Friday, January 17, 2003

 

Gimme a break

Expect a likely halt in posting and e-mail responses for the next 36-72 hours as I begin the process of packing up all my crap and heading back to my dorm at NYU for the spring semester. Though this means you're deprived of new content for a day or so, it does mean the sooner I get back to NYU, the sooner new comics start up again.

If you want something to read, go check out the No War Blog. An e-mail (and subsequent but not-too-subtle removal of my site from their link menu) from them reminded me that I haven't made my required mention of them in a while, so go read what several dozen others have to say about the war for the few days I won't be able to since all the magic tools that allow me write about it will be in the trunk of my car.
 

   

Thursday, January 16, 2003

 

Negative on Affirmative, Pt. 2

This one from Tracy Williams, which I'll address right now as well for all.

I stand (well, sit) before you (well, not really) as a black man, aged 25, college-educated, who opposes affirmative action. I am not a conservative by any means, and I clearly don't feel that affirmative action ever hurt me (although I honestly don't know if I've ever benefitted from it; I like to believe I did not.) I believe that affirmative action has opened some doors for black people who wouldn't have had them opened otherwise; that being said, though, I still believe that it is not a just policy.

At the risk of sounding like a certain ex-Senate Majority Leader, I don't believe that diversity is, in and of itself, always the most desirable thing. It leads to a greater range of views and a greater pool of varying experiences, which can be a good thing if you have set out specifically to find a great range of views and a great pool of varying experiences. But if you're simply out to provide education and you have a limited amount of spaces for people who want to get this education, it seems to me that the only criteria for acceptance should be high school GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities and entrance interviews -- that is, things that the applicants had some control over.

Don't misunderstand -- I'm hardly saying that colleges should do absolutely nothing to attract more diverse student bodies. They should recruit at black high schools, they should attempt to have a multicultural appeal (that is, studies in various cultures and qualified professors of many cultures and nationalities), they should do everything possible to avoid being exclusionary. But when it gets right down to it, I feel that giving an automatic consideration boost to all black applicants, as I understand the Michigan policy does, is racist in the exact same way that white applicants used to get an automatic consideration boost in the years before affirmative action. The motive is different, certainly, but the end product is the same.

Would ending affirmative action tomorrow mean a less diverse student body next semester? Hell yes it would. Would that mean that college admissions boards are actively slamming the door in the face of minority students? No ... it simply means that the minority students who didn't make the cut without the automatic boost will have to study harder and be better so as to win on a level playing field. It's the only fair way.

I don't really want to get into the arguments about whether or not affirmative action hurts blacks in the long run by making people wonder if they came by their success through their merits. I don't really know if it's true, but more importantly I don't think it matters anywhere near as much as the basic fairness problems I laid out above.

So I'm afraid I agree with W on this one. You have no clue how much it pains me to say that. But I can't see this any other way. Trust me, I don't like the company that this position puts me in. I fully agree with you that a large amount of people who rail against affirmative action are closet racists (sometimes, uncloseted racists.) But I hope that this message from a Real Live Black Man Opposed to Affirmative Action lets you know that such a person can exist.

My initial response to Tracy is to read my previous post, because I think it answers a lot of his issues. But that said, there's a lot more to, well, to be perfectly honest, nit-pick with this one.

First of all, I'm just going to avoid detailing the issue with "agreeing with W" on this. Tracy appears to express logic and sentiment in his reasoning for opposition to AA, whereas my argument over Bush's logic is the basic premise that he's lying. Anyone who disagrees with that is more than welcome to provide me one, just one, significant example of George W. Bush using executive power to address what he feels is massive injustice against black people.without claiming essentially that "it's for their own good."

Just as I said how misfortune of whites cannot be used as a specific example, the fortune of Tracy can't be used as the clincher to prove the fallacy of Affirmative Action. The fact is, Tracy knows as well as anyone that in the national scale the fact that he is a 25-year old black college graduate is an achievement. In agreement with his letter, in no way should the idea that his race merit the hard work he obviously did to accomplish this. As one who is (allegedly) graduating college in a few months, I'll be the first to say: it's hard.

I hate to Fisk, but to be honest I'm running short on personal time and need to address the two biggest problems I had with Tracy's letter:

I feel that giving an automatic consideration boost to all black applicants, as I understand the Michigan policy does, is racist in the exact same way that white applicants used to get an automatic consideration boost in the years before affirmative action.

The "automatic boost" is in fact a set of points that rests among others such as family legacy and athletic ability as criteria for acceptance. And as far as how "white students used to get a boost-" the "years before affirmative action" were years in which white students had a "consideration boost" by being the only students accepted to numerous colleges. Affirmative Action, at least partially, is compensating for the years in
which all the black students who met qualifications to enroll in certain colleges still had points put in their tally for admission- only they were negative points. Say... a billion.

...it simply means that the minority students who didn't make the cut without the automatic boost will have to study harder and be better so as to win on a level playing field. It's the only fair way.

I'm very confused here. The point of Affirmative Action is extra consideration to minorities who meet the equal requirements of whites. As such, the idea the blacks should "have to work harder" to equal the cultural, historical, and economic advantages whites have over minorities on the national whole is possibly the most unfair situation for minorities to endure.

The only people who might possibly "hurt blacks in the long run" by suggesting AA allowed them to surpass their lack of merit are the people who don't understand how AA works. As I said before, AA does NOT give less-qualified people advantages. It uses an additional factor added to the previously-met requirements of the minority to help reach an unofficial goal of racial parity.

That all in mind, I acknowledge there are those who are not using racism as a pretext for their opposition to Affirmative Action. I still, however, disagree with the opposition part.

--------


I'm sure I'll get responses from a lot of you on both of these e-mail response posts. If I have the time later, I'll put up any reader responses to these two letters, or my comments on them, that I find suitable. God, with all the responses I'm getting on this subject you'd think I'm talking about that damn billionaire dog again.
 

   
 

Negative on Affirmative

I just finished a long response to an e-mail from reader Chris Gillum, which I felt I should just put up here. Gillum's letter reads as follows:

I think your quota argument regarding affirmative action is flawed by definition. According to dictionary.com, "quota" definition 3b a quota is: "A number or percentage, especially of people, constituting a required or targeted minimum."

Affirmative action is about targeted numbers, not required minimums. But technically, both are quotas.

I am an engineer. At the college I went to we had on the order of 70% of our faculty being non-white. This was not due to grand progressive ideals on the part of the administration, this was due to the fact that for some reason all we could hire for prof's were foreigners. Every year they had a report in the student paper about diversity in the university and the engineering college always ended up on top. If anything, the engineering college was one of the more sexist organizations on campus. Some of the prof's were openly against females entering the field. In my opinion, this seems a little silly to say "look how diverse the engineering college is, isn't that fantastic" when in reality it was economic pressure that was driving the diversity and not philosophy.

I feel the same thing goes for AA. Successful affirmative action programs will claim they are successful based on percentages. Whenever percentage participaiton doesn't match populations, someone will claim that this is a problem that needs addressed.

And as for being white giving you a "leg up" in the world, try growing up white in Appalachia. Some of the poorest people in this country live in Wild Wonderful West Virginia, and everyone seems to find fun at the expense of a bunch of backwater hicks who talk funny. They get no preferential treatment from anyone and are pretty much left to themselves to rot in the hills. Ever seen a rural ghetto? Come to Southern Ohio, or Western West Virginia, or Eastern Kentucky (where they ship trash in on trains from New York City and bury it in old strip mines) and I can show you a few. Are these the same white people as the white people who have benefited from the oil industry, the Republican party, globalism, et cetera? Affirmative action says they are.

My response followed, which I shall now also reprint verbatim, so keep in mind the context of the grammar:

Using technicality is a great stretch to the argument. Affirmative Action does not penalize or implicate any institution that attempts to reach goals in good faith. The idea of a quota, and such a term that is identified by any pundit opposing AA, means the idea of a legally-bound target that one is forced or required to obtain. Unless mandated by a judge in penalty for extreme cases of discrimination, AA does not force or demand a "target minimum" of any kind. It sets an obtainable goal with a broad stretch of options and objectives, most of the time which are re-established on annual basises depending on the success of last year's goal. Despite the right-wing rhetoric, AA does NOT require the hiring or selection of unqualified, or in most cases even less-qualified, individuals of color. AA programs obviously use percentages and statistics as identification of success or failure because A. they are setting goals, and B. exactly what else does one use to measure success of a program intended for the sole purpose of increasing minority success?

The use of specifics to oppose AA is also an argument that is manipulated in numerous ways beyond the way you have done so. AA opponents use examples of black success (ex. Tiger Woods, should a rich black kid get scholarships, etc. and as you have given white failure to oppose AA as a whole, which is a contrary concept to the nature of AA, which exists not because of individual injustices but injustices done to an entire group as a whole. Bush's and others' idea of selective identification of individual injustices and "fairness" is nearly impossible, and even if so would be exponentially more complicated than the current system to enact and maintain. The fact is that on the national scale, any success on behalf of minorities is in spite of racial adversity, not because of the benefits of AA that succeeded it. You mention the fact that there are poor white people- though tragic, this is irrelevant. Despite the rhetoric, it is as ludicrous to suggest that white people in a selective area are lesser off because minorities are given an attempt to reach parity with them as it is to suggest that minorities are all collectively responsible from taking all the jobs from white people away. Affirmative Action has not stripped white people of any rights whatsoever, and as such it is unfair to accuse AA of taking away the ability for anyone to succeed. All it has done is given a previously-hindered group incentive to do so. To argue against such is tantamount to complaining that the abolition of slavery made it "harder for white people to work" because all the black people suddenly had to get paid for their labor.

In regards to this specific case, there are no injustices done to white students and no quotas or targets mandated. There is a goal of a general increase in black student population, and therefore race is made A, not THE, factor in addressing specific benefits of selecting such a student for entry. Athletic ability and family legacy are also such point-bearing issues in the college's admission policy- examples that Bush hypocritically does not seem to be making any outrage out of.

-----------


In full disclosure, I must give masive credit in the AA examples to Liberalism Resurgent, which has so many resources on Left-leaning idealogy that the need to point you all to it should be the final straw in getting off my ass and finally making a links page. Maybe after the weekend.
 

   
 

I'm sorry, what?

Israel is embarking upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries, former Israeli intelligence officials told United Press International.

Another former Israeli government official said that under Sharon, "diplomatic constraints have prevented the Mossad from carrying out 'preventive operations' (targeted killings) on the soil of friendly countries until now."

He said Sharon is "reversing that policy, even if it risks complications to Israel's bilateral relations."

A former Israeli military intelligence source agreed: "What Sharon wants is a much more extensive and tough approach to global terrorism, and this includes greater operational maneuverability."

Does this mean assassinations on the soil of allies?

"It does," he said.

Ummm.... I'm no expert on international diplomacy here, but isn't this... whaddaya call it.... oh, yeah: murder? (The full story here)
 

   
 

And speaking of executing children...

American and British forces sent to Iraq may have to fight units of child soldiers trained to mount ambushes, sniper attacks and road blocks, according to US military analysts.

In a recent briefing document, Peter Singer, an analyst with the Brookings Institution think-tank, said there were up to 8,000 such child soldiers in Baghdad alone. He said that as with the Hitler Youth, which fought in the battle for Berlin, the Iraqi child soldiers could "operate with unexpected and terrifying audacity".

Rachel Stohl, an analyst with the Centre for Defence Information, said the first American casualty in Afghanistan was shot by a 14-year-old. "Ultimately, they have to be treated as soldiers," she said.

The full story here, but as Cursor will also point out, there's a great international strategy to prevent Iraq from using children and civilians in combat: telling them it's against the rules. Oooh. That'll do it.
 

   
 

Oh, cut the crap

Look, at least some reporters will acknowledge it: there's no guessing here. So will everyone please stop pretending that John Lee Malvo possibly isn't going to die?

I don't even care about the story anymore. He's a tragically screwed-up pathetic person who along with another man killed eleven people. He's obviously a dangerous criminal and outside of the greatest case of perjury and evidence tampering in American judicial history it's safe to say he's guilty. Sane or insane, he needs to be, and will in some way be, safely prevented from harming another living person. Thank goodness for that. If anything, it's one of those things that keeps you up at night over which could actually be worse: being a 17-year-old and being killed, or being 17 years old and being told you will spend the rest of your life in a 10-foot concrete cell.

But the truth is, there's really no guessing on this one. Malvo was specifically picked to be tried in Virginia- the state which is beaten only by George W. Bush's Texas in executions. And, as the news has informed us- he will be tried as an adult. There is only one obvious reason for this, and that is of course that "adults" can be put to death.

In the long run, I don't see how this is good. So a judge declared that Malvo is "like an adult." Whoop-de-freaking-do. That doesn't magically make him not a 17-year old boy, and being "tried as an adult" doesn't mean that if when the U.S. executes him we'll be among such charming partners as Iraq and Yemen in the handful of countries that still execute children.

My mom made an observation that I'll pass on to you all: it's so very odd that we use death as the sole excuse to remove the barriers of age. You rarely hear about statutory rape cases where the judge says the 14-year old girl was old enough to know what she was doing, and we don't see casinos ever saying it's alright for a 17-year old to win at slots there... and we certainly don't seem to think children can drink alcohol or drive cars earlier than a set age in life if we're deemed mature enough to do so. Yet we feel that it's important to decide that a child is old enough to die, becuase it's vitally important that everyone is made to feel better by killing him because he killed someone else.

It's because, you understand, we're the most advanced nation on earth.
 

   
 

Right, pt. 2

I have a lot of difficulty when it comes to discussing Affirmative Action. It's one of those situations where you don't want to analyze its reasons, its implications, and certainly not what inspired its inception in the first place. All three are delicate elements, and frankly, as a 21-year-old middle-class white man it's very hard for me to claim any stake in the statistics of it.

Therefore, I always look at stories about Affirmative Action not in the context of Affirmative Action itself, but rather the debate over it. And when I look at that element of the issue, it gets a lot easier to establish a personal point. And that personal point is quite blunt: anyone who openly and actively opposes Affirmative Action is lying their ass off about why they oppose it.

Oooh. I can hear the e-mail programs starting already. But seriously, I don't have a choice because of the basic statistic I will look at in this issue: virtually every person I have ever seen, heard, talked to, and argued with who opposed Affirmative Action is a middle-to-upper-class white person who, even if it's subconscious, think they're being cheated. To which I basically imply: relax, white person. You're fine.

The issue at hand, of course, is Bush's latest jaunt into shattering the fine plate-glass shard of credibility the Republican Party is now attempting to balance on that is the believability of their commitment to racial diversity. This week, he's decided to announce his support for a lawsuit attempting to end Affirmative Action in college admissions brought on by a handful of white students who decided that it's the fault of black people that they didn't get into college.

Bush is droning that the system is "flawed" because of a quota system that apparently... what? Lets too many blacks into college? The horror! Except, of course, as Rob Humenik < a href="http://www.getdonkey.com/archives/000687.php#000687" target="_blank">pointed out on his site the other day, that's in no way what the college is doing, and Bush is using the flimsiest example and the stupidest of lawsuits to make himself look good in front of a bunch of politicians who don't dislike minorities at all, no sir not at all nope no siree noooooo.

So, back to my point about the white people using code language to hide their outright hatred of blacks succeeding. You want to know how to end this discussion? Here is the question that not a single reporter has bothered to ask Bush. It's the one simple question that would end the entire debate and bring the administration to its knees:

Mr. President, will your alternative plan make it easier for more minorities to get into college- in other words, do you believe that a change to your initiative will result in an even more diverse national student body?

Deer. In. Headlights. That's what you'll get, because you and I and especially the president know that the answer is no. That is the spin, and that is the inherent racism that opponents of Affirmative Action are trying to hide, be it subconscious or openly exposed. Anyone who is complaining that "blacks have an unfair advantage" or that "it's harder to accomplish so and so if you're white" is trying to hide the true statement that they are trying to convey: they think there's too many black people here.

Affirmative Action has never meant quotas. It has never meant "unfair advantage" because the entire nature of it is removing the unfair advantage held over minorities. And yet a nation of white people, who have benefited from generations of "unfair advantage" and preferential treatment find one or two unique individual elements of America where they feel blacks might have an advantage over them, and announce that "in the interest of true diversity," they want to make it harder for the black people.

Getting rid of Affirmative Action and replacing it with something a white person calls "fair" has never led to a newer paradigm of racial diversity... all it's ever done is whiten the pool again. Funny how no one seems to say it that way, though, isn't it?

Update: Mikhaela Reid continues her creative strategy of being more talented than me in just about everything I consider myself talented in with her notes on Bush, race, and Affirmative Action. Go to her site and read significnt portions of it.
 

   

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

 

Right.

President Bush plans to challenge a University of Michigan program that gives preference to minority students, telling the Supreme Court there are better ways to promote diversity, administration officials say.

Yes, says Bush, there truly are better ways to promote diversity in his opinion. Like, you know, re-nominating Charles Pickering.

The full article here. We will reflect on the strange nature of this alignment- you know, Bush joining a lawsuit brought by white students because they were victims of special preference in Grad School selection while he himself was, you know, a beneficiary of special preference in Grad School selection- as the day progresses.

Update: Barry Routh has pointed out that Bush has in fact made this announcement on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Well, we're certainly aiming for tact today, aren't we, Mr. President?
 

   

 
Okay, that's really hilarious

Screenshot from Yahoo! News taken from Buzzflash.
 

   

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

 

Where do you live near again? Did you say the Crymeafucking River?

The convicted cross-burner at the center of the Pickering re-nomination speaks of the vast Left-wing Conspiracy out to destroy his good nature.

Really.

Daniel Swan, the Mississippi cross-burner whose potential prison sentence was reduced by embattled Judge Charles Pickering, says both he and the judge are victims of political intrigue.

"Politics are hurting a good man like Pickering and have put me in a real bind," he said.

Prosecutors had planned to ask that Swan receive a seven-year prison sentence. Under pressure from Pickering, they agreed to ask for 27 months, which Swan served.

Publicity about the cross-burning case, which had drawn little attention - even in Mississippi - before Pickering's nomination, has put Swan's small trucking company out of business, he said.

Swan admitted at trial he had used a racial epithet. But he says he's no racist.

"I'm guilty of sticking the cross up and burning it," he said. "But I'm not guilty of all the hate crime things they accused me of."

You heard him. He's not a racist, he just uses racial epithets. He didn't do a hate crime, he just... burned a cross. Umm... forgive me for my outright East-Coast Librulism, but isn't there just the slightest chance that this guy is losing business because he sounds too stupid to drive a truck?

The full article can be found here, which was found via Atrios, because, for some unexplicable reason, just about every relevant political story in the last three weeks has suddenly been found at his site. It's actually quite scary.
 

   
 

Angry John

I really hate saying stuff like this, because I fully acknowledge that I'm not famous. I'm not relatively important, and I certainly don't mark the cultural landscape with my website considering how few hits a day I actually get compared to mainstream political writers/bloggers/cartoonists/etc. So with that in mind, the stuff I hate saying is the stuff that makes me sound as if I'm much more important and powerful than I really am.

That stuff is this- the flagrant negligence of e-mail functions has officially pissed me off beyond reproach.

I respect people e-mailing me. Hell, I benefit from it: thanks to all of you I have been given many mentions and been alerted to many stories and important things. Not to mention the compliments, the advice, the grammar error reporting, and the requests for sex. I am beyond grateful for all of that.

The problem is that in my contact page I have a very small, and I thought very managable, list of requests for e-mailing me. They make it easier for me to sort through my excess of mail, and put me in a much happier mood afterwards to do something about it. Every single one of them has been broken.

I have people trying to send me files, people sending me e-mails where I can clearly see the "cc" to about thirty other people hoping that just one of us will mention their website, people expressing outrage that I didn't reply to them or mention them as if I'm required by international law to do so, and, of course, the most offensive thing someone can do to my Inbox: subscribing me to mailing lists.

It is with much regret that I say this, because it's a line I never wanted to cross. This afternoon I officially blocked my first e-mail address. I just couldn't deal with it anymore. Someone out there subscribed me to some site's mailing list, a mailing list which simply refused in any way to let me remove myself from it until I faked a legal threat, a mailing list which then, literally within an hour of announcing my removal from the list, started sending me e-mails again.

Whoever did this has no excuse, and they are no longer able to give me one, because any e-mail sent from any prefix with his site as the "@" section will now not even reach me. Ever. I wish I could have taken more time to address the implications of this action, but I also wish spammers and annoying e-mailers would understand this quicker: you have no idea how ridiculously easy it is to just press a button and silence you forever. My site host's e-mail blocking tools just simply made it too easy for me to not just block the address.

And to be honest, I regret it. I feel bad that I had to, basically, outright shun one of my readers. It makes me feel very pretentious and very condescending. The fact that you people are out there and want to hear what I have to say is, frankly, the only reason I enjoy saying anything here. If you didn't want to read my work, I wouldn't be putting it online.

But for once, I've decided to act superior, and in the nature that is me, will spend the next few days making myself into a martyr for it. It's a line I finally crossed, and I hope to hell I don't have to do it again- though I can tell you for sure that like most things, it only gets easier to do it again.

I don't know how I can thank all of you for reading while essentially saying that you've all just been warned without sounding like a complete and utter asshole. So, I guess, today I'll be an asshole. I'll do my best to avoid being one again anytime soon.

Update: Well, that was quick. I just checked my e-mail again and had eight- that's right, eight- messages from those "majordomo" servers that send out e-mails informing me I've been removed from their system. Apparently, the fear of God is third only to the fear of being threatened with a lawsuit and fearof being summarily blocked from any chances to spam you again, respectively.

It also, however, explains why my multiple attempts to cancel the membership to the mailing list the person put me on failed- technically, they put me on about ten or eleven of them. I can't even go into lengths about how utterly stupid that is, nor will I dwell on the oft-noted statement that I will never buy anything from an ad that is e-mailed to me, ever, just on principle, you annoying bastards, because that would be inappropriate.
 

   
 

So that's what the ridiculously old little lady is doing there!

FAIR reports on the latest verbal spanking of Ari Fleisher, courtesy of the 214-year-old Helen Thomas:

"At the earlier briefing, Ari, you said that the president deplored the taking of innocent lives," Helen Thomas began. "Does that apply to all innocent lives in the world?"

It was a simple question -- and, unfortunately, an extraordinary one. Few journalists at the White House move beyond the subtle but powerful ties that bind reporters and top officials in Washington. Routinely, shared assumptions are the unspoken name of the game.

In this case, Thomas wasn't playing -- and Fleischer's new year wasn't exactly off to a great start. His tongue moved, but he declined to answer the question. Instead, he parried: "I refer specifically to a horrible terrorist attack on Tel Aviv that killed scores and wounded hundreds."

Of course that attack was reprehensible. But Thomas had asked whether President Bush deplored the taking of "all innocent lives in the world." And Fleischer didn't want to go there.

But Helen Thomas, an 82-year-old journalist who has been covering the White House for several decades, was not to be deterred by the flack's sleight-of-tongue maneuver. "My follow-up is," she persisted, "why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?"

On a dime, Fleischer spun paternal and nationalistic. "Helen, the question is how to protect Americans, and our allies and friends --"

Thomas responded: "They're not attacking you. Have they [the Iraqis] laid the glove on you or on the United States ... in 11 years?"

Fleischer laced his retort with sarcasm. "I guess you have forgotten about the Americans who were killed in the first Gulf War as a result of Saddam Hussein's aggression then."

"Is this revenge," Thomas replied, "11 years of revenge?"

The man in charge of White House spin revved up the RPMs. "Helen, I think you know very well that the president's position is that he wants to avert war ... "

But the journalist refused to jettison her original, still-unanswered question. She asked: "Would the president attack innocent Iraqi lives?"

The full exchange here.
 

   
 

Just so you know...

Time has an online poll asking which of these three countries is the biggest threat to world peace: Iraq, North Korea, or the United States.

Hee hee hee.
 

   
 

Mom, don't read this

Attention residents of Georgia: you may now fuck.

That is all, unless any female readers from Georgia wish for me to help them celebrate. In which case send a photo and directions to your house. I'll stop by after, you know, I go to Hell for pretty much everything I just said in this post.
 

   
 

How conveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenient

Well, who saw this one coming? When you've screwed up relations with a nuclear-powered volatile state, accused them wantonly of being part of an "Axis of Evil" ("Axis," of course, meaning a coalition of three countries despite their, you know, complete hatred and/or complete lack of communication whatsoever with one another) and cut off their international aid to dismal, for that matter possible apocalyptic results, what's the best way to explain your errors?

Why, of course! Blame Bill Clinton.

A senior Bush administration official suggested yesterday that the nuclear crisis with North Korea was the predictable result of a flawed 1994 agreement signed by the Clinton administration with Pyongyang that "frontloaded all the benefits and left the difficult things to the end" -- for the next president.

The new formulation of blame coincides with a spate of accusations, some from strong administration supporters, that President Bush may have antagonized North Korea by labeling it part of the "axis of evil" and helped provoke the crisis.

That sentiment appeared to be echoed by North Korean officials meeting Friday and yesterday in Santa Fe with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D). Sources involved in those talks said North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Han Song Ryol, had said the Bush administration's tough policy toward North Korea was motivated primarily by Bush's desire to do the opposite of what his predecessor had done on foreign policy.

In other words, the Washington Post is doing it's journalistic job of being very nice and cordial about stating the blatantly obvious fact that Bush is knee-deep in his own stink and acusing Clinton of passing wind.
 

   

Sunday, January 12, 2003

 

Well, this certainly raises all eyebrows

A blogger named Alissa Ann appeared in my link log today with a post to this site here. The article in question has the great title of "The 50 Most Loathsome People in America." And, after reading it, I discovered that this article could single-handedly offend just about anyone who read it in some way, regardless of race, religion, gender, and especially political affiliation. Therefore, I suggest you all go read it now.

Even more important, I suggest you read the rest of the site hosting it, as it's got some really cool and very well-done articles and yes, cartoons. Which are without a doubt drawn better than mine. Whatever, the whole site seems pretty well-put-together. It's very much like SomethingAwful, only without making you feel stupider for actually reading it.
 

   
 

My greatly commuted opinion

The truth is, I have very little to say about outgoing Illinois Governor George Ryan's actions. There's little to elaborate on my reaction outside of the basic fact that it's probably one of the greatest and boldest political moves in the history of this nation, and I applaud the decision without any regret or doubt whatsoever. The reasons for this feeling do not need to be repeated, as every accurate and valid point about the fallacies of the death penalty were addressed by Ryan when I watched him make his speech Saturday afternoon. Instead of trying to understand my ramblngs about it, I suggest you just read what he said, as I am very sure that before I die the text of this will be archived somewhere as one of the most prolific public adresses of the 21st century.

I guess, if anything, I can only address the voices that followed the speech, mostly those of outrage that Ryan would do this. I maintain the feeling I always have when people talk like this: I for one simply find it amazing that so many people can be outraged that a complete stranger is no longer going to die for killing a complete stranger. Seriously, people make it sound like this is a movie or something.
 

   

Friday, January 10, 2003

 

Weekend Mailbag! Intolerable italicized text for all!

Happenings of dubious time-consumption to commence this weekend, so let's cleanup the Inbox while satiating your thirst for new insight at the same time. As an NYU student, I'm so into the Global Village thing. (Sorry, In-joke)

From Diamond LeGrande in regards to the earlier posts about North Korea's nuclear gambit:

First, the clear: North Korea has no plans at striking the US with nukes. This would be mad for the Kim Jung Il, as the US would wipe him and the rest of the North Korean government from the planet so fast that we'd miss it if we blinked.

Same thing for Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi Ba'ath party. Both these men and the folks around them know this, and even if Hussein or Kim were to go mad and try this, the generals would hold a coup and shoot their leader in their drive to keep living. I do keep wondering if the talking heads don't think about this due to ignorance, arrogance or prejudice. ("Dammit, don't those slant-eyes and towel heads know that the US will kill all of them if they try to kill us?")

ZMag has a pretty good article about all this. Even I wonder if the writer is underplaying the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea a bit, and blasting the US too much. That is a hard threshhold to cross with me.

Anyhow, these moves are three parts defensive, one part offensive. The three parts defensive are the US, China and Russia, all of whom either border North Korea or are hostile toward North Korea, all of whom have nukes. The one part offensive is South Korea. Countries who have nukes like to strike countries who lack nukes without fear. The US (Afghanistan, Panama, Nicaragua, Colombia, all of Indochina), Russia (Afghanistan, eastern Europe) and China (Vietnam) have done this for years.

Having said that, I doubt North Korea will strike South Korea any time soon, but I think they will threaten to strike South Korea to gain something -- likely the power agreements the writer wrote in the above article, likely reunification terms much better for North Korea (as the talks have been held by South Korea and its US patron, the terms have been almost certainly better for Seoul).

This is an interesting article courtesy of Aimee Woznick, who notes the following... umm... let's say disagreements with the painting of Richard Nixon as a staunch advocate for civil rights:

As I am currently editing a book about the Fair Housing Act and the policies of HUD from the administrations of Johnson to Reagan, I was shocked at this effort to paint Nixon as an admirable vanguard in the fight to achieve racial equality. This forthcoming book, The Politics of Suburban Segregation, by Dr. Charles Lamb, argues (on the basis of a mass of evidence from the archival collections of Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan) that "Nixon's basic policy opposing federal pressure to integrate the suburbs has remained substantially intact at HUD over three decades, across six presidencies, including two Democratic administrations holding power for a total of twelve years." In other words, Nixon's staunch aversion to housing desegregation lead to such stagnation and powerlessness in the Department of Housing and Urban Development that a sharp separation of the races between the suburbs and the cities continues to perpetuate indefinitely. Of course, prior to the election Nixon donned a compromising exterior, supporting "nondiscrimintation" in housing. A paradox is evident, however, if Nixon's view of "Gee, people shouldn't refuse to give blacks housing just because they are black" is juxtaposed next to his ideals that federal action should not be used to enforce this concept and public housing should not be built in the suburbs in order to diminish this gap.

Furthermore, the author of this editorial attributes the success in ending school segregation to Nixon, rather than mentioning the countless individuals, schoolboards, and Supreme Court justices who battled unflaggingly to end these divisions. This article has the same goal that Republicans have when they make sure to appear at photo shoots with a token African- or Hispanic- American, the same objective that Trent Lott has when he exhibits his rapport with blacks by appearing on BET.. It aims to send the message that the party represents all types of Americans, while at the same Republican officials use covert, underhanded maneuvers to prevent equality not only between races, but between people of different genders and sexual orientations. It supports a facade that complacent Americans will continue to take stock in, solely because facing the painful truth requires real, immediate action.

(Besides, why would any proponent of the Republican Party hold up NIXON as proof of the party's efforts to promote civil rights?!)

We haven't talked about the Middle East for a while, primarily since there hasn't been much hope and/or improvement in the recent past, but a reader caught something on TV that I didn't see. According to Lorell NoLastName:

I was watching television just now (WCVB, "New Hampshire's News Station") and they were covering the recent dual-suicide bomber attack in Israel. They were showing Sharon saying his usual bit about how terrorist attacks must stop before peace talks can begin... However, the sign on the front of his podium showed a large blue (traditional) star above the words "Birthright Israel."

As Lorell pointed out in his(?) e-mail, you can't argue that a man with vision like that really hopes for a shared Jerusalem.

Stephen Bates has strengthened my complete lack of faith in Americans realizing that SUV shoud be an insulting word with the following:

One consequence of Americans' love affair with the SUV is that some manufacturers are starting to call things SUVs that really aren't, at least not by our standards of the past few years. My girlfriend just bought a Subaru Forester to replace her dying '90 Accord. Last year, the Forester was a compact wagon, not an SUV. This year, it's designated as an SUV. No, there do not appear to be very many design changes from last year to this year; they just decided to call it an SUV... possibly to dodge one or another government reg, but IMHO most likely simply to appeal to more people who want to buy something called an "SUV," though it is really more like a medium-sized passenger vehicle.

Kevin Wohlmut sent me a link to this article from Reason about former drug enforcement men who now oppose the War on Drugs. It's an interesting set of interviews.

Finally, I won't quote the passagesbecause the context is too hard to explain, but I finished an e-mail exchange recently with a reader who apparenty assumed that my status as a cartoonist with a very, VERY small-audience website earns me the side benefits of... get this... women fawning over me. It's not a political issue, but I'm flattered and amused by the very concept that drawing slightly legible cartoons merits someone larger chances with girls. If that's the case, then I must be doing somethign wrong, because outside of the occasional messages of as-yet unredeemed promises of physical affection as response to my art to which I maintain a stolid "I'll believe it when it happens" policy.... well, let's just say I'm still waiting to be convinced. The question was also raised to the level of which I would prefer- a larger website audience or more girls wanting me. And then my brain just stopped for a while.

If I don't post again, have a great weekend. I'll probably spend mine fighting off all these groupies with a bat. Of course.
 

   

Thursday, January 09, 2003

 

For those of you you had the silly belief that the resignation of Trent Lott eliminated all racism on the planet forever. Yes, both of you.

Via Media Whores Online, now active after their winter vacation (which is of course a good thing about 85% of the time. Just kidding):

The White House and the Republican National Committee declined to comment yesterday on a racial controversy involving a Bush administration ally who is campaigning to become chairman of the California Republican Party.

Bill Back, the California party's vice chairman running for the top job, sent out an e-mail newsletter in 1999 that reproduced an essay that said "history might have taken a better turn" if the South had won the Civil War and that "the real damage to race relations in the South came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction, which would not have occurred if the South had won."

The controversial article that Back reproduced in his e-mail newsletter was written by William S. Lind of the Free Congress Foundation, who posed the question: "What If The South Had Won the Civil War?"

Lind's answer, in part, stated: "Certainly Southerners would not be living under the iron rule of an all-powerful federal government, as we all do now. Northerners might not be, either; a Union defeat would have given states' rights a boost in both countries. . . . What would my great-grandfather, Union Army sergeant Alfred G. Sturgiss, say to all of this? If he could see the sorry mess the country he fought for has become, I think he might sadly say that he'd fought for the wrong side."

The full article here.
 

   
 

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created- Hah! Just kidding!

More than one of you have asked: yes, I've heard. For the moment, words sort of fail me on this one.
 

   

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

 

The war on drugs again being fought by those with their little pesky points

I've drawn on the "drugs=terrorism" issue before in the less-legible format (as seen here in a February and October 2002 comic) but the issue of the stupid and painful hypocrisy of the government blaming drugs for terrorism with one hand while stroking off the auto industry with the other as they ignore any attempts at increased fuel regulation remains. We're addressing, of course, those pesky SUVs now.

For the record: on the whole, I dislike SUVs not because of their existence, but because of the abuse of their purpose. According to consumer reports nearly 20 percent of American car-owners own (at least) one SUV: a vehicle which, as the ads for them all explain, is meant for cross-country trekking, outdoor wilderness exploration, mountain climbing, and if really necessary full-on military assault. SUVs are advertised as even more grunt-work intensive then pick-up trucks, which usually restrict their ads to mentioning the horsepower of the engine, which apparently means how much dirt or lumber can be dropped in the back of the truck without crushing the suspension. (Look, I'm not a car expert)

What these ads never seem to show is what at least 90 percent of those 20 percent are actually, and probably only, doing with their SUVs- driving back and forth to the mall, soccer practice, down the block to drop off the mail, etc. As Dave Barry once noted, the average SUV owner would never dream of actually driving it into the woods, because they'd be too afraid that a squirrel would poop on it.

The point is, SUVs are really designed not to fill some need which jeeps and trucks filled a long time ago, but rather fulfill a luxury desire- the problem, therefore, that I have is that the government refuses to place a luxury tax on this luxury, so to speak. SUVs, though classified as cars for pricing, licensing, and safety regulations, are classified as trucks for fuel consumption. The result is that if Ford makes anything bigger than the Expedition, which currently comes equipped standard with its own escape pod, the fuel requirements will be so great to move the damn thing that you'll actually need a hose running directly from the gas tank of the car straight into a derrick in Venezuela.

The issue of an SUV's general obnoxiousness is one that will never be solved. Like all other luxury goods, those who seek status symbols will obtain them, hence the existence of too-big houses, too-big lawn art, too-big swimming pools, too-big mammary enlargements, and anything else that people with the extra cash deem worthy to waste it on something that makes them be recognized as an asshole even quicker than I do most other Americans.

In other words, I know SUVs will never go away. There's too many people who just don't give a damn. With that in mind, the issue is the oil. When someone buys a bigger house, they pay more rent. When they want to be fat, they eat more food. The difference between their desire to own a vehicle that the waste the essential use of is that we don't need to (at least, not yet) invade countries to secure cheap access to rent and food that are, according to most scientists, in very limited supply when calculating the overall estimate of length of human existence. Humanity will always find a new source of food and nourishment, the food chain guarantees that. Oil, however, will eventually run out, and the government is doing its damndest ot prevent any alternatives from being discovered.

And, as Arianna Huffington has revealed, they're scoffing at the reverse-logic of those anti-drug ads. Ms.Huffington recently started funding a series of parody drugs=terrorism ads, which again, I should point out is being done well over ten months since, you know, I did it. Not that I'm bitter, just that if anyone tries to cash in on a "growing your own weed doesn't help the terrorists" before I do I will run them over with a 2003 Escalade.

This is George," a girl's voice says of an oblivious man at a gas station. "This is the gas that George bought for his S.U.V." The screen then shows a map of the Middle East. "These are the countries where the executives bought the oil that made the gas that George bought for his S.U.V." The picture switches to a scene of armed terrorists in a desert. "And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his S.U.V."

A second commercial depicts a series of ordinary Americans saying things like: "I helped hijack an airplane"; "I gave money to a terrorist training camp in a foreign country"; "What if I need to go off-road?"

At the close, the screen is filled with the words: "What is your S.U.V. doing to our national security?"

Now that is flat-out brilliant. That's why Arianna has the big bucks. Okay, I guess it's also because of that other thing. But I digress.

Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said of Ms. Huffington, "Her opinion is out-voted every year by Americans who buy S.U.V.'s for their safety, comfort and versatility." He said that S.U.V.'s now account for 21 percent of the market.

Eron Shosteck. Shosssteeeeeeeck. He's even got a name tht makes you want to beat the hell out of him and take his wallet. Mr. SmokeFromHisAss failed to elaborate, in the article, on how the "safety" of SUVs makes them the most dangerous thing on four wheels, or what exactly implies "versatility" in a vehicle most people buy and don't even leave their home state with.

But this has got to be my favorite passage of the article:

The advertisements are to be broadcast on "Meet The Press," "Face the Nation" and "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

But some local affiliates say they will not run them. At the ABC affiliate in New York, Art Moore, director of programming, said, "There were a lot of statements being made that were not backed up, and they're talking about hot-button issues."

"Statements not being backed up?" You mean, a paid advertisement that accuses a direct action with inderect terrorism funding? How is accusing car purchase, instead of drug purchase, any more or less of a "hot button issue?" Gosh, I sure hope you're not trying to duck around some ridiculous notion that the car companies that are buying ad space are forbidding you to run these now... that would just totally disillusion me. I mean, it's not like they've proven how easy it is to buy the government or anything.

Update: Tom Gevaert sent me a link to this little animated GIF here which apparently shows that some people had the SUV ad idea before Huffington.
 

   

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

 

That slope's kinda slippery what with all the saliva samples smeared on it

LAFAYETTE - Based on tips from the public about possible suspects, the DNA of 50 to 100 people from Acadiana will be tested in an effort to catch a serial killer...

The canvassing of homes by investigators in the areas where Trineisha Dené Colomb's body was found and where her car was abandoned could start later this week. Colomb's car was found in Grand Coteau, and three days later, her body was found in Scott in a patch of woods near Renaud Drive and Mills Street.

The people who refuse to have their DNA tested will be forced to submit by a court order, the sheriff said.

You can read the whole article here while we all wait for the ACLU to show up, we hope. But, let's sum up: because a serial killer was believed to possibly be driving a white truck, 100 people who own white trucks will now be forced to submit to DNA tests to find out if they match "evidence" of the serial killer on a woman's body. There are actually, apparently, government officials in the area who think this, you know, makes sense.

These people are not "volunteering" in any way to help find the killer. No one, at least according to this article, is actively approaching police and submitting saliva. What is happening is that they're being approached at their homes and "asked" to essentially prove that they're not a serial killer. Those who do not "volunteer" are then ordered to. Because, as the article mentions, a serial killer "may or may not own a white truck."

DNA is something that seems much more effective in defense- this is a situation where investigators are starting with a pool of... well, everybody, and trying to use DNA to whittle down. That's the opposite of usual DNA evidence used to prove paternity (one preson accused of fatherohood) or judicial guilt/innocence (one defendant proving they are not the killer, prosecutors strengthening their evidence against the accused suspect, etc.) Turning DNA into the "glass slipper" gives chance to a host of manipulative actions that offset the entire widespread procedure. If a serial killer knows everyone in town with a white truck is getting their DNA checked, what's to stop him from grabbing a loose hair from the seat of any white truck he passes by to plant on a body?

That said, how is the sampling from such a wide range a benefit either? This is silly logic, but it's logic none the less: if I owned a white truck but wasn't the killer, how would the police having my DNA get them closer to the killer? The sole significance of the test would merely eliminate me from the pool of every other person in the area who could have done it. And, as I said, were I the killer, it would be very easy for me to fake evidence if I knew, as this article displays, exactly what the police were looking for. The only thing this battery of... well, battery seems to be proving is that a police investigation can't find a killer and has resorted to wasting lots of money to grasp at straws... or, to be more specific, jam them into people's mouths.
 

   
 

And the results of the study which could have been predicted by a 10-year old child are in

A report commissioned by outgoing Maryland governor Parris Glendening has found interesting racial disparities in the death penalty: although it appears the race of the defendant is irrelevant individually in the application of capital punishment, such is is not the case when one weighs in the race of the victim of a crime, in which the killing of a white person by a black person nearly doubles the likelihood of the defendant receiving the death penalty, "primarily because they are substantially more likely to be charged by the state's attorney with a capital offense."

And now, of course, for the money shot:

[Republican Gov.-elect Robert] Ehrlich would not comment Tuesday morning on the study, saying he had not had a chance to review it. But he repeated his pledge to end the moratorium when he takes office, saying he will review death sentences on a case-by-case basis.

Ah, yes. Because hey, let's not let that whole "written proof of the racism and fallacy of the death penalty" get in the way of your campaign pledge to lift the moratorium and get back to killing people as soon as possible. Does anyone else find this even slightly irritating? The governor claims he will "review the study," yet his pledge to lift the moratorium sort of implies... well, that he really doesn't give a fraction of a rat's ass about it, doesn't it?

 

   
 

Not that this means we think we're guilty of preventing sick people from getting healthy for the purpose of furthering profit margins or anything evil like that

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has reached a preliminary agreement to pay $545 million to settle charges it blocked generic versions of two of its best-selling drugs, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Bristol-Myers became notorious among consumer advocates for listing additional patents on BuSpar the day before generics were poised to enter the market in late 2000. The action spurred the creation of a consumer coalition that has sued numerous drug companies for similar actions.

Drug companies' use of loopholes in the patent laws to maintain their monopolies pushed the Senate last year to pass legislation that would have revised the rules for bringing generic drugs to market. The law was never passed in the House but late last year President Bush proposed new regulations that would make it easier for generic companies to compete.

The full story here.
 

   
 

Pfffffffffffffffft, pt. 2

Tom Daschle leaning towards a run for the White House. Isn't that cute?
 

   

Monday, January 06, 2003

 

Do we need a strategic soccer initiative?

The new president of Brazil announced this week the cancellation of a $750 million contract to build jet fighters in favor of using that money to feed the poor. Yes. Despite the contrary actions of the U.S. government, effective democracies can actually do that.

My opinion of this, really, is the entire ego concept: Brazil, unlike the United States, obviously doesn't need to prove its military supremacy for a basic reason: they are really, really good at soccer.

Seriously, go with me on this: I know little about sports. I'm not the competetive type when it comes to athletics, a combination of aforementioned lack of interest in such coupled with my chronic affliction of Throwslikemygrandmother-B. Brazil, on the other hand, simply dominates the planet in one of the few things that has an even higher international impact than global full-scale war: World Cup Soccer.

I'm not advocating any actual shift of funding towards soccer promotion in the country, but it's just one of those little things that makes you think, you know? I mean, Brazil's got an army, nuclear technology, commercial industry, nation-promoting actors and models and other examples of culture, close connections to Venezuela and its hefty oil reserves, yet it doesn't feel the need to declare half the wold as enemies of the state and note the need to destroy them all. I think the reason is national mood: they've already secured dominance on the soccer field.
 

   
 

Ding dong ding, the Swedish Christmas Goat!

From the San Fransisco Gate:

The Christmas goat tradition was started in 1966 by merchants in Gaevle, 90 miles north of Stockholm. Since then, only 10 goats have made it through Christmas and New Year's Day.

Most were burned -- some just hours after being erected in the first week of December.

The 1976 goat was hit by a car. In 1997, it was damaged by fireworks and from 1998 to 2001 it was set ablaze before the end of December.

During Christmas 2001, the goat was torched on Dec. 23 by a 51-year-old visitor from Cleveland. Lawrence Jones was convicted of inflicting gross damage and spent 18 days in jail.
 

   
 

Triumph over the Will

I'm sorry, it was too good a title not to use. Barry Routh sent me a link to this latest deconstruction of George Will's invoking of Godwin's Law.

Will is apparently terrified that the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq will find nothing, and the lack of evidence will slow or, even worse, stop America's march to war. He invokes a "memory" of how weapons inspections failed to eliminate German militarism after World War I. He goes on to imply that this failure helped to pave the way for the rise of Hitler by invoking another if somewhat tortured memory of how the "semi-senescent" Paul von Hindenburg, Germany's president in January 1933, opened to door for Adolf Hitler's rise to the Chancellorship. Will makes his link up with the most amazing contortion-by juxtaposing Hindenberg's sleepy mental state of 1933 to a comment Hindenberg appears to have made around 1919!

Will's ominous lesson of history is the inference that Saddam Hussein is like Hitler and therefore must be stopped before he plunges the world into war. Yet all of this is done without mentioning Hussein or the American march to war.

Has Will gone over the top? Is he being too clever by a half? Or are his words and analysis the product of a deep intellectual effort to enlighten the booboisie.

Not trusting my own semi-senescent, overly-analogized mind to answer such questions, I asked my good friend Dr. Werther, an admirer of Goethe who is trained in the continental tradition, and a frequent contributor to the Blaster, for his analysis of Will's sense of history. What follows is his response-I urge you to read and compare it to the wisdom dispensed by Will.

Ouch.
 

   

Thursday, January 02, 2003

 

No.

Look, I'm sorry. Maybe this means nothing to you, but I just look at it and feel uneasy.

No. No no no no no. This is just wrong. Stop it. Stop it now.
 

   
 

Pfffffffffffffffft.

Looks like Edwards is in. Oh. Goody.

Update: Oh for the love of...
 

   
 

That smell isn't burning coal, it's me... pissed.

My friend Josh is taking a break from being a courteous host to play numerous alcohol-related ping-pong games, so I'll take a quick moment out to post this one... and you all think I don't care.

In October 2001, Marriott paid $46 million for four synthetic fuel plants. In this year's third quarter, ending Sept. 30, the hotel chain made $54 million more than it would have made without federal tax credits for producing synfuels.

Marriott International reported third-quarter profits of $103 million, a slight increase from $101 million for the same three months a year earlier. Synfuel production served to offset a travel slump that saw hotel revenues drop.

Federal synthetic fuel tax credits were designed to encourage the production of alternative fuels to decrease dependence on foreign oil imports.

The act encouraged entrepreneurs to make synthetic fuels from "unconventional sources." Some companies began claiming synfuel credits for producing ethanol from corncobs or oil from shale deposits in the West.

Then, beginning in the fall of 1999, a handful of electric utilities and coal companies began spraying already-usable coal with latex, diesel and pine-tar sprays to qualify for the credits.

The full article here, but to sum it up: Mariott hotels, in order to find a profit, bought coal, sprayed it with fuel, and then called it "synthetic fuel" which they sold at a loss. For this, they made a massive profit in the form of your tax dollars. That means the majority of government interest in "synthetic fuel alternatives" is really being devoted to industries that are deliberately exploiting the tax credit to do... pretty much absolutely nothing. And you're all paying for it.

Sythetic fuel isn't being developed and promoted by independent research groups as a means of freeing the world from environmentally and economically unfriendly petroleum resources... it's being manipulated by corporations like Mariott who call themselves "entrepeneurs" to make a profit. Someone mind explaining to me how we even remotely might have been considered as asking for our taxes to be wasted like this?
 

   
 

Oh, what the hell

Bloggies. Nominations. I'm a political weblog, and... whatever. It's a thrill just to be nominated, since you'll probably all vote for Talking Points, Tom Tomorrow or Atrios anyway. But, like I said, what the hell.
 

   
 

So gone

Posts will be pretty much stagnant until Sunday night or Monday morning, as I'm leaving this afternoon to spend the weekend with my friend Josh at his frat house at Dartmouth. So, if any of you are on the road for the next few days in the New Hampshire area and almost get run over by an incredibly reckless driver in the green Thunderbird with the Darwin Fish and the XQUZYPHYR & Overboard sticker on it, it's probably me.

If you need something worthwhile to pass the time in my absence, take a cue from Tom and help out some needy dogs. Trust me, it's a worthwhile thing to do. You can also pass the time making your head explode over figuring out why an avowed non-drinker such as myself has decided to spend four days at a fraternity on the only college campus in America where you can minor in alcoholism. The answer most likely involves one of two things: incredibly attractive Ivy League girls, and New England clam chowder. Perhaps both, and with any luck at the same time. Excuse me, I have to leave. Right now.
 

   

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

 

Chuck, you're nuts

This one's been floating around, and I have a mixed opinion about it:

A Democratic lawmaker said Sunday he will introduce a bill in the next session of Congress to make military service mandatory. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, said such legislation could make members of Congress more reluctant to authorize military action.

The Korean War veteran has accused the Bush administration and some fellow lawmakers of being too willing to go to war with Iraq.

"When you talk about a war, you're talking about ground troops, you're talking about enlisted people, and they don't come from the kids and members of Congress," he said. "I think, if we went home and found out that there were families concerned about their kids going off to war, there would be more cautiousness and a more willingness to work with the international community than to say, 'Our way or the highway.' "

So, here's the deal. I support Rangel's intentions, but I also think he's very irrational and illogical. Those of military age who are fervently supportive of the war are usually those who would, if finding it necessary, volunteer, and likewise those who would see this as a statement of how horrible it would be to be forced to serve in the military are likely among those who are against the war already. All that's left in the middle are the armchair chickenhawks who support the war but would, if asked draft or not, find a way out of serving just like many of them did in Vietnam when that sudden outbreak of Athsma seemed to grip the nation.

Rangel's "Modest Proposal" is a somewhat Micheal-Moore-ish concept, which although funny when coming from a filmmaker seems obnoxious and resource-wasting as a legislative proposal. Usually a congressman presses for something like this as a "poison pill" to kill existing legislation. This is just on it's own, and serves no real purpose. Truthfully, Rangel seems to be suggesting this only as fodder for the CNN and Fox News talk shows, and for the love of all that is holy, people- so we really need to create topics for that?
 

   
 

Outfoxed by that clever penguin!

Tom "beat me" by a half-hour again with noticing the multitude of hypocrisies in regards to our "handling" of North Korea, mentioning this NY Times article with the following notes:

If we know the country has weapons of mass destruction, or at least will within months, and yet diplomacy is still an option--well, it sure makes the rationales for war with Iraq look even thinner. It's almost enough to make you think that they're not being entirely honest with us about their motives for this thing (cough cough world's secondlargestprovenoilreserves cough cough).

But with the oil card already in play, there's of course the other issue that makes the United States different about the apparent level of Evil North Korea holds in the Axis, that which is revealed in this companion Times piece: North Korea is slapping us silly with this.

Even if the administration's strategy of isolating North Korea works, at best it would amount to a partial tightening of sanctions against a country whose economy is already moribund. The only additional threat available is the denial of food aid for the people of North Korea, an act that would take the United States into new moral territory.

The administration now is in the awkward position of choosing to give war with Iraq priority over the most serious threat to stability in Asia since the last North Korean nuclear crisis a decade ago. Moreover, the North Koreans are moving to develop their nuclear stockpile with such dispatch that the administration's delaying tactics appear to have little chance to succeed. With the last of the international inspectors ejected yesterday and the possibility of a mothballed plutonium reprocessing facility coming back on line in the next month or two, North Korea is giving itself the means to produce ever-greater numbers of nuclear weapons, and no subsequent agreement will be able to reverse that fact.

There is still a lingering hope that all this will turn out to have been an attempt by North Korea to get the Bush administration to make major concessions. If that's the case, either the United States or North Korea will have to give way. Unfortunately neither of these scenarios looks likely. And absent either outcome, North Korea is on course to becoming a nuclear power. The consequences of their success are severe.

North Korea already is in a position to provide nuclear technology to other states or to terrorist groups. In any event, we should expect that it will continue to develop the ability to deliver nuclear weapons by ballistic missile. And no long-term comfort can be found from the relatively limited capabilities of North Korea's current missiles, which can still threaten our allies, including Japan. What's more, North Korean weapons engineers can gradually develop longer-range rockets and lighter warheads, giving the country true intercontinental ballistic-missile capability.

The point being that North Korea isn't Iraq- putting aside the oil issue for a moment, it's a basic fact that Bush can't confess to the public: the United States is simply incapable of going to war with North Korea, and North Korea not only knows this, but it laughing at us over it.

It's the U.S. itself that created the "Axis of Evil" status for North Korea and flooded the airwaves with the rhetoric that they might actually use nukes against us. That's ridiculous. North Korea, unlike a soon-to-be-attacked Iraq or a faceless Al-Qaeda, is a (theoretically) stable nation that will have a large handful of people identifiable and capable of receiving retribution should they ever launch a nuclear weapon. North Korea is smart enough to know they have something very special for the U.S. that the former enemies don't: a tangible target. If North Korea launched a missile at the U.S., they would have to start making globes with three-inch dents to revise the ensuing alteration the U.S. would make to the elevation of the South Asian peninsula.

What North Korea can do, however, is gloat over the mini-Cold War they've just created with the U.S., and cash in on the threat of selling their nuclear power to foreign terrorist entities- something North Korea would not be above doing. Right now, Bush isn't seeking for a "diplomatic means" of stopping North Korea. He's realizing the North Koreans called a military-threat-bluff, and now the U.S. has to find a way to bribe them out of becoming a nuclear superpower.

At least, as Tom had mentioned, of course, until they discover oil there.
 

   
 

Ah, the brave backwards march of science

The National Cancer Institute, which used to say on its Web site that the best studies showed "no association between abortion and breast cancer," now says the evidence is inconclusive.

A Web page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used to say studies showed that education about condom use did not lead to earlier or increased sexual activity. That statement, which contradicts the view of "abstinence only" advocates, is omitted from a revised version of the page.

Critics say those changes, far below the political radar screen, illustrate how the Bush administration can satisfy conservative constituents with relatively little exposure to the kind of attack that a legislative proposal or a White House statement would invite.

The full article here, registration using false information required. Thanks to James Wartell for the link.