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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Jive Earth

I can't get all excited about Al Gore's Live Earth concerts. I don't think they're a bad thing necessarily, but I do think they are kind of...well, dumb.

Let's face it, the only practical purpose of these concerts is "consciousness raising" and that's so 90s.

If you really want to help the environment and stop the potential disastrous effects of climate change, there's a million things you can do. Recycle, compost, do business with eco-friendly companies, reduce your energy consumption, take the bus, et cetera, et cetera.

Because though it might be great for publicity, throwing a concert doesn't do shit for the environment.

Now I'm not saying that the concerts may actually harm the environment, as some Gore-is-a-hypocrite folks might, but I'm just saying that a practical outcome is not possible from this plan.

Frankly, this is why I'm not an activist.

I can hold signs and sit on the capitol steps and chant slogans and staple flyers to light poles, but that will not accomplish anything useful.

And neither will these issue-oriented consciousness-raising concerts.

There are still poor people in Africa (Sorry, Bob Geldorf), we have no cure for AIDs (Sorry, Bono), Tibet is still part of China (Sorry, Beastie Boys), and Live Earth's effect on climate change will be no different.

Hopefully someday we'll have folks who can actually make a difference, but in order to do that, we need someone who realizes that solutions don't come in the form of hollow publicity stunts.

Libertarian Bingo

The next time you're discussing politics with a hardcore libertarian, pull out this card and see how long it takes to get a Bingo. If you really want to push your luck, see how long it takes to get a blackout.

Because sooner or later, you know you will.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Defending Andrew Sullivan Against the Mental Midgets

Out of all the political blogs out there, I like Andrew Sullivan's the best. Surprise, surprise, considering he's a conservative with a libertarian streak and I'm not, but I like his approach and his passion. I don't agree with everything he says (his recent rumblings about circumcision are particularly odd to me) but when I do, he says it better than I could myself.

Today he printed a reader e-mail he called the Dissent of the Day, and though it qualifies as "Dissent," I would have given it a different "of the Day" designation. Like Most Slanted Regurgitated Right Wing Puke of the Day.

Here's the whole thing. And here's the puke:

While everyone else is writing about the jihad offensive in Britain and the consequences of jihadi doctors infiltrating the NHS, you are stuck in Libby heaven.
Jihad offensive? Surely you can't be serious. The latest London plot is certainly offensive, and no doubt, part of the anti-West Islamic jihad, but calm down, for Christ's sake. What happened to "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?"

That was said back when we were facing the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese Army. You know, guys with tanks and planes and V2 rockets and an industrial base.

What do the jihadis got? Nail bombs and burning cars? IEDs on the streets of Baghdad? Thousands of idiots ready to blow themselves up for Allah?

Trust me on this one. With the jihadis, it's no contest. So buck up, huh? Jesus once said, "Be not afraid." Listen to Jesus.

I love this part though:
You fail to take the pulse of the American people, that is, the ones outside of the liberal cocoon on the east and west coasts.
Oh...my...god. You didn't just go there.

First, I would like to remind everybody that most of the nation's population resides on either coast. A little perspective: Massachusetts is only about 10,000 square miles, but it's population is greater than Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, and both Dakotas...combined. Washington DC has more people than the entire state of Wyoming. California has almost twice as many people as New York state, but New York state has more people than all of Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, and Missouri.

All I'm saying is there's a lot of "American people" on the coasts.

Secondly, it's not a liberal cocoon. Yeah, I've seen the red-state, blue-state map. I've heard about the studies. But the "liberal cocoon" theory is a bunch of bullshit. Are the governors of California and Florida not Republicans? Those two states alone account for 18% of our country's population!

And the 08 GOP front runners? Wasn't Mitt Romney governor of...gasp...Massachusetts? Didn't Rudy Guiliani get his bonafides (cue the old Pace commercial) in New York City?

Some people might be fooled by the idea that the coasts are festering liberal cess pools and the "real Americans" live in "fly over" country, but I'm not. This country is big, diverse, and a little lop-sided. It's not a bad thing. It's just how things are.

More puke:
You are no better, and in some ways, worse than any Daily Kos member, Democratic Underground, or even "legitimate" leftists on the scene like Eleanor Clift (Democratic operative masquerading as a journalist) or E.J. Dionne (ditto).
Oooh, the Daily Kos and the Democratic Underground, a couple of boogeymen who, to be frank, are easy targets. This part can be summarily dismissed because it's intended as an insult rather than a valid comparison and anything useful rarely comes from insult.

I do love this guy (or gal) calling Eleanor Clift and E.J. Dionne Democratic operatives, though. Those conservatives...they love to unmask the undercover operatives, don't they?

But the puke that I really love is this one:
The only logical conclusion one can infer is that you suffer from Bush derangement syndrome.
Appealing to logic!

And yet having none whatsoever.

Because there are many logical conclusions about how Sullivan came to his views. Here's just a few:

1) He read it in a newspaper or heard on the radio, deciding he liked how it sounded, and then repeated it on his blog.

2) The Atlantic paid him a lot of money and then told him what to write.

3) Hillary Clinton paid him a lot of money and then told him what to write.

4) He thought about the subject, read everything he could about it, compared it to his own moral principles, and decided that the Libby story needed a lot of attention and righteous idignation.

And then there's this, the "only logical conclusion."

5) Andrew Sullivan has Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Because, you know, that's what it has to be. You have to be crazy to hold those views. Having read quite a bit of Sullivan's blog, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the sanity issue.

But unfortunately, I'm starting to think the sufferers of Bush Derangement Syndrome are the one who still twist themselves into knots to defend him.

And Sullivan's correspondent is absolutely batshit fucking insane, I tell ya. Look at this driblet of Frito-flavored puke.
You are like the drug addict that starts with Marijuana and then moves on to heroin, then cocaine, then crack. Each step of the way progresses downward toward oblivion.
Dude, I'm telling you, it starts with marijuana (and why are you capitalizing that? Are you German and have to capitalize all nouns, or are you just dumb?), then cocaine, then crack, then meth, which you completely forgot to mention, then finally, if you're lucky, heroin.

Also, I'm sure you didn't know this, but crack is cocaine. I know that's a tough one, so put it in your notes.

The next thing you should write down is this: throw out the "gateway drug" paradigm.

But alas, that's a different post for a different day.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fisking Tony Snow

This is rich, Tony Snow's defense of the Libby commutation.

President Bush commuted part of Lewis Libby's sentence because he considered a 30-month stretch in prison too severe. Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury; was fined $250,000; must serve two years probation; and will likely lose his license to practice law. That qualifies as a stern penalty for a first-time offender with a long history of public service.
Translation:
A little bit of money, a little probation, and a nice lucrative career as a lobbyist. That's punishment enough for a couple of felonies, don't you think?
You gotta love this, though:
The Constitution gives the president the power to grant clemency in a wide range of cases, at his discretion, with no restrictions. In the final hours of the Clinton administration, this unfettered authority was embodied in a mad rush to push through pardons with dizzying haste — 141 grants on Clinton's final day in office, part of 211 in the final nine weeks.
Translation:

When it comes to clemency, we do what we want and you can't say shit. Besides...he did it first!
I mean, what are we, nine?
In contrast, no president in recent history has made more careful use of the pardoning power than George W. Bush: The president believes pardons and commutations should reflect a genuine determination to strengthen the rule of law and increase public faith in government.
Oh, so that's why he only grants clemency to his friends. Ole George, he's not big on the rule of law and doesn't give a flying fuck about the public.
The Libby case was one such situation. After a highly publicized trial, involving calm legal analysis in the courtroom (but vicious vilification outside), Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. In reviewing the case, the president chose to rectify an excessive punishment, and at the same time, the president made clear that he would not second-guess the jury that found Libby guilty. He believes it is important to respect the jury's work. The concept of judgment by a jury of peers forms the backbone of our judicial system. So the president left intact the felony convictions and two of the major punishments — the fine and probation.
Translation:
I'm not saying I don't respect the legal process. I'm just saying I didn't like the end result. Oh, and the media sucks.
Based on his record, I'm not even sure if George Bush even has the concept of "excessive punishment" down. I'm just saying...

But then there's this jewel.
Many analysts cleverly avoid grappling with either of these issues, and instead try to analyze the commutation as a raw political exercise. That sort of analysis is off-base. The president was not motivated by politics in making this decision. If he had made the decision based on opinion polls, he wouldn't have lifted a finger.

Instead, he did what he does normally, and what makes those of us who work for him proud. He proceeded on the basis of principle, and arrived at a sound and just decision — knowing he would take hits in the court of public opinion, but also knowing he was doing the right thing.
Translation:
If the president was going to do what the public wanted, he would have left well enough alone. But since he's going to do the, ahem, "right thing" (wink wink, nudge nudge), he's going to look out for the people who work for him.
As for the public, you know, the ones that he works for, bah. Who gives a shit?

I wonder if Tony Snow will go back to TV when his tenure as press secretary is over. I mean, after stooging for George Bush, do you even have the credibility? Not that you need much credibility...

Another Sorrow, Another Breath

Today on CNN, they ran a story about the BBC reporter finally getting released from Gaza and the logo they used to frame the story was Crisis in the Middle East. It's the same logo some CNN graphic artist designed for the war started by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Crisis in the Middle East! Oh my!

I think they should change it. It should be called "Life in the Middle East."

If you think about it, the Middle East has been in "crisis" since long before I was born. 1967, 1972, 1973, 1978, the entire 1980s, and on and on until today!

Let's retire "crisis" and just call it what it is. Just another day in the Middle East.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Correction

In a previous post, I mentioned reports of 20 beheaded bodies found in Baghdad last week.

Now there are reports that say the beheadings never happened.

So were 20 people beheaded? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. This is what I do know:
"At the time, the Interior Ministry tried to send troops to the area to confirm the discovery, but the visit was called off because the area was too dangerous."
Make of that what you will.

Update: Hmm...maybe I spoke too soon. It seems Bob Owens, the Confederate Yankee, is claiming credit for blowing the lid off this manufactured story. Read the account here.

A few funny things about this... Bob claims the thinly sourced reporting is what set him off on his myth busting quest:
By 8:10, Thursday morning, I’d fired off the first of a series of queries to Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) Public Affairs and current and former liaisons with the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) Public Affairs Office, asking what they knew of this claim. I was immediately suspect because of the dubious sourcing prominently noted in one version of the original Associated Press story.
Who needs the wire services when Bob Owens is on the case?

Remember Jamilgate? Bob Owens was all over that one too.

And here he is again, defending the war effort from sloppy AP reporting yet again.
One can only guess why the Associated Press saw fit to distance the claim from the location of the sources, and only the editors at Fox News saw and corrected the Associated Press story to correctly pair the paragraphs stating the claimed mass beheading and the distant location of the story’s anonymous “police” sources.
I'm not sure if Fox News "correcting" the AP is a good thing...

But it's funny...perhaps Owens never noticed how much news Fox gets from the AP. Here's their website. Click on any news story. (Not Bill O'Reilly's talking points memo, an actual news story.) Check the byline. If it's NOT the AP, you win. If it IS the AP, welcome to the real world.

Keep up the good work, Confederate Yanker. If only it weren't for the goddamn AP, this war would have been won three years ago...

Fucking idiot.

Terrorists as Clowns

An Andrew Sullivan reader writes:

But more to the point, the American approach of hyperbolizing the threat not only unnecessarily (and cynically) terrifies the public – thereby achieving the ‘terrorists’ aims for them – it also elevates the perpetrators into potential heroes for those Muslims who would imitate them. Instead, we should be denigrating them as the clowns they are.

The effective response is not to declare every kook with a pipe-bomb-dream an existential threat to the country’s survival. They aren’t. The proper response is ridicule. Nothing can deflate the would-be terrorists’ pretensions to power than more embarrassments like this past weekend. Every time they are stopped, the mantra should not be "What’s coming next?" but rather "Seriously. What a bunch of losers."

It's one thing to die walking in the shoes of Saladin. But who wants to blow themselves to bits only to be written off as an ineffective fool? They want to be warriors of God. Don't encourage them by overstating the threat. Expose them as the petulant failures they are. The best way to fight the viral nature of this stuff is not by making it an epic battle but by making it a mundane one.

Can they do damage? Yes, though a gun or two would probably be more effective and efficient than these duct tape and chewing gum contraptions they failed to set off this past weekend. Let's not abase ourselves by putting them on par with Hitler and stoking their sadism and megalomania. They are clowns. Laugh at them.

That's what I've been saying for a while now...(More here.)

I'm not saying terrorism is a joke --it's deadly serious-- but more often than not, the terrorists themselves are blooming idiots.

You're going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blow torch? Go for it, dude.

Attacking Fort Dix with the lessons learned in a paintball tourney? Good luck with that one.

Trying to light a shoe bomb with matches? Good thing for the rest of us that you're so fucking dumb.

Terrorists by definition are idiots. Terrorism, by definition, isn't intended to actually accomplish anything. It's just supposed to scare people, to influence through intimidation.

Say these British doctors were successful with their pipe bombs. What would have been accomplished? Besides innocent people being killed, that is...