Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

David Sedaris rocks hard-core!

So I saw David Sedaris speak yesterday here at Reed. It was great. Afterward I got him to sign my copy of Naked and chatted with him for a bit about writing and living in Europe. (he asks me, "So what country are you moving to?") Really pleasant, if short-lived. So that was that.

I said I'd post Clausewitz two days ago, and I didn't. Still really busy over here. I'm not sure when I'll get to continuing the Clausewitz series. It would be quicker if more readers would e-mail me with feedback (hint hint). Part 1 is here.

It's free agent season

Really good article by Derek Zumsteg in the free area of Baseball Prospectus. I'm picking a particularly funny excerpt, but you should read the whole thing (it's free for the love of mike):

No Alex Rodriguez, though. Luis Castillo, who is rumored to be seeking a lucrative multi-year deal, is 28 and hit .314/.381/.397, which is a nice enough line to have from your second baseman but doesn't make me want to cash in my war bonds so I can bask in his glory for a couple of years. Tejada seems the most likely to get the biggest deal, what with his May 25, 1976 birth date courtesy of the Dominican Republic, where, as I'm sure you're all aware, means there's a significant chance that not only is Tejada not actually 27 today, but there is a fair chance that he doesn't even bat right-handed, and has forged all the documents and footage that show him batting from that side.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Some fun

When do you know your policy's about to change?

Why, when law schools start suing you, of course.

GW Law School professors voted Friday to join a group of law schools suing the U.S. Defense Department for allegedly discriminating against gays.

If Law School Dean Michael Young approves the decision, the school will become a member of a coalition of law schools that claims the Solomon Amendment, which withholds federal funding from universities that do not allow the military to recruit on campus, is unconstitutional.

GW receives millions of dollars in federal funding each year in the form of financial aid and research grants. The University has not taken a position on the issue and would not be affected if the law school decided to join the coalition.

The underlying reason for the lawsuit is the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which stipulates that gay members of the military are subject to dismissal if they make their sexual orientation known.

The coalition, the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, said the amendment effectively forces universities to contravene its own non-discrimination policies by letting the military onto its campus. In 1992, GW adopted a University-wide policy banning discrimination toward gays.

"We believe the Solomon Amendment is a violation of our academic freedom," said Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights President Kent Greenfield, a law professor at Boston College.

Something's gotta give. We'll see what it is.

Really it seems a matter of who makes the final decision. If it's Rumsfeld or his fellow anti-gay ideologues, it'll be the Solomon Amendment. If it's the not necessarily ideological, but militarily pragmatic generals, it will be the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, since they'd hate to see a recruitment oppurtunity lost.

Keep a watching.

Via The Hamster.

Thoughts on Iraq

Right now, many left-wing bloggers are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. There are some compelling arguments for this. The probability of us attaining our "goal" of creating a liberal democracy in Iraq, or even any semblance of an Iraqi Republic, are essentially null. Meanwhile, as the resistance movement keeps gaining ground, Iraq is becoming increasingly ungovernable and dangerous for our troops. These attacks are getting increasingly deadly and bold. Despite the President's rhetoric, acts of desperation do not include attempts on Wolfowitz's life.

But should we back out? I'm reluctant to say so.

So an Iraqi democracy is unlikely, to say the least. What should be our strategic aim in Iraq? I would say we have a vested interest in regional stability, for reasons I believe are self-evident. If for no other reason, the proximity Iraq has to Turkey should be enough for us to need to keep the region stable. Turkey is the link country between Europe and the Arab Peninsula, and therefore is important to diplomatic relations with Islamic nations.

So what's a worst case scenario if we leave Iraq right now? A civil war could ravage the nation. Now, at the risk of over-simplification, I would guess a civil war in Iraq would revolve around three competing groups: Shi'ites, Ba'athists and Kurds. These are the groups that appear to have the greatest political and strategic interest in the area. This lends itself to four essential possibilities:

The first is that the three groups maintain a general balance of power, and thus remain in conflict indefinitely. This would leave Iraq in a chaos similar to Afghanistan. This would have two downsides: the first is it would further damage the international image of the US, and second it would mean Iran would border to the east and west of regions that are suffering a power vacuum, and they may take advantage. The extent that they take advantage may have very little effect, or it may create an international incident. As Iran is the geographic link between the Arab Peninsula and Central Asia, this could have profound effects on the general politics of all Islamic nations.

The second and third possibilities are essentially similar, that the Shi'ites take control, and would thus form an alliance with the fundamentalists in Iran, or the Ba'athists take control, leaving us where we began before the invasion of Iraq, only with more anger against the United States. As bad as these possibilities may be, I don't think they're as bad as the fourth possibility, that the Kurds gain the upper hand.

Why would this fourth possibility be detrimental? Simple, Iran and Turkey have a vested interest in keeping the Kurds down in their respective countries. A Kurdish controlled Iraq could help stir Kurdish revolution in Iran and Turkey. As such, if the Kurds seem like they're in a position to take Iraq, we'll likely see Iran and Turkey getting involved. Iran would definitely not take the side of the Ba'athists, so they would give they're support to the Shi'ites. Then the question would be, do the Turks trust the Iranians enough to band with them to accomplish they're common goal and thus also give support to the Shi'ites? Or do they distrust the Iranians so much they would give support to the Ba'athists?

The second possibility above would mean the civil war in Iraq would turn into a war between Iran and Turkey. As I said, Turkey is of immense strategic importance to us, and we'd likely have to intervene in Turkey's side if things get too dicey. Once again, I believe it's self-evident why this would be detrimental to our general safety.

So, what should we do? We need an actually international coalition in charge of Iraq. America should divest much of it's power in Iraq to the UN to ensure international support, and hopefully be able to keep the region stable enough so that leaving Iraq wouldn't bring about civil war. I fear the current administration's arrogance will not allow this to occur, though.

Not Good

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Car bombers struck the international Red Cross headquarters and three police stations across Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 35 people and injuring more than 200 in a spree of destruction that terrorized the Iraqi capital on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The string of bombings, all within less than an hour, was the bloodiest attack yet in the city of 5 million by insurgents targeting the American-led occupation and those perceived as working with it. It also appeared like a dramatic escalation in tactics — in past weeks, bombers have carried out heavy suicide bombings, but in single strikes.

The U.S. military said one American soldier was killed and six U.S. troops were wounded in the bombing at the al Baya'a police station in the city's ad-Doura district. Iraqi police Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim, the deputy interior minister, put the Iraqi death toll at 34, including 26 civilians and eight police.

Story here.

Besides the loss of life, this just doesn't bode well for us at all. It's more than just some terrorist attack, it's a demonstration of organized resistance, and it's probably going to get worse before it gets better. And that's being optimistic.

I don't have time at the moment, but I'll get to part two of the Clausewitz series later today. Part two will be on resistance and guerrilla war, which was originally going to be part three, but now it will be a bit more timely and important in understanding what's happening in Iraq.

Sunday, October 26, 2003



Easy Blogging

Whenever I feel like blogging on something but not going into in depth detail or putting out a minimal amount of effort, I just go look at Ann Coulter's latest column and refute some sort of innuendo or lie she writes.

It didn't take long to find one:

IN AN EMERGING scandal, NBC News has produced tapes proving beyond deniability that the new deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence is ... a Christian. Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin has been captured on a series of grainy tapes, attesting to his faith at churches and prayer breakfasts. Having driven the Judeo-Christian value system out of the public square, the classrooms and the Alabama Supreme Court, liberals now want to drive it out of church.

In one "inflammatory" remark, Boykin said that the enemy was not Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, but "is a spiritual enemy. He's called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan."

Islamic leaders in the United States instantly denounced Boykin's unflattering characterization of bin Laden and Hussein as an attack on Islam. They haven't been this huffy since describing bin Laden as "not a true Muslim" and Hussein as a "secularist." If our enemies aren't "true Muslims," why are the "true Muslims" always so offended on their behalf?

Here's a couple excerpts from a more honest interpretation of Boykin's comments:

This June, for instance, at the pulpit of the Good Shepherd Community Church in Sandy, Ore., he displayed slides of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and North Korea's Kim Jung Il. "Why do they hate us?" Boykin asked. "The answer to that is because we're a Christian nation We are hated because we are a nation of believers."

Our "spiritual enemy," Boykin continued, "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus."


"There was a man in Mogadishu named Osman Atto," whom Boykin described as a top lieutenant of Mohammed Farah Aidid.

When Boykin's Delta Force commandos went after Atto, they missed him by seconds, he said. "He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, 'They'll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.'

"Well, you know what?" Boykin continued. "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." Atto later was captured.

Why the hell are these Muslims angry at Allah being called an idol? Clearly they're a little overzealous. That's what happens when you worship Satan.

Update: Pandagon has more.

More on Elliott Smith

Margaret Cho has an excellent post. It's hard to blog about much else at the moment. It's a devastating loss. And Margaret Cho so elegantly explains why.

I'm not sure if you can really understand this if you haven't listened to Elliott Smith. If you have, and you really allowed yourself to get lost in his beautiful and haunting melodies and lyrics, then you will. His music affects you like few things can. Right now, I'm listening to "baby britain" off of XO, and it's like the music just is flowing through me.

He had a unique gift. Now he is lost to the world. Thank God that he was able to share his gift before he left us.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Back in Portland

Still sad about Elliott Smith. I found the LA Times obituary to be the most well-written and moving that I've read. But then, I've read only three. It's still worth a look.

Meanwhile, Marlins now have two World Championships without a single Division Title in their franchise history. How about that?

Body and Soul has a good post about Wal-Mart paying undocumented workers $2 a day. Go check it out. And never shop at Wal-Mart again. They are pure evil. EEEEVVVIIILLL!

I'm going to post part 2 of the Clausewitz series soon. Probably this week. I think I finally came up with a specific Thesis topic, so things should start settling into place soon. Then I'll be back to studying 20 hours a day. Fun.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Thoughts on Elliott Smith

I'm spending the week visiting my brother and his girlfriend in LA. So, that's why I haven't posted in so long. Still, this morning I heard that Elliott Smith has committed suicide. The news put me in shock. Most of the next hour was spent not believing it was even possible. I reflected all day, and later listened to the song "Angeles" from Either/Or and it hit me. I listened to the whole song on the verge of tears. Even as I write this I'm listening to "Waltz #2 (XO)" and I want to cry.

Besides the fact that he was an immensely talented songwriter, he meant a lot to me. It's hard to think of any other person who I haven't met who has had such a profound and positive impact on me through his work. When I spent a semester in Budapest last year, I went through some intensely difficult times, and was pretty depressed at times. Anytime I was feeling particularly low, I could listen to Elliott Smith music and soothe my soul. Besides support from friends and family then, Elliott Smith was a large part of what got me through tough times.

And the benefit of his gift is even now, as his death has left me shocked and saddened, his music can once again get me through it. He'll be missed by me if no other fan, but I'd like to think the world is slightly better for having him and his art before his tragic end.

This was mostly stream of consciousness off the cuff thoughts. Maybe I'll write something more coherent tomorrow or Friday. I knew I needed to get some thoughts out there.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Elliott Smith, RIP

everybody cares, everybody understands
yes everybody cares about you
yeah and whether or not you want them to
it's a chemical embrace that kicks you in the head
to a pure synthetic sympathy that infuriates you totally
and a quiet lie that makes you wanna scream and shout
so here I lay dreaming looking at the brilliant sun
raining its guiding light upon everyone
for a moment's rest you can lean against the bannister
after running upstairs again and again from wherever they came to fix you in
but always fear city's finest follow right behind
you got a pretty vision in your head
a pencil full of poison lead
and a sickened smile illegal in every town
so here I lay dreaming looking at the brilliant sun
raining its guiding light upon everyone
here I lay dreaming looking at the brilliant sun
raining its guiding light upon everyone
you say you mean well, you don't know what you mean
fucking ought to stay the hell away from things you know nothing about

-"Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands" by Elliott Smith
from the album XO

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Friggin' Hilarious

Atrios links to this article from the Philly Inquirer. The money quote is this:

Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

It's the Dennis Kucinich Rally for Victory!

Play it here!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Check out Sheldon

Monday, October 13, 2003

Limbaugh stuff

If you're wondering how Limbaugh would have reacted if Clinton had a drug problem, well wonder no further. (via Atrios, of course)

Also, Quiddity over at Uggabugga is unimpressed by Newsweek's spin on Limbaugh's drug problem. Give it a read. Never forget that as Limbaugh shows how frail and human he is, he never seemed to show any compassion for others' frailty and humanity. He is a supreme hate-mongerer who's now reaping what he's sowed for years.

What you must do

Go read Tom Tomorrow's latest cartoon right fucking now!!!

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Texas Republicans: Fear them

Really good post over at CalPundit. Read it.

Clausewitz and Iraq Part I: An Introduction

I said I'd get to it, and I'm getting to it. But first some background.

I should mention, every Clausewitz comes from this edition of On War. But for now, I'm not going to be using any quotations, I'm going to offer an introduction to Clausewitz and why I'm writing this.

In my history class, titled "War and Society: 18th-20th Century Europe", for which I read Clausewitz, I discovered, while reading about France's wars against Austria in the Revolutionary period, that I could gain a new perspective on our war with Iraq by treating it like I was treating France's wars, like it already happened, and I'm just getting all the facts and details in real time. This view is evidenced most so in this post comparing Iraq to Napoleon's war in Spain.

Then of course, I started reading Clausewitz. For those who don't know who he is, Clausewitz was a Prussian strategist who posited the theory that war is an act of policy, and as such it is entirely subordinate to policy makers. It should be mentioned that Clausewitz's On War was very well read by the mid-to-late 19th century, and many military men would use it against the civilian policymakers, noting where Clausewitz seems to imply that the military should be left alone, while ignoring the parts where he mentions war as an extension of policy and politics.

A lot can be said on Clausewitz's work for its own sake, but I won't be doing that. The posts that I will be writing on this will pertain specifically in Iraq. They will come in three parts (not necessarily three posts, a part may take more than one post, I haven't worked out all the details yet).

Part one will deal with Clausewitz's view on how military should be run and how it relates to the course of events in the Iraq war.

Part two will involve the role of the government, and how the Bush Administration fulfilled this role.

Part three will be a summing up and note of what went wrong and why.

I hope that these will be enlightening for my readership. I think the number is at least 8, maybe even ten. And that's two digits right there!

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

August has a new cartoon

Go check it out. And I'll try to get to that first Clausewitz post today. I swear!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I've known Schwarzenegger for years, and he hasn't killed me once!

August Pollack offers this thought on Schwarzenegger:

This thought was kind of bugging me after the recent news stories about all these women at Schwarzenegger rallies with their signs and speeches of support for Arnold: exactly why does this matter?

Just as a rhetorical concept, if Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused by multiple people of, say, murdering their family members with a hatchet, would it matter if people showed up at rallies saying "families of murder victims for Arnold?" Or for that matter would it really be relevant if Arnold had a bunch of women hitting the talk shows to state in support of their candidate, "well, he never murdered MY family. When I worked with him on the set of Jingle All The Way I certainly never saw him trying to stab anyone. Except Sinbad, but come on, everyone was trying."

Arnold has been accused of what is rapidly becomming serial sexual assault. "Not doing it all the time" and "he was nice to me" isn't a freakin' defense, okay?

Sorry posting's been down

Besides being busy, there's the postseason to worry about. But over this week and next, I think I'll break up the Clausewitz post into a series of posts to analyze our situation in Iraq. From over here thousands of miles away.

In the meanwhile, Sosa hit a two-run homerun to send the Cubs/Marlins game into extra innings. I'll probably get to part one of that Clausewitz later tonight.

But e-mail me if you have an extreme interest in these series posts on Iraq. It's been a while since I've gotten e-mail from my readers (besides Mom, thanks Mom). I guess I could add a comments section, but that would take some effort, and I'm afraid that it'll just be depressing if no one bothers to write them. At least without the comments I can take solace in the uncertainty.

Update: And Cubs lose 9-8 after 11 innings. Damn.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Holy Fuck!

The Cubs beat the Braves. Now if the Red Sox beat the A's tomorrow, we're one step closer to a Chicago/Boston World Series!

Meanwhile on Tuesday the Marlins have to face Prior and the Cubs in Chicago. This should be fun.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Okay, that's it I'm done

I'm sure you've heard about about Schwarzenegger's gropetacular past, and of course, this:

ABCNEWS obtained a copy of an unpublished book proposal with quotes from a verbatim transcript of an interview Schwarzenegger gave in 1975 while making the film Pumping Iron.

Asked who his heroes are, he answered, "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."

He is quoted as saying he wished he could have an experience, "like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say."

Listen, when life starts resembling Kids in the Hall sketches, that's when I step out the door.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Stuff continues to happen

I still plan on doing that Clausewitz related post on the Iraq war. But first I want to finish the reading from Clausewitz I have to do for tomorrow, then discuss it in class, so I'll have as full an understanding of Clausewitz's philosophy as possible.

Did I mention I have a lot of Clausewitz to read for tomorrow? Plus I want to do more reading for my thesis so in a month I won't be in a horrible panic to come up with a topic. And I've been meaning to study for the GRE and get started on the whole Grad school application process. Needless to say this is a busy week for me.

Which is compounded when you add in the fact that Bush and company may finally get caught in the act. The first thing I've been doing everyday this week has been checking John Marshal for updates on the whole Revealing-names-of-CIA-operatives-hence-making-our-entire-nation-less-secure-just-so-you-can-score-cheap-political-intimidation-points-against-one-of-your-critcs-gate thing. I strongly recommend you do the same. Just click that link right now and read.

Oh, and in other news, I noticed recently that I'm on Kevin Moore's blogroll, who probably heard of me through my comments over at Alas, A blog and/or Amp's adding me to his blogroll. This is quite good for me, since I really enjoy Kevin's blog and comics. And if you aren't familiar with Kevin Moore's comics, just click here and read his current comic and through his archives until your eyeballs want to pop out. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The wisdom of Steve Lyons

I enjoyed this little tidbit in Joe Sheehan's column today about the Cubs/Braves game last night (premium BP subscription needed. Sorry):

Finally, with the Cubs having tied the game on a Paul Bako groundout that probably should have been an inning-ending double play (people who think players today can't play defense can't even see around the piles of exhibits they collected yesterday), Wood had one of those moments where you'd just love to have been inside his head before it happened. All but saying to his impotent teammates, "Screw you guys, I'll do it myself," Wood crushed a 1-0 fastball into the left-center gap, plating two runs with a double and putting the Cubs ahead for good.

The aftermath of that double was pretty funny. Kenny Lofton singled Wood home on a blooper to center off Ray King, after which Fox's Steve Lyons went crazy praising the pitcher for getting a good jump from second base on the play. It might have been a cogent bit of analysis, except for one thing: there were two outs at the time...

Now, I know Lyons didn't get to second base very often in his playing days, but you'd like to think that a broadcaster, titularly an analyst, would know how many outs there are in every game situation. Wood didn't get a good break because he's an instinctive baserunner; he got a good break because he's got the whole "counting to two" thing down.

Novak's call

Many conservatives are saying that revealing Ambassador Wilson's wife as a CIA agent wasn't a leak by the White House since Robert Novak called the White House, not the other way around. Now some treasonous liberals have said typically traitorously dissent-filled comments like, "Even if that were true, the source still volunteered the information." Not so, because here at Raznor's Rants, I've used my incredible investigative reporter-like skizz-ills to obtain the exact telephone record of the conversatation between Robert Novak and a Senior Administration Official who's totally anonymous and not Karl Rove:

Robert Novak: Hey there, [not] Karl Rove. What's up?

[not] Karl Rove: Oh not much. Day's almost over thought I'd rest. Wanna see a movie or something later?

RN: Sure, I'm just finishing up this non-partisan and completely unbiased column on Ambassador Wilson, you know, that guy whose wife isn't a CIA agent.

[not]KR: Well, that's not entirely accurate.

RN: Wait, what part?

[not]KR: The part about his wife not being a CIA agent. (slight pause) Oh damn, I really shouldn't have said that should I. Damn my instinctual sense of honesty. But you promise you won't print my little slip up, right? Because revealing undercover CIA agents is bad.

RN: Of course not. (pause) Oh, crap. I'm sorry, but I accidently wrote that she is a CIA operative in my column, then when I tried to delete it, I accidently printed it out and handed it to my editor.

[not]KR: Oh well, mistakes happen. Nothing to do about it now but to courageously take responsibility. I plan on resigning first thing in the morning.