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Monday, May 17, 2004

A little levity... 

A co-worker of mine was at the jail today, (there's a courtroom in the jail to hold probable cause hearings for defendants who can't make bond), and he and some of the jail staff were discussing the new indigent defense system we're setting up around here. One person thought it wouldn't be cost effective.

Jail Staff #1: We'll have to pay for them to hire secretaries, investigators, set them up with law books for research...

Co-Worker: And I think they're entitled to Lexis, too.

Jail Staff #2: Lexus? Shoot, just give 'em an old patrol car!





More on the ball than I... 

Karol and Smash both caught this story about the discovery of a roadside bomb rigged with an Iraqi artillery round containing deadly nerve gas Sarin.

I'll. Be. Damned. A chemical weapon. In Iraq. Veddy, veddy interesting. And wait? What's that sound I hear? Could it be the Goalpost Relocation Committee?

Why, yes it is. Just read on for the true story of how this came to be:

"Awful damn convenient that the person in the world most under the microscope right now that has more access to chemical weapons than anyone else in the world just popped his head in the door to have a pep rally last week and an old sarin shell shows up minutes after he left."

That's right, dipshit. Donald Freaking Rumsfeld showed up in Iraq with a sarin-filled artillery shell hidden in his boxer shorts (sorry, ladies), and rigged a crude bomb to frame those poor Iraqi insurgents and justify another round of sodomy at Abu Ghraib.

Or you're a moron, I haven't decided.

Greeks and those who visit them - rude dangerous jackasses... 

OK, that's a little harsh. But not really, seeing as how the U.S. is advising athletes to refrain from waving the U.S. flag during the Olympics.

Now, just in case one were to think this was just designed to ward off the kind of immature gloating that annoys everyone (a U.S. track relay team made asses of themselves in 2000), please note: "If a Kenyan or a Russian grabs their national flag and runs round the track or holds it high over their heads, it might not be viewed as confrontational."

Kenyan and Russian patriotism being more of the "cute and harmless" variety.

This is promising... 

I've never heard of him before, but this Mohammed Abdul-Latif character sounds useful. Latif both served in the Iraqi army and was imprisoned by Saddam, so he has both military qualifications and non-Baathist street cred, which has got to be hard to come by.

"...We can help them leave by helping them do their job, or we can make them stay ten years and more by keeping fighting." - this is how it needs to be explained. I'll admit, I was one of the turn-Fallujah-into-a-crater crowd. But who knows, maybe there's something to this diplomacy stuff after all.


Nah.

Outrage... 

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? If innocent civilians are slaughtered, and no American is nearby to blame, did it really happen?

Of course it happened. People are dead. It just doesn't matter as much.

Pop-Culture-riffic! 

Saw the movie Troy over the weekend. I loved Greek myths growing up, and this movie was one of the two or three I was most looking forward to in 2004. (Miracle and Spider-Man 2, if you're keeping score.) Having seen it, it was good, but it could have (should have) been great. The cast was there, and everything looked great, but...the ending was a bit anti-climactic (it's hard to make a big deal of the whole horse thing when Odysseus is just a supporting player.) Eric Bana does a great job as Hector, Pitt's fine as Achilles, and you pretty much want to smack Orlando Bloom's Paris every time you see him, which is the point. Call it two and half stars. Of course, reasonable minds will differ. (Naked Brad Pitt notwithstanding, the missus was bored out of her skull.)

And, of course, the other major screen event (at least among those of us who truly care about quality entertainment) was the finale of The Practice, and the subsequent setup of Fleet Street, the James Spader-William Shatner spinoff. Not to put to fine a point on it, but the Practice finale blew whale chunks. A prosecutor and defense attorney completely ignore the facts of the case at hand to spend their closing arguments discussing the ramifications of the Abu Ghraib scandal, Bobby Donald does nothing, no Lindsey, no Helen, no Becca (possibly the only member of the firm who didn't deserve to get disbarred six times over), and Jimmy and Big Pussy work in more Italian-American stereotypes in 20 minutes of screen time than we've seen in six years of the Sopranos.

On the positive note, Allen's cripple-fetish client's reaction to seeing Rebecca De Mornay in her neckbrace was the funniest thing I've seen on TV in a long time.

"Denny Crane."

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Definitely doing something wrong... 

Several years ago, I was another anonymous intern in Washington, D.C., doing my part to give something back to this great country of ours (or get a cool line on my resume, I forget which).

Anyway, the annual return of the interns is apparently quite the event in D.C., although I must say, my own internship was nothing like that. I was apparently doing something wrong.

In any event, the description of the hordes of interns descending on D.C. reminded me of something...I just don't recall what...

Define "evenhandedness" 

Palestinian PM just wants US to treat them as equals with Israel.

No word as to whether he means letting Israel shoot pregnant women for sport, or just throwing a party when it happens.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Oops, our bad... 

I suppose it's to be expected that the brutal murder of a pregnant woman and her four children has become ancient history, just more background noise in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But before we all forget about the Hatuel family, answer me one question - how the hell does NPR "accidentally" imply that this was justified if their reporters have any business keeping their jobs? (Also, scroll down the corrections column, see how many "oopsies" they've made that just happen to make Israel look worse. At some point, doesn't that stop being a coincidence?)

Second, I've been checking Google News to see if any Arab media has had the courage to name the Hatuels as victims. Anyone surprised that I haven't found any?

Dog blogging... 

Having finally managed to get my scanner working - I can finally do what I've always wanted since I discovered blogs - post pictures of my dogs.

All three are purebred Keeshonden (pronounced Kayz-honden, not Keesh-hounden), though not from the same litter. I never had a dog of any kind until Mishka came home, and I am now a crazy dog person. And, thanks to the Internet, I can now spread the madness.


That's dedication... 

The state of Hawaii is basically one giant get-out-the-vote operation for Jasmine Trias.

People voting 100 times, local media and political figures getting involved...if I didn't know it was Hawaii, I'd swear it was Chicago.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Nice try, Botox-boy... 

How freaking bi-partisan. John Kerry has listed two Republicans, Senators John Warner (VA) and John McCain (AZ) as possible Secretaries of Defense should he be elected President. God love the man, willing to build bridges across party lines, seeking only what's best for the country. Statesmanlike, even.

Of course, if Warner or McCain were to take a gig in Kerry's cabinet, that would open up a Senate seat, which would be filled by appointment by the governor. Now, I'm sure it's a coincidence that the governors of both Arizona and Virginia are Democrats. I'm sure Kerry never considered such a thing, and would be surprised to learn this. And, I'm sure someone besides me is going to mention this when news stories of Kerry's interview circulate.

I'm also sure excessive sarcasm causes weight loss and reverses thinning hair.

Welcome back... 

Rob is back and blogging. Apparently excessive dentistry has left him cranky, which, though he may suffer, will make his postings more entertaining for us. And isn't that what's really important.

So, should we revoke Hawaii's statehood, or what? 

Thanks to Fox's excessive promotion of "the movie George Bush doesn't want you to see" (because when you absolutely, postively, have to promote the living hell out of a movie that terrifies George Bush, you call FOX!), the American Idol results show aired at the same time as the second to last episode ever of Angel. Now, the end of the Joss Whedon-verse is going to control at my house. (My wife was sure ending Buffy violated some human rights law - I concur, if only because of the increased likelihood of Sarah Michelle Gellar starring in movies with her useless husband.)

Anyway, I missed the outrage. Buh-bye, LaToya. Now, granted, LaToya was a much better singer than Jasmine, but what did people really expect? Simon flat out told the whole damn state of Hawaii that they needed to vote the way Massachussetts senators demand Rumsfeld's resignation - excessively. They listened. LaToya is from Oakland, and had the whole damn state of California at her disposal. Blame them. Meanwhile, Jasmine will go next week, because Georgia is united behind Ms. Degarmo, and the rest of the country should recognize where Fantasia is concerned.

Re: Angel - I don't like that the final villain is a group we've never heard of till now - I was hoping for a showdown with the Senior Partners themselves - but it looks like it's setting up for a worthy finale. Which we need, because frankly, the way Buffy went out blew.

Give 'em hell, guys... 

I've accepted that we're never going to have another Miracle on Ice here. We've just gotten too big and monolithic. But thankfully, you can still enjoy it when it happens to someone else.

Iraq's soccer team has just qualified for the Olympics.

Best of luck, guys.

Link via Tapped

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Pave the Gaza Strip... 

You're a band of Palestinian terrorists. (Forget that you have hygiene and morals for a minute and just go with it...) Your crew just brutally murdered a pregnant woman and her four young daughters, because, you know, they were Jews, and they weren't armed. You're wondering, how can I possibly top this?

You open fire on the funeral.

Israel is bulldozing the houses they say were used to provide cover for the killers.

Bothers me not one bit.

By the way, I was just wondering if any Arab media had the courage to talk about the victims of this attack. Google thinks it's unlikely.

To hell with them.

Well, it shouldn't close early then... 

If you were waiting for the list of Tony award nominees, (and really, who wasn't), you'll be pleased to know that Wizard of Oz prequel Wicked is tops with 10 nominations.

Or, maybe you're me, and your spouse is hauling you to New York for the specific purpose of seeing this thing, you're just glad to know it probably doesn't suck.

...cause, you know, we're concerned... 

Back when Fabrizio Quattrocchi was killed, Middle East media had a fit of conscience and elected not to show any of the footage of his murder. The more cynical among us suspected that this decision was made because the footage would not further a specific agenda. Of course, Abu Ghraib images do further that agenda, and have been broadcast relentlessly. I'm sure this is just a coincidence.

Now that another hostage has been murdered, there's that conscience again. Of course, the effect of this murder would damage that old agenda again.

I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

I'm surprised they didn't think of this sooner... 

China has been trying threats for years now trying to get Taiwan to knock off all this indepence nonsense. Finally, someone has hit upon a brilliant idea: China will just pass a law mandating unification! It's just that easy!

I'm sure everyone in Taiwan is clear on this. China's making a list of independence advocates. And should they ever get ahold of Taiwan, they will be checking it twice.

How to ID the bad guy in a conflict... 

When I heard that Hamas and/or Islamic Jihad had detonated a mine, killing six Israeli soldiers, I found it hard to believe at first. Targeting actual soldiers with guns generally requires more testicular fortitude than Hamas and friends tend to possess.

But, heaven forfend Hamas do anything without reminding you of what kind of people we're dealing with here.

"Hamas and Islamic Jihad both claimed responsibility for the attack and announced they are holding body parts of the dead soldiers, which were scattered hundreds of meters from the scene of the attack by the force of the blast. Officials from the terrorist organizations demanded to enter negotiations with Israel to exchange the body parts for Palestinian security prisoners incarcerated in Israel."

Israel is currently searching the area house to house looking for these folks, as well as the remains of their comrades. Should any of these homes be damaged or destroyed during this process, the usual suspects will expect us to be outraged at Israel.

File that one under long shots.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Wrong... 

Don't let the claim that Nick Berg was beheaded because of Abu Ghirab become conventional wisdom. The name Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dropped. Zarqawi is one of Al-Qaeda's men in Iraq. Berg was killed for the same reason, and by the same means, as Danny Pearl - because they could, and because the world would pay attention to it.

Zarqawi and company have a host of reasons to behead Americans, ranging from our failure to let them crush homosexuals under giant rocks in peace to our failure to set them up with one of those temporary marriage things to Britney Spears.

Sully makes the point well, although I don't think I agree with his demand that the media show Zarqawi holding up Berg's head. We are the good guys after all. Save the severed head footage for when the head in question is Zarqawi's.

Interesting... 

The first Abu Ghirab defendant is scheduled for court-martial May 19.

Reading the article, folks seem to think there is, or will be, a deal in place for this defendant (alleged to be one of the photographers), to give evidence against someone higher up the food chain. Seems to make sense to me - it's unlikely any defense lawyer would want a trial so quick, with emotions running so high and your client's scalp the only one on the chopping block. Also, the current crop of defendants are looking for people higher up the food chain to blame, and putting that defense together is going to take time.

So, maybe we'll start to hear about who gave the orders. If this defendant doesn't plead out and give evidence, then at least there should be a speedy succession of trials.

And trials about human rights abuses committed in the Middle East are long overdue.

Amazing coincidences... 

Via Citizen Smash, we hear that, wonder of wonders, the Arab League has announced a call for greater democracy, specifically that they "establish democratic practices, including making court systems independent, greater freedom and human rights for citizens and greater rights for women"

Of course, it's important to note that this has absolutely nothing to do with anything Bush has done or said since taking office. There is absolutely no fear of Captain Unilateral or anything he might do playing any role in this whatsoever. Nope. Not a bit. Really. We swear...

Not that I'm complaining about any step forward, but I'm still waiting for something specific as far as "greater democracy." Specifically, installing mechanisms for replacing the big kahunas. To test a nation's commitment to democracy, I hereby announce the Crosblog Democracy Buckstopper Test:

1. Every nation has one guy at the top of the food chain. He may be called Prime Minister, President, Premier, Father of all Turkmen, but there's one guy whose authority overrides all others. Identify that individual.

2. If the citizens of the country have no idea how to peacefully remove that person from power, you ain't a democracy.

3. Iran, we're looking at you. You're not fooling anyone by pretending Khatami's in charge.


Give it up for the Sons of Dialogue! 

OK, supposedly human troll doll Moqtada al-Sadr is representing a legitimate segment of Iraqi society that fears being denied a voice in post-Saddam Iraq, or some other such nonsense. As an austere cleric, Al-Sadr would surely decline any attempt to seize any personal advantage from this crisis, as he only seeks the best for his people.

Or, if you agree to not to haul him in the dock on murder charges, he'll stand down. Actually, a formal agreement to defer the murder charges until the transfer of sovreignty sounds okey-dokey to me, especially if the stories of Al-Sadr wearing out his welcome in Najaf have anything to them.

Sadreddin al-Qombanji, the local representatives of Iraq's largest Shiite political party, told reporters that efforts to mediate an end to the standoff in Najaf and its twin city of Kufa were revived Tuesday...
...''We are working for a dialogue that was stopped but today was revived with a great deal of energy,'' he said at the local office of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI. ''We are the sons of dialogue and peaceful solutions.''

I really hope Iraq's first globally successful rock band is named the Sons of Dialogue.

Incidentally, while somebody's talking to al-Sadr, could we get an opinion on
his underling's announcement that it's OK to keep captured female soldiers as slaves? Or, at least, an estimate as to how many discrete inquiries have been received about keeping male prisoners as slaves?

Monday, May 10, 2004

Over the weekend... 

Saw Van Helsing over the weekend. Stupid and fun, but mostly stupid. Hugh Jackman plus vampires plus Kate Beckinsdale in leather really should add up to more than it did. Not the worst thing I've ever seen (that'd be John Carpenter's Vampires), but it's the reason God made Netflix.

While waiting for the movie to start, hung out at Borders, where I got the new P.J. O'Rourke book, Peace Kills. I'm in the middle of it right now, and the way I read, I should be done later this week. Very similar to Give War a Chance, (in a good way). If anyone cares, I'll probably put up a thought or two after reading the book. (I'm a huge P.J. fan).

By the way... 

The first sentence that popped into my head when I read about Specialist Joe Darby was "He's a bigger hero than Pat Tillman." Silly to compare the two, I know, but I've had cause to think about what Tillman, and those who serve there today, are trying to do in Afghanistan.

When talentless jackass Ted Rall and wannabe courageous journalist Rene Gonzales spit on Tillman's grave by accusing him of racism (Rall), and calling him an idiot who got what he deserved (Gonzales, and come to think of it, Rall again), they cast aspersions on the mission in Afghanistan. Gonzales claimed the Taliban were "more Afghani then we were" and Rall said Tillman should have taken the money and left Afghanis alone.

Had there been no invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban would still be in charge. And men who poisoned little girls for attending school would not be condemned by the government as "beasts."

They would be the government.

Don't cry for me, Uzbekistan... 

I'm not a fan of the way President Bush has handled Uzbekistan. I understand (to some degree) the strategic value it has, but President Islam Karimov is a buttsponge who has no quarrel brutally putting down anyone he thinks is in his way, and I've always been wary of the idea that Karimov thinks his strategic usefulness is giving him a pass.

Then I read this report, about a pastor in Uzbekistan who is praying for Bush to be re-elected. Why? According to the pastor, Captain Unilateral scares Uzbek officials, so they don't crack down so much.

I'm not sure I'm wholly convinced that the U.S. is dealing with Uzbekistan the right way, but it's interesting to hear someone who actually lives there express this level of support for Bush.

Michael Moore - bald-faced liar, or fatuous windbag? 

Sigh...nothing's ever easy when the one-man Blue Collar Comedy Tour that is Michael Moore is involved. A British newspaper reported that Moore misrepresented Disney's obligations for the purpose of drumming up publicity. With the general tendency of European press to go easy on people like Moore (the right kind of American), my own general disdain for the man, and Moore's own well documented willingness to put his own agenda above the truth, I believed the story credible.

Well, if the word of Michael Moore himself helps, he has issued a statement claiming his deal with Miramax included distribution (emphasis added.) If so, (and assuming there is no out clause that was validly exercised), Moore may have grounds to sue the crap out of somebody.

On the other hand, Disney appears to be standing behind its statement that Moore is full of it. I'm sure those who believe most corporations are evil incarnate and the Bush brothers are willing to take time out of their days to ineffectively silence documentary filmmakers will believe Moore, and those who do not list Zach De La Rocha liner notes as a news source will not.

I don't outright believe Moore, but since I 1.) own an autographed copy of Downsize This!, and 2.) have a mustard stain on my shirt from lunch, I think I can try to empathize. I don't wonder if there wasn't an option to Disney to distribute, that Moore, for one reason or another, assumed would be executed until he learned otherwise. That would explain both why Disney can say the deal was for financing only, and why Moore thought they were going to distribute it. (Although Moore is quoted as saying he knew Disney wouldn't distribute it...nevermind, I'm trying to give the man an out...)

But if somebody's gotta be lying like a rug...

Unsung hero... 

I haven't said anything about Abu Ghirab and all the abuse allegations that have been made. No particular reason, just didn't think I had anything to add prior to today. A quick summary of my thoughts leading up to what I do have to say today:

- The abuse depicted in the photos is horrifying and beyond defense. While the fact that worse occurs in other countries makes their selective outrage laughable, is does not justify a lack of outrage from people who expect better.

- I'm undecided as to whether or not Rumsfeld should resign. The soldiers involved should be prosecuted to the fullest. Their commanding officers should be prosecuted as well if they knew of the abuses, or stripped of their commands and drummed out of the military as incompetent boobs if they didn't. Rumsfeld can prove he's worthy of his job by how the whole discipline thing turns out.

- I like Tacitus' suggestion about decommissioning the offending unit. I'm inclined to agree that those particular shoulder patches have been tarnished forever, beyond repair.

- I think what was done in Abu Ghirab borders on treason. It made every possible positive outcome in Iraq more difficult and far off in the future, and it will result directly in the deaths of American soldiers.

All this leads to my point, which is Specialist Joseph Darby, revealed last week as the man who blew the whistle on the abuses. From the report, he doesn't at first sound like the kind of guy who'd step off the reservation, which just goes to show how people are capable when the right thing presents itself.

There are all sorts of heroes fighting overseas, from Pat Tillman to all the people doing the same thing as Pat Tillman that we don't hear about cause they never made the NFL, to these guys passing out soccer balls in a small town near Fallujah. (The latter being the sort of thing we're not going to hear about thanks to the crapsacks who brought us Abu Ghirab.)

Anyway, my point, is Spec. Darby belongs on that list.

Wow... 

Blogger looks like it's grownup. Must have gotten tired of everyone moving to Movable Type once they get the hang of this thing.

I'll probably be fouling this thing up over the next few days as I play around with it. Should be good times for everyone.

Friday, May 07, 2004

All you need to know about Illinois politics... 

The state of Illinois is basically Iowa, plus Chicago. The non-Chicago portion of the state is known as "downstate", and a lot of downstate Illinois politics, especially campaigns, involves downstaters carping about Chicago. Democrats are always at a disadvantage downstate because most Chicago politicians are Democrats as well, and downstaters frequently use the phrase "Chicago Democrat" as a quick and easy substitute for "lying crapweasel." (Not an entirely fair characterization, since Illinois Republicans are the ones who foisted George Ryan on the state, the man whose picture will soon adorn the dictionary definition of "lying crapweasel", but that's another story.)

My point is, via Volokh, I heard about Chicago Alderman Arenda Troutman, who is convinced that she is entitled to have a police squad car park outside her home when she's not there. I'd like to say I never would have believe she'd say this:

"Deserve it? Damn right," she said. "I should receive the protection I am receiving. I am an elected official. You're darn right."

...but then, I grew up in downstate Illinois. Clayton Cramer's aghast. Me? I'm not even surprised.

Chicago Democrat.

Whoo-hoo!! 

First, I'm thrilled to learn that Rachel Lucas is back and blogging. It was her blog that made me really wish I had one of my own, and besides, the word "asshat" is funny all by itself.

Also, I'm pleased to add Scott at Right Moment to the roll o'blogs on the right. Tight little ship he's running over there. Check it out.

Remember, if you're reading this, and you have a blog of your own, let me know so I can drop by.


Shocked, yes shocked I am... 

OK, Disney didn't want to distribute Michael Moore's new movie. Moore told us all that this was censorship, and more than a few people have claimed that this was pretty clearly Disney trying to silence criticism of Bush.

Now, if you thought Michael Moore was a lying sack of wind, you would probably not be surprised to learn that Moore has known for a year that Disney had no intention of distributing Fahrenheit 9/11.

Also, "Moore told CNN that Disney had "signed a contract to distribute this [film]" but got cold feet. But Disney executives insists there was never any contract. And a source close to Miramax said that the only deal there was for financing, not for distribution."

I personally, could care less whether this film sees the light of day or not. For me to think that our national debate required distribution of Fahrenheit 9/11, I'd have to believe Moore's dedication was to the truth, rather than himself, and frankly, that bacon cheeseburger was digested a long time ago.

Besides, if he has no problem lying in talking about the film, why should we believe he bothered to get his facts straight while making the film?


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Just wondering... 

As I understand it, if I shoot a 30-second TV commerical attacking John Kerry with the goal of turning the election against him, I am governed by a veritable dead forest of regulations.

Now, Michael Moore wants to release a two-hour or so movie attacking George Bush. He wants this to come out in the Fall of 2004, and I'm sure everyone agrees a major goal of Moore's is to have his film influence the electorate against George Bush. (Film's release subject to Moore finding a new distributor - he is, once again, the victim of a fast and far-reaching conspiracy to keep his brilliant light of truth from shining on the great unwashed.)

Anyhoo, my question - what, if any regulations govern's Moore's clear attempt to influence our election?

And don't tell me free speech allows Moore to say anything he wants about Bush at any time. That don't fly when the NRA wants to buy an ad going after someone who voted for gun control, it ain't flying here.

Just noting... 

It's been alleged by some folks, like for instance the President, that part of what fuels opposition to efforts in Iraq is the racist belief that Arabs are incapable of democracy. Not everyone on the right is cool with this idea, someone on the Corner, I believe, pointed out that accusing someone who disagrees with you of being a racist was annoying, stupid, unfair, and wrong when liberals did it, and it doesn't automatically become a good idea just because the opportunity to do the same presents itself. (I pretty much share this view - I think the general sense on the left is that Arabs are capable of democracy, and they would be glad to have that democracy manifest, provided it does so at a time and in a fashion where no conservative (and especially not Bush) can claim any credit for helping to bring it about.)

Bottom line, I dinna agree with it, and I agree with Dawn for pointing it out, and citing a George Will column going after this point of view.

But, because we hew to the fair-mindedness and sense of balance that makes blogging great, we feel compelled to point out that Ms. Irshad Manji has raised the question as well. Ms. Manji is a Canadian of African descent, a Muslim, a lesbian, and a feminist, so while it's possible she's a member of Dubya's right wing hit squad, I'd file that under "long shots." And, on the subject of Islam's capacity for Democracy, she says...

"There is I believe, such a thing as the soft racism of low expectations. And I believe that there is more virtue in expecting Muslims like anybody else, to rise above low expectations, because you know what? We're capable of it."

Say what you want about Bush's claim, but apparently people smarter than Bush, with a closer connection to the issue, seem to think something very similar.

Just saying.

Pave the West Bank... 

There is virtually nothing Israel can do that would move me to feel sympathy for the Palestinian "plight" anymore. Through Karol, here's the latest example of who exactly we're supposed to empathize with. A pregnant woman, four daughters, aged 2 to 11, gunned down and then shot in the head to confirm they were dead. This is billed as a "heroic attack" on "terrorists" by people who lack the guts to actually describe what was done. The people whose struggle for statehood we're supposed to support call these killers "heroes." Meryl Yourish does a fine job putting some perspective on all this.

To hell with them. To the killers, and the organization that helped them pull this off, to hell with them. To everyone who celebrated the murders, to hell with them. To everyone who refused to come out and call this atrocity a cowardly act of cold-blooded murder perpatrated and celebrated by ghouls unworthy of any kind of support, to hell with them.

Whatever Israel feels is necessary to ensure their security, I'm down with. And when our moral superiors at the UN and EU criticize those steps (and they will), remember the equivocating condemnation of this act, as though it were merely a bad tactical decision.

Then say to hell with them. To hell with them all.

Wicked cool geek stuff... 

Tired of getting your ass kicked in NCAA tournament pools? (Kentucky vs. Ole Miss final, anyone?) Put your nerd skills into an arena where they'll do some good, and hop on the John Kerry Veepstakes bracket. Set up like a pool, with "regionals" like Battleground States, Gravitas, and Chicks (They may use a different term) it's everything a guy who thought Stanford was a real Final Four contender could want!

The horrible bigotry of American Idol... 

I didn't want to believe it, but there it is, apparent for everyone to see. The horrible, blatant bias of the American viewing public. Who would believe, in this day and age, that we would still be seeing this kind of sexism from Americans?

George, the final male contestant, was sent home in the greatest miscarriage of justice since, well, since most everything that's happened on The Practice in the last three months. I just don't know what to believe in anymore.

And, just to get all TV-related thoughts out in one post, why is frickin' Andrew the only Buffy cast member hard enough up for work to do a guest spot on Angel?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Punks... 

Via the Corner, I learn that the Iowa Hawkeyes have backed down from a scheduled baseball game against Bradley, the college team from my beloved hometown of Peoria, IL, because Bradley's baseball team is named the Braves. And, you see, Iowa has a policy against playing teams with Native American mascots. It's apparently a "human rights issue."

Unless, of course, big money's at stake. You see, Iowa is in the Big Ten, where they routinely play the University of Illinois, whose Chief Illiniwek has been derided as a racist symbol. (I think those people take themselves way too seriously, but if offensive mascots are the problem, the Chief dances at football games. Bradley uses, I believe, a bobcat.) According to the article, "The U of I makes an exception for the fighting Illini of Illinois in the Big Ten and for any tournament games."

So, if lots of people are watching, the game really counts towards something important, like a Big Ten or NCAA title, and there's big money involved, then offensive mascots are OK. (Also, if this were a big principle, someone might ask why they've been willing to play Bradley several times in recent years, but not this year. A cynical man would feel the need to point out that Bradley's baseball team is much improved this year, while Iowa, well, sucks.)

The University of Iowa. Where the mascot is the punk.

Since we're not sincere, why aren't you handling it? 

I believe the UN's primary function is to legitimize dictators. Sure, they do other stuff, some of it even noteworthy, (such as for instance, argue for walk-on roles in Nicole Kidman movies.). But there main purpose is to serve as a forum for the likes of Castro and Kim Jong-Il and various other crapsacks to act like they are the legitimate voice of their respective nations. Short answer, I'm not a fan.

Of course, those of us who average out right-of-center don't count as legitimate UN critics. Here, Kevin Drum essentially concedes that "UN bashers" are right, but they don't have the best interests of the UN at heart. The UN outrage du jour is their belief that the Sudan is qualified to investigate human rights violations. (And here's my main beef with the UN. The fact that they say "The Sudan" when what they mean is "Omar Hassan al-Bashir and some of his goons.") And once again, the UN defenders will sigh and say, "fine, you're right. The UN is whitewashing dictators and covering up for mass murderers, but you guys aren't sincere about reform. You just like bashing the UN."

Assume this is true. Could someone explain to me why UN reform isn't John Kerry's big issue, why reform proposals aren't decorating the pages of the Nation and the American Prospect, and why anti-war demostrations don't include speeches about the UN cleaning up its act enough that they can push for more UN responsiblity without being laughed out of the room?

You're right, we don't like the UN. You do. And people who want the UN to be trustworthy should act like it. If you want the UN to be a global joke, let the UN-bashers be the ones being heard.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Courage... 

I once read somewhere about a test that was given - there was only one question: "What is courage?" While all the other students wrote furiously, spending pages expounding on the concept, one student quickly wrote on his paper "THIS IS," turned it in, and left. He got an A.

It's not a perfect analogy, but it's what I thought of when I read about Hashem Aghajari. He was sentenced to death for daring to criticize Iran's ruling theocracy by the band of thugs who have attempted to equate all criticism of their despotism with apostasy and blasphemy. Aghajari's popularity is such that the mullahs are actually afraid of what would happen if they went ahead and executed him. It has been suggested, pretty strongly, that there could be some technical grounds by which the sentence could be overturned.

Aghajari is having none of it. Refusing to play the game set up by an illegitimate system of government, he has dared the Iranian government to execute him. And the mullahs are scampering away like frightened chipmunks. Still, if they feel they have to execute him, don't put it past them.

It boggles the mind to imagine what a nation like Iran could accomplish if the people running it cared enough about their country to let men and women like Hashem Aghajari and Shirin Ebadi to help in directing things. Here's to the day when Iran is ruled by those who love Iran, rather than by those who love running Iran.

Dixon freed... 

The lead story all around Atlanta today is the release of Marcus Dixon, who had his conviction overturned. The media coverage of the Georgia Supreme Court's ruling suggests that the Floyd County DA somehow should have disregarded all the serious charges and just recognized that this was nothing more than two teenagers having consensual sex. And I started to get annoyed again. I recognize that all the cool kids really like the Legend of Marcus Dixon, which is that he was locked up for crimes we all know he didn't commit, just to send a message to all those young black men about working their magic on the white women, and since every major news story caters to the legend, it should be accepted as fact (if it isn't already) within the next few months.

However, in defense of at least the Georgia Supreme Court, I actually read their opinion, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me. The decision was 4-3, and the dissent makes a number of perfectly reasonable points as well. It's actually a pretty complicated issue involving a number of conflicting legal doctrines. Which means, for those following the legend, that the actions taken by the prosecution were, while not ultimately upheld, well within the bounds of acceptable conduct.

It was a close call, they erred on the side of the defendant. (And for those who have used this case to impugn the entire state/region, please note it was the Georgia Supreme Court, made up of Georgia justices who rendered this decision.)

Tip of the cap to Dawn, where I first saw the news.

They're kidding, right? 

At first I was scared this was going to be tonight, but next year is bad enough. I mean, Bob Dylan on American Idol?

Back... 

I wanted the one post I made yesterday to stand alone, so I didn't post on anything else, despite other things happening. Back now.

Monday, May 03, 2004

In memorium... 

We take cops for granted. We expect nothing less than perfection from them. We blame them for not stopping every crime that was ever committed, and second guess every step they take. We don't pay them enough, and we never, ever say thank you to them. Until it's too late. Like now.

Even though we know better, we stand by while others compare our police to the secret death squads of the world's most totalitarian societies. Maybe we let a similar analogy escape our own lips once or twice. We're perfectly comfortable questioning their motives, their professionalism, or their integrity, just because we don't want to have points on our driving record. We have no way of knowing how many lives are saved because good police officers do their job day in and day out. The men and women on the road keeping the speeders in check, working the traffic accidents, and arresting the impaired drivers are keeping untold thousands alive, and all we can do is complain about that bleeping cop who wouldn't let us off with a warning. And we never, ever say thank you. Until it's too late. Like now.

Like when you hear about a career police officer, out working the road during hours when decent people are in bed. And how a traffic accident occurred that wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been his job to get the bad drivers off the road so I could have an uneventful morning commute. And how a wife is now without a husband, children without a father. And how everyone who lives around here is without a good man who worked hard to make this area safer. And how you think you'd come to grips with it after hearing it on the news, until you pass a car wash whose owner felt compelled to lower his tattered American flag to half mast. Saying thank you. Too late, just like I'm saying it now.

Still, saying it too late is better than never saying it at all. Rest in peace, Jimmy. God keep your family.

And thank you.


Friday, April 30, 2004

And this is one of the funniest things I've heard in weeks... 

...years, maybe. A female Muslim comedian offers a test to see if the founder of Ansar Al-Islam is really a fundamentalist.

She then picks him up in front of a big crowd, saying that a real fundamentalist couldn't be carried around by a woman. Crowd busts a gut, Mullah blows a gasket...

...and I will think that's funny years from now.

Thanks, Oxblog

Heh heh heh... 

A while back, we heard that a couple of DJ's got fined by the FCC for crank calling Fidel Castro without his consent.

Well, the good news, the station has raised the money...in pennies.

I am pretty much always in favor of smartassed compliance with stupid rulings.

Fake apologies... 

God, how I hate me some fake apologies. But I love The New Republic. And why do I love TNR?

Because they have published a story about how the fake apology has cheapened the whole concept of "expressing remorse" and "accepting responsiblity."

I also love TNR because I just saw the movie Shattered Glass. If that's even remotely factual, they handled that whole made up stories thing very well.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I can't say anything other than... 

Read this. It's a first person account from a Marine who escorted a the body of a soldier named Chance Phelps home to his family.

Just read it.

I've been wondering something for awhile now... 

How would it play if the Democratic nominee for President ran on some version of this: In the aftermath of September 11, America was faced with a brand new enemy, fighting an entirely different kind of war. Recognition of this required a President willing to recognize the threat, and stand up to meet it, even in the face of a recalcitrant global community unwilling to change with the times. Whatever else one can say about him, George Bush did this, and led us into a battle that needed to be fought.

But being the right man in 2002 doesn't make him the right man in 2004. Setting Iraq on the right course is a noble aim, but frankly, it's beyond the capabilities of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania avenue. Voting for me is not a rejection of the job that needed doing then. It's an awareness of the new job that needs doing now.

Or some version of that. I don't know if Kerry can credibly say anything like that, given that he seems to have settled on being against the war he voted to start, but picking Edwards or Gephardt as his veep would at least give him someone who could say something like that credibly. I think this post on Tacitus' site kind of articulates what I'm talking about. Basically pro-war, but anti-how the aftermath has/is turning out.

The question is, would the ANSWER/Move On.org/Democratic Underground/Indymedia crew shut up, drink the Kool-Aid, and vote for the guy without making enough waves to scare off the independent voters who would probably love to hear something like that? One thing the conspiracy theorists are right about: The right is unified. Conservatives have already forgiven Bush and Santorum for endorsing Arlen Specter, for Pete's sake.

Like it or not, part of the baggage that comes with being anti-war is the result of that would have been Saddam still running things. Supporting leaving him in charge is not going to get Bush bounced. But being credible as the man to rebuild Iraq requires, I think, a bit more enthusiasm for the task then the heavy sigh, eye rolling, "fine, I'll clean up your mess" that Kerry supporters currently sound like.

Just wondering.

Idol hands... 

Everyone on talk radio today was threatening the downfall of western civilization if tonight isn't John's last night as an American Idol contestant. Personally, I like the kid, and I'm tired of both Diana and Jasmine, at least to the extent I can remember either is on the show.

But apparently, we have to get rid of John, because if we don't, we're racist, according to noted sociologist Elton John. OK, I liked Jennifer too, but somehow, an African American contingent making up a mere 50% of the remaining finalists is apparently the result of what a bunch of racist bastards we all are.

Or, and I'm just throwing something off the top of my head, call me crazy, or American Idol is a show watched by every teenage girl in the country, and Johnny Red is the only teenage boy remaining, and that has something to do with it. For scientific verification of this theory, please note the comments to this Jeff Jarvis thread, where pretty much everyone agrees with me.

The guy who pointed out the big black guy winning last year and the bi-racial guy finishing second the year before had a point too.

Please people, take care of your traffic tickets... 

...pay them, go to court and challenge them, whatever, just do it. Because when people let them slide, we get stuff like 97 year old women getting arrested on warrants.

I trust no one is under the illusion that anyone wanted to arrest the old woman. I'll grant cuffing her was probably unnecessary, but keep in mind that what the officer did was by the book, and police officers deviate from the book at the risk of their jobs. Police officers do not get paid enough, and do not receive enough appreciation for taking crap from people convinced that just this once, maybe the nice officer could do things differently from the way he'd been told to by his commanding officer.

Make life better for all of us. Take care of your tickets.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I was being sarcastic, dammit! 

Awhile back, I posted a wise-ass comment about how the left was pretty much ignoring the UN Oil-For-Food Scandal. (April 19, first post below the date line) - My point was that people who like the UN and want the US to show them a little more respect know, or should know, that they have a bit of a credibility problem. That should bug the heck out of UN supporters, and it is they who should be leading the charge to get to the bottom of this with the fullest, most thorough investigation the world has ever seen, because goddammit, the right is dead wrong about the UN being just a Dictator Protection Society. They are worthy of your trust! Just look at the open and transparent way we responded to allegations that some of us colluded with Saddam Hussein to profit off sanctions! (The very sanctions much of the current crop of UN huggers called responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.)

OK, the wiseassery is getting a little thick. My point was I have yet to see anyone even approaching the left side of the aisle address it. (Granted, I lack the constitution to search the archives of John Kerry's sweet bloggy goodness.) But I did read my recent issue of The Nation when it arrived at my doorstep. (Yes, I subscribe. Have for a few years now. Decent source of liberal thought, but not the same since Christopher Hitchens left.) Anyhoo, there was finally an article, by Ian Williams, that is sadly not on the web. In it, Williams basically says "scandal? What scandal? Please, the people accusing the UN of taking bribes from Saddam Hussein are right-wingers. 'Nuff said."

I do have a snippet from Democracy Now, where Williams addresses it. If you doubt my admittedly terse paraphrasing of his article, he is quoted here as personally voucing for Benon Sevan, who I believe is the highest ranking UN official accused, then saying "The real issue is that the -- sort of the people that have been making these allegations are trying to dump the whole of the $10 billion that Saddam Hussein got from oil smuggling on the U.N."

Oh, yes, he also says "And really I think if you look at the sources of this, it's Ahmed Chalabi, who will almost certainly be ousted in any U.N.-brokered deal that comes out on June 30, regardless of anything else, and secondly the Wall Street Journal and the people who are writing it, you suspect that this is the neocons who 12 months ago said that the U.N. is dead and they cheered for it."

And so far, that's it. One guy, who blames Ahmed Chalabi and the Wall Street Journal.

If I were as inclined as Williams to leap to conclusions, I'd conclude this: The left knows damn well the UN cannot effectively run a fantasy football league. (You all do know about the Zionist Conspiracy to keep Michael Vick off the Palestinian team, don't you?) However, the UN supporters are so blinded by their hatred of Bush that they will ignore any corruption, even corruption that takes food out of the mouths of starving children, in their quest to keep the focus on the true "bad guy."

That's the conclusion I'd jump to, if I were so inclined. But I'm not as smart as Ian Williams, or the people who knew that his conclusion was so obvious that they didn't even need to mention it. So, I'll just play fantasy football instead.

What? Kordell Stewart?

CURSE YOU AMERICA!!! CURSE YOU ISRAEL!!!

I know I feel good about this... 

...I'm just not sure why. You see, over in the Gaza strip, two guys decide that they're going to supplement their income with a little armed robbery. They pick a target, and deliver the standard "your money or your life" spiel.

(Jack Benny: I'm thinking. I'm thinking.)

OK, that's the old punchline. The new punchline is this: The victim was a Hamas suicide bomber en route to target, complete with loaded explosive belt. The bomber chose to set off his belt, killing himself and the two robbers, and raising the collective IQ of the neighborhood in the process.

Keep up the good work, guys!

We have a new record... 

I have seen a criminal defendant claim that someone snuck into his house in the middle of the night and plant marijuana on his kitchen table. I have seen my favorite baseball team trade Sammy frickin' Sosa for an aging slugger they then declined to use in the playoffs. I have seen grown men wear their hear in the style of the lead singer of "A Flock of Seagulls" despite not being in a band. I have seen Pauly Shore's stand up act. And I have seen Michael Dukakis in a tank.

Point is, I have seen some stupid-ass stuff in my life, but this takes the cake. This article appeared in a government approved Egyptian newspaper (as if there are any other kinds.) Let's read a bit, shall we?

"If you want to know the real perpetrator of every disaster or every act of terrorism, look for the Zionist Jews. They are behind all the violent and terror operations that have occurred everywhere in the world."

Madrid? Jews. 9/11? Jews. Gigli? If you have to ask...

If you need me, I'll be holding my breath until this guy gets laughed out of Egypt for being stupid on a truly cosmic scale.


Monday, April 26, 2004

Good riddance, jackass... 

Peoria, Illinois village idiot Matthew Hale has been found guilty of solicitation of murder.

We'll miss you, Matt. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Would this qualify as appeasement? 

Everyone remembers how the murder of Fabrizio Quattrocchi turned out to be an unmitigated disaster for his killers. Hopefully, no one has forgotten that Quattrocchi's killers are still holding three of Quattrocchi's co-workers.

They have now demanded that Italians dance for them, ordering a "big protest in your capital to protest against the war" in exchange for the three men's lives.

Wonder what they'll get. I'm sure someone will try to organize a protest, and I'm sure people will turn out. But if Quattrocchi's final words are still resonating, they may say something different than the kidnappers were expecting.

Cause this is where I vent... 

As I lived in St. Louis when we finally got a football team again, I have been a loyal and devoted fan of the St. Louis Rams. I watched Jerome Bettis leave, only to find out he actually had several more good years still in him. I watched Lawrence Phillips turn out to be a huge mistake. I watched Tony Banks fumble what felt like every other snap. And, finally, I watched Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Isaac Bruce put together the greatest offense in NFL history and win the most exciting Super Bowl ever. (I then watched them lose the second most exciting Super Bowl ever a couple years later.)

And, like everyone else in St. Louis, I remember the debate that ensued when up-and-coming defensive end Leonard Little killed a woman while driving drunk. He got 90 days in jail (plus probation, fines, and boatloads of community service). He didn't get special treatment because he was an NFL player, 90 days is about average for a first offender. He completed his probation, and the offense was wiped from his record. I remember thinking I didn't want him around anymore. I didn't begrudge him his living, once he'd paid his debt, but with 32 NFL teams, I didn't see why he couldn't earn it someplace he hadn't killed anyone.

But he stayed, and he turned out to be one hell of a football player. The commentators stopped mentioning what he'd done. I could watch him play without thinking about what he'd done. Maybe his sentence wasn't a slap on the wrist. Maybe it was just what he needed to learn his lesson and allow a man who deserved a second chance to go on with his life.

Just found out he got arrested again. No facts about this have been released, so it is possible that the guy with the DUI manslaughter conviction may have only appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, and this is all a huge misunderstanding...but still...

Oh, and him learning that lesson? Apparently not much proof of that, either.

"He was offered a chance to work with MADD and I'm still waiting on the return phone call," Boland (chairman of MADD Missouri) said. "I would try to give back to my community. He could have been the greatest spokesman ever."

He could have been a lot of things.

How I know we're the good guys... 

Because we are so committed to justice for all that our FCC will actually fine a radio station for crank-calling Fidel Castro, because they did not obtain his permission before using his voice.

Hey, rules are rules, but if the station needs contributions to help pay the fine, let me know.

Hat tip: Jeff Jarvis, who will probably still continue to attack the FCC as a right-wing hit squad because of their assaults on Stern.

God Bless Australia... 

Aussie Prime Minister John Howard stops by to greet Australian troops in Iraq.

"Howard has insisted the troops serving in Iraq would stay until their job was done and has not set a deadline for their withdrawal. Opinion polls show that most Australians support that position."

Good man, Howard. Sure going to Iraq under heavy guard and staying in the airport ain't like going to Fallujah, but remember, the man's operating under a curse.


Gotta admire the honesty... 

Despise George Bush, but less-than-enthralled about John Kerry? Tired of waiting the fifteen minutes or more it takes him to change positions to ones you support? Know getting rid of G. Dub requires you to vote for him, but pulling the lever for this dink makes you queasy?

Fear not. For all your rationalization needs, just log onto John Kerry is a douchebag, but I'm voting for him anyway.

Not just a website. It's a bold new vision for the future!

I love this woman... 

OK, Jennifer Garner has a new movie out. It's called 13 Going on 30, and all the critics say it's chick-flicky goodness.

My wife, being of the female variety, really really wants to see this movie. I, despite being a fan of some of Garner's other work, would rather remove my own appendix with a spork. Nevertheless, she is the love of my life, and if she wants to watch Sydney Bristow hit on junior high school boys, who am I to deny her?

Now, here's the thing. I had expected at some point over the weekend that I would need to go and see it. But, when I come inside after doing yardwork, my wife calls from the road, where she has been off running errands of the dry cleaning and going-to-Target variety.

She is going to see the movie without me.

I love this woman.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Siamak Pourzand update... 

Karol's friend has provided an updated list of people to contact to agitate for the release of Siamak Pourzand. His story is here. (He's an elderly journalist being held by the Iranian government, if you want the Cliff Notes version.

I'll quote the update from Karol's blog:

"Banafsheh writes:

Tell them to send a VERY SIMPLE e-mail saying FREE 74 YEAR OLD, SIAMAK POURZAND, JOURNALIST, UNCONDITIONALLY...FREE ALL IRANIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS UNCONDITIONALLY... they should send it to istiftaa@wilayah.org , Khatami@president.ir

Then the U.N. various offices...crueda-castagnon@ohchr.org , lventre@ohchr.org , csaunders@ohchr.org , llupoli@ohchr.org , scronin@ohchr.org , mdelalama@ohchr.org

Thanks Darling...PLEASE help me get this info out there Karol. These bastards have now hit an all time low..."


Rest in peace... 

Arizona Cardinal Pat Tillman joined the Army Rangers in the aftermath of Sept. 11. He turned down every interview and photo op, and every attempt made to single him out as a hero, wanting to be a soldier like everyone else, even though he turned down millions to risk his life.

He wouldn't have wanted to be singled out now, that his name has been added to the list of those killed in Afghanistan.

Sorry, Pat. I just couldn't help it.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I didn't want to believe it... 

I came across this article about a National Lawyers Guild visit to North Korea, and my first reaction was...this has to be the type of shrill overreaction that puts off left-wingers. Sure, the National Lawyers Guild is where the leftiest of the left-wing lawyers go, but come on, they know better than that. They wouldn't whitewash Kim Jong Il.

Nope, that's pretty much exactly what happened. I actually went ahead and read the damned thing. They actually shatter several "myths" about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

• MYTH #1 - North Korea is isolated from the rest of the world.
- This is established by counting foreigners. For a fun exercise, go to any city in the world and count the North Koreans. Cause, if they're not isolated, I'll bet they go on vacations abroad all the time. I'm also sure they surf the net and check out CNN, but they just didn't have time to put it in the report.

• MYTH #2 - People are being Starved to Death by the Government
- No, they're being starved to death by us. And in any event, I'm sure the people the NLG met were wholly representative of the Nork populace as a whole. The fact that they didn't talk to anyone who suffered through a famine was I'm sure because there were no such people. (Well, there aren't anymore, are there?)

• MYTH # 3- The U.S. Military can’t cross into North Korea without being shot or killed
- Yeah, guys on tour at the DMZ take leave in Pyongyang all the damn time. I used to be proud of the fact I've passed four state bar exams. If these bozos passed one, maybe it wasn't such a big deal.

• MYTH #4 - North Korea has one of the largest most frightful armies in the world and uses its military to threaten and intimidate its people.
- OK, I thought even the Norks admitted they had one of the largest armies in the world. And if the people aren't intimidated? Fine, easy to prove. There is no such thing as 100% agreement on any issue. Find me one North Korean who will publicly disagree with Kim Jong Il on any issue of substance while still being in North Korea. Get back to me when you have that.

• MYTH #5 - North Korea wants to be a nuclear power - this is only a myth if they already are.

And that's what they address. Myth #6 - North Korea does not permit its citizens to travel at will or leave the country, Myth #7 - North Korea houses thousands in concentration camps, and Myth #8 - You practice a religious other than Kim Worship in NK at the risk of your life are sure to be discussed in upcoming reports.

I can think of no other explanation other that these people are willing to rationalize or explain away any level of suffering and oppression to avoid standing next to a U.S. Government currently run by Captain Unilateral.

It's evil. I really can't describe it any other way.

Why don't I care? 

Well...I'm a Republican. I'm not supposed to care, unless it's about money, environmental ruin, or self-righteously preaching puritanism while running a bordello out of my garage.

All...ok, most kidding aside, Walter Russel Mead writes in the NY Times that a source of much of the Arab anger at the U.S. is the belief that we don't care about the Palestinian plight. Israel's existence, our fondness for same, all these things could be tolerated if there was just some sense that we cared about the wretched status of the denizens of the occupied territories.

And he's right. I don't care. Well, I care, but I think the Palestinians have pretty much brought American disdain upon themselves, which isn't the same thing in theory, but has very similar effects in practice. But it's true. I like Israel. A lot. I admire their people, I admire them as a nation, and when they are hit, I feel it. The Palestinians...not so much. And while this kind of sentiment may very well bug the heck out of those in the Middle East, but has anyone asked themselves why?

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not a wholly owned subsidiary of AIPAC. I'm not Jewish, and I came from a small enough hick town that I didn't have a Jewish friend until college. I arrived at my pro-Israel perspective honestly, through years of the Palestinians screwing things up royally. If the Palestinians want our sympathy, they've spent virtually their entire history going about getting it the wrong way.

I mean, there are a few things everyone should know by now about Americans. We like democracy. The Palestinians don't have one, don't appear very keen on wanting one, and spend all their time bitching about the only one in their neck of the woods. Students take to the streets to call for Jewish blood, not elections. Israel lets Arabs serve in the Knesset. Arabs sometimes let Israelis have a ten second head start before the mob comes out. (Not usually).

Israel is by no means perfect. They have been known to overreach, there are elements of hate in Israeli society. When Israel attacks, there is an effort to limit collateral damage. Palestinian attacks seek out civilians, and children are taught to glorify murderers. This stuff horrifies Americans. How else should we react.

And as far as us not caring when bad things happen to Palestinians, remember the reaction when something bad happened to us.

After years of this, no one in the Middle East should be surprised if a call to pave the West Bank meets with a collective shrug. There is a way to get American sympathy. It involves being serious about reforming the culture that brings about these horrors. It involves seeing children shredded by nails as murder victims, rather than PR problems. And it involves not turning rhetorical backflips to blame us for everything that has ever gone wrong in the region, and continuing to hold grudges based on the Crusades. You're not obligated to do any of that, but we're not obligated to deny reality either.

So, claim I don't care about the Palestinians. More or less, you're right. I don't. And why is that?

Because they don't want me to.

Hat tip - Yglesias

The hell? 

Jennifer? Really? OK, I didn't watch, because if there's one thing that breaks a reality show addiction, it's Barry Fricking Manilow. (Although I would watch if he were a contestant on Fear Factor).

I'm also concerned that America seemed to think my girl was one of the bottom three performers. You know, maybe those folks at my Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy meetings were right. Maybe the American people can't be trusted with democracy.

Wait, did I say that last sentence, or just think it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Just wondering... 

Apparently, there's a really interesting Republican Senate Primary going on in Pennsylvania. Conservative Pat Toomey is going up against Arlen "Beloved Moderate, But If You're a Right Winger, Remember When I Ripped Anita Hill a New One?" Specter. Conservative writers believe Toomey to be the much better choice, and have not been shy about saying so.

This internecine warfare has caused great consternation among people who ultimately want Democrat Joe Hoeffel to win the seat. These folks are deeply concerned that tossing Specter over the trivial offense of voting against his party's platform - a lot - would send a message to independant voters that they are not welcome in the GOP.

I appreciate their concern about the GOP's need to welcome members who do not march in lockstep with party orthodoxy. It is truly a horrible thing when a party goes after one of its members for daring to dissent.

The reason I bring this up? Well, you see...I live in Georgia. And down here, we've got this guy who breaks with his party, probably as often as Sen. Specter. He still calls himself a member of the party, though, and wishes it would open itself more to people like him. Unfortunately, his heresy has caused him to be cast out, his purpoted allies lump him with their political opponents, the sense of betrayal that he dare speak out against what his betters have deemed to be the right course of action. In some circles, his death is longed for. Now, if what the NRO crew is doing to Specter is so horrible, this ought to rank, too, right? I mean, the guy is so hated by his own party that he's retiring from the Senate, virtually guaranteeing the other side pick up the seat.

Sure, he's endorsed the other party's candidate for President, but it's not like that's what started all this. He endorsed the other guy because he felt marginalized within his own party. What's happened since to prove him wrong?

Just wondering.

Crapsackistan... 

Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov should make any reasonable list of the world's worst dictators. (Not as bad as Kim Jong Il, slightly worse than Castro.) He has, unfortunately, taken advantage of geographic reality (convenient staging ground for the whole Afghanistan thing), to behave like R. Kelly at an 8th grade slumber party. Via Oxblog, we learn that Karimov has made it a crime akin to treason to give damaging information about his government to international organizations. Picture Bob Woodward getting the chair for giving Kofi Annan a signed copy of his book.

(That visual was probably more pleasant that you meant it to be. - ed. )

Karimov is also in the process of throwing out a group that actually dispensed a lot of aid in Uzbekistan, on the grounds that they also annoyed the government while they were there.

It's important not to forget the bad guys who have gotten ahold of their own countries, either because they have funny sounding names or are allies of convenience. There needs to be a reckoning in Uzbekistan, sooner rather than later, and when it comes, the why shouldn't be news.

Read between the lines... 

OK, I'm sure we've all heard of the Air America flap in Chicago and LA...

Air America? Air America? The liberal talk radio station that was going to bring Limbaugh to his pudgy, drug-infested knees? The shining light of truth that was going to reflect of G. Gordon Liddy's dome, searing the pages of Sean Hannity's Tome of Falsehood? The voice in the darkness, speaking truth to power, finally persuading the American people of the criminality of George Bush, the duplicity of Dick Cheney, the need for Ann Coulter to eat something for Pete's sake. The virtuous voice, bringing the rugged sex appeal of Michael Moore...

(OK, this post has reached its quota of self-indulgent smart-assed remarks. Get on with it. -ed.)

Yes, sir, Mr. Poopypants. Anyway, Air America got booted off the air in Chicago and LA. The guy who owns the stations that booted the jaw-droppingly original O'Franken Factor (watch it - ed.) says Air America bounced a check. Air America responded with the Sludge Report, where they basically said the guy was a lying boogerhead. I'm paraphrasing. In any event, AA filed suit, demanding to be put back on the air immediately.

Anyhoo, the dispute is settled. No one's allowed to talk, but Air America is going off in Chicago, and staying off in LA. Reading between the lines, I get the sense that somebody got their asses beat.

I'm just not sure who.

Spread the word... 

The more people who know the name Siamak Pourzand, the better his chances of being released by the jackals currently running Iran.

Mr. Pourzand is the father of a friend of Karol's. Keep an eye there should his family have any suggestions for how we can help.

Does liking bad songs make me uncool? 

Answer to rhetorical question: No, the fact that you're a huge geek makes you uncool.

Anyhoo, Maxim's Blender is coming out with a list of the worst song's of all time. I'm sure this will be a huge discussion topic, so here are the bottom ten, with my thoughts on same:

1. "We Built This City" - Jefferson Starship - Apparently, what's wrong with this song is it's a sellout from Starship's more radical 60's days. I thought it was a decently catchy little pop tune. Moral of the story: If this song offends you, you are old.

2. "Achy Breaky Heart," Billy Ray Cyrus - OK, I have no defense of this one. This song got real annoying, real quick.

3. "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" - Wang Chung - I kind of liked this one. "Everybody Wang Chung tonight" is still a funny line. I suppose this song's on the list because the band wasn't kidding. They genuinely wanted everyone to Wang Chung, and they wanted it done tonight!

4. "Rollin'" - Limp Bizkit - Not defending Limp Bizkit, but there are songs who badness eclipses this one.

5. "Ice Ice Baby" - Vanilla Ice - Sorry, but this was a damn good song. If you must put the Iceman on the list, try "Every Other Song Vanilla Ice Recorded Ever".

6. "The Heart of Rock & Roll" - Huey Lewis and the News - OK, now me and these folks are going to fight. Not Huey's best work ("Power of Love"), but still a perfectly good pop song.

7. "Don't Worry Be Happy" - Bobby McFerrin - Don't kid yourself. Think back. You liked this song the first 500 times you heard it.

8. "Party All the Time" - Eddie Murphy - This one had it coming.

9. "American Life" - Madonna - Ditto

10. "Ebony and Ivory" - Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder - This is a nice song. Don't blame these guys because they've done better in the past.

Let the great debate begin.

Fun with headlines... 

From the Boston Globe: Polish troops will stay in Iraq despite Spanish withdrawal, official says


From Al-Jazeera: Poland considers Iraq troop withdrawal

Rejected Al-Jazeera headline: Will somebody blow up a train in Poland, already?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Sometimes, there's nothing to add... 

I doubt too many stop by here who don't already check out Dawn Summers' corner of cyberspace on a regular basis, but in case there are, please read this post, about the legacy of the phrase "Uncle Tom."

I've been reading political commentary from all sides for years, and I've never heard the issue addressed from the point of view Dawn presents.

Just wonderfully put, and I hope all the praise from her right-wingish readers doesn't hurt her liberal street cred. (I promise to question your patriotism at some undetermined point in the future, if it will help.)

The road to hell being paved with good intentions... 

Apparently, there is a Victim's Rights Amendment being proposed to the Constitution. Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein thinks it's a bad idea.

He's right.

I really wish Congress would sit down, take a deep breath, and repeat the following mantra prior to legislating...

Caring about someone's plight does not obligate you to pass a law. Not passing a law does not automatically imply heartlessness.

OK, first, the feds stick their noses into state issues way too often. Every state in the union has victim's rights laws requiring that steps be taken to inform victims of court dates, ensure their right to be heard prior to sentencing, and advise them of compensation funds and other services available. The reason these protections aren't in the Constitution is lynch mobs going after crime victims hasn't been a historically serious problem.

(Insert your own analogy involving Kobe Bryant's accuser here.)

The heightened protections given defendants helps create confidence in the system. You feel better about people going to jail if they've been given lawyers, trials by jury, and the various and sundry rights that get in our way of dropping some crapsack under the jail where the truly deserve to be. Victims actually have an interest a system that produces confidence in the convictions obtained, even if said convictions become more difficult to get.

Prosecutors have a moral (and usually legal) obligation to ensure that victims are involved in the process to the point that they can understand and accept the outcome. Anything added beyond that point is just legislators wanting to "show us they care," which victimizes everybody.

Here's a cool idea... 

Check out Opinion Duel, where writers from The New Republic and The National Review will apparently write point-counterpoint articles arguing whatever. Currently Jonathan Chait and Ramesh Ponnuru are discussing the whole intelligence thing.

A nice, safe harbor for reasoned debate. The over under on when they descend into Lord of the Flies style chaos is six weeks.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Go figure... 

OK, here's what I don't get. Folks who think the U.S. should defer, or at least consult, more with the "international community" usually mean the UN. Unless these folks have been living under a rock, they know that much of the U.S. views the UN with the same skepticism that MENSA would view an application from Jessica Simpson.

Since these folks, generally leftish in bent, have a vested interest in the credibility of the UN. And, given the current scandal regarding the U.N.'s allegedly corrupt, dishonest, and potentially life-threatening handling of the Oil-For-Food program in Iraq, you'd think that it would be these selfsame leftish supporters of the U.N. rising up, vocally demanding the highest level of accountability from the U.N. at every conceivable opportunity.

My point? Oh, just another story from the conservative side of the media concerning U.N. recalcitrance. This time, it's the Wall Street journal pointing out that Russia is standing in the way of a Security Council resolution that would give the investigation real teeth. Geez, one country with a vested interest in the status quo has the power to keep the U.N. from doing the right thing? If I didn't know better, I'd say you could make the case for ignoring the U.N. and proceeding unilaterally.

I'm sure I'm just not reading the right web sites. I mean, you can even work Bush-bashing in, since people are now alleging that the U.S. is stonewalling an effective investigation to ease the U.N.'s involvement in Iraq. It seems far too many Iraqi's remember the U.N. as the Nero who fiddled while Iraq burned, or at least, starved and got its hands amputated. Someone who loved the UN and wanted to go off on Bush could pitch a fit, arguing that the Oil-For-Food scandal needs a thorough investigation, so that Iraqis quit looking at Lakhdar Brahimi like the MENSA Admission Board being told "With You" is the modern equivalent of Handel's "Messiah".

But, for some reason, I hear it from Roger Simon, who draws a parallel to l'affaire Gorelick. I'm sure that's just because I'm not looking in the right places. The people who care about the UN want this discussed, and they want it discussed openly.

Right?

My hometown... 

As someone who grew up just outside Peoria, Illinois, I can't help but feel a little regional pride seeing this.


Just another brick in the wall... 

We've heard much about the supposed "wall" that was built between law enforcement and intelligence that may or may not have contributed to 9/11, depending on who you want to win the Presidency this fall. 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick wrote a memo cited by Attorney General/Boogieman John Ashcroft as part of the problem, causing all sorts of hullaballoo.

(And speaking of hullaballoo - if someone is threatening Ms. Gorelick, knock it the hell off. It is morally wrong, highly illegal, contrary to all forms of human decency, and it occasionally causes people to travel to very weird places. And it is not good for this country to go to those places.)

Since Gorelick is involved in the situation, there have been calls for her to resign from the commission due to a conflict of interest. Those who define "conflict of interest" to mean "anything that conflicts with my interest in embarassing the President" have defended her. Still, Gorelick clearly has knowledge of matters relevant to what the commission is studying, and she should probably discuss them under oath, as even John Satan-Himself Ashcroft has done. To the surprise of no one who believes the 9/11 commission is a dog-and-pony show with no purpose other than bashing Bush, Gorelick has declined to do this, choosing instead to bravely avoid questioning and cross-examination for the much harsher scrutiny of a Washington Post op-ed.

I agree with the idea that simply by writing the editorial, Gorelick is acknowledging that she needs to be a witness, not a panelist. Andrew McCarthy goes into great detail, rebutting her column, and clarifying the point that she has no business on the commission. And, lest anyone (such as Ms. Gorelick herself) think this is a partisan hitjob, I would note that Matthew "Taller Than He Looks in Cyberspace" Yglesias thinks she should step down.

I don't blame Gorelick for 9/11. For that matter, I don't blame Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, George Bush, John Ashcroft, or any other US Government official. I blame the 19 hijackers, Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda's top lieutenants, and the various Saudi, Iranian, and other Middle Eastern government officials who gave aid and comfort to them, knowing what they were and what they wanted to do. To me, the commission is useful only if they try to see what holes were present in our security, and what we can do about plugging said holes. It has to be neutral, and it has to look neutral.

And whether it is or not, it definitely doesn't look neutral.

For the love of God, Sully... 

Add James Lileks to the chorus of people pointing out Andrew Sullivan's clueless articulation of his support for higher gas taxes.

In addition to pointing out my real problem with Sully's argument - his complete lack of any understanding about how life works in flyover country - he adds an argument I'd not thought of, which is the devastating effect higher gas taxes will have on independant owners and operators of gas stations.

Sully's way off base on this one. Does he care? Apparently not.
Come on, just a sign that you understand the issue is all I'm asking for.


Diplomacy works... 

Or, at least, it's appearing to. Everyone, including local leaders, is calling on insurgents to lay down their weapons in Fallujah.

I'm sure it helped that everyone was crystal clear what the alternative was.

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