March 2008


Much as I hate to disagree with my coblogger, why would we ever want to leave Iraq right when we’re getting a really good civil war going?

Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.

With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.

Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq’s two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias — who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade — would not stop at mere insurrection.

Good times. The only thing that could make this better is if Sky Captain Andy Rooney was around to keep Iran from arming the, uh, Sunni militants who we, uh, are paying so they either will or won’t take sides in the civil war we now apparently want to happen. That’s robust foreign policy, is what that is. Besides, counting corpses is so much fun.

 In addition to not being real, global warming is a problem so huge that we might as well just give up and invest in oceanfront property in Kansas.  Seriously, there is no way we could ever afford to do what needs to be done:

On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, a new report from Oil Change International, entitled A Climate of War(pdf) quantifies both the greenhouse gas emissions of the Iraq War and the opportunity costs involved in fighting war rather than climate change. Here are some facts on the war and warming:

  1. Projected total US spending on the Iraq war could cover all of the global investments in renewable power generation that are needed between now and 2030 in order to halt current warming trends.

Yeah, well, Al Gore farted methane, so there.  Via.  People, listen: reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere?  Obtaining all the energy we need directly from sunlight?  These are the kinds of insurmountable engineering challenges overcome every day by plants.  Plants.  And not just those clever trees or those cunning shrubberies, mind you – single-celled algae-type bullshit figured out workable solutions to these questions several billion years ago.  Call me speciesist (kingdomist?), but I’ve never found the flora to be particularly deep thinkers.  I suspect we can probably do as well if not better, but we might have to cease our incessent whining and excuse-making for a while.  Oh, and stop spending billions of dollars a week so that Friends of Dubya don’t have to admit that they fucked the dog.

Oh, why don’t you just ignore Hitchens? Why are you paying him so much attention? Don’t you know that if you just ignore him he’ll go away? That’s what YOU said. And I ignored him. And I ignored him and I ignored him and I ignored him some more. And then, after all that ignoring, Christopher Hitchens – Our Modern Cal Thomas – wrote this. And then I tried ignoring that for a whole week, but it starting attracting flies and giving off an odor and now I’m going to have to have the whole internets fumigated. Last time I listen to you.

Fortunately, Hitchens does not now, nor has he ever, guided policy. He guides remarkably little, in fact, except the stalwart dinghy U.S.S. Payattentiontome in its noble voyages on a sea of Chivas. And much of the punditocracy sails with him. As for people who matter – and who are more easily, though less justifiably, ignored – many seem to have ended up in the same place:

Obama’s foreign-policy advisers come from diverse backgrounds. They are former aides to Democratic mandarins like Tom Daschle and Lee Hamilton (Denis McDonough and Ben Rhodes, respectively); veterans of the Clinton administration’s left flank (Tony Lake and Susan Rice); a human-rights advocate who helped write the Army’s and Marine Corps’ much-lauded counterinsurgency field manual (Sarah Sewall); a retired general who helped run the air war during the invasion of Iraq (Scott Gration); and a former journalist who revolutionized the study of U.S. foreign policy (Samantha Power). Yet they form a committed, intellectually coherent, and surprisingly united foreign-affairs team. (Shortly before this piece went to press, Power resigned from the campaign after making an intemperate remark to a reporter.)

They also share a formative experience with each other and with Obama. Each opposed the Iraq War at a time when doing so was derided by their colleagues, by journalists, and by the foreign-policy establishment. Each did so because they understood that the invasion and occupation ran counter to the goal of destroying al-Qaeda. And each bore the frustration of endless lectures on their lack of so-called seriousness from those who suffered from strategic myopia.

You can ignore or revile the Hitchenses in the media, but it won’t do any good, as they all went to the same $5500/hr sheep-fucking orgy and they all took pictures. (Best current theory.) It’s annoying, but that’s show business. OTOH, you actually get to vote to get these people jobs which matter a great deal more.

Or not.

Great Performances:

There are two kinds of dinosaur videos in this world: great dinosaur videos and completed dinosaur videos. Neither of these kinds of videos necessarily has any dinosaurs in it.

… Maybe this works?  http://youtube.com/watch?v=dbZ4R3DPpyM

… Still, could be worse:

My next video has singing.

1. Family Guy – just not funny. Hey! The Kool-Aid pitcher just showed up again for no reason! Yes, I know who the Kool-Aid pitcher is. I am above a certain age, and my parents owned a television set. Sadly for everyone involved, the Kool-Aid pitcher showing up isn’t a joke. It’s just you saying “hey, remember the Kool-Aid pitcher? Do you remember that? He’d run through walls and sell Kool-Aid! Remember that?” Yes, I remember – what the fuck did I just finish telling you? But remembering shit isn’t funny – ask Proust. Maybe, fifty seasons and a billion product tie-ins later, it might be time to think up some jokes.

2. But at least it’s not MadTV. Jesus. Whenever I see MadTV I long for the days when Comedy Central just showed Jawana Mann on continuous loop, instead of interrupting their endless Jawana Mannathon with MadTV like they do now. It frightens the lobotomites when you change the routine like that, Comedy Central.

3. I had very high hopes for Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, but TV lets me down yet again. First of all, rehab for what? The guy from Taxi was a trooper, but then it got kind of sad.  They had some nice young actress from Family Matters on who was addicted to … pot. Pot had totally ruined her life to the point where she had turned into an unemployed actress living in a nice part of LA who smoked a lot of pot. Except then she got a job on this show, so … what’s her fucking problem again? And then Daniel Baldwin showed up, except he wasn’t addicted to anything, except having nothing better to do. Where are the stock reality TV conventions? The group of sass-mouthing industry veterans – Nikki Sixx, Shane McGowan, and … oh, all right, Mr, Baldwin, you can be on, too – who judge the contestants on the depraved depths to which they sank that week. Contestants who fail to live down to their exacting standards would have to perform a daring and/or humiliating physical challenge, like spiking Dr. Drew’s morning mocha-chino with methadone or going off crystal meth in a room that’s REALLY FULL OF GIANT BUGS or something like that. Yes, it might raise some ethical questions, but no one ever considers the serious ethical questions raised by getting my hopes up and then boring the shit out of me, now do they?

kool-aid_man.jpg

No, Kool-Aid Man, they don’t. They never do.

The rich get richer:

So the big 700 MHz spectrum auction is over, and the big boys won big. I’ll have much more to say later, but Verizon and AT&T won almost everything. The total auction netted about $19 billion, with roughly $16 billion from Verizon and AT&T.

Still, I suppose no harm can come of it:

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

Still, there’s no reason to doubt that this is all on the up-and-up:

Telecom executives from companies seeking escape from privacy lawsuits accusing them of illegally collaborating with secret domestic spying programs wrote thousands in checks to the re-election campaign of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), THREAT LEVEL reported last Thursday.

But in a Tuesday New York Times story, the lawmaker’s spokeswoman denies that the telco cash affected Rockefeller’s decision last week to include retroactive immunity for those companies in a bill passed by a Rockefeller-led committee.

AT&T and Verizon executives who had donated only a pittance to Rockefeller over the past 6 years donated more than $40,000 to Rockefeller in 2007, even as they were having private meetings with him to plead for his help in escaping from federal court.

Still, there’s no reason to think such cooperation would ever derive from anything but a benificent desire on the part of the telecos to protect their customers from terrorists:

Golden Shield is “a database-driven remote surveillance system – offering immediate access to records on every citizen in China, while linking to vast networks of cameras designed to increase police efficiency.”

According to the Canadian group Rights and Democracy, Western companies have collaborated with China to implement technologies like:

  • speech recognition technology for automated surveillance of telephone conversations;
  • the integration of face recognition and voice recognition technology
  • smart cards for all citizens which can be scanned without the owner’s knowledge
  • closed-circuit television to monitor public spaces

What this means for Tibetans is that they are under more surveillance than ever. Now China can systematically arrest and torture any Tibetans even remotely involved in the pro-independence demonstrations; away from cameras, in the middle of the night, behind prison walls. A truly chilling prospect, brought to you by the Western companies named in the R&D report.

Still, that could never happen here.

Tibet link via, who has been following the Tibet situation closely.

The problem with the primary season ending – how quickly I forget! – is that the general election begins.  A preview:

I am sick to death of black people as a group. The truth. That is part of the conversation Obama is asking for, isn’t it?I live in an eastern state almost exactly on the fabled Mason-Dixon line. Every day I see young black males wearing tee shirts down to their knees — and jeans belted just above their knees. I’m an old guy. I want to smack them. All of them. They are egregious stereotypes. It’s impossible not to think the unthinkable N-Word when they roll up beside you at a stoplight in their trashed old Hondas with 19-inch spinner wheels and rap recordings that shake the foundations of the buildings. . . .

Here’s the dirty secret all of us know and no one will admit to. There ARE niggers. Black people know it. White people know it. And only black people are allowed to notice and pronounce the truth of it. Which would be fine. Except that black people are not a community but a political party. They can squabble with each other in caucus but they absolutely refuse to speak the truth in public. And this is the single biggest obstacle to healing the racial divide in this country.

I’m not proposing the generalized use of the term, just trying to be clear for once, in the wake of Obama’s call for us to have a dialogue about race. However much they may scream and protest, black people will know what I mean when I demand they concede that the following people are niggers:

- Jeremiah Wright

- O.J. Simpson

- Marion Barry

- Alan Iverson

- William Jefferson

- Louis Farrakhan

- Mike Tyson . . .

You see, you’ve just given life to the suspicion that black people in America are, and have long been, a fifth column — unanimously hating the very country that has afforded the highest standard of living ever achieved by black people in human history. We’re teetering at the edge of believing that you’re a secret society, a massive collection of sleeper cells just waiting for your chance to do serious harm to the rest of us. You’ve made it possible for us to believe that. Because you’re never outraged by what the worst black people do. Because you continue to make excuses for what should be inexcusable to everyone.

Via.  The lesson I’m learning this Easter is that if you should happen to get crucified to death, STAY DOWN.  It will spare you considerable aggravation in the long run.  For the rest of us, there’s always this.

… And you have to read the crazy blog comments.  Yeah, I know – but you have to anyway.  Jesus died on the cross for your sins.  It’s payback time.

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