Monday, March 31, 2003

By the way, shortly after I published the link to Philip Robertson's report earlier, I found this report. A van didn't stop at a military checkpoint in Iraq. The US Army fired on it. It was full of women and children. 7 of them are dead. I don't know if it was avoidable, but 7 innocents are dead. War is hazardous to children and other living things. Noctem in pace.
Looks like Geraldo Rivera is getting kicked out of Iraq by the US military for being a dumbass. He probably deserved it. Plus, I'm always happy to see FOX News get a black eye. Guilty pleasure.
The Defense Department has announced it is treating captured Iraqis as Prisoners of War. To which I respond, what the hell else would you treat them as? "Terrorists"? What kind of sense would that make?
According to Philip Robertson, Salon's correspondent in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdish militia has been slowly advancing toward Kirkuk as the Iraqi army retreats under US bombardment (the report is here). Only a few Iraqis have surrendered, thanks to a Stalinesque military police that shoots deserters on sight. Those who have made it over the lines seem to believe that the US air strikes have been more a warning than a concerted attack. As one of them said: "The airplanes were flying very low over our position and it was very easy for them to kill us, but they did not. They were so close we could see the pilots. We understood that it was a message and it was a warning for us. The message was, 'We don't want to kill you. Run away.'" Good to know. If it's true, it gives me faith in the goodness of the American soldier. They want to win, not kill.
So Peter Arnett, NBC and National Geographic reporter (formerly of CNN during Gulf War I), gave an interview to Iraqi state television. That didn't make much sense to me, but NBC immediately put out a notice saying they supported him, and that he had given the interview as a professional courtesy. Then they fired him. While I hate to see a veteran newsman go like that, I can't say I blame them.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

I sure hope this Brits get into Basra soon. If we're in this war, we have a duty to do it right, and that means doing all that liberating the hawks keep talking about. If we're going to be killing civilians (and it's unavoidable), then we damn well better not let Saddam keep doing it too.
Quote from a guy who kept singing the chorus of Bombs Over Baghdad over and over: "Dude, you guys don't even thinks that's funny, do you? Man, this is like the wrong place... I should go to like, Georgetown, I hear they're mad conservative over there." My friend, I think that song is a bit distasteful right now regardless of your political affiliation. But maybe that's just me. Whoever made this probably thinks I'm a moron.
So, as it turns out, Richard Perle didn't resign altogether from the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon; he just relinquished the chair. He stayed on the board, supposedly at the request of Mr. Rumsfeld, who just couldn't bear to lose an all-weather, right-or-wrong ally like Perle. Well, it's still a step.
I was just reading Slate. I'd heard good things about it, but never actually read it before. From what I can tell so far, it's somewhat similar to Salon. Unlike Salon, it's owned by Microsoft after a buyout... can't say how much of an effect that has. I was going through their archive of worldwide Iraq-related cartoons. Quite a number of them are very, very good, although a few are pretty much incomprehensible. Take a look.

American soldier to his buddy: "It could be worse... we could be rich and only getting half the tax cut we expected."

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Richard Perle resigned!! That man was right on top with the suspicious characters in Washington, holding a top civilian position at the Pentagon while serving on the boards of several defense companies and in the employ of Global Crossing as a consultant on their proposed sale to a Hong Kong based company (a sale that is likely to be blocked for national security reasons... unless someone were to convince the military otherwise, of course...) One more step toward a legitimate government.
Ruben Bolling runs a cartoon on Salon called Tom the Dancing Bug. It's of variable quality, in my opinion, but this week's parody of Bush's tax cut argument is pretty darn good. You can check it out here, but it might not let you in without a subscription. For that reason, I'll provide a brief summary below:

Can you spot the DOUBLE TAXATION in this chain of events?

A. Boss pays an Employee, who is taxed
B. Employee pays his Plumber, who is taxed
C. Plumber buys DVDs from a Shop, which is taxed
D. Shop makes loan payment to Bank, which is taxed
E. Bank pays dividend to Stockholder, who is taxed
F. Stockholder tips his Caddy, who is taxed

Answer: Obviously, E is the one place in which the same income is taxed twice.
Last night, I mentioned the Iraqi column coming out of Baghdad, safe from air attack due to a major sandstorm, and asked "Why we can't just carpet bomb the column from 40,000 feet with B-52s, I'm not sure - I don't think the sandstorm reaches quite that high." Well, that's what they did.
It appears CNN has dropped Connie Chung Tonight, in retaliation for which she has left the network. The Chicago Sun-Times has a good article on this. I have to agree with the decision. While Chung has built quite a name for herself, her show was pap. It was just so softball, so touchy-feely... it had no business on CNN. They say they're trying to rebuild their hard news roots, stop trying to "out-fox FOX". I applaud that effort. America needs a place to turn for real news. FOX News has the market on right-wing propaganda and sensationalist bull cornered for the moment, and frankly, no network with any class would want that market. Let FOX have it until they fall apart under the weight of their own lunacy. Give people a better alternative. I hope CNN can become what it once was.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I have to post a link to this... I don't know whether to day it's in extremely bad taste or just humorously and unfortunately accurate. Anyway, it's the Gulf War Drinking Game.
Interesting times in Iraq. "Interesting" is about the best word I can use, not being there. Supposedly we're in control of Basra, and then 100 tanks come rolling out of it toward Umm Qasr, which we also are supposed to control. Saddam supposedly has authorized the use of the chemical weapons he doesn't have, although that's not confirmed. Half the Republican Guard seems to be pouring out of Baghdad toward the US spearhead, and our air power is mainly grounded in the sandstorm. Why we can't just carpet bomb the column from 40,000 feet with B-52s, I'm not sure - I don't think the sandstorm reaches quite that high. The airborne just landed in Kurdistan, taking an airfield, which should open the area up for armored units brought in by air. Of course, no one's sure what the Turks are going to do. If they go in to keep the Kurds out of Turkey, or prevent an independent Kurdistan from forming, or take over the Kirkuk oil fields, or whatever it is they want, then God only knows what'll happen. Oh man. Not much I can do about it from here.
So it looks like the Senate really meant it about slashing the Bush tax cut. Today, they voted 52-48 to keep the cut-cutting amendment of yesterday, and then passed the budget 56-44. It's still got to go to conference, since the House passed a budget with the full $726 Billion in cuts, but the budget only passed in the house by 3 votes out of 435 cast. That razor margin, combined with the Senate's higher stature, and the fact that the Senate's heavy-hitting moderates, especially McCain, are on board with the reduced tax cut, make me optimistic that the final budget will be closer to the Senate's. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The Onion strikes again.

So, it looks like the Senate changed its mind. After earlier reaffirming its support for the president's $750 Billion tax cut plan, they voted 51-48 today to cut it in half, with the provision that the remaining money be used to either shore up Social Security or pay down the national debt. What do you know, they did two things that make sense in rapid succession (the other being keeping the Arctic refuge closed to oil drilling.) Now that's unusual. But regardless, I offer them my heartiest congratulations and thanks.
So who gets the multibillion dollar contract to rebuild Iraq's oil fields? That's right, our friends Halliburton, through their subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, the same company contracted to run the US Army infrastructure in Kuwait. Does it coun't as nepotism if the actors are only members of the same corporate family?

Sunday, March 23, 2003

You know what the great thing about running a blog (especially one nobody reads) is? You can write about whatever you want, ignore your own promises, and it's all good! Honestly, I don't much want to complete yesterday's report on speeches on American foregin policy. Maybe I'll finish that report sometime. Maybe I won't. I do want to note that maybe 20% of the auditorium was filled for those speakers (it's a smallish auditorium, maybe fits 400). For "Haverford Idol" tonight, where 12 contestants sang for FABULOUS CASH PRIZES, the auditorium was nearly filled. I really expected better out of college. Maybe that intellectual haven just doesn't exist. Just proves a maxim a person I didn't really want to listen to at the time once said: "if you want things to change, you have to do something different." As much as I'd like it to, a change of scenery might never be enough to solve the burning problems of life.

Actually, a lot of things are sort of falling into place lately. A friend of mine recently said that all interpersonal relationships really are are the process of learning what someone has to teach. I didn't really see the point of that dictum at first. Later, however, it proved invaluable. After learning of some rather unflattering remarks an acquaintence of mine was making behind my back, my first reactions were just sadness and anger. But later, my friend's words came back to me, and I realized there was something to be learned here. She had just effectively ended her relationship with me, along with friends of mine who were angered by her actions. Perhaps she knows exactly where the rest of her life is going, and knows that none of us can possibly help her in the future. I, however, do not have that certainty. The lesson, as I see it, is this: If you don't know where you're going, you'd best not burn any bridges.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Attended a number of speeches and panels on US foreign policy today. As of this moment, I can't find the program or remember the any of the speakers' names. The keynote speaker was going to be Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), but he cancelled about an hour before he was scheduled to come on. We don't know why he cancelled yet, but I halfway expected it. How on Earth did a college of 1,200 students get a Senator to come speak? From another state, no less? But regardless of Hagel's absence or my inability to remember anyone's name, the day was quite enlightening.

The first speaker was India's ambassador to the UN. He was generally supportive of the US, drawing parallels between September 11th and the attack on the Indian parliament. He did, however, stress the need for multilateralism and the international hole the US was digging itself into by acting alone.

The second was a professor from Yale law school. I was quite impressed by his ability to state controversial opinions in a rational manner. He argued that the US, since the second world war, had engaged in a policy of "strategic multilateralism, with occasional forays into tactical unilateralism." He claimed that under the current Bush administration, that policy had changed into "strategic unilateralism, with sporadic use of tactical multilateralism." The effect, he said, was a dramatic drop in international trust in the US, a drop which would make it much more difficult for the US to accomplish anything beyond our borders. Why should anyone help us in stopping international terrorism or drug trafficking if we won't listen to them in the security council (or on the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Treaty, or anything else)?

I know this is quite unprofessional but I'm really too tired to complete this post right now. I'll finish, with descriptions of an NYU economics and political science professor and the US editor of the British Financial Times tomorrow. 'nite.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

One item I have to add on here, despite its rather insignificant stature compared to other world events: Al Gore has joined the Apple Computer board of directors. What's up with that?
In other news, it looks like ANWR oil drilling was defeated again, for now. The ANWR drilling proposal had been inserted into a filibuster-proof budget bill, meaning it either had to be amended out, or it would become law. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California introduced the amendment to remove it. After much debate and a major push by the White House to defeat the amendment, it passed 52-48, thanks to the support of 8 republicans overpowering the opposition of 5 democrats. John McCain was one of the supporting republicans, again reinforcing my respect for the man.

He has been outspoken in support for this war, an issue I continue to disagree with him on, but as with Colin Powell, I have to assume that they are simply coming from a different angle than I am. I can't bring myself to accuse them of warmongering - unlike others in the current administration.
A good night's sleep is a wonderful thing. I woke up this morning ready to face the world again, and conscious that whatever happens in the long term, that world currently continues to turn the same way it always did. There's been constant news coverage of Iraq, of course, but surprisingly little covered in it. As far as I can tell, we're really not doing a whole lot right now. I'm not complaining, of course, or criticizing the military's strategy. I'm only wondering what exactly their plan is. I, along with quite a few others, was expecting the gates of hell to open towards Iraq last night; instead, it feels more like someone forgot to lock the front panel on the heater. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Well, it has begun. Operation 'Iraqi Freedom.' He seems to like that. Last time it was Operation 'Enduring Freedom.' Crap, what are these, military operations or cheerleading chants? So far, there's not much information to go on except the little that's dribbling in to confused newscasters. Bush has made his speech, however. It started as the cameras panned in, through photos of cute little girls with puppies, presumably the Bush daughters in earlier years. As he began to speak, he seemed to be fighting off a smile. It was as if he was thinking "hehehe, look what I did! I'm a big boy!" My friends were rather impressed by the speech. One asked where his speechwriters were back when he was supposed to be convincing the rest of the world. I have to admit, for a George W. Bush speech, it was above average. But all the rhetorical brilliance in the world cannot make this speech into more than it is - a clumsy excuse for a terrible mistake.
Now is no longer the time for loud. Don't make this another Vietnam. Put a light in your window. Hold a vigil. Put up a sign and wear a ribbon. But whatever you do, don't take your frustrations out on the troops. They're the bravest ones among us, going to do their duty regardless of the risk or reward. They are deployed, and they are going to fight, regardless of what we have to say about it. Yesterday's mantra was "no war." That no longer has any meaning. "End the war" is not a possibility. It is not nearly so easy to pull out as to go in. No, today the words to speak are "we will remember." We will remember the selflessness of the troops who fought this pointless war, and we will remember the duplicity of the officials who so carelessly threw out their lives, and we will do whatever we have to do to make things right again, because we will remember how in the years from 2001 to 2003, they went terribly, terribly wrong.
I don't know what to do. Curse our leaders for letting it come to this. I can only hope and pray that the war is mercifully swift and everyone comes home safely. It's unconscionable that common soldiers and airmen, and Iraq's conscript troops and defenseless civilians are going to pay the unltimate price for this lunacy. Please let it be quick. Please let it be the end of the madness.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I wonder what is going to happen to the Kurds? They're the only group in the Arab Middle East that's shown any proclivity toward democracy, but we haven't done much to support them. Will we sell them out to the Turks? If they declare independance, what will we do? A Kurdistan comprising Northern Iraq, Eastern Syria and Southern Turkey probably would be an island of progressive democracy in the region, but setting it up would rile our erstwhile allies. George Washington said that America has no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. I would say that in our position of strength, it fits America's interest in promoting freedom to support the Kurds, even at the expense of those nations who claim sovereignty over them. But I'm afraid our current leadership is more worried about our interest in maintaining pliable dictators than in introducing true freedom to the world.

Monday, March 17, 2003

I've been against this war from the beginning. I've written about it, I even participated in a Philadelphia anti-war march. But one thing I don't get is the "direct action" approach to protest. The first contact I had with it was during the march in Philly, when I was approached by an entusiastic woman passing out flyers and recruiting people to blockade the Philadelphia federal building the day after we declared war. "We're all going to get arrested!" she cheerfully announced. OK, civil disobedience has a long and honorable past. But what kind of sense does this plan make? This isn't sitting at a table until someone gives you the same lunch they're giving everyone else. This is standing in a door and keeping a bunch of people who are just trying to do their job from getting to work. News flash: The Joint Chiefs of Staff don't work out of the Philadelphia federal building; the local Welfare and EPA bereaus probably do. That's who you want to shut down? Maybe what they really want is just to prove they're willing to go to jail for their beliefs. But that's not civil disobedience. That's just grandstanding.

Now let's look at the plan to break into Vandenberg AFB in California and destroy as much equipment as possible before being arrested. OK, at least the target makes sense here. But looking at the full picture, this one's even worse. First, this isn't even nonviolent anymore. This is breaking and entering and vandalizing. It's a complete surrender of any legitimacy the protestors may have had. Second, they're trying to break into a military base. Military bases are full of "soldiers", who carry "guns", which they use to "shoot" "people" who are trying to "break" onto the "base". My point is, these protestors may be setting up a bloodbath. Third, even if they somehow got onto the base undetected and managed to do damage to the base facilities, what would that accomplish? It would, in the best case scenario (from the protestors point of view), hurt our forces in Iraq. What does that mean? It means maybe an Army tank isn't where it's supposed to be, and one of our units gets overrun and killed. It means maybe an Air Force fighter squadron loses communications, so it accidentally shoots up a US column. It means maybe a marine runs out of ammunition just as his buddy yells "cover me!" and jumps out of his foxhole into enemy fire. In short, it means the war lasts a little longer, and a few more Americans (and no one who beleives every soldier is there because they want to be should be allowed in this debate) will die.

Despite the cries of the far right, I refuse to beleive that this is what anti-war protestors want. With that in mind, I demand they put a little more thought into their actions before I grant these particular protestors an ounce of respect.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

According to a Dick Cheney press conference, we need to invade Iraq before they attack our troops. Right. And maybe they'll guillotine themselves while they're at it? In the same conference, he again says that no one else is really qualified to judge the proper course, because "They didn't face the attacks of 9/11. They didn't suffer the death of 3,000 of their people in a matter of hours." The relevance of that fact to the situation in Iraq rather escapes me. The fact that we're still one of the most domestically peaceful countries in the world seems to put the lie to that statement as well. But then again, this is coming from the same guy who just told us that Bush's "cowboy" reputation is a good thing. Dicky-Boy's been busy these last few days, hasn't he? Every time I think Cheney can't get any slimier, there he goes.
Well, CBS News just confirmed the Observer article. Bush just had a press release calling tomorrow a 'moment of truth' for the world. What that means, he didn't specifically say, but the implication is hard to miss - we're going to war really soon. God damn. I don't know what else there is to do. I only hope everything he said about humanitarian aid and ending the sanctions and rebuilding and democracy are true, and that this war won't earn him a re-election. I fear that neither of those hopes will be reflected in reality.
If this article from Britain's Observer is true, Tony Blair has announced the UN has 24 hours to back war or we're going to do it ourselves. Don't know what to say about that. Have to see what develops. Damn.

Friday, March 14, 2003

And now the archives have just disappeared altogether. OK, screw this. You probably don't care about old posts anyway. I'll ask Blogger what the story is. Until then, hope you weren't basing your senior thesis on my January comments.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Figures. As soon as I post that last post, the archives magically appear again. Oh well, I shouldn't complain.

Another thing I've noticed (new tangent) is the ads that Blogspot has been putting at the top of my page recently. It's all fundamentalist Christian BS! A lot of it consists of rather incendiary exhortations that entirely conflict with my views. I'm pretty upset, but I don't want to pay to remove them... maybe this is their new ploy to get paying subscribers? Make the ads so objectionable that people will do anything to get rid of them?
This is really annoying. The whole archive is still on the server, but for some reason only the first page is showing up on the sidebar. And while trying to fix it, I accidentally deleted my whole page template, hence the new design. Well, I kind of like this one better anyway. But naturally, the problem still isn't fixed.
Having trouble with the archive... stand by...
In completely unrelated news, does anyone watch Junkyard Wars? It's a show on TLC where two teams are given some thing to build, from a catapult to a dune buggy, and must complete it within one day using only materials found in a junkyard. Then they compete with their creations in a series of tests (for the catapult episode, they had to knock down a cardboard castle in the minimum number of shots... using grapefruits as ammunitioin). Last night was Mega Junkyard Wars, a 2-day, 3-team competition to build, of all things, an airplane - and it had to be certified by an FAA official or it would be disqualified. Here's the catch, though: since it was in honor on the Wright Flyer, they couldn't use any materials or tools not available in 1903, although they were provided with an FAA-compliant engine.

For this episode, they brought in an American team, a Britsh team, and a French team. The Americans built a replica of a 1910 American monoplane design out of steel tubes. The French built a very small, lightweight wooden monoplane based on the French "Antoinette" design. The British, meanwhile, just sort of cobbled together every design they sort of liked to make a giant wood-and-cloth biplane. The American plane didn't get off the ground in either of its trial runs, and ran out of altitude halfway to the finish line in the contest. The French plane got a foot off the ground in its first trial, a little higher in its second, and landed about 10 feet from the target in the contest (they were aiming for a line in the sand.) The Brit plane took of in the trial... and just kept going. Forget caution, the pilot toodled around at about 200 feet for a while before bringing it down. And they did the same thing the second time. And then they landed on the line. So they kind of won. It was cool.
Someone mentioned to me today a rumor that France is so adamantly opposed to war in Iraq because they don't want anyone to find out exactly how much business, especially in the arms sector, they've been doing with Saddam during the embargo. It's certainly possible. France has a history of selling guns to anyone with money, and they have been acting quite suspiciously of late. Rejecting the British proposal before even reading it? That doesn't seem like decisive, measured statesmanship. As I've said before, I'm against war because I think it will get a lot of people killed and make the world a more dangerous place for everyone, especially Americans, but that doesn't mean I think anti-war governments are any less ulteriorly-motivated than our own.
Just talked to Professor John Seinfeld of Caltech on the topic of Air Pollution Abatement Programs (the paper I'm writing for Haverford). Not very often that a college freshman gets access to a "Louis E. Nohl Professor", so I'm pretty happy about that. Sort of wish I hadn't been so bumbling during the interview, but hey, that's what's gonna happen when a college freshman interviews a Louis E. Nohl Professor at Caltech. Unfortunately, being a scientist, he often was looking at things from a level that made my questions look stupid no matter how carefully I'd formulated them. Oh well, what's a guy to do? The most important thing I got out of the interview was a great quote right near the end, on the question of whether NOx and SOx emissions were a serious enough problem to justify putting some companies out of business in the name of cutting them: "If a company has technology so outdated that it has no choice but to grossly violate emission limits, maybe it has no business being in business." That is definitely going in the paper.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Now this is great. Remember those tireless public servants who had French Toast changed to Freedom Toast on the congressional cafeteria's menu, to protest the blatant cowardice of the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys in not going to war when we tell them to? Well, as it turns out, French Toast was invented in Albany, New York, by a guy named Samuel French, who meant to call it French's Toast but had a poor grasp of English grammar, specifically use of the possessive "s". So, we've now boycotted an American citizen's name. Great.
I wondered where the Beastie Boys went. Man they were good. They apparently just released a new single, "In a World Gone Mad", after 3 years of... well, not releasing any new singles. And it's political too! Hey, any cause that has the Beatie Boys on its side is bound to win out.
Arianna Huffington has a good article on Salon today about corporate tax shelters: Seriously, what's up with this? It's real popular to set up offshore tax havens these days, so why isn't the government doing anyhting about it? At least they could pass the law that would ban tax evaders from government contracts, which apparently has passed several times and subsequently been gutted in committee. Sheesh, we're all supposed to buy duct tape and die in the desert for our country while we have to cut school years by a month because the government doesn't have enough money, and Tyco International gets a Billion dollar tax-free government contract because it "reincorporated" (read: set up a dummy headquarters) in Bermuda? What the heck kind of government of the people is that?

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Now here's proof our elected representatives are doing their job: Apparently, several congressmen have taken upon themselves the noble task of getting "French Fries" and "French Toast" changed to "Freedom Fries" and "Freedom Toast", as a bold rebuke to those disloyal peaceniks in France. How dare they have a different foreign policy than us!

*Sigh*... our schools are falling apart, millions are starving, the environment is going up in smoke, and a nutcase in North Korea has a few nuclear weapons he'd love to do something with, and this is what our government is spending its time on? I'm almost too tired of it to be outraged. Not quite yet though.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Was channel surfing and came across the new Dragnet on ABC, starring Ed O'Neill (of Al Bundy fame.) Actually, I thought it was quite good. I'm not sure how much credence I should put in the show's "inspired by real events" claim - "inspired" leaves more than a little room for interpretation. Even so, the story was contorted but still believable. Made me think more of my idea of a real investigation than the CSI "let's pull some bizarre plot twist out of nowhere" formula, as entertaining as that can be. O'Neill is a very convincing Joe Friday. While he's still known for Married With Children (at least that's what I know him for,) he's had a number of roles since then. My favorite was probably a minor but important role in the absolutely amazing suspense-mystery The Spanish Prisoner. Very good. He's got more talent than I gave him credit for. Back to Dragnet though, I wonder how long it will stay on? It's slotted directly after Alias, a very entertaining show (with, coincidentally, one of the most attractive female leads in history,) which ought to feed it some viewers. I hope it will have some life,, but quality isn't usually the deciding factor in what goes ands what stays. We'll see.
I missed 60 minutes tonight. Not that I usually watch it, but I kinda wanted to see Clinton and Dole go at it. I haven't seen any reports on the outcome yet. I wonder what happened?

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Hmm... been about a week since my last post. Sometimes it's hard to keep a regular posting schedule when you're the only one reading. Oh well. The fact that I was in the middle of writing a 13-page paper on pollution abatement programs (which I think I'll put up here some time, becayse hey, why not?), studying for midterms, and packing for a week's trip out-of-state might have had something to do with it, too. But, I am in fact still alive, and would like to note the fact that California is actually significantly warmer than Pennsylvania. I'd also like to note that State webpages need shorter URLs.

Now, for the link of the day - Some of the best political satire I've seen anywhere. Really great stuff.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Just noticed for the first time that my links had been showing up as just plain text. I fixed it in all the still-editable posts, and I'll be sure they work from now on. Hopefully.

This is a blog run by... well, a homeless guy. Very interesting read.
Regarding the Pledge of Allegiance: Take "Under God" out! When it was inserted in 1954, it was supposed to be a symbol of unity, something that all Americans could rally around to distinguish us from the Godless Soviets. It may have been a great idea then. I don't know, I wasn't there. I do know that as of right now it is incredibly divisive, and serves no purpose other than the religious one of being a mini-prayer built into our statement of political philosophy. It has no place there. Going back to the pre-1954 pledge would not cause a wave of Satanism or some such to sweep over our nation. A change in 2003 to the 1953 pledge would do what revising the pledge supposedly did in 1954: Give us a symbol of unity, something we can rally around to distinguish ourselves from the violent fundamentalist regimes of the world. I can't image God would mind such a distinction.

A caveat: I don't understand why the Pledge was ruled unconstitutional, rather than the Under God line. If the news outlets have it right, which I'm not entirely convinced of, then public schools in the Western States are going to be barred from saying the pledge period. That doesn't do anyone any good. I don't buy the whole "we're forcing our children to be religious" line. I'm philosophically opposed to "Under God" because it's a straight church/state juxtaposition, but I find it really hard to beleive that anyone is being proselytized by the pledge of allegiance. We need to change the pledge, not ban it.

Another question: Why is it just the western states? Wasn't it a federal court? Shouldn't its ruling be nationwide? Perhaps I need to do some more reading on the court system...

So, apparently the guy who was supposed to have planned the Sept 11 attacks was just arrested in Pakistan. I wonder where this will go?
Another thing: I don't plan on this blog being exclusively about Iraq. It is the thing that has most of my attention right now, which I'm sure has a few Washington insiders slapping each other on the back. Not that they particularly care what I'm looking for, but we can assume I'm not the only one too preoccupied with this ridiculous war to delve too deeply into the various other economic and political acts of veritable treason our government has and is committing (is Ashcroft's Justice Department going to come after me for saying that? I probably just got entered into the FBI dissenter watch list or some such. Oh well, what's there to do?) Kyoto, energy policy, and the "let's give a bunch of money to rich people" tax cut act come to mind. I'll get to them in time.

Of course, since no one reads this, does it really matter? Well, I'm still amusing myself.
US Says Hussein Must Cede Power to Head Off War:

Great. And where exactly did we gain the authority to tell countries who their leaders were? I mean, damn, disarming is one thing, protecting the Iraqi people is great too, but why in the hell does my government insist on framing things in the stupidest, most blatantly dismissive of international law possible?