Thursday, June 29, 2006
"Israeli troops rounded up dozens of ministers and lawmakers from the Palestinians’ ruling Hamas party Thursday while forging ahead with a military campaign in Gaza meant to win the release of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas gunmen.
The body of a kidnapped 18-year-old Jewish settler who was shot in the head was found in the West Bank, Israeli security officials said. Palestinian militants said they killed Eliahu Asheri, whose body was found buried near the West Bank city of Ramallah."
Nice time I'll know to keep my mouth shut. After all if I don't believe anything Bush says, why the hell would I believe Hamas, or Israel...or England, or Iran, or Italy, or Tora Bora.
PS: It's always nice to include Tora Bora in anything. Just say it, Tora Bora. The 2004 debates were a Tora Bora festival.
Kerry: ...and that's when the adminstration lost Bin Laden in Tora Bora.
Bush: We did not lose him in Tora Bora!
Kerry: You did in Tora Bora!
Bush: Tora Bora!
Kerry: Tora Bora!
"The economy sprang out of a year-end rut and zipped ahead in the opening quarter of this year at a 5.6 percent pace, the fastest in 2 1/2 years and even stronger than previously thought."
The bad news:
"In a separate report, the Labor Department said that new claims filed for unemployment benefits last week rose by 4,000 to 313,000 — a bit more than economists were expecting."
"Job growth lost momentum heading in the summer. Employers boosted payrolls by just 75,000 in May, the fewest new jobs since October."
"...companies’ profits continued to grow briskly. One measure of after-tax profits in the GDP report showed profits rose 13.8 percent in the first quarter. It was the second consecutive quarter of such strong growth."
So to recap, the GDP gains 5.6%, but unenployment claims have risen, and job growth is down, but company profits are soaring 13.8% in first quarter. I'm not Allen Greenspan, but it seems to me that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Guess I'll just have to listen to Tony Snow, he knows the facts.
"The ruling, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions."
The vote tied together liberal judges with their moderate peers, while the three conservatives on the Court: Thomas, Alito, and Scalia voted for the President. Chief Justice Kennedy was forced to sit out of this case because he'd been the judge for the plaintiff's previous appeal. The dissent to the ruling, written by Judge Thomas claims that the ruling would,
"Sorely hamper the president's ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy."
While I'm sure Gib would be able to analyze the legal details of the case, my thoughts are that this is a victory in the greater war that America fights, a moral war in which terror seems to be overwhelming what Lincoln called, the "better angels of our nature." It seems to me that Bush and Co. have written indulgences for those in America to act indecently in the name fighting terror. I'm not going be as simplistic as our President and call us "the good guys," but I always believed that when we fight, we should fight from a higher moral ground, and that doing the ethical thing should be what defines this country. Like many Americans I'm not surprised at some of the dishonorable things that have occurred, but I am dismayed that these incidents go unpunished, and are even encouraged (for instance, rewriting the Army field manual to be more torture-friendly) by the executive. This is a good sign that we may become out of our state of fear and regaining our more moderate sensiblities.
By the way thought, I wonder how long before the right starts calling the Supreme Court activist judges?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Remember think, then invade.
By the way, I happened to have scored a perfect 100%. However I did have to guess a couple of questions. I'm well on my way to becoming a citizen, so I can kick others out and vote Republican!
Today, in two separate engagements, President Bush, and Vice-President Cheney, harshly criticized the New York Times for publishing reports leaking the government's secret program to monitor suspected terror suspects' bank accounts, calling them 'disgraceful.'
That's right guys, leaking reports about Constitutional crimes is 'disgraceful,' but leaking the name of a undercover CIA agent is 'politics.'
“For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America,” Bush said, jabbing his finger for emphasis. (See picture) He said the disclosure of the program “makes it harder to win this war on terror.”
Basically, not doing everything you say, and following the laws of the land, makes it harder to win the war on terror. Right, gotcha.
This is sheer hypocrisy. Since 2000, when Bush and co. were placed in office, there seems to have been a secret war to destroy and hinder the freedom of the press, and why? Because it's hard to break laws, and commit acts of fraud, perjury, war, and torture when someone is looking over your shoulder. If it weren't for the press Valerie Plame would have never come out, nor the abuses of the NSA wiretapping scandal, nor the immortality of our secret interrogation chambers, or the lies about why were went to war, or fill-in-the-friggin-blank of everything unamerican the adminstration has committed in the supposed goal of saving America from the "terrorists." You know those guys that want to do us harm because they "hate our freedoms." Oh wait! I'm starting to get it now--you destroy the terrorists, by destroying our freedoms...and thus they have no reason to hate us anymore. Right, makes perfect logical sense. Welcome to Bushworld.
Of course, in the long run both the NYT story and Bush's criticism of that story, is meaningless. All the story does is frustrate Americans who are now so swept up in whirlwind of offenses that another is like tossing a ice cube on a glacier, and the criticism only continues to distract us from the war in Iraq. Furthermore, does looking at a bank account help us find terrorists? Let's see, how well did that go with organized crime? How many of you think that Bin Laden has a corporate account with Chase labeled "Al-Qaida?" The money that terrorists use are so laundered that when it gets handed to the Russians for Kalashnikovs it smells like Tide. The terrorists (who aren't stupid by the way, just because we treat them like morons don't make it so) know they're being monitored, and are taking steps to hide their tracks. That's why they're the terrorists, and the Bush administration are Republicans.
Surprisingly, the deal also calls on militants to limit their attacks to areas captured by Israel doing the 1967 war. Not sure what this means exactly in the grand scheme of things, and chalk it up to the irrationality that's indicative of mideast foreign policy. (a peace plan that gives allowances for war). Nonetheless, this is a momentous occasion in Israel-Palestine relations. And big ups need to be shown to President Mahmoud Abbas who's been able to accomplish so much while working with nothing, including having a militant group upsur power from him in the past year or so. We'll be keeping an eye out.
PS: What is the US going to do now? Jumping into the middle of these talks and providing support and incentives for peace would dramatically help out our presence in the Middle East, but somehow I don't see it happening. When it comes to doing the wrong thing, we're geniuses, but when it comes to being positive we are incredibly lackadaisical...well, we are Americans after all.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
As our War Machine (decimated, and demoralized as it is) begins to rev up (or crawl up) to our next battle the above question is all we need to figure out, and best believe it is coming. Perpetual War for Perpetual peace. According to PJM News, three aircraft carriers, along with 22,000 troops and 280 warplanes came together in Guam for five days of war games:
"The exercise "was a demonstration of the U.S. Pacific Command's ability to quickly amass a force ... and project peace, power and presence in the region," Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula told The Associated Press."
What I love about this is the pathological, and psychopathic use of word "peace," as if "war games" could ever project peace. How skewed are these people that they can actually use "peace" and "power" in the same sentence? The only possible way you could do that is to add the work "cannabis" in there some where as well, and I mean the weed and not the rapper. And we wonder why anyone doesn't seem to trust us. I think the thing that's hitting me hardest now, especially after reading the book Overthrow (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805078614/qid=1151081380/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/103-4379543-9518201?s=books&v=glance&n=283155)
is that I always thought that the people above handed us this bullshit but never really believed it themselves, but seeing the eagerness, and imbecilic sincerity in which they pass off their rhetoric, I now understand that the monarch does have clothes only they're made out of slogans and tag phrases, and they're as tight as hot pants on a prostitute's ass. Regardless, I still believe that war with Iran is much more upcoming than North Korea, which is, in the grand scheme of things, unfortunate since they have accumulated so much military might, and seem as willing as we are to flex their muscle.
Telephone operator: Hi. I'm conducting a poll.
Jordanian: That's great. Usually I would hang up on you, but you caught me between reading the Koran and eating hummus so I have some time.
Operator: Great. First question. Do you a) support Bin Laden. b) Hate Bin Laden c) Hate Bin Laden, and don't want us to trace this call, or d) Love Democracy, Love George Bush, Love Rambo, Hate Bin Laden and don't want a 500 pound bomb dropped on you and your love ones?
Jordanian: Um...gee tough question...I guess I'll take d.
Operator: Are you sure?
Operator: Great. And would you also like to switch your phone company?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
It's sort of funny actually that this happened when it did. I was just talking about the Knicks with some of my co-workers yesterday, reminiscing over the Pat Ewing days when it was pretty much guaranteed that they would make it at least to the second round of the playoffs, or at least to whatever round the Bulls were in so Jordan could posterize the entire team. Yet somewhere in the middle of that, the front office, and more importantly the public, became satisfied with mediocrity, show boaters, and has beens like Stephon Marbury, and Penny Hardaway. No one is asked to give, and so we don't get (much like Congress). Frankly, it doesn't matter if they got Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, or Jesus Christ to head coach this team. Until the standards are raised, and the public begins to flow from the stands, the Knicks will continue to be the antique engine that couldn't.
Current Afghan president Hamid Karzai urged the international community to "reassess its approach to the war on terror saying that the deaths of over 600 afghans has been unacceptable.
"A clearly frustrated Karzai said the approach being taken by coalition forces to hunt down militants does not focus on the roots of terrorism itself."
The definition of a day late and a dollar short.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Of course we'd have to make sure the phrase "under God" is in the pledge of allegiance(http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/06/concerned_women.html) before we did that, because having that is really important.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Because they're both dumbasses.
If anyone remembers, Aaron Boone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Boone) was the 3rd baseman of the Yankees who made the famous (or infamous, if you're from Boston) walk off homer in the 11th inning of the 2003 ACLS to give the Yanks a 6-5 victory over the Bos Sox. Then the next summer, in violation of his Yankee contract, he played a pick up basketball game in which he ended up tearing a knee ligament. He ended up getting cut from the team.
Likewise, Big Ben, the youngest man ever to lead an NFL team to a Super Bowl victory was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash that resulted in several facial and head fractures. All of which have been repaired by surgeons. It is possible that Roethlisberger will be able to play again, fortunate considering that he wasn't wearing a helmet.
Please don't get me wrong. I don't wish these guys harm in any way, however sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade. When you make millions and millions of dollars with your body the intelligent thing to do is to protect your investment. People talk about athletes being danger seekers, but shouldn't the glory of their profession provide them enough thrills to carry them through the year? People work their entire life to make what these guys do in a season, and yet these guys seem to squander their opportunities for a rush of adrenaline. A person's life is their own, and they have the right to do what they see fit, but at the same time I also have the right to call them dumbasses.
I hope for Big Ben's full recovery, both physically and mentally.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
(Statement from Yahoo! News): ...roundly condemned the Israeli actions in Gaza, saying it was deeply shocked by an "unacceptable" and "disproportionate" use of force.
(Translation): Doesn't anyone want any parts for nuclear weapons? Just talk to Iran! Sony guts!
(Statement from Yahoo! News):... condemned the air raids as a "disproportionate," and warned against a spiral of violence in the region. A statement issued by the French foreign ministry "called on the two sides for restraint," and expressed condolences to the families of the Palestinian victims.
(Translation) Doesn't anyone want to surrender?
(Statement from Yahoo! News):...condemned the Israeli action as unacceptable.
(Translation): Whatever, we just want our slaves back. Our orders of Pyramids is piling up like a mutha over here!
(Statement from Yahoo! News):...expressed its "opposition to the use of force as a means of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
(Translation): Hello! Does anyone still notice us? You know we used to have an empire!
(Statement from Yahoo! News): ...reaffirmed Israel's "right to defend itself," but said it should consider "the consequences of its actions."
(Translation): Please ignore Iraq, please ignore Iraq, please ignore Iraq, please ignore Iraq, please ignore Iraq...
Friday, June 09, 2006
"If people who have genuinely suffered a loss like the 9-11 widows cannot criticize the "commander in chief", then who can? I think, for people like Coulter and Rios, the answer is that No One can criticize. I really don't think I'm inaccurate saying people like these two endorse the notion of a Republican dictatorship or shackled press, feeble Congress and co-opted Supreme Court and where subversive groups like the New England Quakers for Peace are surveilled (true story)."
It's definately worth the read.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
If anyone has seen the movie The Untouchables, you'll remember the scene where Sean Connery and Kevin Costner are in a church talking about the best approach to bring down Al Capone. Connery says (and I paraphrase) "They kill one of us you kill three of them. It's the only way to show them that we mean business." Great strategy in a movie, but I'm not sure if it's the best method of international relations.
Yesterday, following up tips from Jordanian spies, and possibly Iraqi civilians in the region(http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/06/zarqawi-killed.html), the US assassinated Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaida leader in Iraq, along with 7 of his aids. US and Iraq troops also raided 17 other sites around Baghdad following the bombing.
If anyone expects me to shed tears over Zarqawi, think again. This was one of the most brutal men in the world today, and I believe most of the reason he was discovered stemmed from his last two weeks butchering of several Iraqi locals and leaving their heads discarded in fruit baskets. However, before we break out into dancing and rejoicing, we should take a moment to see what really has been accomplished. Al-Qaida's already martyred him:
"Al-Qaida in Iraq confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and vowed to continue its "holy war," according to a statement posted on a Web site. "We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme."
And there will still need to be an investigation before we really know the identities of the six others who were with him. Remember that one of the reasons why Clinton never ordered the bombing of Bin Laden in Sudan was because Al Qaida happens to travel on the road with their families, so don't be surprised if a random woman or child pops up in the body count. Facts like these tend to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the people we're supposedly protecting.
Yeah, I know I sound like a party pooper, but I get a bit depressed when I find assassination praised in the American media, and even more depressed when I find sad, cold comfort in the death and suffering of anyone, even if that person was a blooded savage. Guess it comes with being civilized I suppose. In any event, it still remains to be seen if this will take the wind out of Al Qaida's sails. Was Zarqawi such a wonderful administrator that the insurgency will fall apart without him? Or did he hold on to his leadership by being the cruelest son-of-a-bitch around? If it's the latter than we're still in for a long haul because in a war, intelligence may be scarce, but brutes will be in abundance.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
"The Chinese government estimates more than 300 fatalities. Western estimates are somewhat higher. Many victims were shot by soldiers on stretches of Changan Jie, the Avenue of Eternal Peace, about a mile west of the square, and in scattered confrontations in other parts of the city, where, it should be added, a few soldiers were beaten or burned to death by angry workers."
Like much of what we know as truth alot of Tienanman is perhaps legend, and unless you were there you'd be a fool not to at least entertain the possiblity. However, nothing should take away from the metaphor and the iconicness of Tienanmen. What do we know? Students were protesting for civil rights and freedoms, and along the way, some chain of events set off a series of deaths. Now we can argue who killed who, and how many died, and so forth and so on, and if picking over the bones of legend is your thing, then by all means do so. But these kind of stories, like those who want to nitpick over details of the Holocaust, or the European, and American slave trade, can be dangerous when not placed into the correct context. What matters overall--the lesson of the legend--or why it became legend in the first place, isn't about how many died, or who died, but that there was death and havoc because people wanted freedom. I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God, and frankly he might not have existed, but I won't let my doubts destroy his positive messages. Those that bury their heads in the sands of details, sometimes, miss the clear blue skies above.
Take the above debate. I haven't seen anyone cut so deep into the issue of gay marriage like Stewart, who quietly, and elegantly slices Bennett's argument into shreds, matching him quip for quip. I especially enjoyed his come back when Bennett made the claim that the argument is about whether marriage is between a man and woman--a claim Stewart completely derails when he retorts, "no the arguement is whether gay people are a part of the human condition, or whether it's a random fetish." This comment bears a bit of study, if only for its rhetorical value. His use of the words "random fetish," really ties Bennett into a hole. It seems, unlike the civil rights debate of the 60s, that those who fight against gay marriage must simultaneously prevent themselves from coming off as bigots. Agreeing that being gay is "a random fetish" demeans gays, while admitting that they are a part of the "human condition," is a de facto concurrence that they are part of nature, and God's plan (particularly important since the lead proponents of anti-gay marriage laws are evangelicals).
Jon Stewart, positively brilliant.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
"On the June 6 broadcast of NBC's Today, host Matt Lauer interviewed right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, whose book Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum), was released that day. Lauer's interview provided a forum for some of the more controversial statements in Coulter's book, which Lauer read aloud and asked her to explain, including her claim that liberalism is the "opposition party to God" and that "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths" as much as the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."
"Pressed by Lauer to defend her statement that the widows were "enjoying their husbands' deaths," Coulter responded: "Yes, they're all over the news." She criticized the widows for "speak[ing] out using the fact that they're widows" and "using their grief" and "the fact that you lost a husband" to make "a political point while preventing anyone from responding.""
I know die hard Reagan conservatives who can't stand her, and I can't think of anyone on the left who spouts such bitter, and unnecessary vitriol as this woman. She is honestly disgusting.
Then again, maybe he shouts, GOOOOOOOLLLLLLL! really well...
By this time many of the details about the slaughter in Haditha have come to light, and while judgment hasn't been passed, one can agree that not only is there a good chance that this massacre occurred, but it was bound to occur. General Sherman, the guy who ordered the razing of Atlanta in one of the bloodiest episodes of the Civil War, famously said "War is Hell." He wasn't just saying this on a ideological level, but on a pragmatic level. War is not hell simply because people die in horrific ways, but because, in order to win a war, the conquering side must make the region they fight in a hell. We use the term 'civil war' to describe a battle between countrymen, but undoubtedly there is nothing 'civil' about a war.
And do not be confused gentle readers, what's going in Iraq is a war.
Bush would like us to believe that this is a fight for the 'hearts and minds of the people.' Well if that's the case, then he's playing the wrong game. A struggle for the hearts and minds of anyone is, by definition, a non-violent struggle. For how can one truly be convinced of anything staring down the barrel of a gun. A person can be intimidated in that manner, and like torture, a person in that situation will do or say anything to protect their life, and keep from suffering. But once that threat is over the mask of agreement falls away, and you're left with a person who, rightfully so, is filled with rage and a desire for revenge.
No, the game that we are playing in Iraq is the game of war, and that means domination and death. And along with that goal must come a certain psychology for its partcipants of kill or be killed. We often talk about rules of engagement; a term that is all good for politicians, arm chair strategists, and movie titles, but again reality rears its ugly head, and we realize that as the game is not civil, so does it not have rules, for what rules are there to hell? In fact war is the province of disorder, discord, and disharmony. To win a war, there must not be an accounting for morals, or ethics. We would like to believe that--we would like to believe that there is a justness about it, but those are ideas of those who have the luxury of civilization on their side. People can conceive of justice and morals when their bellies are full, and their feet are kicked up on an ottoman, reading Plato or the Bible. Morals and ethics are the farthest thing from your mind when you're driving in a humvee, without the proper plating, and an IED explodes blowing your fellow soldier to kingdom come. What does come to your mind? In that second right after you instinctively duck for cover, what you feel is relief (that is wasn't you) then you feel guilt and shame for feeling that. Then you realize that you're even more alone that you were a moment ago, because you're thousands of miles for your homeland, your family, your culture, and possibly your religion. Then all of these compound into a furious rage that flares like the sun, and you feel the rifle in your hands, and you know what you have to do. What you were trained to do, and all that BS in your mind about "winning the hearts and minds" goes straight out the window (if you ever believed it in the first place, after all your call sign is 'killer' and you weren't trained for diplomacy) and you do what you gotta do.
We expect our troops to be better, but they are only human. It's like feeding someone an Ex-Lax milkshake, and four courses of Mexican food, and telling them to hold it for a week. You can discipline them like a Buddist monk, but eventually biology will win.
Saddam would win this fight because he had no ethics, or morals to begin with. His bread and butter was disorder, and he gained his power through war. He wasn't about winning the 'hearts and minds' of people, he was about intimidation and terror. Remember, that's the reason he was the 'bad guy,' or if you prefer, the 'evil doer.' His techniques were barbarous, his first and last method was murder and war, and his result was a state of fear.
When seeking the better angels of people's nature, one cannot resort to the strategy of demons. In doing so one only becomes a tyrant. It's a sad but true fact that Saddam would have already won the conflict in Iraq because he was a tyrant, and his nature was single-minded in that purpose. We have phrased the question; should we condemn these soldiers in the Haditha affair, or dismiss their charges? But before we begin to answer that question we must understand our reasons for begin there in the first place. Are we an invasion force or liberators? And if we say liberators, then we must then ask, why are we using the techniques of the conqueror? If a proper answer cannot be given then it doesn't matter if 15, 20, or 30 people were killed in that situation, because our entire tour there would have only been a gigantic massacre in, and of itself.
Monday, June 05, 2006
I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!
This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.
Registration code: 1251490
Will you be there?
Funny thing is, Andrew Suillivan might be the future of centrist politics, and unlike a year ago, that doesn't sound half bad.
Hat tip to Crosblog on this one.
I was over at my girl's place this weekend, and it just so happens that they had a gay pride parade about a block away. During this event I didn't see any married people breaking up, nor did I notice any hetros, including myself, spontaneously erupt gay. What I did see was grown men, singing, dancing, and enjoying their life, and onlookers benefiting from their happiness. Bush and co.'s sad attempt at resurrecting a Federal Marriage Amendment is about the basest form of distraction known to man, and their feeble attempt at kicking this dead horse is only matched by public apathy. What needs to be thought of right now is a word that worse than quagmire, because that is what Iraq has descended into. In the last month there have been over 650 sectarian attacks, the most since our mission was 'accomplished,' we have an investigation going on about massacres, and Iraq's own PM, who we helped install, is now saying that we are the prime cause of their problems. Time is running out and the midterm elections can't get here fast enough.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Tomorrow I'll investiate the Pet Rock, and this new craze called Disco...