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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The Fruits of a Diverse Society

In Langkawai, Malaysia, the sand is hot, the drinks are cold, and the dsl is high-speed. Vacation, baby!

Laurie and I just spent two days in Kuala Lumpur, which has to be one of the most beautifully designed cities in the world. The Petronas Towers dominate the city, but the civil engineers have left a great deal of green space, and the palm-lined prominades are sprinkled with sidewalk cafes.

Malaysia is the melting pot of Asia. The Chinese, Indian, and Malay ethnic groups are the three largest, and they've been living in relative peace since winning independence from the British in the fifties. I wonder if this peaceful diversity explains why Malaysia is one of the most prosperous countries in Asia.

The fruits of this diversity, for me, are most easily appreciated on the dinner plate. We had Indian food last night, and Malaysian curries the night before.

Freud once said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar".

Sometimes, the fruits of multiculturalism are actual fruit.

Pass the mangoes.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Combatting E-mail Disinformation

Brooks Jackson has written an excellent piece of entitled "What To Do When Your Friends E-mail Lies To You". It's well worth reading. Furthermore, I stand by what I write here--even the sarcasm--and will gladly engage in the dialectic process with anyone who feels I'm off the mark. I'm ready...Bring it on.

Read "What to Do..."

Remember When...

I'm old enough to remember the "sticker shock" when Bush rolled out his budget for the war last year...Do you remember the figure? 87 Billion Dollars for the War in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money then, but now, the current cost of Iraq alone makes this figure quoted in the chart below seem like chump change...

How They Got us To Go Along With The Iraq War

Immediately after Sept. 11th, at a slumber party hosted by Karl Rove's mother, Lulubelle, Paul "Wolfie" Wolfowitz, Donny Rumsfeld, Lil' Dickie Cheney, and Dubya were in the T.V. room in their sleeping bags. Mrs. Rove had provided the Kool-Aid and Pretzels, and the sugar rush went to their heads. After several crank calls to Jim Jeffords, the boys played Dreamstation 'til late in the evening.

Around midnight, Dickie suggested that the boys tell ghost stories. He placed a flashlight under his chin and told a harrowing tale of a tax-and-spend liberal eliminating offshore tax havens for corporations. Afterwards, Wolfie brought out the Ouija Board, and they chanelled the spirit that has since guided the Bush Re-election campaign. Out of the eerie late night void, he spoke these seductive words to the boys...

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. -- Hermann Goering before the the Nuremberg trials.

A Shameless Waste of Time

Shakespeare Slams

The best insults are the most articulate insults. Why call someone an idiot when you can summon the wit of Shakespeare from beyond the grave to give a sound verbal drubbing to some reeky, hedge-born canker blossom?

Shakespearean Insult Generator

Anagrams, Anyone?

Anagram Generator


Friday, March 26, 2004

Pounding the Table

The tide is turning.

Ivo Daalder and James Lindsey wrote an op-ed yesterday in defense of Richard Clarke entitled "Trust Clarke: He's Right". Daalder and Lindsey are former members of Clinton's Security Council staff, and worked under Clarke. It's interesting to note that prominent Republicans, on the other hand, seem reluctant to rush to the Bush standard. They make the point I've been making for the past few days: Clarke's information is corroborated by others, while the Bush administration can only provide self-referencing answers in their own defense. Go ahead, Mr. President. Run on 9-11. We'll make sure you run on Sept. 10th and 11th as well.

Why don't you run on Sept. 14th? After all, that's the day you actually arrived in New York. Hillary Clinton was there before you...

Take it away, Daalder and Lindsey...

...Our testimonial, of course, will not convince Bush partisans, let alone administration officials. They portray Mr. Clarke as an out-of-the loop bureaucrat with an axe to grind, a book to peddle and a close friendship with Rand Beers, Senator John Kerry's chief foreign-policy adviser.

That sour-grapes argument leaves unmentioned the fact that on Sept. 11, Ms. Rice asked Mr. Clarke to direct emergency-response efforts from the White House. It also glosses over the fact that Mr. Clarke was an ally of Vice-President Dick Cheney and deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and favored their call to march on Baghdad. Also left unmentioned is that Mr. Beers is himself a veteran of many administrations, and resigned his post as the senior counterterrorism official on the NSC staff in 2003 to protest what he saw as Mr. Bush's mishandling of the terrorist threat.

The vehemence with which administration officials have attacked Mr. Clarke's motives brings to mind the old lawyer's joke: When the facts are with you, pound the facts. When the facts are against you, pound the table....

Read "Trust Clarke: He's Right

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Clarke Isn't Alone!

Rupert Cornwell's of the UK's Independent reports that Richard Clarke wasn't the only counterterrorism official frustrated with Bush...

The Bush administration's failure to prevent the 11 September attacks came under even fiercer scrutiny yesterday, when it emerged that two veteran CIA counter-terrorism experts were so frustrated in summer 2001 that they considered resigning and making public their fears about an imminent terrorist strike against US targets.

The shock revelation comes in new findings released by the federal commission investigating the attacks in 2001. These also show that John McLaughlin, deputy to the CIA director George Tenet, had told the panel he too was worried that not enough was being done.

According to this latest report, Mr McLaughlin had felt "a great tension, especially in June and July 2001", between the incoming Bush team's need to get a grip on the terrorism issue, and his own sense of urgency about the danger.


Could There Be Life Elsewhere?

I don't know who said it first, but it seems UFO, Nessie, and Bigfoot sightings have trailed off considerably in the age of ubiquitous camcorders and cellphone cameras.

The skeptic in me tends to see this as a refutation of crackpot theories of the universe, but recent discoveries on Mars make the possibility of life elsewhere other than earth seem increasingly plausible. NASA's top scientists are basically saying, "all bets are off".

The UPI's Phil Beradelli takes crafts a philosophical report on the latest from the red planet:

"The British social historian James Burke is fond of saying any time humanity's view of reality is changed by new knowledge, reality itself is changed. That is exactly what has happened with the discovery by the Mars rover Opportunity that the red planet once harbored liquid, flowing water....

In the case of Opportunity's discovery at Meridiani Planum, suddenly that site has become the prime target for NASA's next Mars rover mission, the Mars Science Laboratory. About the size of a VW Bug, the nuclear-powered craft is currently planned for launch in 2009.

There may be other, major discoveries awaiting the rovers or their successors, such as finding fossils of ancient Martian organisms or, even more dramatic, finding living creatures.

Still, the seawater-sculpted shapes on the rocks photographed by Opportunity promise to furnish the material for a new chapter in Burke's classic book, "The Day the Universe Changed." Because now that it has been shown there are two planets where water once flowed, there no longer is a reason to doubt hundreds -- or even thousands -- more might exist right within our own Milky Way galaxy.

Farther out in the universe -- which, thanks to images from the Hubble Space Telescope, contains perhaps several hundred billion galaxies -- there could be a huge number of planets holding water even now. It is intriguing to imagine water lapping against unimaginably distant shorelines upon which water-based, DNA-structured beings build their vacation homes and dock their sailboats.

Once any condition can be shown not to be unique, it can be commonplace.

That is a profound realization by anybody's standard".

Read the Article

Meanwhile, Back on The Mother Planet

Why bother exploring the surface of Mars or peer into the deepest recesses of space while we have so many problems here?

One simple reason: Self-preservation. WE HAVE TO. Humankind is the equivalent of a swarm of locusts, and soon our planet will be a barren field.

Case in point: The International Federation of Competitive Eating. At the official IFOCE store on their website, you can purchase a subscription to their quarterly newsletter "The Gurgitator". By purchasing this fine publication, you can "...get the latest news from the circuit, follow your favorite eaters, keep up with scheduled events and world records, receive special offers and tips and more."

You gotta love those goofy, gluttonous bastards...they have a link to "America's Second Harvest"--a fine charity that must feel pretty ambivalent about having the IFOCE's support.

I'll have a rack of lamb with a side order of guilty conscience, please...and supersize it!

Visit the IFOCE store!

Monday, March 22, 2004

Reagan's Counterterrorism Expert Cribs From My Blog

I'm confused...Every time I espouse what I assume is 'the liberal perspective', I find that one of the nation's premier conservative voices echoes my sentiments. Could I actually be a conservative, or am I driving the debate?

Clarke harshly criticizes Bush personally in his book, saying his decision to invade Iraq generated broad anti-American sentiment among Arabs. He recounts that Bush asked him directly almost immediately after the Sept. 11 terror attacks to find whether Iraq was involved in the suicide hijackings.

"Nothing America could have done would have provided al-Qaida and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country," Clarke wrote.

Clarke added: "One shudders to think what additional errors (Bush) will make in the next four years to strengthen the al-Qaida follow-ons: attacking Syria or Iran, undermining the Saudi regime without a plan for a successor state?"

Read the Whole Article

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Denial or Apathy?

That is the question. Several months ago, former treasury secretary Paul O'Neil confirmed what Greg Palast, Paul Krugman, Helen Thomas, and yours truly have been asserting for quite some time now:

President Bush was looking for any pretext to invade Iraq, even before Sept. 11th. We were looking for war.

Today Richard A. Clarke, another Bush Administration insider, argued that Bush was AWOL on antiterrorism efforts prior to Sept. 11th.

I'm sure I'll be criticized for lots of things, and I'm sure they'll launch their dogs on me," Clarke said. "But frankly I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something."

The Associated Press first reported in June 2002 that Bush's national security leadership met formally nearly 100 times in the months prior to the Sept. 11 attacks yet terrorism was the topic during only two of those sessions.

Juxtaposing these admissions with President Bush's popularity, you would have to assume that Bush's supporters either don't believe these allegations, or that they don't think they matter. There are those willing to support a war based on lies and opportunism if it advances American hegemony.

Sadly, I believe the latter is the case. Clinton said recently that people will always support the leader that is "wrong and strong" as opposed to the leader who is "weak and right". As machiavellian as it sounds, I believe that accurately reflects both history and this campaign. Hopefully, Kerry will be both "strong and right". He should fight them for every inch of political territory. He can capture this presidency.

If he does, he has us to thank. The grassroots supporters of Howard Dean and those who have fought rhetorical fire with fire have helped Kerry get in touch with his "Inner Spine". We get the leadership we fight for, ulitmately.

Read the Article

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Vote Bush: The Terrorist's Choice in 2004

How much more proof do you need that the War in Iraq is counterproductive to the aim of reducing the threat of terrorism? How 'bout a direct endorsement from the man claiming responsibility for the Madrid bombing?

"...The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."

In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."

"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected." ".

Of course they do! Bush is a Terrorist recruiter's job security.

Read the Reuters Article subtitled "WE WANT BUSH TO WIN"

Strategic Error

But wasn't the election of Zapatero a victory for al-Qaeda? I'm sure that al-Queda and simple-minded American conservatives would like to see it that way, but in reality, as Jim Lobe observes, this view is childlike and short-sighted:

"Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan, asserted that, by mixing Iraq with al-Qaeda, the neo-conservatives – in particular – had made a strategic error in the war against terrorism, which was now coming home to roost.

"Aznar, in supporting Bush on the war against Iraq, was not standing up to al-Qaeda," Cole wrote, noting that the former prime minister's decision to deploy troops and spend financial and intelligence resources in Iraq meant those same assets could not be used against al-Qaeda, even when it was clear from last May's attack on a Spanish cultural center in Casablanca that Islamist terrorists had Spain in their sights.

"How much did Spain spend to go after the culprits in Casablanca?" asked Cole? "How much did Bush dedicate to that effort? How much did they instead invest in military efforts in Iraq?"

In that respect, Zapatero's pledge to refocus the war against al-Qaeda can hardly be called a "victory for (Osama) bin Laden," according to Cole".

Read Jim Lobe's Commentary
Appease Terrorists: Vote Bush

Republicans are trying very, very hard to portray the President as an uncompromising enemy of terrorism, but terrorists worldwide know that our brave leader is all bluff. The same lack of courage that landed him in the "Champagne Brigade" in the seventies is running public policy now.

Case in point--the Bush Administration caved in to Al-Quaida's main demand less than a year after 9/11.

When Republicans attempt to imply that voting for Kerry is tantamount to "being soft on terrorists, remind them that Bush gave in to Bin Laden's primary demand in 2003. Clip the articles out. Put 'em in your wallet or purse.

"In an interview bin Laden gave to CNN in 1997, he said the ongoing U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia is an "occupation of the land of the holy places."

In February 1998, bin Laden issued a "fatwa," a religious ruling, calling for Muslims to kill Americans and their allies. Three other groups, including the Islamic Jihad in Egypt, endorse the ruling.

"The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim," the statement, issued under the "World Islamic Front" name, read. It was published three months later in the London newspaper "Al-Quds al-'Arabi." "
Read The CNN Story About Bin Laden from 2001

Tuesday, April 29th, 2003. The Headline Reads:

US pulls out of Saudi Arabia

"The United States has said that virtually all its troops, except some training personnel, are to be pulled out of Saudi Arabia.

The decision was confirmed by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a joint news conference with Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan".
Read About How Bush Caved In To Terrorist's Demands

Why can't our national democratic leaders point out the obvious? Bush is a wuss, and the terrorists know it.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Interesting Findings From Pew Research...

"...the bottom has fallen out of support for America in most of the Muslim world. Negative views of the U.S. among Muslims, which had been largely limited to countries in the Middle East, have spread to Muslim populations in Indonesia and Nigeria. Since last summer, favorable ratings for the U.S. have fallen from 61% to 15% in Indonesia and from 71% to 38% among Muslims in Nigeria.

In the wake of the war, a growing percentage of Muslims see serious threats to Islam. Specifically, majorities in seven of eight Muslim populations surveyed express worries that the U.S. might become a military threat to their countries. Even in Kuwait, where people have a generally favorable view of the United States, 53% voice at least some concern that the U.S. could someday pose a threat".

The Pew Research Center "Views of A Changing World" Project
Read The Research


Christians vs. The Passion of The Christ
Tom Beaudouin of The National Catholic Reporter has written an excellent review of the Passion of the Christ. "Lord, protect us from your followers" is becoming less of a snide sarcastic remark and more of a sincere petition for me.

"Gibson’s Jesus sheds more light on us than on the Passion. His Christ could only ascend to this heroic action antihero status in a culture where we neither encounter nor take responsibility for our own violence. If we Americans regularly saw, for example, the bloodied corpses of Iraqi women and children, or American soldiers’ mangled bodies in the papers and on television, this film would not have the same shocking and exclusivizing hold on our imaginations that it does. Brutal physical violence would be more immediately connected to real pain, to authentic devastation, and to our own complicit tolerance for a faraway war on the condition that we are not drafted and are not told how much of our tax money pays for each Iraqi civilian death".
"The Anti-Christian Passion of the Christ"

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I Agree With The Conservatives On Something!

The pending lawsuits against fast food restaurants are pathetic.

My hometown is home to Alliantech, the nation's largest landmine manufacturer...Since there's a McDonald's on every road in America, I can only assume anti-fast food activists have to drive by the factory where they make weapons designed to shred human beings on their way to protest our nation's hamburger-industrial complex.

I've yet to hear of anyone attempting to sue Alliantech because their product causes health problems. Therefore, I have to assume hamburgers are more dangerous than landmines.

Perhaps we should replace the landmines in the DMZ with happy meals. After a few months, the enemy will be too bloated and letharic to fight. If we airlift in a few million gameboys as well, we'll effectively neutralize the enemy American-style. Pretty soon they'll be reenforcing their furniture and washing their backs with rags on a stick.

Here's The Deal

I'm in a constant battle to remain functionally healthy in Seoul, and I'm not alone. This time of year in Korea, dust storms in the Gobi desert blow across the sea from China to Korea, absorbing pollution along the way. The result is a perpetual yellow-brown smog for the months of February and March, turning an otherwise beautiful time of the year to an immune system endurance test. About a third of my students have a chronic cough, and I've developed strange Rorshach test splotches around my ankles. Undaunted, Korean trees will soon erupt in rioutous shades of spring blossoms; magnolia, cherry and plum. Even in Seoul, the craggy hills hide verdant glades between apartment block monoliths, and old men sun themselves on wooden pagodas.
It must have been incredible back in the day.

Seeing children wearing masks to protect themselves from the haze as they bob between the Hyundais, Kias, and Daewoos gives one pause for thought...What good is rapid industrialization if you can't breathe the air? My experiences here have turned me into an environmentalist. Korea is where we're headed, should Bush's "polluters regulate themselves" environmental policies become firmly entrenched.

The Propaganda Remix Project

Propaganda Remix Project
Her Husband's a Bigot, But She Loves That Hot Lesbian Action

I can't make this stuff up...

Everybody remembers Al Franken skewering the hamfisted prose of smug, self-righteous Bill O'Reilley's soft-porn pulp fiction novel "Those Who Trespass", but who knew that Lynne Cheney once penned her own scandalous tome several years before her husband decided to crusade against same-sex marriages?

"Lynne Cheney's still-remembered 1981 lesbian romance novel, "Sisters," was feted Monday night in a special performance by the "Lynne Cheney Players" - to the delight of an audience of liberal East Village types.
The performance at the New York Theatre Workshop was part of a celebration of left-leaning radio personality Laura Flanders' new book, "Bushwomen: Tale of a Cynical Species."

Yesterday, Flanders told Lowdown that Cheney's novel "is a breathy, gothic romance, horribly written. It's celebrating lesbian love and promotes the value of preventative devices, condoms, to women who want to remain free. It features a woman who has unmarried sex with the widow of her sister - all this by Lynne Cheney, the culture warrior of the right..."

It's a well-known fact that Cheney's daughter is a lesbian, but Lynne is tight-lipped on the subject--obviously at the request of her husband. What a keeper! Submissive, docile, and turned on by hot lesbian action...Maybe I shoulda married a conservative...Or maybe I should just write "hot lesbian action" again so that my hit counter starts spinning like a top.
Read the NY Daily News Story


Monday, March 15, 2004

Give The Terrorists What They Want: Vote For Bush

Conservatives are quick to criticize the Spanish for 'giving the terrorists what they want' by electing the Socialists to power.

In actuality, they did nothing of the sort. Terrorists want conservative leaders to remain, and even thrive--they justify their existence. The more heavy-handed and agressive our foreign policy becomes, the larger the terrorist network grows.

Nobody has increased the power and prestige of Osama Bin Laden more than George Bush.

"Official Says He Was Told To Withhold Medicare Data"

Whenever Bush claims he has a plan to "fix medicare", you can disregard him completely. True conservatives have always, always, hated medicare and any other entitlement program, and believe that such programs are antithetical to their ideal that the "government that governs best is the government that governs least". While some would say that his medicare plan betrays this principle, I actually think he's quite craftily pushing through legislation he knows Republican legislators could never accept, thereby giving himself grounds for referring to himself as a "moderate"...Then again, he could just be corrupt and dumb as a stump.

"...The government's longtime chief analyst of Medicare costs said yesterday that Bush administration officials threatened to fire him last year if he disclosed to Congress that he believed the prescription drug legislation favored by the White House would prove far more expensive than lawmakers had been told...In late January, the White House said calculations provided by Foster, indicated the law would cost $534 billion. That provoked an outcry from Democrats and conservative Republicans concerned that the drug benefits would deepen the federal deficit...Internal documents and federal officials made clear that the White House had known of the higher cost estimates for months".
Read The Full Article


Sunday, March 14, 2004

So Long, 'Coalition of the Willing'

"...Voters ousted Spain's ruling party in elections Sunday, with many saying they were shaken by bombings in Madrid and furious with the government for backing the Iraq war and making their country a target for al-Qaida.

The Socialist Party declared victory with 79 percent of the votes counted, as results showed it winning 164 seats in the 350-member parliament and the ruling Popular Party taking 147. The latter had 183 seats in the outgoing legislature...A handful of young protesters screamed ``murderer'' at Mariano Rajoy, the ruling party candidate for prime minister, as he cast his vote in an elementary school outside Madrid. ``We did not want to go to war!'' they shouted."

I can't wait to see how Katherine Kersten is going to somehow construe this as an indication that Bush is winning the "War on Terra"...May I suggest the title "Eritrea's Got Us Covered"?

Maybe the "activist/writer" will organize a protest against swanky suburban tapas bars as a protest against the socialist Spaniards.


I Have A Feeling The Justice Dep't. Will Soon Change Its "Same Sex Marriage" Position

...And the cynics said "one man couldn't make a difference"!
Voyageurs Wanted

This photo is from the famed 2003 "Lower Back Pain Challenge"...I'm making reservations for this summer...Are you up for it?

Katherine Kersten: Stillborn Brainchild of the Conservative Think Tank

The Startribune commemorated the anniversary of the Iraq War by questioning local luminaries about their pre-war positions. From her white upper-middle class bastion in Edina, Katherine Kersten--whom the Strib refers to as a "writer/activist" was eager to weigh in...

"So many of the alarmist possibilities raised by opponents of the war have not come to pass," she said, including: massive casualties from chemical or biological attacks, hundreds of unquenchable oil well fires set by a departing Saddam, broad loss of international cooperation with the U.S.-led war against terrorism and the overthrow of U.S.-friendly leaders across the Muslim world".

Does Katherine live in the same world the rest of us live in? So far, there have been no less than three assassination attempts against Musharraf in Pakistan since the war began. Will this war still be a success if a fundamentalist regime assumes control of the nuclear warheads in Pakistan? Is it safer now that nuclear scientist Ali Khan sold nuclear secrets to the Koreans and Lybians? Iran is continuing with its nuclear program,and the North Koreans continue unabated. They realize that well-armed, strong nations have nothing to fear from the U.S. Only the vulnerable, like Lybia, have capitulated. We're also footing the bill for the reconstruction of Iraq. Wolfowitz predicted that the war would eventually be self-financed by Iraqi oil wealth, but my "cost of war" ticker indicates that we've spent in excess of 100,000,000 on the war so far with no end in sight. Maybe in Edina they don't notice that resources are being redirected from elsewhere, but most of your neighbors do.

Sure, Katherine, soldiers haven't faced massive casualites from WMD's, but instead, they're being plucked off one by one by the IEDs ( Improvised Explosive Devices). What's the difference to a grieving widow? As far as international cooperation, the Spanish people were dead-set against the war, but Aznar lent his support without the public behind him, and look where it got him. The world was against us then, Katherine, and you know it--the only way Bush garnered support for the military action was by twisting the arms of leaders willing to go against the will of the majority.

Gee, What A Great War, Katherine, More Good News Every Day.
Four American soldiers died in two bomb explosions in Baghdad, the coalition said Sunday, raising to six the number of U.S. forces killed in roadside bombs this weekend.


Golly, I Can Feel The World Becoming Safer As We Speak...

The man on the tape says: 'We declare our responsibility for what happened in Madrid exactly two-and-a-half years after the attacks on New York and Washington. This is an answer to the crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. If your injustices do not stop there will be more if god wills it.'


It's no fun writing about the doltish comments of a provincial hack like Kersten. I feel like I'm flogging a scarecrow here, and I haven't even started yet. The Doltish Diva of the Startribune isn't worth the pixels. Henceforth, I shall mention her not...

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Take the Cyber-Road Less Travelled

Check out my new links...I'm sure I have some you've never heard of...
Were U.S. Sponsored Mercenaries Sent To Overthrow Mugabe?

"Zimbabwe has seized a US-registered cargo plane carrying 64 suspected mercenaries of various nationalities and a consignment of military gear.

Sources said members of the Zimbabwe government feared a "foreign-sponsored invasion", and the discovery prompted President Robert Mugabe to order an investigation".

Article from the Independent

Go To Hell With The Shameless Antagonist

Sure, you're going to hell in a headbasket...But which circle of hell will you end up in? Take the quiz and find out! In the words of Judas Priest, "see you in hell, my friend".
Go to Hell

Trouble With Your Lady?

Smooth talk your way out of a jam the Smoove B. way. The Onion's incomparable romance columnist takes us to school with another classic. Take notes, gentlemen!

"I Can Make Things Right" by Smoove B.

Spearhead's New Album: Free,legal downloads at the Spearhead site:

The "Home" album was a classic; trenchant social commentary you could dance to.Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy? Even better.I hope Michael Franti and Stephen Marley bring the tour to Minneapolis this summer. Tell me what you think of "Bomb the World". Hear it on their site...
Bomb the World

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Voyageurs Wanted!

Calling all available members of the barbarian tribe: There will be a BWCAW "Lower Back Pain Challege" this year. I'm thinking an appropriate date for this year's trip would be June 27th-July 6th. This will be a trip of epic proportions--I can't guarantee we'll all make it back, and those who do will likely be short a limb or two. If you're not up to it, I'll understand. For the barbarian tribe, however, the call of the paddle is strong, and many a voracious pike lurks in the murky depths...Are you up to the challenge?

Monday, March 08, 2004

Remember When...

"Budget official sharply cuts cost estimate of Iraq war"
Originally appeared Tuesday, December 31, 2002
in the New York Times

" The administration's top budget official estimated Monday that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion, a figure that is well below earlier estimates from White House officials..."

Currently, the conservative Congressional Budget projection is 104,000,000 and counting (see the top of the page). Unlike the first Gulf War, we're paying the brunt of the tab rather than the Kuwaitis, Saudis, and Japanese.
The Neoconservative hawks driving policy in the United States today were wildly off the mark, their rosy fantasies have given way to grim reality.

I guess they see the world through blood-coloured glasses.

Mitch Daniels The Budget Buffoon
Website of the Day

The Propaganda Remix Project

Propaganda Remix Project
The Great Chain of Presidential Failure

Lately, Bush has taken the predictable approach of blaming his adminstration's failures on Clinton. Despite the conclusions of the CBO, the Administration claims the recession started before Bush was elected. Therefore, it's premature to label Bush a failure. According to Bush logic, the seeds of success are slow to germinate. The problem with this philosophy is that it begs the question: "Who is to blame for the failures of past presidencies"? Who should be credited with success in retrospect? Let's trace the 'great chain of presidential failure, shall we?

I'm curious...How long does it take for a president to fail? Is it premature to draw conclusions based upon a three-year economic and geopolitical freefall?

When does the statuate of limitations expire on this blame-the-predecessor mentality? Do we need a two-term presidency to gauge a president accurately?

Following the administration's logic, Clinton must have inherited his success from his predecessor. His policies, according to Bush logic, only come into effect after three years or so...If that's the case, then he can only be rightfully credited with the four greatest years of U.S. economic history.

Carrying this mentality out to its logical extreme, we must conclude that the failure of his father actually planted the seeds of Clinton's successful first term. The fact that Clinton didn't follow a successful first term with an unsuccessful second term defies the "Bush Blame Paradigm", and makes his accomplishment all the more remarkable. Pushing the analogy further, we have to conclude that the failure of the George Herbert Walker Bush administration was due to the Reagan legacy, which left poor whimpy George holding the bag. Carrying the analogy further, Reagan's success can be attributed to Carter, and Carter's alleged failure is the Ford/Nixon legacy. Of course, Nixon's presidency was a failure, but not because of Johnson or Kennedy--it was a failure because he lied to the American people, an offense that transcends the great chain of presidential failure...Of course, we can trust Dubya not to do that, can't we?

Remember: Ignore the Chart...It's All Clinton's Fault...

Saturday, March 06, 2004

You're Not Seeing The Big Picture...Manufactured Consent and the American Media

Whenever the Administration is questioned about the the Iraq War, Rumsfeld, Bush, Powell, et al. respond with the following approach:

First, they claim they are waiting for more information. After information has been confirmed (usually after another incident has occurred), they attempt to downplay the bad news by referring to the "Bigger Picture" of Coalition success in Iraq. The President himself frequently complains that the networks prefer to report sensational tragedies rather the less dramatic gradual improvements the administration claims are taking place throughout Iraq. When asked for specifics, they hem and haw, and let you know that they're privy to information they can't share due to "national security" concerns. Essentially, their position can be reduced to "We're winning--trust us".

The problem with this is that we have a president unworthy of our trust. According to the Disabled American Veterans, the Big Picture is that the true cost of war is being systematically hidden from the American people--and it goes way beyond prohibiting pictures of body bags at Andrews Air Force Base.

"...The media blackout extends to the legions of wounded who have returned from Iraq as well. Media stories on wounded troops often use Pentagon figures for those officially wounded in combat, numbering around 3,000. These numbers ignore the well over 7,000 troops who have been injured or made ill as a result of the war. According to the Disabled American Veterans, an additional 6,891 troops were medically evacuated between March 19, 2003 and Oct. 30, 2003, for everything from vehicle accidents to attempted suicides".
Read the Article

Does CBS report this? Did you hear this on NBC? CBS? FOX? Norman Solomon's Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (F.A.I.R.) did a study of coverage of the Iraq war, and the results are anything but surprising:

"Overwhelmingly, the Iraq story was told through U.S. eyes, with 81 percent American sources and only 10 percent Iraqi...Despite criticism of the media by the Bush administration and its allies, U.S. TV news coverage of the Iraq situation continues to be dominated by government and military officials, according to a new study by FAIR. The few critics of military operations that find themselves on the nightly news broadcasts rarely question the war as a whole. Nightly network news reports largely focus on tactics and individual battles, with more substantial and often troubling issues surrounding the war, such as civilian casualties, rarely being reported.

The study looked at 319 on-camera sources appearing in stories about Iraq on the nightly network newscasts--ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News--in the month of October 2003. Sources were coded by name, occupation, nationality, topic and network.

Out of 319 sources, 244 (76 percent) were current or former government or military officials. Of these, 225 were from the United States, and a further nine were from the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. By allowing U.S. officials and appointees to make up 73 percent of total sources, the networks clearly promoted the official line on the war and minimized dissenting views."

"If News from Iraq is Bad, It's Coming from U.S. Officials"

What we have here is what Chomsky would refer to as "manufactured consent". War is big business in America, oil is big business, and the media is big business. All three are concerned with selling a product to the American people...It's time for us to stop buying it.

Where do you surf? What do you surf for? What do you want to know?

I'm attempting to re-organize and update my links. Because I'm protesting Google's censorship policies, I've removed their link and replaced it with a bundle of alternative search engines and metasearch engines. If you've found anything worthy of note is the cybersphere, please share it with us!
Huge Turnouts for Democratic Candidates...

The other day, my parents went to their local Democratic caucus meeting in St. Louis Park, MN. They were there to help launch Steve Simon's DFL-endorsed campaign for state House of Representatives. My parents were some of the first to arrive, and they couldn't believe the turnout. Over 1,300 people packing in to a caucus meeting for local elections is practically unheard of, and it's only March! It's an exciting time to be a liberal...

I went to school with Steve, and he's a good friend of my older brother. I'm sure I'm one of many of my generation are willing and able to testify to the quality of his character. If there is a smarter, more civic-minded candidate for any elected office in the state this fall, I'd be very surprised.

Last year, Wes Lindstrom challenged longtime incumbent Ron Abrams in district 43. Abrams was victorious, but the 12 year congressional veteran got an unexpected run for his money in a heavily Republican district.
Simon's campaign, I believe, reflects a shift in the electorate as a whole: People realize that they're worse off with republicans at the helm. In fact, they're angry, and they're demanding better leadership.

Like many other states, Minnesota went from massive surplus to massive deficit rapidly during the Bush years, and still, the Republican mantra remains "no new taxes". Ron Abrams, chair of the taxes committee and Republican fiscal guru, is a cadaverous embodyment of Teddy Roosevelt's famous jibe,"There has never been a conspiracy against the common good in America without a Harvard mind behind it". When a political party so clearly panders to the interests of the wealthy and turns a deaf ear to the rest of its consituency, it needs to be removed from power.

Men like Abrams are far more interested in our corporate boards than our school boards. Don't believe me? Try a google search: "Ron Abrams" + Board of Directors. 163 hits. How about "Ron Abrams" + Budget Cuts + Schools? 155 hits. Of course, Ron would love to give the schools all the money they need, buy gradma her heart pills, and help out the autistic kid next door, but he already gave the money away in tax cuts to the Pillsburys and Daytons.

The realization is dawning that the state needs a long term vision rather than the policies of self-interest embodied by Ron Abrams and the country club set. Steve Simon will work for the greatest good for the greatest number of his constituents.


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Unfrozen Caveman President

Ever since the first Bush/Gore debate, I've felt an eerie sense of deja vu whenever I've gazed upon the visage of our beady-eyed president with his prominent forehead and square jaw.

Yesterday, while watching an old Saturday Night Live rerun, I realized where I'd seen him before:

The late Phil Hartman's "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" sketch. Am I crazy? You be the judge!

As I recall, Bush said the following in his State of the Union address:

"My fellow Americans... I'm just a caveman."

"I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists."

"Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the odd noises from these metal boxes scares me and makes me want to run back to my cave. Sometimes when I look up at the ceiling I see these strange tubes that light up at the flick of a wall stick, I wonder, did demons catch light from the sun and put it there? I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. I don't understand your "buget deficits", but there's one thing I do know...The rich deserve more tax cuts."

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

A Call for Abnormal Discourse

Postmodern educational theorist Richard Rorty challenges our assumption of what education can, and should be. To conservatives (in the broadest sense), education is about learning eternal truths. The stillborn brainchild of this important and influential philosophy is Bush's "NO Child Left Behind Act", or his "No Child's Behind Left Act", as Palast characterizes it. Education is more than standards, benchmarks, and jumping through hoops. Learners of all ages and intellectual abilities succeed when they bring themselves to what they study, and create something new and unique from a conversation with a text.

As Rorty says, we don't need normal discourse, but rather "abnormal discourse". To Rorty, "normal discourse" is the route to maintaining knowledge, whereas "abnormal discourse" is the means of generating new knowledge.

Sometimes abnormal discourse is produced when someone is ignorant of the prevailing rules governing discourse; for example, someone from another culture. Sometimes this discourse is generated when someone sets the rules aside and willfully challenges authority and orthodoxy. In essence: Transcendence through shamelessness. Iconoclasts unite!

It's my intention to provide a forum for "abnormal discourse"...Say anything!

Do Homosexuals Threaten Your Marriage?

President Bush and Proponents of the proposed amendment to the consitution consider Gay marriage a threat to conventional man-woman unions. In Bush's own words, the marriage of homosexuals could lead to "role confusion". To the first lady, the notion of gay marriage is "bizarre".

As for myself, I've never once felt that homosexuals have ever threatened my marriage...Even if I would have had twice as many potential spouses back then ( i.e., if I could have married a man), I still would have married the same person...Maybe those in favor of the consitutional amendment are afraid they might be tempted to "switch teams" unless drastic action is taken...Is gay marriage a threat to your marriage?

It should be noted that not all conservatives ascribe the president's bigoted, antediluvian views on this issue. I followed a link from Atrios to the following news article:

"...On most matters, Lorence Wenke is a staunch conservative. The 58-year-old state representative from Richland Township opposes abortion and gun control. He backs small government and tax cuts.

A member of a fundamentalist church, he includes a verse of Scripture on his business card and participates in a Bible-study group for state legislators.

One would be hard-pressed to find a more unlikely advocate for gay rights.

Yet Wenke plans to be one of perhaps only two House Republicans voting against putting on the November ballot a Marriage Protection Amendment, which would change Michigan's constitution to ban gay marriage.

And he is opposing the bill, he said, out of a long-held and deeply felt belief that discrimination against homosexuals violates democratic principles and his Christian values...".

Read the Full Article

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