|Bedeviled by Uncertaintly?
ASK ME. I know everything, or I least I know where and how to find it!
Find the Buzz:
If you want to know what is being discussed on the internet, you have to check out MIT's blogdex:
Blogdex is a research project of the MIT Media Laboratory tracking the diffusion of information through the weblog community. Ideas can have very similar properties to a disease, spreading through the population like wildfire. The goal of Blogdex is to explore what it is about information, people, and their relationships that allows for this contagious media.
Read The Blogdex
Find The Answer:
If you're searching for answers to life's enduring existential questions, look no further...
Sure, you could call a friend, visit a sagacious mentor, contact your clergy or seek professional help--instead of any of these options, do what I do...
Ask The SWAMI
Find Your True Rocker Identity:
This is for all the Rocker Chicks that read my blog....
Which Rock Chick Are You?
Get In Touch With Your Inner Rocker Chick
Find A Spouse:
Meet Mr./Mrs. Right
News And Commentary
- Media Matters for America
- The Guardian
- Goderich Signal Star
- The Strib
- The Toronto Star
- The Poutine Diaries
- 917 Press
- Manufactured Environments
- Journal of Genki
- Rick and Heather
- Jason Coleman
- Paperback Writers
Noteworthy & Quoteworthy:
- CHUMP Dear President Obama, I'm not your suppor...
- My Deficit Reduction Plan My deficit reduction pl...
- I think Homer Simpson aptly summarized the Republi...
- It's Not About The Plan Do you want to stump a c...
- How Hard Can Healthcare Reform Be? Step One: Ide...
- What's So Scary About Socialism? Really. I want ...
- The Dog and Pony Show According to McCain's campa...
- Senator Wanderin' Eyes Talk about assessing you...
- McCain: Iraq is "Peaceful and Stable" Read It: ...
- Would You Pick Lettuce For $50 an hour? On plan...
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Friday, April 30, 2004
Monday, April 26, 2004
|The Non-Issue Parade
The Bush re-election campaign is in the midst of an non-issue parade that insults the intelligence of the American public. It's enough to make one question, in the manner of Rocky Balboa "Is that all you got"? The difference is that Kerry is unbowed and unbloodied.
Non-issue #1: Kerry's military service. They're actually questioning his war record. Never, ever, question a soldier's war record. If some poor kid from Indiana finds himself in a "free fire zone", question the strategy, not the soldier following orders. I'm not saying that "I was just following orders" is an excuse for any behavior, but it takes unmitigated gall to question whether Kerry has enough shrapnel in his leg to justify a purple heart. This issue should have no traction, yet there it is, leading the headline news.
Non-issue #2: Kerry's pro-choice voting record--should he be allowed to take communion? A little reductio ad absurdum nullifies this issue--should pro death penalty Catholics also be excommunicated? What about those Catholics who use birth control? Absurd! It should be a non-issue, but there it is, leading the news on Good Morning America.
Bush can count on the pandering media to puff up the non-issues...
Saturday, April 24, 2004
|Becoming Russ Kick
Russ Kick of thememoryhole.org is under attack. The Drudge Report is one of many right wing websites out to crucify Kick for publishing photos of caskets returning from Iraq. He obtained the photos by making a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Administration would prefer to hide the true cost of war, and they fear that photos soldiers returning in flag-draped coffins could be harmful for the Bush re-election campaign.
This is just one example of things that the government would prefer that you did not know about, and the corporate mass media is all too happy to comply.
John W. Dean in his book "Worse Than Nixon", argues that this is an administration with a penchant for secrecy that belies a contempt for the democratic process. Case in point: the revelation that 700 million was diverted from the funds allocated for the war in Afghanistan. While President Bush was proclaiming that "war was a last resort", Tommy Franks was preparing to invade Iraq. We can't trust them 'em as we can throw 'em.
Wouldn't it be great if Bloggers took the Spartacus track, and responded by using his approach to obtain information via the Freedom of Information Act?
If ten thousand bloggers would stand up and say "I'm Russ Kick", this attempt to discredit those who search for the truth will fail.
Here at the Shameless Antagonist, we're all about empowering...You too can research via the freedom of information act, and I'm here to tell you how.
The Reporter's Committee for a Free Press (rcfp.org) has a site explaining how citizens can make FOIP requests.
I'm using their template letter to request information right now, and you can too. If you would like some suggestions for research topics, feel free to contact me...
Learn How To Use The Freedom of Information Act
Friday, April 23, 2004
|Bill Hicks on U.S. Foreign Policy
The late, great stand-up comedian had it right...
"I'm so sick of arming the world, then sending troops over to destroy the fucking arms, you know what I mean? We keep arming these little countries, then we go and blow the shit out of them. We're like the bullies of the world, y'know. We're like Jack Palance in the movie Shane, throwing the pistol at the sheepherder's feet.
"Pick it up."
"I don't wanna pick it up, Mister, you'll shoot me."
"Pick up the gun."
"Mister, I don't want no trouble. I just came downtown here to get some hard rock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don't even know what gingham is, but she goes through about ten rolls a week of that stuff. I ain't looking for no trouble, Mister."
"Pick up the gun."
(He picks it up. Three shots ring out.)
"You all saw him - he had a gun." "
|I'm A Kinder, Gentler Predator
It was the summer of 1999. My girlfriend and I were snorkelling around the medieval castle of Kiz Kalesi in the warm water off the southern coast of Turkey.
Usually, the sea would churn up sand and debris from the seafloor, but as we circled the island fortress that day, the visibility was remarkable, and we saw several schools of small fish shimmering like diamonds in the refracted sunlight; silvery fish, no bigger than a half dollar, swimming as one--as if they were rhinstones on a ballgown.
They parted like a curtain, seeing our shadows from above, and as I watched, a barracuda plunged through the lefthand sheet--plunged through them like a dagger tearing the silvery curtain apart with vicious thrusts.
A slow blossom of blood unfolded in the water, and I noticed one fish that had been beheaded by the barracuda. All that remained was a speartip floating downward, disembodied gills flapping, mouthing words to its epilogue.
When the head reached the sea floor, tiny crabs scuttled out from beneath the rocks. They went for the softest spots first, as all scavengers do.
I surfaced for air.
When I looked in the mirror later that evening, I realized that I was a killing machine. Beneath my sunburned nose, my canine teeth testified to my omnivorous genetic legacy. I'm a predator, and fish, foul, and various other critters are my prey. I feel no hesitation about baiting the hook or bringing in the catch. When I pull in a walleye from the icy depths, a whack with a canoe paddle is likely a more humane end than the lacerating jaws of a Muskie or Pike.
Some day, the worms will have their way with my tired old carcass--I bait each hook with relish--I consider it a preemptive strike against my own mortality.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
|The "Sylvia Plath Effect"
According to researchers at CSU, poetry could be hazardous to your health...
Dr Kaufman, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University, studied the deaths of 1,987 writers from across the world and through the centuries.
"On average, poets lived 62 years, playwrights 63 years, novelists 66 years, and non-fiction writers lived 68 years," Dr Kaufman said in his report.
"Among American, Chinese and Turkish writers, poets died significantly younger than non-fiction writers - among the entire sample, poets died younger than both fiction writers and non-fiction writers."
And it's worse for female poets, according to Dr Kaufman. "Female poets were much more likely to suffer from mental illness (eg, be hospitalised, commit suicide, attempt suicide) than any other kind of writer, and more likely than other eminent women," he told Reuters. "I've dubbed this the 'Sylvia Plath effect'..."
Female poets--If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts, please read the following poem by the great Dorothy Parker, and step back from the brink. It's never too late to turn to prose or nonfiction.
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Gas Smells Awful;
You Might as well live.
--Dorothy Parker "Resume"
In my previous post, I wrote that Costa Rica was pulling its troops out of Iraq. I meant to write the Dominican Republic. No offense to the Dominicans...They're my favorite Republicans.
The reason Costa Rica isn't pulling out of Iraq is because they were never part of the coalition. In fact, Costa Rica abolished the military in 1948.
...Not a bad idea. It's no coincidence that Costa Rica's life expectancy and literacy rate are competitive with that of industrialized nations.
What would our country look like if we spent 117 times as much on health care as we do on education?
Costa Rica Health Care Stats
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
|How Will We Spend The Irony Surplus?
At the same time the Bush Administration brought us a budget deficit, it brought us an inexhaustable surplus of irony.
Case in point: John Negroponte. The Iran-Contra stooge is slated to become the replacement for Paul Bremer in Iraq.
The New York Times credits John Negroponte with "carrying out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinista government in Nicaragua" during his tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 and 1985. He oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year. In early 1984, two U.S. mercenaries, Thomas Posey and Dana Parker, contacted Negroponte, stating they wanted to supply arms to the Contra army after the U.S. Congress had banned governmental aid. Documents show that Negroponte connected the two with a contact in the Honduran military. The operation was exposed nine months later, at which point the Reagan administration denied any U.S. government involvement, despite Negroponte’s contact earlier that year. Other documents uncovered a scheme of Negroponte and then-Vice President George Bush to funnel Contra aid money through the Honduran government.
Can someone explain to me how John Negroponte will aid in the proces of "winning hearts and minds" in Iraq? After all, he was part of the conspiracy to provide weapons to the Iranians during the Iran/Iraq war. Will Iraqis greet him as a liberator?
Is it a coincidence that Negroponte's appointment coincides with the Honduran pullout?
Block The Negroponte Nomination
Real Life Story Problems From Hell, Part IV:
There are currently 135.000 U.S. Troops in Iraq and 25,000 from other countries. If 1,300 Spaniards, 300 Hondurans, 370 Costa Ricans, and 400 Thais leave Iraq, what percent of the original coalition remains in Iraq? Be sure to factor in all coalition casualties as well as the 20,000 + medical evacuations.
It's no wonder the pentagon is requesting an additional 20,00 troops at an estimated cost of 70 million dollars to the taxpayer.
Winning Hearts And Minds The Pentagon Way
About one in every 10 members of Iraq's security forces "actually worked against" U.S. troops during the recent militia violence in Iraq, and an additional 40 per cent walked off the job because of intimidation, the commander of the 1st Armored Division said today.
Iraqis Turning On U.S. Forces
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
"Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I've talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with them, various groups and individuals, people who have devoted their lives from the outside to trying to change things inside Iraq...The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that"
Clueless Dick Cheney speaking with Tim Russert on Meet The Press March 16th, 2003
In Secretary of State Colin Powell's autobiography, My American Journey, he writes the following:
I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed managed to wangle slots in the Army Reserve and National Guard units... Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country.
-Colin the Bush puppet, 1996
Monday, April 19, 2004
|Nothing New Under The Sun
It was completely obvious to anyone paying attention in 2001-2002 that war would be the first resort of the Bush Administration.
The rest of the world is mystifed that we're only now figuring this out. The fact is that it's only when Republicans such as Paul O'Neil, John McCain, Richard Clarke, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Joseph Wilson, et. al. begin to point out that the emperor has no clothes that Americans begin to listen.
Oh save us, brave republican whistleblowers! Save us, for we are but weak and timid liberals writing our objections with a finger in the river!
It's time for liberals with cajones.
The Republican war cheerleaders aren't the only ones who deserve to get the boot this fall. The mamby-pamby democratic congressmen and women who "went along to get along" for the sake of job security despite the objections of millions deserve a smackdown, as does the
corporate cocksmooching media that stifled the voices of dissent.
|Kerry on Bush's War Strategery
"The way the president went about this was more than a mistake, in the sense that the president broke promises. ... He promised he would go to war as a last resort. He broke every one of those promises"
Give 'em hell John. You may be just another billionaire plutocrat, but you're playing a tune I could dance to.
Has Anybody Seen Chief Wiggum Lately?
Many of the world's finest police officers, from as far away as Australia and Ireland, are planning to loosen their gun belts and dive into a pile of pastries at the World Cop Donut Eating Contest.
Ten dollars buys entry into the contest. The winner will get a semi-automatic pistol, soft body armour, a $US100 ($A132) gift certificate to Dunkin Donuts and, most importantly, the title of Donut King. Proceeds will be split between scholarships for officers who need help paying for training classes and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC, which honours those killed in the line of duty.
Coming To An Ikea Near You...
Bored by your beige computer? A Swedish company is offering what they say is an ecofriendly alternative: a range of wooden computer monitors and keyboards that aim to brighten office life, while cutting the environmental impact of computer junk.
Around 45 million new personal computer systems were bought in 2002-03 in the United States alone, many of which will end up in landfills. There is growing concern that the plastic skeletons are stacking up, and that toxic materials in their casings, chips and displays are leaching into the environment.
|Make Way For The Lemmings
In "Non-violent Resistance in Palestine: Pursuing Alternative Strategies", Johnathan Kuttab and Mubarak Awad argue on behalf of a nonviolent approach to addressing the grievances of Palestinians:
The Palestinian people have a genuine chance to achieve their national goals, in spite of the enormous gap between them and their foes, if they pursue a conscious, organized strategy of non-violent resistance to the occupation on a massive scale. Such a strategy would provide a role for the entire Palestinian people, both inside and outside of Palestine, and would include the Arab world, the international community, and even genuinely peace loving Israelis. It would focus the energies of the entire nation and move the struggle into an arena that maximizes our natural advantages and neutralizes much of the power of our opponents.
Why not try nonviolence and passive resistance?
"Fat chance. It could never happen!" the cynics reply.
What would be the worst possible outcome of attempting a nonviolent strategy? Could the outcome possibly be any worse than the outcome of the current strategy?
How well is the suicide bomber campaign going? Have these attacks against Israeli civilians won anyone over to the Palestinian cause?
What has either side accomplished in this seemingly endless tit-for-tat? More hatred, more bloodshed, more pain...It's a shame we can't teleport the peace-loving moderates from both sides of the conflict to a parallel universe, and let the extremists do each other in. The vast majority can return again after the Lemmings of Violence have tumbled one after another off the cliff.
Many would agree that the Palestinians have a legitimate gripe, but hell will freeze over before Americans will support a terrorist organization that strikes innocent civilians, unless they represent a government with policies favourable to the interests of the United States, of course.
Ghandi had it wrong when he said "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".
Those who believe in an eye for an eye are already blind, and they're thrashing around in the darkness stabbing at each other with pointy sticks.
Despite the fact that Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mendela (among others) have shown that nonviolent approaches can be effective, and despite the folly of the current situation, those of us who advocate considering nonviolence and passive resistance are regarded as simplistic, utopian fools.
As Ghandi said:
"First they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win".
Read Pursuing Alternative Strategies
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Powell felt Cheney and his allies -- his chief aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and what Powell called Feith's "Gestapo" office -- had established what amounted to a separate government. The vice president, for his part, believed Powell was mainly concerned with his own popularity and told friends at a dinner he hosted a year ago celebrating the outcome of the war that Powell was a problem and "always had major reservations about what we were trying to do."
If he felt this way prior to invading Iraq, why did Colin Powell agree to make the case to invade Iraq? Is Woodword's account correct?
After the September 11th commission, there should be a WMD commission to investigate who played the drums of war--and who danced to the beat against the drumming of his own conscience.
Friday, April 16, 2004
The Best Possible Scenario: We've Been Lied To
Unlike many liberals, I agree with my conservative brethren that we will indeed find weapons of mass destruction. The question is, "How and where"? How do we know they exist, and where will they be found? Paradoxically, the best possible scenario is not that the Administration is telling the truth about WMDs. The best scenario is that we've been duped into a war.
There are two possible scenarios. Scenario number one is that, as Scott Ritter argued, there were no WMD's in Iraq when we invaded. Let's assume for a moment he's a horrible, corrupt late-term abortionist terrorist-coddling liberal hack, and dismiss this scenario out of hand, and instead believe, like all red-blooded, patriotic Americans, that Bush is sayin' what he means an' means what he says. Saddam had massive stockpiles of weapons, and this justifies the war we started.
Remember when Rumsfeld claimed, prior to the war, that he knew where they were?
"We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad".
Of course, some would question his trustworthiness and integrity, but Rumsfeld would know--after all, when he was defense secretary in the eighties, he could've kept the receipts.
Of course, twenty years is a long time, and a lot could have happened to those weapons since. Some were used on the Iraqis, some were used on the Kurds, and perhaps some were destroyed in Gulf War I--a possible explanation for Gulf War Syndrome.
Let's assume that a substantial portion of these weapons are still around...The next question is, where are they now? If they're still in Iraq, could they still be deployed?
If so, by whom? The Bush Administration has argued that the Iraq war has become a magnet for terrorists around the world, and that it's better to engage the enemy there than in N.Y. or L.A...In other words, the Administration thinks it's better to have terrorists in a place where they might have access to biological, chemical, and even nuclear weapon material. Does this make sense to you?
If we put these two assumptions together--that Iraq has WMDs andthat Iraq is "terrorist flypaper", then aren't we increasing the likelihood that weapons will end up in the hands of terrorists?
CBS news reported today that nuclear material has been removed from apparently unguarded powerplants in Iraq...Where might that material end up? Will it be used on the troops in the form of a dirty bomb, or could it end up smuggled outside the country. If terrorists can get in, they can get out, can't they?
Some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrapyards.
CBS News Article
I sincerely hope I've been lied to...At the very least, nuclear material has been removed from Iraq. What else might have slipped through? One year later, we've found squat and we're not even looking for the weapons anymore.
If they were there and we still can't find them, in all likelihood, they're in the hands of the enemy, and Richard Clarke's assertion that "we've undermined the war on terrorism" is all the more valid.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004|
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
|On Spirituality and Science
Oftentimes, educated people are expected to reject the teachings of religion in favor of a rational scientific worldview. Due to recent developments in the study of Quantum Mechanics, many are realizing that perhaps we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Perhaps spirituality and science aren't irreconcilable after all...
At the atomic level, then, the solid material objects of classical physics dissolve into patterns of probabilities, and these patterns do not represent probablities, and these patterns do not represent probablities of things, but rather probabilities of interconnections. Quantum theory forces us to see the universe not as a collection of physical objects, but rather as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of a unified whole. This, however, is the way in which Eastern mystics have expressed their experience in words which are almost identical with those used by atomic physicists. Here are two examples:
The material object becomes...something different from what we see, not a separate object on the background or in the environment of the rest of nature but as an indivisible part and even in a subtle way an expression of the unity of all that we see.
-S. Aurobindo The Synthesis of Yoga
Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependance and are nothing in themselves.
-Nagarjuna, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism
From The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
|We're In Trouble! Quick! Find A Black Person!
Who made the spurious case for war before the U.N. on behalf of the administration? Colin Powell, that's who.
Who testified under oath in public before the 911 commission? Condoleezza Rice, of course!
When it comes time for the most difficult public appearances, Bush is at the 'ol fishin' hole, Cheney is ensconced in his bunker, and the loyal, dutiful black folks have their toes held to the fire.
Maybe that's why 90% of African-Americans voted Dem in the last election--they new whitey would leave 'em holding the bag!
Monday, April 12, 2004
|The Last Kid Who Still Believes In Santa Claus
It's reached the point now where we must feel pity for Bush partisans. Your typical Bush supporter seems like the last kid on the block to accept that there is no Santa Claus; He's steeped in denial about the president's actions prior to September 11th, his case for invading Iraq, and the credibility of his administration in general.
I remember how dissillusioned I felt after I accepted that Clinton had indeed lied under oath about his affair with Lewinsky.
Now the tables have turned, and the betrayal is far more significant. Is it any wonder that former supporters have attacked the administration with such bitterness?
Richard Clarke, Anthony Zinni, and Paul O'Neil are just the tip of the iceberg...
Bush should be warned: The vast majority of Republicans are decent, honest people. They're more loyal to their country and its guiding principles than they are to any particular president. When they finally realize they've been lied to over and over again, the tidal wave of rage will dash the Bush adminstration against the rocks.
Here's the game: The truth is there: The president knew that an attack was coming inside the United States. Everyone on the 911 commission knows he knows.
The problem is that members of the Administration have denied that this was true countless times.
Now the national security advisor has to testify under oath.
What do you do?
It's simple: Prohibit people from uttering the magic phrase. The bottom line of Condi Rice's testimony is that they attempted to snow the American people, but a clever lawyer, Richard Ben Veniste, forced the National Security Advisor to mention the prohibited magic phrase.
" Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside The United States"
This is the title of the President's Daily Briefing on August 6th.
Let me repeat that.
"Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States".
This is the title of the President's Daily Briefing on August 6th.
Repeat it. Memorize it. Quote it. If you watched the testimony, you heard it from Condolezza's lips, but the newspapers prefer not to dwell on it.
These should be the words of the president's undoing.
They've stallled, they've lied, and the partisan director of the commission even made it illegal for members of the 911 commission to even mention the name of the document during the hearing.
Explain to me how this can be a legitimate. Members of the commission know the title of the document, but they're prohibited from mentioning it...This isn't a hearing, this is a party game. Try to find the truth without mentioning a taboo phrase. OPERATION TABOO.
How are we supposed to get to the truth?
Don't you get it yet? The commission is a sham. The executive director, Phillip Zeiklow is a neocon loyal to the president, and the committeee is designed to whitewash for the adminstration. The last thing most committee members want to do is present the facts and nothing but.
All the same, the tide is turning. Even though all the cards are stacked against us, what was hidden may yet be revealed.
Case in point: The Drudge Report is a news site that, for the most part, presents information with a bias favorable to the president. Even there, I found this article from newsday.
Our persistance is paying off...What was hidden will be revealed.
"...Condoleezza Rice began her testimony with a statement in which she minimized the possibility that anyone could have known what was happening. All intelligence prior to 9/11 was "not specific as to time, nor place, nor manner of attack," she said. But then 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste pressed her about that PDB memo, still rated as "classified" by the government. Ben-Veniste was legally prohibited from mentioning even the title of the document.
But he wasn't prohibited from asking Rice the title of the PDB. And she obliged: "I believe the title was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'" Ouch. Just moments after she had said intelligence was "not specific" about the place of attack, here's a presidential-level document warning, specifically, that al-Qaida's target wasn't overseas somewhere, but rather the United States itself.
David Colton, Washington lawyer and veteran of the intelligence world, observes of this exchange: "Ben-Veniste hypnotized her." Colton adds, "She fell into the rhythm of a smart lawyer's questions, and so blurted out the single most damning admission of these hearings."
Seeming to realize she had said too much, Rice tried to bury the revelation by piling on words. She insisted that the document, the PDB's title notwithstanding, "did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting." Whereupon Ben-Veniste invited her to seek the declassification of the entire memo. Rice declined".
Bush Won't Dare To Run Anymore Sept. 11th Campaign Ads
Saturday, April 10, 2004
|Women Are Scary
Only once in my life has my penis provided input which has helped me to make a wise decision...Now that I'm happily married, I see no reason to keep him in the decision-making loop.
In the year 2000, Christin Summers wrote a provocative book entitled "The War Against Boys" that galvanized the educational community and forced it to reconsider issues of gender in the classroom.
The women's rights movement worked tirelessly to ensure educational opportunites for young women in the latter half of the 20th Century. It was a tremendous success story. In fact, today women out-perform men by most measures of educational accomplishment...Of course, not everyone sees this accomplishment in a positive light.
To many, women are downright scary. They want what we have: preferential positions in society.
"A review of the facts shows boys, not girls, on the weak side of an education gender gap. The typical boy is a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing; he is less committed to school and less likely to go to college. In 1997 college full-time enrollments were 45 percent male and 55 percent female. The Department of Education predicts that the proportion of boys in college classes will continue to shrink".
To Summers and her colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, this data requires a modern-day Paul Revere to reverse this alarming trend. It's a win-lose situation; successful women mean unsuccessful men. They view the success of women as the byproduct of systematic favoritism within the educational establishment, and they criticize teachers for having a lower threshold of tolerance for typically male behavior.
So women are currently outperforming men...What's so disturbing about that? Why the hand wringing?
It's not their fault boys can't adapt. Survival of the fittest. What's that matter, guys? Can't you handle a little girl?
What could be the worst possible scenario here? Females in positions of power? Female CEOs, Bishops, and Presidents? In every occupation, almost everywhere in the world, women have proven they can lead as well or better than their male counterparts.
If Summers read the data and found that men were 10% more successful than women, would she be up in arms, or would she attribute it to the "positive male virtues" she trumpets?
When women or minorities become successful, conservatives attribute it to bias in the educational system. When a silver spoon with a "C" average becomes president, they're enamoured with this personification of their ideals and refuse to acknowledge the "affirmative action" that wealth, skintone, and foreskins provide.
In the year 2025, only the brightest and best white men will succeed. If we artifically adapt the classroom to their strengths, we're only setting them up for failure in the "real world", aren't we?
Thursday, April 08, 2004
|White House To Establish Department of Precrime Prevention
Last October, Dan Fahey wroted an excellent piece in which he compares Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" to Bush's foreign policy. Rice's testimony last night underscored the validity of the comparison.
The only "evidence" we needed in order to start a war with casualties in the thousands and no exit strategy was the prophecy of a handful of neoconservative chickenhawks.
Do you remember hearing WWII Vets bragging at the VFW how "Americans don't start wars, we finish 'em"? We don't live in that country anymore. Now we start wars, and more than a few veterans aren't happy about it.
"...The Bush administration recently announced a new military strategy remarkably similar to the theme of "Minority Report." The Bush Doctrine, outlined in the new "National Security Strategy for the United States," states that the administration "will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively" against national security threats. The driving force behind a decision to attack will be a prophesy of impending doom from a small group of visionary seers, ostensibly led by Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney. There's just one problem: Sometimes these visionary seers might be wrong..Apparently, the visionary seers in the administration think they should be able to direct the awesome fury of the American military against states and organizations that might threaten American citizens or, perhaps more importantly, American "interests." These seers claim to know a terrorist or a ruthless dictator when they see one, perhaps because they collectively have so much experience providing funding, weapons, and even anthrax and other biological agents to their type. ".
|A Real-Time Response to Rice's Testimony Before The 9/11 Whitewash Committee:
I’m currently listening to Condoleeza’s testimony before the 9/11 commission, and she seems to be providing us with a textbook example of how not to answer a question.
The members of the commission are focusing on the lack of communication between the FBI and the CIA, and the inability of government agencies to “connect the dots”.
When Rice is asked by one of the commissioners what the administration had done to address these problems before the attacks, she launches into an elaborate response, and at no time does she mention a single thing the administration had done to rectify the situation. She does mention, however, what the administration had done after September 11th. Her spurious attempts to avoid questioning don’t escape notice: the crowd breaks out in applause when her evasiveness is duly noted.
Sen. Bob Kerry calls her evasive responses what they are: “Filibustering”. Each commissioner has a limited amount of time to ask questions, and if Rice is cagey enough to answer each question with effusive rhetoric, she can stave off her most vociferous critics.
John Lehman skewers her with a litany of questions that began with the phrase,
“Where you aware that…”
This drove her into a corner: If she answered yes, she would have had to explain why she didn’t act on the knowledge. Therefore, she responded with her first mantra:
“I learned about that after 9-11”
—it’s better to plead ignorance than incompetence.
…Lucky us. With this administration, we get both.
“We only had 233 days”
Are we expected to swallow this tripe? 233 days isn’t enough time to defend the nation against terrorism? That’s the better part of a year. Dick Clarke was there, wasn’t he? Louis Freeh was there, wasn’t he? George Tenet was there. All the major players were there and many were holdovers from the previous administration. Why couldn’t you prepare during this time period?
Richard Clarke offers an apology to the families of the victims and the best Rice can muster is “we only had 233 days”. A child could poke a finger through her paper-thin defense, but the straw men of the commission demur.
What Rice should actually say is that they only had 198 days. While Saddam planned, Bush was vacationing in Crawford. Prior to Sept. 11th, Bush had already taken more vacation time than Clinton had in his entire presidency.
|Will Kill For Cash: Mercinaries and International Law
At present, there are between 10,000 and 30,000 military security employees in Iraq, whose salaries are paid for, indirectly, by our tax dollars.
I'm ambivalent about the role these mercenaries are playing in our current conflict. On the one hand, I would be glad if my friend, a guardsman and father of two small children, could be replaced in Iraq by someone who really wants to be there, enjoys combat, and has much less to lose.
On the other hand, the use of mercenaries opens a pandora's box of potential problems. For example, do we really want standing armies of individuals willing to kill primarily for the profit motive?
In "Crimes of War", Elizabeth Rubin provides context for the debate...
"...Mercenarism is perhaps the second-oldest profession. Back in the days of Italian city-states even the Pope contracted condottieri to hire outside soldiers for defense. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Swiss were renowned for their free standing battalions hired out to other European countries. It was not until this century, during the turbulent period of decolonization in Africa, that mercenaries gained notoriety as bloodthirsty dogs of war wreaking havoc with the sovereignty of weak, newly independent African States. Such freelance guns-for-hire are accountable to no nation-state and no international laws. They will work for the highest bidder regardless of the cause and are rightly regarded as destabilizing agents. After all, they have no stake in the country’s future and as long as war continues, so do their salaries.
So, in 1968, the United Nations General Assembly and the Organization for African Unity established laws against mercenaries, making the use of them against movements for national liberation and independence punishable as a criminal act. In 1977, the Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the recruitment of mercenaries to overthrow governments of UN member-States. The 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, in Article 47, stripped mercenaries of the right to claim combatant or prisoner of war status, thus leaving them vulnerable to trials as common criminals in the offended State. It also left the definition of mercenaries, in the view of many critics, dangerously subjective and partly dependent upon judging a person’s reasons for fighting".
Recent news reports seem to indicate that there is a bit of conflict between U.S. soliders and their paramilitary counterparts. When these independent contractors seek assistance from regular forces, some accouts describe them as slow to respond. Perhaps they share some of my ambivalence.
|Get Ready For A Whitewashed Testimony
Richard Ben Veniste offers our only hope that the 9-11 commission will have even the smallest semblance of credibility. Getting Condi to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth will be about as easy as nailing jello to a tree.
The Executive Director of the commission is a flat-out Bush insider, and many of the members of the committee are on the CFR--Council of Foreign Relations. They're going to make sure any questions to Dr. Rice are carefully selected.
How could this positition be trusted to such an obvious partisan?
This is just like Judge Scalia presiding over Dick Cheney's trial. There is no such thing as a "conflict of interest" for Republicans.
"His name is Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director of the commission. Though he has no vote, the former Texas lawyer arguably has more sway than any member, including the chairman. Zelikow picks the areas of investigation, the briefing materials, the topics for hearings, the witnesses, and the lines of questioning for witnesses. He also picks which fights are worth fighting, legally, with the White House, and was involved in the latest round of capitulations – er, negotiations – over Rice's testimony. And the commissioners for the most part follow his recommendations. In effect, he sets the agenda and runs the investigation".
The Fix is On
|Reuters: Bush Looking For Staff To Replace Former Insiders...
The Latest Appointee: Montgomery J. Burns
"The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed."
-President Couldn't-Pour-Piss-Out-Of-A-Boot in his State of the Union Address prior to invading Iraq
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
|Story Problems From Hell Part III
Brit Hume is being savaged by Al Franken et. al. for the following example of poor math skills:
"...Two hundred and seventy seven U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq, which means that, statistically speaking, U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying from all causes in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California…which is roughly the same geographical size. The most recent statistics indicate California has more than 2,300 homicides each year, which means about 6.6 murders each day. Meanwhile, U.S. troops have been in Iraq for 160 days, which means they are incurring about 1.7, including illness and accidents, each day".
Al Franken points out the omitted variable; namely, that California's population is 35 million, while we only have 120,000 troops in Iraq. Suddenly, the odds don't seem too great.
The U.P.I. reported yesterday that there have been over 18,000 evacuations of soldiers from Iraq and over 600 casualties.
If 18,600 troops have been killed or wounded in Iraq, and there are 120,000 troops deployed, what percentage of our troops would prefer to be in California?
If drug dealers sell illegally-procured Oxycontin tablets to Rush Limbaugh's maid for 36 dollars a tablet, how many tablets would the drug dealer have to sell to Rush in order to buy Brit Hume a one-way ticket to Baghdad?
UPI Article on Medical Evacuations
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
|It's the Little Things You Savour
This April Fool's Day, I remembered my grandmother's little joke: Every year, she used to send me a check on April 1st for one million dollars.
Even the silly traditions have meaning. Every April Fool's Day for the rest of my life, I'll think of her and smile. I'll remember a gentle, supportive lady with an understated sense of humor and a special Norman Rockwell glass in her cupboard reserved just for me.
Monday, April 05, 2004
|I Believe In Cheezus
It was a dark and rainy day in Itaewon, the cluttered foreign shopping and entertainment district adjacent to the U.S. base in Seoul, S. Korea. My chest rattled, my joints ached, and I felt weighed down with various and sundry burdens of the soul. I had reached rock bottom, friends.
As I emerged from the subway, a was met by a vision of Korean cheerfulness and saintliness in a bright yellow rainsuit, her smile as bright as the long-absent sun. I shall never forget the words she said to me that fateful day.
She looked at me with a visage that shook my soul in its purity and as she handed me a pamphlet, she said:
"Cheezus loves you"
The pamphlet was in Hangul, the Korean script which I'm unable to read, but colorful illustrations made it possible for even the illiterate to understand the message. The frames told the story of a troubled blue stick figure comforted by an enlighted red stick figure, who bends down to lift up his companion. After a heartfelt hug, the red stick figure leads the blue stick figure by the hand to the final frame, which shows these two friends bowing down before what looks like a representation of the sun with a cross in the middle.
Of course, an educated man such as myself realizes the obvious religious allusion to the Cheezus story--our friends were obviously bowing at the base of a gigantic, crosscut wheel of Dutch Gouda--an unmistakable symbol for followers of Cheezus.
At that very instant, I knew, in my heart of hearts that her words were true, but it took a while for them to really sink in and begin to heal my sin-sick soul.
I was perplexed; confused. Sure, I thought I had heard the name Cheezus before--maybe it was in a commercial or in church--I'm not really certain on the details. It seemed to me a vaguely recalled him saying "Blessed are the Cheesemakers" somewhere in the scriptures..For the next few weeks, I mulled over this incident, and kept thinking to myself, "Who is this Cheezus?", and "What does Cheezus want me to do with my life"?
It was several years later, at a wine and cheese party, when I truly accepted Cheezus into my heart. There, I saw all the miracles of Cheezus; roquefort, gouda, stilton, sharp cheddar, brie. At that moment, the sacraments of bread and wine found their perfect compliment--that sublime product of teat and fungus--cheese.
I don't have all the answers, but I do know that since I've accepted Cheezus into my life, I've been a happier man.
Sunday, April 04, 2004
|The Buds Have Already Flowered
The world has learned a valuable lessons from the Realpolitik of the Bush Administration: There is a threshold of acceptable loss for the U.S., and if you can guarantee that you're able to surpass that threshold, you've accquired a bargaining position. Might makes right. Arm your country to the gills and we might leave you alone.
It's now obvious to even the most partisan that Iraq wasn't targeted because it was an immediate threat, but because it was presumed to be weak and easily overtaken. Cheney et al. would argue that we're "getting the terrorists before they get us", and that we're "nipping it in the bud" rather than leaving it for a future administration...They're the adults here, right?
The problem is, the buds have already blossomed, and the seeds of hatred, mistrust, and resentment have been carried away by the four winds. The injustice of preemptive warfare has made us less safe, and we haven't seen the worst of it yet.
When Pakistan and India accquired nukes, they accquired prestige and insurance. Is it any surprise that other nations are following suit?
Our newest nuclear power? Brasil. The world is getting safer as we speak.
How do we get out of this mess? One step at a time.
Step One: Vote these clowns out.
"Brasil Building Bombs"