Thursday, April 29, 2004

Update on the Sinclair/Nightline story: Sinclair Broadcasting Group is a big proponent of the Bush FCC deregulation, has given a total of about $120,000 over the past 4 years to the Republican party and it's candidates (0 to anyone else), and is hailed thusly by NewsMax, America's premier internet purveyor of Fair and Balanced reportáge: "One of the nation's newest and fastest-growing TV news networks says it's tired of left-leaning news reporting and wants to offer Americans a fair and balanced perspective, just as Fox News Channel does. Fox News eschewed politically correct news to become the dominant force on cable news. And now the Sinclair Broadcast Group has been following in Fox's footsteps to do the same for broadcast news in news markets across the nation."

Gee, who didn't see this coming?
ABC has decided to do a special edition of Nightline tomorrow night - the entire hour will be a tribute to our soldiers fallen in Iraq, a simple reading of their names and showing of their faces. In response, Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns eight ABC affiliates (along with 54 other stations), has refused to run the episode, stating it "appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq" due to the fact that "he [Ted Koppel] chose to read the names of the 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorists attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001", and that they "do not believe such political statements should be disguised as news content", as such rubbish is "contrary to the public interest."

Remember, kids, if it's not an administration talking point, it's probably seditious!

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Who was it that decided this flag would go over well in Iraq?

First of all, every Iraqi flag since 1924 has been black, green, red, and white, with the 1959-1963 flag (the last one pre-Saddam) also having some yellow. This one's more than half white, with the rest composed of two shades of blue and a thin gold stripe. So, symbolically, Iraq is to be cut off not only from it's Ba'athist past, but, uh, all of it's past. Getting rid of the green was an especially odd move, seeing as that's the sacred color of Islam. On top of that, you know what the only other Middle Eastern state with a primarily blue and white flag is? That would be Israel. It turns out many Iraqis actually do not like israel very much, and Israel-American conspiracy theories abound. So, you know, if I were trying to dispel said theories, I wouldn't go about it by tearing down the Iraqi flag and replacing it with what could be described as a derivative of the Israeli one.

Monday, April 26, 2004

There's a fairly bad looking movie slated for an imminent release by the name of The Day After Tomorrow. In the greatest tradition of overblown disaster movies, this one uses $125 Million to create a highly implausible scenario - overnight global destruction by freak weather phenomena - out of a real threat - Global Warming. And (as Kevin Drum draws our attention to), in the best tradition of Bush-variant Nixonian politics, the administration has banned NASA from answering any questions about it, including to assure the public this is not going to happen, presumably because in doing so someone might admit that Global Warming actually is an issue, even if this isn't how it's going to manifest itself.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

It's always fun to look at my counter statistics and see where I'm getting hits from. Today, I see four lucky people found this site by doing Google Searches for the following strings:

  • strategic multilateralism and tactical unilateralism
  • haverfest 2004
  • "challenged instead of retarded"
  • operation pussy galore iraq

Well, you can't say there's no diversity to this site's contents...
Via Kos, we see this newest bit of creative concept linkage - Since 'abortion is murder', and Al-Qaeda commits murder, support for abortion rights is equivalent to support for Al-Qaeda:
"I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," she said. "President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life." -Karen Hughes, political adviser to President George W. Bush
Worst Excuse Ever. Being asked to explain himself after claiming there was a vast Islamic conspiracy for world domination and saying "I've got an idea, let's kill all Muslims.", a Boston radio host responded that he wasn't talking about American Muslims, he was talking about Muslims outside the US. Oh, well that totally justifies him! Genocide is fine as long as we do it somewhere else!

Is this for real?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Oh, and on the topic of Mr. Kucinich, I got the opportunity to ask him a question on his way out:

Me: "Mr. Kucinich, in a no-holds-barred cage match between yourself and Tom DeLay, who would win?"

Cong. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH): *Blank Stare* "Uh... I don't think... a cage match? I don't... uh... think I would... engage... in that... so I would win... by not engaging."
Saw Dennis Kucinich speak today. I can certainly understand why he was really never able to gain better than 1% of the primary vote, despite the fact that certainly well over 1% of the population agrees with his views (heck, Ralph "pariah" Nader is still polling about 5%). The reason is that he's just too much philosopher, not enough leader. He talks about "dichotomies" and "the unification of humanity" and "holistic structures of government". Well, you know, I really don't want to hear that from politicians. I want to hear what's the problem, and what are you going to do about it. Howard Dean had this one absolutely down, and Edwards too, to an extent. George Bush is excellent at this, even if what he's actually saying is complete BS most of the time. Kerry will have to learn this skill if he wants to go anywhere. It's not a matter of dumbing things down; that's certainly a way to accomplish this goal, and the one in favor with the current White House, but not the one I'd advocate. What it means is only saying things that mean something. Can you picture what "unifying humanity" or "creating holistic structures of government" look like? I know I can't. Now, if someone says "lowering taxes" or "withdrawing from Iraq" or even something a little further out there like "destroying evil" or "declaring war on poverty", can you picture that? "Two Americas" was a brilliant line, because you can very easily picture what the Two Americas look like. Anyone, in politics or otherwise, who wants to get anything done needs to think about that before they start. It's the difference between leadership and bloviation.
I remember the fanfare when Pat Tillman, strong safety for the Arizona Cardinals, left the NFL in 2002 to join the Special Forces in the newly declared War on Terror.

He was killed today in Afghanistan.

From Reuters

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Well, someone's finally starting to pay attention: Panel: Don't use Diebold touch-screen voting machines.
California should ban the use of 15,000 touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems from the Nov. 2 general election, an advisory panel to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley recommended Thursday.

By an 8-0 vote, the state's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel recommended that Shelley cease the use of the machines, saying that Texas-based Diebold has performed poorly in California and its machines malfunctioned in the state's March 2 primary election, turning away many voters in San Diego County.

*snip*

Panel member Marc Carrel, an assistant secretary of state, said he was "disgusted" by Diebold, which has "been jerking us around." The company, he said, has disenfranchised voters in California and undermined confidence in the new and developing technology of touch-screen voting.

Diebold, if you recall, is the company whose voting machines have been proven impossibly easy to hack, whose internal memos show that they make a practice of changing their machines' software without authorization after installating them, and whose CEO has promised he is "committed to helping Ohio [his home state] deliver its electoral votes to the President next year."
The title of the article is Bush Hails His Environmental Record on Earth Day. Well, at least someone likes it: the Earth Day founder, Political Science professor, former EPA head, collective statement by 20 Nobel Prize winners, and Sierra Club director quoted in the article all say his environmental record is, uh, really, really lousy.

George W. Bush. Worst. Environmental. President. Ever.
Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.

Via Atrios

Monday, April 19, 2004

Spain's new government has, as promised, begun to Withdraw its troops from Iraq. This is a real bad time, not only because we need every boot on the ground that we can get, but because Spanish troops are actively engaged near Najaf. Their withdrawal will leave a hole in the American/Coalition blockade. In that second article, you'll also note that Al-Sadr ordered his militias to cease fire on Spanish troops as they are in the process of withdrawal. This will almost certainly be reported as a quid-pro-quo or Spain "giving in to terror"; whether or not that's accurate, this whole thing is going to strain trans-Atlantic relations even further.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Well, you can't fault them for not being conscientious, anyway. Most of the Los Angeles porn industry - which is to say most of the US porn industry - has shut down after an actor and an actress failed their mandatory tri-weekly HIV tests. All production is stopped until at least June while they wait and make sure no one else is infected. These are all industry standards, by the way, not government-imposed. It kind of makes you wish any other businesses were so concerned for the health and safety of their employees.
Here's something out of the ordinary: A photojournal of a Ukranian biker's trip through the ruins of Chernobyl. Asphalt, you know, does not absorb radiation, so if you stay to the middle of the roads and keep your eye on the geiger counter, you can fairly safely navigate a part of the world in which it will always remain the 26th of April, 1986.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

From The Agonist
The following letter was distributed on the streets of Baghdad today:

To our families in Baghdad:

Do not leave your homes and do not go to school, universities, offices. Do not walk around in the markets and to all supermarket owners and commercial markets: close your shops from April 15 2004 to April 23 2004, since your brothers the Mujahadieen in Ramadi, Khaldiya, and Fallujah will transfer the resistance fire to Baghdad, the capital, to help out Mujahideen brothers from the Al-Mahdi Army to free you from the darkness of the occupier, and so you have been warned.

Your Brothers the Mujahideen companies

From God victory and success

(Name of source withheld)
Some of Mark Fiore's cartoons have been a bit subpar lately, but this week's is him in his top form. The Buck Stops Where?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Oh my lord. This is the most disgusting photo supposedly depicting an attractive woman I have ever seen. Upper left corner.
Speak of driving with one's eyes closed, I would direct everyone to this Slate Article by William Saletan. As time has gone on and evidence has amassed, intelligent onlookers have been better and better able to identify just what is going on with our current administration. People who want to call the president evil are wrong. He's not even nuts. He has some nutcase advisers, but the president himself is in my opinion, a reasonably clearheaded, reasonably intelligent man. His problems are ones of personality - his arrogance, his stubborness, his complete and utter credulity and incuriousness. Get something in this guy's head, and damned if he won't do it, regardless if he has to push the country off a cliff in the process. And as he sees it, doing anything else is a sign of weakness, a lack of resolve. Or, as Saletan puts it:
To Bush, credibility means that you keep saying today what you said yesterday, and that you do today what you promised yesterday. "A free Iraq will confirm to a watching world that America's word, once given, can be relied upon," he argued Tuesday night. When the situation is clear and requires pure courage, this steadfastness is Bush's most useful trait. But when the situation is unclear, Bush's notion of credibility turns out to be dangerously unhinged. The only words and deeds that have to match are his. No correspondence to reality is required. Bush can say today what he said yesterday, and do today what he promised yesterday, even if nothing he believes about the rest of the world is true.
Philip Robertson is back on Salon.com with his reportage from Iraq. His last series, in which he reported unembedded from Kurdistan during the invasion was really excellent, and this new one from Baghdad seems to be the same. Despite Salon's left-leaning tendencies, Robertson has always appeared to be a man of impeccable objectivity - basically, he doesn't bother trying to support the liberal consensus, the conservative consensus, or even anybody's idea of what the real issues are. He just reports what he sees. Unfortunately, what he sees now is a step down from what he saw in the immediate aftermath of the war:
The city I remembered from a year ago, with its long palm-lined boulevards and frantic markets, no longer exists. It has been replaced by something that echoes of shell-shocked Kabul, in Afghanistan. On the way toward Sadoun Street and Paradise Square, I was turned around and couldn't locate the river. Baghdad has become a tangle of concrete barriers and barbed wire; officialdom and the press have retreated into an archipelago of fortified islands... Of course, it is far easier to hate strangers who live behind a maze of walls. This is what is happening in Iraq now."

I decided to check back on his previous work to see if it bore out his assertion. I found the following:

Philip Robertson on May 7, 2003:
Amir speaks English with a weird fluency, like many Christians in the Arab world, and loves the West and America so much that it will drive you crazy. I had to tell him to stop, that he was killing me with his patriotism, and tried to get him to tell his own stories.

Philip Robertson on April 14, 2004
Baghdad is a city of talkers, and I knew this neighborhood as a place where even strangers used to greet one another. Now, though, this convention has become obsolete. As I walked down the street, the city's new personality came through, and it was bitter and sullen. It didn't want to talk.

This is a... disturbing situation. I feel that there's not much I can do here. I wonder if there's much anyone can do now. The writing's on the wall that the approach we're using is just not working, but the guys that need to see that message are driving with their eyes closed.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Minor template change - Links should now open in new windows, instead of making this blog disappear if you click on anything. Always hated it when that happened.
Finally found some free image hosting from Photobucket.com. I'm guessing that, like all good things, they'll probably start charging by next week, but for the moment they get my hearty endorsement. Heck, with a name like Photobucket, they wouldn't even have to DO anything to get my endorsement. Anyway, the ability to add images should give me a little flexibility here, though God only knows if I'll actually do anything with it. For the moment, you might notice some of my life philosophies proudly displayed in the left-hand navigation bar, courtesy of the fine creative folks at InternetBumperStickers.com. Two free services on the internet on one day? Why, who would have thought they still existed?