Friday, February 28, 2003

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-02-27-bush-lede-usat_x.htm

So, apparently in an interview on Thursday President Bush said everything up to "We're going to war - right now." Right when Saddam starts to get rid of the missiles we told him to get rid of, of course. It amazes me just how two-faced Mr. Bush continues to be. Why can't he just come out and say "I want to blow up Iraq, I don't care what anyone else thinks about it, we're bigger than them, and the bombs are going to drop in 3... 2... 1... now." At least he could go down in history as a warmongering egomaniac instead of a dishonorable warmongering egomaniac. Heck, that's a 33% reduction in the Terrible Presidential Qualities category!

Monday, February 24, 2003

So CBS says Saddam isn't going to destroy his Al Samoud-II Missiles. Oh crap. Just what the peace process needed. That man just plans to keep provoking everyone until he gets his ass handed to him, doesn't he? I'm still against war for all the reasons I've stated before, but I admit it sometimes takes acts of superhuman patience to deal with that idiot.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

By the way, if anyone still hasn't seen it, www.homestarrunner.com is just ridiculously funny. The Strong Bad Emails are the high point by far. If you haven't seen "New Hands" and "Dragon", you don't know what comedy is :D
Greatest quote ever: "You just make shit up!" - Bill Maher to Ann Coulter

OK, so maybe that wasn't really the greatest quote ever, per se, but it was pretty cool.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

As you could expect, Saddam is making a big point about how the world all support him over the western imperialist aggressors, or some junk like that, based on the anti-war protests of last weekend. Joe Conason has a good report about it at Salon: http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2003/02/20/unmovic/index.html. Final point he makes - what we all ought to do is protest at Iraqi embassies next weekend. Failing that, at least send a message to Iraq's UN embassy at missionofiraq@nyc.rr.com and tell them they'd better get their act together. Will it make Saddam act any differently? Well, how much attention do you think President Bush was paying you when you marched around last weekend? If you did the second, you owe it to everyone involved to do the first.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

I spent yesterday tromping around downtown Philadelphia shouting inane anti-war slogans. I had made a no inane slogan pledge before I set out, but when they adapted Ludacris' "Get Out the Way" into an anti-war chant ("Move, Bush, Get out the way"...), I just couldn't resist. "Duct tape this" was another good one, although the organizers sort of insisted on every chant being specifically anti-Bush, so it quickly migrated to "Duct tape Bush (?)" through the efforts of their 10000 watt speaker truck of oblivion. There was one part where I got stuck between the contingents from the Western Pennsylvania Anti-Capitalist League and the Delwyre Communist-Anarchist Alliance. That was a little scary. I think you had to have a bolt through some part of your body to get into the second one. Anyway, it was a good experience, I was glad I went. Most of the speakers were fairly intelligent, even if they all were a little off the deep end for their respective groups. You could tell which of the speakers were from International ANSWER - they were the ones that swore a lot, were very shrill, and had nothing to do with Iraq ("F*CK THE MILITARY! WHAT THE F*CK IS THE F*CKING MILITARY DOING IN OUR F*CKING SCHOOLS! GET THOSE F*CKERS THE F*CK OUT!", and so forth.)

So, no immense point to make here. Just an observation from a guy who was there.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Interesting article in Salon, an interview with Chris Matthews. It's at http://salon.com/news/feature/2003/02/14/chrismatthews/index.html. If you're not a subscriber, I think you'll have to click through a rather long ad to get to the interview. If you don't know Salon, it's an extremely intelligent internet newsmagazine with a generally liberal slant, with the exception of columnist Ed Sullivan. They do a good job of touching on the issues too hot for mainstream media. Actually, as I write this, a list is forming in my head, a list of news outlets and my opinions of them. I might as well just get it out here.

The Good:
Google News (news.google.com) - This is an absolutely essential news gathering tool. It indexes over 3000 newspapers, TV stations, and websites. While some of those sources are bound to be rather bizarre, nothing beats Google News in depth of breadth of news coverage.
NPR - The best radio anywhere. Not only that, their foreign bureaus seem to still be open, unlike so many other networks.
Network Evening News (Brokaw, Rather, etc.) - These dudes know what they're doing. If they say it, it happened.
Salon.com - With all the talk of liberal news bias, I don't see much of it. This site provides a different view with excellent, professional presentation.

The Mediocre:
CNN - Once the definitive news source. Now too obsessed with ratings to care. Sorry, Ted.
CNBC/MSNBC - Often too narrowly focused, they still generally carry balanced, accurate coverage, if often a bit right-wing.
Blogs - I put these in mediocre because some, usually the personal journals of professional journalists, are really excellent, but they range down the line into unintelligible rants (insert comment about what you're reading here)

The Godawful:
FOX News - An insult to journalism.
Network Local News - Sensationalism, sensationalism, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda, useless junk, commercial break.

Let me elaborate on FOX News. First, they don't even bother with any pretense of presenting a balanced argument. They're ultra-conservative, and if you don't like it, you can go to hell (which given their die hard audience, they probably mean quite literally.) Second, some of their anchors are just really disgusting people. Bill O'Reilly comes to mind. I present you with a transcript of the February 4th edition of The O'Reilly Factor, where his guest was Jeremy Glick, a man whose father died in the September 11th attack (originally posted at http://www.thismodernworld.com).

O'REILLY: You are mouthing a far left position that is a marginal position in this society, which you're entitled to.

GLICK: It's marginal -- right.

O'REILLY: You're entitled to it, all right, but you're -- you see, even --I'm sure your beliefs are sincere, but what upsets me is I don't think your father would be approving of this.

GLICK: Well, actually, my father thought that Bush's presidency was illegitimate.

O'REILLY: Maybe he did, but...

GLICK: I also didn't think that Bush...

O'REILLY: ... I don't think he'd be equating this country as a terrorist nation as you are.

GLICK: Well, I wasn't saying that it was necessarily like that.

O'REILLY: Yes, you are. You signed...

GLICK: What I'm saying is...

O'REILLY: ... this, and that absolutely said that.

GLICK: ... is that in -- six months before the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, starting in the Carter administration and continuing and escalating while Bush's father was head of the CIA, we recruited a hundred thousand radical mujahadeens to combat a democratic government in Afghanistan, the Turaki government.

O'REILLY: All right. I don't want to...

GLICK: Maybe...

O'REILLY: I don't want to debate world politics with you.

GLICK: Well, why not? This is about world politics.

O'REILLY: Because, No. 1, I don't really care what you think.

GLICK: Well, OK.

O'REILLY: You're -- I want to...

GLICK: But you do care because you...

O'REILLY: No, no. Look...

GLICK: The reason why you care is because you evoke 9/11...

O'REILLY: Here's why I care.

GLICK: ... to rationalize...

O'REILLY: Here's why I care...

GLICK: Let me finish. You evoke 9/11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialistic aggression worldwide.

O'REILLY: OK. That's a bunch...

GLICK: You evoke sympathy with the 9/11 families.

O'REILLY: That's a bunch of crap. I've done more for the 9/11 families by their own admission -- I've done more for them than you will ever hope to do.

GLICK: OK.

O'REILLY: So you keep your mouth shut when you sit here exploiting those people.

GLICK: Well, you're not representing me. You're not representing me.

O'REILLY: And I'd never represent you. You know why?

GLICK: Why?

O'REILLY: Because you have a warped view of this world and a warped view of this country.

GLICK: Well, explain that. Let me give you an example of a parallel...

O'REILLY: No, I'm not going to debate this with you, all right.

GLICK: Well, let me give you an example of parallel experience. On September 14...

O'REILLY: No, no. Here's -- here's the...

GLICK: On September 14...

O'REILLY: Here's the record.

GLICK: OK.

O'REILLY: All right. You didn't support the action against Afghanistan to remove the Taliban. You were against it, OK.

GLICK: Why would I want to brutalize and further punish the people in Afghanistan...

O'REILLY: Who killed your father!

GLICK: The people in Afghanistan...

O'REILLY: Who killed your father.

GLICK: ... didn't kill my father.

O'REILLY: Sure they did. The al Qaeda people were trained there.

GLICK: The al Qaeda people? What about the Afghan people?

O'REILLY: See, I'm more angry about it than you are!

GLICK: So what about George Bush?

O'REILLY: What about George Bush? He had nothing to do with it.

GLICK: The director -- senior as director of the CIA.

O'REILLY: He had nothing to do with it.

GLICK: So the people that trained a hundred thousand Mujahadeen who were...

O'REILLY: Man, I hope your mom isn't watching this.

GLICK: Well, I hope she is.

O'REILLY: I hope your mother is not watching this because you -- that's it. I'm not going to say anymore.

GLICK: OK.

O'REILLY: In respect for your father...

GLICK: On September 14, do you want to know what I'm doing?

O'REILLY: Shut up! Shut up!

GLICK: Oh, please don't tell me to shut up.

O'REILLY: As respect -- as respect -- in respect for your father, who was a Port Authority worker, a fine American, who got killed unnecessarily by barbarians...

GLICK: By radical extremists who were trained by this government...

O'REILLY: Out of respect for him...

GLICK: ... not the people of America.

O'REILLY: ... I'm not going to...

GLICK: ... The people of the ruling class, the small minority.

O'REILLY: Cut his mic. I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father.

We will be back in a moment with more of THE FACTOR.

GLICK: That means we're done?

O'REILLY: We're done.

That's journalism? Now, I understand a network allowing its anchors independence, but isn't this pushing the envelope just a bit? FOX News is the only station on television that I refuse to watch out of principle, and for whatever it's worth, I urge anyone reading this to do the same. Your call, of course. I suppose you could just boycott me instead.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

The PATRIOT II Act: Because if we don't throw away the Constitution, the terrorists win. Or something. The Ashcroft Justice Department just baffles me. He seems to think that the American people is some kind of helpless or vice-ridden rabble (depending on his cause of the moment) that can only be saved from its own sins by the royal glory of the federal government. If we're going to be safe, we need our phones tapped, our bank accounts inspected, our executive given complete control over us, our corporations given carte blanche to loot burn and pillage, and, of course, our classical statues covered with sheets to protect our delicate sensibilities. Who is this guy, J. Edgar Hoover? Hey Mr. Ashcroft, just a quick history lesson: We've spent the last 30 years or however long trying to UNDO what Hoover did. That whole "the FBI should kick everyone's ass" thing? Didn't work. Despite his ambitions, he never was able to assume absolute control of the universe. And, Mr. Ashcroft? You're not going to either.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

On a slightly less serious note, I was just browsing some of the blogs in the recently updated column on blogger.com com and... boy, some of these people sure update a lot.
On its surface, the Franco-German Iraq plan seems to share many of the points I have brought up. At this point, I support it as an essential escalation of pressure on Iraq without resorting to war. The Bush administration, of course, is furious at the presumption of the Europeans to try to solve this peacefully when the President of the United States has made it absolutely clear that HE WANTS TO BOMB SOMETHING NOW!!

Mr. Bush, get this straight. Peace: Good. War: Bad. If that confuses you, why don't you go talk to someone who's been in a foxhole.
On Mr. Bush's assertion that Iraqi cooperation is "too little, too late": Mr. Bush, peace is not a gift you can withhold from the Iraqis because they haven't been good little boys and girls this year. Here's proof you're not the world's father: If a real father is going to give a kid a spanking, and he says "this will hurt me more than it will hurt you," he means he'll be sad that he has to use his strength against something he loves. If you go to war, you'd have to say it because you will have utterly destroyed your country's international credibility in the name of hurting something you personally hate. If you want a war, you'd better have ironclad proof that if we don't go to war, more people are going to die than if we do, and you'd better show it to the world and to ME.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Alright, so Colin Powell gave his speech to the UN. Nothing particularly unexpected. In general, I think it's solid evidence that Iraq's trying to hide its weapons programs. Saddam's a big fat liar, which we all knew from the start. The question is still do we need to go to war, though. Is that the only way to keep him from getting WMD capabilities operational? I still don't think so.

I think keeping the inspectors in country is going to be far more effective. If we need more inspectors, so be it. Send them in. We can afford to send in a 250,00 man army but not, say, a several-thousand man inspection team? Put that in country, and Saddam's paralyzed. If he complains, tell him to shut up. I read a proposal that makes sense to me: keep the inspections going, and back it up with bombers. Any site that we can't get into exactly when we want to gets wiped off the map. If what we want is disarmament, this way is going to get a lot less people killed on both sides, make a lot less people hate us, and cost the US taxpayer a whole lot less. Plus, we could actually get the UN to agree to it.

Someone's going to say "but the UN has to put its foot down. Iraq's been provoking it for too long. If it's not war now, the world won't respect the UN's mandate." Not true. It's not a sign of strength to retaliate at offenses, it's a sign of weakness. The sooner an entity turns to violence, the less confidence it has in itself. Think of it this way. Imagine a policeman confronting a criminal. The cop suspects the criminal is armed. The cop has two choices. First, he could just shoot him, and be done with the problem right there. Second, he could draw his own gun but not fire it, advance on the criminal, cuff him, search him, and take him downtown where he can't hurt anyone else. Which one is the appropriate response? I vote #2. Now, let's say that as the cop advances, the criminal starts cussing him out, spitting at him, and otherwise provoking him. Again, the cop has two choices. One, he could get pissed off and shoot the criminal as a warning to other criminals to respect the police, or two, he could ignore the provocation and go about his job. Again, I vote #2 as the correct response. The only reason the cop would ever be justified in firing would be if he were in imminent danger of being attacked himself.

Now, I think this is an apt analogy. The UN is the world's policeman. Iraq is a criminal state. But invading would serve the same purpose as the cop shooting the guy. It only proves that the cop has no confidence in his ability to subdue the criminal by other means. Now, if Iraq is the criminal here, he'd be a 115 pound totally wasted junkie, and if the UN is the cop, we're talking a 6'5" 220 pound block of muscle named Bruno. If the UN can't handle this without a war, then I would say THAT proves it's lost its effectiveness.

As for the respect issue. If the cop shoots the guy, then some criminals will be more likely to surrender without a fight to save their own skins. On the other hand, a lot of law abiding citizens will be appalled. Who's going to trust the police anymore? The police on the street will notice the citizens aren't cooperating they way the used to. If the police department has to take the role of occupying army instead of benevolent protector, it's going to find its job just got a whole lot harder. Similarly, if the UN (or any individual nation) launches an attack here, it will scare the bejeezus out of friend and foe alike. I venture that it will find its relations with its member states quite strained. Furthermore, if the UN proves it's no longer dedicated to keeping the peace, but to keeping the world in line, it could damage its effectiveness permanently. No one signed the UN charter with the expectation that if they wanted to embark on a "righteous" war, the world would follow them. They signed the charter with the expectation that their membership would avert future wars.

Maybe what this is is a game of Good Cop/Bad Cop. The question is, do we have the Bad Cop to scare the crook into submitting to the Good Cop, or is the Good Cop there to distract the crook while the Bad Cop beats his head in with a nightstick? I hope, for the world's sake, that the UN is still a good cop at heart.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

The ass-faces at Hotmail deactivated my account for some reason, even though I hadn't met any of the conditions for them to do that. It's back now, and hopefully will stay that way, but anything that was in there is gone. Microsoft bastards.
According to my statistics, yesterday, February 1st, 2003, some guy actually read my blog. This is a moment that will be remembered in history. Or something.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

To the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia: Rest in Peace, and may God speed you to heaven.