Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar Night or Rotarian formal? You decide.

Man, that sucked.

Not even Chris freakin-Rock could perk up that party. Predictable, cloying and dull. I know this is what people have been telling me the Oscars have been for a long time, but for the first time, I was watching and wanting to be watching something else.

I miss the shockers- why don't they invite Cher anymore? No dresses made of American Express cards, no period costumes, just bland bland bland Barbie dresses and not a visible butt crack or nipple in sight. Not that I look for those kinds of things but at least it made it marginally more interesting.

And why oh why did they only book Beyonce for EVERY FREAKING MUSICAL NUMBER, with the exception of a song sung by Antonio Banderas? Budget cuts? Who did her dad pay off? I got so sick of her bizarro eyebrow movements and her butchery of the French language. The girl has a great voice but no soul.

All in all, I wonder if I'll ever watch again . . . I give the academy credit for nominating "Hotel Rwanda" for so many categories but in the end, it was the same old show, no surprises. If Scorsese comes up for another one, I'll watch. If not, I'll rent the films themselves and make my own decisions.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Friday catblogging

Action shot.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

That'll teach those pesky pro-choice celebrities

Oy vey.

Pure by choice? Doubtful.

If this guy is any indication it's not so much that the crowd at this "Pure by Choice" rally chose abstinence, but rather that abstinence chose them.

The link on the coliseum site is broked, so here is the real deal.

What is odd is that on the list of reasons that drove these pure souls to preserve their virginity is that they will avoid a broken heart. Which is weird, because it seems that these purity folks go out of their way to show that love does not equal sex, yet here, they say that by avoiding sex, you avoid a broken heart. And it seems to me that virgins could just as easily have their hearts broken- if not by a sex partner than by the many gritty and painful realities the world has to offer.

Additionally, it seems that only virgins have the capability to "be honest." I know this for a fact to be untrue. John Ashcroft is the least honest person I have ever seen.



The WEAD tapes (he he. I said Wead.)

This is interesting.

I think what I took away from the tapes was a small amount of disappointment. What? No admissions of past debauchery? No revelations on the vast oil wealth about to become property of the US government if we do, in fact, annex Iraq? No Burns-like utterances of "eeeeeeeexcellent?"

No.

Just a simple, dimwitted man, rhetorically stunted but basically not a bad person. Bush by himself, not the President, not the scripted stage presence. Just him.

I still don't really like him. But I have come to the realization that he is not evil, he is just not that bright. His administration is evil, not him.

He mentions in the tapes that he didn't like the anti-gay stance of the Republicans, that he is a sinner and can't cast any stones. I don't respect his ambivalence on this issue, but it seems clear that he is- or was, I suppose, since the tapes are a few years old- just a dopey Howdy-Doody puppet at the whims of powers much greater than himself.

This is why the revelation that Bush is not evil holds little consolation for me. He may not be evil, but he is dependent upon the decidedly evil likes of Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld (and all their respective corporate buddies) for his entire presidency. He is incapable of performing without a script (as in the debates) and he can't be taken by surprise. I hope many people who voted for Bush will come to understand that his own personal rhetoric of freedom, Jesus and educational reform mean very little. He talked a good game and may have even believed everything he told his voters, but in the end it is meaningless. He is being operated by powers that hold no stake in the best interests of the American people, the American environment or the global population. Like many addicts and former addicts, he has a bit of an identity crisis. First he was guided by his addictions to booze and drugs. When he was "born again," he was guided by God. Now he is guided by stronger and more powerful personalities and much higher intellects than his own. He is probably like many addicts and has trouble forming an idea of self without these factors in place.

In many ways, Bush himself is being played just as the religious right and other naive true believers are being played. When Bush says on the tapes that he "want[s] to lead" there is a sort of boyish idealism in his voice. He wanted to set an example, he wanted to guide the nation. It's almost sad that he has been president for four years and still believes that he is the one in charge. Or it would be sad, if he weren't so belligerent when he does assert himself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Channeling Kyle's Mom


"Just remember what the MPAA says: Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words!"
But as always, it's OK if you are a Republican.

In the kind of class act Republicans are becoming better known for as of late, Republican Bill Cadman (of the holiest of holy cities in Colorado, The Holy Springs) told Val Vigil during the morning session this: ""If you try that again, I'll ram my fist up your ass."

All this over the fact that Val had made a small edit in a law regarding whether or not families of veterans could get special veteran license plates. According to the Rocky, "Vigil was trying to do a favor for the family members of Lance Cpl. Thomas Slocum, 22, of Thornton, who was killed March 23 near An Nasiriyah in Iraq."

So, if we wanted to play like Rove (and it's not so much an issue of wanting, more an issue of the fact that he manages to win the hearts and minds of America despite the fact that he has no soul) we could spin this and say that not only does Cadman threaten vaguely homoerotic violence toward his colleagues, he does so to impede the passage of a law that would allow veterans' families to commemorate their fallen loved ones with a license plate. So he's violent, possibly gay and hates the troops!

That, my friends, is the Rove-O-Matic. Now if we could have just gotten this on tape so we could do the old Deanery on him and repeat his outburst nightly on KUSA.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gender Genie- looks like deep down, I'm a guy.

I found this nifty tool, the Gender Genie through a comment over at Echidne and it looks like if I paste any large blocks of text that I've written into the genie, it turns out my writing style is overwhelmingly male.

This was all precipitated by an a comment Kevin Drum made about how female bloggers are mostly mythical. Like Jackalopes and Eskimos. That is, of course, false, and it speaks to the fact that many men do not link to female bloggers and so we are at a bit of a disadvantage. But we are out there, blogging and snarking with the best of them.

In other news, it seems that a group called "USA NEXT" is now claiming that the AARP is a "liberal" group and systematically paints red Xs on the troops and big happy check marks on gay couples:


(courtesy of atrios)

Now the Rove-o-Matic is going to process this, and spit out a new paradigm: the AARP is a subset of seniors that hates America, is liberal in leaning and wants a free ride.

Now, I'm pretty sure my former-Navy, WW2 vet grandfather is a member of the AARP, or at least was at some point. I am pretty sure he will vote for the best interests of the troops each and every time. The man has "USA" tattooed onto his body- he supports our troops.

On Atrios, they're talking about how NPR called AARP a "liberal" group today. The hell it is a liberal group.

But it seems to be that the key to demonizing any group is to paint them as the "other side." It's so easy. A group disagrees with the party line, they are immediately put in league with the gays and the terrorists (oh, and the pirates, too). This has got to stop. What's next? They've done it to the opposing candidates, they've done it to the AARP, they are doing it right now to academia. They have shown that they can do this to anyone.

I just hope the AARP will stand up and call them out on their bullshit. Somebody has to.

Arr.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Next 9/11 Could Happen at Sea

This is not funny, I keep telling myself. It is not funny.

But I can't stop thinking of like, Pirates of the Carribean pirates.

I would love to be the author of an article that uses the words "pirate-infested waters."

Picture the President addressing the nation after a particularly bad pirate attack.

"They took a large amount of . . . er . . . booty aboard their ship. And their parrots were mean-spirited and vulgar."

Pirates. The concept of clich├ęd pirates never fails to brighten my day.



Monday, February 21, 2005

Figures

modbrits
You are a Mod. Yeah baby.


What kind of Sixties Person are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I guess the Vestal Vespa would be no other . . .
(thanks to Mustang Bobby for the link)

The Liberace of Bagdad



I had a free press pass to the Boulder International Film Festival this weekend, and despite the fact that I'm fighting off a gnarly bug of some kind, I went ahead and went Saturday night and Sunday for most of the day. Sunday's closing ceremonies featured the appearance of Samir Peter, the so-called "Liberace of Bagdad," an accomplished pianist and composer, a Christian Iraqi living in Bagdad. Sean McAllister, a BBC journalist, decided to make a film about a family's adaptation to the new, "liberated" Iraq. The film, "The Liberace of Bagdad," has been received well at festivals from Florence to Utah and won the BIFF's top honor last night.

It's a fascinating study in lost celebrity, family tension, and the day-to-day life of people living within a war zone. Add to that Samir's sudden status as a target- as a Christian and as someone harboring a foreigner- and you get a portrait of all the small braveries that make life in Iraq possible.

Samir himself was at the show, and gave a great performance at the end. On my way out I got to meet him and shake his hand (he held on a little long, which spoke of his longtime obsession with Western women). But his crooked, aging-gigolo smile was very charming and I am so glad I got to congratulate him on winning at the BIFF and at Sundance.

Anyway- a great night. One of those that makes me feel like I have the best job ever.

Hunter S. Thompson: RIP

Man. This one smarts. Seems like I've been doing a lot of this lately.

That was the year I first met [John Kerry], at a riot on that elegant little street in front of the White House. He was yelling into a bullhorn and I was trying to throw a dead rat over a black-spike fence and on to the President's lawn. We were angry and righteous in those days, and there were millions of us. We kicked two chief executives out because they were stupid warmongers. We conquered Lyndon Johnson and we stomped on Richard Nixon - which wise people said was impossible, but so what? It was fun. We were warriors then, and our tribe was strong like a river. That river is still running. All we have to do is get out and vote, while it's still legal, and we will wash those crooked warmongers out of the White House.


--Hunter S. Thompson, Nov. 2004

Friday, February 18, 2005

Catblogging!

Audrey decided it was fun to sit on my knees and stare at me while I read.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The sky is not falling!

Whoo boy. We got this little nugget today from eminent geologist Tom Weese (actually, he's just some nut who founded his own cult of like-minded whackjobs called the "American Policy Center") for the editorial page. Can't wait to see the response:

Those who have been fighting against the radical green agenda have been warning that modern-day environmentalism has little to do with protecting the environment. Rather, it is a political movement led by those who seek to control the world economics, dictate development, and redistribute the world’s wealth.

Uh huh. Woody Harrelson and all those other freaks in their hybrid cars are out for the blood of our children, little more than pirates bent on world domination through hemp clothing and Birkenstocks!

They use the philosophical base of Karl Marx, the tactics of the KGB, and the rhetoric of the Sierra Club. The American people have been assaulted from all directions by rabid environmentalists.

Let's just look at that sentence for a moment . . . now get the Windex and clean whatever was in your mouth two seconds ago off your monitor. Are we good to go?

Good.

Something tells me Mr. DeWeese has had more than one fevered dream of being "assaulted from all directions by rabid environmentalists." But could someone please provide a singular example of the rhetoric of the Sierra club being implemented with the tactics of the KGB?

School children have been told that recycling is a matter of life and death. Businesses have been shut down. Valuable products like Freon have been removed from the market. Chemicals and pesticides that helped to make this nation the safest and healthiest in the world are targeted for extinction. Our entire nation is being restructured to fit the proper green mold. All of it for a lie about something man has nothing to do with.

Dang them for taking away our DDT and Freon!! The birth defects and plummeting bird populations were so worth being cool and comfy!

And yes, it's true, I was taught from a young age that a fiery death of being thrown to Ba'al would result if I threw away a pop can.

But the lie has grown to massive proportions — and the game is about to get very serious indeed. Pressure is building again to impose the Kyoto Protocol worldwide. Only a few years ago, this treaty appeared dead when President George W. Bush refused American participation. Now, however, Russia has signed on, and the United Nations has enough support to begin implementing its dire consequences — even on the United States. Senator John McCain (Ariz.) has called the White House stance on global warming “terribly disappointing.” McCain is now using the ACIA report to convene hearings on the “human effect on climate and what to do about it.” McCain intends to help build pressure on the President to accept the Kyoto Protocol.

Uh oh. Russia has signed on. Now the KGB environmentalists have a fearsome ally.

[snip]

To meet such drastically-reduced energy standards will — in the short run — cost the United States over one million jobs. Some estimate it will cost over seven million jobs in 14 years. If the treaty sends the economy into a tailspin, as many predict, it will cost even more jobs.

And in the grand tradition of conservatives pulling numbers out of their asses, here! I present to you fresh ass-numbers! And I need no sources if I say that "some estimate" that this is true!

It will cost the average family $1,000 to $4,000 dollars per year in increased energy costs. The cost of food will skyrocket. It has been estimated that in order for the United States to meet such a goal, our gross domestic product will be reduced by $200 billion — annually.

Indeed, it has been estimated by . . . uh . . . Some! Yes, the mighty SOME have estimated it!

To force down energy use, the federal government will have to enforce a massive energy tax that will drive up the cost of heating your home by as much as 30 to 40 percent. In all likelihood there will be a tax on gasoline — as high as 60 cents per gallon. There will be consumption taxes and carbon taxes. The Department of Energy has estimated that electricity prices could rise 86 percent — and gasoline prices 53 percent.

Yes, fresh, toasty ass-numbers!

The purpose of these punitive costs is to drive up the cost of modern living in order to force you to drastically change your lifestyle. That is the diabolical plan behind this restructuring scheme. Cars banned. Industry curtailed. Housing smaller. Family size controlled.

The diabolical plan will come to fruition when we all must be forced to live in a slightly smaller McMansion than the exurban hellbox we have now!

Every single product that is produced with the use of energy will increase in price. This includes items such as aspirin, contact lenses and toothpaste. A study by the Department of Energy’s Argonne Laboratory finds that the treaty will cripple six U.S. industries including paper, steel, petroleum refining, chemical manufacturing, aluminum, and cement. That about sums up the economy.

I'm going to assume he's talking about this study, which was done by the Department of Energy but doesn't state anywhere that the protocol would "cripple" anything. In fact, the strongest language I could find to describe the economic fallout was this:
Differences in the cost of energy will affect the outlook for U.S. jobs, consumer prices, investment, technical change, and economic growth. Whenever use of a factor of production such as energy is restricted, economic performance falls for some period of time, the price of energy and other goods and services rises, and consumption and employment decline. Hence the various cases affect the national economy to varying degrees.


Hardly sounds like the economic doomsday Mr. DeWeese predicted.

But perhaps you still are not convinced.

Astute observation, Mr. Freakypants!

Maybe you still cling to the idea that such drastic action is necessary — that those pushing the global warming agenda are truly in a panic over global warming and are just trying to find a solution. If you are one of those people, ask yourself: Why does the Kyoto Protocol only bind developed nations to Draconian emission levels?

Self, why does the Kyoto Protocol only bind developed nations to Draconian emission levels?

Glad you asked, self. It is because the major polluters of the world have more resources to cut emissions and efforts on the part of third-world nations to reduce emissions would be a drop in the bucket compared to the progress that can be made if larger countries were to ratify the protocol. Additionally, the treaty includes several initiatives built into Kyoto to persuade developing countries to use sustainable energy sources.

[snip]

Now ask yourself: If the Kyoto Climate Change Protocol is all about protecting the environment — then why doesn't it cover everybody? The truth, of course, is that the treaty is really about redistribution of the wealth. The wealth of the United States is, and has always been, the target. The new scheme to grab the loot is through environmental scare tactics.

Well, self, I have another question for you. Why doesn't it cover everybody?

Self, I kind of already answered that before, but the main thrust of Kyoto is to place a global responsibility on wealthy nations to begin the implementation of clean energy production. Other nations are being encouraged to develop with clean energy in mind, and are being given the aforementioned incentives to do so. Man, where do you get these questions? Oh, DeWeese is asking you to ask me? Well, that explains it.

And international corporations, who owe allegiance to no nation, will bolt America and move their factories, lock, stock and computer chip to those Third World countries where they will be free to carry on production. But that means the same emissions will be coming out of the jungles of South America instead of Chicago. So where is the protection of the environment? You see, it's not about that, is it?

Newsflash, Mr. DeWeese- the factories already bolted. It ain't the environmentalists' faults. It's the fault of "free" trade.

Still not convinced? One more thing. Hidden in the small print of the treaty is a provision that calls for the “harmonizing of patent laws.” Now, robbing a nation of its patent protection is an interesting tactic for protecting the environment, don’t you think?

Funny, the only mention I can find of the "harmonizing of patent laws" in the Kyoto Protocol are in reference to this very wingnut's screed. Besides, the notion of "harmonizing patent laws" rings more of globalism and consistency than copywright infringement.

And there's still more looting of the U.S. treasury planned. Supporters of the Kyoto Protocol also want, industrialized nations to subsidize poor countries’ adaptation to global warming to the tune of $73 billion per year. Obtaining such subsidies will be an interesting trick after the U.S. economy has been destroyed by the treaty. Looters rarely have the ability to think that far in advance.

Mr. DeWeese, may I suggest that those who are "looting" the U.S. Treasury are actually those who are supposed to be protecting it?

Don't you just love it when wingers start talking about budgetary issues concerning the environment when we're spending $270 million per day to rebuild a country we decided to destroy?

Don’t think this devastation can’t happen. The United Nations and the European Union has exposed their hatred for the United States. They envy our wealth and think that legalized theft, rather than sound economic policy, is the way to obtain it.

The key words there are "Don't think." That's what the administration has been telling us for ages, and I just can't get myself to do it.

And please, the deficit is global news. I hardly think that the EU envies us for much of anything right now, while their Euro continues to bitchslap the dollar on a daily basis. Legalized theft? Hardly.

Credit where credit is due:
Tom DeWeese is the Editor-in-Chief of The DeWeese Report which is published by American Policy Center and is distributed as a public service by the Americanism Educational League

Now, I will admit- Kyoto is not perfect. But this guy sounds to me like one of those guys who stands on a streetcorner screeching about how the world is ending and reeking of his own urine. They will control our family size! We're all DOOMED! DOOMED! The Sierra Club KGB will break your kneecaps for questioning global warming!!

But what's truly sad is that this has already found its way to Free Republic, Right Nation, Intellectual Conservative, and many real, paper news outlets which are presenting it as reasoned dialogue.

The Kyoto Protocol is doomed in American circles because of two main reasons: It is an environmental measure, which is therefore a mere obstruction to business, and two, it is approved widely by the Europeans, who apparently hate us and everything we do and they just want our money.

This is another one where I'm inclined to just say, "Fine. Keep thinking this is true. But when Phoenix melts into a hole on the map, don't come crying to me saying that global warming was real all along and we should have ratified Kyoto."

But then, I just have to hope I'm gone before these idiots run roughshod over our Constitution, our rights and our planet.

Powerline: Jimmy Carter, terrorist

Ugh.

This is low. I mean, come on. Calling Jimmy Carter a terrorist, in league with the jihadis, is not just party politics, it's delusional. The thing that is so weird is that the right, no matter how much power they have or how many of their guys win elections, still find it necessary to attack the other side. Republicans: the party that kicks you when you're down!

Jimmy Carter won a Nobel Peace Prize. A NOBEL FREAKIN PEACE PRIZE. He wasn't a perfect president, he wasn't our best loved president, but he did something revolutionary- he worked toward peace. But with "Yee Haw" foreign policy taking precedence over diplomacy, working toward peace is seen as effeminate, ineffectual, inactive. Unless you're blowing something up, it seems, freedom is at risk.

I guess the right is just pissed that there isn't a "Nobel War Prize" yet.

Yglesias says this:
I don't think it's at all unreasonable to say that Hindrocket owes Carter a serious apology. Flinging this sort of totally unsubstantiated allegation is disgusting and utterly destructive of any effort to have serious debate about anything.


Ah, Matthew. I wish I had your optimism that there still exists any efforts to have a serious debate about anything. There is no debate anymore. Just accusations, lies and condemnation. And the American People love it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Terror! Lies! Mindless parroting of party-line ideology!


From All Hat, No Cattle.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Bloggers- differing viewpoints

'Gannon' Fodder: Real White House Reporters Weigh In

E&P has the lowdown- Gannon was a fraud and a disgrace to real journalists everywhere.

But the NYT today covered a different resignation. Eason Jordan of CNN resigned after apparently demoralizing some troops somewhere by reporting that some journalists have been killed by American fire in Iraq. After the famed 104th Fighting Keyboardists assailed Jordan, he resigned.

But what gets me is the last paragraph of the NYT story:
Mr. Abovitz, who started it all, said he hoped bloggers could develop loftier goals than destroying people's careers. "If you're going to do this open-source journalism, it should have a higher purpose," he said. "At times it did seem like an angry mob, and an angry mob using high technology, that's not good."


"Open-source journalism."

Meaning, it is open to all, and therefore may be destroyed by all. Just like Linux. Just like anything democratic.

Found out yesterday that I will be owing Uncle Sam a check to the order of $500 or so this tax season. And friends- if you made around $22,000 this year and claimed 1 or 2 deductions on your W2, you will too! If you didn't vote for the thief in chief, I feel your pain. If you did, well, this is what you voted for. Hope you enjoyed your "tax cut" last year because now the bill is due.

Something tells me this is just one of many unpleasant surprises I'll be getting from this administration over the next four years.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Late catblogging

RIP, Arthur Miller


RIP, Arthur Miller, 1915 - 2005

"The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less."
--Arthur Miller

Thursday, February 10, 2005

More fun with Michael Reagan

Well, here he goes, "Making Sense" again:

Hitting the Ground Running

Making Sense By Michael Reagan

In just the two weeks since she was sworn in as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has racked up a dazzling list of breakthroughs.


If by "dazzling list of breakthroughs" you mean "tepid diplomacy, rigid stubbornness and occasional incoherence" then, yeah, she sure is racking up quite a list.

Just look at what has happened in a mere two weeks since she took on her new job. You see the King of Jordan, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Ariel Sharon, Mahmoud Abbas, all getting giddy together – and doing it without a single American in the room.

Wait, if she's not in the room, what are they so giddy about?

According to Reuters, Condi’s message to all parties was clear: "She did not fly to the region to bigfoot the Israelis and Palestinians and impose terms for moving them toward peace."

I'm not so sure I understand the verb "to bigfoot." Does it mean she will stride past an 8mm camera, make large imprints in mud and leave unsubstantiated claims to her existence?

During her whirlwind European tour she managed to get our critics there talking about getting involved in the rebuilding of Iraq now that the elections have taken place in spite of their gloomy predictions that the balloting could not possibly happen. And, as the seasoned and gracious diplomat she has proven to be, she was able to revive our relationships with our longtime allies on the Continent by her determination to let bygones be bygones.

All I can think of is Richard Fish on Ally McBeal:
"First up, Billy's brain tumor. It happened to a friend of mine once. Thought he had a brain tumor... turns out it was all in his head. Bygones."

And really. Does anyone except Mickey really think that her little tour of the Old World "revived" our relationships with the nations that this administration has humiliated, insulted and belittled?

Wrote Deutsche Welle, a German newspaper: "Whether in Poland, Italy, France or Belgium, Condoleezza Rice above all sold her old message in a new package. The charm offensive of the second Bush administration -- to affection-starved Europeans -- has been completely effective."

Must have been a rough translation. Apparently the Germans aren't really that "charmed" in the literal sense.

The result, the newspaper reported: "… if the US president in two weeks decides to play the unusual roll of charmer-in-chief, he will have NATO and EU officials lying at his feet."

Charmer in Chief, huh? I don't think all the charm in the world can make the Germans forget that Rumsfeld referred to them as "problems" when making the case for Iraq.

In France, long at odds with the U.S., the reaction was much the same. "Some time ago Condi Rice said France should be punished (for opposing the U.S.-led war in Iraq). By coming to Paris, she is showing the punishment period is over," Dominique Moisi of the French Institute of International Relations told Reuters.

"There's a feeling that perhaps now we have to cool things down and the moment for diplomacy has come."


Yeah! How did you like that punishment, France? Us not coming over and all! Bet you really hated that!

French media, which have often accused President Bush of going it alone and ignoring his allies' views, struck a new tone by applauding a visit which concentrated on areas of cooperation rather than potentially divisive issues.

"Condi Rice, a skilled pianist, gave a faultless recital at her European diplomatic gala in Paris," the French Liberation daily said.


A piano recital makes all that Unilateralism OK!

Said Foreign Minister Michel Barnier: "Today the time has come to open a new phase, to start a new chapter, to start in a new way within this very old relationship and to start in this new way to write this new chapter."

It’s amazing how things have changed, thanks to last year’s election that kept George Bush in the White House to continue his policy of seeking to advance the cause of liberty and democracy in the consistently troubled Middle East, the successful election in Iraq, and the selection of this multi-talented woman to head the Department of State.


She sings! She dances! She angers our allies! She's a real triple threat!

She is the right person in the right place at the right time, and in less than 14 days she has proven such foes as Barbara Boxer and John Kerry and doddering old Senator Byrd to be 180 degrees off base in their strident opposition to her appointment.

Mike- you're overselling it. The European leadership tolerated her and praised her for not saying anything completely assinine, and you're talking like it's Franklin's visit to Paris.

Much has been made of the fact that she is the first black woman ever to hold the job of Secretary of State. Yet she is far more than that. She is an astute student of world affairs, a determined and incredibly well-informed advocate of the policies of her boss, the President of the United States, and, unlike the aforementioned Sen. Boxer, a lady to her fingertips.

By her boss, you mean her husband?

Think about it – old Europe is happy and for the first time in nine years Israelis and Palestinians have been able to sit down amicably and begin to hammer out the beginnings of a mutually-agreeable peace process.

I'll give that it's good that Israel and Palestine are making progress. But honestly, how does one tell whether or not old Europe is happy? Seems to me there are still some significant issues to work out.

Condi Rice is just beginning to travel on a long and difficult road filled with potholes and surrounded by hostile parties, but she’s hit the ground running and her entire background testifies to the fact that she won’t slow down until she gets where she and George Bush want to go.

This is true. She has never let anything stand in the way of getting her husband/bosses message across and his goals met. But that is not necessarily a good thing. The thing that baffled me the most is this:

"I believe that everyone is telling the Iranians that they're going to have to live up to their international obligations, or next steps are in the offing. And I think everyone understands what next steps mean."


Next steps. Meaning . . . military committment? We're redesigning our own nukes . . . is that the next step?

I don't know that I even want to know. I just hope it doesn't come to that.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Supporting our Troops™

Right now, Americans in uniform are serving at posts across the world, often taking great risks on my orders. We have given them training and equipment; and they have given us an example of idealism and character that makes every American proud. The volunteers of our military are unrelenting in battle, unwavering in loyalty, unmatched in honor and decency, and every day they're making our nation more secure. Some of our servicemen and women have survived terrible injuries, and this grateful country will do everything we can to help them recover. And we have said farewell to some very good men and women, who died for our freedom, and whose memory this nation will honor forever.
--President George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, Feb. 2, 2005



What does a guy have to do to get fired around here?

Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter - WH Briefing Room Scandal

I haven't been touching this, because I knew virtually nothing about the situation. But here's my summary:

-Jeff Gannon doesn't really exist
-A man calling himself Jeff Gannon was often planted in press conferences to throw "softballs" (tangential, pointed questions) at Scott McClellan
-Jeff Gannon worked for a partisan news corps and often plagiarized or flat-out fabricated information to support Republican political stances on his weblog and in other sources
-Jeff Gannon quit after all of this came to light.

Add this to the growing pile of payola scandals, and we SHOULD be having some serious investigations, possibly the rumblings of impeachment hearings, right?

In a just world, yes.

But there's the rub. The American people somehow don't care at all about this. My theory? It is not easy to understand. Many people don't read the Associated Press handbook's section on libel or conflict of interest. Now, a sex scandal, anyone can understand that. This is a little more difficult to wrap one's mind around, particularly since most people don't realize the danger inherent in marrying political party lines with what people have come to trust as the "news."

But it goes beyond corporate media- it's corporations and politics in general. Why is it bad that a CIA agent's name was leaked? Why is it bad that a marriage "expert" was paid off to support No Child Left Behind? Why is it bad that the drug lobby is the huge, multinational corporate behemoth that it is? Why is it bad that Wal-Mart imports everything from China? These are not things that can be explained easily, and you risk being seen as an intellectual, anti-capitalist elitist if you try.

Good for Louise Slaughter. Like her, I want to see just what the administration has to say for itself right now.

Meantime, thank God for bloggers like Atrios, S.Z. and Kos who have been digging up the dirt on this kind of thing. Keep going, guys- you got one guy to resign, let's keep the heat on.

He he.

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

You're a hardworking individual enshrouded by an overwhelming sense of mystery, beauty, and intrigue. Though always on the go, you keep focused, helping -- often rapturing -- those you meet.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Venture Brothers- my new reason to live.



"Fetch me! My BLUE WINDBREAKER!"

Back in school, my friends and I had a Sunday night ritual of Sopranos and Adult Swim cartoons. It was what saved my sanity during the thesis defense and theatre costume-shop days.

Now I'm too old to stay up past midnight to watch cartoons (damn West Coast feed!) so I record it. And I have to say, it's just gotten better.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Musings

OK- this is odd. I usually don't wear rings, even though I like to. But I remembered today why I don't usually wear rings and that is because they cause the skin on my fingers to erupt in some kind of an allergic rash. So now I have this burnt-looking band on my left ring finger. It looks like my alliance with the unholy caused my skin to burn under the metal. It looks like I am allergic to the idea of marriage.

Maybe I am.

I f&*king hate Valentines Day.

Why the Hell are we doing this?

U.S. nuclear weapons will follow new design

This reminds me of the old Jib Jab song-
Kerry: You can't say NUCLEAR, that really scares me . . .

What scares me more is that we're creating new WMDs. Not that I think anyone will actually mount a good old fashioned arms race against us, but Christ- why do we need these? What are they going to do with them?

The scariest part of all is that this administration has already proved that they don't need a good reason to do anything that they want to do. They just do it, despite advice to the contrary. So just where are they going with a renewed nuke program? Something tells me I don't even want to know.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Non-political blog, in place of catblogging (batteries for the digital camera cost money)

So.

Last night, I decided it may be a good decision to go out with some friends and bring along my roomie, BFSSG (Best Friend Since Sixth Grade). And as it turns out, it was a good time. We went to a neighborhood pub and had beer and burgers, then off to Larimer Lounge to see the musical stylings of some of my coworkers' bands, Tobias Jupiter and Cowboy Curse.

Missed the first band :( but managed to catch the second band, and I am impressed. But more than that it gave me some time to stop thinking about the crappy things our leaders are doing to the world and just kick back with a PBR in a smoky bar and listen to rock and roll music. In short, it was the first time I've felt 23 in a long time.

Most of the time I feel way too old- it was good to feel young and stupid for a while. As odd as that sounds. Nothing to think about but how cool the music is and how cool I looked (funny, about halfway through that monster glass of PBR, I thought I looked DAMN cool) in my Citizens of Humanity jeans and thrift-shop jacket.

I know the world would go to hell quickly if that's all people did- drink beer and think about looking cool and not pay attention to greater matters at hand. But I also think that sometimes it would go to hell more quickly if we didn't just chuck the outrage and anger occasionally and just think about what's good in the world. Small things like good music and sexy rock stars and cheap beer and a safe place in the city to take it all in.

And we'll all fall into a lava floe of deficits!



Look at the woman's face in this shot. Does she look like she's buying this?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, the state of the union is HILARIOUS!

At least, if you were nursing a Guinness and riffing it MST3K style with your sister on the phone. Or if you are Norbizness.

My sister and I have agreed that we can only keep our sanity because the president is goofy and fun to laugh at. We will still fight the administration with our sweat and dollars but sometimes you just gotta kick back with a cold one and laugh at the smirking monkey. Dance, smirking monkey! Dance!

Anyway.

I'm dying to find out who booed the Preznit when he started spewing flat-out-made-up-pulled-outta-his-ass numbers on Social Security. I want to send them flowers. My recap:

PREZNIT: Your children will have to hold a bake sale for ELEVENTY BILLION DOLLARS to make Social Security work!

UNIDENTIFIED DEMS: NO! BOO! YOU ARE DUMB AND YOU ARE AN ASS!

Thank you.


And I think Orrin Hatch was asleep for most of it. The camera alighted on him for a moment, but he was conked. Head down, eyes closed.

But really, here's what I think. The president makes a lot of good rhetoric. Yeah, who doesn't think that liberty is probably good for people? If you come up against that you look like the kind of liberal everyone hates- a grumpy, anti-American commie elitist. Karl Rove is a genius. But the thing is, we need to start framing the debate this way: Freedom is not only not free, it is not easy and it is never 100%. We can't just "spread freedom." We can't just "defeat terrorism," any more than we can rid the world of all evil and sadness. Iraq is not free just because we took out Saddam and had an election. Make no mistake about that. Iraq is maybe a little freer, but it's hard to tell. Although those people lived under Saddam's oppression before, today they continue to live under the oppression of fear, radicals and the ever-present crossfire.

What is freedom? If you can't leave your home for fear of being shot, but your despotic leader is safely ensconced in a prison somewhere, are you truly freer than before? For that matter, there are people within our own borders who live under the oppression of fear, in the slums of Chicago and Miami and Houston and Los Angeles and Detroit. There are plenty of people in countries Bush has absolutely no interest in who suffer oppression the likes of which are tantamount to genocide, no matter what the UN says.

It is so tempting to drop these doubts, to become one of his minions and believe the line, because it is a very attractive promise. More freedom for all. First Iraq, then Iran, then the world, free from oppression and fear (and does anyone else find it odd that nearly all of his rhetoric is pirated from JFK and FDR- prominent Democrats?). But there are those of us who understand the gray area and know that there are several factors that lead to oppression. Total freedom cannot be acheived when poverty, plague and cultural gender disparities still exist. I think a wise person once said that freedom cannot fully exist if there is tyranny anywhere. We shall see this concept in action in the coming years.

The truth remains that freedom cannot be given to anyone. It must be taken by those who wish to be free. And so I am comfortable with any positive changes in Iraq because it shows that the Iraqis are taking their freedom. I hope they will continue to do so in big ways. I hope they throw us out.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

DC's Inside Scoop: Republicans Going Purple Tonight?

DC's Inside Scoop: Republicans Going Purple Tonight?

Atrios has already handily ripped into this one, but I can't help but get into the game as well.

In short:

In the latest sign that the G.O.P. is intent on politicizing everything Iraq-related, Congressional Republicans are reportedly planning to show up at tonight's State of the Union address with purple ink on their fingers to send the message that they support Iraqi voters.


WTF? You know what message this really sends? WE are responsible for spreading democracy, and you Iraqi voters had nothing to do with it! See! Our fingers are purple! We're the REAL voters!

Never mind the 100,000 dead. Never mind the mind-blowingly disturbing torture charges. Never mind the fact that we've tried about 12 times to build a nation out of the mess that is Haiti, and failed each time, despite our effectiveness at holding elections on the island state.

The congressional Republicans have now reached terawanker status. Several orders of magnitude of wankerness.

I think they're jumping the gun a little, but it's no surprise. There is a fairly good chance that Iraq could go completely in the toilet over the next four years or so, torn asunder by civil war while American troops wander Iran-ward. I don't want this to happen, but I have a distinctly uneasy feeling that it could. I want the Iraqis to pull their country up from the nosedive it could easily be taking right now. But being self-congratulatory isn't going to help and acting like the triumphant bearers of liberty isn't going to help if it's not backed up by policy. Purple fingers on Congressional Republicans is a disgusting show of preemptive victory, showing only that these men can't, for the life of them, remember just how bad places like Haiti, Afghanistan and Somalia got after we so arrogantly saved them from their own "bad" leaders.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Gitmo soldier details FBI's sexual tactics

Gitmo soldier details FBI's sexual tactics

Can someone tell me of a single group of people these practices DO NOT demean, degrade, or villify?

Anyone?

Bueller?

Gotta love this quote:
"I have really struggled with this because the detainees, their families and much of the world will think this is a religious war based on some of the techniques used, even though it is not the case," the author, former Army Sgt. Erik R. Saar, 29, told AP.


Not the case, huh. Now try telling the ENTIRE ARAB WORLD that.

A quiz

Stolen bloggery:

Below is a list of the countries that the U.S. has bombed since the end of World War II, compiled by historian William Blum:

China 1945-46
Korea 1950-53
China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-60
Guatemala 1960
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70
Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991- present
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998 - present?
Yugoslavia 1999

Now for the question:
In how many of these instances did a democratic government, respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result?
Choose one of the following:
(a) 0
(b) zero
(c) none
(d) not a one
(e) a whole number between -1 and +1

This quiz compliments of Vietnam Veterans Against the War,
Ben Chitty USN
65-9 VN 66-7 68 NY/VVAW peaceCENTER
P.O. Box 36, San Antonio, Texas 78291

The election

OK, I have had a day to consider the gravity of the Iraqi election, and in my forays to Iraqi blogs, I have found that these people were deeply conflicted as to whether or not to participate. I direct you to thoughts04 to see Ahmed's inner dialogue before he decided to cast a vote. I sent along a comment telling him what I thought (a lot of American bloggers were trying to guilt him into it, a lot of comfortable Americans telling this man to risk his life to justify a war they encouraged) but I told him that I supported his decision and that even those of us who hate the war want a free Iraq. His response:

Cassandra,
Thank you very much for your letter and warm feeling.
When I decided to vote, I was thinking of nothing but my country and my fellow Iraqis who were going in crowds to vote despite the threats from terrorists to make it a bloody day.

Salam (peace in Arabic)

Ahmed


This sums it up- the day was not a triumph, but a beginning, something that empowered the Iraqis but they know better than anyone over here that the election ends nothing. It solves nothing. It is a step towards something, but not a solution of any kind.

Iraq is broken. Badly broken. Consider this- in Greeley, Colorado, a smallish rural city, they have had six gang-related incidences of violence in the last week. The economy in Colorado is lagging behind the already hurting economy of its surrounding states, and the ranching counties are hurting the worst. And this is nothing compared to what Iraq is going through. Chaos fosters chaos. Poverty fosters violence. Ahmed sees this every day. We see only what is chosen for us to see.

There are some good things going on in Iraq, but I think for the most part it is the reconstruction of what Americans and Insurgents have collectively destroyed, not an improvement on pre-invasion Iraq.

Charles Pierce got it right at the MSNBC blog, Altercation.

A few choice bits:
The people who stood in line Sunday did not stand in line to make Americans feel good about themselves.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify lies about Saddam and al-Qaeda, so you don't own their courage, Stephen Hayes. They did not stand in line to justify lies about weapons of mass destruction, or to justify the artful dodginess of Ahmad Chalabi, so you don't own their courage, Judith Miller. They did not stand in line to provide pretty pictures for vapid suits to fawn over, so you don't own their courage, Howard Fineman, and neither do you, Chris Matthews. [ . . . ]

They did not stand in line to justify a thousand mistakes that have led to more than a thousand American bodies. They did not stand in line for the purpose of being a national hypnotic for a nation not even their own. They did not stand in line for being the last casus belli standing. They did not stand in line on behalf of people's book deals, TV spots, honorarium checks, or tinpot celebrity. They did not stand in line to be anyone's talking points.

You do not own their courage.


I think I stand with most liberals when I say that I believe that the war was wrong, and that everyone who uttered a lie to cause the war should be punished to the fullest extent of the law and of history's unkind memory. But we are there now. For the sake of the troops and for the sake of the Iraqis whose nation we have plundered and destroyed, we need to get the nation of Iraq working again. We need to give them their freedom, and I hope they use their freedom to kick us out as soon as possible.

Liberals do not want to see us fail over there. We simply have more of a cynical feeling that the entire war and all of its convoluted rationale were doomed from the beginning. We will be happy if it succeeds but not surprised if it continues to have problems. We are there. We have to deal with this. We have to get out as soon as possible. We have to keep people like Ahmed in our minds every day.

Salaam . . .