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Saturday, December 27, 2003

Are You Happy?

While reading the Sunday Star Times in Nelson, NZ, I ran across a mindblowing poll that made front page news here on the sunny south island. New Zealand is the epicenter of optimism.

According to the State of the Nation report by UMR research Kiwis are happy with the following:

Housing: 94%
Family Life 92%
Opportunities 90%
Health 90%
Education m88%
Jobs 81%
Finances 76%

While the polls conveyed the general tenor of the public mood, the article failed to speculate why people in NZ feel this way.

Can't you see? They're hiding something from us, folks! The tourists don't seem so happy!
By and large, having the vast majority of a country's population in a state of bliss is a good thing; therefore, the Shameless Antagonist intends to get to the bottom of this. Therefore, I propose to do the following:

I intend to find out what makes them happy and surreptitously sneak it out of the country. I will lie, cheat, steal, and buy the place up with beads to get ahold of whatever makes them so happy. Whatever this treasure is, it surely should be, by divine right, the sole property of the United States of America. Just as Dubya felt God led him to invade Iraq, I believe the heavens dictate that I must pilfer and plunder pulcheritude and bliss from New Zealand...stay tuned.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Journey to Middle Earth

I won't be able to write with any frequency for the next few weeks due to the fact that I'm trekking across New Zealand at the moment. My travelling companions are whirling dervishes, and my time for blogging is limited. New Zealand is also not as techno-crazed as S. Korea. In the days to come, I'll struggle for posting time and attempt to write a travelogue from the land of Rugby.

Cheers, Mate


Friday, December 19, 2003

The Pseudoscientific Sham

How often has this scenario played out right under your nose?

...So you're watching television, and CNN/Fox/ABC/CBS/ETC. reports that researchers at a major University have shown that _________ causes ________.

So what happens? The next day, people are chugging fish oil, abstaining from chocolate, standing on their heads and rubbing their bellies, etc.

What they never remind you of is the fact that scientific research depends on replication. Until the same research is conducted under the same experimental conditions time and time again, no causal relation should be assumed.

Science, like travel, often reconfirms predjudice as much as it broadens the mind.

If you really want to understand a situation, rather than looking at one particular study, why not look at a meta-analysis? A meta-analysis places all research places all relevant studies side by side and analyizes the data.

There is always a charlatan scientist willing to sell out to the tobacco industry, the gun lobby, or the flat earth society. When one relies on replication and meta-analysis in the formation of opinions, erroneous assumptions can be avoided.

The Revolution Will Be Photographed

Now that everyone has a video camera, have you noticed that nobody claims to have seen UFO's anymore?
Video cameras, digital photography, and especially cell phone cameras are dramatically reshaping our understanding of the world we live in--in some cases, they cut through the fog of disinformation and image control; we no longer view the world from the stable hierarchal platform presented to us by the grey-haired, decrepit mass media.

Photographer Antonio Zerbisias has a wonderful editorial in the Toronto Star today in which he discusses the annual "photo of the year"

"...This week, we have a new contender to add to the short list: a grizzled Saddam looking like one of those evil drunken rapists of "squaws" that Clint Eastwood shoots in Sergio Leone westerns. Is there anybody who hasn't seen that brief video of Saddam getting his tonsils tickled replayed over and over? Even as I write this, I can see it again. And again. (Which makes me wonder: How come we haven't seen any more images of his capture because it's clear that plenty was shot?)

Memorable as all these photos may be, they all prove one thing: The camera does indeed lie. That's because all these images only tell one side of the story, the one that the White House wants you to see. And all are, in some sense, just as manufactured as the next.

Me, I'd prefer to see those images that nobody wanted to pose for: the U.S. and British troop casualties, in their coffins and their hospital beds; the Iraqi civilians whose homes, lives and limbs were demolished; the Americans who will suffer economic hardship to pay for it all".

You will see those images, Mr. Zerbisias. We're living in an age where the truth cannot remain hidden. These manufactured images won't prevail. The forces of deconstructionism will topple the most carefully cultivated facade. Those who would control and manipulate images are losing their struggle to technology and persistance. Imagine a world where journalists can send live footage via cellphones from anywhere in the world; now imagine this technology advancing to the point where the common person is able to do the same.

How easily will we bend to the will of authority then, when everyone with a cellphone and a laptop will have a say in the creation of the collective consciousness?


Now that everyone has a video camera, have you noticed that nobody claims to have seen UFO's anymore?
Video cameras, digital photography, and especially cell phone cameras are dramatically reshaping our understanding of the world we live in--in some cases, they cut through the fog of disinformation and image control; we no longer view the world from the stable hierarchal platform presented to us by the grey-haired, decrepit mass media.

Photographer Antonio Zerbisias has a wonderful editorial in the Toronto Star today in which he discusses the annual "photo of the year"

"...This week, we have a new contender to add to the short list: a grizzled Saddam looking like one of those evil drunken rapists of "squaws" that Clint Eastwood shoots in Sergio Leone westerns. Is there anybody who hasn't seen that brief video of Saddam getting his tonsils tickled replayed over and over? Even as I write this, I can see it again. And again. (Which makes me wonder: How come we haven't seen any more images of his capture because it's clear that plenty was shot?)

Memorable as all these photos may be, they all prove one thing: The camera does indeed lie. That's because all these images only tell one side of the story, the one that the White House wants you to see. And all are, in some sense, just as manufactured as the next.

Me, I'd prefer to see those images that nobody wanted to pose for: the U.S. and British troop casualties, in their coffins and their hospital beds; the Iraqi civilians whose homes, lives and limbs were demolished; the Americans who will suffer economic hardship to pay for it all".

You will see those images, Mr. Zerbisias. We're living in an age where the truth cannot remain hidden. These manufactured images won't prevail. The forces of deconstructionism will topple the most carefully cultivated facade. Those who would control and manipulate images are losing their struggle to technology and persistance. Imagine a world where journalists can send live footage via cellphones from anywhere in the world; now imagine this technology advancing to the point where the common person is able to do the same.

How easily will we bend to the will of authority then, when everyone with a cellphone and a laptop will have a say in the creation of the collective consciousness?


Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Don't Fall For Their Bootstraps Rhetoric

Republican politicians such as Tom Delay live to portray themselves as the heroes of the common man. Philosophically, they claim to believe in individuals rather than the much-villified 'big government'. "It's not the government's money; it's your money", as Bush bleated during the last election. This rhetoric is not only simplistic, childlike, and self-serving, it also undermines the foundations of our Democracy...The next time someone excretes such comments, open a can of Shameless A. brand Whupass.

Republicans believe in people, not the government...Until they become the government, that is.

Why is this misleading? Because in a Democracy, we are the government; we have the power to change things. When you vote, or participate in civic life, you are the government; when you send water down sewer pipes, call over telephone lines, or use other utilities, you're enjoying the fruits of the democratic process. When you drive on the highway, you're wheels are driving over a massive government spending project.

When Republicans claim that they don't believe in government, ask them what they do believe in. Then ask them what they would think of a 'big government' that supports exactly what they believe in. Lo and behold, they do believe in thatgovernment.

The government they don't believe in is known as "Democracy"; the system in which the wealthy and powerful call all the shots is called an "Oligarchy"; the merging of state and corporate power was defined by Moussolini as "Fascism".

Which type of government do you think Tom DeLay and his ilk actually support?

Just Give A Little Bit...

During my time working in Nigeria, I was often troubled by being in the midst of such desperation day after day. Seeing lepers, emaciated beggars, and destitute children succeptable to all kinds of disease was profoundly disturbing. Even more disturbing was how inured I had become to human suffering; how my life crept in its petty pace from day to day in a state of willful obliviousness and preoccupation...

Since then, every time I hear the parable of the sheep and the goats, I recognize the fact that I have been both. In the final analysis, when you factor in sins of omission as well as comission, I'd say whether I'm a saint or a bastard is only a matter of perspective.

When you consider the way we pollute the world's water and air, and consume natural resources; when you consider the way our consumption patterns exacerbate exploitation in the third world; when you consider our indifference to human suffering on the grand scale--can any of us feel certain we're doing less harm than good?

The lesson I took from Nigeria was the obligation to help shoulder the load. The worst thing that could be said about a person was "he didn't want to help". People weren't expected to contribute all they had to those less fortunate, but society had nothing but scorn for those that wouldn't contribute when the hat was passed.

We don't need saviors or heroes. We need just a little bit of everyone contributing to the common good. My resolution is to be open to the opportunity to contribute this holiday season.

Good Intentions and 50 Cents Will Buy You a Newspaper

When I started this blog in the fall, I thought I could write more consistently. I had the best of intentions, but my fragile immune system has hobbled me once again. I have parasites floating around in me from all corners of the globe; when I took off my shirt last night before bed, my wife plucked off three barnacles and a lamprey. Sheesh. Hopefully, my return to the (relatively) clean air this summer will reinvigorate me. Here's to the Clean Air Act..

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Why Not The International Criminal Court?

On the very same day Saddam Hussein was captured, General Wesley Clark was testifying in the Hague at the trial of Slobodan Milosovich, the former despot of the former Yugoslavia.

His timing couldn't be better. It underscores the difference between that war effort and this one:

1. Wesley Clark and Bill Clinton directed a multilateral war effort; our allies from Nato were supporting us. Bush and General Tommy Franks presided over a sham coalition featuring stalwart allies Eritrea and Honduras.

2. Wesley Clark and Bill Clinton directed a successful campaign that resulted in not one single American combat fatality. The selected president's neocon tunnel vision has claimed countless lives, including the lives of about 500 Americans and counting.

3. The War in Kosovo began in response to Serbian ethnic cleansing. This reaction to ethnic cleansing came immediately after these acts occurred; the Bush administration's indignation over Saddam's ethnic cleansing came twenty years after the Regan administration provided them with chemical weapons. We were given one convincing argument for war by Clark and Clinton; Bush gave us twenty disingenuous ruses to cover a grandiose vision of conquest.

War should be a last resort. In my opinion, both presidents fell short of that ideal. The actions of the Bush administration violate even the most basic principles of international law, and gain the emnity and suspicion of even our most steadfast allies.

How can we regain the support and respect of our allies?

By subjecting Saddam Hussein to the same judgement faced by Milosovic. It would proclaim a committment to multilateralism, would strengthen the rule of international law, and draw the international community in to the process of finding a way to move forward with the mess in Iraq.

If the Bush Administration were serious about bringing peace to Iraq, this would be the path to follow.

Of course, I legitimate trial would call into question the role of the U.S. in Iraq prior to 1991, and that would be unthinkable.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Give 'Em the Bird!

I remember my Uncle, a veteran of fierce fighting in the South Pacific in WWII, proudly proclaiming, "Americans don't start wars...We finish 'em".

We don't live in that America anymore, Uncle Harry...I wonder what he'd have to say about President Bush if he were still with us.

The wisest Senator in America today is Robert Byrd. Do you notice that none of his detractors are attacking his logic, but instead impugn his character and congressional record? What does it say about a party when they don't even want to discuss their policies?

Democrats and their strategic allies need to follow the lead of Senator Bird and point how the cornerstone of Bush Administration policy violates fundamental principles of American democracy. In the latest edition of the Nation, Byrd boldy attacks the Bush Administration policy of pre-emption...

"The roots of this travesty can be traced directly back to the President's doctrine of pre-emption, that cockeyed notion that the United States can pre-emptively attack any nation that for whatever reason may--may!--appear to pose a threat in the future. Not only is the doctrine of pre-emption a radical departure from the traditional doctrine of self-defense but it is also a destabilizing influence on world affairs. The Bush doctrine of pre-emption is a dangerous precedent. The Bush doctrine of pre-emption is a reckless policy. The rising tide of anti-Americanism across the globe is directly attributable to the fear and distrust engendered by this Bush doctrine of pre-emption.

Yet too many Americans are willing--yes, even eager--to swallow the Administration line on pre-emption without examining it, without questioning it, without challenging it".

Cynics may argue that the majority of Americans are too dense or superficial to understand the implications of public policy, but the nation was smart enough to not elect Dubya by popular vote, and given those odds, I'm willing to stack the power of truth, passion, and dialogue against conservative wads of cash and deceptive rhetoric.

Don't get angry; just give 'em the Byrd. Remind them what we stand for as Americans.


Sunday, December 14, 2003

Don't Shoot Us. We're Wearing White Cowboy Hats. The Bad Guys Wear Black Turbans.

Why doesn't the rest of the world accept that the U.S.A. is all about spreading democracy and freedom around the world, like Dubya says?

Short Answer: They read. They remember. They have learned to watch what our government does rather than what it says. The very atrocities we condemn today, we condoned in the eighties.

Case in point...Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Greg Palast's brief history lesson.
in his commentary today:

"1979: Seizes power with US approval; moves allegiance from Soviets to USA in Cold War.

1980: Invades Iran, then the "Unicycle of Evil," with US encouragement and arms.

1982: Reagan regime removes Saddam's regime from official US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

1983: Saddam hosts Donald Rumsfeld in Baghdad. Agrees to "go steady" with US corporate suppliers.

1984: US Commerce Department issues license for export of aflatoxin to Iraq useable in biological weapons.

1988: Kurds in Halabja, Iraq, gassed.

1987-88: US warships destroy Iranian oil platforms in Gulf and break Iranian blockade of Iraq shipping lanes, tipping war advantage back to Saddam".

Let's close the Frankenstein factory; Vote the Neoconservatives out of office, shut down the School of the Americas, and bend the swords into plowshares.

The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

So Saddam Hussein is captured, and the people are rejoicing. Elated supporters of the Iraqi war effort feel as though this is the beginning of the end.

The a priori assumption here is that the insurgents currently fighting the U.S. are fighting in support of Saddam Hussein. If that's the case, they may be right. Then again, these same Saddam supporters may be provoked to fury at seeing their leader humiliated and humbled.

My reading of the situation is that the equation is far more complex than the Bush Administration erroneously assumes. Only the neoconservative logic of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" could make such a scenario plausable. In order to accept this argument, you have to discount the following.

a. The colonial history of Iraq.
b. The humiliation of the Arabic world due to the fate of the Palestinians, etc.
c. The anti-American sentiment present in the Arab world prior to the war.
d. The belief that the war itself was contrary to international law.
e. The fact that thousands of Iraqis have died in the "Shock and Awe" campaign.
f. The fact that the U.S. supported Hussein during the first Bush presidency and provided him with chemical weapons we're currently searching for--we know he has them--Rumsfeld kept the receipts.

Time will tell. I would love to be wrong, but I would guess that this will have little or no impact on the state of affairs in Iraq.


Saturday, December 13, 2003

Today's GOP Leadership Report

Reno Gazette Journal:

Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., called Saturday for congressional hearings of Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, calling allegations that it overcharged for fuel in Iraq"an absolute outrage."

FOX News:

HARTFORD, Conn. Connecticut's top Democrat on Saturday urged Gov. John G. Rowland (search) to step aside following his admission that a state contractor helped pay for work on his summer home.

New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 After a lifetime of public silence, a 78-year-old Los Angeles woman is stepping forward to say she is the daughter of the late Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and a black woman who once worked as the Thurmond family maid.

Soft on Crime...

Bush: US Expects Repayment from Companies that Overcharged for Services in Iraq
VOA News
13 Dec 2003, 09:50 UTC

"President Bush says if any company charged the U.S. government too much for services in Iraq, it must give back the money.

Speaking to reporters in the White House Friday, Mr. Bush expressed confidence that an audit being conducted by the U.S. Defense Department will "lay out the facts for everyone to see."

The Pentagon said this week it had evidence that the U.S. government may have been overcharged for fuel delivered in Iraq this year by Halliburton, a company run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president".

How corrupt must this administration be if the Pentagon believes you're wasting money?
When was the last time you've heard of a company being audited by the pentagon?

I'm sure these war profiteers are shaking in their boots; I mean, just look what our "smoke 'em outta their holes" president did to scofflaws like Ken Lay! If Halliburton is proven to have gouged the price of gasoline, Bush's "tough on crime" approach is that they should give the money back.

Hasn't that always been the Republican approach? If I'm mugged in Central Park, and they catch the guy that did it, cops simply ask that man to "give the money back", and that's the end of it, right?
The Conservative Paradise Already Exists…

Congratulations, Mr. Cheney. Over the last three years, remarkable progress has been made. Thanks to Republican control of the house, senate, executive, judiciary, and media, you’ve pushed through many of the most important items of the conservative agenda. Among your accomplishments are:
...Lowered federal taxes and the repeal of estate taxes…After all, it’s not the government’s money, it’s your money.
· Slashed funding for social programs.
· Weakened power of labor unions.
· Decreased corporate regulations, taxes, and oversight
· Subcontracted military work to your former company, Halliburton.
· Handguns? Sure, we got handguns. Lots of ‘em.

Despite all of your accomplishments, it’s just simply not enough, is it? So much more must be done to make America a Mecca for conservatives. The fact that Bush’s disapproval numbers are almost as high as his approval numbers, and that a substantial number of Americans are hostile to your agenda might begin to make you wonder…Is this as good as it gets? Are Democrats, greens, and other lower forms of life regrouping and regaining power? The answer is yes. The fiery campaign rhetoric of Howard Dean is striking a chord with Americans, and soon the pendulum will swing to the left once again. Your days as VP are numbered.

After you’re voted out of office, don’t despair. The Conservative paradise you’ve always envisioned is no pipe dream….

The conservative paradise you’ve always dreamed of is real, and it’s waiting for you!
· Lower taxes? Try no taxes!
· Government regulations on your business?…As if!
· Workers willing to work for next to nothing.
· Extensive gas, oil, and mineral reserves.
· No social programs whatsoever.
· Labor unions? Environmentalists? Why negotiate when you can kill them?
· Women’s rights? Pshaw.

President Cheney, Welcome to sunny Nigeria! Come see what America would look like if all your social policies were inacted!

I’m willing to splurge and pay for your one-way ticket!
The Shameless Antagonist’s Presidential Prayer Team Advice: Pray For a New President

The website of “The Presidential Prayer Team”, ( is featuring some interesting merchandise—just in time for Christmas, I might add. The Presidential Prayer Team is a pseudo-ecumenical organization formed for the sake of praying for the President (and implying that George W. Bush is God’s chosen one. Its founder believes that his decision to go to war was divinely inspired).

This month’s featured product is a Ron DiCianni lithograph. As Dubya bows his head reverently at the podium, it’s nice to know the ghosts of Lincoln and Washington and there praying beside him…

“This numbered collector's lithograph titled "Praying for Peace," by Ron DiCianni, features two of our best-loved Presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, praying on each side of President Bush. It dramatically reminds us of the importance and power of prayer for our leaders. Only 2,500 prints in the series”.

This stunning work of art can be seen by checking out the PPT’s odious website, where God has become a footsoldier for the GOP.

This is a limited edition lithograph, so act now. At forty bucks a pop, these suckers must be flying off the shelves!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The Dog Ate My Homework

What does it take to be an expert on a particular issues these days? What qualifies a person to become a talking head on t.v. news shows? Not much, apparently.

News shows often rely on Washington's 'think tanks' for expert opinion when discussing everything from abortion to xenophobia. The American Enterprise Institute is a conservative think tank whose guests frequently appear on news programs. Their most notorious 'expert' is John Lott Jr., author of the book "More Guns, Less Crime". When fellow academics questioned his research, Lott claimed that the data was "lost in a computer crash"; in other words, he's using the age-old "dog ate my homework" defense. But that's not all--Lott even went so far as to pretend he was a woman for three years. His alter-ego waxed nostalgic about her days in his classroom, defended his book in an Amazon review, and attacked his critics. When he was busted by the Washington Post on Feb. 1st, 2003, he even admitted his deceit! "I probably shouldn't have done it -- I know I shouldn't have done it -- but it's hard to think of any big advantage I got except to be able to comment fictitiously". Right, John. Now, apparently, John is up to the same old monkey business. You can't make this stuff up.

The worst part of this whole shenanigan is that John Lott Jr. still writes frequent editorials on behalf of AEI, still appears on news shows, and his blatant dishonesty has received very little public censure. AEI gives this clown legitimacy. Every time this supposed expert slithers out from underneath a rock to spead lies and disinformation, write to your newspaper, call in, and call him on his lies. Confront the AEI, their enablers in the mass media, and the thoughtless dupes who don't question their sources.

To antagonize your pro-gun friends, challenge them to a debate on the gun control issue. When they bring up the bogus research of Lott (which they inevitably will--their whole argument is built on the clay feet of his research), call them on it and present them with a dossier accquired through the following sites:
The WP article exposing Lott:
The Recent Questionable Activity:
Both articles discovered via check it out!

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Republicans Lack Object Permanence. Case in Point: Spending and The National Debt.

The most profitable job in the United States (outside corporate boardrooms)could be 'shell game huckster' outside the Republican National Convention. These people seem to lack object permanence; like a two year old playing peek-a-boo, as soon as they can't see something, it ceases to exist...

"The Era of Big Government is Over"

Remember when Clinton uttered these famous words? Remember how the Republicans scoffed? Well, Clinton was true to his word. Discretionary spending under Clinton only increased 2 percent each year--while at the same time, the budget surplus swelled and the economy prospered. In my lifetime, there has never been a Democratic president who has run up more debt than either their Democratic predecessor or successor. I challenge anyone to find evidence to the contrary.

Under Bush, federal spending has increased 23.7 percent and discretionary spending has grown 6.5 yearly. Did these statistics come from some partisan liberal think tank hostile to the president? Nope. They came from the ultraconservative Club For Growth. We have a deficit for 2004 that will be around 500 Billion dollars. Partisan sources? Think again. Try Joshua Bolten.

Why do Republicans still conceive of themselves as "fiscal conservatives". It's simple. If nobody mentions the deficit, it ceases to exist.

Like saint Ronald Regan, President Bush can't keep his hands off the nation's credit cards. While conservatives criticise the welfare state, they perpetuate the corporate welfare state. Sure, your federal taxes may have gone down under Bush, but how about your state, local and property taxes? Have your insurance premiums gone down? Who will pay off the massive debts we're accquiring?

Jackson Thoreau, as usual, provides an astute, well-documented commentary:

"Another lie Bush often tells is that he appreciates workers and helps them get ahead. According to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Bush's 2003 budget proposed a 9 percent, or $476 million, cut to job training programs and a 2 percent, or $8 million, cut to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Similarly, his 2004 budget proposed a $60 million cut to adult job training programs and a total elimination of the Youth Opportunities Grants, which provided job training for younger workers."

The Bush Administration: Making you poorer and ill-prepared for the future.

Democrats are better than the republicans on the economy. Greens would be better than republicans on the economy. Spongebob Squarepants would be better than Bush on the economy.

Republicans are the party of fiscal irresponsibility...Remind them of this continually, and thereby hasten their cognitive development.


Monday, December 08, 2003

The Shameless Antagonist's Presidential Prayer Team.

Brothers and Sisters, let's take the time this week to reverently bow our heads and pray in the words of the 'other' Presidential Prayer Team for the safety of America's Commander-In-Chief.

"...Pray for a safe and accident free holiday season. As the President prepares to declare National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month pray that Americans will exercise caution and refuse to drive while impaired, protecting the lives of untold numbers of citizens".

Let us pray as well for the continued sobriety of President Bush, whose own drunk driving arrest underscores the need for such a month, and for Vice President Cheney, whose two drunk driving arrests in the seventies testify to the stength of Satan's temptation. Let us pray as well for the obsequious toads trying, day in and day out, to convey the impression that God supports the war in Iraq and the president's misguided policies. In all these things we pray,


Sunday, December 07, 2003

Do you want to torture someone, but can't find any good leg irons at Wal-Mart? Try Smith & Wesson: Because guns aren't the only way to kill people!

Torturing in America's Name in Syria ( And Guantanamo Bay, Egypt, Saudi, etc).

How are other countries that don't send troops helping us out in the "War on Terror", you ask? Well, since Americans would be adverse to the notion of torture taking place in the land of the free and the home of the brave, in true Bush Administration fashion, we've outsourced the dirty work! Torture vs. terror; the end justifies the means. We're headed to a Phyrric victory when we sacrifce the best of ourselves to defeat our enemies.

U.S. Exporting 'Tools of Torture,' Charges Amnesty

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec 3 (OneWorld) - The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is violating the spirit of its own export policy by approving the sale of tools to countries known to use them to torture detainees, according to new report released here Tuesday by Amnesty International.

In 2002, U.S. exports of electro-shock weapons and restraints that can be used for torture amounted to some US$14.7 dollars and $4.4 million, respectively, according to the report, titled "The Pain Merchants."

Along with the sales of such equipment, Washington is also reported to have handed over suspects in the ''war on terror'' to the same countries, the 85-page report said.

"Although torture is endemic in Saudi Arabia, Smith & Wesson had no qualms about exporting approximately 10,000 leg-irons to Riyadh, and, apparently sharing this lack of concern, the Bush administration approved the sale," said William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty's U.S. branch, AIUSA.

Take it away, Lee Greewood...

Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you - and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!

-John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

There are things I'd like to recall, but don't; things I'd like to forget, but can't. My memory is perfectly photographic, but it's taking all the wrong pictures lately. Each moment is remembrance and forgetting. Is there any sense to what we hold on to and what we let go of?


Saturday, December 06, 2003

Liberal Talking Points: The President Has Nothing To Hide

Now that Howard Dean has a thirty point lead, the Republican kneecappers are out to hobble the dark horse. Dean has something to hide, they claim. Why else wouldn't he release his gubenatorial records?

While many of my fellow liberals may see this onslaught as an attempt to chip away at Dean's credibility, I see it as an opportunity; an opportunity to underscore the fact that the Bush Administration is the most secretive presidiency ever. Tools like Al Kamen at the Washington Post, however, are apparently too busy admiring the empire's new clothes to worry about facts. In today's column, he writes:

"Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has been taking heat from Republicans for refusing to unseal his files as governor of Vermont. Some of the files are to remain sealed for as many as 10 years under a deal he negotiated when he left office last year. Dean attempted to deflect by saying he'd open up his files if President Bush would open his gubernatorial files. Problem is, Bush's files are for the most part open to the public."

We know that last tossoff sentence is untrue, Al. Are you that dumb that you don't notice this is the most secretive Administration this country has ever seen? Do you think we don't know how to do a Google search? Here's just one article of hundreds that proves your statement is either a lie, or the emblem of your flaccid research skills.

Restricted Access

Why are journalists' requests for George W. Bush's gubernatorial documents being met with lengthy delays?

By George Sanchez
January 29, 2002
Mother Jones Online

Dozens of pallets loaded with shrink-wrapped boxes arrived at the George Herbert Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas on January 2nd, 2001. Inside the boxes were about 2,000 cubic-feet of files, memos and other paper documents related to George W. Bush's five years as governor of Texas.

The records arrived at the library as the result of a 1997 state measure signed into law by then-Governor Bush. Now, the records -- and access to them -- have become the focus of a growing debate between journalists, archivists and Bush administration officials.

Texas law mandates that gubernatorial records be placed in a state archive subject to Texas's stringent Public Information Act. But the 1997 law, the result of several years of legislative maneuvering, allows for a governor to pick an alternate archive -- such as the presidential library, which is a federal institution governed by US information laws.

While few have suggested that Bush decided to send his records to his father's presidential library in an effort to make them less accessible, that is exactly what journalists say has occurred."

The most egregious example of the Bush cartel's penchant for secrecy has to be executive order 12332. This executive order by Bush sealed the records of the Presidency from the FOIA throughout the years his father was president. Even former Nixon staffer John Dean criticized the president for it...But I bet you can't recall hearing about it in the news, do you?

Pseudodemocrat Joe Lieberman pressed Dean in the last debate to open his records to the public. What Democrats should do is pressure Bush to release his.

They Used to Call Them War Profiteers...

Pssst...Want to make some money off the war? A classy company called World Trade Executive, Inc. is advertising on the web in a variety of news outlets. For the bargain price of $1,495, you'll receive 22 issues of their Iraq Reconstruction Report ( A six month subscription is $822.25, but since we'll be in Iraq much longer than that, splurge for the yearly subscription--this is a long-term investment).

"...The Iraq Reconstruction Report will keep you informed of developing business opportunities and provide the business intelligence needed to compete for this business."

Their Iraq Business Report will enable you to suck up to the teats of massive corporate sows like Bechtel, Halliburton, etc.

Well, yes, Mr. and Mrs. America, $1425 is a lot of money to pay up front for business opportunites in Iraq. But trust me, it's worth it. Look at it this way: Many people have already paid an arm and a leg for them...
Liberal Talking Points: Morality

President Bush campaigned as the man who would restore integrity to the White House. Republicans consider themselves the party of 'family values'. Democrats have conceded this rhetorical territory to the right, and I resent it.

I don't mean to suggest that Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and Dennis Kuchinich start slinging mud, but it would behoove democratic strategists to challenge Republicans on their claims. Why don't Democrats do this, you ask? One reason could be that low voter turnout always favors Republicans. Democratic candidates would prefer to roll with a few punches rather than come across as negative. That's where we come in. We must carry this particular ball for candidates. We don't need to stoop to their level; we shouldn't call them sleazebags or imply impropriety. All we need to do is read the papers and ask questions, then compare and contrast. It's easy! Try it!

Do you remember the following story?
Bush Family Babysitter Killed in Fairfax

Sunday, October 5, 2003; Page C03

A babysitter for the family of Marvin Bush was found dead Monday night outside the family's Fairfax County home, and police said that she had been crushed when her car rolled into her, pinning her between the vehicle and an outbuilding on the property.

Fairfax County police said Bertha Champagne, 62, had worked for several years for Marvin Bush, President Bush's brother, and lived at the family home on Fort Hunt Road in the Alexandria section of Fairfax.

Officer Courtney Young, a police spokeswoman, said Champagne had gone outside the house about 9 p.m. Monday, reportedly to retrieve something from her car.

The vehicle had been in gear, police said, and appeared to have rolled in her direction when Champagne was in front of it.

After pinning Champagne, Young said, the car continued rolling toward Fort Hunt Road, near the intersection of Edgehill Drive.

Champagne was taken to an area hospital and declared dead that evening. Young said she did not know the cause of death.

So let's see, there's a mysterious death at the house of the president's brother...Hmmm...I wonder how Fox would have covered this if this were Roger Clinton's house rather than the stately Marvin Bush estate? Notice how I haven't donned a tinfoil helmet as I'm writing this; I don't jump to conclusions and assume any wrongdoing on the part of the president's brother, nor do I imply any scandal. And that's the point; I don't have to.

The strategy: Observe. Question. Compare and Contrast. Cite.

Now you try it!

Step One: Observe. Read about Neil Bush's divorce trial.
Step Two: Question. Ask your conservative friends what they think about this.
Step Three: Compare and Contrast: Compare Neil Bush's behavior to the president's pledge to restore honor to the White House.
Step Four: Cite. The above citation is from the Washington Post, October 5th (the best citation you can possibly use to defend your position is a citation from Fox News).


Friday, December 05, 2003

Anybody Wanna Buy Kissinger's Air Miles?

...He won't be needing them anymore. The former realpolitik guru who proudly brought us the firebombing of Cambodia reportedly does not travel internationally without first consulting his lawyers. Newly declassified state department documents will only increase the possibility that Kissinger might one day face trial in the International Criminal Court.

Reported in today's Guardian (

"Henry Kissinger gave his approval to the "dirty war" in Argentina in the 1970s in which up to 30,000 people were killed, according to newly declassified US state department documents.

Mr Kissinger, who was America's secretary of state, is shown to have urged the Argentinian military regime to act before the US Congress resumed session, and told it that Washington would not cause it 'unnecessary difficulties'".

Remember When...

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” Dep. Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz..(House Committee on Appropriations Hearing on a Supplemental War Regulation, 3/27/03)
Reagan Taught Him Well

It’s an article of faith amongst conservatives that ‘the greatest president we’ve ever had’, Ronald Wilson Reagan, brought about the demise of the Soviet Union, thereby ushering in a glorious new age of peace and prosperity worldwide. The cornerstone of this policy, they claim, was the brilliant strategy of accelerating the arms race. By doing so, Reagan forced the Soviets to spend more on their already bloated military budget, thereby starving other necessary government programs and driving their economy into the ground. Despite liberal arguments to the contrary, most scholars contribute at least part of communism’s fall to this strategy.

Meanwhile thousands of miles away, the CIA was training the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan in the tactics of Guerilla warfare. They armed and trained Afghanis and others for the war of resistance against Communist rule, and some of the same tactics, weapons, and facilities have undoubtedly been used against our soldiers in Bush’s “War Against Terror”. The same skills that Bin Laden learned from the United States to defeat one “Evil Empire” are being used again to fight what he believes is another.

Usama Bin Laden could very well be the best student the Reagan/Bush Republicans ever had. He is using Reagan’s cornerstone strategy for fighting communism against us. With 18 men and as many boxcutters, Bin Laden has attempted to sow the seeds of our self-destruction. We’ve been duped, and we need to change our approach to dealing with terrorism before it’s too late.

The budget surplus at the time Bill Clinton left office was 300 trillion. After three years of a George W. Bush, we now have a 300 trillion dollar budget deficit. Even a C student at Yale could surmise that the Bush military budget of 415 trillion may have something to do with it. To give you some perspective, this is six times what the next 15 countries spend on their military combined. Could it be, perhaps, the Usama Bin Laden anticipated this response from the likes of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and George Bush? It would be a logical assumption on his part. Wherever Bin Laden is, he must consider it fine entertainment watching Donald Rumsfeld on CNN trying to explain how a missle defense shield could shield us from anthrax spores or terrorists with plastic explosives packed in their shoes. He must also enjoy the fact that Americans are being held without trial by John Ashcroft’s Justice Department, that ex-con John Pointdexter is in charge of the Total Information Awareness program, and that triple amputee war veteran Max Cleland was voted out of office in Georgia because his opponent, Republican Saxby Chambliss labelled him “soft on terrorism”.

The Bush Administration is the Politburo of the new millennium, bungling its way into oblivion and falling into a trap of its own devising. The terrorists are winning because the actions of the Administration are completely and utterly predictable and ultimately self-destructive. Like Bin Laden himself, President Bush is all balls and no bearings. Our government has become a terrorist network’s Judo dummy. It is the duty of all freedom
loving Americans to resist Bin Laden’s manipulation of our own government, whose current misguided policies fan the flames of terrorism rather than douse them.

Thursday, December 04, 2003


On November 22nd, Jay Leno received the first annual Floggie Award for his gratuitous use of Clinton sex joxes three years into the Dubya presidency...I now realize that my Clinton's Cock Joke Pool was fundamentally flawed. I owe you an apology. Here is what I published on Nov. 22nd:

The Unofficial Tonight Show Clinton's Cock Joke Pool...
Clinton's been out of office for three years, but the Administration's court jester can't keep his mind off the Clinton's crotch! Jay Leno is The Shameless Antagonist's 2003 Horse Flogger of the Year. Congratulations on your Floggie, Jay! Honorable Mention goes to Dubya "Weapons of Mass Destruction"Bush and Ahnuld "36 Billion Dollar Deficit" Schwartzenegger...

Here's how it works...
This coming week, set up a Clinton Cock Joke Pool with your friends and neighbors. Try to guess how many jokes about Clinton's sex life Jay will make next week. At the end of the week, in true Republican fashion, the winner takes all. My prediction: four Clinton jokes, two Monicas, and three Hillaries.

The flaw in the design of this pool is that I'm encouraging you to waste your time watching this trainwreck of a television show.

Last night I watched Jay's monologue, and Jay made not one, but two Clinton sex jokes, both of which received a lukewarm response from the audience. While I dearly like to know how often he makes Clinton jokes each week, I can't encourage you to bear this burden...A mind is a terrible thing to waste on Jay Leno.


Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Thank you for taking the time to visit...

Note the hit counter on the upper right hand corner of your website...I'm saving my best material for the day that sucker is spinning 24/7...Please check out my links as well...I'll add more if you promise to tell your friends and family about the Shameless Antagonist...
The Shameless Antagonist’s Modest Tax Proposal:

There isn’t anything wrong with hating taxes. I hate taxes; especially since I consider much of the money I contribute to be misspent. Government spending doesn’t reflect my beliefs and values, and it pains me to think I’m implicitly supporting a bloated military budget and tobacco subsidies, among other things. Fortunately, I live in a democracy, and ultimately, I have a say in expenditures to the degree I participate in the political process (this is a point too often lost on anti-government types)…As much as I hate paying taxes, I hate whiners that aren’t paying their fair share even more. The Shameless Antagonist’s Proposal: Free Tommy Chong and the stoners and imprison the tax cheats. In the spring, the main pastime of the wealthy seems to be finding a way to dodge taxes…They bleat and bluster, “I'm tired of hearing that the rich get all the tax breaks”, as they contact their offshore banks in the Bahamas. How often have you heard your wealthy Republican friends bitch and moan about oppressive taxes? You know you’re talking to a member of Rush Limbaugh’s conservative Borg collective when you hear the following quote, which appears on Limbaugh’s website…
“According to the Internal Revenue Service's 2000 data for individual income tax returns, the top 50 percent of wage earners pay 96.09 percent of the total federal income taxes paid.
The top 5 percent pay 56.47 percent of all income taxes; top 10 percent pay 67.33 percent; top 25 percent pay 84.01 percent of all income taxes.”
I’m perfectly willing to cut Rush some slack and give him the benefit of the doubt--after all, he was probably high as a kite when it first appeared on his site, and his drug-addled brain could be a reasonable excuse for impaired cognitive abilities. As for his followers, though, I would ask that the woefully oppressed wealthy elite consider the following factors before hoisting high the banners of class warfare.
I: The median income for the top 1% of all wage earners is $1, 082,000 while the median income in the United States is $42,000. Has the average wealthy taxpayer contributed 20 times as much to society as the average person? Was that cool million generated in a vacuum, or did the state and the people of the state foster the conditions that made success possible? The person making $42,000 is in the 25% tax bracket, while the person making $2,000,000 is in the 35% bracket. My argument is that having 20 times the wealth of the average person more than compensates for an additional 10% paid in taxes…Are the wealthy paying more than their fair share? Do the wealthy drive on publicly-maintained roads? Were their employees trained in public schools? Is the meat they eat certified by a federal agency? Are they protected by the (primarily lower tax bracket) armed forces? How many Rockefellers, Carnegies, Bushes, Kennedys, and Lays are combat veterans?

II: What percentage of individual filers, do you suppose, are semi-retired elderly citizens, teenage coffeshop workers, or college students? My guess is that there are millions of Americans making less than a few grand a year, many of whom are the relatives of wealthy conservatives. Don’t you suppose they were counted in these statistics? Wouldn’t that skew the statistics in their favor, despite the fact that some of these individuals could be counted as dependents on tax forms?

III: As many have noted, this statistic (quoted by Limbaugh et. alia), doesn’t take into account state, local, and payroll taxes. State and local taxes, in many places, are regressive rather than progressive, and due to the Republican philosophy of devolution of power to state and local authorities, states and municipal taxes are skyrocketing and local social services are being cut at the same time.

IV. It takes money to make money; if I have 5,000 to invest in a CD, who will get a better rate of interest…me or the wealthy gentleman seeking to invest 100,000? Admit it. There is no level playing field. Until poor kids are able to choose their parents In Utero, Conservative complaints about tax fairness will remain a pathetic farce…

The Shameless Antagonist says…Only if one concludes that all Americans pay too much in taxes can one argue that the wealthy pay too much in taxes…We could get by paying less in taxes, conceivably, if the I.R.S. cracked down on tax cheats. For the better part of a decade, Ginrich, Lott, and others have laboured to make the I.R.S. a toothless tiger...My suggestion to the Democrats is to make this an integral part of their platform in November. The Republican legislature has worked in the shadows to limit the enforcement abilities of the I.R.S., but let’s see them argue publicly against punishing tax cheats!

Monday, December 01, 2003

Remember When...

Meet the Press Sunday, September 7, 2003 GUESTS: Colin Powell, secretary of stateEd Gillespie, chairman, RNCTerry McAuliffe, chairman, DNCTim Russert, moderator
MR. RUSSERT: The cover of Time magazine tomorrow, headlined, The Saudis: Whose Side Are They On in the War on Terror? — in this release from Vanity Fair magazine, “Former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke tells Vanity Fair that the Bush administration decided to allow a group of Saudis to fly out of the U.S. just after September 11 — at a time when access to U.S. airspace was still restricted and required special government approval. According to other sources at least four flights with about 140 Saudis, including roughly two dozen members of the bin Laden family, flew to Saudi Arabia that week — without even being interviewed or interrogated by the F.B.I.”
Why was that allowed?
SEC’Y POWELL: Well, I don’t know that that’s accurate. I don’t know the details of what happened. But my understanding is that there was no sneaking out of the country; that the flights were well-known, and it was coordinated within the government. But I don’t have the details about what the FBI’s role in it might or might not have been.
MR. RUSSERT: How about the Saudis? Do you believe they are on our side in the war on terror?...

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