think?, on the Kmart-Sears Merger
    "As a major purchaser of lawn shit, I'm as happy as I let myself get."

  • Infograph, on the Cabinet Shakeup
    OUT Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services -- Will likely switch cabinet postions, as he can no longer hide the fact that he's both unhealthy and inhuman

Mt. Liberal Media


Unfair And Unbalanced

Interesting column on TomDispatch, Michael Massing on Iraq coverage and the election. It touches on media bias, and how it cuts both ways. There's an interesting part at the beginning, which discusses a personal e-mail sent by Wall St. Journal correspondent Farnaz Fassihi to her friends:
the Iraqi government doesn’t control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country’s roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health — which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers — has now stopped disclosing them. Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
The original Massing article goes on to say,
Other US correspondents in Baghdad were startled at the attention her e-mail received. "All of us felt that we'd been writing that story," one journalist told me. "Everyone was marveling and asking what were we doing wrong if that information came as a surprise to the American public."
This is fascinating to me. On one hand, I'd rather hear and read "the news" in the style of that e-mail. It's certainly more human than news usually is, and it seems to me to contain more Truth. On the other hand, it's obviously not objective, or even journalism at all, for that matter. It doesn't research its assertions, provide balanced opinions or pretend to be unbiassed.

And I'm not just drawn to this account because of its clear anti-war (or at least anti-this-war) slant. A similar first-person account by someone about how well Iraq reconstruction is going, or how much better things are without Saddam, would be equally compelling.

I guess that's what draws me to weblogs, (not dopey ones that just link to other sites all the time, but real ones) - the unedited, uncensored and yes, unbalanced voices that you find there sometimes.

The Price We Pay

Excellent points by Jonathan Schwarz on "Tiny Revolution", in yesterday's Everything Is So Cheap When YOU Pay For It!
Finally, I enjoy the concept that "widespread destruction" in Iraq is a price "we" pay. This is probably a surprise to Iraqis, who may be under the impression this is a price they're paying. This is another thing deeply embedded in America consciousness -- that we may cause others to die, gosh darn it, but we're the ones who really suffer.
Of course the proposed black and white documentary made by "a talented female director" is a reference to Triumph of the Will.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Beware of Chance Acquaintances

Via jwz, a totally awesome collection of U.S. "Science" and "Health" posters from the early 20th century. I recommend searching for "All" and browsing page by page.
"Pick-up" acquaintances often take girls autoriding, to cafes and to theatres with the intention of leading them into sex relations. Disease or child-birth may follow

A Democrat with Political Savvy, What a Concept

A hope-inspiring story from the Washington Monthly, "Top Billings - How a Montana Democrat bagged the hunting and fishing vote, and won the governor's mansion." A long but informative article.
But if we had simply tried to argue that Schweitzer was as hawkish on guns as any Republican, we would've won magazine covers but lost the election; in the absence of indisputable proof, voters will believe that Republicans are more likely to protect gun rights. We needed to open another front with an issue that showed voters the clear difference...

While D.C. interest groups like the National Federation of Independent Business have become de facto arms of the Republican Party, at the grassroots level, employees of small businesses aren't particularly Republican, and even small business owners are more up for grabs. Sure, these entrepreneurs don't like high taxes and regulations. But many of them have felt the sting of losing customers and markets to big corporations that used their size and clout unfairly. As a small business owner himself, Schweitzer shared these frustrations and knew how to use them. He seamlessly turned questions about taxation into opportunities to argue that big-box companies like Wal-Mart should pay their fair share and shouldn't be allowed to run roughshod over local business.
And not without a little humor:
During a campaign stop at a bar that became the stuff of legends, a young former Montana State University linebacker drunkenly told [Lt. Governor candidate] Bohlinger he didn't like guys who wore bowties. The 62-year-old replied, "I don't like guys who tell other guys what to wear." The two had to be forcibly restrained.

Forget Hillary in '08

The Clintons
Just in case nobody told you (nobody told me) - some time in the last few years, Chelsea Clinton became a honey. Who knew? Source: the New Liberal Times. Also funny in this story (as pointed out by jwz), was W shoving his way past Clinton through the door.
The band then struck up "Hail to the Chief" and their husbands emerged, with President Bush squeezing past Mr. Clinton out the glass doors of the library and Mr. Clinton giving him deference with a guiding hand at his back. Jimmy Carter and the first President Bush followed.
If these kinds of stories keep up, I may have to seek medical treatment for an irony overdose.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Rabbit On DayQuil

An interview with Heather Havrilesky, aka Rabbit.

9. What's your preferred mode of transportation?
I enjoy driving my luxury SUV very fast while screaming obscenities out the window at people on bicycles.

10. How often do you ride the MTA subway or light rail?
I rode the subway once. I found it wildly inconvenient to be so close to other human beings without being able to roll up my power windows or blast Chingy out of my 1500-watt speakers.

15. Other than regular doses of the "Daily Show," what other pop culture sources will help us make it through the next frightening four years?
No pop culture is strong enough to keep us safe from the horrors that lie ahead. Personally, I plan to stay in a DayQuil-fueled haze for the next four years. If I don't mistake Bush for Howdy Doody every time he comes on my TV screen, that means I'm not high enough.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Onion vol. 40 #46

Ashcroft Loses Job To Mexican

This week's Onion is out. Highlights:

The Woman Is Requested to Pay

I heard this on Morning Edition on NPR this morning, and the Houston Chronicle also has the story, Texas school district nixes 'cross-dressing day'.

Seems the schools in this school district have a turn-about type tradition, years old, in which the girls ask the boys out. "TWIRP" they call it - "The Woman Is Requested to Pay." But they also have, for one day at school, a day where girls dress as boys and boys dress as girls. This got one Bible-thumping gay-hater's panties (not briefs, not boxers, surely very pink, very frilly panties) in a wad: "You just keep playing with it and it becomes customary", it "pushes the homosexual agenda", etc. According to the story, the stupid bitch had already gotten permission to excuse her little right-wing automatons from such faggery on that day, but the school board went ahead and cancelled the whole thing.

And the shit frosting on this shit cake? They replaced it, with "Camo Day," in which the students are to dress in camo, like soldiers. How fitting, really. Maybe they could let just one or two kids still cross-dress, and all gang up and kick the crap out of them in a special ceremony? Maybe they could have, instead of homecoming king and queen, homecoming general and concubine?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

RvB #43: Things Are Very Shiny Here

Red Vs. Blue Episode #43 is online. In which the transition from Halo to Halo 2 is (hilariously) accomplished, and the following classic lines are uttered:

"Only now do you realize the folly of your follies! Ah-ha ha! Prepare for an oblivion for which there is no preparation!"

"Yes, and now that I've located those "D" batteries, the Universe will be mine! Ah-ha ha!"

"That didn't make any sense - what's the long version?"
"That was the long version. The short version is, we're boned!"

"You had to get in one last ass kiss before we died, didn't you?

"We're in the future - things are very shiny here!"

Sarge: "The bomb [...] made an explosion so large, it destroyed the present!"
Tucker: "Destroyed the present? Then where are we?"
Griff: "We're in the future, numb-nuts."
Tucker: "Aren't we in the present right now? Aren't we always in the present?"
Griff: "Unbelievable - he can't cope with the loss. He's in denial!"
Sarge: "Son you're just not listening. The present has been destroyed! It no longer exists! We are in the future."
Tucker: "Aaaagh! That makes no sense!"

Friday, November 12, 2004

Eternal And Unchanging

I'd seen this making the email rounds before, some time ago. But it made me laugh all over again when I saw a slightly modified version (penned to President Bush instead of Dr. Laura) today on Jo Miller's blog. The full background, and the source of this copy, I found at Snopes.
Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Via Empire Notes, a Washington Post story, Seeking Salvation In City of Insurgents (free yet annoying registration required) tells the story of a "foreign fighter" in Iraq.
Abu Thar turned 30, and might never have tried to reach Iraq again but for the photographs that emerged of U.S. military police abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. Seeing the photos, his wife, also a religious student, urged him to leave everything and go to Iraq to fight jihad. She was pregnant with their sixth child.

"She told me, 'If they are doing this to the men, imagine what is happening to the women now,' " Abu Thar recalled. " 'Imagine your sisters and I being raped by the infidel American pigs.' " ...

Back at his home, he had a final dinner with his wife and children, who went to bed without being told their father was leaving. "My favorite daughter came and sat in my lap and slept there. She opened her eyes and said, 'Daddy, I love you.' "

He was weeping openly now, a thin man with a thin beard under a ragged tree in a courtyard in Fallujah. "You know these memories are the work of the devil trying to soften my heart and bring me back home," he said.

He rejected going home with a passion. When a visitor told him, "We will come and see you and your family in Yemen," the anger in his reply contorted his usually smooth features. "The only place I am going from here," he snapped, "is heaven." ...

In Fallujah, Abu Thar was assigned to a group called Monotheism and Jihad. The group is headed by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has asserted responsibility for many of the most extreme terrorist strikes in Iraq, and who last month allied his group with al Qaeda. ...

When he finished reading, he held his hands high and prayed: "Oh God, you who made the prophet victorious in his wars against the infidels, make us victorious in our war against America.

"Oh God, defeat America and its allies everywhere." ...

[J]ust before he crossed the border from Syria, [his wife] called and told him she had given the [newborn] child a name: Shahid. It means martyr.
The morals of the story: 1) War is bad. Seriously - these are people, with wives, daughters, and lives they would rather be living. They may be religious nuts to us, but they'd still rather work and study in Yemen than kill Americans in Iraq. 2) Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq is not making us safer. Quite the opposite, it's creating generations of new violent America-haters. And for all his talk during the election of destroying "three-fourths" of Al Qaeda, here we see Zarqawi's group, and who knows how many individuals, swelling Al Qaeda's ranks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Big Lie

Over the last year or so, I've become more aware of a troubling phenomenon. I've noticed it especially in Bush's administration, though I suppose it would be evident in any political arena, or in any broad media, for that matter. What I'm talking about is lying. Bold-faced, fairly obvious untruths, stated and reported as fact. Sometimes they're concealed as opinions, but they still carry the weight of the speaker's reputation and the media's transmission. Saying something makes it so, kind of - gives it a life of its own. Even if the thing is later proven absolutely false, it may still live on, or at least will have influenced people during its life.

Today's example is the widely reported statement U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft made in his resignation letter: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." Of course this statement is ludicrous in its assertion: we're all done! we're all safe now! Yet, people will hear it on the news; ABC, Fox, NPR, you name it. The AG himself said it. To the President of the United States, no less. Personally, I didn't pay much attention to it - I dismissed it out of hand and barely gave it another thought.

Then I found this comment in the Slashdot story covering Ashcroft's resignation,
This is an example of one thing the Bush administration understands, how to kill discussions. The trick is to say something so outlandish and WRONG that everyone who pays attention will know it as wrong and the discussion dies there, while at the the same time, the less observant get the desired impression.

RIGHT! I thought. That's it - that's the effect I've been noticing! But wait, there's more. Someone replied, "It's called The Big Lie and it's a technique with quite a lot of history," and they linked to a Wikipedia article, "Big Lie", which in turn quotes Hitler's Mein Kampf (guess it's Nazi Day, here today),
All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
He goes on after that with his nonsense about how the Jews are the big liars, yadda, yadda. Regardless, he's describing exactly what I've been witnessing. And as the original Slashdot poster pointed out, the opposition to Bush can't fight that. Or if they do try, then they're caught up in arguing about what amounts to complete bullshit, and entirely on Bush's terms.

Nazi Raccoons

Nazi Raccoon

Via Jo Miller, an article on Deutsche Welle, Nazi Raccoons On March In Europe.
The story begins in 1934, when a breeder asked the Reich
Forestry Office, then led by future top Hitler aide Hermann Göring, for permission to release the masked-faced mammals to "enrich the local fauna" outside Kassel, a small city north of Frankfurt.
It's usually sinister-sounding enough to refer to such overbearing non-native species as "alien," but you know how everything has to be sensationalized nowadays...

Onion vol. 40 #45

Kerry Captures Bin Laden One Week Too Late
Kerry Captures Bin Laden
One Week Too Late

Here's this week's full Onion. Another good one; my recommendations:

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Onion #44.5

Bush, God's Tool
God Puts His Tool Back Into Office

Looks like The Onion had a minor update sometime after the election. No new full stories yet (those should be tonight or tomorrow), but some classic one-liner headlines.

  • America Comes Out Agin The Gay Marryin'

  • Bush Does Victory Lap Around World Trade Center Site

  • MoveOn CurlsUp InCorner

  • Poll: Youth Totally Meant To Vote In Record Numbers

  • Despite Republican Victory, Bush Supporter Has Tiny, Tiny Penis

Kinky Sex Makes The World Go Round

I just happened to convert the old Dead Kennedys album Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death to MP3 this weekend. Listening to it today, I feel compelled to share the song "Kinky Sex Makes The World Go Round". This album is from 1987, so many of the references are dated. And of course in true DK form, it's way over the top. Still, there are disturbingly funny (or humorously disturbing, if you prefer) parallels to present day. A president gung-ho for war. Alliance with Britain. Companies standing to profit massively from war (and its aftermath). Needing that oil. Afghanistan being no fun. Starting up the draft. And if you take the time to listen to it, you'll see how eerily similar DK front-man Jello Biafra's voice is to Donald Rumsfeld's.

With that, I give you the MP3 (4 MB) and the lyrics (emphasis the author's).
(Prime Minister's Office. Prime Minister speaking.)
This is the Secretary of War at the State Department of the United States.
We have a problem.
The companies want something done about this sluggish world economic situation.
Profits have been running more than a little thin lately and we need to stimulate some growth.
Now we know that there's an alarmingly high number of young people roaming around in your country with nothing to do but stir up trouble for the police and damage private property.
It doesn't look like they'll ever get a job.
It's about time we did something constructive with these people.
We've got thousands of 'em here too.
They're crawling all over.
The companies think it's time we all sit down, have a serious get-together -
and start another war.
The President?
Oh he loves the idea! All those missiles streaming overhead to and fro!
People running down the road, skin on fire!
The Soviets seem up for it.
The Kremlin's been itching for the real thing for years.
What a little "going-away" present for Mr. Brezhnev.
Hell, Afghanistan's no fun.
So, whaddya say?
We don't even have to win this war.
We just want to cut down on some of this excess population.
Now look. Just start up a draft.
Draft as many of those people as you can.
We'll call up every last youngster we can get our hands on, and give 'em an hour or two to learn how to use an automatic rifle and send 'em on their way!
El Salvador?
How 'bout Northern Ireland?
Or a "moderately repressive regime" in South America?
We'll just cook up a good Soviet threat story in the Middle East - we need that oil.
We had Libya all ready to go and Colonel Khadafy's hit squad didn't even show up.
I tell ya - that man is unreliable.
The Russians had their finger on the button just like we did for that one.
Now just think for a minute.
We can make this war so big - SO BIG
The more people we kill in this war, the more the economy will prosper.
We can get rid of practically everybody on your "dole queue" if we plan this right.
Take every loafer on welfare right off our computer roles.
Now don't worry about those demonstrators - just pump up your drug supply.
So many people have hooked themselves on heroin and amphetamines since we took over, it's just like Vietnam.
We had everybody so busy with LSD they never got too strong.
Kept the war functioning just fine.
It's easy!
We've got our college kids so interested in beer they don't even care if we start manufacturing germ bombs again.
Put a nuclear stockpile in their back yard, they wouldn't even know what it looked like!
So how 'bout it?
I mean, look - War is money.
The arms manufacturers tell me unless we get our bomb factories up to full production
the whole economy is going to collapse.
The Soviets are in the same boat.
We all agree the time has come for the big one, so whaddya say?!?
(Uhh.. uhhh... marvelous.)
That's excellent. We knew you'd agree.
The companies will be very pleased.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Taking The Other Side Seriously

I just deleted a post in which I linked to and quoted in full the Get Your War On guy's advice after the election. I'll leave the link, but I removed the rest. I just finished reading this quite long and slightly more mature essay by John Perry Barlow, titled Magnamimous Defeat. He's apparently going to have a little trouble sticking to the inclusiveness he preaches, since he falls off the wagon several times just in this piece. Still, I think he's on the right track.
This will be a tricky four years. In addition to a sense of humor, which should have plenty of dark meat to feast on, we will need cunning, courage, clarity, and, as I say, forgiveness. We will need understanding, perspective, and something that also seems in ready supply at the moment, humility. And, since victory is to the patient, we will need patience.

And to continue in that same vein, here's a link (via Jo Miller, who adds, "And my dears, it doesn't matter how right you are--no one is going to listen to you if they don't like you. Unless you're holding the gun. But that's another matter."), to an Open Letter To The Democratic Party.
6. Here is something you could work on right about now: I could not stomach to listen to your incessant hatred of President Bush. Bush is stupid, Bush is an idiot, Bush is Hitler, Bush is a Nazi, Bush masturbates to photos of dead Iraqi babies, I'd vote for my dog before I'd vote for Bush, I'd vote for Castro before I'd vote for Bush, the Rethuglicans are fascists, Bush voters are treasonous, Bush should be impeached, blah blah blah blah blah blah. It was old three months after Bush's inauguration, and it's now just tiresome. I don't hate my President, even though I voted for him with more reluctance than I can express and a queasy feeling in my stomach. Language like this makes you seem immature, needlessly vulgar, and obnoxious.

I wouldn't agree to giving her everything she wants (for example, I think other countries' opionions do matter - it's called diplomacy, and in an ever-shrinking world it's just as important as it always has been), but she's right on this point. Although I actually do think Bush is stupid, Bush is an idiot, Bush voters are treasonous, Bush should be impeached, and I really would vote for my dog before I'd vote for Bush (whether I had a dog or not), her point is well taken. All that vitriol is at best distracting, and at worst completely alienating. So I for one will also try to cool it. (I said "try.") As long as you all know how I really feel.

P.S. Props to my ahead-of-the-curve friend who talked to me about all this last week already. I'm slow, but I get it now.

The Fix Was In

From jwz,
Ok, first of all, I recognise that I WANT TO BELIEVE that the election was rigged, because I would feel less bad about a coup than I would about the people actually voting these fundamentalists into power. (But that there was a chance of the race being even close was already profoundly disturbing.)...

You don't steal an election with a landslide, you steal it with 3%. You stay within the margin of error across the board so that it's not obvious.

In that post, he links to Florida result details. As the page says at the top, look at the percent change columns, on the far right (no pun intended), especially in the second ("Op-Scan Precinct") table. Isn't it amazing, damn near astounding, how only 13 of 52 precincts had more Democratic votes than expected, with the greatest change being 37%, while all 52 precincts had more Republican votes, many having way the fuck more, with the greatest being 459%?!

Or as I thought before, this is probably just a really big coincidence. I should listen to the Right-Wingers and just trust the Big Friendly Republican Government to run the elections, and stop worrying my little head about it.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Premature Christmas

First Jason's Deli on Friday, and now Starbuck's today - the damn Christmas stuff is already out. We've barely made a dent in our pile of Halloween candy. Why the hell do they have to race to get Christmassed so fast? Are people going to forget to have a boring office party and have Jason's cater it? Is there a chance they won't buy coffee during their shopping excursions in the December cold?

As is not unusual, Rabbit sums it up perfectly.
complaining about the unsightly premature Christmas ejaculate that’s spewed about the landscape by early November is well nigh cliché at this point. But I say fuck the critics! A million monkeys typing op ed pieces on a million typewriters wouldn’t be enough ink and paper and key-pounding for this lamentable state of affairs. It’s bad enough that Target and Walmart and Costco and the fucking mall roll out the twinkly red and green shit and Santas and elves right after knocking down the fake cobwebs and corn cobs and crappy ghost sheets of Halloween...
They’re stealing the magic of Christmas from us. Now granted, Christmas has a limited amount of magic to offer. Buying a little Charlie Brown tree and putting your three ornaments on it. Having some egg nog and a cookie for the first time. Unwrapping a wee gift from a friend, something small that says, “I know you so well that I recognized this hamster that sings ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ immediately as something you would treasure always.”

Where's That Liberal Media Again?

Via Bob Harris, a link to a press release from FAIR, New York Times Killed "Bush Bulge" Story.
The New York Times assigned three editors to this story and had it scheduled to run five days before the election... But it was killed by top editors at the Times.
Lindorff says two other major newspapers, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, also decided not to pursue the story

See my Phun with Photoshop post for the original Salon link.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Just Because You're Paranoid

Just because you're paranoid
Doesn't mean they aren't really out to get you.
- American Proverb

I was talking to a friend yesterday about the simmering allegations of voting fraud in this year's presidential election. He scoffed at the people who are so quick to point to Diebold chairman Walden O'Dell's comment in a Republican fundraising letter he wrote in August 2003 that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year."

"Come on, an idle comment like that hardly proves anything," was my friend's argument. And he's right - I don't mean to contend that Mr. O'Dell's comment is ironclad proof of anything, except perhaps what a dumbass the guy is. It reminds me of a post-election personal interest story on NPR's Morning Edition this week. In it, an Ohio coffee-shop owner recounted the friendship that had formed between her and an out-of-state Democratic activist. She said she'd been coy about her political leanings, never admitting one way or the other to her partisan customer. She nearly didn't tell her even after the election (though she finally did - she voted Republican), all along saying she didn't think "it would be good for business." And she's probably right, especially considering how evenly split the country seems to be.

Now join me in fantasy land for a moment, and suppose that voting were done on plain slips of paper handed in at your local coffee shop, instead of at official state-run polling places. Would you vote at the coffee shop where the owner admitted she was herself a supporter of the Other Party? How about if you found out she'd promised to "deliver" her coffee shop's few hundred votes "to the President this year"? Can you imagine the outrage?

Back in the Real World - on the one hand we have a small-business owner who's afraid of losing maybe a dozen or two coffee drinkers, and so smart enough to keep her mouth shut. On the other hand we have the CEO of one of the biggest electronic voting machine manufacturers in the country, who's not. On the one hand, we have maybe a couple hundred dollars of coffee profit at stake, on the other we have our entire country's democracy.

Maybe he didn't really mean he'd use his company's position as a voting machine vendor to make sure Ohio went to Bush. Maybe it wasn't really a conflict of interest - but an apparent conflict is just as bad. What baffles me is why the hell any state bought anything from the guy's company again. Sure, Diebod backpedaled, but if it was me that was calling the shots buying new voting machines, that comment alone would have gotten them scratched off the list (not even considering the widespread concerns about the machines themselves). Maybe if he immediately stepped down, or was canned, they could be considered again. Maybe.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Really Big Coincidence

Via Bob Harris, a link to a Scoop article, Vote Fraud - Exit Polls Vs Actuals. I wouldn't begin to put this past our good friends over in the Ends-Justifies-The-Means party. Or maybe this is just a really big coincidence.
Taking the figures and measuring the size and direction of the poll to supposed vote count discrepancy, we find the variance between the exit poll and the final result:

Bush plus 4%

Bush plus 5%

Bush plus 4%

Bush plus 7%

Bush plus 7%

New Hampshire
Bush plus 15%

North Carolina'
Bush plus 9%

Proudly Never Getting It

A sobering anecdote today in (of all places) Robert X. Cringely's post-election column, with regard to the potential ("impending"?) conflict between the fundamentalist regime just re-elected in the U.S. and the one in Iran. His story is set in the border war between Iraq and Iran in the '80s.
There were several thousand [11-and 12-year-old unarmed boys] and their job was to rise out of the trench, praising Allah, run across No Man's Land, be killed by the Iraqi machine gunners, then go directly to Paradise, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dinars. And that's exactly what happened in a battle lasting less than 10 minutes. None of the kids fired a shot or made it all the way to the other side. And when I asked the purpose of this exercise, I was told it was to demoralize the cowardly Iraqi soldiers.

It was the most horrific event I have ever seen, and I once covered a cholera epidemic in Bangladesh that killed 40,000 people.

Waiting those two nights for the attack was surreal. Some kids acted as though nothing was wrong while others cried and puked. But when the time came to praise Allah and enter Paradise, not a single boy tried to stay behind.

Now put this in a current context. What effective limit is there to the number of Islamic kids willing to blow themselves to bits? There is no limit, which means that a Bush Doctrine can't really stand in that part of the world. But of course President Bush, who may think he pulled the switch on a couple hundred Death Row inmates in Texas, has probably never seen a combat death. He doesn't get it and he'll proudly NEVER get it.

Changing Horsemen

Word is out that in his second term, there will be some big changes in Bush's cabinet. But I have the same advice as this poster from Betty Bowers:
Don't Change Horsemen in the Middle of an Apocalypse
Looking for that, I also found a ton of great "Post-Coup" gear (that Betty, she's fast!)
Apparently ruining America takes eight years
Draft Young Republicans
Dear Red States...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Corporation Bashing

Molly Ivins has a new essay, Mourning In America, with an interesting anecdote in it. I don't mean the rotting-chicken-around-the-dog's-neck, though that is certainly interesting, too. The story I'd like to underscore is the one about Merck and Vioxx, and how just maybe they knew their product was dangerous but they kept on selling it, and how the Bush Administration thinks that's just fine.
In short, we have a toothless regulatory agency in the pocket of the industry it is supposed to patrol. We have an administration-wide contempt for science and plain facts. And the allegation against the folks at Merck is that they were making such enormous profits on a drug that killed people that when they knew or suspected it was killing people, they kept right on selling it. When the information that Merck had known for a long time about Vioxx and heart attacks became public, the company's stock fell by 9.6 percent.

That's the system George W. Bush stands for: where a corporation can knowingly kill people for profit and, when it finally comes out, everyone knows the penalties will be so light the company doesn't even lose a tenth of its worth. Hey, just a little bump in the road.

Yesterday, a right-winged commenter on this blog called corporation-bashing a "bizarre pathology", since they are "the source of almost all wealth." Granted, they are that. But like individuals, they lie, cheat, steal and sometimes even kill, and like individuals they should be held responsible for their actions.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Burnt Toast

One (last?) quote for this day. From Red vs. Blue episode #40, out this week. The following should be intoned with a deep, ominous villain-voice and as much foreboding as you can muster (think Darth Vader, only meaner):
Your toast has been burned. And no amount of scraping will remove the black part!

Bonus, to give you the full effect: MP3 audio of this, extracted by yours truly.

Tragicomic Rabbitude

Saw this tonight on Heather Havrilesky's Rabbit Blog, and it made me laugh. It's sad because it's from before, so it's still bright-eyed and optimistic, but it also made me laugh.
Vote for the tall guy, you know, the sane one, the one with some ideas in his skull, the one with some sense of dignity, the one with some need to care for human beings outside of his rarefied circle of self-serving dickcheeses, the one who doesn't sound like a bemused fifth-grader with stolen candy in his pockets, the one who's less likely to make the entire globe snicker loudly when they listen to him speak, that is, when they're not fearing for their goddamn lives. Vote for the smart one, the one who won't make you cringe one day, when your kids ask you if you voted for him. Vote for the one who won't go down in history as a frightening puppet whose puppet masters fucked everyone with impunity.

The human will do. Vote for the human! The taller one, he's the human. Vote for him!

Onion #44 - Big Whoop

There is no joy in 48% of Mudville today, but nonetheless, life goes on.

New Onion today.
What Does the Presidential Runner-Up Receive?

Some kind of funny stuff, I guess. Whatever.

The Country You Deserve

Tom Tomorrow at This Modern World sums up this black day nicely.
those of you who "don't agree with Bush on social issues," but voted for him because you thought Kerry would somehow not be serious about the war, or maybe because you'll do a little bit better on your taxes under Bush--I'm afraid you may get the country you deserve, a country in which conservative fundamentalist Christians are calling the shots on abortion and civil liberties and gay rights and a lot of other things you probably care about, or at least should. But hey, you made your bargain. It's just too bad the rest of us--the 48% as of this writing, who voted for another, very different America--have to get dragged down with you.

Welcome to the End Times

And if his Evil Minions succeed in pulling this off, allow me to be the first to congratulate the Prince of Darkness on his re-election.

Even if Kerry wins, I'm completely embarrassed on behalf of the United States that it was even this close.

One possible silver lining: now I see the potential of going into direct sales of some kind. Apparently there are 58,010,991 (by CNN's current count) suckers who are so gullible, so ignorant, so willing and able to have the wool pulled over their eyes that they'll buy literally anything.

Get Your War On

Monday, November 01, 2004

It's Kerry In a Landslide!

Kerry in a landslide upset, with 44% of the vote. Followed by "Can't Vote" in a distant second place, with 20%, and Bush in third place, with 18%. All over on the Slashdot poll today.

Votemaster == Famous American Geek in Holland

The "Votemaster" at the now famous electoral-vote.com has revealed himself. It's original MINIX author Andrew Tanenbaum, who set up and ran the site from The Netherlands just on his own whim, which is pretty damn cool. The editorial tone on the site has been slightly anti-Bush, I've thought, but never close to, let alone over, the top. Which I think is also pretty cool. But now he has unmasked himself, and in his description of why he ran the site, he's come out clearly as anti-Bush and pro-Kerry:
In a nutshell, because living abroad I know first hand what the world thinks of America and it is not a pretty picture at the moment. I want people to think of America as the land of freedom and democracy, not the land of arrogance and blind revenge... The administration simply misused the horror of Sept. 11 as a convenient excuse for doing something that was already in the works.

Let me tell you a short story. When I was in elementary school, the school was plagued by a bully. He was the biggest, strongest kid around and would beat up anyone he didn't like. We were all exceedingly polite to his face, but hated his guts behind his back. One day he was chasing some poor kid and he tripped and skidded a considerable distance, scraping his face on the rough asphalt of the playground. He was bleeding and in pain, screaming for help. But nobody came to help him. We all just walked away. George Bush is the world's playground bully. The world sees him--and by inference, America--as arrogant, self-centered, and mean. I spoke to Americans from dozens of countries at the DA caucus. Everyone told the same story--the world hates America. When talking to foreigners, I can tell them about the Bill of Rights or freedom or World War II, or whatever I want, but all they see is this big, stupid, arrogant, playground bully and a stolen election in Florida last time.

Postscript: Mr. Tanenbaum's entry on Wikipedia has already been updated with this "Votemaster" story. Wikipedia is just a badass like that.