Thursday, March 30, 2006
Some have gone as far as to fabricate their own good news.
These folks need to be reminded that it’s not the media’s job to make them smile, merely to report what’s going on, and that the media aren’t anti-American for airing the ugly truth about war.
So what happens when some good news does come out of Iraq? Consternatives shit all over it.
Reporter Jill Carroll, held hostage since January by Iraqi militants, was released today unharmed. Consternative journalist John Podhoretz was ecstatic:
“It’s wonderful that she’s free, but after watching someone who was a hostage for three months say on television she was well-treated because she wasn’t beaten or killed — while being dressed in the garb of a modest Muslim woman rather than the non-Muslim woman she actually is — I expect there will be some Stockholm Syndrome talk in the coming days.”
What an ass.
And when three Christian Peacemakers were recently rescued from captivity, controversial right-wing blog Red State declared, in a post called “Wasted Effort,” that the three were “ingrates” for staying true to their original views about the war after their rescue.
They did not detect sufficient gratitude in the hostages’ public statements, even though the three men likely kissed the feet of the troops who freed them.
It seems as though consternatives’ interest in good news from Iraq is highly conditional.
When I first heard about the introduction of a 900-passenger airliner I thought: If it crashes it will kill three times as many people as a normal plane would.
Two issues come to mind about the new double-decker Airbus A380: Safety, and getting on the damned thing.
The plane was just tested for emergency evacuation with volunteers, and emptied out in 80 seconds with a few injuries. Impressive.
But during a recent flight (on a much smaller plane) I considered the realities of a true air emergency. The flight attendants tell us to follow the aisle, which will be illuminated by tiny Christmas lights in an emergency, to the nearest exit.
Aisles on planes are tiny. If the flight attendants start serving a meal while you’re in the toilet, you’re screwed; you have to wait until the cart passes before you can get back to your seat.
I realized that it takes a hell of a long time to get off a plane even under the best of circumstances. In the dark, afraid for your life, and possibly with bodies and wreckage blocking your way, that narrow aisle will be slow-going.
So, consider that, then multiply those conditions by at least three for the Airbus A380. (No, my math equation isn’t scientific.)
I’m not trying to scare anyone, I’m just putting this new giant airborne tube in perspective.
As for boarding, you already have to arrive at the airport hours before a flight; how much earlier will you have to arrive to get on this flying colossus?
For security purposes, boarding of commercial planes typically takes place through a single door. How long will it take to board an A380? Will unaccompanied children and people with special needs have to board a day early?
And when you arrive at your destination, how long will it take to deplane?
I know, I offer a lot of questions but few answers. One solution would be to have multiple boarding gates with beefed-up security, but the physical layout of some terminals may not allow for this. And retrofitting is expensive.
As for safety, I have scant few suggestions. Ships have little boats on them for use in case of an emergency - why can’t big planes have little planes? Yeah, that’s stupid.
Or, as someone once suggested, why not make the entire plane out of the same material as the black box?
I do wish the best for this new aircraft and her passengers. And hey, the chances of hearing, “Sorry, this flight is booked,” are practically nil.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
You may have gotten the idea from the recently passed abortion ban in South Dakota that the state has been a veritable zygote slaughterhouse until now.
Or maybe you already knew that the state has but a single “abortion clinic” in operation.
I didn’t, until yesterday.
While that Planned Parenthood clinic will go out of business when the ban takes effect on July 1, barring court intervention, one or more other similar clinics may open after that date.
This is because Cecilia Fire Thunder, a – you guessed it from her name – Native American who’s President of South Dakota’s Oglala Sioux people, has proposed opening a clinic on the tribe’s land.
Yup, the tribe’s sovereignty, the same that allows Native American tribes to operate casinos in otherwise gambling-free states, may enable them to open a women’s health facility that performs abortions.
There are seven other tribes in the state, by the way.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if, because of the abortion ban, more women's clinics open up in South Dakota?
Be careful what you wish for, Governor Rounds.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Abdul Rahman, who faced a death sentence in Afghanistan for converting from Islam to Christianity, has been freed.
After the world loudly objected to the sentence, which was to be carried out in accordance with the country’s Islam-based laws, Afghani officials relented. This is not the first time international intervention has stopped a cruel faith-based sentence from being carried out.
Rahman is also said to have mental problems that make him unfit for trial, though if you ask me, the ones attempting to prosecute him are the real lunatics in this story.
Even as the decision to drop the case against Rahman has been made, hard-line Afghans continue to call for the death sentence to be carried out. Apparently some people there have ideas of "justice" creepier than the visage of their namesake dog.
Whatever your chosen faith’s holy book might say, or what you have interpreted it as saying, killing people for converting from it, or over cartoon depictions of the main deity, or for disrespecting the book in a commode is uncivilized, prehistoric behavior that should not be practiced in 2006.
Let me put it another way: It sure won't win you any friends.
I supported the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, the home of Al Qaeda and their enabler-hosts, the Taliban. But American troops shouldn’t still be over there fighting to support a regime that would allow such barbarism. It's counter to their mission.
Monday, March 27, 2006
This time of year the Great White North ain’t so great, though.
On Saturday the normally pristine white ice of the Gulf of St. Lawrence ran red, as Canada’s annual seal hunt got underway.
Despite international outcry, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the hunts will continue, and calls his country the “victim of… an international propaganda campaign.”
There are some victims in this, but they’re not of the human variety.
Harper insists the hunts are done in as humane a manner as possible. For the seals, this translates to being whacked through the head with a metal spike, being dragged by the wound across the ice and ultimately being skinned alive.
What’s Harper smoking, eh?
Seals are pretty slow and awkward outside of the water. And they have no claws or fangs, just flippers. So it’s fairly easy for a hunter to simply walk up to one as it tries to scamper away and bash its brains out with a club.
What’s the reason for this annual carnage? Well, it’s the reason behind everything – money. It’s been said the seals “eat too many fish,” taking money out of the pockets of the Canadian seafood industry.
Fish are seals’ natural diet, and I’d suggest they have as much right (more, actually) to the fish as any commercial fisherman.
Perhaps seals would be spared slaughter if they preferred their seafood grilled, and served with a lemon butter sauce?
Friday, March 24, 2006
And why do those who offer them presume to know what I want to ask anyway?
FAQs have never ever answered any important questions I’ve had. They should really be called QWWYTAs (Questions We Want You To Ask) or QWTYWAT (Questions We Think You Want Answers To), because that’s what they really are.
Companies use FAQs to avoid dealing directly with their customers, and I should know: One of the duties I performed for my former employer was writing both the Qs and the As for FAQs.
To my credit, I insisted we ask our customer service operators what actual questions they were hearing from customers. Then I integrated them in with the phony ones. Hopefully they did someone some good.
A particularly odious use of FAQs typically occurs when you request assistance for an issue online. Often they’ll simply refer you to their FAQs page, rather than answer your specific question.
I knew you had those, smart-asses! I wanted a real answer.
It seems as though they just scan your request for keywords and send you back a link to a question/answer that is roughly on the same topic. Useless!
You guilty parties out there need to quit playing amateur psychic and provide proper service to your customers. Short of that, take your FAQs and stuff them up your FNAs, OK?
Thursday, March 23, 2006
So then, how long will it be before the budding “space tourism” industry comes crashing down to reality?
I think too many Hollywood movies have caused people to take the concept of space travel lightly. I’m not sure it’s something anyone should be doing just for zero-gravity grins.
Actual astronauts undergo extensive training before making the leap into space, and the handful of civilians who’ve paid the Russians to take them into space have at least had a crash course, for lack of a better expression.
The only requirement for the coming breed of space tourists seems to be a lot of money. Some people apparently have too much of it and little idea what to do with it.
True, commercial spacecraft will only reach the edge of space, so issues like superheated reentry into the earth’s atmosphere aren’t as big a concern as they are for, say, NASA. But that’s still a long way up, and all the hazards of conventional air travel and then some apply.
And consider this: The most realistic space-oriented theme park ride going, as certified by real astronauts, has already killed a couple of people.
I'm as intrigued by the idea of space travel as anyone. A couple of minutes of nausea-inducing weightlessness do not an astronaut make, however. The commercial space travel industry and its patrons should proceed with the caution and respect due such a potentially consequential endeavor.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Debra Lafave has nothing more to worry about.
The former teacher arrested for repeatedly having sex with a 14-year-old boy copped a plea late last year for house arrest and probation in one county, and just had the charges against her dropped in the other. (She faced charges in two counties because she had sex with the minor in both.)
There will be no trial and no prison for her.
Instead, Lafave can now begin her house arrest, followed by seven years of probation. No matter how these penalties might curtail her freedom, they can’t suck as badly as prison.
House arrest is basically a prison correspondence course, where you pay your debt to society in the comfort and convenience of your own home. And probation just means you need to be on your best behavior for a while.
I feel this was a slap on the wrist, and I’ve stated on numerous occasions that she ought to be punished as any man would for the same crime. I’ve already heard all the “He (the victim) enjoyed it” and “He agreed to it” arguments I care to about this case.
There’s a double standard where it comes to women sex offenders; Mary Kay Letourneau was given sufficient freedom after her arrest to conceive a child with her student boy-toy, and only then was sentenced to seven years. It seems we have a hard time seeing male teens as victims in sex cases.
Like the guilty often do, Lafave blames her actions on a compromised mental state, and talks of God, forgiveness and redemption. Man, the lawyers just don’t have any new angles, do they?
It’ll be interesting to see what Lafave does with her life during and after her “incarceration,” though we may never know; she is rightfully not permitted to profit from her story (no books, no movies), and I imagine a name and appearance change will be in the works for her.
While Lafave may be able to regain her anonymity, her name has gotten sufficient enough exposure that it will live on in our scandal-hungry culture the way the names Lewinsky, Letourneau and Dahmer have. Considering that’s a possible life sentence, maybe justice has been done.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said, “The United States does not accept the results of the election,” and pointed out that in addition to violence, election-related fraud occurred.
What, now they suddenly have a problem with questionable election results?
Lukashenko’s government is accused of intimidation, false imprisonment and human rights abuses, among other offenses. Opposition groups and independent media are not tolerated by his regime.
How can Bush object to an election under those conditions? He’s practiced all of the same policies at some point during his term of office.
If Bush truly objects to the Belarussian election results, perhaps he can get his handpicked Supreme Court to nullify them. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s called in a favor from that court after an election.
The fact that the US government doesn’t have legal authority to undo a foreign election shouldn’t be seen as an impediment. It didn't stop us in Chile or Venezuela, for example. And illegal actions at home and abroad are the modus operandi of our current administration.
Monday, March 20, 2006
The latest is a sort of “tolerance test” for immigrants.
Prospective immigrants are sent a video and a quiz which they must complete before they can live in the Netherlands.
The video includes images of gay men kissing and a topless woman on a beach. Government-issued softcore porn – only in Holland!
After the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a militant Muslim, and the assassination of politician Pim Fortuyn, an outspoken homosexual who warned that Holland’s tolerant culture might not be the best fit for the puritanically inclined, this pre-immigration package seems like a smart move. It says, “This is what you can expect if you come here. If it bothers you, maybe you shouldn’t.”
Holland has a burgeoning Muslim population, and I must say that baffles me; the country is renowned as one where all manner of “vice” are tolerated, and they must surely know it.
I hope the shifting demographics don’t change the unique liberal tenor of the Netherlands. At least not before I have the chance to visit there at least one more time.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006
On the stand, Saddam referred to the proceedings as a “comedy.” I think he has his genres mixed up – the grandstanding, the eccentric outbursts, the walkouts, the codefendants in long johns and the resignation of the original judge all smack of a soap opera.
Saddam put on his usual theatrics, ranting on to the extent that the judge kicked reporters out of the courtroom and cut the TV feed. Yep, apparently those few Iraqis who have electrical power have been sitting glued to their TV sets; it’s this millennium’s OJ trial.
To his credit, the judge discerned that the outside audience was only encouraging Saddam to put on a show. He clearly likes the sound of his own voice, and has to be the center of attention in any setting, it seems.
Hours later, when the judge allowed reporters back in, Saddam refused to answer questions and instead made demands. The trial was then adjourned until April 5.
If you’ve been following along, there have only been a handful of days court has actually been in session since the trial began last autumn. It's been a bit bumpy and fragmented.
Saddam has admitted that he ordered the killing of 148 people, for which he is currently being tried. But his defense team insists he had the authority to do so, since they all – men and boys – had allegedly been involved in a plot to kill him.
It’s probably happened before (maybe at Nuremberg?), but I can’t recall a defense team declaring that summary executions were a lawful remedy for anything.
Common sense tells us the killings were carried out to send fear into the hearts of his subjects that this is what you get when you mess with Saddam, and to slake Saddam’s homicidal anger at the treachery.
Now doesn’t that sound like a reasonable defense?
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Last week charges were filed against two students who disrupted a speech by Bill Clinton at New York’s Pace University.
The students reportedly shouted “War criminal!” and handed out flyers to protest Clinton’s visit.
I don’t agree with these students, as Clinton is a personal hero, and a real war criminal is the current occupant of the White House. Their energies would be better spent heckling someone who still holds a dangerous amount of power, rather than a former president on the public speaking circuit.
However, I do support their right to express their misguided views.
Maybe they shouldn’t have made a scene, but they also shouldn’t face ongoing harassment and possible expulsion for “protesting without a permit.”
What kind of bullshit is that? Isn’t it a violation of their right to expression and a contradiction in terms? Get permission and/or pay a permit fee for “free” speech?
If the university is embarrassed by the behavior of a few of their students in front of a guest, they ought to issue a warning against disrupting events, not go all fascist on them.
In closing, if Bush does some public speaking after he’s out of office (and I don’t recommend it), I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted to heckle him. But I was raised not to poke fun at the “special” people among us.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Ditto for the guys, wherever and whatever their ink may be.
Despite dropping enlistment numbers, a whopping 75% of otherwise eligible American youths are being disqualified from military service for their “body art,” aka tattoos and piercings.
Man, and I thought getting a tattoo was a required part of shore leave for navy recruits.
The body art prohibition adds a potential new angle to military draft dodging.
One way to avoid the draft during Vietnam was to hop the border to Canada. Or, you could obtain 4-F status (ineligible for the draft) by having kids, getting married, being gay or being white.
Then there was the “MIA in Alabama” tactic (George W. Bush), having other priorities at the time (Dick Cheney), and having a hair up one's ass (Rush Limbaugh). These guys are far more creative than I gave them credit for.
Alas, the tattooing and piercing trends started much too late for these American heroes.
Today’s young draftee would have it easier, it seems. Instead of feigning homosexuality by showing up at the induction center hand-in-hand with his best friend; he can just show the draft board his pierced scrotum or bitchin' naked lady tattoo.
In America, it seems the needle is mightier than the sword.
Note to self: Tell draft-age nephews to get inked and/or pierced before the US overextends itself and starts a war with Iran.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Tourism Australia is getting some flack about its latest campaign ad, which features a bikini-clad sheila asking, “Where the bloody hell are you?”
The spot has been censored on British TV, though it’s the bloody and not the hell that’s been bleeped. I shan’t go into the disputed etymology of the word here, but you can look it up yourself.
The frustrating part for Aussies is, this was not their first tourism slogan to cause international controversy. Some previous offerings were:
"You’re gonna love it down under" (a masterpiece of nuance, this one had the same bikini-clad sheila wink and lick her lips provocatively before tucking into a raw conch)
"Australia: Now surrounded with electrified shark-proof netting"
"Don’t be a cheeky bugger, come have a pint and some tucker"
"Australia: Now with 18% less 'roo rage'"
"Fucking hell, get your arse down here!" (you can’t say “arse” on TV in some locales)
"Australia: Where the “Bushie” is your best mate, not a polly with kangaroos loose in the top paddock" (clearly geared toward, but somewhat lost on, an American audience)
"Don’t be afraid, Mad Mel’s off in Central America making a movie" (a reference to the scary, bearded Mel Gibson, who sadly no longer speaks with an Aussie accent because of his “American English” training)
"Australia: We think Steve Irwin’s mad, too"
"Come see us, but leave your bloody toads at home"
And this obscure entry:
"Naomi and Nicole are ready for that threesome, Mr. Bogs" (???)
Personally, I think the whole controversy is bloody ridiculous. The bloody Brits and everyone else ought to take the bloody stick out of their bloody uptight arses and just enjoy life.
Oh, and of course, get their bloody arses to Florida for a holiday. We need their money for hurricane repairs.
"Where the heck are y’all?"
Saturday, March 11, 2006
If he did, he would have paid his top domestic policy adviser, Claude A. Allen, a decent enough salary so he wouldn't have to resort to shoplifting scams.
Allen was arrested this week, and is free while awaiting trial on two theft charges.
Allen recently resigned his White House post to "spend more time with his family." Hopefully they don't mind spending time with him in five-minute visits, communicating via telephone through reinforced glass.
Just how many crooks are there in this White House? I've lost count.
Friday, March 10, 2006
It’s uncharacteristic for me, a vocal opponent of the dress code during my high school days, to be on this side of the argument. But it's for everyone's good that I say hip-huggers and midriff-baring shirts must go!
There are other non-uptight people who feel this way, too; it's not just me.
I’m not saying I believe this manner of undress is inherently indecent. The human body is something my culture is way too uptight about.
The indecent part is 16-year-old girls walking about with their colorful dainties visible to the extent that a passerby can read the brand name and size.
Or, rather, me seeing that is the indecent part. If I were still Catholic, I’d have to go to confession for coveting and other mind-crimes daily.
Why don't I just look away? Well, because they’re everywhere, so no matter where I look... And because these underthings are designed to be appealing.
I blame society. Anyone else but myself.
I’d never suggest there should be a dress code enforced by law, as was once proposed in Louisiana. Prudently, the state’s legislature laughed off the idea. They weren’t ready to deputize a “fashion police” force, deciding instead to leave that to women’s magazines and gay men’s TV shows.
What I suggest is that young women especially move on to the next fashion paradigm with haste. Say, some very long shirts. A nice tucked-in look, perhaps. High-riding pants.
There’s nothing worse than catching a “plumber’s crack,” only to have said tradesperson turn and reveal herself to be a 16-year-old coed. OK, getting caught catching one is worse.
These young women always hastily and, might I add, fruit-of-the-loom-lessly try to adjust their britches. Butt, or rather, but, you can’t cover up for long when the waistline of your pants is an inch above the crotch.
And though both the "crack of Dawn" showing and viewing may have been unintentional, Dawn always has a dirty look for you. What, did you not know your size when you bought your jeans? Did that store have mirrors? Did someone besides yourself dress you today?
Here's a suggestion: Next time you're trying on a pair of pants, turn away from the mirror(s), squat down and then look back at the mirror(s). See? See there? It's you, it's not me, ok?
I’d rather not have to deal with this at all.
Which is why I say, next fashion thing, please present yourself ASAP. Print and electronic media, I’m looking to you to set the tone for our influential youth. You can make them think they're fat, so why not this? Let it be known – if your shirt’s not long or tucked in, or if your pants don't reach your navel, you ain't the shiznit.
In the meantime, I suggest young women in particular take a good close look at what they’re wearing, lest some unsavory character should beat them to it.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Kansas Republicant Senator Pat Roberts (not to be confused with bloodthirsty televangelist Pat Robertson) has got the president’s back. And he’s a thorn in the side of democracy. And I’d like to put my foot up his ass.
As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC), Roberts is the man in charge of the body that would, if it were willing to do so, investigate most of Bush’s impeachable offenses:
Lying to Congress about when and why he decided to invade Iraq
Eschewing statutory requirements about getting FISA approval for wiretaps no later than 72 hours after the taps
The investigation of pre-war intelligence on Iraq has been long-stalled by Mr. Roberts. It was underway before the ‘04 election, but slowed to protect the president’s reelection bid, and will likely still be in progress come November ’06 to protect the president’s party.
Now, despite the initial objections of many Republicants, SIC has decided not to pursue any investigation of the illegal NSA wiretaps.
Instead, they’ve come to an agreement with the White House – and I use the term “agreement” ironically because it was all on Bush’s terms – to give the president more leeway in exchange for a little more oversight by Congress.
In other words: We'll forget about what you’ve already done wrong, but we’ll keep a bit closer tabs on you in the future.
The president has broken the law many times; that makes him a criminal, plain and simple. All his enablers in Congress (especially the SIC ones) are his accomplices as far as I’m concerned.
Yes, many Democrats voted to go to war with Iraq. But it’s not they who’ve been thwarting legitimate investigations of myriad wrongdoings since.
No consequences. No accountability. No rules for the mighty. Sounds like a dictatorship to me – no shit.
Thank you so very much, Mr. Roberts. Your disservice to this country shall not be forgotten.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Then an opening appeared in my busy movie schedule, and all the talk about this movie made me decide to go ahead and check it out.
Brokeback was a surprisingly engrossing movie for which I have nothing but praise. But I think it was wrong for so many people to assume it would win Best Picture this year.
Many people including myself were shocked when it didn’t win. I wasn’t disappointed, however. It was up against four other excellent films, none of which were typical Hollywood blockbuster fare.
This is the first year I believe I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars. (I don’t rely on awards shows to tell me what movies are good, mind you, but sometimes the buzz they generate gets my attention.)
Some otherwise rational critics have been crying “Hollywood homophobia!” about Brokeback’s defeat. Crash, the winning film, was about tolerance of the racial variety. Why shouldn't that movie have won?
I get the impression some people wanted the Academy to make a statement by picking Brokeback Mountain instead of picking the best candidate in the category. Halle Berry and Denzel Washington are fine actors, but I thought the year they both won awards the Academy was doing just that. I could be wrong.
Brokeback lost, and everyone will just have to quit their bitching. But it’s still an admirable achievement for all involved.
Between us, though, I was rooting for Capote.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
In a predictable ruling, the US Supreme Court has affirmed that colleges receiving federal funds must allow military recruiters onto their campuses.
In a case called Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, the former believed that military recruiters had the right to the same access to students that corporate recruiters enjoy.
The latter opposed this over their objection to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which requires homosexual recruits to stay “in the closet” or face dismissal (it’s a financial disaster, by the way). The colleges disagree with the discriminatory policy and don’t wish to accommodate its practitioner.
I understand the colleges’ reluctance to give assistance to an organization which practices discrimination. Would the government withhold money if an anti-Semitic group wanted to reach out to college kids and the schools refused? Not a true analogy, but the principle's the same.
The government pulls out this federal funds bribery policy on a regular basis. Twenty-odd years ago the Reagan administration threatened to withhold federal highway funds from states that did not raise their legal drinking age to 21. The states complied, of course.
And these are just two examples that come to mind.
Bribery is ill-suited to a democracy, but democracy will decline under this Supreme Court.
Spawn Of Evil
South Dakota should have its statehood revoked, and then be invaded and colonized by liberals from neighboring Midwest states. It has become the first state to ban all abortions except in situations where the mother’s life is in danger.
Upon signing the law, South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds said, “The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society.”
While most of that statement is certainly true, Rounds has not taken into account other vulnerable, helpless people, such as rape victims, who will themselves be considered criminals should they decide to terminate their resulting pregnancies.
Nor will women who’ve conceived through incest be able to obtain a legal abortion in his great state.
Christ, even President Bush is against abortion laws this stringent.
I picture many women dying in South Dakota, either from botched abortions or through suicide, because they didn’t wish to carry their rapists' babies to term. (For shame!)
I can also imagine a woman raising a child who’s a constant living reminder of her degrading assault. Possibly a boy who’ll grow up to look just like his daddy. Or maybe she’ll put him up for adoption, but then run into him one day.
This is legislative moralization run amok. Down with South Dakota. I'm going to find out what they make there and then not buy it.
The Unholy American Empire
Today may be the day Republicants crown Bush as the first American emperor. The Senate Intelligence Committee, upon which Republicants hold a one-seat majority, is set to vote on whether or not to investigate the president’s illegal NSA wiretap program.
Prominent Republicants like Specter, Graham, Hagel, Snowe and others have been critical of Bush’s wiretaps, or have at least expressed doubts about their legality.
Yet, if precedent tells us anything, their furor will die down when it comes time to turn words into actions.
Either through fear of rocking the majority party boat, or due to behind-the-scenes lobbying and/or threats from their higher-ups, these wishy-washy Republicants never follow through on holding one of their own to account, especially the head honcho.
But if they fail to act in the face of the president’s inarguably illegal acts, they’ll be hammering another nail in the coffin of American democracy. And there have been a lot of coffins (2000 plus, and that's just the soldiers) and a lot of nails during Bush's reign.
I get the feeling our Constitution is soon going to end up at the bottom of a birdcage somewhere.
Monday, March 06, 2006
I break from some of my fellow liberals in saying that even if terrorists have legitimate grievances that need to be redressed (land disputes, etc.), their tactics are unacceptable under any circumstances, and de-legitimize their causes completely.
Even considering the character - and I use the term loosely - of terrorists and many terror suspects, I don’t think torture is appropriate in the name of a civilized society. Especially not in the name of an idealistic one like America, that hasn’t practiced what it’s been preaching for a long time.
The technicalities of “Guantanamo inmates have no legal rights, therefore, anything goes” and “Terrorists aren’t legitimate military of any country and therefore aren’t protected by the Geneva Conventions” seem self-serving and contradictory to our stated ideals.
The very fact that the Bush administration is actively seeking loopholes that will allow for the torture of terror prisoners (see previous link) is shameful. We should treat them humanely just on principle alone. Or have we lost those?
No, terrorists would never grant us the same courtesy in a million years; they’d probably cut off our heads, the bastards. But don’t we want to distinguish ourselves from their brutality? Don’t we want to show that we are in fact civilized, even in the face of such savagery?
And, as many have pointed out, information obtained through torture is highly dubious, as the subject will often talk just to stop the pain.
It’s frustrating having to remind the most rabid nationalists among us that people such as myself have no love or sympathy for terrorists, we just perhaps better understand the meaning of the words hypocrisy and humanity.
I hope we’re clear on this.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Some random thoughts about the 78th Annual Academy Awards, which I finished writing well before the final awards were given.
This was Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart’s first time hosting the Oscars; I’m not sure if he’ll do a second. Jon’s hilarious, but it wasn’t his format. Timing problems, maybe.
But don’t listen to me – I thought Chris Rock was hilarious as host, and I even liked Letterman.
Stewart did manage to get in a few decent political jibes, as one might hope and expect. He got a “Cheney hunting accident” bit in, and said democracy would come to Hollywood if they would just bring down the giant Oscar statue behind him and hit it with sandals.
There was some talk that this wouldn’t be a political Oscars. Yet, most of the Best Motion Picture Of The Year nominees were politically charged and/or socially challenging.
Plus, a Jon Stewart hosting gig without political commentary would be like a David Copperfield hosting gig without magic tricks. Shudder. Well, I did it to myself.
George Clooney won the first award of the night – Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role for Syrianna. Jesus if these category names aren’t getting long and politically correct sounding. What happened to Best Supporting Actor???
In his acceptance speech Clooney said he was proud to be “out of touch” with the mainstream in making the films he does. George rocks! Seriously, Batman And Robin is forgiven. I want to have his baby, even though “I ain’t no queer.”* Clooney is one of the greatest, most unapologetic liberals alive.
Damn, Aussies are some fine-looking people! I mean, Naomi is female sexuality incarnate. I’ve been in love with her since her hot lesbian scenes in Mulholland Drive. And when I learned she was "close friends" with Nicole, well, my imagination... I'll leave it at that.
Hell, even Eric Bana is looking good. Though as I already stated, I ain’t…
Russell Crowe, well, he's just an asshole.
As Will Smith read the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, he was framed by an image of a swastika on one side, and an image from a film about Palestinian suicide bombers on the other. In "Jewish" Hollywood of all places! Hmm.
Nope, no politics. No politics at all in this Oscars.
*With thanks to the writers of Brokeback Mountain for this dialogue.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Dr. Evil may soon get his wish, or something close to it.
A group of US military scientists are seeking to ensure that sharks are not only armed with teeth, but one day may be armed to the teeth. They're developing a way to implant devices into sharks' brains that will enable them to track enemy vessels and perform other stealth operations by remote control.
Implants will also be used to detect and send information about chemical and electrical traces back to the shark's controller (not to give female sharks more sex appeal).
Using the sharks as some kind of weapon is inevitable, should these experiments prove successful.
We're talking Day of the Dolphin on steroids (or electrodes). In that movie talking dolphins had magnetic bombs strapped to their backs, and were trained to attach the bomb to the bottom of a vessel before swimming away to safety.
"Fa love Pa..." KABOOM!!!
What's next, talking sharks?
Actually, some divers and surfers might fancy that, seeing as they may be able to reason with the shark and convince it to eat something else.
Still, all this messing around with nature for military (or any other) purposes doesn't seem right.
Friday, March 03, 2006
– Tony Manero
Hey, Captain Comb-over, you’re not fooling anyone. And Mr. Toupee Shakur, neither are you.
Genetically predetermined male pattern baldness is something countless men face every day. It may not be the most desirable of “afflictions,” but it’s not an excuse to lose one’s dignity either.
We follically challenged men still have a lot to offer. Like pretty much everything other guys have to offer. We just spend a lot less time and money on the “’do.”
Personally, I like my head shaved. It's smoove as hell. And the womens can use it to fix they makeup.
You hirsute posers with your plugs and your rugs denigrate yourselves and the rest of us with your artifice.
Bald is beautiful. Embrace it, don’t disgrace it. Word!
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Is Bush The Antichrist?
This unattributed query was visible to the tens of thousands of people who visit our convention center and sports arena. I’m sure this is why he put it up – for maximum exposure.
When I saw it I thought to myself, There he goes stirring up the locals again. Gotta love that Joe!
But then I considered the logic of that question, and came to a startling conclusion.
Ask your average consternative Republicant who, between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, is more likely to be the Antichrist, and most would say Clinton without hesitation. They had him pegged as Satan before he hit DC.
But the Antichrist has always been described as The Great Deceiver, the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. Would he really be someone the faithful already detest? Doesn’t seem likely. Too obvious. I think The Great Deceiver would be better at deceiving than that.
Now some experts are saying that an all-out Middle East war might be on the way, what with the Iraq and Iran situations deteriorating, and widespread turmoil over there. Just such an expansive war in the region is described in Revelations as a sign of the End Times, if I recall correctly.
Bush as the Antichrist also makes a whole lot of sense when you look at his presidency overall. Considering all that he’s gotten away with unscathed, there must be some dark force watching over him. My guess is his Daddy – not George H. W., but Satan.
If the Bible turns out to be legit, we probably won’t be able to stop the prophecies regarding the Antichrist/Bush in its final book. Unless we impeach his ass.
But disaster often befalls those who attempt to stop the Antichrist, which you already know if you've seen The Omen. It might be tricky, though there’s certainly no shortage of legal grounds to remove him from power.
Hell, between Iraq, NSA, the ports deal, Downing Street, Plamegate, Abramoff and the rest, we have at least 666 legitimate reasons to get rid of the guy.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But not by much.
I’m tired of attention-seeking zealots saying that Christianity is being attacked and discriminated against in America.
Just remember this, my faithful friends: Not everyone gets to enjoy tax-exempt status as you do. So quit whining, you ungrateful bastards.
Not too long ago in Florida, a Christian theme park called The Holy Land Experience went to court to contest its property taxes. It won the case and was able to shift its tax burden back to ordinary taxpayers.
A theme park, with admission ticket, merchandising and concessions revenue, doesn’t have to pay taxes? One with a locust plague simulator and an interactive “stone the heretic” exhibit where guests get to knock the noggin off condemned “animatronic” characters? Holy shit.
Next Disney will declare Mickey Mouse a “god“ to get out of paying taxes. Stranger things have happened.
The reason for exempting religious institutions from paying taxes has never been clear to me. Is it that they’re ostensibly doing something “good” for people? I’d ask Catholic sexual abuse victims how much good the church did them. It's no given.
Is “goodness” the reason Bush has pushed “faith-based” prisons, where the rapes and stabbings are done in strict accordance with Old Testament precedent? Hmm.
Were some Christian organizations to have their tax-exempt status rescinded, I imagine millionaire Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson would declare that the IRS was going to be “taken out” by God.
“Now folks, I’d be worried if I were the Internal Revenue Service, waving a tax form in God’s face like that. They may be looking at some earthquakes, floods or possibly a meteor from God here as a result. As the very least, they can expect Sick Building Syndrome to afflict them right around tax time (April 17). God doesn’t want His monies divvied up and itemized like that.”
It’s as big a crime not to tax a theme park or the disgustingly wealthy Catholic church (among others) as it is not to tax the disgustingly wealthy British Royals while saddling their subjects with huge taxes. (Are they still on a free ride over there? I haven’t kept up with the Windsors.)
To churches and church-oriented institutions I say this: You folks may cheat death via eternal life, but you shouldn’t be able to cheat your way out of contributing financially to the society you’re seeking to co-opt. Buck up and pay your taxes like everyone else.