Wednesday, July 31, 2002
G. Harlan Reynolds brings up Jonah Goldberg's newfound [sic] obsession with gay sex as a pretext to link to a righteous nudie pic in what is possibly his best post to date. Elsewhere in the warbloggergarten, one genius gets huffy over the possibility someone is having more fun than he is, while another fellow meditates on the sexual habits of greasy apes and the womenfolk who fellate them.
Psych undergrads, please form a line to the left.
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Back on July 6, G. Harlan Reynolds reported his home had been struck by lightning, something we were sure was a warning shot by the Almighty. Reynolds was luckily out of town, escaping injury.
Reynolds writes this evening that he had "wanted to watch Stossel," but a thunderstorm had knocked the local ABC affiliate off the air. "Damned lightning," he cried, the realization that God is not only an apparent Warblogger-Watcher but also a damn fine program director not having been made. Damned lightning indeed.
Ehud Sprinzak and Robert J. Lieber, July 28, 2002:
Many critics of U.S. Mideast policy scold the Bush administration for wanting to go after Saddam Hussein before progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace is achieved. Yet there are compelling reasons why these critics are 180-degrees wrong. Successfully moving against the Iraqi president first, rather than later, would create conditions for a new and more realistic peace process.
UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar, January 15, 1991:
I have every assurance once again from the highest levels of government that with the resolution of the present crisis [Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War], every effort will be made to address, in a comprehensive manner, the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Palestinian question.
Judging by the success of the enterprise on its first attempt, I can hardly blame the warbloggers for their enthusiasm for a threatened round two.
Monday, July 29, 2002
The value of bloggers in public discourse
Douglas Adams in one of his books describes a program that allows the user to specify a conclusion in advance, and then constructs a plausible series of logical-sounding steps out of a collection of facts, to support this conclusion. (In Adams' book, the program is sold exclusively to the Pentagon, for obvious reasons.)
Probably most people's brains work like this fictional program, more or less. People have a certain worldview (in the broadest sense of the word), and information that supports or seems to support their particular view is "processed" easier and faster. Information that doesn't "fit" and should make people scrutinize or even reconsider their worldview and conclusions is often repressed, the people who present this information are often attacked, vilified.
The less someone is willing and able to scrutinize and reconsider his own worldview, the less his value in public discourse. In my opinion, teachers, journalists and academics, to name a few, should concentrate on checking and improving the "collection of facts" and on exposing the "logical-sounding steps" for not being logical.
Most people publishing independently on their own internet site (bloggers and such) aren't much different from most professional journalists (- who do journalism for a living). But professional journalists work in an environment where they have to prove themselves before their work gets published. Other professional journalists read their work and decide if it's good enough to publish. And even when it's considered good enough, it usually gets edited.
This doesn't make professional journalism perfect. It often doesn't filter out bias, the uncritical use of opinions of experts and the incompleteness of the presented facts. But it does keep much professional journalism relatively (I said "relatively") free of two habits that make much of the unedited contributions of independent bloggers close to worthless for public discourse.
The first of those habits is the incessant vilifying of people who present information that doesn't fit in the blogger's worldview. For example, by using terms like "idiot apologists for Islamo-fascist terrorism" and "The Circle of the Treacherous", Pejman Yousefzadeh raises the suspicion that he is not able to convincingly defend his own opinions without raising his voice or shouting. It makes him look like a teenage boy who believes that his admirers admire him for his imagined guts to shout down his opponents with the absurdest terms of abuse.
The second habit that makes much of the bloggers' contributions close to worthless for public discourse, is the uncritical praise for opinion that they think supports their own opinions, even when the praised opinion seems to have been put together by a very early, buggy and badly working version of Douglas Adams' fictional program.
This is what Andrew Sullivan does when he praises yesterday's opinion piece Oust Saddam First, Then Pursue Peace in the LA Times.
The writers of this article base their argument that the removal of Saddam Hussein is necessary to reach a Palestinian-Israeli peace on the following statement: "[t]here is little doubt that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat is the major obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace". In fact, there is not much doubt that Arafat is one obstacle to peace. But: there is a lot of doubt that he is "the major obstacle". Andrew Sullivan should know that. The writers probably know that too, but apparently refuse to take this information into account.
The writers don't support their statement that Arafat is the "major obstacle" to peace, although it is the fundament of their analysis. They don't even discuss the statement, which makes it difficult to consider their article to be something else than black propaganda. Andrew Sullivan calls the analysis a simple and powerful case for a war against Iraq. It seems that he has already concluded that Arafat is the major obstacle to peace, and that a war against Iraq is a good idea. I suggest he upgrade his "Douglas Adams program" to be able to better support those conclusions.
The proprietor of a wholly unremarkable website prostrates himself at the feet of Lummox Taranto, Head Arab-baiter In Charge of the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web [sic] feature, over on Romenesko's letter page. Those of us wondering the reason behind The Lummox's animus toward our Muslim brethren were wrong to call it animus. It's actually "courage." Witness/Witless: "James Taranto's amusing daily website often calls attention to stories about the Middle East and Islamic terrorist groups that other news outlets ignore, downplay, or perhaps are afraid to run, after seeing what Bin Laden supporters did to Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl." Amazing.
To shamelessly invoke the awful murder of one of journalism's foremost practitioners (a secular progressive one, at that) in exalting someone's rank prejudice is really a bit much.
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Warblogger Andrew Sullivan wastes no time in getting with the program. At the start of the propaganda effort against Iraq, Saddam Hussein was vilified as a new Hitler, capable of gassing the Kurds, his own people. On the remote date of February 22, 1998, in one of his predictable Sunday Times pieces (whoa! Bill Clinton was a draft dodger?! I'd certainly have forgotten if you didn't remind me every week!), Sullivan penned these words [emphasis added]:
If the president had had a coherent Iraq strategy for the past five years - covert, aggressive support for the Iraqi opposition, rigorous enforcement of sanctions, aid to Kurdish and Shi'ite separatists, a gradual tightening of the no-fly zone - he would have more than merely missile options today. No, I'm not saying that this crisis is ultimately the fault of the United States. It is ultimately the fault of Saddam Hussein.
Securing rights and justice (revenge, actually) for the Kurds was, until very recently, a chief rationalization for waging further war against Iraq. No more. Copies of the Washington Post containing the below had barely left the printing plant when Sullivan already changed his tack [emphasis added]:
A major goal of U.S. policy in a post-Hussein Iraq would be to prevent the creation of an independent state in the heavily Shiite south, or an independent Kurdish state in the north. To fulfill U.S. promises to Turkey and Arab states that Iraq would remain whole, a defense official said, "I think it is almost a certainty that we'd wind up doing a campaign against the Kurds and Shiites." That would represent a striking reversal of administration policy of supporting the Kurds against Baghdad.
Uh oh! Time for a new rationale/rationalization. Coming to the rescue, Sullivan forgets all about the Kurds on whose behalf he once exercised his rawmuslglutes and gleefully links to this L.A. Times opinion piece, which purports to show that warring with Iraq will contribute to peace in Palestine.
Ah, war...is there anything it can't do?
Discourse and dissent are in dire states indeed when the most progressive stance on foreign policy is taken by a medieval institution and its functionaries. I'd start attending Mass, I swear, if it weren't for the off chance of having to jostle for pew space with the lesser adherents of church doctrine.
Saturday, July 27, 2002
Coming soon: Strangelove II - Iraqi Bugaboo
I recall my young nephew getting into the liquor cabinet some time back while his parents were away. The results were both disastrous and predictable. The lad lacked an adult-level tolerance for the stuff he freely guzzled, and had yet to negotiate a proper boozy comportment, something acquired only with sustained effort.
To this day the young man grows as red as David Horowitz circa 1969 when the episode is broached at family conclaves. He was but 11 at the time, so he cannot be faulted. 18-year-old simian Ben Shapiro - identified in his Town Hall biography as a UCLA undergrad, thus illustrating the conservative assertion that the enterprise of public education has failed singularly - cannot invoke the same defense. If he's not yet ashamed of himself for offering up such shit as below, I doubt he will ever achieve compassion, learning, and good sense enough to realize just how ridiculous and obnoxious he in fact is:
Enemy 'civilian casualties' ok by me
I am getting really sick of people who whine about "civilian casualties." Maybe I'm a hard-hearted guy, but when I see in the newspapers that civilians in Afghanistan or the West Bank were killed by American or Israeli troops, I don't really care.
Is it possible to slander any group other than Muslims and Middle Easterners (the two conflated horribly in the underdeveloped brains of the warbloggers) with impunity, as this dolt does here:
And we must never forget to never ever make a person of Muslimness feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable about anything whatsoever. Heck, we'll soon be forcing our daughters to wear headscarves in public schools, just so little Akhbar won't feel "different."
Why not just post some of those hilarious nigger jokes you likely treasure?
Friday, July 26, 2002
(Art by Micah Wright at www.micahwright.com)
I think that Oliver Willis makes a clever strategic decision—so rare among the Warbloggers—to be pro war but anti-Bush. Quick question: Who would give you more confidence the proper pronunciation challenged resident Bush or a war veteran, or even a guy who has the magical ability to pronounce “Malfeasance” or is it really “Malfeant”…What a Frellin’ Moron.
Anyway, here’s some of Oliver’s wacky headlines:
D-Day 'Invasion' Violates French Sovereignty
Amnesty Int'l Accuses Allies of Human Rights Violations in 'Wholesale Slaughter' of Nazi Soldiers
America Vs. Japan: Why We Should Give Up The Hawaiian Islands
Oh that’s rich there Ollie. But you’re assuming that we’ll have FDR, arguably one of our greatest presidents, and a comparatively unbought off legislature. Let’s reimagine those headlines and freely ripoff the John Dos Passos Newsreel technique. (Here’s a page of other imitators by the way…), some Phil K. Dick alt history and our current Fearless Leader and away we go…
BUSH DECLARES ITALY, CHINA AND AFGHANISTAN TO BE AXIS OF EVIL
(AP): President Bush vows the Chinese will pay for this Day of Infamy. And in another development the President refused all calls for food and gas rationing, refused to rethink the nation’s industrial output in a time of war, refused to allow the hiring of women for industrial jobs, refused to initiate the temporary legalization of hemp production and refused to answer questions about his family’s involvement with the Nazis—who we are not at war with.
ALLIANCE WITH OUR NEW PALS THE GERMANS
(UPI Editorial) by Helen Thomas
AREN'T GERMANS THE REAL ENEMY?
I can’t believe we’re not at war with the Germans. The Germans are really evil. They’re bad. True, they give a lot in campaign money and now that they’ve conquered all of the countries in the mideast (It was rumored they were going to attack Russia but they shifted their forces…) I guess we’re dependent on them. But we’re really not dependent on them. It’s as if the government chooses not to do the right thing because of certain special interest groups. Of course, the question is does the government act on behalf of the best interests of the country, of mankind even, or on behalf of American and German industrialists…It’s as if we inhabit some horrible alternate reality that would make for great Hollywood movies thirty years from now.
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL
We find ourselves baffled by the president’s decision-making. It’s clear that we should be attacking Japan, not China. Furthermore, we are of the opinion that Hitler and his Third Reich are more of a threat to our ideals than Afghanistan. We think that our new dependency on Germany, brought about by their invasion and total conquest of the mideastern oil reserves has clouded the president’s judgment, not to mention the fact that his family has an oil background and looks to be raking in the big bucks. We just don’t get it. Plus, he seems to be a nepotistic dolt who can’t pronounce words. No wonder the stock market falls whenever he speaks. What a Frellin’ Moron. (Look, the New York Times editorialists talked that way back then…)
V STANDS FOR VICTORY IN ITALY
(AP): The proxy troops that we’re employing to fight the evildoers conquered Italy today. Oddly enough, there were very little casualties as it turned out the opposing fascist forces simply threw up their hands, shook the hands of our proxy forces and proclaimed alliance with our new transparent puppet government. The evildoers were allowed to keep their weapons, return to their villages and renew their lucrative heroin trade. “V is for Victory” gushed President Bush, hidden in an undisclosed location, but who managed to correctly pronounce victory.
BUSH CONDEMNS ACTIONS OF “TERRORIST” FRENCH RESISTANCE
AND DEFENDS GERMANY’S RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF
“NO MORAL EQUIVALATION” SPOUTS THE PREZ
IN FACT EDITORIAL BY GEORGE SELDES
ARE GERMANS WORKING ON SUPER WEAPON?
This so-called “war” has been a complete disaster. Abroad it’s made us at best a mockery of our best aspects and at worst allied with the values of Fascists, who mask their power grabs and their civilian murders with the rhetoric of patriotism and national security. We fought by proxy in Italy (We can’t find Mussolini or any of his top captains…) and it’s not sure if we actually won anything other than the complete hatred of the Italian people. Clearly, the war should have been against both Japan and Germany, where there are rumors of a Jewish massacre, but the complete monied corruption of the administration only allows us to bomb Afghanistan, a small incidental pawn in this The Great Game. At home, the war has been used as a thin excuse to crush civil liberties and roundup opposition members. It’s rumored that there are more than 6 million being held secretly without the benefits of trial or defense counsel. To be frank, it’s not known if they’re alive or dead. We can certainly count on the fact that they face misery or torture. They’ll probably be coming for me soon. What’s worse, there’s this rumor that Germany is working on a super weapon. Of course, Einstein, now dead, and Leo Szilard were deported back to Germany. President Bush suspended all American research into new weapons and energy resources because it was clearly known that he thought that such research would harm the interests of the oil companies and our good friends the Germans and their indirect thralls the Saudi monarchy…What are the Germans working on? What?
Well here’s our favorite Neo-Eugenicist Godless Capitalist on the value of the Bush regime. I love that line where he applauds the numbers going down. One other thing to keep in mind, thanks to the great Tapped blog, is that his reelect rate—despite high poll numbers—is only 42 percent, which is down from the 48 percent that actually failed to vote him into office the first time. This not only means that he’s not unbeatable, but that he may not even survive a primary challenge—which, frankly, would probably be better for the Republican Party anyway—not that I care. Likewise, I think Bush’s best bet is for an overwhelming victory for the Dems (60+ seats in the Senate and a good 20 seat House majority because a one seat majority isn’t really a majority for the Tony Coelho-inspired Dems..) because they would be much better at the work of governance and do the kinds of things that an insanely inarticulate blue blood Republican would never ever do. And with their help, Bush would probably be in a stronger position in 2004—but he’s such a thoroughly mediocre guy that he’ll probably still lose…Anyway, here’s Godless (By the way, it’s clear that me and Doc Menlo and Godless all think that Religion is a very very bad meme. In fact, we could probably have drinks about it and quote our favorite issues of Free Inquiry and our most cherished Bertrand Russell/Eric Hoffer texts. Then Godless would give us the IQ tests, then frown disapprovingly and then me and Doc Menlo would be dragged off to the “camps”…but we’d share some good times first, good times...):
Here's a challenge for W fans: Can any of you tell me why you support Bush? Can anyone list Bush's policy successes and honestly claim they outweigh his manifold failures? Not only has he sold out on issues important to the right (e.g. affirmative action, bilingual ed, tariffs, foreign policy, federalizing things right & left, expanding bureacracy, etc.), he's also pissed off people on the left (e.g. unilateralism, anti-environmentalism, pushing religious school vouchers, etc.).
This recent Wall Street debacle is a case in point. Bush - or rather Rove - thought he could score easy political points with centrists and lefties by talking a big game about "corporate evil doers" while winking at his business pals. But no one believed that Bush - a lifelong beneficiary of nepotism & corporate welfare - was serious about reforming anything. No one, that is, except the market, who (rightly) feared an onslaught of ill-advised regulation in the same vein as the new "Homeland Security" superagency.
It's not often that one can make a strong case for pinning economic woes on the actions of the president. But the Dow's precipitous drop began on the day Bush visited Wall Street, and it seems clear that Bush's speech caused it.
I'm counting the days till Bush gets booted in 2004. Approval ratings are 60 and dropping...
Israel Epitome: This is Democracy?
Perhaps the most laughable condonation is Israel calling herself a democracy. America constantly reminds the world that Israel is the only democracy in the middle east, while other world leaders scratch their heads, recalling that nearly every regime in the middle east has been installed by the United States, including Saddam's Iraq. Israel's blueprint for a democracy is as follows: first and foremost you must share a single religion in order to share the full benefits of Israeli citizenship. Second, if your territory is annexed by Israel through occupation or war, count on being expelled or just living a terribly difficult life, as you have no recourse but blowing yourself up in Israel's democracy. Israel's 'democracy' is full of second and third class citizens, and many who don't even count as humans, even when they die. [more]
Thursday, July 25, 2002
"A digging through these images and sinking into them is recommended. At the least, they give the vanities and conceits of contemporary culture a little context." -- Michael Webb, MLWebblog
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
I was hoping Andrew Sullivan would have realized the depths of the waters into which he so recklessly dove when tackling the threatening UTIMCO mess and removed himself accordingly. Alas, the idiot continues to splash about, making a dreadful spectacle of himself and calling attention to his immense ignorance when charitable souls would rather have looked away out of embarrassment.
Sullivan couldn't help himself, actually. He saw Paul Krugman and the big boys swimming in the deep end and just had to follow. As a corrective to the paleoliberal Krugman, Sullivan today goes to the most credible and least tainted sources: a "former chancellor and former chairman of the board of regents of the University of Texas System" offered space on the pages of the Austin American-Satesman The piece only bears the byline of William H. Cunningham, former chancellor, though it is written in the first-person plural, suggesting Mr. Cunningham needs to reacquaint himself with terra firma.
Allow us to review the "factual data" as presented by Mr. Cunningham:
"* "Bush changed the rules governing that endowment, eliminating the requirements to disclose" all matters related to investment and income. Not true. Gov. Bush was not involved in any decisions related to rules governing university endowments. Any changes in rules were recommended by the vice chancellor for asset management and the chancellor to the entire Board of Regents for their consideration."
This is perhaps true in the narrowest factual sense. As the Austin American-Statesman reported on June 1, 1996: "The University of Texas has created a nonprofit corporation to invest $9 billion of the Permanent University Fund and other UT system assets," though that ignores events the year prior. Here's how liberal scumbag Joe Conason put it in the Febrauary 2000 Harper's: "Determined to secure passage of this far-reaching plan, [regent] Thomas Hicks met with Bush, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, and legislative leaders. 'I paid for a separate lobbyist to make sure that it was done, too,'Hicks boasted last December. It was one of the most significant changes to the governance of Texas made during Bush's tenure in the statehouse and among the first important bills that he signed. With Bush's support and the sponsorship of legislators associated with the governor, the UTIMCO bill passed through the capitol in 1995 with very few questions asked."
The Multinational Monitor of March 2000 reported Hicks spent between $50,000 and $100,000 on lobbyists to proselytize on behalf of the bill. To help Lil' Andy get his head around those numbers, $100,000 is twice what Krugman was given by Enron, or more than 13 times the pittance PhRMA offered you. [The market being the best gauge we have for human worth, Krugman seems over 6.5 times the man Sullivan is, a criminal underestimation in my view.]
"* Bush "privatized university assets by transferring them to a nonprofit organization known as Utimco." Not true."
Again, Mr. Cunningham is playing word games of the crudest sort, not even correctly excerpting Krugman's piece, in which the word privatized is placed in quotes and attributed specifically to Bush. Krugman chooses his words judiciously. The "president" chooses them without heed to, and possibly knowledge of, their meaning. The imprecision is solely on Bush's part.
"* University endowment money "was put under the control of Utimco's Chairman, Tom Hicks." Not true."
Nice to see the selfless Mr. Cunningham so willing to jump on grenades and spare the platoon leader. He notes that all private equity (but one class of investments of many) investments were vetted by the UTIMCO board as a whole. Let us note then the following remarkable symmetries of interest between Mr. Hicks and the board, these examples being reported in the March 21, 1999 Houston Chronicle:
"Almost a third of the $ 1.7 billion directed by UTIMCO, $ 252 million, has been committed to funds run by Hicks' business associates or friends. Another $ 205 million has gone to five funds run by major Republican political donors...In one case, Hicks insisted that UTIMCO increase by $ 10 million an investment commitment to a company in which he had an indirect financial interest" [an investment that was scuttled at the last minute]"
"The UTIMCO staff recommended in June 1996 that the board commit $ 15 million to The Beacon Group III-Focus Value Fund, L.P. But Hicks insisted the amount be raised to $ 25 million, according to board minutes."
"Beacon received $ 15.6 million from UTIMCO before the staff discovered a "back-door" conflict of interest that violated state law and halted further investments with Beacon. Long refused to say what the conflict was."
"According to SEC records obtained by the Chronicle, Hicks sat on the board of directors of Stratford Capital Partners, which along with The Beacon Group in 1996 was buying a chain of movie theaters. Stratford is an affiliate of Hicks, Muse."
"Hicks in January 1998 signed a conflict-of-interest statement saying he had no "personal or private interest" in the Beacon investment. At the time Hicks signed that document, Stratford and Beacon owned $ 52 million of the theater chain stock."
And lest you think these were somehow aberrational, consider the opening paragraph to a July 11, 1999 Dallas Morning News piece: "Tom Hicks handles public dollars by the hundreds of millions. But sometimes he's not sure it's worth the trouble - ethics controversies have arisen at three of the largest government entities he's worked with."
"* Due to Bush's alleged changes in investment rules "these investments were hidden from public view." Utimco does not operate in secret. Board meetings are open to the public in accordance with the state open meetings law."
As of the preparation of the above Chronicle article (i.e., when Bush was still governor), "UTIMCO's investments were made in closed-door, off-campus meetings - including one in Hicks' boardroom at the Ballpark in Arlington." Recall from Krugman's piece that Bush's $606,000 investment in the Texas Rangers yielded $14.9 million when the franchise was sold to Hicks nine years later.
The last factual Mr. Cunningham offers is worth quoting in full.
"* The investments that were created by UTIMCO "seemed to have done quite badly." Utimco has made a large number of investments. While some of them have not turned out as well as the board had hoped, others have been quite profitable. UTIMCO's overall investment record has been profitable for the people of Texas. The most recent data indicates that during the first six months of 2002, The University's general endowment fund had lost 2 percent, which was substantially better than most market indexes over the same period."
Mr. Cunningham's report on performance is very helpful in evaluating the returns generated by Mr. Hicks - who stepped down in 1999. I suspect Sullivan didn't even notice.
Encouraging Dissent and New Ideas
John Hughes, writing in today’s edition of the Christian Science Monitor (“Who Will Lead an Arab Renaissance?”), has some words that will no doubt surprise a large proportion of the punditocracy:
“Nor should we assume that the Arab lands living in economic backwardness and democratic darkness are without their own internal mutterings for reform. There is intellectual pondering in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The [U.N. Development Program’s] report found that 51 percent of older Arab adolescents, and 45 percent of younger ones, in the 22 countries surveyed, expressed a desire to emigrate, ‘clearly indicating dissatisfaction with current conditions and future prospects in their home countries.’” [Emphasis added.]
Now, how about some proactive diplomacy to encourage those “internal mutterings” and “intellectual pondering”? We understand the Bush administration has expressed an interest in this strategy, but what is being done? How aggressively can we expect this policy to be pursued?
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MOSSAD?
Overkill in Gaza
Whatever happened to the much-vaunted Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad?
In its -- overly successful -- effort to assassinate Salah Shehadeh, said to be a military leader of the Islamic group Hamas, the Israeli government turned not to the Mossad but to the army.
“Our mission was to target the most influential military leader of the Hamas organization, a mass murderer responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis,” said Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, in an account published in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Unfortunately, along with him died several civilians, apparently innocent,” he added. “We are very sorry. We didn’t hope for such results.” [Emphasis added.]
By Maj. Gen. Harel’s account, then, the goal of the mission was to kill just one person. If so, rather than sending an Israeli pilot flying an American-made F-16 and “a one-ton laser-guided bomb into Al Daraj, a densely packed neighborhood, just after midnight,” couldn’t the Mossad have taken Shehadeh out with a single bullet at close range? This would have reduced the risk of collateral damage to roughly zero.
Israeli officials suggested the military underestimated the damage the bomb would cause in the surrounding area, which may well be true though the army’s extensive experience with this type of weapon could suggest otherwise.
So instead of one dead militia leader, at least 15 people were killed, including nine children, and 145 people were injured. We suppose authorities are now at work determining whether the two-month-old child killed in the assault was “apparently innocent” or had extensive ties to Hamas.
IGNORANCE OF ISLAM
Ten Points on the Way to Recovery
It’s not necessary for non-Muslim Americans to embrace Islam as a religion or a cultural identity to at least express some empathy with Muslims as human beings, but given our collective lack of understanding of Islam, as well as the culture of Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians, it’s not too much to ask that we at least try to learn a little more than we know now.
A good start . . . “Challenging Ignorance on Islam: A Ten-Point Primer for Americans,” by Gary Leupp, associate professor of history and coordinator of the Asian studies program at Tufts University.
Leupp’s article makes innumerable valid points, including its last:
“Muslims and Jews in Palestine/Israel have not always hated one another, and the current Middle East conflict does not go back many centuries. Rather, it began with the influx of foreign Jews into the region after World War I, which became a flood as a result of the Holocaust, and with international support resulted in the formation of Israel as a specifically Jewish state in 1948. Jewish settlement and terrorism . . . resulted in the displacement of 750,000 Palestinian Arabs (including both Christians and Muslims). The Arab-Israeli conflict is not, fundamentally, about Islam, or a clash between Islam and other faiths, but about this -- worldly land grabbing, settlement, dispossession and oppression that has enraged the Muslim world, as it should enrage any thinking, moral human being.”
That’s about as contentious as Leupp’s article gets. If you can handle that, you’ll learn a great deal from the rest of the professor’s essay.
Sanity detected: Harold "You guys are wusses; I'm man enough to trade my freedom for the security offered by George 'Bunker' Bush and Dick 'Secure Location' Cheney" Owens achieves a trifecta. Saturday Owens praised a Warblogger Watch contributor in one post and admitted Islam may be a bit more nuanced a thing than his Cro-magnon constituency supposed in a second.
Monday he registered his fundamental agreement with Gore Vidal on the question of the Posse Comitatus Act.
The events described in Revelation 20 must be nearing. Should this numskull emerge from the unfathomable depths of his unfailing imbecility, I may just submit myself for baptism.
Welcome to Fans of David Horowitz's Blog
I think it's great that David Horowitz mentions this blog in his own blog. It's synchronicity. I wanted to inform people that I began a contest on another blog I write for--HorowitzWatch. There are some totally rad prizes.
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Sharon's Stealth Plan
Following the same tactics he has employed for a quarter-century, Sharon has been asserting in public that he accepts Bush's diplomacy -- and meanwhile is quietly overseeing a plan of settlement construction designed to make any two-state solution impossible. Since Sharon took office less than 18 months ago, 44 new settlement sites, including more than 300 units, have been established in the West Bank -- including nine in the past three months.Which is sorta funny because a common assertion from right-wing war hawks like David Horowitz (down from the Sharon progit machine which first proposes this), is that Israel is defending itself--'defending' themselves from the very same people you're stealing land from, go figure! Why, them goddamn Palestinians just to need to lay over and let the ethnic-cleansing continue! Don't they realize whose God sports the bigger beard? More likely they realize which country sports the 4th largest army on earth, backed by the country which claims the first largest army on earth . . .
Debunking 6 Common Israeli Myths leads us to the debunking of myth number two: Israel's invasion of Palestinian cities and refugee camps is self-defence against suicide bombings :
The Israeli claim that its attacks on the Palestinians constitute "self defense" ignores the fact that its posture in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip is, by definition, not defensive. Since 1967, Israel has maintained tens of thousands of heavily armed troops outside its borders for the purposes of stealing land from the Palestinians and forcing them to live as non-citizens under a foreign military dictatorship.And why do certain Israelis continue to steal more land and keep the brutal occupation of what's left of Palestine going even when it causes such a horrible cycle of violent revenge and what can only be a daily routine consisting of depression, anger, mourning, and eventual hatred between both the Palestinians and Israelis? Their "God" tells them it's their land. Fundamentalism, folks. Stop it before it kills again.
Seized Palestinian land has been used to build Jewish-only settlements linked by a network of Jewish-only roads, in flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention. This colonization is, and can only be, carried out by the violent suppression of any and all Palestinian resistance to the occupation.
Monday, July 22, 2002
The Rogue Elephant, by Francis A Boyle
In quick succession the world saw these Bush Jr Leaguers repudiate the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the International Criminal Court, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), an international convention to regulate the trade in small arms, a verification Protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention, an international convention to regulate and reduce smoking, the World Conference Against Racism, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems Treaty, inter alia. To date the Bush Jr Leaguers have not found an international convention that they like. The only exception to this rule was their shameless exploitation of the 11 September 2001 tragedy in order to get the US House of Representatives to give Bush Jr so-called "fast-track" trade negotiation authority so as to present the American People and Congress with yet another non-amendable fait accompli on behalf of American multinationals, corporations, banks, insurance companies, the high-tech and biotech industries, Wall Street, etc. The epitome of "globalization," American-style. . . . via Jorn's Robot Wisdom, actual blog-godfatha . . . I can hear the warblog hive-mind churning now: "If a) = critical of US, push b): 'You are Anti-American!'" . . . if you are growing a plant and want to prune the dead leaves from that plant, would that make you "anti-plant?" If you are driving a car which slips on a spot of ice, and starts to go off the road, leading to your imminent death, and you turn the wheel so that you avoid that death--would that make you "anti-car?" And yet if you criticize what your own government is doing (in a supposed democracy! where quark power allegedly rules!), especially when what your government is doing is leading to the deaths of innocents (you know death--that from which not even the National Review can penetrate), then you are "Anti-American." Well. I don't know about that, but I'll tell you one thing: I'm certainly anti-Horowitz.
. . . There very well could be some itty-bitty "rogue states" lurking out there somewhere in the Third World. But today the United States government has become the sole "rogue elephant" of international law and politics. For the good of all humanity, America must be restrained. Time is of the essence! [more]
Guess the self-styled tough guy who quotes the following approvingly:
I don't want to appease them, I don't want to understand them, I don't want to let them reap the benefits of our liberalism while plotting our destruction. Like most Americans, I would have been more than happy to let them pretend the last 400 years of progress never happened, as long as they didn't force their warped-vision goggles on anyone else. But since they brought the war to us, let's pave the middle east with outlet malls, fast food franchises, and Disney Mecca. Let's infect their entire population with personal liberty and dissension and critical thinking. And if that doesn't work, let's flood them with porn spam.
Winner gets a second-hand copy of P.J. O'Rourke's Give War a Chance. Fine print: winner is solely responsible for dislodging the prize from the sticky-fingered hands of the sad sack/tired hack whose name answers the above.
According to David Horowitz's latest screed, all Muslims and Blacks should be under heavy surveillance by the Ashcroft-Rumsfeld gulag gestapo because they are instrinsically anti-American. In fact, any "America-hating" radical is a terrorist according to Horowitz ("the ideological links .. are obvious" he says.)
But not only "American-hating radicals" (whoever they are): ANYBODY who dares to think that a group Mr Horowitz in his singular wisdom declares are terrorists might in actuality be victims (the Palestinians, for example, or the Nicaraguans facing military blitz by the US-armed Contras, or innocent Afghani villagers who just got in the way of an American bomb) is aiding and abetting terrorism. These terrible people (you and me, mostly) should also be subject to close surveillance by the thought police.
Of course, just like Bush and Ashcroft and Rumsfeld and Rice and the other rightwing ideologues seeking social control, Horowitz adamantly refuses to define "terrorist" in any way that is understandable to anyone not in line with him. Like the others of his ilk, he cannot do so because any reasonable definition will have to include many of the rightwingers' most cherished friends, like Ariel Sharon and Orlando Busch and Otto Reich - not to mention Oliver North and Ronald Reagan.
Therefore, the Ashcroft-Rumsfeld-Horowitz "terrorist" will remain anyone they choose to so label. This is the scenario for total social control. Joe Stalin would have been so proud!
How spin works:
Bush Administration floats a trial balloon on amending the Posse Comitatus Act so that military personnel can perform (more) police actions stateside. A few Democratic saps (Biden, Lieberman) express support for similar ideas.
Administration takes care to maintain (mildly) plausible deniability: Tom Ridge tells Wolf Blitzer, "The fact that you might discuss it does not mean in any way that you would use it. "
FreeRepublic, normally rabidly anti-gummint, opens forum devoted to the subject. Oddly, responses seem to mildly favor an "ah, they don't really mean it" interpretation of the PCA flapdoodle.
Meanwhile even Right-leaning non-lunatics denounce the Administration's idea. Instapundit says, "Soldiers make lousy police... That the idea comes from the unimpressive Tom Ridge doesn't make it any more, er, impressive."
Story is thereafter repackaged by reliable GOP rag Washington Times as "Biden backs letting soldiers arrest civilians." Ridge, military involvement buried deep in story.
Early-rising FreeRepublic member opens a related forum at FreeRepublic bearing WashTimes' headline. Early posts very hostile toward Biden, the EPA, and, of course, the gummint, now wearing its more familiar Democratic face.
Sunday, July 21, 2002
A blogger wonders if it's acceptable to advocate "decimating a people," as long as you're on the right side.
Saturday, July 20, 2002
Over in the comments section to this post, Clay says this:
Codrescu belittled the fundamentalist Christian doctrine of the Rapture, the belief that any day now millions of Christians will Andrei Condrescu on an NPR commentary in 1996, making fun of those who believe in The Raputure: "The evaporation of 4 million who believe in this crap would leave the world a better place."
I want to make my response quite clear:
Maybe fundamentalists shouldn't be vaporized, but they should be acknowledged for what they are: people who not only base their personal cosmologies on the empirical equivalent of Hansel and Gretel, but who can then actually scrape together the obnoxiousness to look down (and hail bullets) on others who can tell what a goddamn myth is. Many of these lunatics stand on the US House floor today and propose laws based on this nonsense. "I propose that according to the belief system that believes a sea listened to a traffic guard, evolution is not true, and you shouldn't have sex with sheep (like you need to be reminded) that we pass LAW DA-DA-DA-DA so that them goddamn hussies/nigras/welfare slobs or immigrants (incorporated?) can't DA-DA-DA," etc. If we stopped treating Fundamentalist belief systems to the Law-Making Halls of our Democracies, we would end the Israeli-Enforced Apartheid (Now With Added Atrocity!), and many other Modern Inanities . . . Fundamentalism is the Enemy of Truth, and don't you forget it.
Friday, July 19, 2002
Since times immemorial, far before silicon and electrons were squandered on "warblogs," reactionaries have had means of forcing their views on the populace. Sometimes they used Pinkerton guards. At other times they simply pumped out propaganda. Today "Legs" Coulter mistakes the latter as "scholarship" in an appreciation of the life, times, and works of Phyllis Schlafly.
Referenced in Coulter's piece is 2 million-selling masterwork co-authored by Schlafly and Rear Admiral [insert Pejman-Lileks joke here] Chester Ward titled The Gravediggers, which accused "the elite foreign-policy establishment of cheerfully selling out the nation's military superiority to the Soviet Union." It did a lot more than that!
I have on my office bookshelf at the Like Father Like Sun compound (Pawnee, Illinois) a copy of The Gravediggers, published by Pere Marquette Press in 1964 and offered for sale at the reasonable rate of 500 copies for $125. Why you can't even buy 500 Tech Central Station columns for that today! This little bargain goes a long way in answering Coulter's essential question: Why doesn't anyone give a flying fuck about Schlafly? After having taken The Gravediggers down off the shelf and re-read it, I'll modify Andrew Sullivan's favorite question and ask it of Coulter: How embarrassing is Phyllis Schlafly?
Schlafly begins her book with a discussion of "The Biggest Gyp in History," the contemporary government's refusal to spend sufficiently on weapons - including, as Schlafly notes on page 14, "Bacteriological and Chemical Weapons Systems." Revolting stuff, though this is a woman who, as Coulter affirms, is most notable for fighting nuclear disarmament and the Equal Rights Amendment.
A few chapters later, Schlafly lays blame for the "unilateral dismantling" [sic] of our armed forces largely on those urging the government to "Bring the boys home." Such sloganeering, in Schlafly's view, is somehow presumptuous, as if families have no right to request the recall of their members dragooned into service. Next Schlafly goes after Bertrand Russel, peacenik, "author of the arrogantly entitled Why I Am Not A Christian." If someone has no right to beg the safe return of their son, they certainly have no right to decide on theological matters.
Schlafly is at her most laughable when pursuing aesthetic inquiries. Nearly 40 years on, you can still smell the smoke generated by Schlafly's encounter with Stanley Kubrick, who was arrogant enough to loose Dr. Strangelove on the world, a film in which "our military leaders are made the butt of satire." Shocking! Such is the rage that has propelled this moron for her interminable and degraded life. Schlafly outlived the pertinence of her "thought," which has been in disrepute since the mustard gas blew across the battlefields surrounding Riga if not since medieval times.
In my none-too-frequent postings here, I've tried not to criticize, or even mention, Pejman Yousefzadeh. On his site, in his comments on other sites, in his responses to articles on this site, he has always struck me as one who is desperate for attention, any attention, practically begging for attacks on himself so he could then defend himself. So I always figured it was more effective, and funnier, to just ignore him and let him keep pleading for attention. But an entry he made on Tuesday July 16 sickened me so that I had to break my own embargo.
Yousefzadeh wrote that in his musings section he discovered a comment from James Lileks. Yousefzadeh's response? "Holy poo," in bold no less, continuing, "It's sort of like being the recipient of a drop-by visit from Superman, and finding out that the Justice League is actually paying attention to your lesser heroics. Wow. Excellency, be sure to visit more often. And you know, if you want to permalink my site, I really wouldn't have any objections . . ." Disgusting.
And what was the comment from Lileks that prompted Yousefzadeh's shocking display of sycophancy? Lileks wrote:
"Anyone know what blogger runs on? Just curious. As someone who spends hours in both OSes, I'd put a knitting needle in my left eyeball before I gave up my Mac."
Granted, this is one of the most cogent statements Lileks has ever crafted. But Yousefzadeh's reaction is nonetheless a disgrace. "Superman"? "Excellency"? Jesus dude, why don't you just fly up to Minnesota and suck the guy off in person?
If you're going to pick an idol, Pejman, at least pick someone with talent. Lileks deals in a strange admixture of the saccharine ("Gnat [his 'cute' nickname for his daughter] is in bed now, sleeping soundly, dreaming of the puppy and the bugs and Elmo, who is always happy to see her and tells her he loves her. Maybe in her dreams she plays with her shadow. It's her new friend, her new fascination, this strange dark companion who appears on the brightest of days. She waves, and it waves back. It goes where she goes. It will never leave her as long as there is a sun in the sky," 3/28/02) with anti-Arab tirades shading into violence ("If someone convinced my daughter to blow herself up in a restaurant, and one of Saddam's men came around later with a check to buy us off, I would return it. And by "return" I mean I would kick his body over until his face is in the dirt and shove the check in the hole in the back of his head," 4/9/02). Furthermore, no subject is too mundane, too trivial, for Lileks to comment on. The weather? Email problems? Cereal? Target? No subject is too routine for his moist musings.
And most anything can set him off on one of his "Weren't the olden days wonderful?" bleats, best represented by his collection of nostalgic old crap. Lileks makes the execrable Bob Greene look like Raymond Chandler.
Yousefzadeh should be informed that there are plenty of columnists in the world to emulate and admire -- hell, there are numerous Minnesotans more worthy of respect as well. (Unfortunately, this list is missing one or two, although it got the most important.) But I doubt he will. Pejman will keep ingesting the treacle mixed with bile, and keep his lips firmly planted on the ass of his "Excellency".
At least until a position opens up around front.
An intrepid reader pointed out in the comment section that my example of Lileks' anti-Arabism (above) wasn't very strong. OK, I'll admit that I didn't feel like trawling through much of Lileks' fulminating and grabbed the first one I saw (took about 2 minutes). Still, for the sake of my argument here is another of his tirades, taken from his "Screed" section (took me an additional 2 minutes to find, two minutes I'll never have back, to paraphrase Hans Moleman):
Say there, you mullahs in Iran - remember that guy who bled you white for ten years in the most pointless, ruinous war of the 20th century - news flash. He keeps a meat grinder in his office for interrogating underlings, and his dogs are very well fed. Calling all Kuwaitis! Calling all Kuwaitis! We know that 70% of you, according to recent surveys, have an unfavorable opinion of Americans, but remember that distant day when the Republican Guard exercised their historical right to pry your hot-tubs off the patio and ship them back home?
The Kill Everyone Project.
A much-linked site - 42 links at Blogdex - which expresses a wish that others join in generalized homicidal violence. Disclosure - I have only viewed the front page. At some point, freedom of expression may reveal hostile intent, threats, and mental instability. Perhaps we are supposed to be relieved that this web designer is not a warblogger targeting a single designated national group?
" ... there is a big difference between a democrat like Carville calling Bush corrupt, and Helms saying Clinton should bring bodyguards when visiting an Army base, or NRO calling for the death of Chelsea Clinton, or Ann Coulter calling for the physical intimidation of liberals. See the difference?" - Kevin Raybold, July 8, 2002
A July 17, 2002 sample of violent rhetoric supporting physical intimidation of political opponents:
"Corsair the Always Rational, if Frequently Angry, Pirate has just discovered the rhetorical and intellectual joy that is Howard Zinn. Innocence shattered. I'm glad that someone can still get worked up about Zinn and his tired-out, patented, sad-sack combination of socialism, wobbly-ism, moral equivalence, and historical inaccuracy. The leftist cadres of the past linger on, long after they've become irrelevant. Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't administer an occasional kick in the ribs to their supine forms, as Corsair does here admirably."
The same blogger offers great commentary about Iran and the blogosphere, but are we condoning an atmosphere of violence towards political opponents by promoting a site like this?
Indepundit says "some people just don't get it."
Stardate: July 17, 2002. Irked by a recent USS Clueless posting, Demosthenes takes apart US unilateralism.
I've been trying to be nice lately, really, but, Jesus:
"Late Tuesday, on a subway ride from Brooklyn to the north of Manhattan, I resaw something I'd noticed and forgotten about. It is that more and more, on the streets and on the train, I see people wearing ID tags. We all wear IDs now. We didn't use to. They hang from thick cotton string or an aluminum chain; they're encased in a plastic sleeve or laminated; they're worn one at a time or three at a time, but they're there. "
I don't know what pills this madwoman is on, but I live in Brooklyn and we don't need no stinkin' badges.
israelinsider: Spreading the Secret
One of the best-kept secrets in Israel is that most Israelis are fed up with the occupation, and just want to get out.
According to June's findings by Mina Zemach, Israel's foremost pollster, 63% of Israelis are in favor of "unilateral withdrawal." In fact, 69% call for the evacuation of "all" or "most of" the settlements. [more]
Despite the dismal doings on Wall Street, President Bush continues to plump for investment of Social Security funds in the stock market.
To some this may seem an almost maniacal course of action. But let us consider the old cui bono. Our President is famously mobbed up with Wall Street. He is less strongly aligned with the rest of us rabble, as well he might be, given our sluggish response to his malfeasance in business affairs.
The Bush plan is touted in right-wing circles as a sure way to "save Social Security." But, given that Social Security is still running a surplus, while Wall Street dances the Devil's jig, it is not at all clear that it is the former party that requires salvation.
So might it be that Bush is pushing privitization not to save Social Security, but to save Wall Street? Put yourself in his place. His buddies are bobbing like Halloween apples in the roiling seas of commerce, while SSA sits on trillions in ripe, investable funds. Who wouldn't loot the lockbox and pump the proceeds into a jittery market?
The obvious answer is, "a patriot." Alas, that's not the sort of man we're dealing with here.
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Scott Ritter: Bush Could Not Do More For Al-Qa'ida
You don't allow a friend to drive drunk. We have now got a drunk at the wheel of America; Britain needs to take the keys away from him.
What George W Bush is proposing, taking military action against Iraq to eliminate Saddam Hussein, will effectively mean that Osama bin Laden will have won. [more]
Trying to Bring Some Order to the New World Order: "A lot of us have been trying to figure out why it should be a legitimate form of warfare to bomb villages from above, but not legitimate to pack one's body with explosives and blow oneself up in a crowd. The body count, the manner of death, and the effect on the innocent in the name of policy are all the same, are they not?"
Maybe it's a class thing: 'rich' bombers who can afford planes and helicopters are excused, while 'poor' bombers who can only afford their lives are not.
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Ex-U.S. Officials Warn that U.S. Policies Threaten Repression : "Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher and former FBI and CIA chief William Webster challenged administration policies dealing with terrorism suspects Tuesday, and Christopher warned that secrecy threatens to lead America down a path to repression... In a panel discussion of national security and civil rights, Christopher raised the specter of the kind of repression once common in Argentina."
Neoconservative Puppy Says “Wag the Dog”
We really have to start reading the New York Post more often than we already do, at least on the days the paper publishes John Podhoretz.
As if the “Destroy Iraq” chorus weren’t already singing loudly enough, Podhoretz the Lesser, writing in yesterday’s Post, brings the choir to a fevered pitch by calling for an “October Surprise,” that being, of course, the eagerly anticipated war against Saddam Hussein that President Bush now needs so badly to divert attention from financial scandals and an invisible domestic agenda.
“Go on, Mr. President: Wag the dog,” Podhoretz urges. “It would be good for the world, it would be good for America and it would be good politics as well.”
“You’re in some domestic political trouble, Mr. President,” he continues. “You need to change the subject. You have the biggest subject-changer of all at your disposal. Use it.”
We’re not making this up. And it gets worse: “There’s a luscious double trap in starting the war as soon as possible, Mr. President. Your enemies are delirious with excitement about the corporate-greed scandals and the effect they might have on your popularity and the GOP’s standing in November. . . . Your enemies will hurl ugly accusations at you, Mr. President. And at least one of them will be true -- the accusation that you began the war when you did for political reasons.”
And Podhoretz, who is neither an experienced military strategist nor a war veteran, is absolutely certain this war will be fought and won flawlessly. “[The accusation] won’t matter. It won’t matter to the American people, and it won’t matter as far as history is concerned. History will record that you and the U.S. military brought an end to a barbaric regime on its way to threatening the world.”
Would the world be better off without Saddam Hussein? Absolutely. But is going to war with Iraq really a good idea? We’re far from convinced. Could such a conflict grow dangerously out of control? Possibly. Would we face years of dangerous and deadly after-effects such as escalated terrorism here and abroad? We think so.
Presumably the right people in the administration are analyzing the matter far more thoroughly than we -- or Podhoretz -- could ever hope to. On it’s face, that’s a good thing. But this administration is populated with far too many people that share the Podhoretz mindset (he calls the prospect of war “delicious”) that we are inclined to believe the internal debate about this impending conflict is dangerously one-sided.
Invading Iraq: Would the public go along?
Ann Scott Tyson, Christian Science Monitor, July 17, 2002
Plans for a US invasion of Iraq are being drawn and redrawn. News reports of a likely military push against Saddam Hussein unfold daily. And the American public almost uniformly agrees with President Bush in viewing the Iraqi regime as "evil." In fact, many believe Mr. Hussein poses a greater danger than Osama bin Laden.Fighting "evil," my ass--does the American public really fall for this cartoonish crap? Oh, yea, they do. Here is the real reason the Bush cartel wants in on Iraq, and will continue on it's Saturday morning progit-path toward this goal: Washington is drooling at the prospect of 'iraq jackpot': "From Washington’s perspective, Iraq is a big prize ripe for the picking. All the Americans have to do is decide when to go for it. The fall of Iraq, it is widely believed in the US capital, would open up rich opportunities for America in the wider Middle East and secure its interests in the region for years to come."
But the effort to unseat Hussein faces important hurdles with the American public, with prospective allies overseas, and even in some quarters of the military. In recent polls, when weighing whether Washington should use military force to unseat Hussein, the public becomes more tentative in its backing, diverging from the drum-beating rhetoric of Mr. Bush. [more]
It's all about money, folks. Money that you don't get. Money that you pay for--with your tax dollar. "Bad guys," "fighting evil," "promoting democracy," etc.--these are all just buzzwords designed to make it go down easier. Wake up and smell the chloroform.
Andrew Sullivan insinuates a direct connection between Stalin's crimes and Jarvis Tyner ("THE TIMES INTERVIEWS A NAZI"), denouncing Tyner before correcting himself in a half-hearted attempt to simultaneously slander and defend himself against the inevitable slander charge. I guess this makes Sullivan, a dues-paid member of Torquemada's old church, a mass-murdering enemy of enlightenment.
This presents Sullivan with a problem: as an impenitent sinner by his church's metrics, is he required to set light to himself?
A *REAL WARBLOGGER* speaks:
"Hi there! I'm Paul Palubicki. I write this crap. I think up most of this stuff while rebuilding engines or changing out hydraulic pumps. If you like what I write, great. If you don't, that's fine. It's a free country. However, I reserve the right to ignore your bullshit should you feel inclined to provide an in-depth analysis of why I'm such a jackass."
Well, I have no idea whether you're jackass in person, Sargent Stryker, but your analysis of the "Depersonalization of the Enemy" from July 7th was right on. I'm reprinting part of it here, as an active military person's reality check for the armchair pundits on all sides.
"Unless you're seriously fucked in the head, killing a person is an unnatural act, so you need to dehumanize the people you're about to kill in order to climb over that wall in your mind. Normally this is done by referring to the other side as "The Enemy" or any other generic term that does not aknowledge the fact that you're about to take away the only thing a person really has. All their hopes and fears -*poof*- gone. Everything they were, all they had seen and done and learned is gone a few seconds after you eliminate something vital to the continuance of their life. You've also taken away a person someone loves. They're not going back home because of you. Congratulations, you've successfully destroyed someone's world.
You can't have all that on your mind if you intend to go out and do your job, so it's easier to think of the other side as some generic "other" that must be eliminated so the mission can be completed and you can go home. It's the nature of the beast as far as war is concerned.
A similar thing takes place with the apologist crowd. In order for them to validate the act and propogate their beliefs, they have to get past that messy mass-murder thing. Any excuse for a terrorist act quickly loses validity once you aknowledge the fact that a lot of people were killed. "The U.S. Had it Coming". Did each of those 3,000 people have it coming? Were each of those lives expendable so somebody could make a point about their grievances against the U.S.? It's easier to think of it as just "The U.S." or "The Government". The problem is it's not the U.S. or the Government that's being murdered. It's people who are going to do their jobs. Normal, regular people who've never invaded a South American country, never killed an elderly Arab chap, never bulldozed somebody's house or locked the family in a barn and set it on fire. But I guess they all had it coming, right? They had to pay the price for their nation's wrongs, real and imagined. Ah, but we can't say that. Let's side-step that bit of unpleasantness and just say the generic entity is to blame for whatever ills befall it.
It's really easy to demonize a whole group of people to the point that they cease being human and just become "the other". It's easier to rail against some faceless construct than to aknowledge that there are living, breathing humans, each with their own hopes and fears, living under that big tent you're throwing rocks at. It's intellectually lazy and it happens far too often. Everyone does it from time to time and we need to be on guard against falling into that trap."
This is hilarious: Scoobie's Interview With Ann Coulter . . . I found this just tonite via MeFi, and, perhaps, by coincidence, had never heard of Scoobie until yesterday (well, Monday now), when I saw him highly recommended by The Rittenhouse Review--another site which is new to me. Scoobie's main site is here.
I am also pleased to announce that both Scoobie and the proprietor of The Rittenhouse Review--James Capozzola--have both accepted invitations to participate at Warblogger Watch.
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Momma's Boy Jonah Goldberg sniffs at trifles like evidentiary debate and human decency over at Town Hall, saying we should intensify our war on Iraq. After allowing that Baghdad, which wasn't all that mighty when we first sacked it and is even less so after a decade of starvation and bombing, doesn't stand in the way of our greatness, Goldberg says - doing irremediable violence to an otherwise fine verb - he "thinks" we "should go to war with Iraq even if that risks innocent Iraqi - and American - lives."
For the moment, he doesn't share his reason for casually offering others up for possible slaughter, saying the WSJ and others have done so "eloquently." Should his obscene exhortations see official acceptance, will he maintain his reticence before the families of the war dead?
From Combustible Boy's July 16, 2002 rambling criticism of warbloggers:
"The anti-Europe mockery was kind of fun for a while, because it was a gut thrill to give back the kind of insults we were so used to receiving, but it's high time we got back to rediscovering all the common sentiment we discovered with Europe in the early weeks after 9/11. Reading great blogs by Europeans (and sentimental ex-Europeans) like Vegard Valberg, Maarten Schenk, Teemu Lehtonen, Emmanuelle Richard and Leo Le Brun is one of the ways we can do that ..."
Harold “That's what I saw and I'm sticking to my story” Owens, it seems, dismisses us as ineffectual on GNW, his continuing agglomeration of prejudices and hallucinations. It’s always touching to see someone convinced of the divinity of the status quo wax righteous. It is especially so to see someone of such modest neural amperage as Owens getting on the bandwagon. If the suspension of habeas corpus can be so breezily dismissed by a self-depicted “conservative,” I’m certain the below will be treated at least as lightly. The below is from The Times of London. So sensitive we are to the scaling back of our right to privacy that the story ran in Britain, Australia, and Canada – but not America [excerpted in part as The Times charges for content; subscribers can click here]:
July 16, 2002, Tuesday
Bush plan to recruit 11m US 'spies'
Tim Reid in Washington
Millions of US citizens are to be recruited as domestic spies and informants by the Bush Administration in a move that has alarmed the country's civil liberty groups.
The Terrorism Information and Prevention System (Tips) will use a minimum of 4 per cent of Americans, or more than 11 million civilians, to report "suspicious activity".
A pilot programme advertised yesterday on a Justice Department website will be started next month in the ten largest cities, with one million informants participating in the first stage. The huge informal surveillance network, the latest move by the Bush Administration to improve domestic security after the September 11 terrorist attacks, will mean that the United States will have a similar percentage of civilian informants as that employed by the East German Stasi police at the height of the Cold War. It is the latest in a series of post-September 11 measures that critics say are fast eroding the checks and balances that Americans have relied upon to protect individual liberty.
Ladies and Gentlemen, WBW has been dealt a deadly blow. We have received an insult so dire, so damning . . . well, let's just say our very survival may be at stake . . .
Ladies and Gentlemen, who were we, really, to think that we had what it took to doubt . . . to challenge . . . the wit of Howard Owens?
Howard Owens has called us: "wussbloggers."
We have arranged to meet Howard on the playground at recess tomorrow to take this matter up in full. One of us--and I will not say who--has compiled a list of 'yo mama' jokes so incredibly cruel that they are guaranteed to melt the antibiotics offa USDA-approved beef.
Until tomorrow then, Howard. And remember what they say about the bed bugs.
Monday, July 15, 2002
"Manufacturing Consent since 2002" - and mincing no words about wrongheaded individuals, groups and viewpoints in the process!
"Devoted to smashing conspiracy theories and humiliating their purveyors!"
Posting these items feels a little like tuning in to Radio Moscow for better coverage of your own country's nuclear freeze movement ... or turning on Rush Limbaugh because he's sufficiently upset with your buddies that he's putting them all over the national airwaves for free. Two Blogs of Interest to someone. But who???
Yes, I could ignore these two bloggers and hope they'll go away. But I'm hoping that the readers here are exactly the people who can digest these odds and ends of informational manure and somehow "spread them skillfully on the field of enlightenment," as the guru suggested ...
Mickey Kaus has an interesting spin on a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article by John Blake about black women dating white men. Blake cites statistics showing that there's a huge upturn in black woman/white man marriages, but interviews mostly unmarried people.
Blake suggests that white guys benefit from their more "romantic" approach ("I haven't found any black men trying to take me to the museum," says one interviewee), while black men... well, from the text: "A disproportionate number of black men are in jail, or are murder victims. One in every 20 black men older than 18 is in prison, the 2000 Human Rights Watch report concluded. Black teenage males are seven times more likely to be murdered than white teenage males, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported."
Those black men not in jail or dead have "less incentive to treat a black woman well," per another interviewee, owing to their scarcity .
Picking up on this analysis, Kaus, expectedly, pegs the shift to welfare reform. "Hundreds of thousands of black women who are now working rather than on welfare come into contact with non-black men at work," he says. "When you're working, the virtues of pooling your income with a male earner are now far more obvious than in the days when that could cost you your AFDC check."
Kaus allows himself some fantasies on the subject. One goes like this: "How will black men react when black women start getting all sorts of favorable publicity (in newspaper stories like this one, and advertising imagery) for going out with non-black men? Anger seeems one short-run possibility." (The other is about "black male sexuality." He makes much of this, but offers no conclusion. Maybe he just likes talking about it.)
Something barely mentioned, though hanging like a shroud over both articles, is the fact that black men traditionally and to this day make less money than white men. The preference of women for partners with greater incomes has been well-covered, and those readers unacquainted with the research may avail the novels of Thackeray or the works of Atlanta's own The Brains.
That increased social mobility removes an arbitrary barrier from this Darwinian pursuit is indeed laudable. But it's curious that neither Blake nor Kaus has considered this angle (though Blake mentions in passing that "Black men have traditionally shrugged off these criticisms from black women, saying they are too demanding or obsessed with status and money"). To do so, of course, would be far less romantic than a museum date, and less cheering than a celebration of welfare reform.
Sunday, July 14, 2002
"Glenn also wonders: "Why is the Left supporting oppression?" "The Left," of course, is doing no such thing. I could just as easily ask, "Why doesn't the Right believe in elections?" based on the organized riot to disrupt the Miami-Dade County recount in 2000. Somehow I doubt that conservatives would appreciate being so labeled."
Still Cooped Up in a little ideological box? With only two ways to skin a cat? (And seeking a more vegetarian metaphor?)
We have received what passes for a "Fisking" in the logic-impoverished world of the warbloggers. The term does not indicate that, as common sense would dictate, we have completed a series of ethnographic histories, received journalism awards from the United Nations and Amnesty International and acquired a competency in local language and history unmatched in the State Department steno pools that are the foreign desks of most newspapers. No, a "Fisking," as described by one of the art’s foremost advocates (and victims) is said to have occurred "when someone, usually a web-logger, picks apart the factual accuracy of his reporting."
Mr. Harold Owens presents us with very few facts when "Answering WBW". Owens sets his personal high-water mark for acuity early on with his by assessing his answer as a "half-assed job," the lone inarguable in his effort. After enthusing over The War Against Terror (TWAT) and approving of the foreclosure of Palestinian democracy, Owens asks of a WBW post which states ""Now, more than ever, war is only 'necessary' to the war profiteers" if he should "start laughing now?" I would say hold off, Hal, until you re-read yesterday's Times.
Owens also is completely untroubled by our failure to account for Osama bin Laden, supreme terror architect, most-wanted of the most-wanted, and unambiguous public enemy number one. Owens can only sputter pathetically that the centerpiece was not the only piece of a war whose perpetuation without end is both likely and much welcomed as far as he is concerned. "If you expected a short war," Big Hal says while wagging a finger, "it only displays your ignorance of our enemy." That many other countries have dealt with terror in ways not involving the massive expenditure of war and human life is an historical fact that never insinuated itself in Mr. Owens' mind. Some countries even manage to avoid being regarded as the Great Satan. How do they do it?
At least when reading the Weekly Standard or other such rubbish, facts such as America's charming habit of intervening in countries whose leadership we find objectionable are acknowledged before being explained away. No such concessions to reality are made in warblogging circles. Indeed, Owens demands documentary evidence supporting claims the U.S. regularly intrudes upon sovereign countries. Amazing.
Owens offers his first fraction of a thought late in the game, when, upset over speculation that oil interests could be motivating policy, he denounces it all as "empty leftist, anti-capitalist (which means anti-people) rhetoric." Elsewhere I would have assumed such a series of conflations was deliberate and opportunistic, but Owens might actually be thick enough to use terms such "capitalist" with such reckless disregard for their inherent specificity unwittingly. To oppose an imperialist grab of concessions is in no way a criticism of capitalism, and even a criticism of capitalism is in now way a criticism of "people." And a paid practitioner of logic can point to this jumble approvingly?
Lastly, Owens gets pissy when the diminution of our civil rights is pointed out, something he maintains did not happen. His rights, he tells us, remain intact, though he does allow that he would be "inconvenienced" were he to travel by plane - as if speedy air travel were a civil right. We're a bit more concerned with other facets of this spectacular little war, Mr. Owens, though the continued erosion of civil rights does yield the odd boon to humanity.
The Pedant Punished
Dr Weevil decided to brush off his Mr Chips mortar board and give Brendan O'Neill a good thrashing over his faulty use of English. As Dr Weevil himself says:"If you're going to criticize bloggers for bad writing and bad spelling, you should first make sure that your own prose is beyond reproach."
The pedantmeister then proceeds to castigate O'Neill, a Britisher, for using the expression "arse-hole" instead of "ass-hole," even though, in England where O'Neill writes, the former is correct and the latter is considered vulgar and "American."
Weevil then turns his attention to the following O'Neill sentence:
"Research, argument and hard graft, however, can sometimes turn petty opinion into considered judgement - but research, argument and hard graft are notable by their absence in the Blogosphere."Weevil claims that this sentence "doesn't make much sense." Why? Because Dr. Weevil has a very narrow and parochial view of language, and doesn't know that hard "graft" in English (real English, not the limited American-English subset) means simply "hard work." Knowing this, what doesn't make sense in O'Neill's sentence? Nothing, of course. The fault is entirely with Weevil's lack of linguistic knowledge.
To quote once again, the inelegant Dr. "If you're going to criticize bloggers for bad writing and bad spelling, you should first make sure that your own prose is beyond reproach."
A Shorthand Analysis of Pejman Pundit:
"Propagandists usually attempt to influence individuals while leading each one to behave "as though his response were his own decision." Mass communication tools extend the propagandist's reach and make it possible to shape the attitudes of many individuals simultaneously. Because propagandists attempt to "do the other fellow's thinking for him," they prefer indirect messages to overt, logical arguments. During the war, the CPI accomplished this by making calculated emotional appeals, by demonizing Germany, by linking the war to the goals of various social groups, and, when necessary, by lying outright."
From an earlier exchange between Pejman and Myself:
Pejman you are such a propaganda tool, my Tech Central Station colleague (har har the third time, what, no congrats for me? I might be writing more stuff down there you never know. I'll be the crazy guy who thinks DDT is bad...), why don't you just admit that you're a front, perhaps self elected or paid off, who knows but your links trend that way. It's an overwhelming trend in fact. It's like Ari or Karl has a blog or something it's pathetic. You know, I haven'teven looked at your site today but you're either ignore the bombing that happened today or you'll whitewash and.or rationalize it...That's what I would do if I was a republican partisan and you often do it...I mean, this isn't even a close call. Of course what you do is a kind of propaganda., fess up for God's sake...It's like admitting that the background of your site is green. It's obvious....come on..."
So Pejman responds by saying this:
"Actually, the background of my site is black. I see that you are as visually impaired as you are cognitively impaired. Medical science could help, you know.
And I love the fact that you call me a "propaganda tool" when all I do is express my opinions the way you do yours. Thanks for the laugh, Phil. You're always good for inadvertent comic relief."
This is actually terribly false. I'm not a propaganda tool for the Democratic Party. The Dems under DLC leadership aren't really much different from the Republicans. I sympathized with the Nader run. I agree with much of the Green platform that I've seen. I did vote for Gore because I thought he had the best chance of winning. I also thought that he was better for the country, at least he can talk coherently. So, you are not expressing opinions like I do. For better or worse, I'm more complicated than that. (Also, one of us is colorblind. That background there is green, not black.)
I've decided to take a look at Pejman's site and determine for myself whether or not he's a shill for the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy or a whore for the Republican National Committee or all of the above.(By the way, the conclusion is yes he is a blatant RNC Whore who should be getting paid if he's not already.)You see, Peyman is on record as saying that he just gives "opinions", implying that he's not a shameless shill for the Republican Party. And when he says something like that I can't help but think that he's memorized the definition of what Doublespeak is. Now, here's a trick: Try to find an independent critique of the Republican Party in any of his posts (that doesn't urge that they move farther right...)
Here's a shorthand I'll be using when I get tired of responding to Pejman's parade of lies, innuendo and putdowns.
1. Straight RNC Propaganda. (And its subset: Rationalizing Republican Evil At Every Turn or that Bush he's a smart fella despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary...)
2. Straight Anti-Dem Party Propaganda.
3. Pro Israel at any cost
4. Damn Arafat Propaganda.
5. Wacky Personal Stuff no one cares about.
6. Attack Iraq and/or Foment Rebellion in Iran. (The latter is a relatively new meme.)
7. Anti warblogger watch spin. Here Pejman usually resorts to name calling and declaring victory without evidence of such--in this respect he does resemble the resident in Chief.
8. Crazy Right Wing Stuff (Global Warming doesn't exist, no separation between church and state, Scalia is soooo cool...etc.,)
9: Daily Smears Against Leftists like Rall, Chomsky and Mike Moore. Sometimes includes Dem officials or Europeans on a slow day.
10. Pejman "I don't really understand modern humor or modern Art." Yousefzadeh
11. The Great and Glorious Capitalist System
12: The Saudi Conundrum: where an introspective Pej wonders why we support those Saudi scoundrels, even as we work with those Chinese scoundrels, Pakistani coup leader scoundels, work to unseat democratically elected leaders in Venezuela in order to install scoundrels, create a puppet government in Afghanistan..etc.
The Create Your Own Nicknames for Pejman Contest: Over the last several weeks I've come up with a number of nicknames for our good friend and far right wing GOP puppet pundit Pejman. But you can create your own at your leisure. It's fun. And it keeps the environment clean.
Here are some of my humble nominees:
Pejman “I’m Making Up For My Shortness of Stature” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “Could I Be A More Obvious RNC Whore or What” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “I’m What The Corporate Theocracy is About” Yousefzadeh
Or Pejman “I’m the Hideous Ugly Face of the Corporate Theocracy” Yousefzadeh.
Pejman “Please Let This Whole Nuclear War Indo/Pak Exchange Thing End So I Can Return to The Uncomplicated Days of Yesteryear With My Calls For Murder and Revenge That I So Need and Love” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “I Get More Hits Than Phil And His Stupid Links to ‘Science’ And My Dick Is Bigger Too” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “Actually My Dick Isn’t Bigger and Is In Fact Quite Small” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “While Ted Rall risks his life for the truth in Afghanistan I’ll be a Conservative Republican Partying With Hef Yet I’m The True American And Stick Them Big Fake Tits In My Face Baby Whooo Hooo” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “Because Somebody Has To Say Nice Things About Enron, Microsoft and DDT” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “Does Anybody At Tech Central Station Know That I Support Leon Kass and Want To Arrest and Imprison Research Scientists? Anybody? No, really. I’d like to know.” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “I Really Haven’t Learned Anything From Fleeing An Iranian Theocracy That’s Why I’m A Jewish Republican And No I’m Not Upset That the Texas GOP Wants the United States To Be Declared a Christian Nation Because I’m Sorta Dense” Yousefzadeh
Pejman “Once You’re CIA Material, You’re Always CIA Material” Yousefzadeh
Welp, time to punch in the clock over here at Warblogger Watch. How about some images? Now, as this will be "Let's Pick On Pej" Sunday, let's ask ourselves a trick question: Who served in the military? Was it Micah Ian Wright, the artist, or is it Pejman "I'm quite comfortable letting the Working Poor do my manly fighting for me thank you" Yousefzadeh?...As an army ranger no less? Quick clue: It wasn't Pejman "Ted Rall has more courage than me, Glenn Reynolds and the entirety of the warblogracy combined" Yousefzadeh.