Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Sunday, November 30, 2003


Family Guy may return!!!

Still busy as hell

So I went to Vegas for Thanksgiving. It was fun. The first night I made $30 on Roulette and lost it and more the following two nights. I thought I had developed a perfect strategy, but then recalculated and realized the expected return was still negative. I've heard the only Vegas game with an expected positive return if played right is Video Poker, or Blackjack, but only if you count the cards in the latter. Anyway . . .

So besides the slew of other work stuff I have to do, there's the matter that my application to Berkeley is due monday, so you can bet I'm busy as a monkey on a tuesday. (yes, monkeys are in fact busy on tuesdays, stop pestering me) I mean, there's plenty of other blogs out there while waiting for your next Raznor fix. August has always been one of my favorites, and of course there's Ampersand, where I'm posting comments when I'm procrastinating.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Zeenin' you a happy Thanksgiving

Here's a card to all my readers out there.

In the meanwhile, I'm still really damn busy here with grad apps and thesis and classes, so this blog will still be sort of slow to update. Hopefully I'll be able to do some stuff here relatively soon.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Bush playing dirty, surprises no one

Well, the first Bush ads have been released, saying such high-road comments as "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists."

Great, just great.

In the meanwhile, Move On is attempting to fight this. Here's the e-mail they sent out:

Today the GOP crossed the line. In their first ad for the 2004 election, they implicitly accuse Democratic presidential candidates of "attacking the president for attacking terrorists." The ad doesn't question opponents' ideas, it questions their commitment to America. But there is nothing more un-American than attacking an adversary's patriotism for political gain.

We need to fight back.

Let's show the GOP and the Bush campaign that this kind of dirty politics can only backfire against them. We have to ensure that there are consequences for this kind of un-American attack: otherwise the Republicans just won't stop.

Of course, we'll fight back our way, using the power of the facts and the strength of millions of us working together. When Republicans equate the war on Iraq with the war on terrorism, we'll remind the public of the truth. When Republicans raise money from wealthy donors and corporate CEOs to attack the Democrats, we'll raise it with hundreds of thousands of small contributions from people across America. We won't let the Bush campaign get away with these kinds of attacks. And in the end, we'll take our country back.

Today, we can show the GOP what they're up against. They're paying $100,000 to run their ad. Together, we can raise $500,000 today to run ads that get out the truth in key battleground states. Remember, every two dollars you give will be matched by a dollar from George Soros and Peter Lewis.

Help us reach $500,000. Give now by credit card at:

Or by check:
(Check contributions take extra time and money to process, so credit card contributions are preferred if possible.)

The ad isn't just wrong, it's also hypocritical. In May of 2002, Vice President Cheney said, "What I want to say to my Democratic friends in the Congress is they need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage [from the 9/11 or the War on Terror]... Such commentary is thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war." Compare that to this paragraph from today's New York Times: "The Republican Party is responding this week with its first advertisement portraying Mr. Bush as fighting terrorism...By indirectly invoking the Sept. 11 attacks, the commercial plays to what White House officials have long contended is Mr. Bush's biggest political advantage: his initial handling of the aftermath of the attacks." (Many thanks to the Center for American Progress "Progress Report" for unearthing the quotes.)

The GOP ad, which starts running Sunday in Iowa, shows Bush's State of the Union address. Then, clearly referring to the Democratic presidential candidates, it says, "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists." It asks voters to "support the president's policy of preemptive self-defense." While the ad is run by the Republican Party, the New York Times writes that, "the party has acted as a proxy for Mr. Bush while he tries to maintain the appearance of being above the political fray."

The Democratic candidates are attacking Bush's Iraq policy precisely because it has nothing to do with the war on terror. It's now clear that Iraq posed little threat to the United States, and the situation there today is giving us good reason to question the policy of "pre-emptive self defense." But unless we can answer Bush's ads with ads that get out the truth, these messages may not get across to swing-state voters.

Can you help? With the Soros/Lewis match, a contribution of $50 will actually bring in $75. Multiply that by thousands of us, and we'll easily bring in enough money to take the Republicans on. You can give right now at:

Of course, this news isn't all bad. Parties and campaigns hardly ever run ads this early in the election season. Given President Bush's dropping poll numbers and the clear repudiation of his policy in Iraq, this early ad is a sign that Republicans are getting nervous. They should be: after three years of misleading the country, the truth is coming out. Our work together is paying off. Now let's show the GOP what real patriotism looks like.

I'd contribute, but it turns out I'm a poor ass college student. Who knew?

Thursday, November 20, 2003

You must listen to this

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog being interviewed on Fresh Air. It's friggin' hilarious. Even makes his insults on Bill O'Reilly.

More important generosity

Hey, not that I want to detract from Raznor readers giving me stuff from my wishlist, but I do admit, striking grocery workers need the money more than I do. Do what's right. Then get me that Strangers with Candy DVD.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Bush keepin' it simple

In light of the excellent news that the Massachusetts Supreme Court called a ban against same-sex marriage illegal (it's against the Massachusetts Constitution, meaning on the one hand, other states can't use it as a precedent, on the other hand the Supreme Court can't overturn it), here's the President's kind statement of the day:

November 18, 2003


Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today's decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.

And that's all she wrote.

Via Atrios.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Busy, busy, busy

No, that wasn't meant as an endorsement of the blog, but I recommend you check out the blog anyway, in case you haven't in a while. It still rocks hard-core, especially moreso now that I found out that the title is a reference to Bokononism.

No, in this case, I'm referring to myself and the reason why I'm not posting here as often (though apparently I have enough time to post comments over on Amp's blog, but that's merely out of procrastination). Graduate school applications due dates are forthcoming (Berkeley's is on December 1, but I'm almost done with that), I'm trying to learn enough LaTeX (it's pronounced "LAH-teck", the X is a chi) to TeX up an outline for the first chapter of my thesis to hand to my adviser by Tuesday, and previous attempts have gone horribly, horribly awry, and I'm presenting the second half of the proof for Steinitz's Theorem to my polytopes class tomorrow, and I haven't begun doing the reading for my History class. So yeah, I'm busy.

Interesting note though, if you type the word "latex" in google all the main sites you're linked to are on the actual program LaTeX, and no pornography that I found. I find that quite interesting, and good, since I require online assistance in learning LaTeX.

Thursday, November 13, 2003


Because America is Always Right.

Seriously, though, you must click on the above link.

Bravo, August

You have to read this post August did on all the Rall-hatin'. Now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

More on CNN

Sean Siperstein has more on the whole CNN feeding students questions thing:

CNN's apologia is bullshit: my suitemate's sister, who is a Brown med student, was similarly called up that morning because they said they might need someone to ask a question about increased costs of care, and fed exactly what that question would be. She ended up not being called on to ask it during the debate, but did attest to the fact that all of the questions were similarly staged (c'mon, did you really think that the "who would you party with?" question was the product of original thought?) . It really is nice to know that the media establishment's idea of engaging the youth (not to mention it being shared by the organization that is supposed to transcend those idiots, Rock The Vote) is to falsely create the image of quirky questions to see how "hip" the candidates are. Last I looked, insulting people's intelligence wasn't exactly the ticket to engaging them...

Pure Evil Incarnate

This via Hesiod:

A Fairbanks [Alaska] man was arrested on accusations that he confronted anti-war protesters and kicked a puppy belonging to one of them.

That's right, he kicked a puppy!!!!!! How can you be such a violent asshole as to actually physically kick a puppy.

I mean, seriously, when I want to humorously and satirically mention how evil someone is, I usually mention one or more of three things, nun-beating, puppy-kicking and shaking hands with Robo-Hitler. So far there's this asshole who kicks puppies, we know Senate Majority Leader kills kittens. I dunno, but if I were a nun, I'd stay away from Republicans, especially if you have no desire to meet Robo-Hitler.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

WTF? vol 918B

Also from Atrios there's this:

NEW YORK -- CNN planted a question about computer preferences at last week's debate of the Democratic presidential candidates at Faneuil Hall in Boston, according to the student who posed the query and wrote about it yesterday in an online forum of the Brown (University) Daily Herald. During the debate, cosponsored by the nonprofit Rock the Vote organization, Alexandra Trustman asked the candidates whether they preferred the PC or Mac format for their computers.

Trustman wrote yesterday that she was called the morning of the debate and given the topic of the question the CNN producers wanted her to ask. She wrote that she was "confused by the question's relevance" and constructed what she thought was a "much more relevant" question.

But when she arrived in Boston for the debate, she wrote, she was "handed a note card" with the question and told she couldn't ask her alternative "because it wasn't lighthearted enough and they wanted to modulate the event with various types of questions."

CNN did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

My only question is why? What the hell is CNN thinking here, if this is true. I dunno, I haven't seen the special since I don't get cable in my room. (A mixed blessing, although I miss Jon Stewart and Adult Swim, I realize having cable would mean I'd get no work done) So what's the point here? Is this some sort of insidious plot, or just another case of network execs being very, very stupid.

Flynt vs Bush

Atrios links to this article on how Larry Flynt is being less exploitative than the Bushies:

Pornmeister Larry Flynt (search) said he's bought purported nude photos of Iraq war heroine Jessica Lynch (search) - to keep them from ever being published.


"I was offered photos of Jessica Lynch. I purchased them in order to keep them out of circulation, not to publish them," Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, said in a statement read by a publicist.

"Jessica Lynch is being used as a pawn by the media and by the government to create a hero who can sell this war to the American people."

Flynt, no friend of the Bush administration or the Republicans, said the president is using Lynch "to justify the war in Iraq."

Good for him.

Another reason to like Baseball Prospectus

Anytime anything involving labor or union disputes pop up in baseball, you can be almost ensured that the major media will look at it more from an owners' perspective. At best, it looks like a bunch of Major League players who are overpaid against a bunch of rich uptight owners who care for nothing but money. What's ignored is the people who actually need the money, the Minor Leaguers who aren't represented by the MLBPA and are paid very little and aren't necessarily guaranteed medical help in case of injury.

Which is why I appreciateDerek Zumsteg's latest article. Give it a read.

Franken vs Fox

The court records have been released. Via The Hamster.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Stuff I want to post, but soooo busy

As you may notice, I'm up at 6:48 am on a Saturday, and none too happy. I'm meeting someone in a few minutes who will give me a lift downtown where I will take the GRE at PSU. Oh the fun.

David Ross, the architect of the Oslo Peace Accords, spoke here at Reed on Thursday, and it was incredibly interesting and imformative. I'll try to post later on my thoughts on that.

Anyway, enjoy the weekend.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Journalism ethics

This is a few weeks old, but I was look through Tom the dancing Bug archives and found this one:

Thursday, November 06, 2003

It'd be funnier if it wasn't so true

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Well, in retrospect, maybe it wasn't a great idea

Juan Cole has a post about CBS cancelling the Reagan miniseries. I found this part interesting:

The Christian Coalition and other rightwing religious groups supporting Reagan even had a "biblical checklist" by which they wanted all senators and congressmen to be judged. And one of the items in the "biblical checklist" was "support for the Afghan 'freedom fighters.' The rightwing Christians were saying in the 1980s that if you didn't support al-Qaeda and its Mujahidin allies, you didn't deserve to be in Congress! They wanted representatives tossed out for this crime. And now the same groups are droning on about how the Prophet Muhammad was a terrorist, cashing in on Sept. 11 to spread religious bigotry. But the Prophet Muhammad opposed terrorism. Who promoted al-Qaeda and kindred groups? Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan.

August's got a new comic

Check it out.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Preach on August

August Pollak has a good post on the hypocritical right, re the Reagan movie. Go check it out.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Testing the generocity of my readers

As you can see above, I added a link to my wishlist at the top there. If there's any readers out there who feel particularly generous, feel free to get me something. I dunno, it seems to work for the more popular blogs, why not try it out here.

Any readers who are generous enough to get me something will receive my eternal gratitude. Eh? Doesn't that sound like something you want? Eternal gratitude? I mean, come on, that's a lot of gratitude.

Update: I'm having trouble with the exact link. If I don't figure it out, I'm going to take it down.

Update 2: Ha ha, success.

More on Iraq, civil war, and what to do

Before I begin, I haven't linked to Ted Rall's blog yet. You should really go check it out.

Anyway, I was just reading through his blog, and read this:

The downing of the Chinook helicopter near Baghdad yesterday has pundits chattering about the "difficult choices" we face in Iraq and how we have to stick around until we've won. What these morons don't get, however, is that this war was lost before it started. All those wait-and-see folks were idiots; there was never any chance that the U.S. would go in and not act like assholes, guarding the oil ministry and nothing else against looters was inevitable, of course the place was going to disintegrate into civil war and chaos. We didn't have what it took to do differently, and the situation was bound to degenerate immediately upon our arrival. A brilliant commander-in-chief would have had a hard time taming post-Saddam Iraq; these guys were always too narrowminded, undereducated and arrogant to tame anything. This was always gonna suck, and it's always gonna suck. Every day that passes kills more innocents, and for absolutely nothing--the United States will never, ever win the war in Iraq because it just doesn't know how.

I agree with him on most points. That this war was foolish, that the Administration is too arrogant and ignorant to deal with the situation, and that this was probably an unavoidable situation.

But, I do have to disagree with his implicit point that the situation is hopeless.

It seems hopeless since it'll still be another 14 months before we get someone else in the White House, and it doesn't seem like Bush will be doing much to improve the situation until then. But right now, at least, there are steps we can take to stabilize Iraq.

In that, as I mentioned earlier, the top strategic goal in Iraq right now should be regional stability. It's no easy task, Herculean if done right, and impossible if done alone, but not outside of possibility right now.

So, here I present Raznor's Oversimplified Recipe for a Stable Iraq:

Really, it all boils down to diplomacy. And this will be incredibly difficult. We need full UN support, and that will require swallowing our own pride, without losing face. As well as give the United Nations a way to offer it's support without having to retroactively agree the war was a good idea. We have to give up control of Iraq but still bear a lion's share of the costs, which shouldn't be too much of a problem if we eliminate Bush's tax cuts and eliminate the Missile Defense Shield, neither of which will be easy politically.

This becomes a double edged sword. On the one hand, we need to give the world and the Iraqi people the impression that we don't care about controlling Iraq, and hand control over willingly. On the other hand, we need to do it in a way that cannot be perceived as us showing weakness, or even admitting we made a mistake going into Iraq, or the plan will receive heavy resistance in the Pentagon and military sector, and thus become politically infeasible.

Okay, assume we just found a way to hand power to the UN and get UN support in such a way that it is palatable to the international community, but also the military brass, through some miracle of diplomatic ingenuity. We've still got a lot of work.

Because the important thing is also that the countries in the region will lend support to our efforts in Iraq. We'd need a substantial police force of fellow Arabs, whom the Iraqis can believe are more concerned for them than Americans, and who can speak their language. This takes the assumption that if there is a semblance of order and self-governance, most Iraqi civilians would find actual armed resistance undesirable, hence competing nationalist entities wouldn't have enough sway to declare war on each other.

How do we do this? I'm no expert in Middle Eastern politics, but the most obvious answer to me would be to promise (and fulfill that promise, or at least appear to be fulfilling that promise) to take a harder stand on Israel, and cut off considerable amount of aid, since at the moment, Israel's army is viewed by many in Arab nations as being an extension of the American army. This has a similar problem of having to be packaged in a way that will be acceptable to the Arab nations and palatable to the people at home, in order to make it politically possible.

So there you go. And I'm probably oversimplifying, still it seems like a Herculean task to complete. And the unfortunate thing is we have an Administration with one strategic goal: get re-elected. Regional stability of Persia seems to have little consideration for these people.

I'm tired, but I wanted to note

Earlier, I gave reasons why we shouldn't immediately withdraw from Iraq. In it I predicted possible actions of the governments of Iran and Turkey in the event that the Kurds would begin to dominate in an Iraqi civil war. Now, to predict actions of a sovereign state, I usually use the general rule that a state will take the action that most reflects its interests. This isn't always the case in practice, since logic doesn't always go into it, but I had a bigger problem with what I posted.

Upon further thought, I really don't think there'd be any case where the Iranians would send troops into either Iraq or Afghanistan. Why? Because doing so would increase the likelihood of provoking an attack from the United States while simultaneously being frowned upon by the world community. And Iran cannot afford that. I still would predict that Turkey would send troops into Iraq, but I think it's safe to assume that Iran would sit back and watch the Iraqi civil war unfold from within its borders.

Sorry if this didn't make sense. It might make more sense if you read the original post, but I'm going to bed now. When I wake up I'll reread this and edit it for clarity if necessary.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Elliott Smith

Good article in Williamette Weekly.