Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Monday, March 31, 2003

When WTF meets religion

Okay, this is already linked to by Tom and August and I'm sure many others, but in case you haven't seen it yet, you must look at this.

The soldier is in God's hands, and by the looks, he'll need all the protection he can get, 'cause he is green. Cannon fodder would give this soldier too much credit.

But still, hasn't most evil in history been perpetrated by people who were certain that God was on their side? Like, for instance, September 11?


Wait a minute, who are the ones actually risking their lives here?

Tom Tomorrow links to this from ABC News:

They may be the ones facing danger on the battlefield, but US soldiers in Iraq are being asked to pray for President George W Bush.
Thousands of marines have been given a pamphlet called "A Christian's Duty," a mini prayer book which includes a tear-out section to be mailed to the White House pledging the soldier who sends it in has been praying for Bush.

"I have committed to pray for you, your family, your staff and our troops during this time of uncertainty and tumult. May God's peace be your guide," says the pledge, according to a journalist embedded with coalition forces.

The pamphlet, produced by a group called In Touch Ministries, offers a daily prayer to be made for the US president, a born-again Christian who likes to invoke his God in speeches.

Sunday's is "Pray that the President and his advisers will seek God and his wisdom daily and not rely on their own understanding".

Okay, what's more hypocritical than sending other people to their deaths in order to give yourself more power? That's right, asking them to pray for you when they do it.

Michael Moore said it first, but it bears repeating here: Shame on you, Bush. You asshole.

And some actual humor

Ted Rall's latest comic sort of mimics the annoyance I expressed in my last post. Check it out.

Apparently Kent State = Comedy Gold

Ugga Bugga quotes from a New York Post article that makes light of Kent State, along with a picture to remind you of the event that's apparently so amusing. Uber Conservatives have the worst sense of humor ever. Their idea of a good joke is "liberals should be killed." Those bastards.

I suppose this is as good a time as any, then, to get this off my chest.

Why is it the moral obligation of the left to "support our troops" by wishing a quick and decisive victory over Baghdad? Operation Iraqi Conquest is an unjust war. Plain and simple. That's the point of the anti-war left. So why should we say that the instigators of an unjust war deserve victory?

I don't want to see thousands of US and British service men and women die. If it were up to me, they wouldn't be in combat in the first place. If it were up to me, they'd be taken out of Iraq now before any more of them could get killed.

Sure, if we lose this war, since we're not going to just withdraw immediately, it will mean that ungodly numbers of American, British and Iraqi soldiers were killed. And it would mean more that likely, many civilians would have been killed by our bombs. Al Qaeda will likely use our loss as a motivator for recruits. Frankly, it's not a scenario I like.

But what if we win? Al Qaeda will get at least as many new recruits than from the loss, we're now proven to be on a Crusade. We'll likely use the victory to spur us onto more Imperial conquest of Syria and Egypt and Iran. Soon we'll be occupying, and we'll lose a lot of men for it, and acts of terrorism against the citizens of the US would likely reach unimaginable levels. We'll likely be at war with Turkey to keep them out of northen Iraq, and don't forget that we'll lose a lot of service men and women in occupying hostile territory. And if we keep attacking nation after nation, and I would not put it past the Administration to do so, if we keep getting victory after victory, our Empire will grow, and the greater the Empire the more unstable, and it will fall if history is an indicator.

So maybe the best course we could reasonably hope for is a loss in this war. Something that will slap awake the American populace. Make us realize that war is never clean, it's a messy endeavor. Maybe, if that happens, a loss in this war will save more people than the war will destroy.

I hate the fact that many people will die if that happens. But many people will die anyway. In entering this unprovoked, unjust war, the Bush Administration has led America into a quagmire. The quickest way out will be to turn back now, but we won't, and every way we can go will be messy and brutal.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Civilian death

Bodycount now estimated at between 431 and 541 Iraqi civilians killed directly by coalition forces. This is disgusting.

Baseball season is here

As we go further in war, and the hubris of the administration is further drawing us into conflict, the Texas Rangers are now in the third inning against the Anaheim Angels. At least there's that.

Well of course things will get messy

Head to Talking Points for some words from a former US diplomat on the whole War in Iraq thing. Things ain't going well.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Qual is done

And now I'm tired as hell. Oh well, in half an hour there's a free dinner at one of the professors' houses. So, I'll rest here and do that. Maybe post. We'll see.

Nation building

Funny cartoon on Salon (free day pass required, blah blah blah). Check it out!

More on that national day of Prayer and Fasting and WTF

Notes on the atrocities has a good few posts on it. Particularly striking to me was this:

Let's leave aside for the moment the Constitutional issues (the resolution was non-binding). Let's instead look merely at the strategic implications of such a public move. The US is at war against a Muslim country. Its standing throughout the Muslim world is just slightly better than Israel's. We're so unpopular in the Muslim country we're attacking that the locals would prefer the 30-year reign of terror continue rather than welcome Amercans to "liberate" them. And now 346 Christian politicians have called on God to defeat the Iraqis.

Read the rest of the post. And this is the point. As if the Iraqis and rest of the Arab world needed more evidence to convince them that this was a Holy War. Brilliant.

Not to mention the fact that this whole "War on Terror" is against Islamic fundamentalism. But of course we have no problem with Christian fundamentalism. What's a nine letter word for "hypocrisy"?


Well, today is the day of my Junior Qualifying Exam (qual for short). So far not too hard, I did the first part this morning. This might lead to less blogging today and tomorrow, as I'll have much work to do. But then again, these days my form of procrastination is to read as much news and info as I can and write about it in my blog, so maybe more work will equal more blogging. There's always hope.

Anyway, part two of the exam isn't for a couple hours yet. So I'll be here till then. Or doing some reading. Or grading.

And the new 3 Doors Down album is great by the way. "Ticket to Heaven" is one of the coolest songs I've ever heard.

Aaron Brown is a pompous ass

Busy Busy Busy has transcript of Brown interviewing Daniel Ellsberg. Read it, and realize how much of an asshole Aaron Brown is. He keeps trying to bait Ellsberg with leading questions, and Ellsberg doesn't fall for it.

Meanwhile Atrios links to this column:

In America, we get Peter Jennings choking up while talking to a POW's mother on the phone. And Aaron Brown turning moist about almost everything. The other night, while examining pictures of the GI suspected of killing a fellow soldier, Mr Brown, my least favourite man on American television, pressed his lips together and pinched his nose in a manly grimace of repressed emotion.

"It's just an unsettling thing, General," he said. "I mean there's so - you know what - OK." He broke off here, to cough back tears. "There's just - there's just so much at stake for so many people. And then to have this sort of thing happen ... it's just so sad."

CNN's military consultant, General Wesley Clark, gazed at Brown's quivering nostrils with ill-concealed embarrassment. I was praying that he would tell Brown to pull himself together but alas, he took pity on the big girl's blouse. "It is unsettling," he agreed, in the manner of a kindly uncle comforting a hysterical child. "But you know, our leaders have to be able to deal with things like this. These things do happen."


But it is true that the American news media have a bad habit of characterising their own overwrought responses to the war as those of the American public. In the first hours of the invasion, the videophone images of "unopposed" tanks rolling through the Iraqi desert had the network anchors jumping up and down in their seats.

Their excitement appeared to be one part patrioticfervour and three parts delight in the whiz-bangtechnology. "This is amazing!" they kept shouting."This is historical journalism!"

For a few days, the high-fiving hysteria continuedunabated. Then when "sobering" news began to filter in, the anchors swivelled in their seats andfixed us with reproving stares. "This is not going to be a cakewalk," they said, wagging their fingers at we naïfs at home. "The American people may haveto revise their expectations of an easy win."

With his usual unctuous self-righteousness, Aaron Brown went so far as to claim that he had beenwarning against unrealistic expectations all along. "Itried to say to people: don't expect that these tanks racing through the desert is like a car chase on TV. I said: this is not the war. This is getting to the war. "Er, no, you didn't.

Which is exactly right. This is the exact problem with cable journalism, it's not only sensationalist, it's also a bunch of self-proclaimed celebrities who think they're as important as the news. Well Connie Chung, Aaron Brown, Bill O'Reilly and all the rest of you (as I'm sure you're reading this) YOU'RE NOT!

Friday, March 28, 2003

Civilian Deaths

A US bomb kills 58 people in a Baghdad market:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP)--Iraq's information minister said at least 58 people were killed Friday in a crowded market in northwest Baghdad by what local officials called a coalition bombing.

The market was strewn with wreckage and there were bloodstains on a sidewalk. Crowds of mourners wailed and blood-soaked children's slippers sat on the street not far from a crater blasted into the ground.

The U.S. Central Command in Qatar said it was looking into the report. Iraqi officials have blamed U.S. forces for explosions at another market that killed 14 people on Wednesday. The Pentagon had denied targeting the neighborhood.

``Why do they makes mistakes like these if they have the technology?'' asked Abdel-Hadi Adai, who said he lost his 27-year-old brother-in-law Najah Abdel-Rida in the blast. ``There are no military installations anywhere near here.''

Of course the sentiment of Abdel-Hadi Adai is based on an incorrect assumption that we can use these bombs with utmost accuracy. The odds that the Pentagon would directly target a market are essentially zero.

But that isn't the point. We're already considered an occupying army by Iraqis. And although we'll still likely win this war, the success of post-war occupation will largely depend on what average Iraqis think of us.

In other words we can't afford bombs killing innocent civilians in a market. Every civilian death is just one more reason for the Iraqis to resent the Americans. And will buy more support to groups like Al Qaeda or Hamas.

Am I saying we should try winning this war without bombings? No, I'm saying we shouldn't be trying to win this war at all. The fact that we're in this war is only through the hubris of the administration and the ignorance of the American public. It's an unwinnable war. Sure, Saddam will be defeated, but we'll lose a lot of men in the occupation even if we don't lose that many in the siege. And if that's a victory, who needs defeat?


In case you haven't seen this:

The House of Representatives called on Thursday for a rare national day of prayer and fasting to secure divine blessings for U.S. troops at war in Iraq and protection for Americans from terrorism.

The non-binding resolution, approved by a vote of 346 to 49, urged President Bush to designate a day.

A few members voted for the measure even though they said they found it a little too theological. Twenty-three lawmakers voted present, indicating a measure of discomfort. A "present" vote in the House is broadly equivalent to an abstention.

This is in the news one or two days for it, but I didn't mention it here, because other than the fact that it is complete utter bullshit, I have nothing to say about it.

But August has a good post on it that more or less describes my reaction to it:

Hey, American lawmakers! When you're deeply rooted in an overseas war against an Arab state to which Muslim fanatics are using as an excuse to validate their outrageous claims that the United States wants an all-out war against Islam, what's the best thing to do in the eyes of the government and the national media?

That's right, create a national day of prayer.

I'm sure American Muslims would enjoy this day too, except of course for the fact that they're all on massive lists of "suspects" for the Justice Depatment. I have a feeling they're not too interested in gathering anywhere anytime soon.

But of course, this is to say nothing of the fact that we're creating a fucking national day of FASTING for the love of mike! I mean, how ridiculous can you get?

Damn that liberal media

From The Washington Post:

Now, apparently, is the time for all good radio and TV stations to come to the aid of their country's war.

That is the message pushed by broadcast news consultants, who've been advising news and talk stations across the nation to wave the flag and downplay protest against the war.

"Get the following production pieces in the studio NOW: . . . Patriotic music that makes you cry, salute, get cold chills! Go for the emotion," advised McVay Media, a Cleveland-based consultant, in a "War Manual" memo to its station clients. ". . . Air the National Anthem at a specified time each day as long as the USA is at war."

The company, which describes itself as the largest radio consultant in the world, also has been counseling talk show stations to "Make sure your hosts aren't 'over the top.' Polarizing discussions are shaky ground. This is not the time to take cheap shots to get reaction . . . not when our young men and women are 'in harm's way.' "

Great, because our previous news has been not one-sided enough.

Charles Krauthammer is nothing if not consistent

TBogg has the details.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

US and British casualties


Here's what I notice on this. No privates. The lowest rank is a Private First Class, and only one of them. I suppose most casualties so far are Air Force, and (as part of my "Everything-I-know-about-the-chain-of-command-I-learned-from-reading-James-Jones" knowledge) people advance much more quickly than in infantry. And maybe the noncoms are just showing greater courage, and are hence the first to get killed in infantry battles.

But then again, I have no idea how to interpret this sort of thing.

Massive surrender?

In my Vietnam class the other day, my teacher mentioned how the according to the Defense Department, an entire Iraqi division of 8000 soldiers had surrendered to US troops. But in the meanwhile, other sources claim just over 3000 Iraqi POWs. So the question was, what happened to those 8000 captured soldiers?

Well here's the answer (via Atrios):

The US military has been forced to admit the 8,000 Iraqi soldiers they claimed to have captured last week are now battling British forces.

The article mentions DoD confusion led by paramilitary, but there aren't 8000 POWs. The whole thing was a lie. Okay, now once again this is me just shooting my mouth off, and I may be completely wrong on this, but I'm guessing the DoD figured we'd be fighting the 51st later, and wanted to give the impression of a cakewalk like Gulf War I, so they said that once again there's mass surrender by Saddam's forces. But then the 51st engaged the British military, and the DoD couldn't cover that up, and now they're trying to cover their asses.

And of course, it'll probably work.

Okay, now this is REALLY scary

Atrios points to this article by Josh Marshall of the Washington Monthly:

Imagine it's six months from now. The Iraq war is over. After an initial burst of joy and gratitude at being liberated from Saddam's rule, the people of Iraq are watching, and waiting, and beginning to chafe under American occupation. Across the border, in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, our conquering presence has brought street protests and escalating violence. The United Nations and NATO are in disarray, so America is pretty much on its own. Hemmed in by budget deficits at home and limited financial assistance from allies, the Bush administration is talking again about tapping Iraq's oil reserves to offset some of the costs of the American presence--talk that is further inflaming the region. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence has discovered fresh evidence that, prior to the war, Saddam moved quantities of biological and chemical weapons to Syria. When Syria denies having such weapons, the administration starts massing troops on the Syrian border. But as they begin to move, there is an explosion: Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon blow themselves up in a Baghdad restaurant, killing dozens of Western aid workers and journalists. Knowing that Hezbollah has cells in America, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge puts the nation back on Orange Alert. FBI agents start sweeping through mosques, with a new round of arrests of Saudis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and Yemenis.

To most Americans, this would sound like a frightening state of affairs, the kind that would lead them to wonder how and why we had got ourselves into this mess in the first place. But to the Bush administration hawks who are guiding American foreign policy, this isn't the nightmare scenario. It's everything going as anticipated.

The article goes on to a history of the Neocon movement and it's danger. It puts the whole current situation in historical perspective, and thus makes it immensely frightening.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Arab Cartoonists

From Al-Jazeerah's page. It's interesting that the anger in these comics are directed to the puppet Arab leaders as well as US and Israel.

From the, no way is there anyone who actually believes this, right? dept.

Here's something from my latest newsletter I got for joining the GOP Team Leader page:

Countries in the Coalition of the Willing:

- in 1991: 38 Countries
- in 2003: 48 Countries

Of course, it wasn't called the COW in 1991, and in order to join it, you had to at least send something. Troops, financial assistance, an ambulance brigade, flowers, anything like that. Now, all you have to do is not directly oppose the US.

The scary thing about this is that the propaganda is so apparent but people actually believe this garbage. Is this a great country or what?

It's nice that I'm in Oregon, and state legislators aren't trying to sentence protestors to life-imprisonment

Oh wait, they are:

SECTION 1. { + (1) A person commits the crime of terrorism if the person knowingly plans, participates in or carries out any act that is intended, by at least one of its participants, to disrupt:
(a) The free and orderly assembly of the inhabitants of the State of Oregon;
(b) Commerce or the transportation systems of the State of Oregon; or
(c) The educational or governmental institutions of the State of Oregon or its inhabitants.
(2) A person commits the crime of terrorism if the person conspires to do any of the activities described in subsection (1) of this section.
(3) A person may not be convicted of terrorism except upon the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act or upon confession in open court.
(4)(a) A person convicted of terrorism shall be punished by imprisonment for life.

This has been out there for a while, and I'm kinda behind Atrios, Tom, and many others on this one, but it bears mentioning, because it's - what phrase am I looking for, oh yes - COMPLETELY FUCKING INSANE.

It's amazing, the same people who are so for spreading democracy to the middle east seem much too busy destroying democracy here.

Comic relief

I'm a Nazi as sung by Rush Limbaugh.

New bill in the Heee-ouse!

Atrios has the details. So much for separation of church and state.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Vonnegut Advice Column

As anything by the great author, absolutely brilliant.

What on earth happened to American journalists so that they let fanatics toy with them?
Andrés Hoyos, Bogota, Colombia

Dear Andrés,
They became rich and famous.

Read the entire column.

Are we undercommitting to Iraq

There are too many links for me to post right now, particularly as I want to finish my next section of my novella by 4:30. Just read a bunch of posts on Atrios, who among other things coined the term "war porn" for the current coverage, which I'm particularly fond of.

But here's the problem. We don't have enough forces, our supply lines are thin, and the Iraqis are hitting the supply lines, and reserves are at least 3 weeks from landing. Without enough troops, we began our rush into Baghdad, and that may leave the frontline stranded and in serious danger.

Frankly Rummy and Bush rushed into it, they didn't want to alert the public to the fact that there was a chance that this would be a messy war. But it's already messy. The Turks have invaded the north, and the Arab League has openly condemned us. Both of these facts were inevitable, but the worst thing Bush did for the war effort was undercommit troops for domestic political reasons. Which, by the way, is exactly what Johnson did in 1965 when he didn't want to mobilize the reserve for war in Vietnam so that he wouldn't alert the public to the fact that we were entering a major military operation.

And like in Vietnam, that could prove to be the American downfall.

Maybe we need another defeat like in Vietnam to take us down a few notches. To remind us, for all our military might, we can't do anything we wish in the world. I just hate the fact that for that to happen many American servicemen and women as well as Iraqi soldiers and civilians must pay the ultimate price. And the danger in predicting quick victory is that as things slow down, you're at a disadvantage. Remember, back in 1861, the Civil War was supposed to last at most 6 months with less than a thousand total casualties.

War casualties

In my Vietnam class today, my teacher warned us to pay attention to what people mean by "casualties" when discussing this war. The civilian notion of casualties is usually meant as actual deaths of soldiers, killed in action. But the military sense of casualties is all armed forces not capable of combat, which includes those killed, wounded, missing, captured, or even those who catch the flu. So when an ex-General says expect 3000 casualties for coalition forces, he's probably using the latter definition.

Okay, I'm no expert on military affairs, but let's assume this General knows what he's talking about and we have 3000 casualties. Typically most casualties are wounded or missing or captured. I think a standard unit would be a 2:1 ratio of non-killed casualties to kill-casualties. So we're talking 1000 killed in action.

Even this is shaky. What really is the difference between a soldier who's killed in a battle as compared to one who gets his leg blown off by a tank shell, and dies in the hospital two months later? And not to mention who knows how many soldiers will die from radiation poisoning from the Depleted Uranium we're using as ammunition.

Hawks keep saying "we must support our troops". Well, you know what, I support our troops, each one individually. I don't support them only in army form. I don't want them to be having to fight this immoral war in the first place. And their deaths are on the heads of the people who rushed to go to war, not the people who didn't want a war in the first place.

Monday, March 24, 2003

A Rachel Corrie memorial

Right here. If you remember she was the one who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer. Check it out. She was truly a remarkable person.

What are US bombs doing?

Find out here.

Anyone with a weak stomach shouldn't click the above link (that means you Mom). I wanted to vomit when I saw these.

Still, anyone who can stand it should see it. Remind yourself that no war is clean. They're only whitewashed.

Oh my God! I can't believe I missed Afghanistan Day!

It was on March 21, and I had all these plans to celebrate the heroes of Afghanistan like Osama Bin Laden who so boldly fought against the cruel Soviet control in their eternal quest for freedom. It brings a tear to my eye.

Here's the original proclamation, but I think Reagan's own words say it best:

The Afghan people have defied the Soviet Union and have resisted with a vigor that has few parallels in modern history. The Afghan people have paid a terrible price in their fight for freedom. Their villages and homes have been destroyed; they have been murdered by bullets, bombs and chemical weapons. One-fifth of the Afghan people have been driven into exile. Yet their fight goes on.

. . . It is therefore altogether fitting that the European Parliament, the Congress of the United States and parliaments elsewhere in the world have designated March 21, 1982, as Afghanistan Day, to commemorate the valor of the Afghan people and to condemn the continuing Soviet invasion of their country. Afghanistan Day will serve to recall not only these events, but also the principles involved when a people struggles for the freedom to determine its own future, the right to be free of foreign interference and the right to practice religion according to the dictates of conscience.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate March 21, 1982, as Afghanistan Day.

We salute you, brave fighters of Afghanistan. May the friendship we maintained in those days as we fought a common enemy remain through all time.

I'm sorry, I always just get a little choked up on Afghanistan Day.

Other people's inboxes

August reports that he got this message in his inbox recently. I present it to you unchanged as some necessary comic relief.


Want a big international COALITION? Tired of getting spurned by hot European girls because of your "unilateralism"?

Now, YOU can experience the COALITION ENLARGEMENT you've always wanted with a MASSIVE accounting breakthrough!! 100 GUARANTEED!!!


With the help of our GUARANTEED plan you too will go from being a little bush to a THICK, MIGHTY LOG in no time! Best yet, our plan has NO Painful and Hard-To-Use international pumps like the UN, and NO annoying allies who might actually try and assert themselves!

With our plan, you can GROW that HUGE THROBBING COALITION in just THREE EASY STEPS!!!

1) Get one of your buddies at the health club (or in England) to SING PRAISES of how MIGHTY your Coalition is, then simply COUNT EVERYONE AT THE HEALTH CLUB (or in England) AS BEING PART OF YOUR COALITION -- WHETHER THEY WANT TO BE OR NOT. Remember to use the phrase: "Everyone down at the gym (or England) says I have a huge coalition" often.

2) MOCK anyone who questions the size of your coalition, especially if they ask for measurements. Be quick to say: "I don't have to measure it because everyone KNOWS it's HUGE." Better yet, ask them how big THEIR coalition is. That usually shuts them up real fast. If it doesn't, simply change the subject or walk out of the room.

3) Tell possible MEMBERS they can hang with you and the cool kids down at Club NATO after the show. If that doesn't work, promise to slip several billion dollars into their economy (Don't actually give them the money, just promise it.)

4) You can DOUBLE and TRIPLE the size of your international thang by padding it with SEXY sounding places like Latvia, Uzbekistan and, ooh baby, Eritrea. And if anyone wonders what good the Marshall Islands are when they can't even field 2 guys at the Olympics much less an army, you just shoot back "HEY, even with MICRONESIA on my side I'm still bigger than the French! HAR!"

5) And finally, when all else fails just tell people 1/3 or more of your coalition is HIDDEN and flatly refuse to pull out the whole length. Insist real gentlemen don't talk about such things in public and that they'll just have to trust your word as to how MASSIVELY THROBBINGLY HUGE the whole coalition is. Then cite security concerns and have them arrested.

If you follow the above 4 steps, you will be GUARANTEED to ERECT a bigger coalition that will leave them all too WILLING to drop trou, bend over and do ANYTHING YOU TELL 'EM TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For more details, contact Ari Fleischer at http://www.whitehouse.gov/

"'Enlarge your coalition' made me a man!" - George B.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Progress Report

This site is now listed in Google's archive. It wasn't listed a few weeks ago when I checked last. Now I might attract a random Nine Inch Nails fan who misspells Trent Reznor's last name!

Time to stop the procrastination

Listening to Ben Folds Live and trying to get to work. I spent all of spring break vegging, and now I have to get back into the whole massive coursework routine. Oh well, let's hope for the best. I found a computer on the Reed network that had Clone High on it, so I've been watching that and it's one of the funniest cartoons I've ever seen. But now that I've watched all those cartoons on my computer, I think I might be able to actually get work done. I've got about maybe two or three chapters of my novella I want to get written by Tuesday, plus other stuff. Oh, and anyone who isn't a parent or brother of mine who wants a copy of this latest draft, feel free to e-mail me and let me know, and I'll send it your way as an attachment. Okay, now time to start actual work. And it's not even midnight!

Ah the links this page has

I should mention that I do not choose who places ads atop this page, this is what happens when I blog but don't pay. Hey, I can't really complain, anyone who comes to this site knows my stance on the war, even if there's a link on top of this page that says "show US soldiers you care". And apparently this means getting lapel pins, as I'm sure they'll really be grateful as they spend the next five years dying of radiation poisoning from the Depleted Uranium ammunition we're using.

But at least it's somewhat balanced. The bottom link "The Bush Record" links to an environmental activist site, and is probably worth checking out. I dunno, the problem with fighting Bush is he's doing so much evil in so many different ways. Environmental issues are important, but my priorities are on stopping the war with Iraq (which is an environmental issue in itself, I guess) and protecting civil liberties. But it's all connected. If we had alternative fuels, we wouldn't be at war right now. (but wait, this isn't about oil, it's liberating the poor Iraqis from life under dictatorship, or life period. How silly of me)

A small note of gratitude

To my friends and family out there who have e-mailed me to tell me how you've enjoyed my blog. Just nice to bef reminded that, although sure, I most likely won't be reaching thousands of readers worldwide, this is being read by some people, and that makes it all worth it.

And another special note of gratitude to Amp Ersand, the only person I haven't met personally to have e-mailed me, and also told me how to add a permanent "E-MAIL ME" link to this blog, so I don't have to write a reminder at random intervals.

Okay, this scares the hell out of me

Tom Tomorrow linked to this article a few days ago. I just now read it, in my current state of procrastination.

If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.

Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.

"Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."

A red alert means there is a severe risk of terrorist attack, according to federal guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.

"The state will restrict transportation and access to critical locations," says the state's new brochure on dealing with terrorism.

"You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages."

Okay, seeing as so far the administration has been randomly going up and down the terrorism warning system as dictated by political expedience, this means that Emperor Bush, or his Imperial Cabinet can, at any time, without accountability nor giving us a reason, shut down the country. Which means, and now I'm being cynical and paranoid here, but you'll forgive me, Bush is down in the polls in November 2004, and we suddenly have a red alert, and oops, no election.

The thing is, usually that last sentence would be meant only as satire. But I wouldn't put anything past this Administration.

Update: "The state" referred to in the above article is New Jersey, in case anyone was curious, and didn't open the link to the original article.

Journalist dead

British Independent Television reporter Terry Lloyd was killed when he was fired on by US troops. I don't have all the info on this. Just read the article.

Okay, one link, but then - sleep

Check this site out. It's an independent civilian body count on the Iraq war. I have a feeling it'll only get more and more useful as time passes.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Empathy takes all the fun out of war

Well I'm back in Portland and tired as hell, but I'll write this before just vegging and sleeping. No links today. I'll get some for you tomorrow.

So, I'm standing waiting in line for the curbside check-in at LAX this morning, and I look at the buildings, and the image of the mushroom cloud rising above Baghdad entered my head. Supposing someone saw that, and it pissed this person off so much that they happened to hit the airport there, that morning while I was standing there. But of course this thought gave way to a more terrifying thought, and now my mind was imagining what if 320 cruise missiles just started dropping around me?

I wish more people would think like this. Maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.

Shock and Awe

I turned CNN on today just long enough to see a mushroom cloud rising over Baghdad. That was enough war porn for the day.

You know, Bush keeps mentioning September 11 in all this, and that image just proves it's bullshit. One city block is destroyed, and 3000 dead. The scope of the attack makes no difference to the victims, but we're treating it like the worst tragedy ever to occur to anyone at anytime. And in the midst of this, we're hitting another city with 320 cruise missiles in one day. For no reason other than to expand our Pax Americana and get Cheney and Perle a little extra dinero.

I wonder why everybody hates us? Must be that they hate freedom.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Hooray for hipocracy

Of course every Republican scumbag will claim that "we must support our troops," and that includes backing the President's unjust, imperial war.

But that doesn't include, apparently, not cutting Veterans' Benefits.

Via Atrios.

New Get Your War On


Thursday, March 20, 2003

Slow blogging

Hey, it's spring break. I might as well act like it. I'm trying to keep myself informed, but it's too annoying/depressing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

So, are we at war, or what?

The countdown is over, this is like the armistice in reverse. But no "go" order. According to CNN.com, Bush is waiting to let the Iraqi army look up in the sky a bit. What the fuck?

Oh well, the good news is the the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve is still closed to drilling being narrowly defeated with a 52-48 vote in the Senate. Have to take these small political victories where we can get them, right?

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

More on Dean

I'm browsing around Governor Dean's campaign site and the more I read about him, the more I like him.

Here's part of his speech at the DNC Winter meeting on February 21:

What I want to know . . . is why in the world the Democratic Party leadership is supporting the President's unilateral attack on Iraq?

What I want to know . . . is why are Democratic leaders supporting tax cuts? The question is not how big the tax cut should be -- the question should be: Can we afford a tax cut at all with the largest deficit in the history of the country?

What I want to know . . . is why we're fighting in Congress about the Patient's Bill of Rights when the Democratic Party ought to be standing up for health care for every man, woman and child in this country?

What I want to know . . . is why our folks are voting for the President's No Child Left Behind bill that leaves every child behind, every teacher behind, every school board behind and every property tax payer behind?

I am Howard Dean. And I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

Update: And mind you, Vermont was the first state in the marriage to allow same sex marriages, or rather, technically, Civil Unions, under the Governorship of Dean. That makes me trust him somewhat, even in my heightened cynicism of the past two-some years.

If you want young people to vote in this country, and if you want 50% of the adults that do not vote in today's elections to go to the polls, then we had better stand for something because that is why they're not voting.

Read the rest of his speech here.

Maybe this is just the spur of the moment, emotional reaction, but I am soooo going to vote for Dean in the primaries. A Dean/Kerry ticket with vocal backing by Gore could win it in 2004. Let's hope America still exists by then.

Okay, Dean has my vote

From Howard Dean's website:

Tonight, for better or worse, America is at war. Tonight, every American, regardless of party, devoutly supports the safety and success of our men and women in the field. Those of us who, over the past 6 months, have expressed deep concerns about this President's management of the crisis, mistreatment of our allies and misconstruction of international law, have never been in doubt about the evil of Saddam Hussein or the necessity of removing his weapons of mass destruction.

Those Americans who opposed our going to war with Iraq, who wanted the United Nations to remove those weapons without war, need not apologize for giving voice to their conscience, last year, this year or next year. In a country devoted to the freedom of debate and dissent, it is every citizen's patriotic duty to speak out, even as we wish our troops well and pray for their safe return. Congressman Abraham Lincoln did this in criticizing the Mexican War of 1846, as did Senator Robert F. Kennedy in calling the war in Vietnam "unsuitable, immoral and intolerable."

This is not Iraq, where doubters and dissenters are punished or silenced --this is the United States of America. We need to support our young people as they are sent to war by the President, and I have no doubt that American military power will prevail. But to ensure that our post-war policies are constructive and humane, based on enduring principles of peace and justice, concerned Americans should continue to speak out; and I intend to do so.

Perfect, absolutely perfect. I hope he's ruthless to Bush throughout his campaign and beyond.

Yes, we wish the best for our troops. But it's Bush who's putting them needlessly in harm's way, not Saddam.

Okay, this is completely insane

Okay, people, the irrational anger at France has gone too far. This is way too much.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Fuck Israel

So, the story is that Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old peace activist from Seattle was killed by an Israeli bulldozer.

Other protesters with Corrie said she was wearing a brightly colored jacket when the bulldozer hit her Sunday.

"She waved for the bulldozer to stop and waved. She fell down and the bulldozer kept going. We yelled, 'Stop, stop,' and the bulldozer didn't stop at all,"said Greg Schnabel, 28, of Chicago

This article doesn't report it, but according to other reports the bulldozer backed up and ran over her again. The official Israeli military report is that it was accidental. I'm finding that hard to believe.

Look, she's getting attention because she's American. As Amp Ersand writes, in the past month 82 Palestinians and 6 Israelis have been killed. But it shows the callousness of the Israeli army. And frankly nobody should care if an innocent victim is Israeli, Palestinian, or Golgamek, innocents are innocents and when they are killed, it is a tragedy.

The thing is, say what you will as far as who's to blame in this whole Israel/Palestine thing, it doesn't matter. Blame is a useless tool. But the only party that can be held accountable is the Israeli government. They're the huge military, and they're using that military to perform crimes against humanity. It's in the Israelis power to begin the process that will end this cycle of violence and it's time that it stopped.


Okay, right now I'm visiting my brother for spring break, and apparently the news is we're at war on Wednesday. Bush needs a gut punch severely, although I will not do it, nor do I condone the gut punching of government officials. But nice, Bushies, you've just murdered unknown numbers of Iraqis and Americans with your unilateral, insane, power hungry call to war. Not that you care.

Blogging may be kind of slow this week. I've spent the weekend just lying back and am now way behind on the world's events. I'll get caught up eventually.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Warmonger's Glossary

Paul de Rooij over at CounterPunch provides a glossary of war terms. It's a useful tool for sifting through the rather thick propaganda that's revolving around the Iraq war. Read it. It's easier that way.

One more before bed

Okay, you know how some idiot Republican legislators are showing their anger at the French by passing legislation by changing the names of cafeteria foods, through legislation. Like French Fries would be Freedom Fries, and French Toast to Freedom Toast. Because one thing we know about the French, is that they totally care about this.

Well, John Conason points out they missed the boat on that one:

Apropos of the politicians who are expunging the word "French" from cafeteria menus, a gastronomic historian writes: "French toast was not invented in France. In fact, it was invented in Albany, NY. Tavern owner Joseph French is credited with inventing the famous breakfast in 1724. Supposedly, Mr. French didn't know the proper usage of the possessive apostrophe and, instead of 'French's toast' he put 'French toast' on his menu."

Being too tired to comment, I'll just say, Ha!

E-mail reminder time

Once again, since I don't know how to put my e-mail address as a permanent link on this blog (probably I'd have to pay money to add that feature) I'll remind people to e-mail me with comments, questions, angry letters, or you can just send me money. It's all good.

And I definitely urge anyone who doesn't know me to e-mail me. Don't get me wrong, people I know (Mom, Emily, Alina) I appreciate your e-mail compliments and so on, they fill me with glee. But if someone who I don't know were to e-mail me about this blog, why I'd have no choice but to dance a merry little jig.

Update: Consider the jig danced. I got an e-mail from one Amp, who's blog should be checked out by my readers. He gave me some technical help, and I am currently working on adding a permanent e-mail link to this site, so that I won't have to keep posting these E-mail reminders.

Damn, I'm tired but GRRRRRR

Ampersand goes over a list of what Republicans have been fighting for, included are:

-They rejected an act to ban abortions post-viability. Their objection? It made an exception for cases in which the health of the mother was endangered; some pro-lifers have claimed that "health" is too vague a term.

-They also rejected Dick Durbin's bill, which would "ban all abortions after a fetus is viable unless two physicians certify that the abortion is necessary to protect the life of the pregnant woman or that she was at; risk of grievous injury to her physical health.'" Republican Rick Santorum said that since any pregnancy carries health risks, no provision at all that seeks to protect women's health could be acceptable


-Incredibly, Republicans also rejected providing prenatal care for low-income pregnant women (by making them eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program). (Republicans have said that they'd be willing to provide the fetus with health care, but not the mother.)

Read the rest of the post. It's almost 4am here and I'm really tired right now, but man, this sort of stuff pisses me off. I dunno, I think I've been in a bad mood all day since I woke up to find that Serbian PM Djindjic dies, and the Bushies seem to be planning to start this war next week. And then you add more Republican hypocrisy and it's like, well, GRRR.

Well, what can you say. Republicans must really hate women. And puppies.

And sunshine.

And flowers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003


The Supreme Court has ruled on a stay of execution on Delma Banks in Texas.

Atrios linked to this case a few days ago. I'm glad this guy's not getting executed.

Serbian Prime Minister Assassinated

Article here. Damn, I don't know what to say about this one.

New Get Your War On

Right here. The last two comics make a reference to this which has been all over Blogistan recently. Ugh. I'm not commenting on that one. Just read the comic.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

This is Scripted

From "President" Bush's "press conference:"

Bush: . . .The risk of doing nothing, the risk of hoping that Saddam Hussein changes his mind and becomes a gentle soul, the risk that somehow -- that inaction will make the world safer, is a risk I'm not willing to take for the American people.

We'll be there in a minute. King, John King. This is a scripted -- (laughter.)

Q Thank you, Mr. President. How would -- sir, how would you answer your critics who say that they think this is somehow personal?

And as frightening as the president's own admission that his press conference is scripted (hence the danger, Bush handlers realized, of even an completely controlled press conference), is how major news outlets completely covered for him.

Link via Cursor.

Arguing with the Pro-lifers

Ampersand posts a very good and informative article on the recent Partial Birth Abortion bill released in Congress. You should definitely read it.

But what I'm going to write about is the post below it, in which Amp writes:

Well, no doubt some pro-lifers are interested in "the injustices that often lead women to seek abortion" and so on, but that's not the defining trait of the movement. You don't have to be interested in that stuff to qualify as pro-life.

The abortion debate is about one question: "Should the government force childbirth on pregnant women?" The answer to that question is what classifies someone as pro-life or pro-choice.

A good point it, but it makes a rhetorical error, namely attributing to one's opponent the exact opposite of one's own central view on the issue.

There is no doubt that pro-choice is about not enforcing childbirth, but the pro-life argument is entirely disjoint, that an embryo is a human, and therefore subject to equal protection under the law of the already born. Unless this is recognized, there can be no progress in the debate between pro-life and pro-life factions.

The problem is, the view that an embryo is a human is a logically flawed view, and I'll explain that.

To say "an embryo is a human," is logically equivalent to "life begins at conception," ie "at the moment of fertilization the embryo becomes a human."

So what does it mean to "be human"? This is a very complex thought, but there are two axioms about humanity that are pertinent here.

The first is the axiom of individuality - each individual person is one human. Two persons are not one human, similarly one person is not two humans.

The second is the axiom of permanence - a person remains a human for the entirety of said person's life. There is no point, once a person is human, where that person stops being a human unless dead.

These axioms are not usually explicitly mentioned because they are obvious, the truth of them is taken for granted. But when made explicit, we can analyze the above argument.

Suppose then, that life begins at conception. Then at conception the embryo becomes one human, and will remain one human until death.

But this creates a problem because there is the occasion where the embryo will split into two. Under this hypothesis, indentical twins are two persons but one human, which contradicts the axiom of individuality.

Thus the argument that life begins at conception is a fundamentally flawed argument. So the question becomes where does "life begin"? I don't have an answer to this, but I do know that the answer isn't "at conception".

Ah, my training as a mathemetician comes in handy.

Backing up our troups

Tom Tomorrow posted an e-mail sent to him from the father of a young man in the Marine Corps who was recently deployed. It's worth the read.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Wow, our government is capable of good, and not just evil!

KAKUMA, Kenya — The engines rumbled and the red sand swirled as the cargo plane roared onto the dirt airstrip. One by one, the dazed and impoverished refugees climbed from the belly of the plane into this desolate wind-swept camp.

They are members of Africa's lost tribe, the Somali Bantu, who were stolen from the shores of Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania and carried on Arab slave ships to Somalia two centuries ago. They were enslaved and persecuted until Somalia's civil war scattered them to refugee camps in the 1990's.

Yet on this recent day, the Bantu people were rejoicing as they stepped from the plane into the blinding sun. They were the last members of the tribe to be transferred from a violent camp near the Somali border to this dusty place just south of Sudan. They knew their first trip in a flying machine was a harbinger of miracles to come.

Over the next two years, nearly all of the Somali Bantu refugees in Kenya — about 12,000 people — are to be flown to the United States. This is one of the largest refugee groups to receive blanket permission for resettlement since the mid-1990's, State Department officials say.

The refugees will be interviewed by American immigration officials in this camp, which is less violent than the camp near Somalia. The interview process has been slowed by security concerns in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Despite the repeated delays, the preparations for the extraordinary journey are already under way.

Every morning, dozens of peasant farmers take their seats in classrooms in a simple one-story building with a metal roof. They study English, hold their first notebooks and pens, and struggle to learn about the place called America. It is an enormous task.

The Bantu, who were often denied access to education and jobs in Somalia, are mostly illiterate and almost completely untouched by modern life. They measure time by watching the sun rise and fall over their green fields and mud huts.

Article here. Link via Atrios.

I just offer it here as a happy contrast to all the bullshit that's going on in Iraq. It's nice to see something in the news where we're being the good guys for a change.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Bush comparisons

Bush is Hitler is the comparison that pops to mind immediately, and therefore should be ignored as being overly simplistic. Bush is Caesar has been used once, but that comparison ends with "wants to control an empire." But hey, Bush is Philip II is a mostly unexplored road.

Or, more likely, the new Spain. The Spanish analogy is not one most Americans will know, nor one the new Wilsonians will much care for. But it may prove apt.

The quest to create the "universal monarchy," which was the earlier term for "the only superpower," began in earnest with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the father of King Philip II of Spain. Charles ruled virtually all of Europe, except France. His kingdoms included Spain, which had the first true world empire. Fueled with the gold and silver of the New World and possessing an army so successful that it went unbeaten for more than a century, Spain offered Charles and then Philip the potential of ruling the world. You may recall that Armada business, when King Philip decided to end the impudence of an upstart island, England, and its Protestant queen, Elizabeth I. That did not go quite according to plan -- somewhat like our current business in Afghanistan -- but no matter; so rich was Spain that when the Armada was destroyed, Philip just built another one.

What finally stopped Hapsburg Spain and, later, France under Louis XIV and Napoleon and Germany under Hitler from establishing the universal monarchy was a fundamental characteristic of the international state system: whenever one nation attempts to attain world dominance, it pushes everyone else into a coalition against it. That dynamic, not any love for Saddam, is what is behind German and French opposition to the Bush Administration's plan for war with Iraq. That is what is drawing others, including Russia, into supporting the French and the Germans. The Dutch ambassador to the United States was recently quoted in the Washington Post as saying he is concerned about a "monopoly of power without checks and balances. Self-assertiveness and an arrogance of power, that is a troubling thing."

Read the entire article, it's quite interesting.

Useful Idiots

Atrios excerpts an article by Art Buchwald from 1963, where he interviews a KGB agent known as Serge:

"I used to be in charge of all Communist subversive activity in the United States," he said.

"You were?" I asked in amazement.

Yes. Perhaps you have heard of the Orlov Plan?"

I admitted I hadn't, though I explained it was because I hadn't kept up much on subversive activities in the United States recently.

The Orlov Plan," he said, swigging down another vodka, "was the most masterful subversive plan ever devised in the cold war. I received the Fourth Order of the Lenin Cross for it."

"What was it?" I asked.

"I was in charge of all internal subversion in the United States from 1950 to just a few months ago. For years we had been trying to infiltrate the unions and the liberal groups, but we made little headway. We were wasting our money. The U.S. was stronger than ever, its policy towards the Soviets had toughened, and little damage was being done to American morale.

"I realized something had to be done. Then I hit upon it- the Orlov Plan.

The only people willing to wreck the United States government, I discovered, were the extreme right-wing groups. They were being ignored, and yet they were the key to all internal subversion. I laid out a plan. I would have my agents organize a program working through the extreme right wing which would stand the United States on it's head.

First I would get the right wing to accuse President Eisenhower of being a Communist. Then I would get them to call their own high government officials traitors. Then I would see that the right wing attacked American United Nations representatives. I also would convince the right wing that Russia didn't have atomic weapons.

Then I would encourage rumors that everyone in the State Department was either a Communist or a homosexual. I gave order to wreak havoc in the armed services by turning military officers against civilians. I even proposed they impeach Chief Justice Warren of the Supreme Court. I laid out different attacks on anyone who advocated better education or health facilities in the United States. And the topper was that anyhone who disagreed with this would be accused of being a card-holding Communist.

"When I proposed the plan in Moscow, the Kremlin thought I was crazy. But they figured they had nothing to lose. Well, you can see the results for yourself. The seeds of doubt about America are being planted by their own people, and we've been making more progress in wrecking the U.S. Constitution in the last few years than my predecessors have been able to do since the revolution."

Then you mean all these extreme right-wing groups are really Communist dupes?" I asked in surprise.

"Exactly, they're doing the Lord's work for the Soviet Union, and most of them don't even know it."

I'd comment, but I think I'll pass the time with a game of solitaire.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

This looks kinda . . . not good

The Slate makes an important observation on Bush's press conference:

Four times at his press conference, Bush was asked why other countries weren't seeing things our way. Four times, he had no idea.

Bloomberg News reporter Dick Keil asked Bush why American allies who had seen U.S. intelligence on Iraq didn't agree that the threat was sufficient to require war. Bush replied that other countries agreed with him. Fox News reporter Jim Angle asked why "so many people around the world take a different view." Bush replied that protest was healthy but that it wouldn't change his opinion—as though the question had been about his opinion. ABC News correspondent Terry Moran asked why "so many governments and peoples around the world now not only disagree with you very strongly, but see the U.S. under your leadership as an arrogant power." Bush replied that the world would come around. Finally, Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Ron Hutcheson asked Bush about critics who feared war would destabilize the Middle East: "Do you ever worry, maybe in the wee, small hours, that you might be wrong, and they might be right?" Bush didn't budge. "I know we'll prevail," he said. "And out of that disarmament of Saddam will come a better world."

Again and again, Bush was asked to explain why other nations didn't see things his way. Again and again, he changed the subject to himself and his supporters.

Damn, I need a coffee.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Busy as hell

Okay, you'll notice some slow blogging today (maybe, some of you). I'm still busy as hell and behind on work. But I've been spending some time at the Atrios comment section, so I had to write something here to justify my time there.

Anyway, keep enjoying, now I'm going to actually do some online research, which was supposed to be the reason I'm at the computer as opposed to library.

Damn you enticement of the internet!

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

This'll make you laugh

Atrios brings back an old informational graphic display. Check it out. And the rest of his (her?) blog.

Saddam Used Chemical Weapons on His Own People!

Or did he?

I mean, here's the thing. This doesn't prove Saddam didn't use chemical weapons against the Kurds, and even if he used them to target Iranian troups and not civilians, chemical weapons are still terrible and should never be used (though try telling that to Donald Rumsfeld). But the point is, isn't it disconcerting that everything the Administration has been saying in order to get us to back his plan to attack Iraq turns out to be an unfounded lie? Isn't this what happend 40 years ago with Viet Nam. [And more on that tomorrow, maybe]

Monday, March 03, 2003

All Right!

August totally quotes an e-mail he sent me. He doesn't link to me, but hey it's a notice. I sent him a message about the contest for the Department of Homeland Security logos. Check it out (my name is Ben Helford, in case there's anyone reading this who doesn't know me personally).

This makes me happy, because I've really enjoyed reading August's blog for a while now, and he really is the principal inspiration for Raznor's Rants. Plus it was a pretty clever comment I made. Go read it.

Second Hand Info on the DOJ

A friend of mine worked at the Department of Justice last summer in Washington, DC. He told me that most people working there hate John Ashcroft, like how most people working in the Pentagon and for the CIA hate Donald Rumsfeld. But Ashcroft's popularity in his department isn't the point of this post. The point is the following story.

My friend stole John Ashcroft's underwear. It was lying in Ashcroft's office.

Now, before I go on, it's not uncommon for government officials to keep changes of clothes in their office. In case of crisis where they need to be on call 24 hours a day, they'll sleep in their office and keep changes of clothes for that purpose. The uncommon thing is the nature of Mr. Ashcroft's boxers.

We're talking really nice boxers here. They were silk, monogrammed boxers, with the US Seal engraved on one of the legs! Truly the only underwear fit for a man of Ashcroft's stature.

So there's a picture of my friend shaking Ashcroft's hand. And in the moment before the picture was taken, my friend lifted up Ashcroft's boxers behind his head, so we have Ashcroft shaking hands with one of his workers, and Ashcroft's boxers in the background, and a security agent (secret service?) staring at the boxers with a look of suspicion/what the hell? on his face.

Furthermore, the fact that many many people in the DOJ hate Ashcroft means there's hope that one will enter his office, and say to him, "Hey Ashcroft, about your latest disfiguring of the Constitution . . ." and then give Ashcroft a gut punch. At which point Ashcroft will finally realize the error of his ways and stop fucking over the entire nation. By and by. By and by.

Dirty Tricks

I didn't want to comment on this right away, but basically here's what it says:

The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq.
Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer.

The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency - the US body which intercepts communications around the world - and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input.

The memo is here. The thing is, I wanted to develop an opinion on it based on the memo itself, but I had not the experience or know-how in order to put it in context.

So I e-mailed my history professor, Ed Segel, who is extremely intelligent and, being a diplomatic historian, reads things like this often and would know how to interpret it. Here's his reaction:

Thanks for the reference. There is a long tradition in diplomacy of spying on one's interlocutors at a conference - seduce the chambermaids, steal the contents of wastebaskets, etc. - so, as with other aspects of Bush foreign policy, in principle this isn't so new. It's the manner and intensity which are disturbing in themselves and offensive to others. The administration has been very heavy-handed in many respects for some time, most of all re Iraq, and this tactic - while arguably not all that helpful in garnering votes in the UN - will probably only increase anti-American suspicion and hostility. Oh well - it may be a sign of the admin.'s desperation.

I'm hoping the administration is desperate in this. It may be our best hope. Honestly, I think this whole Iraq thing is imploding around the administration, and killing them. Bush said he doesn't care about the anti-war marches, but he does. He had to address it. He's backed himself into a corner with no good way out with his constant warmongering and unilateral action. The only problem is that before he falls, a lot more innocent people could die, and trillions of US dollars will go into the best Al Qaeda recruitment program money can buy.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

So why is Bob Graham pissed?

WHAT GAVE IT to him this time, he tells NEWSWEEK, was his experience last year overseeing a joint House-Senate inquiry into the events of 9-11. Graham says he became “outraged” by the intelligence and law-enforcement failures discovered by the inquiry—most of which, he charges, are still being suppressed by the Bush administration. The inquiry’s 400-page report can’t be publicly released because the administration won’t declassify key portions. Graham says the report documents far more miscues by the FBI and CIA than have been publicly revealed, as well as still unpursued leads pointing to “facilitation” of the hijackers by a “sovereign nation.” (Sources say the country is Saudi Arabia.) “There’s been a cover-up of this,” Graham said.

Article here. Via Atrios.

Of course this is just buried in Newsweek's Periscope. I mean, an expose of the fact that the president has been treasonously lying to the entire nation for the past 17 months and now is trying to force us all into a war that's useless and no one really wants (warbloggers, you don't really want this war, stop lying to yourself), that's not like a cover story there, right? No we have to save that for a pandering look at our pious president.

Hey NEWSWEEK, go to hell!

Experiment Revealed

Okay, I guess I should finally get around to mentioning what my experiment was, since I all hinted about it and so now you're probably curious, so here goes.

In an old post I mentioned about how there was a seemingly racist fold out in the Quest, the Reed College newspaper. Anyway, that work and others pissed people off so much they'd post it and other offensive articles around commons and the library with words written across it like, "This is racism" and "Rape is never okay!" (Don't ask the context for the second comment)

Anyway, the thing is, this started getting ridiculous. There is this one cartoon in the Quest called "The Maxist View" which seems to be the cartoonists way of saying, "hey check out all these observations I make about life at Reed. For instance, women and men sure have trouble relating to one another. And what's with all these people being still unsure about their sexual identities? Isn't that wacky." Soon there were copies of his cartoons around everywhere with words like, "homophobic" scribbled on top, instead of the much more offensive and accurate accusation of, "seriously lame joke."

Soon it was getting ridiculous, my friend Tom told me there was posted in the library a letter to the editor where the author said, "and what do I get? I get dick." Someone had highlighted "dick" and accused it of being homophobic. And many people would write comments on these posters, and people would write to respond to the comments, you know, like random posters are a legitimate form of public debate?

Anyway, after the Quest Board resigned in disgrace, there was a short issue that announced the candidacies of three other boards to be elected to Quest Board, and the elections and various letters to the editor. On the back, there was an advertisement for a place that sells and buys used CDs and the like, with a picture of an eagle drawn on in the logo.

So I took this, and wrote on it in big letters "This is Eagle-ism! I'll not stand by as my eagle or possibly hawk brethren is so exploited!" Then I wrote comments on the side, like "Who cares about fucking eagles, anyway?" in red pen and then crossed out in green pen with the words "Don't judge us". Then I showed it to my friends to see if anyone would care to add to it. My friend Alex wrote a bit on the bottom decrying the falloscentric nature of the pens and pencils used to write on the poster and my Louis wrote on the side, "I have 2 daddies (this is relevant)". Everyone I showed it to got a kick out of it, and then at 1:00am I posted it in Gray Center, hoping people would write other things on it and I could report the results to you, my loyal readers, later.

Alas, when I checked again at about 1:00 in the afternoon, it was already taken down, much to my chagrin. Thus I didn't post it here, as the results were unfortunately rather uninteresting.

Be Afraid, Terrorists. Be Very Afraid!

'Cos the CIA has started up THIS!

Man oh man, if I were Osama Bin Laden, I'd be shaking in my boots right now.

New Get Your War On

Right here. He's kind of forgoing the whole absurdist comedy thing in order to just to a more meaningful tribute to Fred Rogers, but it's nice to see.

Anyway, also just a reminder to e-mail me. Questions, comments, hatemail. It's all good. Be forewarned, first piece of hatemail I get, I'm totally saving forever and posting on this site as sort of a trophy, so the less literate the better.

Changes and stuff

After going about and posting on other people's comment stuff, I decided to use the name Raznor to identify myself. Thus, now as I post entries, they will say "posted by Raznor" as opposed to "posted by Ben". This will add a level of coolness to my blog like nobody's business. Now I'll just sit back and wait for the advertising revenue to start rolling in.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

George Will is nothing if not consistent

via Atrios:


Lloyd Cutler is a liberal critic of Senate Rule XXII that requires 60 votes to curtail debate by imposing cloture. He is a distinguished Washington lawyer, seasoned by public service (he was President Carter's counsel) that unfortunately did not inoculate him against the temptations of institutional tinkering. The tinkering he favors would facilitate the essence of the liberal agenda - more uninhibited government. For example, a decade ago he recommended various reforms to undermine what he called an "anomaly" and what the Framers considered the essence of the constitutional system - the separation of powers.

Cutler's argument for the unconstitutionality of Rule XXII is:

"The text of the Constitution plainly implies that each house must take all its decisions by majority vote, except in the five expressly enumerated cases where the text itself requires a two-thirds vote: the Senate's advice and consent to a treaty, the Senate's guilty verdict on impeachments, either house expelling a member, both houses overriding a presidential veto and both houses proposing a constitutional amendment."

But the Constitution "implies" no such thing. Cutler's semantic sleight-of-hand is in the words "must take all its decisions." The Constitution provides only that, other than in the five cases, a simple majority vote shall decide the disposition by each house of business that has consequences beyond each house, such as passing legislation or confirming executive or judicial nominees. Procedural rules internal to each house are another matter. And the generation that wrote and ratified the Constitution - the generation whose actions are considered particularly illuminating concerning the meaning and spirit of the Constitution - set the Senate's permissive tradition regarding extended debate. There was something very like a filibuster in the First Congress.


The president, preoccupied with regime change elsewhere, will occupy a substantially diminished presidency unless he defeats the current attempt to alter the constitutional regime here. If at least 41 Senate Democrats succeed in blocking a vote on the confirmation of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Constitution effectively will be amended.

If Senate rules, exploited by an anti-constitutional minority, are allowed to trump the Constitution's text and two centuries of practice, the Senate's power to consent to judicial nominations will have become a Senate right to require a 60-vote supermajority for confirmations. By thus nullifying the president's power to shape the judiciary, the Democratic Party will wield a presidential power without having won a presidential election.

Great isn't it?